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Nantucket Ghosts by Blue Balliett Nantucket is “a corner of the world that is hard to leave or forget,” writes Blue Balliett. Apparently, this is true not just for islanders and visitors, but also for some ghosts who linger on that island off the coast of Cape Cod.

Formerly one of the most prosperous whaling ports in the world, and with a long list of movers and shakers, this tiny island has long influenced the history of the United States. Today the home of just 10,000 year-round residents, the island also boasts an impressive number of ghosts. Blue Balliett spent fifteen years collecting the forty-four stories in this book. This is oral history; these are unembellished accounts.

The variety in these tales is remarkable. Some of the spirits are benign, even protective; other terrorize the unfortunate people who encounter them.
All are memorable.

Lucy Bixby’s fine black-and-white photographs accompany this new 2006 edition.

 
Nantucket Ghosts by Blue Balliett at 57th Street Books Nantucket Ghosts by Blue Balliett at Amazon.com Nantucket Ghosts by Blue Balliett at Barnes and Noble Nantucket Ghosts by Blue Balliett at IndieBound

EXCERPT: From the story titled "Ancient History":
“… I was reading in bed one night when I heard a door slam. I froze and listened. I tried to read again, turning the pages quietly so as to hear – and, probably, so as not to be heard. Then I got a grip and said to myself firmly, ‘Now, you’re a grown person. You should get up and check on that door…’

“I was standing a couple of feet from where you’re sitting, right at the edge of that rug, when I saw a woman walk through the dining room door. She took a couple of steps and stopped opposite me. My first desperate thought was that it was some kind of optical illusion or shadow, or that a light outside was casting a strange reflection of my own body. I remember my neck went stiff as a board. I slowly turned my head, just a fraction of an inch, to see, with the corner of my eye, whether the shade was up on the window behind me. It wasn’t. Besides, I was in pajamas and had curly, shoulder-length hair, and she was in a long skirt with her hair either short or pulled up in a bun. She was no reflection...”

Behind the Scenes:
It was amazing sitting in people’s houses and hearing these bizarre tales. And scary. In many ways this book fits easily with my other four; it’s filled with questions about experiences no one completely understands. Over the years, we’ve returned to Nantucket many times to visit. I still hear new stories in the supermarket, on Main Street, wherever I happen to be. Anyone who has lived on the island knows about ghosts.
The people who shared these accounts;
I wish I could have filmed these interviews, but no one would have agreed to that. The amazing experience of hearing these stories told face-to-face will always be with me.
We have about a million photos of Nantucket, but here are a few from recent visits. The island becomes its salty, quiet, understated self in the off-season.  The photographs you see here were taken then.