Ghost of South Tenth Street

Original Airdates: October 26, 27, 29 (2010)

This is Living Stories, featuring voices from the collections of the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. I'm Louis Mazé.

Everyone loves a good ghost story, especially when it involves their neck of the woods.

Around the summer of 1915, South Waco found itself with a resident ghost. Mary Kemendo Sendón, who was in high school at the time, recalls when her aunt first spotted the other-worldly figure:

"She had been sitting by the window that night. And the next morning she told my mother, she said, ‘You know, I saw something down the street last night. I think I saw a ghost. I was looking out the window,' and says, ‘I was half asleep, and all of a sudden I saw this figure in a long, flowing, white robe coming down the street.' And she said, ‘I got up to get a better look, and by the time I got up, that figure disappeared.' Well, my mother thought maybe it was a dream that she had, you know, and no more was said. Well, and another night or two passed, and the same thing happened."

News of the mysterious appearances got out, and the Waco newspaper covered the story:

"It said ‘Ghost of South Tenth Street' and had our address. It said across the street from our address. And it was—it really was a sensation because that night people were coming, sitting on the curb in front of our house up and down the street. They lined the entire street, sitting on the curb, waiting to see [if they] were going to see the ghost. It went on for two or three nights. They didn't give up. Well, it got to the point where they were bringing their lunch and eating their lunch and even—you know, of course, they—thank goodness they didn't have radios in those days because they would have—we would have had music all up and down the street. But it was noisy. They would bring bedrolls and sleep out there until early hours of the morning because when my aunt saw this, it was around three o'clock in the morning. So they wouldn't come in until about ten, just when we were ready to go to peace, and there they were."

Interest gradually dwindled, and people stopped flocking to their address at night. But Sendón describes what happened one night a little later on when she and her sister were sleeping in the front hall:

"We had hardly gone to sleep when there was a tap on the door. I jumped up, and my dad heard it at the same time, and he was right behind me. And there stood this figure in a white robe—white nightgown it was—with a teacup in her hand. My father said, ‘What do you want?' She said, ‘Do you have any whiskey?' My father said no. Well, she started down the steps with her teacup."

It turned out that the ghost of South Tenth Street was a neighbor's alcoholic cousin who was visiting from Chicago. The neighbor finally confided in Sendón's father that he could not keep her from roaming the streets at night in search of whiskey. So the mystery of the ghost was solved, but with a heartbreaking finding.

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