Ghost Stories and Tall Tales of the American South

Knock, Knock, Who’s There? – Story Credits

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Written and Told by J.J. Reneaux

Artwork by Berta Fuller

Audio version from the tape, Cajun Ghost Stories
Copyright 1992 J.J. Reneaux
Published by August House Publishers, Inc.
Used by Permission

Text version taken from the book, Cajun Folktales
Copyright 1992 J.J. Reneaux
Published by August House Publishers, Inc.
Used by Permission

We’ll let storyteller J.J. Reneaux tell us how she came up with this story:

“This is a blending of two family stories passed down through my family and told for true. It’s a good example of how stories evolve from real events, and survive time and distance to become folktales.

JJ Reneuax

The story is based on fact. Buried coffins did indeed float up during flooding– hence the practice of burying the dead above the ground in vaults and “ovens” (wall vaults). According to family legend, one of my ancestors was too cheap to properly bury his wife and, when the land flooded, she floated up and knocked against the house, so terrifying her miserly old husband that he went mad by morning.

The rest of the story as I have presented it is based on the further legend of my poor Tante Claire. As the story goes, when she was sixteen, she knocked on her father’s door one night, complaining of being sick, but he thought she was just putting on and refused to get her any medical help. By the time he realized just how sick his daughter really was, it was too late. She died on the kitchen table while the unprepared country doctor tried to perform an emergency appendectomy with a butcher knife.”

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