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Lavender and Lace
A purple sky, twilight
Silver-fringed of tremorous stars;
Cloud rifts, tattered, as old lace,
And a shuttling moon - wan-faced, seeking.
Twilight, and garden shadows;
The liquid note of some late songster;
And the scent of lavender and rue,
Like memory of the day aclinging!



Born in Illinois in 1883, Pearl Curran (born Pearl Pollard) was like any other child. Having average intelligence, she left high school at 14 to work in a music store. Sometime later, she married John Curran and moved to St. Louis, Missouri. With no ambitions, Mrs. Curran was a full time housewife. Her life would take a mysterious turn however when she was 31.

On July 8, 1913 Mrs. Curran, was sitting in her lounge drinking tea with her mother and Mrs. Hutchings, her next door neighbour, as she did often. They were playing around with a Ouija board. Mrs. Curran didn't have much interest in the supernatural or the occult, and viewed Ouija boards as a boring and silly past-time, having seen nothing but gibberish spelt out. However, on this night of, that all changed.

Mrs. Curran placed her fingers on the board and her fingers moved quickly and effortlessly over it. The 3 women were stunned, none more so than Mrs. Curran.

Many moons ago I lived. I come again. Patience Worth my name.

After several minutes of discussion and thinking, Mrs. Curran moved her hands lightly back onto the board. Again her fingers moved quickly between the letters.

Wait, I would speak with thee. If thou shalt live, then so shall I. I make my bread at thy hearth, Good friends, let us be merrie. The time for work is past. Let the tabby drowse and blink her wisdom to the firelog.

The three women didn't know what to make of the words, but were convinced it was not a joke being played by Mrs. Curran. They started to press for more information, but Patience Worth was reluctant at giving any out. Slowly, throughout many further sessions, they started to learn more.

Patience Worth claimed to be born in England in 1649. However, the year 1694 was also spelled out, making the date uncertain. She claimed to have worked in the fields and the house for her parents until she was a young woman, where she immigrated to America and was later killed by Indians. This was all the Patience Worth would say about her past.

It soon became evident that Patience Worth was communicating to Mrs. Curran alone, as the words began to flow even with other people around, or while Mrs. Curran was alone. In the months that followed, the words came quicker and quicker, to the point that people could not keep up. It was then discovered by Mrs Curran that she did not need the Ouija board, as she felt the words fill her mind as they came. Mrs. Curran also claimed to be able to see illustarted scenes in her mind while Patience Worth communicated to her.

Over the months and years that followed, Mrs. Curran wrote down the words as they came to her, first by pencil and paper, then later by typewriter. It quickly became a regular occurrence, and, as word spread, more and more people came to see it for themselves, which Mrs. Curran welcomed. The length of the dictation grew progressively as well, reaching an average of 3000 words per session, going as high as 6000 on one night. Eventually, stenographers were called in to write down what was said in shorthand. In all, Patience Worth communicated with Mrs. Curran for a period of 25 years.

By 1922, 9 years after first appearing, the 'relationship' between Mrs. Curran and Patience Worth began to deteoriate, possibly due to Mrs. Curran's changing circumstances (she had just gotten pregnant). By the time her monther and husband passed away a few years later, Patience Worth had all but stopped communicating with Mrs. Curran.

Several years before she died, however, Patience Worth briefly came back. Mrs. Curran had moved to Santa Monica, California and was due to remarry. A few days before the wedding, Patience Worth returned and gave Mrs. Curran a poem, that was put to music and sung at the wedding.

The works dictated by Patience Worth began as short poems and sayings, and some short stories. As the occurrences became more regular, the works became longer and longer. Over the course of the 25 years, Patience Worth dictated almost 5,000 separate poems, many short stories, as well as longer works, such as a play and several novels. Some of these novels were actually published under the name of Patience Worth. Of these, Worth held her longest work, The Sorry Tale, as her masterpiece. Written and published in 1918, The Sorry Tale is 640 pages long and set in the time of Christ.

Throughout the 25 years of dictation, Mrs. Curran was investigated by psychic investigators, as well as skeptics, keen to prove that Mrs. Curran was a fake. She was accused of hiding her writing talent and creating Patience Worth to gain fame. Deep studies however disproved this theory, coupled with the fact Mrs. Curran was poor at writing during high school. Other studies on the works of Patience Worth have revealed them to be historically accurate and detailed to the point that only someone with deep knowledge of the time would have known, which Mrs. Curran did not have. Scientists that visited her through the years were all convinced that Mrs. Curran wasn't a fraud, but stopped short of admitting that Patience Worth may have existed.

Of the many tests she willingly submitted to, two are worth noting, as they turned many skeptics into 'believers'. One of the tests involved composing poems on topics shouted out by audience members. Patience Worth easily passed. The second noteable test was posed by a scientist, who asked Mrs. Curran to compose a 25 line poem, each line starting with each letter of the alphabet in order from A to Z, except for the letter X. Without hesitation Mrs. Curran produced a poem meeting the requirements. That poem can be seen here: http://www.speakingwithspirits.com/newbackgroundstuff/halloween4gray/brief_biographypearl_curran.htm

When Mrs. Curran died in 1938, so did Patience Worth. If Patience Worth was indeed communicating from beyond the grave, she hasn't said a word to another person since. Some of her works, however, live on. The Sorry Tale is listed on Amazon.com but currently out of print. Critically acclaimed when it was originally released, it would be well worth reading if the period its set in interests you.

Sources:
  • http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0787309818/qid%3D1051592154/sr%3D11-1/ref%3Dsr%5F11%5F1/102-6833494-3828158 - The Sorry Tale
  • http://www.prairieghosts.com/pearl.html
  • http://www.poeticvoices.com/9908Ask.htm
  • http://www.speakingwithspirits.com/newbackgroundstuff/halloween4gray/brief_biographypearl_curran.htm
  • Stranger Than Fiction II by Martin Walsh. Published by Scholastic Inc, 1978.
  • The history life of Pearl Curran, aside from her experiences with Patience Worth, is sketchy at best, which is why this node focuses more on Patience Worth. If i can find a book with more information, i will include it here. The introduction poem is one of many penned by Mrs. Curran for Patience Worth.

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