INTERVIEW — TAPE #10, SIDE #2
Q: Mark Gordon Russell (interviewer)M: Maxine Mc Wethy K: Kim Carrell (daughter)E: Eric Carrell (one of Kim's sons)H: Heather Bell (Kim's daughter)
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THIS SIDE BEGINS AFTER MAXINE AND I RETURN FROM AN EARLY DINNER AT THE BRANDIN' IRON. IT IS STILL LIGHT OUT AS HEATHER AND ERIC ENTER, SOON FOLLOWED BY JERRY AND KIM.)
M: What’ve you been doing?
E: Picking up the spider.
M: Alone — all day?
M: He been in yet?
M: He has to be, though. Don’t he? Watch the kids?
E: (at refrigerator, almost spilling something) Eyahhhhhhh. I reckon.
M: And the truck? Find out what was the matter with it?
M: The truck?
K: It’s fine. Why? Is Granddaddy suffering? (“NO”) Possible?
R: He died. (“THAT’S CORRECT”)
K: I got hold of Superintendent Conner over there. She’s been at school.
Q: (to Heather) Of all my teachers, my fifth grade teacher was the biggest monster. Her name was Miss Hinkley.
M: (small laugh)
Q: And she had a wig, glasses, false teeth. She hated the boys and loved the girls in the class.
K: Oh dear.
Q: But she wasn’t too nice to the girls either. (laughs) Once, she caught one of the girls in the class with some dolls in her desk. So she took them and made it so they dangled over her head for a week. She was quite a character.
M: Bill said his teacher — how’d she used to do that? She’d pull him up by —
M: — by what? By the ears?
Q: Ears. Yeah. I’ve heard of that.
M: I met his teacher when we were living in California. Her name was Miss Bird.
Q: They always have such wonderful names. The year after that, I had a wonderful teacher named Mr. Titus who was like the dream teacher of all time.
M: When Desireé started school at Paden when they first lived up there, you wouldn’t believe what her teacher’s name was.
M: Mrs. Coffin.
M: We came to find out it was Kaufmann. Desireé thought it was Coffin. (laughs)
K: (laughs) (“FUNNY”)
H: You ready?
K: I’m going to borrow the car for a little while.
M: Okay. To what time?
K: If they don’t come over, then I’ll bring it back in just a little while.
M: Well, I’ve got to go over to Edna’s in the morning and make those calls to start getting my check.
K: I need to use your vehicle in the morning.
M: Yeah, I told you. I said you would.
H: See you later.
Q: What now?
M: They told me that’s why she treats me that way. I let her.
Q: You let her?
M: How can you turn your kids down? I’ve been without a car for two months. That thing’s been torn up for two months. And the guy that we’re buying it from . . .
( . . . )
M: . . . and I just got it back from her. She just told Twyla, “How do you steal that car?” (“UM-HUH”) But see? She don’t ask you she tells you.
Q: Well, she’s afraid you’ll say no.
M: Oh for all!
Q: When will she bring it back?
M: She said if they don’t need it she’d bring it right back.
Q: Oh please. That’s not a good sign, is it?
M: Nuh-uh. Not with Kim.
Q: Well, that’s good. Now she should bring it back. She can’t keep it over night, then, right?
M: No. She may have to borrow it again in the morning.
Q: I was your witness when you said, “I need it tomorrow morning.” So, if she doesn’t bring it back for some reason, you can say, “I’m sorry but I told you I needed it so from now on if you’re going to need the car you’re going to have to ask permission first.”
M: She told me to come over here and get it in the morning but it’s staying here tonight.
Q: “But you have to ask for permission from now on.” My mom’s sort of the same way when she likes to do things. She’s closer to me than my brother because they both have big egos and argue a lot. They once went to a counselor together which actually helped a little bit. But actually my mom went to a seminar that helped her even more because she mentioned something about how our family’s always together on Christmas. And the other ladies started saying, “You mean you don’t even have anything better to do than be spending time with your family?” There are city folks who think that people should just be independent of their family. (laughs) So my mom didn’t go for any of that psychobabble.
M: Yeah. Brenda, come home. I bet she’ll be here by dark. There are no bars open tonight.
Q: Could they have gone out fishing with her?
M: When we left the bar last night, Bill said, “Oh, that’s no life at all, hanging in those bars all the time.”
Q: (laughs) No, it isn’t. (“NO IT ISN’T”)
M: Come here, bug.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: MAXINE KILLS A COCKROACH.)
M: That’s all Brenda does with that old man and woman — get drunk. Today Brenda said since Bill is in the nursing home they’re going to see me more often. No way. I’m staying home. Bar life is not for me. (laughs)
Q: You don’t get anything done at all.
M: I’ll just have to stay home. Fae ran a bar in Textown — a little old town quite a way — (“UHH”)
Q: You have to be focused. You have to define what your objectives are.
M: Brenda ran the bar for her and now she’s planning to open it up this month and let Brenda run it again. (“GOOD GRIEF”) You could go up there and find me, Bill, Steve and Twyla. Twyla and Steve just plan to play pool mostly. We had a lot of fun up there in the past. I said, “If I can’t go to church, I’m sure not going to stay in the bars.” (“YEAH”)
Q: Those bars are church for some people. I remember Twyla and you talking about it and she said she thought this was a bad idea. (laughs) She was right.
M: They better start putting gas in that car if they’re going to (“OOOOOOHHH”) run it. Fae said he just got paid $400 on Friday. I don’t know what in the world they’ve done with it.
Q: Do they have debts? (“THEY TRIED IT”)
M: No, they don’t have anything like that. They don’t even have any bills to pay. I don’t know what they’ve done with it. They told me he gets paid, though. He goes and blows it for something. I don’t know what.
Q: Oh no. No.
M: I don’t know what he does with it.
Q: They take drugs.
M: You’re kidding. She went and bought us some new clothes in April. Jerry took them up there . . . surely they got some then. Me and her’s going to sit and have a little talk, though.
Q: Yeah, but it’s hard to talk about these things. She must know what’s going on.
Q: She doesn’t want to face her problems. I understand where she’s coming from. It’s just too bad. I’m trying to think what I’ve heard in the past. What I’ve read in terms of how to deal with a situation like this. I enjoy listening to therapists on the radio. There are some fascinating shows to listen to because you hear people’s problems. I don’t know if you get her show in this area but there’s one named Dr. Laura Schlessinger who’s very good in terms of how to deal with family members.
M: I don’t think anybody can deal with her.
Q: Just look at her. She’s not smiling. She’s not happy. She doesn’t look happy.
M: That’s what Twyla says. “She can’t be happy.”
Q: She can’t be.
M: She’s that way all the time.
Q: She can’t be. She can’t be happy.
M: Well, she’s living like dogs over there. That’s the way his parents lived.
Q: But you have to make your own happiness and it’s very hard to learn that lesson. You make your own happiness. She can’t feel good about herself. Not if you take advantage of your mom or whatever. Maybe that’s it.
Q: She probably feels she has to do this but she doesn’t really want to. But it can be different. (“NO” “ASK SOME MORE QUESTIONS”)
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: MAXINE LOOKS OUT THE WINDOW.)
M: Oh, there’s somebody over there buying dope.
Q: You’re kidding.
M: See? There comes another one.
Q: This I have to see.
M: Somebody leaves and somebody comes up. There’s a pick-up truck over this way. See that pick-up leaving?
M: Well, there’s a car coming out of them houses.
Q: You even have drug dealing out here? I can’t believe here of all places. (“TELEVISION”) They’ll get them. They’ll get them eventually.
M: They’re going to get them again. I don’t know how they messed up that first time. They picked him up and his car was impounded in Coalgate. They found needles and stuff.
Q: The legal system is so screwed up that if the police forget to do one little thing the criminals get away with it. I hate that. (“SO”) Just because you missed on one little point doesn’t make them innocent.
M: Evidence is about all they found over there.
Q: That’s right. Exactly. They should repossess the house. (laughs)
M: They were going to repossess that trailer. I don’t know what happened.
Q: Has Michael ever made any comments about people like that?
M: I don’t know but I found a bag of marijuana in there on my living room carpet one day. (“YEAH”) That was before that guy ever got caught over there and I couldn’t care anyway. I thought Michael dropped it down there.
Q: Yeah, he was smoking it maybe.
M: Yeah. It was a yellow cellophane packet of marijuana. I couldn’t figure out what it was at first. (“I COULD”) When Bill and I lived out in California, we went to the Social Security office one time out there in Salinas and this old long-haired boy was working at that desk. And he had a pot of marijuana growing on his desk. Bill said, “Don’t you know what this is?” He said, “Yeah, I know what it is.” It was growing on the desk in the Social Security office.
Q: Well, I hate to say it but in the film industry there are certain movies where the director, the star and the producers will all be taking cocaine in between takes.
Q: Right in front of other cast, crew members and extras.
Q: Even though they say that cocaine isn’t the ‘in’ drug anymore. Now it’s heroin. You can always tell which filmmakers and stars are drug users. I think Sharon Stone is after seeing the way she was acting when they interviewed her at one of the parties following the Academy Awards this year. Her assistant used to work at the publicity department at Paramount. She’s this young, innocent girl and I told her, “You don’t know what you’re getting yourself in for.” I heard that she had left Sharon during her current film to come back home.
Q: Can you imagine leaving a good job in publicity to go work for Sharon Stone? She began working for Sharon the day right after she won the Golden Turkey Award for the Worst Actress of the Year. It couldn’t have been very enjoyable dealing with her then. (small laugh)
M: (small laugh)
Q: Can you imagine the tears and throwing of things? God! Is there one section of the house that is more haunted than any other?
M: It’s all about the same.
Q: For a while I thought maybe the attic was the most important area. If I had to say one area, I probably would still say that but there must be phenomena going on everywhere after seeing your photos. It’s interesting that there were apparitions even in the photo taken at the other house.
M: It may not have happened if I hadn’t been living there.
Q: In every case, there’s always one person the entity likes the most. Who would you say it was — you or Twyla?
M: I think it’s her.
Q: Or what about her daughter?
Q: But Desireé was only two years old at the time so that’s hard to imagine. Well, anyway, tomorrow I may drop by the Coalgate Chamber of Commerce, the Chickasaw Nation Building and the Library. Some things I can do over the phone. I don’t know if there will be any Bell family information available. I’ve always wanted to go to Tennessee. The Bell Witch Cave is a landmark right outside of Nashville. I’ve always wanted to go there but there’s no compelling reason why I should go because there’s no phenomena happening there any more. If your family can be traced back to the other one, that would be unbelievable. It’s interesting to find parallels between the two cases. That’s what worries me about Bill being sick. But they said John Bell was a nice man too — a pillar of the community and the head of the family. (“KILL MYSELF” “WAIT”) I guess that’s the air current. That was sort of strange. You don’t usually see the aluminum foil move like that. Isn’t that sort of strange?
M: It looks like it’s breathing, don’t it?
Q: It’s probably the air currents coming in here.
M: There’s no air outside.
Q: It’s just sort of strange. I bet Michael’s here with us.
M: Did Steve or Twyla tell you that Twyla can write down a year and he’ll throw a penny with that year on it.
Q: Oh gosh. Really? (“NO NO BUT IT”) I’m not surprised. (“YEAH”)
M: He’s done that several times.
Q: Maybe it’s just air currents but it makes you wonder, though.
M: I wonder about him playing.
Q: So I’m going to make this project my priority.
M: We were in Bill’s bedroom a long time ago. Twyla was in the dining room. Kim was in here. That’s when he started talking. I shut the door and I said, “Now we’ve got him hemmed up in there.” And then he started throwing big things. My sewing machine. It didn’t go very far but — oh gosh.
Q: It didn’t hurt anyone, though?
Q: It’s just like when the big objects hit someone, they’re sort of light to the touch, based on what I’ve read about the other cases. .
M: It didn’t hit us then. (“OH”)
Q: Did it break the sewing machine?
M: Uh-uh. Everything in there was moving and ohhh. Boy, we opened that door and got out of there. We didn’t know what it was then. Well, we still don’t but it was scary.
Q: Was that before it started speaking?
Q: You said, “We have it in here — whatever it is.”
M: (laughs) We had him in there.
Q: That didn’t do any good, did it?
Q: There was an event involving a door in the Bell Witch case.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE FOLLOWING IS FROM THE CHARLES BAILEY BELL BOOK AND IS ATTRIBUTED TO BETSY BELL.)
My first night away from home was spent with Theny Thorn, one of my best girl friends. Nothing was heard until after we retired, which we did early. We locked the door to our room securely. Just as soon as we had retired there came a loud knocking on our outside door, which seemed to fly open and a great gust of wind was felt. Then our bed quilts were snatched off. Theny sprang up at once and lit a candle; to our surprise the door was not open. We adjusted the bed clothes and lay down again. Then a voice spoke very softly: ‘BETSY, YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE COME OVER HERE; YOU KNOW I CAN FOLLOW YOU ANYWHERE. NOW GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP.’ A soft hand patted my cheek and the voice again assured us that we would not be disturbed any more that night. We both were very much excited but we lay quite still and after so long a time fell asleep. The next day Theny went home with me; my mother related that the Spirit had told her all about our experience and for her not to be alarmed, that we would rest well and be home the next day.
M: That was quite an event.
Q: It was almost like ‘Was it a hallucination or was it not?’ The other Bell spirit would report to the family abut goings-on in the community.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE FOLLOWING IS FROM THE M. V. INGRAM BOOK AND IS ATTRIBUTED TO HENRY PICKERING, RECOUNTING AN EXPERIENCE OF HIS FATHER.)
While the family and guests were at supper, the subject of a wedding that was to take place at that hour came up. Father stated the names of the contracting parties, which I have forgotten, but I remember the circumstance very distinctly as it impressed me at the time. However, some one remarked that the hour for the marriage had about passed and the parties were no doubt then man and wife. Another remarked that Rev. Gunn performed the ceremony. The witch then spoke, exclaiming, “NO, HE DID NOT MARRY THEM.” “Yes, but you are mistaken this time,” replied one. “Brother Gunn was engaged to tie the knot and he never fails.” “HE FAILED THIS TIME,” returned the witch. “BROTHER GUNN WAS TAKEN VERY SICK AND COULD NOT GO, AND THE WEDDING WAS ABOUT TO BE A FAILURE BUT THEY SENT OFF FOR SQUIRE BYRNS AND HE MARRIED THEM.” No one present believed it possible for the witch to know the facts so soon but this was ascertained on the following day to be the truth of the case in every particular.
M: That door flew open a little bit here one night. Kids from Ada were in here and everyone just about killed themselves trying to get out of here at the same time. And this girl fell right down there. She wasn’t fat (“SHHHHHH”) but she was kind of big. (“ROSEMARY”) And her boyfriend was trying to help her up.
M: (laughs) They couldn’t get out of here fast enough.
Q: They were all mortified. They came here because they wanted to be scared.
Q: Maybe some day this house will be a museum or something.
M: Bill’s been wanting to sell it. He loves the grandkids to death but you get them all over here and you can’t do anything. You can’t rest. I think that’s what made him nervous and how he started out being sick.
Q: How old is he again?
M: He’s sixty-two.
Q: Well, that’s not that old, is it?
M: That’s not old. I’ll be sixty in November.
Q: Anyone can have a stroke.
M: That was the last stroke. I guess he didn’t remember when he had it.
Q: He doesn’t remember when he had it?
M: I don’t think so. I sure don’t.
Q: Did the doctors say, “You’ve had a stroke”?
M: He told them he had a stroke because his whole left side has been — well, surely he had one.
M: Uh-oh? What’s happening?
Q: That sounded a lot like what happened to John Bell. He’d be bedridden for days at a time.
M: They can’t even get blood out of his left arm. They can’t take his blood pressure in the left arm — they did but it was real low.
Q: But are the doctors sure he had a stroke?
M: They don’t know.
Q: They don’t know. They’re just saying it’s a stroke, then, probably.
M: What are you thinking now?
Q: I’m worried. There are so many other parallels. It just seems like one more. The major difference is that he’s not a Bell.
M: Does that make a difference? (“NO”)
Q: Again, I don’t know. The fact that Twyla is a Bell could be important. Or it could not. If you had to say a reason why Michael would be mad at Bill what would you say it was?
M: I didn’t know he ever was.
Q: If you had to pick something, what do you think it could possibly be? (“IF ANY”) Because no one ever has any idea.
M: I don’t know.
Q: And that was the way it was with the other Bell family too. No one ever said a thing. So (laughing) this is another case of history repeating itself.
M: Yeah. (“YEP GOOD”)
Q: Amazing. It’s just amazing. That earlier Bell family tie-in is just unbelievable. This book here is a 1972 facsimile reproduction of two books in public domain about the Bells’ spirit: The Bell Witch of Middle Tennessee was published in 1930 by Harriet Parks Miller. It’s a very piecemeal account. And the longer book The Bell Witch: A Mysterious Spirit was written by (“WHO WAS THIS I DON’T KNOW”) a descendent. A doctor. He was (“OH”) an instructor on the brain and nervous system at the University of Nashville. He was John Bell, Jr.’s grandson. So this book wasn’t written at the time of the case. The most thorough account was copyrighted in 1894 and that was the photocopy I showed you of Authenticated History of the Bell Witch by M. V. Ingram. But that also was piecemeal so I took approximately twelve different sources and put them into chronological order and wrote it in the style of a novel like an unfolding adventure. It wasn’t quite satisfying in some ways because you never knew the reason why it caused John Bell’s death and what-have-you. Then, I went and researched other cases to find parallels and one thing has led to another. In a way, it’s convenient that there isn’t as much documented dialogue from your ghost because that isn’t very cinematic to have long speeches. I don’t know if what you read in the various books about the Bell Witch are true or not. (“PEW”) This earlier Bell spirit gave long, long speeches to people. And he would tell about the future.
M: What are some of the other names in there?
Q: Of the Bell family? First of all, they lived in Robertson County and today Betsy Bell is understood to have been the poltergeist agent.