INTERVIEW — TAPE #11, SIDE #2
Q: Mark Gordon Russell (interviewer)M: Maxine Mc Wethy
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: THE FOLLOWING ANECDOTES ARE FROM OUR FAMILY TROUBLE BY RICHARD WILLIAMS BELL. ‘KATE’ WAS THE FAMILY’S NICKNAME FOR THEIR SPIRIT. LATER ON THIS TAPE SIDE THERE ARE MANY PAUSES WHICH ARE NOT REFLECTED BY THE TRANSCRIPT.)
Q: Well, listen to this. Just to give you another example of a parallel between your case and the earlier Bell case:
. . . Calvin Johnson conceived the idea of asking the witch to shake hands with him. After much persuasion Kate agreed to comply with the request on one condition that Calvin would first promise not to try to grasp or hold the hand that would be laid in his. This he agreed to, and then holding out his hand, in an instant he felt the pressure of the invisible. Mr. Johnson testified that he felt it very sensibly and that the touch was soft and delicate like the hand of a lady, and no one ever doubted his statement. John Johnson begged Kate to shake hands with him, persisting that he was as good a friend as his brother but the witch refused, telling John, “NO, YOU ONLY WANT A CHANCE TO CATCH ME.” John vowed that he would not do anything of the kind. Kate still refused, replying, “I KNOW YOU, JACK JOHNSON; YOU ARE A GRAND RASCAL, TRYING TO FIND ME OUT, AND I WON’T TRUST YOU.” . . . It was not uncommon for Kate to recognize strangers the moment they entered the house, speaking to them on familiar terms. Here is one instance I will note. Four strangers who had traveled a long distance (whose names I cannot now remember, there were so many unknown callers), arrived late on a dark night and, knocking at the door, they were admitted. They were unknown to anyone in the house or on the place but the moment they entered through the door and before they could speak to introduce themselves, Kate announced one by name, exclaiming, “HE IS THE GRAND RASCAL WHO STOLE HIS WIFE. HE PULLED HER OUT OF HER FATHER’S HOUSE THROUGH A WINDOW AND HURT HER ARM, MAKING HER CRY; THEN HE WHISPERED TO HER, ‘HUSH HONEY DON’T CRY, IT WILL SOON GET WELL.” The strangers were greatly confused. They stood dumbfounded, pausing some time before they could speak. The gentleman was asked before leaving if the witch had stated the facts in regard to his matrimonial escapade. He said yes, the circumstance occurred just as stated.
Q: (small laugh) I just wonder if your spirit is the same one of if it’s something else. It almost seems like too much of a coincidence that there’s another Bell family in the picture.
M: Yeah. That’s what I thought when Brenda copied that out of that book in Ada.
Q: Right. I know that some of the family members moved to the West. At the time this was happening, Tennessee was the American West and eventually society expanded even further westward. I didn’t realize that the later book left out the report about the drunken ‘witch family.’ It just shows how factual information can be omitted by historians for whatever political or moral reason they may have of their own. Well, maybe Michael enjoyed hearing that, it would seem.
Q: Ironically, even if LMNO Productions did tape legitimate phenomena like pennies striking the wall, it still won’t be convincing to anyone. You can’t have the camera two places at once. The tape would jut show a penny hitting a wall.
M: They had all kinds of equipment but they couldn’t get anything out here. It’s all part of it. While Twyla was driving around with them, it was happening out here. A man named Boyd that was working in that RV got scared to death.
Q: See? That’s what it was doing. It was finding safe ways of doing it. (“JUST LIKE IT’S DOING IT NOW”) It has an agenda — some cause for it.
M: Yet they got root beer poured all over them when they was up there so —
Q: But people could always say, “Well, somebody did it from the back seat.” It’s hard to convince people who haven’t experienced the phenomena firsthand. The people in the vehicle with Twyla know that it was true because they were there.
M: They made sure they watched Twyla all the time too.
Q: But that’s not necessarily where it happens. (“THAT’S RIGHT”) The more I think about it the more truly amazing it really is.
M: I know.
Q: And after you begin experiencing it, it just becomes very commonplace. But when you really think about it, this isn’t commonplace at all. Yet what it suggests is so beyond understanding. The working title of my history book was The Encroachers. I wasn’t sure if I should keep it but that would be a good title for this — “The Encroacher.” (laughs) Because it sort of encroached upon your lives. But he’s really more of a family member so maybe a better title would be “Our Family Poltergeist.”
Q: Well, that’s the last thing we have to worry about right now. It’s so funny that he watched “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” on television.
Q: Oh God.
M: I’m glad this table moved for you the other day.
Q: Can you believe that? That was cooperative, wasn’t it?
M: I didn’t figure that would happen. Well, I didn’t think about it.
Q: That was nice of him. I’m appreciative.
M: He was letting you know he’s here.
Q: That’s right. How often would you say he does that?
M: Not too often.
Q: I wouldn’t think so. (laughs) I just heard something. It’s amazing, though. After I finished my book I said, “Well, if this ever happens in this day and age, people will know about it immediately all over the world.” But it’s not that easy, is it? The Bell Witch tied in with the mythology of the time, which was witchcraft. This one’s tying-in with the mythology of our time, which are UFOs, so it’s as if little has changed. (small laugh) Oh God. I just remembered Bill saying, “Well, (“OR SOMETHING LIKE”) I reckon it’s a demon” or something casually and Twyla said something like “Don’t even say that.”
Q: God. (small laugh) Has she ever seen the movie “The Exorcist”?
M: I think so. I have too.
Q: (small laugh) Oh God, under these circumstances that would be scary.
Q: (laughs) No wonder she gets scared. I mean you honestly think this is a demon — that’s what you think of, you know?
Q: Heads turning around and vomit spewing forth.
M: (small laugh)
Q: (laughs) There isn’t really a God.
Q: I’m sure that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about.
Q: Don’t give it any ideas. Oh God!
M: I hope not.
Q: It’s funny. I’d like to know too if he does anything tonight.
Q: I don’t think so.
(TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: I GLANCE AT MAXINE’S FIGURINES ON A SHELF ON THE WALL.)
Q: It’s amazing that those aren’t broken. Those things. (laughs)
M: I know it. I’ve had so many things he’s broke. (“HEY”) It’s a wonder he doesn’t break those. That’s what Twyla makes.
Q: ‘The heartland.’ I’ll be very careful with the photos.
M: There was a bigger version of that photo. One that’s been blown up with a little girl standing behind Desireé. I can’t find it. It wasn’t even in there.
Q: Well, that’s okay. If you ever do find it, then we can worry about that.
M: Michael might have got that because that’s probably his —
Q: He doesn’t want anyone to have anything that’s too telling. There’s plenty of evidence. Believe me. (“YEAH”) There’s more than enough to convince anyone who’s truly open-minded.
Q: But there are some people who would refuse to believe it because they would be just too afraid to admit the possibility. If they experienced it, I don’t think that they would be as afraid. It always comes down to what will go against their own personal belief system. In Jesus or whatever belief system they have. They don’t want anyone messing with that. That’s why the whole creationism vs. the evolutionists is such a hotbed of controversy. Because people just don’t want to consider the other opinion. There’s plenty of room for creationism, you know. Some scientists now are thinking that it’s just too much of a chance for life to form unless it was in some way manipulated. There are some interesting writings by Zecharia Sitchin that equate all the old ancient religions and mythologies of the world. It’s very fascinating. So what time does Brenda usually get home?
M: I don’t know whether she’s coming in or not.
Q: Oh, that’s right.
M: I bet she’s already been here. Fae said she told her she’d be in the day that they went fishing and everything.
Q: Are there any TV shows you like? You don’t have much television time, I guess, and there are very few good shows. I like “Masterpiece Theatre.”
M: I don’t even watch TV any more, I guess. Unless it’s the news.
Q: So much to think about.
M: Nothing’s hardly on here. Two channels.
Q: It’s amazing the amount of news shows they have on in L.A. (“TIME”)
M: I don’t know what to watch.
Q: There’s so much news news news. And then there’s all the nighttime informational shows too. I’ve never liked sitcoms. It’s interesting. Recording this will help the story by capturing the ambiance. (“GUESS WHAT”)
M: It’s like we’re waiting for something to happen. Maybe it will.
Q: I might as well wait here a while longer.
Q: I’d just sit in my hotel room.
M: I just wish something would.
Q: But there’s no reason why it would though because there’s really no business for it to take care of. I do sort of hear echoes of strange noises coming from various places. (“YOU DON’T THINK”) Very slight noises, I guess.
Q: That was interesting about the satanic cult. That’s one thing I think I’ll check to see if there have been any local news articles on that topic. I just find it very hard to believe that’s true even though people might claim there are. I just can’t imagine people around here being involved in that. What could drive them to that?
M: Oh, there’s all kind of people around here. I said you’d be surprised —
Q: Really? (“NO”)
M: — by the Devil worshipers around here. (“UFO”) And there are hoof prints around here.
Q: I was amused by Bill saying, “These houses look so spooky that if I was a ghost this is where I’d go.” He should talk about other houses. (laughs) It’s so funny. If ever there was evidence of a haunting — (“OH YES”)
M: Quite a while ago when Steve got some time off, Twyla and I were going with him to see if we could hunt down some old empty houses that have been standing for a long time.
Q: I was just getting some interesting, strange vibrations.
Q: I felt my satchel move a little bit. Maybe he’s moving around us and we don’t even know it. But, before, he didn’t throw anything until Twyla told him to throw something and that’s when he threw it so I think he trusts and listens to her.
M: We were coming from a place out in Lula one evening toward Tupelo and Twyla said, “Michael, throw us a bar of candy. We’re hungry.” Just a few seconds later, a Snickers bar hit the dash. And I know he got it at Fae’s.
Q: Because then she was missing one later on?
M: Oh — I keep seeing something out there over at that door.
Q: Because she was missing one later on?
M: I asked her if she was missing any candy bar and she said, “Yeah.” (“I’M NEARLY DONE”)
Q: Because the Bell Witch said that he brought things from the West Indies. (“HEROIN”) The Bermuda Triangle.
M: If you tried for a million dollars, it wouldn’t throw that. (laughs)
Q: You know why it wouldn’t throw that, don’t you?
Q: Because then you’d all pack up and leave him all alone.
M: Oh — oh, no.
Q: Wouldn’t you think that if you were him? Wouldn’t you worry about that, maybe?
M: I’d rather have him than a million dollars.
Q: Well, that’s reassuring to him. Especially if he needs Twyla for some strange reason.
M: Like I said, I couldn’t leave him alone.
Q: It’s unusual that she’s a little bit older than they usually are. So that might just be a coincidence regarding some of the other cases or Twyla might not even be the focus. It does seem to be after that car ride, I would say. (“OOCHH”) There’s just too much that goes on around her.
Q: I said, “You realize, don’t you, that you’re sort of like the real ‘Carrie.'” And she said, “I’ve heard that before. (“COME”) But if I could control it —” She said that they offered her a car if she could move a truck.
M: A $30,000 car.
Q: She said she’d tried and tried but of course it doesn’t work that way. I thought that was cute. That would make a good scene in a movie because it’s bad enough being in this situation but then to be put into these other ridiculous situations adds insult to injury.
M: You know what? I wish I could find that tape of Michael. You could hear the grandkids crying too.
Q: Michael’s probably got it.
M: I had it in here and I don’t know what’s happened to it.
Q: You start imagining things. Like I just imagined that I sort of saw something out of the corner of my eye. You just start imagining things after a while.
M: You what?
Q: In the other room.
M: You can see stuff here (“BUT”) out of the corner of your eye.
Q: It’s just for a moment.
M: When Fae and I slept in Bill’s bed last night, I could’ve swore I heard somebody walking but I just — ooooh. It’s kind of spooky if you hear something like that. But I don’t know just what it was. There used to be a bunch of people here from Ada and we’d all be sitting around this table and we’d get pinched. Your legs would get kicked.
Q: That sketch Twyla made of the one Michael drew of himself (“CORNWALL”) seems like something an eight-year-old would do.
M: A guy and his wife—Bill’s half-sister—were here a fair while back. I didn’t even realize he taped anything out here that time but he said Twyla was sitting over here and she got pinched when he was taping her. And then two screws hit while he was video taping. He said he’d sell that to LMNO if they would buy it from us. (“FINE”)
Q: Unfortunately, that’s so easy to fake because you can’t have the camera pointed in two directions at once.
M: I don’t even know what he has on that tape.
Q: A lot of people have evidence, which is remarkable.
M: He said if he sold that tape he’d give us half but I don’t know what was on it.
Q: But they wouldn’t want it. (“PROBABLY LEFT OVER FROM THEM”) They can do their reenactments just as easily. (laughs)
Q: And once you see “reenactment” flash across the screen, you just give up on the whole thing usually. Hopefully, the special won’t be this bad. It’s not like the whole hour will be devoted to it. You never know, I guess.
M: Brenda figures it will be thirty minutes. The special will be sixty minutes long.
Q: That’s a long time.
M: She was guessing.
Q: It could be like “60 Minutes,” which does three segments and then they have Andy Rooney. There’s so much time that’s devoted to commercials. How many nights did they film?
M: From May 20th to the 26th.
Q: That’s a lot. I guess this is a pilot too so if it does well in the ratings it will probably become a weekly series.
M: Paul told Twyla there’d be a series soon.
Q: He hopes. (laughs)
M: I can’t wait until it’s on and I can see what it’s like.
Q: Your picture might be in the TV Guide advertisement. The segment might inspire more people to come and visit you. I mean if Fortean Times can cause all this despite being an obscure British publication. But then it might get to be too crazy after a while.
M: They said after that special aired there would be a lot of people from everywhere coming down here.
Q: That’s because kids like to be scared. I mean it’s (“YEAH”) not good. If I had been your publicist at the time LMNO contacted you, I would have told you to say no.
M: Something’s crawling on me or touching me but I don’t see a thing. Have you ever heard of anything like kind of a spider web getting on you or feeling something crawling on your arm and then there’ll be nothing there? Several people felt that on their face sitting in the house and there was nothing there.
Q: Did it feel like one strand or the entire web?
M: It was like they were trying to get it off but there was nothing there.
Q: Isn’t that bizarre? No, I haven’t. That’s a new one.
M: That’s happened to me a lot of times.
Q: It’s not like an electro-magnetic feeling, is it?
Q: Is it like wool? Does it feel like wool?
M: It’s just like a spider web or cobweb going down your arm.
Q: It sounds like what other people have described. I haven’t read about the web specifically. The word wool has sometimes been used.
M: That might be like what it is, then.
Q: The wool feeling?
Q: But that suggests maybe an electro-magnetic type of field of a certain kind.
M: That one must be on automatic.
Q: Which one?
M: That one there. That air conditioner just went bloop again. Yeah, they put it on automatic. (laughs) When Twyla used to live in Paden, you’d call them and Michael would get on the line and you’d hear that thing go beep beep beep beep beep beep. He’d mash that button.
Q: That would be a good scene. (“TO KEEP”) Right now, just imagine — interest in the New Age and the unexplained is close to an all-time high with all these television shows and everything. They don’t cost anything to make in comparison to those dramatic shows that are so expensive.
M: There’s something. That sound probably came from next door, though.
Q: You hear a lot of little faint sounds.
M: We heard the door slamming out here all the time when there wouldn’t be anyone here. Once we left Desireé to sleep in the back seat of the car and we went on inside. Then, we heard the car trying to start and Frieda said, “Go get that baby out of that car or he’s going to take off with her.” And then when we came home, the same thing happened. I got out of the car on this side and Twyla was holding Desireé and she was asleep while the car was trying to start. (laughs) He was trying to start the car.
Q: The mewing noise is so unusual. I was trying to think how to describe it to someone else. It’s very difficult. How would you describe it?
M: I don’t know. When he get’s scared, he’ll holler, “HEHEHEHEHEHEHE.”