Of all the [tag]campfire[/tag] ghost stories out there, "Where is My Golden Arm?" is an all-time favorite.
Even Mark Twain loved it. This master story-teller knew how to tell a ghost story. When he told the tale, he would end it in a way that would make me jump, for sure, if he were aiming at me.
At the end of the [tag]ghost story[/tag], the part where the woman calls out, "W-h-o — g-o-t — m-y — g-o-l-d-e-n arm?" Mark Twain suggested, "You must wail it out very plaintively and accusingly; then you stare steadily and impressively into the face of the farthest-gone auditor, — a girl, preferably, — and let that awe-inspiring pause begin to build itself in the deep hush. When it has reached exactly the right length, jump suddenly at that girl and yell, "You've got it!"
He emphasized the importance of the pause: "If you've got the pause right," Mark Twain said, "she'll fetch a dear little yelp and spring right out of her shoes. But you must get the pause right.."
You won't find ghost stories in any packing list. But they are a big camping ritual. If you don't remember them anymore, a good book to brush up on your ghost stories is Scary Stories to Tell ($5.99).
It has classic campfire stories, such as "The Hook", and "Me-Tie Daughty Walker" along with lesser known tales like "Alligators" and "May I Carry Your Basket"? Some stories are funny, such as "The Viper" (I've come to vipe your vindows) and "The Ghost With Bloody Fingers" (cool it dude, get a band-aid) while others are genuinely spooky, like "The Guests" and "Cold as Clay".
The book was clearly intended for reading out loud, many stories even have tips for the reader, such as when to raise and lower your voice. Stephen Gammell's pictures are mysterious and darkly beautiful. I highly recommend this book for those looking for a spooky read aloud.
Golden arm reading is from a post by Clinton McClung on October 26, 2006 at 01:51 AM at the WFMU blog http://blog.wfmu.org)