Illustrated by David Lockhart (save the unusual alien landscaped cover of the edition pictured here, which is by Harvey Parks), Strangely Enough was originally printed in 1940, but has resurfaced in various editions since (the copy pictured here is copyright 1963), although I somehow managed to miss this title when it turned up as a selection in the Scholastic Book Club in the 1970s, and only recently became aware of it thanks to a recommendation by reader Jeanlass.)
Colby makes no attempt to either validate nor debunk any of the stories here, presenting them without judgment as pieces of entertainment. As he states in the preface:
I think it is better to be like the little old lady who said, "I don't believe in ghosts--but I'm afraid of them!" than never to have enjoyed a bit of spine-tingling at the personal encounter with something for which there seems to be no sensible explanation.Some of the stories presented here are recognizable from urban legend, while others are alleged to have actually happened. Two of the stories here (one about the ghostly appearance of faces at sea, the other about moving coffins in a Barbados crypt) have reappeared in another collection of supernatural stories, Ghosts-The Eerie Series (1976, Seymour Simon).
Here's a sampling of some of the ninety stories contained in Strangely Enough...
THE WHITE DOVE is a folk tale about a widowed husband whose departed wife returns in the form of a white dove.
THE SUICIDE TREE is not as sinister as it sounds. The author discusses some unusual trees he's seen, including one that seems to be killing itself by splitting its main trunk with one of its own branches.
THE SEABIRD is the name of a mysterious sailing ship that, in 1880, beached itself on the shores of Newport, Rhode Island, without a single passenger found aboard.
THE LIGHT IN THE WINDOW tells of a haunted painting of a real Scottish castle, depicted with a single lit window. Purchased in a "dingy little store", the buyer keeps the curiosity in his home for many years before noticing the painted lit window has mysteriously darkened, with no evidence of tampering. After researching the history of the castle, he learns the phenomenon is related to a person who died in that room 500 years ago.
THE LADY ON THE HIGHWAY, one of two variations of the "ghostly hitchhiker" tale to appear in this book, tells of an old woman which mysteriously disappears after having been picked up by a pair of traveling businessmen, who later learn she had died years earlier.
The second hitchhiker tale, LAVENDER, in which the ghostly passenger is lent a coat that is later found lying at the woman's grave.
THE GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD is the humorous story of a frightening white form seen moving in the graveyard at night, which turns out to be the white head of an otherwise black cow.
NO GRASS ON THE GRAVE tells the story of John Newton, who, upon being falsely convicted of a crime in 1821, correctly prophesied that no grass would grow on his grave.
The HAUNTED SCHOOLHOUSE tells of an 1870 haunting in Newburyport, Massachusetts, by a ghost manifesting itself incrementally over several days, first as a glowing light, then a disembodied hand, then an arm, and finally a schoolboy.
NEW ENGLAND'S DARKEST DAY accounts an unusual dark sky that occurred in the middle of the day in May of 1780.
In LORD DUFFERIN'S STORY, presented as a traditional English story of the supernatural, a British diplomat is haunted my visions of a man dragging a casket on his back. He later encounters the same man operating an elevator, a sight so frightening he refuses to board. The elevator subsequently malfunctions, sending several people to their deaths. Variations of this story, in which the mysterious figure drives a hearse, and utters the foreboding phrase "Room for one more...", has turned up in urban legend, and even as an episode of The Twilight Zone, "Twenty-Two".
FALLING OBJECTS FROM HEAVEN describes unusual instances of walnuts, stones and even bones apparently falling out of the sky.
CIGAR IN THE SKY is one of several accounts of encounters with apparent U.F.O.s, this one in 1882, in the skies over Greenwich, England.
Strangely Enough is out of print as of this writing, but can be had on the second-hand market... strangely enough!... for about the same price as the edition pictured here went for new back in 1963.