It would seem that all cities, even small towns, have their own ghost stories and urban legends. Living in Devine, Texas for 5 years, I always heard about the Salt and Pepper lady of the Devine Projects. Friends would speak of their experiences with this very strange and disturbing specter. If you grew up in the Devine Projects, your parents wouldn’t allow you to be outside whatsoever after dark, which was less due to the gangs and drug problem and more out of fear of the Salt and Pepper lady.
There were the usual problems as with every low income residential slum. Gangs, drugs, domestic violence, pedophiles. It wasn’t the worst of all the projects but crime was still present. Local police were there often for the usual reasons you would expect from a housing project. Raids, domestic violence calls, even the occasional murder.
Somewhere in the ball park of about 30 years ago, there lived an elderly resident of the Devine projects known simply as Mona. She was a bitter, nasty, mentally unstable and disturbed lady. Most of all, she was lonely. Nobody could ever recall family or friends ever stopping by to visit her, so it was assumed that she was all alone in this world.
She would yell at the children who played too close to her window and front door. She would run them off, sometimes saying things about their parents burning in hell and about being sinners. Mona was notorious for walking outside nude when the mood struck her. Sometimes, she would approach the young men hanging out and proposition them. Usually they ran her off or scattered away from her, avoiding her altogether. She was also known to knock on random doors late at night asking to borrow some salt and pepper.
This was probably the most disturbing quirk of all. She would knock and knock, sometimes for 10 minutes. Most people didn’t answer the door. However when they did, she had this creepy smile on her face. Her teeth showing, long stringy grey hair, wrinkled skin, big blue eyes. She looked like something out of a nightmare. If you wanted her to go away, you had to give her some salt and pepper… then, she left you alone. In time though, residents became used to Mona’s eccentric antics, as disturbing as they were. She was just another oddity of the Devine Projects.
In time people began to notice she wasn’t screaming at kids, walking around nude or knocking on doors late at night. When rent was due, Mona had not paid on time as she normally did. One cold January morning, the landlord went over to her apartment to collect. After no answer, he let himself in with his own key. Inside he found Mona submerged in her bath tub. The water was a crimson red as she had slit her own wrists. However, the most unnerving sight was that she had also decided to pluck out her eyes. She had also defecated in the bath tub, likely as she approached death. The smell was very intense and could gag a maggot.
A note was left on the bathroom counter:
“I am sick of this world and all of the filth, lies, deceipt and sinners in it. This place needs to be punished. All I ever wanted here was a friend. You were all just too good to talk to me. You should all burn for it. I’m leaving this world to join my Son Hank and Husband Jim in the afterlife. First, there are some things I need to tend to before hand. You’re all scum and not fit to eat my shit. I’ll be seeing you all soon. ~ Ramona Osterburg”
When the coroner removed Mona, the populous of the projects curiously gathered outside. The general mood that day was one of relief. “Ding dong, the witch is dead,” was to be sung by bratty children throughout the Projects over the next few days.
After about a week, the strange happenings began. People began to report a woman knocking on their doors late at night asking for salt and pepper. Mona was also said to be spotted walking around nude in the complex in the wee hours. Some even said she was seen walking through apartments in the same state as when she expired, eye sockets empty where her big blue eyes once stared from. Being that the projects were mostly occupied by poor, superstitious Mexican families, a growing concern and fear caused a meeting. They had all agreed to bring in a Curandera (Mexican folk healer who also deals with the paranormal world) to come in and cleanse the housing projects… and to rid them of Mona once and for all.
After the blessing and ritual cleansing, the Curandera claimed that Mona was no longer a problem. She had passed onto the next life to join her loved ones. This didn’t hold her at bay for long. Another few days had passed. People were beginning to have horrible nightmares, everyone from children, adults, even gangbangers. She was seen more often walking around the complex and in peoples’ apartments. Often she would knock on their doors in the wee hours asking for salt and pepper. Usually nobody answered the door. Occasionally, the brave ones answered only to find nobody there. When the residents tried to contact the Curandera, she couldn’t be found. All hope was lost and many began to pack up and move out. A few stayed.
As new tenants moved in, the frequency of Mona sightings began to dissipate. However, she can still be spotted walking disfigured and grotesque about the projects after midnight. She still knocks on doors once in awhile asking for salt and pepper, and she can still be seen, albeit rarely, inside apartments and walking around with empty eye sockets. She still appears in the nightmares of frightened children and anyone who lives the wrong kind of life… a life Mona would disapprove of. She is meant now as a warning. Go down the wrong path, and The Salt and Pepper lady will come to get you. Needless to say, crime is way down in the Devine Projects. The police joke around saying Mona is an honorary Devine Police officer being she keeps the criminal element there in check.
This is a real urban legend/story I grew up with when I lived in Devine. The projects still stand… I haven’t been back there in 18 years but I occasionally talk to old friends from there on Facebook. I’ve asked if Mona is still seen around the old projects. They say she is.