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Milk Bottles

A California Ghost Story 

She was just another poor, bedraggled woman, struggling to feed her family. He saw them all the time, their faces careworn, and blank. The Depression had created hundreds of them. He was one of the lucky ones who still had his grocery and money coming in to feed his family.

She came one day to his shop, carrying two empty milk bottles, and wordlessly placed them on the counter in front of him. He took the empties and replaced them with full bottles, saying: "Ten cents, please."

She did not reply. She just took the bottles and left the shop. He might have gone after her to demand his money, or called the police, but he did neither. Her need was in her face, and he always felt a little guilty at being one of the lucky ones with money and a job. She was probably one of the migrant workers, he decided.

She was back the next day with two empty milk bottles. He replaced them with full bottles and watched as she hurried out the door. She looked so worried that he wondered if she had a job at all. If she came back, he would offer her a part-time position cleaning the store.

She came again the next morning, and exchanged her empty bottles for full without saying a word. He tried to talk to her, to ask if she wanted a job, but she practically ran from the store with the milk. Her urgency worried him. He followed, wondering what he could do to help.

To his surprise, she headed away from the migrant camp outside of town. She went instead to the graveyard by the river. As he watched, she hurried up to a stone marker and then disappeared into the ground. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief. Then he heard the muffled cry of a baby. It was coming from the ground underneath the stone marker where the woman had disappeared!

He ran back to the store and phoned the police. Within minutes, the graveyard was swarming with people, and the workers started digging up the grave. When the casket was opened, the store owner saw the woman who had visited his store lying dead within it. In her arms, she held a small baby and two full milk bottles. The baby was still alive.


A dead mother desperately seeks to feed her starving baby, who has been buried alive, in the retelling of this ghost story featured in Spooky California by .


S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of “let’s pretend” quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children’s Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.