Years later, as I think back on our visit with Hexie and I re-read the profile story that my mother wrote about her, I am struck by one thing in particular. At no time, did Hexie ever reveal to us that she was Reginald Hammerstein’s ex-wife! She constantly referred to herself as his “widow.” Hexie even recounted a story that took place at the time of his death (Reggie died on August 9, 1958, but eight years earlier he had already divorced Hexie and was remarried to Mary Alricks Steele). In recalling Reginald’s death, Hexie described this psychic experience to us… “One afternoon I was helping my daughter get dressed for a party and all of a sudden I heard a loud blast. I was shaken to the core. Later I learned that Reginald had died of a heart attack at that precise moment. From that time on, and for years afterwards, I was aware of his presence in the house. I feel as if he is still around. I believe Reggie will always be watching over me.”
Recently, I had a strange, coincidental “Hexie” experience myself. (A “wink” as Jessie would call it!) Out of the blue, I received an email message from a gal who lives in Naples, Florida. She was reading a copy of my mother’s book Haunted Village and Valley (which I published posthumously in 2010) and she wanted to get in touch with me regarding the story about “Bucks County’s Bona Fide Witch.” Apparently, her childhood home was located on the hilltop not far from Hexie’s house. In her note to me, she shared some memories about what it was like living next door to a “real live witch”! She fondly recalled Hexie’s dynamic personality as well as her many acts of kindness. She wrote… “As soon as we moved in, Hexie introduced herself to us. In no time at all, my sister and I became her biggest fans. We often sipped tea and nibbled on homemade cookies sitting in the Great Tower (which Hexie referred to as the “Magical Tree”). Her ways with animals and her love of nature seemed to soften the world and make things feel right. She was full of love and magic, and at times a bit of sadness, but her twinkle prevailed and the friendship she gave to two little blond-haired girls from across the way has stuck with me forever.”
Children are so perceptive, aren’t they? These two little girls were tuned in to Hexie’s sweetness but could also sense her sadness. My guess is that Hexie never let go of her love for Reginald Hammerstein. Memories of her often tug on my heartstrings. What a full life she had! She was a model, an actress, a make-up and wardrobe coordinator, a wife, a mother, a radio host, a television chef, a gardener, a designer, an antique collector, an inventor, and a bona fide witch, but most of all, Hexie was a dreamer. Once upon a time, she had fallen in love with a stranger across a crowded room and, even in spite of their contentious divorce, Reggie’s remarriage, his sudden death, and his decades of absence from her life, Hexie held on to her dream forever. She was never going to let him go.
Perhaps, her brother-in-law said it best when he wrote these words of longing and love.
Out of my dreams and into your arms I long to fly.
I will come as evening comes to woo a waiting sky.
Out of my dreams and into the hush of falling shadows,
When the mist is low and stars are breaking through,
Then out of my dreams I’ll go,
Into a dream with you.
Lynda Elizabeth Jeffrey Co-Author: Haunted Village and Valley http://www.ghostsinthevalley.com