One of Greensboro, Georgia’s most famous characters is a dead man whom no one in town ever knew.
In the early 1930’s, an anonymous man arrived in Greensboro by train and shortly thereafter had a massive stroke. A local nurse attempted to care for him, but he passed away within two weeks. No one ever learned his real name, who he was, or where he was from, so he was dubbed Oscar by the coroner and his body was moved to the funeral home. They embalmed the body and began the arduous process of locating Oscar’s relatives. This is where things took a turn for the interesting.
In an attempt to find out who Oscar was and where he belonged, ads were sent out in the newspapers. People traveled from all over to see the body, kept on display in an upstairs room at the funeral parlor. Many came seeking lost friends or loved ones, but no one recognized him or claimed the body. So it continued to sit there, waiting. How long? “A week turned into two weeks, two weeks turned into two months, two months turned into a year, a year turned into two years, next thing he knew, he’d had him 25 years!” said Steve McCommons, son of Bill McCommons, the coroner and funeral director in charge of Oscar’s body. For 25 years, Oscar stayed in the funeral parlor, moving from the upstairs room down to the basement, but never finding a proper resting place, never claimed by his family.
“He became a town character and a town tradition,” according to Joel McRae, a local historian. “On Halloween, Bill would open the store, and young children and all the rest of us, we’d all go see Oscar as part of the Halloween thing and it’d just scare you to death,”
McCommons recalls his first time seeing the body, saying “We all leaned over into the coffin, and (I can’t make out his first name) Arthur held the lid up, and there was about six or eight of us leaning over and he turned a flashlight on and shined it in his [Oscar’s] face and we all took off running,”
After 25 years on display, the state health department found out about Greensboro’s most unusual guest and required that he be properly laid to rest. Though the body is gone, many say the ghost of Oscar remains, and curious happenings around the McCommons store are often blamed on the spirit’s presence. If curiosities and spooky stories are your cup of tea, try heading down to Lake Oconee this year around the end of October. Maybe you’ll see a glimpse of their old Halloween traditions…