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Dead, Alive, Dead

Dreamed well before 1960 by a Minnesota teacher, as reported to the Rhine Institute

[A] dream may never be recalled as such, but besides the feeling of familiarity the person may know something which could scarcely be accounted for, except as an item from a dream.

A girl in Minnesota had in her school days known a boy whose name was Dan Brown. She finished school and was teaching away from home, but went back for a weekend one time. As she was preparing to go to Sunday school, this conversation with her mother took place:

"Who is the Sunday school superintendent now?"

"Mrs. Brown."

"Oh, is Mr. Brown married again?"

"Again? What do you mean?"

"Why, Dan's mother died a long time ago. I know she did, for I--"

Then Mother said, "No! She did not." And I realized then I had never seen Dan's mother and I did not know the place where I thought she had died. But still I could describe it to my mother and it was like this:

It was a summer night and soft rain was falling. I was in a house in a woods of small pine trees. In an unfinished lean-to kitchen, with window openings but no windows. A fire was burning in a wood cookstove and cloths were being sterilized in an iron kettle, then hung above the stove to partly dry. Dan's sister was ironing dry some, which I carefully picked up and carried through two rooms to a bedroom where a white-haired lady lay very ill, and a nurse took the cloths and handed me soiled ones, which I carried to the kitchen just as Dan came in the door.
"Well," Mother said, "You must have dreamed it, for Mrs. Brown is very much alive."

"I certainly am glad it was a dream, but I must have dreamed it some time ago, for I surely remember it now," I replied.

I went back to my school and promptly forgot all about it. Some time later I met Mrs. Brown and was once in the living room of her home but in no other part of the house, until later, hearing that she was very ill, I went, as was the village custom, to do what I could to help, and was called upon to sterilize cloths and carry them to a nurse.

I had been home only a few hours in the morning when we heard that Mrs. Brown had passed away. After the funeral I remarked to Mother, "I have a strange feeling that all of this has happened before," whereupon she recalled my having told her, "I was there when--."

(Incidentally, this girl later married Dan Brown.)

--Louisa E. Rhine


'Minnesota teacher' displays twin talents: she knows the unknowable and manages to mistake what she knows! I concur with Rhine (and the narrator's mother) that this does sound like a predictive dream not exactly forgotten but misfiled--not under 'dreams' but under 'general knowledge'. So Mrs. Brown is simply dead--until proven alive. And then dead again.

--Chris Wayan

SOURCE: Hidden Channels of the Mind by Louisa E. Rhine, 1961, p. 100-101. Account untitled and dreamer's name witheld; I added title and byline to aid searching and indexing.

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