For mothers wanting their children to hurry home at dark, the legend of the witch-like Huggin’ Molly was a helper. For children, she was downright frightening. Legend claims a phantom woman would appear to children, but only at night. She would squeeze them tightly, then scream in their ears. She never harmed them, other than perhaps causing some ringing in their ears. The figure was as much as 7 feet tall, wearing dark clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
One version of the story claims Molly was the ghost of a woman who had lost an infant who dealt with the tragedy by hugging local children. Another states Molly was a professor at the former Southeast Alabama Agriculture School who was trying to keep students safe by keeping them off the streets at night.
Today, Abbeville residents can remember Huggin’ Molly by venturing downtown and stopping in a cafe named for the phantom. Huggin’ Molly’s is set in an old pharmacy, complete with a soda fountain, and offers such treats as “sandwitches” and “Molly fingers.” Huggin’ Molly’s is located at 129 Kirkland Street in Abbeville.