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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Are There Ghosts in That Old House?

This is a blog post from March 2009, and a follow up from the June after.
To update this story, as of June 2009 I have not seen or heard anything odd since writing this piece. But I can't say the same for my daughters. I've added their experiences at the end of the original tale.

Don't read this in the dark. . . .



Now, right off the bat, let me tell you that I don't believe in ghosts.
Remember that, okay? There will be a quiz later. (No, actually not.)

My sister-in-law Doris sort-of, kind-of, pretty-much believes in ghosts, and has been asking me since we bought That Old House if it is haunted. My daughters even considered conjuring up a make-believe ghost, just to spook and tease their Aunt Doris.

Turns out, they didn't have to.


Before we moved here, I spent a lot of time alone in the near-empty house waiting for painters or electricians or plumbers or contractors or deliverymen. I heard a lot of noises.

Door-closing sounds, creaks and, most often,
the noise of a hammer blow in a distant part of the house.

But, I don't believe in ghosts and was not concerned.
Old houses make odd noises. It's part of their repertoire and their charm.

And all it was, was noise. Never anything scary.

We moved in, the house filled up with stuff and people, and the noises, if there still were noises, weren't so noticeable anymore. Sometimes I'd find the door at the foot of the attic stairs standing open:

and sometimes the attic light was on.

And no one had been to the attic.

But, never anything scary.
I don't believe in ghosts.

Months went by, and I got used to the noises (after all, old houses make noises) and even got used to finding the attic door open every once in awhile (hey, these things happen in the best of houses, right?).

But then, in the early winter, I saw a . . . well . . .

I don't exactly know what I saw. Doris might call it a ghost.

But ... I don't believe in ghosts.

Here's what happened. . .

I heard some thumps coming from the kitchen area, around eleven o'clock one night. I stood up, meaning to investigate,
and saw a figure, in silhouette, move across the conservatory, right across this area:

. . .between the table to the right, and the seating area at the end of the room.
The figure, or shadow, or whatever, walked right-to-left,
into the kitchen, out of my range of vision.

I thought, "Oh, that explains it. Howard came back downstairs for something," and I called his name. No answer.
Turns out, Howard was sound asleep upstairs. No one had walked through the conservatory.

But it was okay, because I don't believe in ghosts.

A few weeks later, I sensed some movement in the front hall, while I was in the butler's pantry area.
I looked and -- again -- saw the shadowy silhouette of someone moving.

I looked through the dining room into the hallway:

The whatever-it-was moved from the right, past the front door,
and into the door that leads to the study, at the foot of the stairs on the left:

Yes, into the door. This door is nearly always closed, yet the figure disappeared anyway.

But it's okay, because I don't believe in ghosts.

I tease our Pastor that since he did our House Blessing, the demons are gone from the house.
But there are no demons in this house and never have been;
it is a friendly, warm and sheltering home, and I have never felt afraid here.

The odd noises, the opening attic door?
They are the vagaries of a crooked old house, built without nails and
bearing the evidence of having at one time been a popular hangout for powder post beetles.

But those shadows? They are a little harder to explain away.
I'm not an excitable type, I've got good eyesight,
and I did see them; I was wide awake, and one sighting was in broad daylight.

I don't know what they were. Tricks of the light? Some sort of shadow in my vision? I will never know.

Whatever they were, I truly, still, don't believe in ghosts.

Not the type that float around an old house to spook the current inhabitants, anyway.
Old house are haunted, but by the traces and stored memories of past stewards.

For example, just this morning I went downstairs to the cellar to fetch eggs from the extra fridge,
prior to making a meatloaf for my Mom's 88th birthday luncheon today.

As I was turning off the overhead light, I saw something I'd never before noticed:
scratched into the very old paint near the wall switch was the word:


Can you see it? It's larger, below.
(I have no idea what the red smudge is. Too bright for blood, right? Right?)

Now who the heck scratched that word there, and why?
No ghost, that's for sure; I hope it is some sort of antique family joke!



Back to the present . . .

As I said, I have not seen anything since those two experiences. But my daughter Anne has seen a similar silhouetted something-or-other move across the dining room, and across the front hallway, towards the parlor.

I asked her to take pictures of where she was standing. The first time, she was standing in the butler's pantry, looking into the dining room. It was night:

She saw something move across the room, in front of the windows.

Then, one afternoon, she saw a similar something move across the front hallway, left to right. Anne was standing near the top of the cellar stairs when she saw this -- from this perspective:

And then Alida, in the upstairs hall on her way to bed one night, saw and felt "something" right in front of her, as if a dark veil were briefly there, and snatched away.

The only common denominator in these things is that my daughter Anne has been in the house each time.

Clearly, she is the enabler. :-)

I am heading outside now into brilliant sunshine -- hooray! -- to weed -- boo! But Howard and Annie are out there already doing their bit for the landscape, so I'd better post this and step away from the computer, and into the fresh air. -- Cass


  1. Thanks for sharing that story. I honestly believe there is someone else in the house with you. Seems to be a kind soul. Wow!

  2. I think it's awesome Cass!
    I'm studying all the pictures trying to catch a glimpse.

    Thank you for the fascinating post.
    If you have any more new stories since this post was published I would enjoy them very much as well.

    Have a blessed day.
    ~Melissa :)

  3. Enjoyed this post the 2nd time around. Nope - I don't believe in ghosts either. :)

  4. Whether there was a ghost in your home or not, you are a terrific story teller. This story kept my attention!

  5. Cass it is the ghost of all those dishes you have. It is watching over the plates and bowls making sure you are using them all and creating beautiful tablescapes. I think it is a happy ghost.

  6. Well DUH - - - you started FEEDING those ghosts in the basement so now they're happy and content and peaceful.


    Here's the ghost story I promised you, and then left you hanging like two weeks ago:

    A friend of ours at church just told us they had a haunted CAT. They took in a stray cat and both husband and wife, separately of each other, saw a shadowy form following the cat on several occasions. Neither one told the other until it had happened several times. When they realized they had BOTH had the same experience, they took the cat and let it have its freedom - - - - in a woods far from their home.

    I wonder if their cat belonged to your ghosts!!??!!


  7. Wow, Cass! I did love your story! I don't believe in ghosts either, but this kind of thing does fascinate the heck out of me! I sure did enjoy the pictures of your beautiful rooms!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia :)

  8. Hmmmm! That etching is interesting! Can create a lot of stories off that one. TTFN ~Marydon

  9. No, no, no - - - the CAT wasn't a ghost, well at least I don't think it was - - - it had a ghost hovering around it.

    Still strange.

    I think your basement ghosts would love to have a good kitty.

  10. Cass...I love a good ghost tale, love a haunted house, love the Ghost Hunters TV show. I DO believe in Ghosts ! Call TAPS they're in Rhode Island and they'll come get it's voice on tape! :D

  11. I found this to be a VERY entertaining post. Loved it, thank you!

  12. Have you ever done any historical research on the home? I've heard ghost are souls who haven't transitioned into moving on into the next life. My only experience has been at a haunted restaurant (that happened to be a large old home...that at one time was a funeral parlor...yeah). Dan and I were eating there, and the lights on the candleabra would go from 10 buls lit, down to four, then 6...then ten. When I asked the owner about it, she acknowledged the place was haunted. We took are dessert to go, and got out of there before complete darkness has settled in. She said it's not uncommon around waterfront towns...Do you near water?

  13. Think someone could have been locked in the basement years ago? Maybe the blessing the pastor place on your home, let the soul go on to rest, or the shadows you are seeing are the kind soul that let out? My husband and I have been saying, Mrs. Spears is wanting a cup of tea, for the last month my china cabinet door has been open daily, by none of us. My home is nearing 100 years old, she built the house and had two maids, which we think lived upstairs.


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