In the late winter of 1978 New England was socked with a terrible Noreaster-snowstorm that brought the region to its knees. At the time I was 13 years old and was quite happy with the month or so I got off from school. During this winter sabbatical I spent much of my time doing what typical teenagers do, having snowball fights, shoveling driveways for extra cash and sledding.The town that I lived in, Easton, Massachusetts, had one infamous sledding location duly named suicide hill. The hill was on the grounds of an old estate that was owned by the Ames family. The Ames family had made their fortune in the late 1800's by manufacturing and selling shovels and other related tools. The town of Easton was dotted with medieval style stone castles and vast estates and compounds the family had built. By 1978 all that was left in Easton of the Ames family was there properties and perhaps a lingering presence of a son that died in a horrific plane crash.
On a clear February evening we set off for suicide hill in the Ames Langwater estate. My brother Mark and I proceeded down to the end of our street with the toboggan in tow. The night was lit by a full moon that made it possible for us to see our warm breath hit the cold night air. We pressed on laboring through snowdrifts bigger than the both of us until we approached the black steel gates of Langwater. After we climbed the gates we began the last leg of our journey down the south access road. The road was lined with hundred year old oak trees that were laden with the recent snowfall. At times it seemed as if the old trees were reaching there branches down to ward us off, but at that point we were too close to suicide hill to turn back.
Suicide hill is named for the 3 specific obstacles you have to navigate on your way down. At the top of the hill you sled down a narrow path lined with brush and full grown trees. After clearing the path the hill opens into a steep field. Halfway down the hill a road is cut into its side, this produces a large bump that knock most off their sled. And at the bottom is the most dangerous obstacle. Without either turning or jumping off the sled you end up on the ice of a frozen pond. When the ice is too thin you can find yourself in a lot of trouble.
Finally we reached the top of the hill and were ready for our first run. On the first run we crashed at the road in the hill. After picking up our toboggan and associated hats and mittens that had come off in the impact we set out for the top again. After our second run we found ourselves in the middle of Langwater pond at the bottom of the hill. As we sat catching our breath and talking about the last run I looked up. Across the pond from the opposite shoreline I noticed a bluish mist rolling in our direction. It was approximately 100 feet away and closing. It had a distinct left and right flank and an unmistakable forward motion. We both stood up staring in awe at the apparition. When it got to within 50 feet my brother an I were hi tailing it for land. Backing up onto the hill we witnessed it progress past our sled tracks to the opposite shore where it abruptly stopped and hovered. At close range I noticed it was about 10 feet across and held an elongated diamond shape with the long end pointing toward us.
We stood there staring at it for what seemed like and hour, whispering to each other our theory on its origin and slowly backing away we collected our things to leave. We left each trying to bolster the others confidence that what we saw can be explained in some rational manner, but the truth was, it couldn't. Our steps were noticeably quicker on the way out from the south entry road. Once we cleared that were at a full tilt run for home.
I have not mentioned this story to too many others. Later after doing some research I discovered that this blue mist was the ghost of Fredrick Lothrop Ames. The same "blue mist" had been observed elsewhere on Ames grounds. The story goes that Fredrick was an avid pilot and lived on an estate in Easton which is now nearby Stonehill College. Because of his great wealth Fredrick had his own plane and family owned the airport at his estate. Many nights he would fly to Boston for a night on the town and return home via airplane in the wee hours. Returning home on one particular foggy night Fredrick could not find his runway and crashed an was killed. The family servant responsible for lighting the runway light was himself out drinking and did not return to light the runway for Fredrick. It is said that Fredrick's ghost still searches his family's grounds for the spirit of the irresponsible servant who did not light his way home that fateful night.