In 1972, when I was 15, my parents moved from the north side of our city to the south side, into a beautiful home that was about 5 years old. The house had been for sale for quite some time and was vacant at the time my parents made their very low offer. Surprisingly, it was accepted, and we all spent weekends painting and cleaning, getting it ready to move into. It was during this time that we first heard about our "haunted house!"
After cleaning my bedroom to meet my mom's specifications, I went outside to walk around and see if there were any kids my age in the neighborhood. Luckily I met a couple of girls. They were both really nice and fun, and we hit it off right away. After we'd talked for a couple of hours, one of the girls mentioned the haunted house...did I know that the house we were moving into was haunted? I laughed and remember thinking, these gals are pulling my leg. But they were very serious and said that it had been haunted since the first owner's wife had died in the house. And the last owner just packed up and moved to an entirely different city after being in the house less than a year. I was excited/scared and asked for the whole story. Apparently the wife of the first owner contracted the Hong Kong flue between Christmas and New Years a couple of years before. She died almost immediately, leaving 3 children and a husband behind. The house was sold the following Spring and the widowed man and his kids moved on. The second owners stayed about a year and moved as well. The third owners followed the same pattern except one of their children mentioned to another kid on the block that they were leaving because the house was haunted. Later this "crazy" tale was confirmed by several adults in the neighborhood, both of whom were successful businessmen and thoroughly reliable. Enter my family; the 4th owner in 5 years!
Needless to say, I was intrigued. I immediately told my parents both of whom laughed it off, being extremely practical and level-headed people. We didn't experience anything unusual at the house until we'd permanently moved in. During our first night there, my little 5 year old sister woke everyone up in the middle of the night screaming that there was someone in her bedroom. I knew that she wasn't prone to nightmares, because we used to share a bedroom before moving into this bigger house. She was terrified and refused to sleep in her room the rest of the night. I remember my mom mentioning that the closet door was open and she didn't remember it being left open when she tucked my sister into bed, but that was all that came up.
You have to remember throughout this entire story that my parents were very commonsense, practical people...there was no way someone could convince them of the existence of a ghost any more than they could the existence of aliens. They just would never believe it. Plus, my mom and dad were anal-retentive about lights, doors, cleanliness; lights had to be turned off when you left a room, cabinet and closet doors had to be kept closed and the house was always immaculate. It was the era of the oil shortage, and President Nixon had asked that everyone be conscious of their energy consumption. My parents took that to heart although they didn't vote for the man...ha ha!
It wasn't too long before I began to notice odd happenings in my bedroom (the bedroom where the woman had died, according to neighborhood sources.) My alarm clock stopped EVERYDAY, without exception, at 2:45. My bedroom door never, ever stayed open...it would slowly close until the last 3-4 inches and then it would slam shut. It got to the point that the only thing that would hold it open was a brick that I had hand painted. I'd turn my bedroom light off, leave the room and by the time I got to the end of the hall, the light was back on. This happened so often, to my parents as well, that my dad, the handyman, took the socket apart to make sure there wasn't a short in the switch or in the fixture....nothing wrong. I started getting the creepy sensation that if I turned my head or looked in a mirror, I'd see someone behind me. At times the presence was almost overwhelming but not frightening; just unnerving.
The house made unusual noises for one only 5 years old; it sometimes sounded like it was rocking off the foundation. My dad attributed it to a severely bad winter and settling. It was especially bad when I had a Pajama Party with 4 other girls. Wow...it went wild. The gals I was with were completely freaked out and none of us slept one minute. I still keep in contact with one of the girls, a computer software executive, who tells me to this day that she'll never forget that night or that house!
One evening when my brother, sister and I were home alone, there was a terrible storm. I mean it was one of those storms in Missouri that you can just imagine a tornado picking up the house and hurling it into OZ! Well, we were all in the kitchen playing Scrabble and every radio and stereo in the house came on...LOUDLY! The three of us just froze...my little sister looked at me for help and I thought, "Oh, great!" Well, I "bravely" got up, turned off the kitchen radio, turned off the living room stereo, turned off my stereo, and ventured down the hall to my brother's room to turn off his radio. Wrong! As soon as I left his room, it turned right back on again. I went back in and turned it off, but it happened again. At this point I was so scared and mad that I screamed, "Stop it!" and it was all quiet, no more radio, no more noise.
Another interesting incident that occurred once again involved my room. It was on a Saturday morning. My mom and I were the only ones in the house. It was a beautiful summer day, and I was in the basement ironing. All of a sudden my mom let out this blood-curdling scream and ordered me upstairs. Now let me say; this wasn't a frightened scream...this was a pissed-off scream.
I flew up the stairs and she was in my bedroom pointing at the window. At first I couldn't figure out what she was so furious about until I looked at my window. I had a huge picture window in my bedroom; about 7' x 5'. There were formal, pinch-pleated lined drapes hung on a traverse rod with pins. Someone or something had taken the right side of the drape and moved it down from the center about 10 pins, so that the drapes didn't meet in the middle anymore and were, instead, hanging off the end of the rod. The pins that had been removed from the drape were still hanging from the traverse rod, near the center. As big as the window was and as high off the ground, it would have taken a ladder and about an hour to pull off this little prank. My mom must have realized that I would never have done something so tedious and just asked me to rehang the drape...she'd talk to my father about it when he got home.
I constantly heard thumping at the foot of my bed as if someone was pounding on the basement ceiling right under my room. Several times I was startled awake by my bed moving side to side, but I always tried to rationalize each incident; maybe I was dreaming. But now looking back it seems obvious to me that there was no rational explanation for any of it.
Interestingly enough, after we'd been there bout 1 1/2 years my dad was transferred to Virginia and the house was sold again. One evening we were discussing the move and my dad mentioned, "Hey, I had a visit from your friend this morning!" How our ghost got to be MY friend, I'll never know. Anyway...he went on with his story. My dad had a little morning routine that he never, ever deviated from. He would wake up, go into the kitchen and turn the coffee pot on, go take his shower and get dressed, come into the kitchen, pour a cup of coffee, add an ice cube (yep...he liked lukewarm coffee) and then eat breakfast. Well, that morning everything went as usual. He got up, went into the kitchen and turned on the coffee pot, and went to take a shower. However, when he returned to the kitchen after his shower, his coffee cup was full of coffee and there was already an ice cube floating around in it! He thought my mom had done it for him and abruptly turned around and headed for their bedroom to thank her. What a surprise for him to discover her fast asleep. It's funny looking back...my dad wasn't scared, just fascinated and mentioned how much we'd miss "my friend" after we moved. This coming from a level-headed, smart, executive for a major transportation firm.
I've always wondered if the phenomena continued after we left. I do know that the people who bought the house from us didn't have any children, and I've since read that teenage children can sometimes unwittingly unleash paranormal activity.
I moved back to Missouri after 5 years in Virginia, and I've always been tempted to stop the by house and just ask if anything odd ever occurs there. I guess my family's experience shows that a house doesn't have to be old or built on an Indian burial ground to be haunted. The subject always comes up when I get around family and friends. We all believe that it could have been the presence of that poor young woman who died so suddenly of the Hong Kong Flu, leaving 3 children behind during the Christmas holidays.