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Hanging Trees & Trap Doors

Jaime, MD, USA
October 2002

This story is not my own, but that of a friend. It happened to her when she was just a little girl, but she remembers it very clearly. To make it easier I will tell it as she told me (paraphrased of course):

"When I was little my mother was often sick and in the hospital. My brothers and sisters and I stayed with my mothers's friend Ethel during those times. The house creeped me out, but otherwise those times were happy. My brothers, sisters, and I would play for hours on the acres of land surrounding Ethel's sprawling, eccentric home.

I remember the house had a very strange layout. It was huge, with 3 or 4 bedrooms downstairs and another couple upstairs. The other half of the upstairs was a closed off, unused attic space. Us kids didn't like going upstairs because we knew that the attic was up there behind the wall.

The house was surrounded on three sides by a totally enclosed porch and on the back of the house part of the attic was over top of the back side of that porch. Sometime in the 40's a bathroom was installed off the back of the porch. This divided the porch into two sections.

To go the bathroom you had to go out the kitchen door and walk across the porch. In the ceiling was a large trap door leading to an attic/loft space over that side of the house. I hated going to the bathroom because I would have to walk under that trap door, so I would wait until the morning when someone could walk with me.

I also hated sleeping in Ethel's room, but if I was sick she would make me. Whenever I slept in her room I would pull the blankets over my head and would have a very, very hard time falling asleep.

When I was older I found out that Ethel's aunt had left the house to her. And I also found out that Ethel's room used to be her Aunt's room and the the Aunt had died in that room in that bed. I also found out that the Aunt had a mentally retarded son that she was ashamed of and kept locked in the attic. None of the aunt's neighbors knew of the son's existence and so in the weeks after her Aunt died the son starved to death slowly. It wasn't until weeks later after family members came to collect their inheritance that anyone mentioned the boy, but by that time it was too late. Family members had assumed that the neighbors would provide for the boy until their arrival. Ethel herself had never known about the existence of her cousin until that point.

I don't know if it was because I was so young and so susceptible that I could feel that those things had happened or maybe the house was really haunted.

I guess I'll never find out because after Ethel died the state seized the property to make it part of a national park. The house was torn down years ago."

My friend also told me about a tree that was outside Ethel's house:

"Outside of Ethel's house stood this huge, ugly, twisted tree. I remember I hated going past that tree on the drive to and from the house. I even hated seeing it from the front porch. My mother once told me that during a visit to Ethel's house we sat on the front porch. For no reason at all I stood on the front steps and stared at the tree and after a few minutes I started screaming and didn't stop until we went in. Ethel told my Mom a few days later that the tree had been rumored to be the nearby town's (now ghost town) old hanging tree. Actually, that tree is still standing."

So that's my friends story about Hanging Trees and Trap Doors .

Jaime, MD, USA
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