My Own Home By The Sea
Ron P., OK, USA
In 1983, I was a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, and in July I moved into this great basement apartment there. The apartment was appealing to me from the start, as it was a large, furnished 1-bedroom, with its own private entrance. The apartment was in an old, 3-story, brick apartment building called "The Greyling Apartments". It was huge, the living room alone had four sofas, and still enough room for an office area (which had two recliners and desk and chair), where I did my school work. Even the kitchen had a sofa in it. At the front of the apartment was a bank of windows all along the east wall, next to the front door, which looked out onto my private, enclosed porch and steps down from the street outside. This description is tedious, but absolutely necessary for the following.
Don't remember how long I'd lived there, not too long a time though, when one late morning, I was walking through the living room toward the front door, and saw a man, a thin man wearing a brown suit and brown hat, walking down my steps toward my front door. Anticipating the knock on the door, I walked to the door and opened it. There was no one there, and no one on the steps. I had had the windows in my sight all along, and never saw this fellow turn and exit; he had simply never been there or had vanished. I remember being dismayed and surprised, and suspected that I simply missed him turning and leaving, so I soon forgot about it. The whole event bewildered me however; how could that have happened, how did I not see him walk back up the steps and away?
Some time later, perhaps three or four weeks after this event, I walked home from classes, down my steps to the door, and upon opening the door, was shocked to see someone sitting on the far sofa in my living room. He wore a brown suit, which looked old, out of place, even old-timey, and this time, his brown hat was in his lap. I saw him clearly enough to describe him as being maybe 40 to 50 years old, clean shaved and trim, thin, and sitting stiff and upright, looking directly ahead, oblivious to me at the door. Immediately, I said 'Hello, who are you', or the like. After 4 or 5 seconds, this man became whispy and white all over, then positively dissolved into nothing- ness. I inspected the place where he had sat, and there was no indication that he had been there; the seat was cool, the rest of the apartment undisturbed. Now, I suspected that the man was a ghost, for what I'd seen couldn't be explained otherwise. This was to be the last time that I would see my spectre, but not at all the last I would hear from him.
I lived in this basement apartment for three years until graduation, in June, 1986. On a few memorable, unremarkable occasions I would awaken to the sound of someone crying, weeping and wailing, always in the mid morning, only to look around finding no one crying either inside my apartment or around the perimeter of the building. This happened on Sundays mostly. I remember these being soft crying, weeping noises which ended when I became alert to them. On two of these mornings though, both in November, 1984 then 1985, I heard the cries and the voice of a man, clearly but far off, outside maybe, cursing and swearing, but loud enough to alarm me to jump from my waterbed to see what the crisis was. Never did I find anyone who was around the place doing such.
The next two incidents happened, and I don't remember now in what order. Both happened while I was in bed in that apartment on the corner of Santa Fe Street and Eufaula Avenue, in the nighttime.
I was lying on my right side, drifting peacefully to sleep one night. I was neither awake nor asleep, but in that stage between the two; conscious of nothing in particular, but definitely not dreaming. All of a sudden, as loud as can be, a voice in my ear shouted, "RONNIE"!! The name spoken was at the same time both whispered, and as loud as a shout, and heard, as opposed to sounding like it was in my head, in my thoughts. The calling of my name caused me to jump straight up and become frightened immediately. My heart raced in panic. But there was no other word spoken, and not any sign of anyone being in the bedroom or the entire apartment. This disturbing incident lasted only that long. Only, I had not gone by that name since I had left my hometown to come to college; no one other than my immediate family hundreds of miles away called me 'Ronnie'; I chose to shorten it to only 'Ron' in Norman for the last four years. No one in Norman called me Ronnie.
On another night, while asleep in my bed in the middle of the night, around 3 AM, I was awakened by some noise coming from the adjacent living room. As I lay there, awake now and listening for more, I heard my stereo come on. Let me say now that at that time, I listened to a (totally) Jazz and New Age radio station out of Okahoma City; that's where the radio dial was positioned. (This radio station went off the air at midnight every night--I know, as a close friend of mine was a volunteer DJ there) The stereo then played one, and only one song, then went dead. The song played was by the rock group, "Genesis", called, "Home By The Sea". I listened to the unfamiliar song lying in bed, heard the song end, then my stereo go silent, and I returned to sleep. I only recognized the distinctive song days later, while sitting in the OU Student Union Lounge, when I heard it on a jukebox and checked it out. The song, Home By The Sea , tells a story of ghosts inhabiting a house, and their travails, and trapping a visitor in their haunt. Consequently, this song has become a very large part of my life wherever I've gone, because of its reminder of my haunted Norman apartment, and the seemingly harmless ghost who simply wanted to relive his life in what he 'told me'.(...SIT DOWN...) In fact, I call my permanent home now the Home by the Sea, in regard to those strange days.
OK. Now I'm convinced of my haunted place. Remember, that my apartment was a basement apartment. And in Central Oklahoma, often heavy, flooding rains come. My apartment flooded often, due to its depth; I frequently had to stack the furniture and my possessions up to save them from the water 2 inches deep on the floor, then suck up the water with a shop-vac and take carpeting outside to dry in the sun. Finally, I asked my landlady, Oma J., for some relief. She agreed to have the lawn outside my entrance sloped so rain water would drain into Santa Fe street, instead of my porch, and lay a raised concrete bank around my porch. She agreed to put down brand new wall-to-wall carpeting for me, as well. To accomadate all this, I stacked all the furniture from the living room, all those sofas on their ends, in my kitchen and bedroom.
During this period with the furniture placed like this, one night, I awoke from sleep needing to go pee, so without turning on any lights, I went to the bathroom, then went into the kitchen for a drink of water. I managed to negotiate my way to the sink, and get a drink, but while standing there, I thought to myself that I should have switched on the light coming in, to keep from stubbing my toes on all the extra stuff in my kitchen. NO SOONER had I thought that statement to myself, then the kitchen light snapped on by itself!! I dropped the glass of water, it breaking in the sink where I stood, and I went limp and fell to my knees in abject fear and disbelief. "Oh, it's You again, Thank you." I thought or maybe I said it aloud. I composed myself, got up, saying thank you again, and going back to bed.
With all the renovations that Oma J. was doing on my behalf, she jacked my rent up an extra $50. a month. To make ends meet, I worked off the additional rent for her elsewhere in her apartment house. I had the opportunity one of those times to ask her about ghosts and hauntings, whether she had heard of this before, whether she had experienced anything herself. This is what my landlady told me about the building:
That the building had originally been the Norman Church of the Nazarene, built in 1911. And that in November, 1919, there had been a boiler explosion in the basement and the resulting fire had taken 8 lives. She added that where my apartment was, was once the church's nursery. She knew of no other history than that. Then she added that since she had owned the building, some 22 years then, she had trouble keeping the basement apartments rented more than the rest, because of sightings of, and the sounds of spirits around and in them, and that I and the other denizen renter (an oddball named "Mr. Hammer" who had a much smaller apartment in the basement as well), had stayed much longer than anyone else who'd ever rented the places.
Despite everything, I moved away after graduation, but to this day, I'll sometimes dream of that pleasant apartment in a brick building, and smile, and hum the strains of Home by the Sea to myself.