The Ghost Of Grand Avenue
The year was 1969, I was 11 years old. I was the second child of six. I had three brothers and two sisters. I will use fictitious names to protect us from any publicity and I will name us in order from oldest to youngest. Angie, 12; Samantha (myself), 11; Eric, 10; Elizabeth, 8; George, 4; and Johnny, 2.
Our mother, Marie, had just rented a three- bedroom house located at 2017 Grand Avenue in Butte, Montana. It was a beautiful house, we felt we had been given a new lease on happiness. We were excited to begin our life in this magnificent home.
The house was a white stucco building, very modern for that year, or so we thought. The front door with its glass storm door (something new to us at the time) opened in onto the front room which was divided by an eight inch wall, rounded at the ceiling on both sides of the room, that separated it from the dining area.
In the middle of the house was a three foot wide hallway that led into the kitchen and was shaped like a T, the other direction of the hall led to the bedrooms and bathroom. The kitchen was an L shape, it had cabinets that ran the length of the inside wall and about three fourths of the back wall to a door that led onto a back porch that also served as a laundry room.
In the floor of the back porch was a door that led into a narrow basement. On one side of the basement was a dirt wall that housed shelves for canned goods, the other side was walled up with cinder blocks. The basement was just a passage that led from the stairs descending from the porch to the foundation at the front of the house.
A door on the West side of the porch led to a huge yard that contained a Pine tree so big that its branches were used to shield a playhouse that we had made to entertain ourselves that summer.
On the East side of the porch a door led into a garage that opened into the ally.
The bedrooms that us children used were at the front of the house on the East side of the living room. They were identical to the living room except that they were divided by double French doors and each room had two built in closets and a dresser between the closets.
The three boys had the room next to the hall and us three girls had the room at the very front of the house. Our mother had the room across the hall. I do not have any pictures of this house but I will include a drawing that will make it more understandable as to how the house was laid out.
At first, everything was perfect. We loved the new house, the spacious rooms, and the wonderful fenced in yard. We played under the old pine tree and the first few weeks of that summer were care- free, happy filled days for us.
The living room, however, was the beginning of our troubles.
When we moved into the house, we had noticed a spot about the size of a dinner plate in the middle of the floor. The floors in the living and dining rooms were hard wood. They had been varnished to a beautiful shine. Mom had said that once she had everything unpacked and put into place, she would strip the stain from the floor and revarnish it. Which she did about two weeks after we moved in. The stain came out and it remained gone for about three days.
We had a collie dog that had been part of our family for a couple of years and he was well trained to never get onto the furniture, but something about the house disturbed the dog. He would not stay in the living room and would jump onto the sofa every time he was forced into the room. He would lay on the sofa and shake, then run and slide across the room when he was dragged from the furniture.
We awoke one morning to find that the stain was back on the floor and there was a cold spot in the dining room. I remember mom would stand in that cold spot when she had ironing to do because it always stayed cold there, no matter how hot the rest of the house was.
The day the stain reappeared, other strange things began happening. We would always make sure the doors were locked and bolted each night when we went to bed, but each morning, every one of them would be unlocked and standing wide open. The door that led from the kitchen to the back porch did not have a lock on it, so mom would always slide a butcher knife between the door and the facing, leaving the handle of the knife across the door to keep it locked. In the mornings, the knife would be laying on the kitchen counter.
Mom, Angie, and Eric stayed up all night once to see if they could determine who was unlocking the doors. They saw nothing, but the next morning the doors were open.
One evening, mom decided to visit friends of hers to play cards. She called the son of another friend, Billy, to have him sit with us for the evening. After she had gone, we began playing around in the house, chasing each other through the rooms, just being silly, as children will do. Billy wore wire rimmed glasses and teasingly, Angie snatched his glasses, she ran to the back porch and placed the glasses in the lingerie basket of the washing machine, then closed the lid. Billy hunted everywhere for his glasses and just when he was about to give up the search and beg her into getting them for him, the washing machine began to fill with water. We all ran to the back porch, Billy lifted the lid, finding his glasses, he removed them, then tried to shut the machine off, but the knob was already in the off position. He reached behind the washer to pull the plug and found that it, too, had already been unplugged. We all backed off the porch into the kitchen and slammed the door shut. The machine stopped filling up just as miraculously as it had started.
We went to the living room and turned on the television set, deciding that we had just been imagining things. Our moods lifted a little as we began to watch the Carol Burnett Show.
Billy and Angie went to the kitchen to make popcorn and as we all sat around the sofa, consuming the treat, the front door blew open and a chilly air swirled around us, then into the dining room. Of course our attention was drawn toward the kitchen and we witnessed a blue smoke, barely visible, floating from the kitchen into the hall toward the bathroom. Seconds later the boys' bedroom light came on.
We were pretty spooked, but mom came home just at that time and we excitedly described to her what had happened that evening. She shrugged it off as childish pratter, saying that we had probably just gotten ourselves spooked with ghost stories or something. We could not argue the point, because of course, she was right. We had started the evening by telling ghost stories.
Things would probably have gone on normally though, if that had been the end of it, but it was not.
After that night, our bedroom light would come on and off by itself periodically throughout the night. The television set would come on by itself, and of course, the doors were still standing open each morning after we had locked them the previous night.
On one afternoon, mom had just washed a load of laundry and was hanging them on the clothes line in the back yard. She had sent all of us except Johnny, to the park at the end of our street to play for the afternoon, so she and Johnny were the only ones at the house.
She bent to pick up an article of clothing to pin it on the line and as she stood up she saw a man in a wheelchair with a dog on either side of him. He was rolling toward her between two rows of the drying laundry. She felt the hair standing up on the back of her neck and said she knew there was something evil about him. She raced to the back door, picking up the baby, Johnny, who was playing at the side of the house and darted through the door, bolting it as she slammed it shut.
She started into the kitchen and the back door opened. The man was sitting there in the doorway watching her. She was pretty frightened by this experience. The man never spoke a word to her, but she said she felt as though he was telling her to get out of his house.
Just toward the end of the summer, mom had gone out again for the evening. This time she left Angie and I in charge of the younger children. We remembered the last time she had gone out and decided there would be no ghost stories that night. Instead, we began playing chase through the house.
Angie was it and she was chasing me. I ran into the living room toward the open door, and I pushed the glass storm door open, but before I could get through it, the door was forced back against me with such force that had I not thrown up my arm to stop it, I may have suffered severe injury. As it happened, only my wrist was cut. This ended our game of chase in the house though. Angie explained that the wind had forced the door to slam shut on me. We accepted this explanation, but were starting to feel a little shaken and spooked.
We sat in the living room to watch television, but the the set kept going off and on, so we were unable to view any programs. We became agitated and decided we would just eat the dinner that mom had prepared for us before she left, hoping that this would end the pranks that were going on in the house.
We sat at the kitchen table that had been placed in the little alcove in front of the pantry. Angie sat with her back toward the door to the back porch, she held Johnny on her lap. I was facing the window that looked out onto the yard and the pine tree, George sat beside me. Elizabeth had her back to the dining room wall and Eric had his back to the window. As we sat eating our dinner and talking, we felt a cold chill surround us, our dog who had been lying on the floor beside the table, began to growl deep in his throat, the hair stood up on his back, and he moved toward the window. This spooked Eric and he moved around the table to stand between me and Angie. Our trusty pet began to move toward the back door and we all moved away from the table. We started toward the living room when we heard the door leading from the yard onto the porch open and with a gust of wind, the door into the kitchen blew open with tremendous force.
A man stood in the doorway, he was dressed in a black coat that hung to his feet and we could not make out his features for the the darkness that surrounded him. Terrified, we ran through the living room, dragging the smaller children with us, and out into the street in front of the house. The man followed us to the door, but came no further. Mom had an old Buick that she had restored sitting in front of the house and we all climbed into it, thinking that would be the safest place for us until she returned.
We sat there for what seemed like hours to us and began to get tired of waiting for mom, so we decided we would let Eric drive her car to where she was and bring her home with us. Children will be children. Fortunately, we did not have any keys to the car, they were hanging on a key holder on the kitchen wall.
We talked among ourselves and agreed that since nothing more had happened after we ran from the house, that it would be safe to run back in long enough to grab the keys. We bravely went to the front door, eased it open and started to step inside, but the ice cold air that filled the room sent terror flowing through our veins and we ran back out of the yard. Our terror was so great that we kept running until we reached the neighbor who lived on the West side of our house. She had heard our screams and was standing on her porch motioning for us to hurry into her house. When we were safe inside her living room, she calmed us by providing refreshments, then kept us with her until mom arrived home, which was about thirty minutes later. The neighbor woman went out into her yard and called to mom as mom got out of her car. She told mom that we were there with her, explained why, and then informed us that the house we lived in was haunted. She had no details to share with us about the haunting, just that there were evil spirits inhabiting the house.
We did not move from the house right away and there were other incidents that took place there before we did, but us children we were never left alone there after that.
Several years after we had moved, Angie and I had been talking about the eerie hauntings with friends. We were, in fact, grown with children of our own at this time, and our friends recalled hearing about that house. We cannot be sure that it is the same house, but we were told (we never found any articles in the papers about it) that the house had been sold to a family and they had decided to tear down the cinder block wall in the basement to expand and build a family room in it. We had always wondered why that basement was so small, since it apparently seemed to be the size of the West side of the house. We were told that when the wall was removed, the remains of a man was found in a wheelchair and on the dirt floor in front of the chair. On either side of the chair were the skeletal remains of two dogs. The story we heard was that the man's only living relative had given the man and the dogs a drug that had induced sleep, he and his trusted pets were then placed behind the cinder block wall that had been prepared in advance, the wall was sealed off, and the victims were left there to suffer a slow and excruciating death, while his heir enjoyed his fortune.