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The Old House On Branch Street

November 2003

Years ago, a great, old house resided on a road called Branch Street, in Lowell, Massachusetts. I am unsure if it's still there or not . . . But it is indeed possible.

My mother lived in this aged house for a portion of her childhood. The realtor had told my grandparents of the tales surrounding the house- tales of its previous "residents," and tales of ghostly visitations. My grandfather, a practical man, naturally scoffed at these stories.

And so, it began. My grandfather, grandmother, uncle, and my mother moved into the old house on Branch Street in the mid to late 1960s.

One of the stories they'd been told about the house was of the previous owners. The house was believed to have lodged the insane, back in the 1940s or 50s, I believe. In the basement, there had been cells to house the mentally ill. (Removed by the time my mother's family moved in.) One of the only reasons they'd ever open these cells was to feed the "patients." And this was only through small slides, only big enough for a plate to fit through.

Well, one night my grandfather was working late (as he usually did) and my grandmother was alone with my mother and uncle. They were all in bed, and asleep. That is, until they heard the shaking of metal bars. They heard it two floors up; shake, shake, shake.

This woke everyone, but nobody would go to look downstairs- after all, what good could it do? There were no bars there, any longer. And certainly nobody in the basement locked up . . . After that night, the shaking of the nonexistent bars could be heard once in a while. And, on different occasions, the grand piano in the parlor (left behind by previous inhabitants) would play. There was no piano roll- but late at night it would just play, and play. My uncle once saw the keys being pressed down by invisible hands.

Another incident occurred when my great aunt babysat my mother and uncle. They were all in the living room, listening to the radio, or watching television. (At present time, I cannot remember which.) They heard the creak of the door to the basement as it opened and closed. Three or four times they heard it. As well as the creak of the old wooden stairs, as if people were going up and down.

My great aunt, at the urging of my mother and uncle, went to check what was going on. As she opened the basement door, she felt hands on her back. And then she was pushed down the stairs. She was unhurt, but furious all the same. She went back upstairs and accused my uncle and mother of pushing her- she demanded to know who did it.

When my grandparents came home, they were informed of what had happened. My grandfather, who never did believe in the ghosts of the old house on Branch Street, was upset. But my grandmother kept my mother and uncle from punishment. She believed in the spirits.

My uncle said that his "invisible friend," Charlie, did it. My grandmother has speculated that "Charlie" was one of the mentally ill who died in the house. That he was really a ghost. My mother won't admit to this. And, today, my uncle denies that he even had an "invisible friend."

Yet another event happened one night when my grandfather was working late. My grandmother was in bed, sleeping fitfully, when she felt him lie down beside her, and his arm wrap around her. She turned to look, and all of the sudden he was gone again. My grandfather really didn't get home until about an hour later. The one who lie next to my grandmother was yet another ghost of the damned house.

I'm not sure if this is related, but while living on Branch Street, my grandmother's dog ran away. The dog would bark and bark during the ghostly occurrences, and, though not stated by anyone who lived in that house, I believe Bowser was driven away by those ghosts- Or maybe he ran away so he would be free of them.

Months later, my mother's family found out Bowser had died. He'd been hit by a truck, and a farmer tried to save him. He was unable. Of course, I don't know if this was the "work" of the house- It is just, after all, my personal speculation.

My mother's family moved out of the house on Branch Street, roughly two to three years after moving in. My grandfather, as I said, didn't believe in the ghosts, but moved out nonetheless after request from my grandmother, uncle, and mother.

I've always wanted to visit that old house on Branch Street. My mother has told me that it is no longer there- knocked down to build a newer house. But my grandmother believes it still stands today. And I do plan to find out. My family now lives in Florida, but I plan on moving back to New England for college . . .

If the house still stands, I'll find it. I will go, and see if there really was a ghostly presence. I don't know if I'd still feel it, all these years later, or if it ever really was there . . . But I'm counting on it.

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