Sunday, October 14, 2012

Life In the Paranormal Lane - My Life In A Haunted House Part I

In keeping with the season, I'm going to tell you a ghost story.  My own.  It all really happened.  It's funny in some parts and terrifying in others.  This is the story of my family’s life in one of the most haunted houses our Oregon hometown has to offer.  Everyone in town knew about it - everybody in town but me and my family, that is.  We were recent additions to the community back then.  Lesson one: When you’re checking out a neighborhood, schools and crime statistics may not be the only thing you should investigate.   

My family arrived in St. Helens healing war wounds from both personal and financial disasters.  We were battered and shaken, but thankfully, still all together.  Finding this rental house was like a dream come true.  Unbelievably, it fit our budget and had something for everyone.  It was two-story with hardwood floors, which believe it or not was something our children had asked me to find.  They sorely missed our 1940’s  home in Portland.  My husband wanted a yard with minimal up keep and a nice street presence.  

This home was a 1930’s bungalow style home with a deep basement.  (Can you tell I used to sell real estate?) It had been remodeled into a split-entry home with a modern family room, den, bedroom and bath downstairs and old-style parlor, 2 bedrooms, bath and kitchen upstairs.  And a glassed in back porch that will figure prominently in the story later.  The front of the home featured three massively tall and imposing columns at the front entry.  Talk about street presence.  And for me, there were single french doors and a built-in china hutch. Wow!  I’m not a person who looks a gift from the Universe in the mouth.  We rented it immediately.

If you’ve never lived in, or experienced a haunted home, it’s hard to explain the feel of them.  You are aware that you are never entirely alone.  You may know that you are the only one there physically, however, there’s always a presence that you might at first discount because of your unfamiliarity with your new living situation.  Sometimes that’s all it is and sometimes it’s something else entirely different.  

I took the first load of belongings to our new home myself.  My husband was working and the kids were in school.  A city worker arrived to turn on the water just as I was carrying in a box.  “You moving in?” he asked.  

I remember thinking, “No, I’m a reverse burglar.  I take my junk to people’s houses and leave it.”  I played nice and told him, yes, we’re were moving in.

“You won’t stay long,” he said.  “People never do.  The place is haunted, you know.”

Great.  I’d landed myself and my family in a B-grade haunted house flick complete with  dire warnings issued by the obligatory unnamed handyman - in this case a city worker.  Lovely.  And we hadn’t even moved in yet.  Though frankly, I’d had my suspicions about the place the first time we’d walked into it.

My mother was British and during times of adversity believed that one should begin as one means to go on.  Fortitude is a necessary evil.  I picked up a box of my mother’s Wedgwood, carried it to the built-in to unpack it and said to the house at large, “I think we should talk.”  For the next forty minutes I talked and I believe the house listened.  I told it that we were all healing and looking for a safe haven, that we already liked the house and would respect our unseen occupant.  The only thing I asked was that the ghost please leave my youngest daughter, then seven years old, in peace.  Children should never have to be afraid in their own home.  I’d had enough of that myself growing up in a haunted home.  I didn’t realize then that my request should have included my fifteen year-old daughter as well.  Her bedroom was one of the focal points of the haunting while my youngest never saw or heard anything the entire 4 years we were there.

The day we moved in my husband called me into the kitchen.  “There are baby latches on all the cupboards,” he said.  

“I guess the former renters had little kids,” I answered.  “No big deal.  We can take them off.”

“No,” he said.  “I mean all the cupboards.  Even the ones over the counters.”  

“Weird,” I replied.  We made jokes about alpine climbing babies and promptly forgot about it.  We finished as much unpacking as we could face that day and headed for bed.  My husband, my youngest and I slept downstairs, my son and older daughter, upstairs.  I remember hearing furniture moving as I was drifting off to sleep that night, but figured my teens still must have had some energy left.  In the middle of the night, my husband and I both woke up.  I don’t know why.  Suddenly we heard the simultaneous sounds of something being shoved across a surface, a crash and breaking glass.  One of my husband’s heavy, antique glass bowls had been pushed off one of our china hutches and broken.  We determined our cat must be the culprit.  However, in hindsight, that bowl was very heavy and the cat, pretty small.  She’d never shoved anything off anything before.  Perhaps it was the opening volley between the ghost and ourselves.   At any rate, that was our cat’s first and last night in the new house.  She disappeared sometime the next morning and we never saw her again.

The next morning I got up early to make our first breakfast in our new home.  I went into the kitchen and found every, single cupboard door standing wide open.

Next Time: Part 2  "What Just Hit Me? or, We investigate the History of Our House"

Lady Oracle

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