For the first several years of our marriage John and I lived in the house that had been built by his great-grandfather in 1917. It was/is a traditional two-story farmhouse situated across a creek at the southern entrance to the farm and is quite close to the barnyards. The
house remains in the family to this day and is/has been for a while known as the "Old House".
Over the years this dwelling has been home to John’s great-grandparents and several of their 18 children, a slew of tenant farmers and their families, my family (minus John-Heath), and both of John’s sisters and their families. It was also, during a lengthy period of time in which it was vacant, once used as a haunted house in a fundraising event held by the high school band. This took place the year I was in the fourth grade. How do I remember this? Because my dad took me to it. And if you had told me that night that I would one day call that place home, I would have called you crazy, especially as I entered the kitchen off the back porch to a mad doctor operating on a screaming woman strapped to a table or made my way through the rest of the house as various ghosts and goblins jumped out from behind curtains and doors.
But flash forward a few years and there I was! Eating in that same kitchen. Walking those same halls. Sleeping in that same bedroom.
Of course, in all my years there I really gave no thought to the fact that it had once been used as a pretend haunted house. What did give me reason to pause on a few occasions were all the little bumps in the night and other oddities to which we grew somewhat accustomed.
Now before you go and think me crazy let me explain. I’m not talking Amityville Horror-type occurrences. I never saw slime oozing down the walls (except this one time when something went really, really wrong with my cooking) and we never had thousands of flies invade our house, though it did seem that way anytime too large a portion of the herd was in the barnyard. But little things, and one or two bigger things, did happen. Noises in the night, doors closing, items moved about, taps on the wall. You get the picture.
According to several polls you can find via Google, roughly a third of Americans believe in ghosts. And, if you’ll remember from a past post, I count myself in that percentage to some degree. I’m just not sure to what degree. All I can say is that there have been times when I have felt quite certain of something.
The first time I ever noticed anything in or around the Old House was when John and I were dating and, at the time, I wasn’t the one who noticed it. John did. We had gone to the third barn where John was loading some blocks onto the back of his dad’s truck. I was sitting inside the truck looking through that little window that opens in the back glass and talking to my beloved. Notice I wasn’t out actually helping. Remember...not an outdoor kinda girl. Anyway, I looked up this one time and saw a man standing close to the loading chute at another barn looking in our direction. I watched him for a few seconds and then waved hello to him. When he didn’t wave back I looked down at John and asked him who it might be, and when he and I looked back up the man was gone. John said it might have been someone stopping by to see his dad and asked me to describe him so that he could tell his dad. "He's an older, heavy-set man wearing farming clothes and this kinda brown jacket and floppy-ish hat. He was leaning on the chute and looked out of breath because I could see his chest and shoulders rising quite a lot," I said.
When John had finished his chore we returned to his house. At this time he suggested we might watch some old home movies. I know. Who wants to watch anyone’s home movies? Well, remember. I was in love. Girls in love do strange things. I even think I acted as if I thought that would be really fun.
Anyway, after several reels of Christmases and vacations there was a scene shot outside of the Old House. To my surprise, the same man I had seen only an hour or two earlier was there on the screen waving and smiling for the camera. I raised up (from my nearly comatose state) and said something like, “That’s him. That’s the man.” John asked if I was sure and I told him I was undoubtedly.
At this point he proceeds to tell me that when I described the man earlier he was pretty sure he knew exactly who I was talking about but wanted to put me through a little test to make sure. He remembered there was film footage of a man named Jack who lived for a while in the Old House as a tenant and wanted to see if I recognized him. According to John, this man could be very friendly and helpful but had a terrible temper, as well. Years ago, after a dispute with John’s grandfather, he left and went to live in Kentucky. He kept in touch for a while, recounting at times how much he enjoyed living on the farm. Then the correspondence stopped. Shortly thereafter, John’s family learned that he had killed himself and his poor dog.
I never saw that man again and none ever turned up to say they had stopped by the barn that day.
Has anything mysterious or unexplained ever happened to you? If so, leave me a comment. We’d, well I, would love to read it.
P.S. The house pictured above is the Old House (a mirror image) as it was featured in our local paper advertising the band's haunted house. During the summer of 1988 it was completely renovated and has been touched up a time or two since then.
P.S.S. Happy Birthday to my nephew Shane, who would have been 39 today and always loved a good ghost story.