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Life in a Haunted House

October 21, 2014

haunted house kids trick or treatWe never get any trick-or-treaters. I can tell myself that it’s because we’re the only house on a dead-end street and surely, being off the beaten path is part of the problem. But if I’m to be completely honest, it’s because I know that little kids are afraid of our home.

Yes, we live in THAT house.

It’s the one we all dared each other to visit on Halloween. The one that got the occasional egging from only the bravest, most rebellious teens. The one that made toddlers cry.

In the neighborhood I grew up in outside of Chicago, there was a dark, recessed house that looked like a Turkish prison. It definitely stuck out, as the rest of the homes in our neighborhood had been built in the early 1960s and had a decidedly family-friendly feel to them. Swing sets in the back yard, goofy Halloween decorations and middle class tastes made them look safe, even when the masters of those homes appeared grumpy and mean, and the mistresses depressed, lonely and on the edge.

At the Turkish prison house, me and my friend Laura would get about as far as ringing the doorbell, but ultimately, we’d chicken out and run away. I don’t think we ever got candy from those people, and if we had, we would’ve probably stuffed it in their mailbox before high-tailing it out of there. Afraid that any loot we might’ve scored was laced with arsenic, battery acid or just plain old bad juju.


I recognize now that the unfortunate, in all likelihood sweet-as-heck folks who lived in that house waited in vain every Halloween for someone – anyone – to come by and put a dent in that bag of Hershey’s Minis they felt obligated to buy every year…just in case.

I know that’s what we do.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Aw, come on. It can’t be that bad. You seem nice enough – I’m sure there’s a very good reason why no one will trick-or-treat at your house.”

And there is.

Our house is haunted.

haunted house ghost and man

It’s no surprise, as our house is really, really old and has had a lot of traffic. She was built while Thomas Jefferson was still among us and living across town for heaven’s sake, cross-breeding heirloom vegetables and writing letters that now sit in the Smithsonian. She’s been a general store, grain depot, bar, theater, voting place, boarding house, student ghetto, and a musician’s flophouse (we’ve been told Art Garfunkel partied at our home in the 1960s – scary, right?), until finally, over the course of two owners, she morphed into a single-family home.

I think our basement is the crux of the problem. An old-fashioned wet basement, it looks like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. It is populated by numerous snakes and spiders that we welcome as part of the delicate ecosystem of our house, as those critters keep the mouse and insect population in check. But that’s not why I mention it, and it’s not why little kids who don’t know us do the fifty yard dash past our property line.

It’s that our basement was also once used as a (gulp!) Civil War morgue.

So maybe that’s where all of the cling-clangs, footsteps, apparitions and ghostly murmurs come from!


Case in point, in our most recent paranormal encounter, I got up in the middle of the night to fetch myself some water. When I returned to our bed, I distinctly heard a man’s whisper and turned to my husband.

“Did you say something, honey?” I said.

My husband told me that he had not.

“But I heard it, too,” he said. “Let’s talk about it in the morning.” Which we did, but without the drama and hullabaloo you might imagine.

We’re not afraid anymore. We’ve been living here long enough to know that these odd occurrences are just our home’s way of saying hello every once in a while.


And that’s what I’m getting at.

As spooky as our house may seem to outsiders, we know she loves and protects us.

Like a loyal, old crone, she objects loudly and emphatically to people who annoy, interfere or in any way attempt to cause mischief in our lives.

When my grandmother got ornery and meddling in the years before she died, our house would actually respond to her visits – keeping her up at night with grating, intermittent noises that tormented my Baba’s sleep like Chinese water-torture. The plumbing wouldn’t behave for her, temperature controls would go haywire and the guest room TV screen might simply go on strike.

I don’t have to tell you that all of these petty annoyances would vanish the moment Baba pulled out of our driveway, Rush Limbaugh blasting from her radio and a cloud of cigarette smoke billowing out of the passenger side window.

Now, I loved my grandmother – even at her worst. But my house? Not so much. She always preferred the company of my more cheerful mom, who accompanied my grandmother on her visits, but would remain curiously unbothered by the woo-woo goings on.

monster mash

And I love that our house is strong – clad in history’s armor. Thick-walled and made of brick. She barely shakes when the trains go by, standing broad-chested and chivalrous; a black, Southern grandmother. She has been a friend and safe haven throughout violent weather, illness and economic catastrophe. Even when we’ve scowled at her and bristled at the tyranny of caring for her scratches, bruises and idiosyncrasies.

But we have never let her down either, and she knows it.

My husband and I have fought her and fought for her, fixing her face-paint, finding the right doctors for her Edison-era wiring, buying her a brand new roof that sits on her head like a Sunday hat. No more piles of cold, young men, whooping cowboys, tired merchants, transients, or naked hippies. Our children have filled her life with laughter. They’ve hidden their secrets in her many nooks and crannies and papered her walls with their dreams.

We have given her a happy family.

So, please, consider coming by this Halloween. We have all the good kinds of candy and you’re sure to get a big handful instead of the usual one piece allotment that more popular homes dispense.


From → family, thrillers

  1. Reblogged this on ramesh5.

  2. Reblogged this on lsmerglia and commented:
    I too live in a haunted house. I live near Goodyear World Headquarters and am the second owner of the house. The house was built in 1922 and was owned by the same family until 2008. I love my house very much! It is a place of calm and warmth with a few little surprises.

  3. frankiE, … stedmaN, n.C., …
    I too once lived in a haunted house. It was a circa 1950ish farm house with a very beautiful addition for the hired help of the time. What made it so attractive to me was that it had beautiful 12ft ceilings, … an awesome place to put my regulation size billiards table !! The house was indeed haunted. When we were first moving in I was having a severe flare of gout so I sat out a trip at the house. Whilst my wife and mother-in-law were away I sat in a nice comfortable chair that the previous tenant left behind. I always take precaution so my being in a strange place I politely carried my Ruger .357 with me. As I sat I heard a voice call out to me in a female voice and by my name, … “Frankie, … what are you doing here ? We just want you to know that we were here first but we will not hurt you in any way, … so please don’t be afraid of us” !! OMG, … that was freaky !! It was my wife, my daughter, myself and my mother-in-law living in the house. All was fine for the fist year but we soon started to hear the voices calling out, sometimes singing to us, … the occasional object being relocated, sometimes from one room to the other, … a chain rattle or the typical object crashing to the floor and of course when we looked, … nothing !! We once heard someone/something walking on our roof. I went to see what was there, … oh well, they got us again !! I was playing basketball in the side yard with my daughter on a nice , clear warm afternoon when out of nowhere came this sudden gust of almost freezing breeze !! How can this be, … oh yeah, it must have been one of them coming back home !!

    Is this a haunting or what ? You tell me !!

    Thanks for listening, Ghosts are real so don’t be afraid and keep on believing. Have a great day.

  4. I wouldn’t dare go in your house, but I’ll invite you to mine if your bringing candies lol πŸ™‚

  5. Well described…

  6. What a wonderful description. I would love your house.

  7. nerdycanuck permalink

    Reblogged this on EarlGrey&Ink and commented:
    Do you believe in haunted houses? I’ve been in several haunted houses over my life so can relate.It’s not just myth or a strong imagination.

  8. nerdycanuck permalink

    Loved this one! Haunted houses should be a regular post :0) Thanks for sharing. If anyone has a moment feel free to check out my blog! comments and suggestions welcome Have a great day.

  9. Loved reading this, rebloged it as well.

  10. I LOVE this, especially these lines:
    buying her a brand new roof
    that sits on her head like a Sunday hat.
    Our children have filled her life with laughter. They’ve
    hidden their secrets in her many nooks and crannies and
    papered her walls with their dreams.
    We have given her a happy family.

    That is just beautiful! People should respect the spirits and just
    let the past linger as new ones are made:)

  11. How fun! Would have been a great place for a gaggle of giggling kids to spend the night on Halloween!

  12. Let’s try this again, I think WordPress mungled my link… It got reblogged here:

  13. Reblogged this on StraightTalk and commented:

  14. ghostlydaisies permalink

    I would β™₯ to live in a haunted house… πŸ˜€

  15. I’m all the way in VA.

  16. I love halloween!!

  17. mustaphabarki2014 permalink

    Reblogged this on Engineer Marine Skipper.

  18. snydertroy14 permalink

    Reblogged this on Troy E Snyder.

  19. Great piece! Made me smile.

  20. itsjess permalink

    I have always wanted to live in a haunted house. With a little ghost who says “hello”. What a lucky girl you are. πŸ™‚

  21. Great story. Strange things happen. I lived with cigar smoking spirit. No one smoked in the house but I occasionally had cigar smoke in the kitchen. No other visual or auditory events. We were told no one had died in the house even though it was 105 years old. It was a pleasant and happy place so our spirit just ”hung out” with us.

  22. I love this! one of the best stories I have read in a while.

  23. ally1lakeside permalink

    Wow, to live in a house like that is amazing. Our house isn’t an old property, built circa 1971 but it has 2 ghosts; one of the lady who lived here previously and killed herself in the hall; and the other being our son Ben who died young. Shirley, the last tenant had a dreadful, cruel life, seeing her husband slayed in the front garden by her son; then became a victim too before recovering only to get addicted to drugs and losing her life. Ironically, a few months after we moved in she received a cheque for a huge pay out of compensation which would have changed her life. Our son Ben is a mischief and changes channel on the TV; hides things like the colander in the washing machine and and my car keys in the freezer. If I lived near you I would be there all the time not just Halloween as it fascinates me. I hope you had some trick or treaters at Halloween but maybe next year you could put a sign up and dress the house to make it less scary and more cheap and tacky typical Halloween

    • Ally, I can’t help but to think that it’s a comfort having your son making mischief in your house. I don’t think I could ever sell the place. As for trick-or-treaters? Not a one. And my daughter decorated the front porch and everything. Maybe the place needs a better paint job πŸ™‚

  24. ❀ this post…it was great reading πŸ™‚

  25. I think we have the same house! We bought our home as a foreclosure in a 1990 subdivision… but there is a twist…our home was moved to a then desolate location from area unknown… we new immediately our house was haunted when I heard our contractors partner walk in the front door walk across the hardwood and clear his throat I said D. Is back and pur contractor said he’s not here today …sure enough no one was there. We also came to our scary new home with candy on Halloween….but no kids..our lives sound identical , I laughed at your line between you and your husband “did you hear that”. I don’t have a history the home was placed here in 1964 before that with no previous parcel number its a mystery. Definitely going to follow your blog, can’t wait to read mo

  26. Reblogged this on edwardsj08 and commented:

  27. johnberk permalink

    Such a great read. I love to read stories or learn about haunted houses. There is something into it that draws our attention back over and over again. Even horror producers seem to be receiving haunted house ideas more than often. I have never had any personal experience though. The biggest horror, I was able to feel was always man-made – as for example in Auschwitz.

    • John, thanks for reading. I went to Auschwitz, too. Twice. I’d love to hear your impressions. If you’re interested in some of mine, check out an old post called, Ponury: The Case For Sorrow-Loveliness. It’s probably under Uncategorized.

      • johnberk permalink

        Thanks for your suggestion. I will definitely read it.

  28. Great post! I can relate, somewhat. Our last house was built in 1852, and we lived there 10 years. Many nights we listened to a (presumably) previous owner walk down the hall outside the bedrooms and down the stairs, creaking all the way. He/she must have been rather large;-). We also just accepted it as the way it was, and were never spooked.

  29. such a great read! keep posting more about your house! it sounds so cool!

  30. I know how you feel… You should write a book about it – I did. My Haunted Life just published.

  31. Reblogged this on The Wacky World of G. Michael Vasey and commented:
    Its not just me……

  32. great story!! Our house is not to old and sits in a little tiny place on this big planet that we share. Many spirits and souls pass through here. I’m not sure if they are attached to the land, the house or to us. The spirits vary from the young to the old. Sometimes we hear them, sometimes we see them. We always welcome what they need to share with us. I remember the other morning my son waking up. He came to me and said, a little girl just woke me. I asked him, why did she wake you. He replies, she just wanted to play. So I asked him if he asked what her name was. He said no, I told her to come back later because I was sleeping. Things like this happen often at our house. I would love to hear more of your story.

    • Wow – you’ve got great stories as well. And yes, I’m sure I’ll write about my house again some day. It’s a daily adventure πŸ™‚

      • Thanks for your reply. πŸ™‚ Oh, yes the daily adventures of the house. That is such a true statement.

  33. You should try capturing images!

  34. Morrigan's Battle permalink

    what kind of lollies? the good chocolate?

  35. Great guts! I would never have dared πŸ™‚

  36. Hey it’s very good, well written

  37. Dawn M Line permalink

    Loved reading this! There is a ghost in my house (unsure of year built but it’s a Sears & Roebuck home) but I sometimes think he is attached to me. In our former home, I would hear music when none was playing. I still hear it here, from time to time, but we’ve had other signs of his mischief. I frequently hear him walking around upstairs (previously, when everyone else was at work or school. Now, I live alone.) and he has hidden things from me a few times. My children have each seen him, as their bedrooms were upstairs. For the boys, they each woke up to find him standing at the end of their beds. For my daughter, she was reading after the boys were asleep. She heard footsteps coming up the stairs then saw a shady figure of a man in her doorway…who quickly disappeared. From their descriptions…and the mischievous hiding things…I believe it’s probably my cousin, who was killed at a young age not long before I started hearing the music.

    • Wow. This makes sense to me. I think our house is attached to us – I really do. Every time we’ve thought we were going to move – often because the house requires so much from us – a problem would mysteriously disappear or there would be some other compelling reason to stay. A neighbor of ours, who also has a really old house once told us…”You know what you do when an old house is giving you problems? Ignore it. It’ll go away eventually.”

  38. I loved this blog! It was so well written and entertaining! I have only had a handful of experiences myself over the years but never felt in danger. Thank you for this.

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