This is a story about one or two not-at-all malicious ghosts. It’s a little bit creepy, but no one gets hurt. Just how a ghost story ought to be.
There’s a house across the street from where I was raised that was built in the 1880s. My mom has lived there on and off throughout her life — when she was a child, again in her late teens, just after I was born and for a few summers when I was in high school. It’s next to a creek, and it’s a lovely place to sleep when the windows are open and it’s warm out. It’s not a good place to sleep in the winter at all, because it’s very, very cold.
Anyway, the house is old and in need of renovation; it looks like a haunted house. According to the local historic society, there was a coffin-making business on the site before the house was there. Local word-of-mouth has it that someone, sometime was hanged in a big tree on the property. And there’s a c. 600 AD Cherokee mound next door. How could this house not be ghosty?
Before my parents met, my mom lived in the house with a few of her friends. I would not doubt that partying took place during that time, but Mom says all was calm when this happened:
I had this beautiful kind of Chinese-painted-like punch bowl, with all the little cups that went around the bowl. We had it on display there, and it just jumped off the table one day and broke every cup but one. I still have the last cup; I was just looking at it the other day. That was spooky. There wasn’t anything going on at all. It made me mad. It wasn’t like we were dancing or anything to jar the thing off.
The next story is, I think, the first spooky story I was told about the house. It happened while my parents were living there, so I called them both for their versions.
Here’s how my mom tells it:
We picked up walnuts — you know how there’s walnuts down there. [N: There’s a huge walnut tree on the property.] And we had a big, big bucket — it was a big, oil-barrel-type thing. It was four or five feet tall. So we picked up walnuts that year and put them in there. And your dad was working on his motorcycle and couldn’t find his wrench. Later that year, we dumped out the walnuts and the wrench was in the middle of it. That kind of stuff happened all the time with my daddy’s tools, too, and we’d get blamed for playing with them.
My dad tells the story in his typical, less-than-loquacious fashion.
Dad: I lost a wrench in the walnuts and found it a year later.
Me: Mom’s story was creepier.
Dad: What was it?
Me: That it was a ghost.
Dad: It was!
Finally, there’s the one I experienced first-hand. My brother and I were playing in the yard next to the house. At the very same time, we looked up at the second-story bedroom window. I very clearly remember seeing a woman in a white dress. She was holding back the curtain, and she let it fall just as we looked up. We looked at each other, then back at the window. Which was curtainless, as usual. And that room? It was packed solid with old fabric and things my great-aunt had stored there. Even if someone had been in the house, there was no way they could have gotten to that window to peep creepily out of it.