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> Auntie Sit-by-the-fire..., ...and tell us a story!
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Sekhmet 
Posted: 10-Aug-2005, 03:24 PM
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Ok, while the husband has the kids occupied, let's see if I can get at least one story out...

My parents' house was the first haunted house I ever had to deal with. Our family has been living on the same property (though much reduced over the years) for the last...oh say 270 years or so. Give or take. It was a plantation (yes, they existed in Pennsylvania) at one time, and while it was kept extremely quiet in later years, there were also slaves kept there for quite some time. The original house, which had burned down by the time I was born, had been a blockhouse, designed to withstand Indian attacks. The walls had been stone two feet thick, complete with rifle slots to fire through. My great-grandfather had case upon case of arrowheads, pottery shards, and lots of other things in the basement. All were lost in the fire, or rather after the fire, when they just filled in the foundation and built another, smaller house atop it.

My parents' house is several hundred yards to the east of the original house, in what used to be the orchard. At the bottom of the hill is my grandmother's house, on the opposite hill to the north is my great aunt's house, next to him was my great-uncle's, and so on. The rest is fields and woods now. When my father took me on walks in the woods, we'd find places where there had obviously been old access roads, house/building sites, wells, and so on. The place was (still is) an endless source of fascination for me.

I'm not even sure when things started happening in my house. The span I'm thinking of for this story happened when I was in my mid-teens, and slowly wore itself out inside a few years. From the downstairs living room one could hear footsteps upstairs. Occasionally you could hear them on the stairs. They were heavy and slow, as if the person making them were rather large, and perhaps arthritic. Truth be told, I sometimes mistook it for my mother when she first wakes up. But she didn't hear me say that.

Who and whatever it was, it liked to play with my dad's head. He would be cooking in the kitchen, and the knife or spoon he'd just been using would disappear practically from under his hand, only to show up behind him, or in the dish drainer, or somewhere else.

One day I was in the upstairs sitting room watching TV when he came to the top landing of the stairs. He flicked the stairwell light on, and right after that there was a *click* at the foot of the stairs, and the lights went right back off. So of course he got a funny look and flipped the switch again. Click-click. Lights flashed on and off. This goes on for another few throws of the switch before Dad got completely frustrated and just stomped down the stairs in the dark. It was faulty wiring, of course...though how the switch downstairs kept flipping too is just beyond me. This happened a few other times, but never very often...it would surprise him every time.

Apparently not getting the attention it was looking for, the activity began to pick up some more as the months wore on. My mother was a professional cake decorator on the side, and there were cake pans all through the old kitchen (which was in the basement). Pans on the wall, in the cupboards, and especially in the warming drawer of the stove that was still down there. Just like a little kid, apparently the ghost found something to make noise with, and one could hear the pans rattling pretty clearly throughout the house when things were acting up.

Now, throughout all of this, my parents were in denial that anything unusual at all was happening in the house. Dad had mislaid just about every utensil he used for weeks on end, the footsteps were the ducts expanding or contracting up in the ceiling, the lights were because of Dad's creative wiring of the house...yeah, you get the picture.

One evening we were all at the dinner table, and we had a Japanese exchange student with us at the time as well. She had repeatedly asked questions about some of the odd things going on in the house, but had been just as repeatedly reassured that it was nothing and...well, not to put a fine point on it, anything else was all in my head. Great, now I'm nuts.

Dinner continued, and we started to hear the rattling of the cake pans downstairs again. I looked at my sister, we both looked at our exchange student, but we kept quiet. A couple of minutes later, we heard the metal cabinet doors in the kitchen creak open, then shut. Silence at the table. Finally unable to take it anymore, I asked mom point blank what she thought was making those noises down in the kitchen.

"Mice."

"...mice."

"Yes. Mice. It's you who thinks it's something else."

Right about then the warming drawer of the stove opened and shut with such force that parts of the house shook. Poor Yoko looked like she was ready to crawl under the table.

"...those are some big mice, Ma."

The activity carried on for years, even after I'd gone away to college. The glasses and teacups in the new kitchen cupboard, which were all put away mouth-down, were by morning all upright one day. Someone would ring the back door's doorbell at odd hours of the night, when pressing it manually wouldn't get it to ring. Actually, if one got down to it, it was never hooked up and shouldn't have had power to it at all. It was always little stuff, but never, not even once, did anyone feel threatened. But Mom never would admit to there being something there.

One weekend I was home from school, and I had my boyfriend over to watch a movie. Mom worked the graveyard shift at the hospital and was napping before she had to go in, Dad was at work and wasn't due home for a couple of hours, and we settled into the downstairs living room in front of the television.

I knew that I'd have to make sure Mom was up by a certain hour, so I was keeping an eye on the clock. About an hour before she was due to be up, I heard footsteps begin somewhere around where my mother's bedside was, went out the hallway, down the stairs, then around the corner to the bathroom. I heard the door shut, and figured she was up early. No problem.

A little later, I hear footsteps begin upstairs again, taking the same route downstairs. This time my mother was there at the foot of the stairs, and she asked how long we'd been there.

Right about here is where I had my wait-a-minute moment.

Dad was still at work. Mom swore she'd just gotten up. My sister was asleep in her room and was way too small to make those kinds of noises. I looked at my boyfriend, he looked at me, we both got up and went to the bathroom door. The door was not only closed, but locked from the inside, with the light on.

"So um...Mom...about those mice with opposable thumbs that can reach doorknobs and light-switches..."




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stoirmeil 
Posted: 10-Aug-2005, 03:40 PM
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"Muggles! Don't see nuffink, do they?"

It's amazing how much trouble we'll go to for an explanation that we want to believe. Great story! Interesting that nobody ever felt threatened. I still don't know if I could live with an entity like that, but it's nice to know this one meant no harm and you could tell that was the case.

When you say it was looking for attention -- how would you give it some, and what would it do if it felt appreciated? smile.gif

It does sound like a completely saturated piece of land for history and even artifacts. I'm surprised, if so much of that structure was thick stone, that the fire wiped everything out so completely. Is it all just under thick compressed ash, and could it be dug out?
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Sekhmet 
Posted: 11-Aug-2005, 01:59 PM
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QUOTE (stoirmeil @ 10-Aug-2005, 03:40 PM)

When you say it was looking for attention -- how would you give it some, and what would it do if it felt appreciated? smile.gif

It does sound like a completely saturated piece of land for history and even artifacts. I'm surprised, if so much of that structure was thick stone, that the fire wiped everything out so completely. Is it all just under thick compressed ash, and could it be dug out?

Honestly, I have *no* idea how one would give something like that attention, save for talking to it, and acknowledging that it was there. I know of one group who plays a music box and leaves toys out for the children believed to remain in their research site, and I seem to recall candy being left out too. I only remember that because a couple of years later, after said candy had long disappeared and it was assumed the critters got it, it was thrown at a later researcher. laugh.gif

I've been toying with a theory off and on over the years, trying to solidify if the familiar to a given entity, say things it would recognize from its own lifetime, would prompt more or better activity or communication. Haven't figured out how exactly to go about it yet.

My family's property *is* saturated with things that have the potential to create activity...truthfully, I'm just surprised there hasn't been more. The fire gutted the building and made the house unstable, since it burned the beams that were the floor joists and roof supports. A lot of the stone walls were just knocked down and dozed into the foundation (along with those cases of artifacts and my g-grandmother's Blue Willow china, though the china cupboard got knocked over while firefighters were trying to get into the back door, from what I'm told). The rest of the debris was dumped behind the big barn. A few years later, the barn (which was actually at least the second or third incarnation of that barn) burned down, and the present one was built. *That* debris was added to the pile. The woods have since reclaimed it. Incidentally, that's where some of the slave quarters were located too.

Both locations could be dug out, conceivably. It wouldn't be all that difficult, and a good bit could probably be gleaned from at least the basement area if nothing else. All they did was fill that in, compress it, then laid concrete over it to form the base of the new house. Not that I've ever thought of excavating my g-grandparents' house... ::innocent whistle::
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CelticCoalition 
Posted: 11-Aug-2005, 02:08 PM
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Love the stories. It's facinating to me that there are people out there who live with these experiences as normal ones. That there are those who have been seeing ghosts their whole lives and are just used to it. Simply amazing.


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May those who love us love us
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And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
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So we'll know them by their limping.
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stoirmeil 
Posted: 11-Aug-2005, 04:18 PM
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QUOTE (Sekhmet @ 11-Aug-2005, 01:59 PM)
Both locations could be dug out, conceivably.  It wouldn't be all that difficult, and a good bit could probably be gleaned from at least the basement area if nothing else.  All they did was fill that in, compress it, then laid concrete over it to form the base of the new house.  Not that I've ever thought of excavating my g-grandparents' house... ::innocent whistle::

I think I would have been at it by now. It would be more like a dig than a ruin, which is a different kind of work (and fun).

There's something about the idea of toys for the children that is intense -- more sad/wistful, and more scary at the same time. Because their feelings are more intense in general, and less rational, and if there were something still active, it would be -- well, intense. Maybe a little primitive, even, and harder to deal with.
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stoirmeil 
Posted: 14-Aug-2005, 08:28 PM
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Sekhmet -- I came upon this poem some time ago. This thread made me think of it again. Maybe it will be interesting to you.


Ghosts
by James McEuen


I take each ghost that comes
to me in my arms, stroke the pondweed
hair of the drowned, the pork-crackling
brows of the burned, the round blue cheeks
of the smothered, the rag-doll
contorted car smash-ups
and rock them on my heart: the autonomic


rising and falling and throbbing
that living mammals find reassuring
reassures them. Though there is no
nurture from these male nipples
and pectorals, they need none.
I tell them as I hold them
that it's over, that it is all
right, that this happens
to everyone, that they can't


by asking for Heath bars,
coffee, icewater, cigarettes,
strawberries, pickles, wine,
by begging to watch sex, sing,
or play ring-a-levio--that they can't
by clutching these dark
earth's clouds to their faces
like the well-worn nubby blankets
on a child's bed see the light
they are of now. They ask why


I believe this and why I
don't believe them. I say
"there there" and they quiet.
Some I have seen leave:
the dawning, not the dramatic
dawn of the planet, but a little burst
of recognition like
a butterfly taking off
from tree bark for migration,
or a held dandelion tuft diffusing
in an opening red door's wind.


Others have moved in.
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Sekhmet 
Posted: 15-Aug-2005, 09:13 PM
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Ooo...let me read this over again when I can think a little more clearly. I'm in the middle of putting the SCA board together at the moment. Thank you! It looks wonderful.
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Sekhmet 
Posted: 26-Sep-2005, 10:59 PM
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Ok, now that it's fall (and actually feels like it occasionally) and that's the time for starting to tell stories...I'll continue with mine.

Many moons ago, I started cutting my teeth in Gettysburg with ghosthunting. And, at the risk of sounding like I need to start gumming my dentures now...it was well before ghosthunting became "kewl" in the area. With that in mind, I can also now safely say that...I'd done some pretty stupid things in my day. Consider this story to be an object lesson...yeah, that's it.

One fine summer evening in Gettysburg, my boyfriend (now husband) and I were driving through the military park, trying to come up with a good place to watch the sunset, which would be coming pretty soon. There's all kinds of good places to watch it, and we'd probably been to all of them by then, but this time we were looking for something different. Since we hadn't been to Big Round Top in a while, and it was the highest place you could go without getting into an observation tower, we decided to go up there.

For those who haven't been there, Big Round Top saw some action during the battle, but not nearly as much as say...its little sister Little Round Top. That would be because of the incredibly steep and rocky sides of this thing. During the battle it had been recently timbered, but now it was a pretty respectable forest. There's two different trails that loop up to the summit and bring you back down. They're big and wide, and in parts of it, the trails are paved. While it's not a hike for the faint at heart, for a seventeen and a nineteen year old, it wasn't a problem.

We get to the top, and while the sunset is beautiful, the view leaves a few things to be desired. No sweeping vistas up there; no, it's trees trees, a few monument bases, huge glacier drop boulders, and um...trees. Still, it was a nice enough place, and we found a comfy spot on a boulder and talked for awhile as the sun went down.

The sun finally set, the shadows were starting to gather, and it was time for us to move along and get to another couple of spots that we'd picked out for some hunting before the park closed for the night. We still had a few hours to pull this off, so we took our time getting down off the rocks and heading back downhill to the car. Erik decides now's a good time to play games, and takes off down the trail ahead of me. I give chase, and I'm not nearly as fast as him, but I tried to keep an eye on him and follow.

That didn't work so well. Pretty soon he's out of sight, it's a lot darker, and I've somehow managed to lose the trail. Me, raised in the back-country by hunters and jungle-stompin' veterans...got lost. Now, downhill is a pretty obvious bet. The brush however was getting kind of thick, and I started heading sideways in an attempt to pick the trail up, considering I had shorts on and a t-shirt, and nothing resembling proper hiking shoes. Broken bones would be a categorically bad thing.

Right about there is when I started hearing things. In the dark, and in the hills, sound tends to carry and bounce. I heard footsteps coming through the dead leaves and underbrush, and immediately images of long-dead soldiers came to mind, stalking a stupid and unwary girl in the woods where she didn't belong. There *had* been a good many reports of activity in the vicinity, and while I never thought about it on the way up, on the way down was another story entirely.

I called to Erik, hoping against hope that it was him. Nothing. If anything, the footsteps sounded closer, and my eyesight wasn't picking up movement save for the waving brush and branches that I'd just disturbed. A little rock became dislodged from above and rolled down the hill a little ways, thunking me solidly in the ankle. I swore I heard heavy breathing by that point, too.

So I did what any good little teenaged girl would do. I ran.

I took off down that hill like my hair was on fire and my hind end was catching. Every briar, sharp rock, rough branch and plant with leaves smacked, scraped, caught at, or otherwise got a shot in at me, and I didn't care. Straight downhill was my only choice, since I knew I would hit the road one way or the other. If I hit the road, I'd be ok. I swore I heard those footsteps behind me, giving chase...and it sounded an awful lot like they were getting closer.

Not very surprisingly, I tripped. I was in flimsy canvas shoes that had no business being out in the woods, and there were enough obstacles that made my taking a fall during a blind run in the dark an eventuality. So I caught air and by some miracle managed to chin-plant in a pile of dead leaves, rotting vegetation and the like...but no rocks.

...and promptly scared the holy bejeezus out of the two does that had been trying to get away from me trying to get away from them.

Eventually I staggered onto the road, caked in mud and leaf mold, with a small salad bar in my hair. I wandered the hundred yards or so around the small bend to where the parking lot was, and there was my darling Erik, leaning against the car, smirking. Needless to say...I'd had quite enough ghost hunting for the evening. It's no fun when you're the one being hunted.
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CelticCoalition 
Posted: 27-Sep-2005, 05:08 PM
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He he he. Sounds like Ghost Hunting can be quite exciting, even when there are no ghoss involved.
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stoirmeil 
Posted: 28-Sep-2005, 10:19 AM
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Great story, and wicked good style telling it! Poor little deer -- humans are so impossible sometimes. (But I don't think Erik should have left you and got of sight -- not too safe. sad.gif )
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Sekhmet 
Posted: 15-Oct-2007, 07:57 PM
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I'm thinking of resurrecting this thread, since it's the right time of year. Anyone have objections?
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Rindy 
Posted: 15-Oct-2007, 11:21 PM
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Heavens no Sekhmet. Where does the time go? It's time for ghost stories!!!

Slainte
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