The first experience I remember was before I was school age; I am guessing I was about three years old. I was in my grandmother's living room, sitting in front of and end table. My grandmother was sitting on the sofa on one side and my mother was sitting in a chair at the other side of the table. I was playing with cards or small toys on the table. It was evening, so the rest of the house was darkened.
I turned to look at the hallway to my left, about twelve feet away, and saw a figure of a man about four feet tall, all black, wearing a low hat with a very wide brim. I did not see a face or any features, but I did see that his coat was covered with hundreds of little strips of black cloth, each maybe an inch wide and about six inches long.
They asked me what I was looking at, and when I turned to look at them and then look back, it was gone. I told them what I saw, and while they assured me that there was no one, I insisted that I saw it. I don't remember crying, but I must have looked frightened, both for them to ask the question of what I was looking at, but also because they made a show of looking through the rooms down the hallway and assuring me that nothing was there.
This happened so far back in my memory that I was inclined to think it may have been a dream. But it has stuck in my memory all my life, and so many people have seen a similar figure with the hat and/or ragged clothing, perhaps it was real?