I am going to be relating to all of you a series of small stories about a house my family used to live in. Out of the seven people who lived there, three experienced overt and direct contact with unseen forces. Another three family members were witness to seemingly supernatural events, but were not touched or spoken to outright. Only one person in the family has not ever experienced anything unusual in the house other than an uneasy feeling of being watched.
I must start with one caveat, though: despite living in a very, very unusual house and having suspicious things occur all around me, I remain very skeptical and hesitant to label these activities the product of "ghosts," so to speak. Until I was jabbed in the back and whistled at by an unseen entity in Holland this autumn, I maintained that I did not believe in ghosts. I try to remain as objective as possible and consider all possibilities. However, I believe there are things out there that we cannot understand and for the sake of clarity, I will employ traditional modes of diction to describe these phenomena. And I guess I now DO believe in "ghosts"...
Let us start right at the beginning. My mother remarried in 1984 and had three children in addition to the two from her first marriage. I will refer to these people as brothers 1 and 2, and sisters 1 and 2. Sister #1 is my full-blooded sister from the first marriage and the others are all half-siblings as we share the same mother, but have different fathers. (It matters not, we're all brothers and sisters!) The house we lived in was too small for such a large brood. We moved into a large Victorian house on the west side of Columbus, Ohio. It sat on about two acres of what had once been pastoral land, but what was now the suburbs. The house was built in 1898 and had once been the abode of a wealthy family. There was a carriage house out back that included what had been the butler's quarters. The third floor of the house was where the maid once lived. There is an expansive basement with several rooms. There is a grand staircase the goes up to a landing which winds around the second floor giving access to four bedrooms where everyone but me slept. I slept on the top (third) floor because I am the oldest. I am now 30, but was about 13 when we first moved-in in 1991.
We purchased the monolithic house for an amazingly low $200,000. It wasn't like the place was so haunted that the previous tenants needed to move the place fast or anything. It was cheap because it was in desperate need of repair from the inside out. My stepfather is a carpenter and he and my mother were excited to renovate the place. They did a great job of expanding our previous home to accommodate seven people and were looking forward to fixing up this house, as well.
We moved in during the fall of 1991. Things had gotten off to an auspicious start even before we signed the papers. The first time my mother looked at the house during an open house she had an experience. She was in the downstairs bathroom looking out the window into the backyard. There she watched two young girls in dated dresses laughing and playing in the grass. She asked the realtor who's children were in the backyard thinking they might be the neighbors' daughters. The Realtor went to look, but the girls were nowhere to be seen. The neighborhood was full of kids, though, so neither thought much about it. That is, until we actually moved in.
This is the first experience of dozens that led many members of my family to believe our house was haunted. My parents were moving things into the house while the rest of us kids were at school. They were running a "bucket-brigade" of objects and appliances from the moving truck into the house. My stepfather was running from the truck to the door, and Mom was shuttling said things all over the house's interior. She was taking pails of paint down into the basement and stacking them in one of the small rooms there when she heard children's footsteps running down the hallway towards her. The foot steps stopped in front of the door and she heard a child's voice say, "Mama! Mama?" And she instinctively said, "Yes, dear?" thinking it was one of her children. She came out of the room wondering what any one of them was doing home from school since it was the middle of the morning. Brothers #1 and #2 were at elementary school and sister #2 was at daycare. Sister #1 (from the first marriage and my full sister) was at middle school with me. Upon stepping out into the hallway, Mom was surprised to find nobody there. She looked all over the basement and in every room, but discovered no one. Confused, she went upstairs to ask my stepfather if the kids were home. He was perplexed by her story and insisted they were the only two people in the house. They had a lot of work to do, so they brushed it off (somehow...) and continued moving stuff in.
Later that afternoon, as my mother was back in the basement storing odds and ends, she heard music playing from upstairs. My stepfather loves all sorts of music and our house was rarely without it. The music was old and sounded like big band music from the 1920s. My mom went upstairs and found my stepfather bringing things in the house. She asked delightedly, "Oh, so you already hooked-up the stereo--great!" My stepfather looked at her quizzically and denied having hooked-up the stereo. In fact, it was one of the few items still at the old house they were going back to retrieve later. Mom insisted she had heard music playing clearly from upstairs while she was in the basement and wanted to know where it had come from. My stepfather said he had never heard any music at all and had been in and out of the house for sometime. He never said this to Mom, but to himself, he was starting to question her sanity a little. At the very least, he was concerned that she had come to him with two explicit and mysterious requests that day that he could not satisfy.
My parents eventually got the house in order and we began to settle in nicely. Everyone loved the place. It was big, bright, welcoming and was the social center for all the neighborhood's kids. If you didn't know where your children were one afternoon, you simply walked over to the Bulls' house and chances were they were playing with one of the five kids in the big yard or about the neighborhood. It wasn't until my little brother #1 complained of being tickled at night that things became decidedly creepy.
But that is where chapter two will lift off later...