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Encounter With A Poltergeist, Perhaps?


I was about 14. I had gotten permission from my parents to spend a weekend at a friend's (let's call her Cindy) house a few hours away in Escalante, UT.

I remember being driven through town, face pressed against the window, gawking at the beautiful old adobe houses. I've always loved places with history, and Escalante seemed to brim with echos of the old west. I was positively thrilled to find that one such house was where Cindy lived, and where I'd be staying.

This house had to have been around 90-100 years old. The floors and doors were creaky. The windows were clouded with age. There was even a creepy basement. I was in heaven.

Cindy was in her early twenties, and the only "adult" around. Her younger sister was there, as well as another friend. We didn't do anything crazy besides eat junk food and stay up late watching silly movies. At one point we went to a rodeo, which I absolutely hated. I would have been pretty content to sit and read the whole weekend. One of the afternoons, I opted out of a walk to the store in favor of burying my face in a book. I was the only one who stayed behind, and I was relieved to have a few quiet moments alone.

I was sitting on the floor in the living room of the home. It was dead silent. Then I heard a faint creak. I didn't look up from my book. "This house is old, and old houses make noises," I told myself. To my right was a short hallway where the door to Cindy's bedroom was open wide. Suddenly the door slammed shut with a BANG. My head snapped up, and my breath stuck in my throat. I continued to try and rationalize. "The window is probably open and a gust of wind blew it shut. Yeah, that's it." I shook it off and returned to my reading. A few minutes pass. Then I hear what sounds like a doorknob turning. I again look up at the door and to my shock, it is slowly opening. I freeze.

As soon as Cindy and the others returned, I frantically recounted what had happened. They teased me relentlessly, and I was completely embarrassed. I fell out of touch with them through the years, and it's not a story I've told many, for fear of a similar reaction.

I've rehashed these details in my head for the past 20 years. Here's a possible non-paranormal explanation: there were multiple windows open in the home, and a cross breeze slammed the door shut and the doorknob, being nearly as old as the house, had malfunctioned to the point where it would not stay latched. Then, another faint breeze came through from a different open window, and slowly pushed the door ajar. Maybe? Any thoughts?

Whether the event was paranormal or not, I will never forget it.

Thanks for reading. I've been on this site a few times to read your experiences, but this is my first post.

Blessed Be!

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Smoki_Tabu, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Junglecat (2 stories) (56 posts)
5 years ago (2019-03-25)
Dear Smoki,

I've visited many Edwardian buildings in the Dakotas with my last job (architectural- nothing to do with paranormal things) and have observed that the knobs of buildings upwards of 80 years old can take quite a bit of an effort to turn. I live in such a house myself and even have one knob which doesn't always turn when I want it to do so. It seems that the older door and window hardware gets, the more cantankerous it becomes. So I too suggest you dash any possibility that it could have turned by natural phenomena, particularly not in an old house.

Something invisible may have come through that door during your sleepover but since you were awake, chosen to leave again. Many entities prefer visiting people when they are asleep and more vulnerable. You can be grateful to have been awake.

MrsRizzo2429 (4 stories) (93 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-25)
Hey there, thank you for sharing your experience. I believe you and I am glad you shared your story with us. I am sorry that your friends didn't believe you. I believe there was definitely something going on in that house! I hope you have a good day and keep us posted
Smoki_Tabu (2 stories) (13 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-19)
Hi again, YGS! I'm replying to all in this one post.

Biblio, OMG... "Ubi dubium, ibi libertas" is my new motto. My real name is Liberty, so it's very fitting! So much of what you said strikes a chord.

"Trying to talk yourself out of believing what you are experiencing, just because it does not agree with what everyone you know says is "real," can lead to depression" <------ I could not agree more with this. It was one of many nails in my depression coffin.

It was hard for me to accept that I'm better off with minimal family contact. The guilt lasted for years, but I am so proud I took that leap. My self-awareness has increased, which is something I would trade absolutely nothing for. I'm proud of you, too, Biblio.

How horrible! My father never exacted legal revenge on my mother (thankfully!), but after 36 years of her being basically, his servant, we found out he had a girlfriend on the side who he refused to stop seeing. Even the threat of being "excommunicated" from the church he loved so much was not enough for him to change.

"any other opinions were hopelessly female, stupid and wicked." It's sad how well this resonates with my experiences. A direct quote of my dad's from when I was about 12 (his volume at 11) : "It's a man's world! You need to LEARN YOUR PLACE." (Though, to this day I credit that moment as the time when I decided with 100% certainty that I was feminist AF πŸ˜‰)

Props to you for getting away and gaining perspective at college. That you were able to speak openly with your mother and "confront my father with no sense of inferiority, self-consciousness or fear."... That line made me want to do a cheer for you. That is incredible! Unfortunate (for him!) that he took it the way he did. Maybe someday he will own up and you can have a relationship with him. Maybe not. Either way, I'm so glad you have some peace. There is a conversation I need to have with each parent that I know would help me heal, but they will take it hard I'm sure. For nearly 25 years I've wanted to say it to them. Hoping someday will be the right one.

No, there was no apparition. Do you live in an old house? I've dreamed of living in an old victorian since I was little. I can relate to following around siblings and their friends! I was the second-to-youngest of 9 kids and my mom was fond of saying that from the time I was a baby I wanted to be a big kid, and that I HATED being little.
Sleeping-with-steve (guest)
6 years ago (2018-10-09)
PS Smoki-Tabu,

I'm with Bibliothecarius and Redwolf. If you believe it was a spirit, go with your gut. Don't let other's question your instincts.

I'm still interested to know if you saw something.

I look forward to your reply.

Be safe. 😘 ❀ 😘
Sleeping-with-steve (guest)
6 years ago (2018-10-09)
Hello Smoki-Tabu and AugustaM,


I totally get you enjoying the company of older people. When I was 15 years old I followed my sister and her friends like a shadow. She's 10 year's older than me. I loved the mature conversations and most of all I learned a lot being with them.

About the door banging and then opening a jar... It happens. My door has done it many times and I've jumped out of my skin. Did you see a spirit? Look forward to your reply. Be safe.


I'm so sorry to hear about your traumatic childhood. It couldn't have been easy for you and your mum.

It must be even harder knowing your dad is doting over his step children and neglecting you. I hope he comes to his senses.

You are right, you have people who care here on YGS. I'm one of them. If you need to chat, go to one of my threads.

Look after yourself and be strong. 😘 ❀ 😘
RedWolf (31 stories) (1292 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-09)

I believe that you had a paranormal experience. As Biblio explained doorknobs do not turn themselves.
Don't ever let someone that have different beliefs as yours make you doubt yourself. I have found that sometimes they have had a paranormal experience themselves but won't admit it for any reason and make fun of people like your "friend" did just to make themselves feel better.
AugustaM (7 stories) (996 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-09)
Welcome, Smoki ❀ I understand your situation growing up - my father was an unbending in his religiosity and conservatism - any other opinions were hopelessly female, stupid and wicked. I thought that when he walked out on my mother and me (when I was eleven) that our troubles were over but he continued to brutally attack us through his lawyer for the next decade. His constant abuse of my mother forced her to build walls around her own beliefs and entrench herself there. I chose a university purely based in its distance from both of them. I was unspeakably fortunate to have chosen a place, which radically encouraged individuality, critical thinking and open mindedness.

When I returned from college, I was a changed person. I had the capacity to address my mother and her entrenchment with firmness and understanding and to confront my father with no sense of inferiority, self-consciousness or fear. Within a year, both relationships had come to their inevitable crisis. My mother was willing to move forward with me. My father opted to remarry and carry on as if his step children were his own and has not spoken with me since - my life is better for it, though part of me hopes that one day he will see the light... Such as it is.

Neither of my parents have ever believed me when I have spoken of my paranormal experiences or spiritual beliefs. Fortunately, I have found receptiveness and understanding in loved ones and this incredible community on YGS - the acceptance both have provided is such a tremendous boon.

Like you, my familial experiences have caused me to be critical of my paranormal experiences and attempt to rationalize absolutely every other causal alternative. It is a great skill, believe me😊 I too adore old buildings - both for their craftsmanship and design and for the histories they hold. A structure that has seen so much humanity has certainly built up a certain level of energy about it - I think that is part of what attracts me - hauntings become, in my opinion, almost inevitable though some may be so slight and subtle that you have to really be paying attention to notice; often it is nothing more than a feeling of never being alone (a feeling I rather like).

I think you did experience something in that house and your research is fascinating! I wonder what else you might have experienced had you spent more time under that roof! Though, for your own stress level, perhaps it's best you left when you did!
Bibliothecarius (9 stories) (1091 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-08)
Tabu! A kindred spirit!

I, too, have suffered from "fanatical parent syndrome."

(This is a little personal, but there's a point to it!)
My mother, a minister, was constantly on the alert for the persecution of Christians by Liberals in the British government, then the American government. Every group has its paranoid fringe conspiracy theorists in it; it doesn't make everyone or everything in the group bad, but it does make me wonder about why the good members of a group don't stand up to the lunatics more often... The LDS members in my Colorado neighborhood were really nice, family-oriented people who tried not to bother others. One of the friends I've made on YGS is a minister in the LDS church. On the other hand, when I received an un-asked-for free copy of Warren Jeffs' self-proclaimed prophecies for my school's Library, I sent it back.

I've always found a millennia-old quote to be helpful in finding a peaceful balance between theoretical beliefs and documentable reality: "Ubi dubium, ibi libertas." It means, "Where there's doubt, there's freedom." If you can think critically about someone's experiences, even your own, and you can see that there's more than one possible 'right' answer, then your mind *is* free. Knowing that you have the capacity for doubt, a sense of curiosity, and the willingness to open up about an odd event in your past *all* should be a HUGE relief for you; you're nowhere near as unhinged & myopic as your father.

Sometimes, parents who are really controlling in religious absolutism will not respond well to independent, rational, curious children. I would caution that it's a good idea to maintain a relationship in which you control the parameters of how often you interact with your dad. In the worst-case scenario (which is what happened to me) there is a complete cessation of dialogue. I have not spoken to my mother since March 2016, nor do I intend to change that; my life is happier and more sane without her in it. I wouldn't wish the severity of this response on anyone; however, I know I'd have been a healthier person if I'd cauterized that relationship back in 2010 or even earlier.

Trying to talk yourself out of believing what you are experiencing, just because it does not agree with what everyone you know says is "real," can lead to depression (because you start to believe you're "not right"), anger ("why won't they listen?"), and a slew of other negative emotions. Don't give in to those internal voices; they're the voices that reflect what you heard while you were growing up, and you have moved beyond them. Sure, doubt what you're experiencing ("did I just see...?"), but with an openly-critical mind. Ruling out the potential natural and supernatural explanations is a reassuringly logical process, just like science or common sense.

I honestly believe that you experienced a haunting phenomenon. Even if your friends came back home and explained that they had a pet cat who had mastered opening doorknobs, you'd still have been right to be a little freaked out by your experience.

I'm going to read the links you've provided, now.

Take care of yourself, Tabu, and remain steadfast in your ability to apply open-minded critiques to odd events.

Smoki_Tabu (2 stories) (13 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-08)
I've been doing a little more digging and found a couple of news stories of fatalities in/near Escalante.

Child run over by wagon:

Murder, not in Escalante, but a few miles away:
Smoki_Tabu (2 stories) (13 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-08)
Hi Biblio, thank you for your comments and the warm welcome.

Around the late '90s they officially changed the name of the youth program from "Birch Camp" to "Robert Welch University". They weren't all wackos, but they certainly attracted a type (my dad, for example). Far-Right conspiracy theories abounded in our household, as did stacks of the publication "The New American". My dad was of the mindset "anything the JBS or LDS church says is absolute truth, and anyone who questions it is either stupid or evil." It was a bit of a toxic and cult-like environment for nine kids to be crammed into, but I made it out ok. More or less.

I remember that moment where I first heard the doorknob, before I looked up just thinking in a rush "Nononononononono this is not happening. It's my overactive imagination." and then with the door slowly moving open, I ran out of explanations in the moment as to why it was so. I was convinced at the time that what had happened was paranormal, but after I told the others and had gotten the reaction that I did, my social anxiety kicked in, and I told myself that I would never tell anyone else.

I've been fascinated by the paranormal for as long as I can remember, but I've also been interested in figuring out the 'why' behind strange occurrences, even if that meant being overly critical of my own experiences. Through the years, this story kept nagging at me.

If the door had slammed and immediately bounced back open, that would have been a good indication of a doorknob malfunction in combination with a breeze (it was summertime in Utah, and this old home had no cooling system whatsoever, other than open windows and prayers for a cool breeze lol). It's the fact that it was several seconds (if not minutes) apart from the slam, to the doorknob creaking, to the door opening. It seemed deliberate, for lack of a better word. πŸ˜‰
Bibliothecarius (9 stories) (1091 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-07)
Greetings, Smoki_Tabu, and welcome to YGS.

The point in your story that most surprised me was that the John Birch Society still exists! (In the 1950s, they accused Dwight D. Eisenhower of being a Socialist conspirator; in the 1980s, they accused Ronald Reagan of being controlled by Communists for *not* starting World War III. Please note that both of these Republican Presidents' careers are defined by their demonstrations of strength *opposing* communism!)

That historical brouhaha aside, I have a significant thought or two about the re-opening of the door. While a breeze (or old hinges) may cause a door to swing shut, the impact of the door against the frame will have one of two results. It may slam shut and stay shut, or it may not have enough momentum to slam shut so it bangs against the frame and remains slightly open.

Because your next description of the phenomenon is "what sounds like a doorknob turning," I am really interested! If the door had not fully engaged, and the pressure of the almost-closed latch against the strike-plate in the doorjamb causes the door to spring open slightly, it wouldn't create the sound of the *doorknob* turning; there would be a "click" as the door pushed away and the latch-spring extended the mechanism to the "out" position, but this happens independently of the doorknob's axial rotation. No matter what caused the door to close, there was no plausible reason --environmental or mechanical-- for the doorknob to turn.

If I have misunderstood your description, please feel free to explain the details to correct my reconstruction of the events. I do think you had an encounter with something, but I'd be cautious about suggesting that it was a poltergeist. It may have been a simple haunting by someone who *also* wanted to be left alone...

Smoki_Tabu (2 stories) (13 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-05)
Dee, thank you for your comment.

In hindsight I think Cindy was a bit too immature for me to spend time with. 😜 😁
Smoki_Tabu (2 stories) (13 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-05)
Twilight, I recently tried to find the house on Google maps, with no luck. And looked for strange stories relating to Escalante, but haven't gotten anything. I've contemplated trying to look up Cindy, but I really don't know how I would approach the conversation. 😳 Thank you for reading and for your comment!
Smoki_Tabu (2 stories) (13 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-05)
Hi everyone.

Haven, I remember being surprised that the possibility of this old house being haunted was not something that occurred to any of the others. While quite religious, they didn't seem to have much spiritual depth. (Letter-of-the-law folks vs spirit-of-the-law)

I met Cindy at a youth camp (John Birch society). She was a counselor.

I always had a hard time relating to kids my own age. Yet I would carry on full blown conversations with people many decades my senior. My mom was fond of telling people about when I was a baby, how I hated being trapped inside such a tiny helpless body. I've heard myself described as having an old soul. One of my current best friends is 30years older than me.

One theory I have is that I was homeschooled and therefore didn't spend much time with children in my peer group, but being from a large Mormon family, there were ample opportunities to socialize with people of various ages, so that became the norm.

Maybe the question is, why the hell was Cindy hanging out with a 14 year old?! Lol
CuriousDee (8 stories) (631 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-05)

I agree with the others; you did a great job thinking of possible explanations. Of course, it could have been caused by a draft. However, given the age of the house, one can't rule out residual activity either.

I have the same question as Haven... Why is a 20 year old friends with a 14 year old?

Thanks for sharing.
Twilight1011 (9 stories) (320 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-05)
I think it's good how you tried to think of logical explanations as to what could have caused the door to slam, and again to open. It shows that you're not quick to jump to the extreme with things. But after you've ruled out the logical possibilities, that's when the unknown ones can be considered. With this place being as old as you said, it wouldn't surprise me if it had a lot of history to it. Have you ever choose to look up the history on this place out of curiosity? You never know what you may find out about it. I hate that your friends didn't take your experience seriously, and instead teased you over it. I know how that can make you not want to share anything that could be considered paranormal etc to others, in fear of their judgment towards you. From what you said, I don't think that it would be to far fetched to believe that it was something paranormal, but without being there, or knowing any other details, it's only just an opinion. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, as I enjoyed reading about it. I'd love to hear if you did, or plan to find out the history on this place 😊
Haven (20 stories) (307 posts)
6 years ago (2018-10-05)
Hi Smoki -

Seems like you have already thought of all the logical explanations for what might have caused the door to open and then close. I think there is a big probability that it was just that, the wind. Taking in account that Cindy, being the owner of the house, laughed it off and didn't seem to be bothered, it would appear she never experienced anything weird in the house before.

I'm glad nothing else happened.

I do have a question, just out of curiosity: why would a 14 year old want to hang out with someone that is in her "early twenties"?

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