I keep running into ghost stories on various blogs, or references to ghosts. so i think i will tell one here now. because this is a dog blog, the story will involve a dog, maybe two. i've already told you the story about how my old dog toby saw the ghost when we lived in the thurber house. and that remains my favorite ghost story, because i was there and i know that it's true.
but my family has a lot of other ghost stories. my grandmother was irish, you know. and their house in st. joe (pictured above last summer, with me and some of my siblings) (aren't we a motley crew?) was haunted.
the first time my grandfather john saw the ghost, he was home alone. he watched as it walked down into the basement, and then he tried to send Bu, their german shepherd, after it. Bu refused to go. so john nailed the basement door shut.
this did not keep the ghost out of the house, partly because when Gramma came home she made him pull the nails back out.
after that, john saw the ghost pretty often, usually while he and gramma were playing cards in the kitchen late at night. the ghost followed a regular path: it came down the stairs, crossed over the grate in the kitchen floor--they could hear when it trod on the grate--then went on down into the basement and disappeared behind the furnace.
once, john said, the ghost stopped right behind gramma and looked at her cards. this might just have been john trying to make a good story even better.
john claimed that the ghost grew to become his buddy and gave him tips on the daily double. but this might just have been john looking for an airtight reason to go to the races.
there was another ghost in the house, upstairs in one of the bedrooms. my older siblings and cousins saw it one night when we were all staying there. it manifest itself as a bright light that danced on the far wall of the bedroom and caused them all to scream.
my uncle raced up the stairs and threw open the door and tried to calm them by saying it was just headlights from a passing car. but my brother knew better; there was no window in that room that looked out into the street.
in later years, my grandmother started a business in the basement. she set up several sewing machines and she and my great-aunts monogrammed bowling shirts. the ghost took a dislike to one of my aunts, apparently, and every morning when she came down to start work she found that the spool of thread had been removed from her machine and had been wound all over the basement.
to get to my grandparents' house, you have to drive past a cemetery. my mother does not believe in ghosts; she's far too practical. but she said every time we went to visit my grandparents, she knew when the ghosts were in the house because she would get a feeling of great dread when the passed the cemetery. no dread, no ghosts. dread, the ghosts were back.
she told this story when my dad's sister was visting a few years ago, and iny's jaw dropped. she, too, had experienced the intense dread, but she had never told anyone.
when my grandparents died, the house was on the market for a long time. one time when people were looking at it, a mirror flew off the wall in the living room and landed, face-up, on the floor. another time someone was upstairs in the bedroom looking around when they felt a hand on their shoulder; they turned, but no one was there.
nobody wanted to buy the house. finally, iny hired an exorcist.
the exorcist spent some time there. he reported back. he said he had never before been in a house that was so profoundly haunted.
he said the house had several ghosts. one, who lived in the upstairs bedroom, was the melancholy ghost of a woman. she stood in the window, staring out, waiting in vain for her lover to come back from the war.
another ghost was the ghost of a man, possibly a military man. he walked through the house and into the basement and went behind the furnace, where the exorcist thought something might have been buried.
and then, he said, there were other, "incidental" ghosts, including the ghost of a little girl and her dog.
the exorcist did whatever it is that exorcists do, and eventually the house sold. a few years ago, when we were all back in st. joe for a family reunion, we stopped by the house. the new owners gave us a tour. the house had been remodeled and was bright and cheery; the kitchen was nothing like it was back when gramma and john played cards and watched the ghost. the grate in the floor was gone.
the new owner said the house isn't haunted, as far as she knows. a pity. but i guess that means the ghosts are all back in the graveyard, where they belong.
i forgot i was supposed to link this posting to david's blog. he posed the original question, which i happened across when i was reading akelamalu's blog.
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