Yesterday's Magazette

7 – Our Haunted House

Our Haunted House

By Mildred Klein

I love old houses. Whenever I enter one, a certain feeling comes over me. It’s as if a living force from all the old souls who have lived there through the years still lingers, leaving an essence of the spirit behind.

Sometimes though, I get an impression of coldness and an intuitive sense that it is not a friendly dwelling and I am not welcome. I lived in one house where I clearly felt rebuffed and rejected by the old spirits who remained there after many years.

It was 1951 and the U.S. had just become embroiled in the Korean War. My husband, Roy, was in the military and had been ordered to a new post in Michigan.

When we arrived there, with our six-month-old baby in tow, we were dejected to learn the quarters we had been assigned were unavailable. Our unhappy alternative was civilian housing in the nearest town, but even there, everything had been snatched up by the military personnel who had arrived before us.

We searched the city looking for a suitable place and after several disappointing days, just when we were about to give up, we finally got lucky … or so we thought.

We found a house, and what a house it was! For two adults and a baby, it was beyond our simple needs but the rent was surprisingly reasonable.

The house sat on a slight rise on the corner of the block looking like something that had risen from the ashes of the Victorian age. It was enormous; our voices echoed in the awesome, oversized rooms with the high ceilings.

There were six rooms on the first floor with a wide hallway from which rose a curving stairway to the second floor. Above, there were five huge bed chambers and a gargantuan bathroom. A wide verandah encompassed all sides of the exterior. It looked so proud and majestic standing there that we jokingly named it “The Empress.”

The downstairs rooms were more than adequate for our needs, so the second floor rooms loomed dark and empty. Our furniture was lost in the immensity of the place, but we settled in and tried to adjust. I didn’t want to worry Roy, but from the very first day I secretly hated it and once again I got that strange feeling. This definitely was not a friendly house!

Roy was gone on maneuvers for several days at a time and it wasn’t long before a pattern began to evolve. Whenever Johnny and I were alone, peculiar things always seemed to happen.

One night, just after I had put Johnny to bed, I observed a long, shiny black car silently glide around the corner and stop directly in front of our driveway. The three men in the car gestured and pointed at the house. This continued for over an hour. My heart did flip-flops when they got out of the car, stomped up the walk and came bodily onto the verandah. They proceeded to walk around and around the house, and finally stopped at the door.

I remained discretely out of sight but I could hear angry voices as they kicked and pounded on the door. They twisted the doorknob trying to enter. They finally decided it was hopeless, and ran back to their car and sped away.

I was filled with terror, fearing they might come back. We never learned their identity or the purpose of their visit. I wondered what dark secrets our Empress was hiding within her walls.

I hated the second floor.

Every night when it was necessary to use the bathroom, I had to climb the stairs and pass by those daunting, empty dark rooms that sat there like yawning black holes. One night when I was in the bathroom, all the lights went out, casting our terror-haunted house into total darkness.

Ours was the only house on the block without power. I ·managed to grope my way through the blackness to Johnny’s room where I remained close to him for the rest of the night. The next day he and I went shopping for the biggest flashlight I could find. I was surprised, when we returned home, that the electricity was working fine. The Empress, it seemed, enjoyed systematically terrorizing me.

I was convinced of that when on another night a short time later, something frightened me so severely I almost went into cardiac arrest.

The basement was like a vast, gray, endless cave. Even during the day when I went down to do the laundry, I hurried through it as fast as I could, always looking over my shoulder half expecting something or someone to pounce on me.

I had gone to bed and was lying in a half-awake state, when suddenly from the basement arose a terrible, ear-splitting racket. There was a loud clang, then a series of lesser jangles and clatter, then a bang that set the echoes ringing.

For a moment I was half paralyzed with terror before I jumped out of bed, raced to Johnny’s room and pushed a very heavy chest-of-drawers against the door. The pandemonium ceased as abruptly as it began.

I did not go near the basement again until Roy finally came home. When he heard my story, he went down to investigate while I waited upstairs to rescue him, if necessary. After a few minutes I heard him roar with laughter. He had discovered the cause of the racket.

The laundry room was in disarray. A bracket on the wall had loosened and the two massive laundry tubs that had been hanging there had crashed to the floor. When they hit the floor, they had apparently rolled into several barrels and they, in turn, had rolled into some empty tin pails.

The pails rolled into another heavy aluminum tub that had been resting on its side nearby, started it rolling until it banged into the wall. In spite of her malevolence, there was no doubt the Empress had a distorted sense of humor.

She never ceased to harass me. A few months passed, and one day we received the joyful news that our time there had ended.

Roy was transferred to duty at a post in Oklahoma where we moved into a docile little ranch house that was the warmest, friendliest house we ever lived in during all our days in the service.

Vol. 37 No. 3 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Fall – 2010

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