Wicked Wednesday-The Spirit of a Place

Jessie: Finishing up the last week of summer vacation!

Since both Barb and Julie have books that released this week with a heavy emphasis on the darker side of a place I wondered if you have any memories or stories ( that you believe or don’t) of haunted locales? Houses, towns, wooded groves or misty lakes, I am interested in them all!

Edith: So many congratulations to Barb and Julie! I can wait to read both the new books. A friend was staying in our guest room a few years ago. Our house was built in 1880. Bonnie woke up in the night and saw a woman in an old-fashioned nightgown standing at the end of the bed. She wasn’t malevolent and didn’t speak or move but stayed there for some time. Bonnie turned over or something and when she looked again, the woman was gone. I get shivers just thinking about it! I’ve never seen the woman in white, but I kind of wish she would reappear.

Barb: As regular readers know, my mother-in-law ran a bed and breakfast in an old sea captain’s house in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. My husband’s Aunt Connie, who was given to that sort of thing, firmly believed a female ghost resided in the back bedroom called the Garden Room. One night, after my husband and I owned the place, we had a house full of family and Bill and I ended up sleeping in the Garden Room with our cocker spaniel MacKenzie. The dog was a nervous wreck all night, panting, walking around on his toenails, and generally keeping us awake. Finally, exasperated and nearing dawn, we threw him out of the room. He immediately settled in the hallway and fell into a deep sleep. I think there were squirrels in the walls, but I think Bill kinda wonders…

Julie: I lived in an apartment in Brookline years ago, and we had a poltergeist. My roommate and I were talking once and a can of bug spray flew off the top of the refrigerator at us both. She told me that when she’d lay on her stomach and read, a red light would flash on the page. One night I heard a crash in her room, and the large mirror that had been resting against the wall on the back of her very crowded dresser top had fallen. It was face up, and not broken. Nothing else was disturbed, but a pair of ceramic earrings she had were crushed under the mirror. The earrings were of a skeleton face and a cross. Yup, we moved.

Sherry: Oh, that is scary, Julie! When we lived at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts our house was near the Minute Man National Historical park which runs from Lexington to Concord. It’s where the first battle of the Revolutionary War took place and the woods were said to be haunted by the soldiers who died that day. I never had any weird experiences but others did. Another haunted place not too far from there is the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts. I used the story of the woman who haunts it in All Murders Final.  I’ll have to save the story of the haunted houses on F.E. Warren Air Force Base for another day as is my encounter with Cary Grant’s ghost.

Liz: My favorite topic – haunted stuff! I had a friend from college who said the house in Marblehead her grandmother lived in was haunted. She promised to invite a bunch of us over for a slumber party but alas, it never happened. I’ve never had any haunted experiences, to my dismay, but I keep hoping. Eventually I’m going to have go stay at one of those hotels famous for the hauntings just to get it out of my system.

Jessie: I love all these stories! I do love a bit of woo! Any supernatural experiences I have had have not been related to a specific place and so would be best in a different post but I would say that there are places that either feel wonderful to me or give me the creeps. One of my children participated in an after school activity in a building in a different town that I felt had repellent energy. There was just something about it that made me uneasy. I made sure to stay with the other parents when coming and going from the events there. It turned out several assaults were committed there not long after we started attending. I don’t know that it was the spirit of the place but I was truly glad I trusted my instincts.

Readers, do you believe a place can have a strong personality, either malevolent or benign?

11 Thoughts

  1. As mentioned before, most of my ghost stories are from college. Not only was my sophomore-year dorm room supposed to be haunted, the fifth floor of the oldest dorm on campus (long closed) was supposed to be haunted. A lot of students used to go to fifth Dev to see if they could find a ghost.

    And we had a real exorcist on campus as a teacher.

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  2. I’ve never seen a ghost, but for years our adult daughter wouldn’t go into the basement of the house we moved into after she left home. She said there was something evil there. Then one year she said it was gone. She’s not a fanciful person, but I don’t doubt she felt something.

    I have occasionally heard my name called “out of the ether” when I’ve been at home alone. It’s a little freaky.

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  3. Until a few years ago, I would have completely pooh-poohed such stories. I would have been polite to your face, but I would have been thinking that you really have a vivid imagination. That is, until I had my own such experience.

    Five years ago, my mother died at the age of 98. For the last ten years of her life, I’d been her caregiver, working at it 24/7 for the final three years of her life. It was truly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and parts of it were very, very difficult to endure. However, I wouldn’t trade the worst of those moments for the best moment in the rest of my life.

    After she died, I was (unsurprisingly) pretty much overwhelmed with grief. About six months after she died, I saw a review in our local newspaper of a book written by the former publisher of the paper called, The Hand on the Mirror. In it, she described finding a physical phenomenon in her late husband’s sickroom that she firmly believed could not have happened as a result of ordinary, explainable means. It was the print of a man’s hand on his bathroom mirror in a fine powder. The room had been cleaned the day before, and no one else had entered that bathroom since.

    The book got me thinking. Because of who she was, I had to take her experience seriously and give at least some intellectual consideration to the possibility of things I had previously completely dismissed.

    About a week after that experience, I had a similar experience of my own. I was in my mother’s bathroom and all of a sudden, the roll of toilet paper started spinning and unreeled a large quantity of tissue onto the floor. I was at least five feet away when it happened. For reasons I won’t go into here, that particular action was intimately tied to my relationship with my mother. At that moment, I had to abandon sixty-five years of scorn and dismissal of the paranormal. I’d always believed (stupidly) that if I couldn’t see and touch it, it wasn’t real. Well, now I seen and touched it.

    That was followed by other experiences that led me into communication with my late mother. We now can talk, and do so on a regular basis. It’s easier, of course, for her to hear me talking to her that it is for me to hear her. I have only a little talent along those lines. Fortunately, I have a good friend who is able to pass along everything she wants me to know about my bad sleeping habits, my procrastination, my poor diet, and my many other failings. The same things she lovingly nagged me about in life, she continues to do so after death.

    The best thing about that whole experience was that it removed that overwhelming sense of grief from me. I still did (and do) miss her terribly was (and am) sometimes quite sad. But I’m no longer consumed by her loss; I’m able to function well and enjoy my life as it is today.

    As a result of that powerful and transforming experience, I no long dismiss anyone’s unusual experiences out of hand, whether or not the correspond to my own. While there are plenty of charlatans and fakes out there, there are also genuine psychics and, I have to believe, genuine people in other paranormal areas.

    If you’d asked me five years ago if there was any possibility of my believing in such things, I would have laughed you out of the room. It’s a trite quote, but truly apt: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene 5)

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    1. Such an interesting story, Lee. I would say I don’t believe in ghosts either, not in the Casper sense, or the Topper sense, or the walking-around-graveyards sense. But I also believe we don’t know everything about our universe. After all there were times when all the smart, educated people believed the earth was flat, the sun rotated around the earth, and our bodies were governed by humours. So, given this, and particularly given Einsteinian notions of time and space, I believe we will know more someday, so I don’t doubt others experiences.

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  4. I had always heard that the Gettysburg battlefield was haunted and wondered about it. Thanksgiving weekend in 1992 I was returning to Missoula, MT from South Dakota and decided to stop at the Little Bighorn. It was late in the afternoon and no one else was there. I definitely believe that you can feel something there, as if the ground itself had absorbed the intense emotions from that day and still holds it. There were different sensations in different locations. Away from the cemetery and the museum, just looking over the landscape, I felt an immense sadness, but peace. It felt like hallowed ground. The feeling at the cemetery was entirely different. It was very unsettling, and I was sure I felt anger. I didn’t enter the cemetery. I’m more than willing to admit that everything I experienced was the result of my own emotions and feelings about that battle. But I’ll always wonder ….

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  5. I lived in a two story townhouse years ago with living area on the first floor and bedrooms on the second. One summer night, I went to bed late and fell into a deep sleep. I was startled by a noise from downstairs that sounded like someone was stumbling around in the dark.

    I grabbed for the phone to dial 911 and as I pried my eyes open. That was when I noticed the shadowed figure standing in by bedroom doorway. It gave me a bit of a start until recognized the familiar outline of my father. He spoke then and called me by name. He told me that everything was alright. I was safe, nothing to worry about. I was to go back to sleep. So I did.

    The next morning, I discovered that I had gone to bed without shutting the windows in the kitchen. A stiff breeze had blown a stack of mail which knocked a number of things from around the kitchen to the floor. That must have been the sound that frightened me the night before.

    And then I remember that it was my father who had told me that the noise was nothing to be concerned about. The solid, human and familiar form of my father clearly and calmly reassured me. My father, who had died more than six years earlier and who had never seen that home.

    I guess it’s true that a parent’s job is never really done.

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