Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Haunted Money Pit

I was reading one of my favorite author’s blogs Deanna Raybourn at also known as Blog-a-Go-Go. She was talking today about the ghost that inhabit her house. She lives in an old house that has some well let’s just say has some strange inhabitants. This made me think of the money-pit the old mansion house in which I used to reside. Now in the spirit of the season I will share my story with you.

I purchased a house that was built in 1917. It was labeled a “mansion” house by the real estate flyer but in reality it was just a large old house. It was located in an old part of town in a hot and muggy southern city. I was combining 4 houses into one and at that time in my life was not willing to part with “things”. I had to find something with enough room to accommodate my family, all their toys, clothes and animals. This house was perfect. Everyone could have their own rooms; it had a large living area, a study, a game room, a kitchen that had potential and just enough yard for the dogs but not enough to require a riding lawn mower. So I stepped up to the plate plopped down my money and decided to call it home. (Yes this is the same house that ended up having the Godzilla Rat).

The first week we lived in the money-pit house I was in the study alone putting things away when I heard music coming from upstairs. I thought that the neighbor must have their stereo turned up loud and went about my work without another thought. Then I got a very cold sensation, unusual since the house was not air conditioned and it was May in Louisiana, which meant it was about 90 degrees. The cold lasted only briefly then it was gone but the smell of lilacs lingered. Several days later my daughter who was in high school at the time said something about noises coming from her closet. I asked her if she thought it was mice and she said not unless mice sing Ring Around the Rosie. This was our introduction to the constant inhabitants of the house.

We lived with the usual bumps and groans that happen in old houses and knew that was just the house talking to us. We also lived with the smell of pipe tobacco, no one in the house smoked, and the sound of opera coming from the attic. Maybe the Godzilla Rat was singing opera I mean he was the size of Pavarotti, but I don’t think so since the singing went on long after Godzilla was captured. We just accepted them, the opera singing lady, the pipe smoking man, the little girl in my daughter’s closet without ever actually seeing anything.

Then one night after an especially trying day I was in bed sound a sleep when the door from my bedroom to the sleeping porch opened and shut causing me to sit up in bed. An unnatural cold came into the room and lingered for a few minutes then in the time it would take to walk from my bed to the door leading into the hallway it wafted away. Then the door to the hallway opened and closed and the smell of tobacco and cold was gone. I sat there in my bed confused and a bit frightened. I thought to myself “Someone just walked through my bedroom. Then it dawned on me, it wasn’t somebody, well at least not a living somebody.” A couple of nights later again the door from the sleeping porch opened then closed and the room became clammy and cold. I sat up and at the end of my bed I saw a man dressed in a white shirt and khaki trousers smoking a pipe. He smiled then he was gone, gone as in poof gone. He was gone but the smell of tobacco lingered. I sat there not believing what I saw a little frightened and a little confused then the door to the hallway opened up and closed again. I doubted what I saw but trying to be open minded and brave decided to not say anything to anyone.

A few days later as I was driving my daughter to school she said “Momma, I’m going to tell you something a little weird, don’t think I’m crazy or anything ok?” She proceeded to tell me that she had seen the little girl in her closet. She said was about eight years old and she opened the door of the closet and looked out and smiled at my daughter while she was doing her homework. Now I would have totally freaked out if a ghost had smiled at me doing my homework when I was her age, but Tadpole being the wise person she is just told the little girl she wasn’t there to harm her and finished her book report.

I knew some of our neighbors had lived in their houses since the time the original owners had lived there. I asked my oldest neighbor for any information about the original owner of the house. He told me that the man had been in the oil business, just a regular guy who made a bundle in the Elysian Fields and Lake Caddo oil fields. He built the house for his wife, a soprano and founder of the local opera company. They moved from the house after their young daughter died of influenza. Now I did not prompt him on any of these items, it was just his story. I asked him to describe Mr. Snead, the original owner and builder of the house, and he described him as always being in work boots and khaki pants smoking a pipe.

One night while asleep I was awakened by the man sitting on the end of my bed. Startled I sat up in bed and looked at him and then through him. It unnerved me so I could not go back to sleep. About thirty minutes later I heard a commotion at the front door. My daughter also heard it and we met in the hallway and went down the back stairs. Sure enough someone was trying to get in through the front door. Our alarm was on and we knew if they breached the door it would sound but we also called the police. I believe that Mr. Snead, the ghost, woke me up to make sure I saw the intruder before he saw me. There were several other times when Mr. Snead had protected us from harm. Once he kept opening the upstairs bedroom window. I would shut it, he would open it. This went on all night. The next morning I realized I smelled natural gas. I called the gas company and sure enough we had a gas leak in a wall heater in the bathroom.

We had many encounters with our fellow housemates. Over the years we lived there we shared our stories with some of our family and a few of our friends who would always pooh-pooh it or come up with some explanation for our sightings. We would just nod and smile knowing what we knew. We had no doubt that we were living in a genuine haunted house.

Then years later life changed as it does and it was time to move on. My mother was house sitting both the house and the moving company while I was out making some final arrangements. I need to tell you that my mother had always been one of the major nay sayers when we spoke of our spectral house-mates. She was there with Killer, the 4 pound man eater, and the two moving men. They were all downstairs in the dining room packing and wrapping up the bazillions of dishes that I had accumulated, when they heard foot steps coming from upstairs. The two moving men looked at one another then at my mother and said “Who is upstairs?” My mother the, bravest of the three, replied that no one was upstairs that she knew of at which point Killer began to growl lowly and slowly. This frightened the moving men enough to cause them to ask my mother to go upstairs and check. My mother with Killer in tow went up the back stairs to the second floor. She opened every door to every room and walked through each one opening closets, checking under beds and behind shower curtains to find it was empty. Then as she was leaving my bedroom the door to the sleeping porch opened and closed, the room got clammy and cold and she could smell the strong distinct smell of tobacco. Killer began wagging his stump of a tail and then the bedroom door to the hallway which was open slammed shut.

My mother beat feet down the stairs and into the dining room where the moving men were standing eyes the size of pie plates and pale as vanilla ice cream. Now these men were not small men, they were what one pictures when the label “moving men” is mentioned. They both were sorely and visibly frightened. Now whether they saw our ghostly room-mate is a question that will never be answered because they left as swiftly as their four feet would carry them out the front door. They had to be coaxed by my mother to come back into the house. They would not speak to her of it and finished packing my things in record time.

I never got to spend another night in the house and am a little saddened by this. I would have liked to explain to my illusory friend when and why we were leaving. I think he was miffed that we had decided to move in such haste. I also would have liked to thank them for watching over us during our time in the house. I hope whoever is living in that house now has made friends with our specters and that they appreciate their watchful eye.

No comments: