Bumps in the night

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-legged beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!
– Traditional Scottish Prayer

I’ve never met a ghoul and I have questions about long-legged beasties, but I can speak from personal experience about Things That Go Bump in the Night. Long ago in a house far away, we had our own ghosts. Friendly ghosts or at least, friendly to us.

Ghosts have been part of human mythology as long as tales have been told around campfires. Maybe before campfires. I don’t think if any religion excludes the possibility of ghosts. There seems to be a general agreement that ghosts and wraiths are spirits of the dead who linger on Earth after they have slipped that mortal coil. Some are malevolent, others benevolent or merely curious. Ghosts vary by mythology, religion and era. Even today, there are rumors and stories.

Hadley Shack

I cannot claim to have seen a ghost, but I lived in a house where everyone could hear our ghosts. It was 1965 when for $20,300, we were able to buy a tidy little brick house built in 1932. On the first floor were two bedrooms and a bathroom. There was a big bedroom on the partially finished second floor. The house was small but solid, walking distance from the college where my husband worked and I was finishing my degree.

The ambiance of the house from the moment we walked into it was overtly friendly. It welcomed everyone and made them feel at home. The little house had been built by a couple who had lived, raised children, and then died in it. They were not murdered or anything sordid. They merely grew old and passed on in the home they loved.

We loved it too. My son wouldn’t come onto the scene for 4 more years, but it was a good house to raise babies. I could feel it.

The house was a bit neglected. Not falling down but in need of paint and some modernization of its infrastructure. It still had its original heating system, converted from a coal burner to an oil furnace. Not very efficient and the radiators were huge, old and iron. Oil was cheap; we didn’t worry about it. We’d get to it eventually.

Initially we lived on the first floor since the bathroom was there. The upstairs had been an attic, but half had been turned into a big bedroom. We wanted to move up there. It was much bigger and had wonderful light, but we wanted to fix it up first.

Before anything else, we wanted to paint. The entire house was painted pale salmon pink. It wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t any color we’d have chosen. Worse, it was high gloss paint, like one would use in a kitchen or bath.

We painted the downstairs first. Every night, we heard our ghosts walking. You could hear the sound of heavy, loud footsteps upstairs, sharp, like the soles of hard leather shoes or boots. Everyone on the lower floor head it. The walking started around eight in the evening, continued for a few minutes. Then the footsteps would pause and restart randomly until around midnight. The footsteps always stopped by midnight and never began before eight.

Battlefield Ghoul-1

We called them “The Old Man” and “The Old Woman.” They wore different shoes. Her shoes had a sharp sound, like high heels on a hardwood floor. His were clunkier, like maybe work boots. Both of them had died in the house, so they were prime candidates for ghosthood, especially since no one ever lived in the house until us.

At first, we also heard them on the steps, but after we painted the stairway, the footsteps retreated and we only heard them in the attic and bedroom. After we began painting the bedroom, we continued to hear them for a while in the attic and then, one day, they were gone, never to return.

Were they watching to see if we properly cared for and loved their home? I thought so. Were we all hallucinating? It was the 1960s, so anything is possible, but I think it was the couple who had lived there watching to make sure we did right by the house. We did and I guess they felt it was okay to depart.

Life is full of strangeness. If anyone has bumped into a long-legged beastie, please tell me about it. I’m dying to know.


Categories: Humor, Life, Magic, Supernatural

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

30 replies

  1. I once saw my abuelita (dad’s mom) passing through our house. Not sure where her spirit came from (?) she always lived in Mexico & she passed away before my parents got married. I was born 1year & a half later. So- I never met her. Once in a while – I swear that I see my brother Roy peeking ito my house.


  2. I have a few ghost stories myself. We had two houses that qualified. The first was ‘dark’ and the realtor told me it was just the furniture because the people were German and they had a different style. She ‘forgot’ to tell us that the previous owner died in the house. We eventually ran from the house. Do not stop the car and don’t look back…We disturbed the land, the next owners didn’t and have had no problems.
    The second house was a bright and happy house but there was something. My cat and I both knew it. I did see something early one morn and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I thought that was just an expression.. When we had an open house to sell, a couple came through (one of many) and told me there was a man in the living room, ( they were with the realtor). I said that I would go and see him. She said oh, no, I won’t see him, he is just watching everyone coming and going…I wouldn’t hesitate to move back into the house.


    • There are ghosts. And then, there are ghosts. Ours were apparently kindly, unthreatening. I have heard of others not so well-displosed to the living.


      • While we were in the first house, we had incident after incident. My husband had the tractor turn on him and almost killed him. I got to the point that I didn’t know what was happening with us, and just wanted to leave. He got a transfer so we sold. In and out in two yrs.. The previous owner had built the house and died in it, my ex was changing the land around it. Each incident on its own would be just an incident, but on a daily basis, you have to start to wonder… Anyways, the drama ended and we went on with a normal life again.


  3. Thanks for the link back to Meg Benjamin’s article on my website. 🙂

    My aunt bought a very old house that had been well loved by the same family for over a hundred years and she definitely felt that the presences there didn’t move on until they were sure the house was being taken care of in the right way. Now, the house is calm. Funny how worried we can be about a house, even after we no longer live there, or are even alive.


  4. I haven’t personally seen any ghosts (yet) but I like to keep an open mind. I did have an experience one morning that I can’t explain. I was out walking along a country road and heard something clopping along behind me, but when I spun around, nothing was there. I suspect it was probably a deer, but if he ran off from the road, how did he get through the bushes on each side of the road without making noise? Strange.


  5. ooo great story. Thanks for sharing that. : }


    • It was interesting. Not frightening, but peculiar. It was good that other people heard it or we would have thought we’d lost it.


      • You know when you watch a horror film and you are screaming in your head… No, don’t split up… No, don’t go down to the basement… NO, ITS GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN CHOICES, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! lol


        • That always makes me laugh because they ALWAYS go down into the dungeon with only a candle. No one EVER stays in the car. As for me, I don’t scream in my head. I scream at the television. “NO, don’t DO that!” But they never ever listen.

          On Sun, May 26, 2013 at 11:57 AM, SERENDIPITY


  6. I wonder if my grandfather haunts his old house but I don’t know if the house has been bought. Once, we went back there after having been gone a long time and no one had been in it for months. There was a clock in the living room and it required winding and every day that he had lived there, he had gone over to wind it as a part of his daily routine. When we walked into the house, the clock chimed 12 times and I thought my mom was going to jump out of her skin, she was SO freaked out by it. My sister and I smiled at each other and we both instantly knew that it was Paw and he was just trying to say hello to us. I am sure it was his spirit because that’s always how he was when we would come over to his house. He was all excited and he would say, “Come inside this house! It’s so great to see you!!!”

    I lived at a place in San Antonio which is built right alongside the Riverwalk. My sister was a baby at the time and I was 7 years old. My dad was an Artist In Residence which meant that he taught art there and we would live there for one year. The school is called Southwest Craft Center and it was this ancient building that had once been called the Urseline Academy and it had been a school for cloistered nuns. There were very few men who worked there while the nuns were there and I don’t think they were allowed there at night.

    I think maybe kids are more in tune with spirits than adults because I just knew they were there but other than my sister, there weren’t any other kids who lived there. Men were the people who were bothered by ghosts the most but the woman who ran the place didn’t like to talk about ghosts or ghost encounters. She did tell me that I was lucky that I was a girl because the ghosts really liked to scare the men more.

    My family lived in a part of the building that had been the infirmary or, hospital of the school. For the whole first week, my sister and I would try to sleep and we couldn’t because we were both hearing girls crying for most of the night. They finally had to move our huge bed into the kitchen/dining room area and we could sleep all night. My parents then were trying to sleep in that same room and they couldn’t either so they would work all night and sleep during the days. We all had to kind of sleep in shifts because of the crying. We never heard that noise during the day. Only at night. The dog was aware of it, too.

    I have always wanted to go back there! I keep in touch with some of the other artists that were living and teaching there but no one ever speaks of specific stories about their experiences. I have asked them if they remember it as being haunted and they all agree but they don’t want to talk about it. I did enjoy living there so much, though. The buildings were so incredible and beautiful! It is still there today and it still functions as an art school. If anybody gets the chance to go and tour this place, I promise you, you will love it! Steeped in history, for sure. There is a chapel and the ceiling is painted similar to the way the Sistine Chapel.

    I haven’t SEEN ghosts but I have HEARD them. Plenty of times!


  7. Reading your description of your house would be something like I would write about my Victorian. People walked in a invariably commented on the welcoming warmth of the house our kitchen was a people magnet with its old cast iron Duel Atlantic flat-top stove and heavy beam ceilings. We too had a heavy footed presence about the place making thunderous noises and shutting doors.

    Thank-you for the pleasant reminders of those early days of peace, love, and flowers.


    • Old houses … aside from sucking up ever penny you will ever have … are so special. They carry the history of every person who ever lived there and seem to have their own character. When you find one that’s full of love, it’s a very special place and I’m glad you had that experience too. Those were wonderful years.


  8. Great blog, and fun comments to read. I have had quite a ew encounters with ghosts and so has Stephen, some of them together. We even had a ghost cat in one of our homes.


  9. I remember your house. And yes, it was friendly. Your living room had a thousand things to look at and touch. And I recall how excited you were when Simon and Garfunkel came out with The Sound of Silence. Great house. Great guy. Great vibes. Great memories.


    • I don’t have many pictures from those years. I got this one from my cousin when we visited last month. Many things never came back from Israel. But I remember. Garry remembers. You and Sonja and us, all watching Star Trek with the fire on the hearth. Good memories. Wish you weren’t so far away now. How many women have a husband who remembers her other husband with affection? I am so lucky.



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