Friday, October 31, 2008

I was walking with a ghost.

I figured since today is Halloween, I'd share from a time in my life when I lived in a haunted house. Over at No Guts, No Glory, the author is telling a quite horrifying story of her own, which inspired this post - though my story is not as terrifying!

I was only four years old at the time, but I remember some parts clearly, and my parents definitely retold the stories many a time. My mom, my dad, my little brother, and I lived on the first floor of an apartment building in Fort McNair in Washington DC (remember, my dad was in the military).

Some relevant history on the building itself: apparently it was a slave prison during the Civil War, and it's infamous for being the prison where Mary Surratt and the Lincoln conspirators were hung (she was the first female sentenced to death and executed in U.S. history). The tv camera crews stopped by regularly on Halloween as part of their local newscast. Sometimes you can catch the building on haunted house specials. Oh, here are some pics I found on Wikipedia of the conspirator hangings (sorry if it's a bit morbid! But suck it up, it's Halloween!):

Where those gallows stood are now tennis courts next to the apartment building.

And that is part of the building I lived in. Yup.

My family's encounters with the ghosts in our apartment weren't too scary, however. There was no huge debacle that chased us out of the place to never look back. We just have a small smattering of haunted tidbits. We had nice ghosts.


At the time, we had a German Shepard dog named Thor. The dog was huge and strong and didn't exactly have a lot to fear. However, under no circumstances would the dog go near the basement. It was a communal basement for the whole building, and my dad would go down there to grab something, and though Thor followed him everywhere, he would stop as soon as he got to the stairs to the basement. In our apartment itself, which was on the ground floor, there was a door to the basement that had long been sealed off and painted over; it was in the middle of the apartment on the ground in the hallway with our bedrooms. I had to draw a diagram in Paint just now for a visual (hahahaha) -

You can see the little shady area in the hallway. Thor would not go near that patched up doorway, and would take the route furthest from that door to get to where he needed to go. Apparently bad things had happened down there.

On Halloween, all the parents not out walking with their children would gather in the lobby to hand out candy. One Halloween while everyone was down there, they heard a loud noise coming from an empty apartment above. My mother says that all these military men were making excuses not to check it out; they knew the place was haunted and had encountered small things like lights flickering, newspapers gone missing, the tv turning on or off by itself. But this noise was loud, like a bang. So, two or three men headed up there and found that somehow the apartment's dog was whining to get out from under the couch. But it was impossible for the dog to simply get under, because the couch was flush to the ground. Somebody (some thing?) in the empty apartment had lifted the couch up and dropped it on top of the dog, which was the loud noise they had heard: the couch dropping on the ground.

One of my favourite stories my mom told me was on my brother's birthday (probably when he was turning three). Everybody was outside on the patio, and my mother had come back into the kitchen to clean something at the sink. The sink was on the far end of the kitchen, with a window looking out. A pink ball rolled out from me and my brother's room, turned two corners and started bouncing at the feet of my mom at the sink. My mother, who is very superstitious and has always believed in ghosts and spirits, stomped her foot and declared, "Today is my son's birthday, and I don't have time to play these games with you!" Then the ball stopped bouncing, and rolled back in its horseshoe path to our bedroom.

And finally, the creepiest story. My parents would often have to get up and take care of Travis (my brother) in the night when he cried out. One night, my mother heard Travis crying out, but it only lasted a minute, so my mother stayed in bed and went back to sleep. The next morning, my mother remarked at breakfast to Travis, "You were a good boy last night! You stopped crying!" to which my three-year-old brother said, "That's because the nice lady came to sing to me." Apparently, a black woman in a white gown would come sing my brother to sleep at night, and ocassionally floated above his bed.

See? Nice ghosts. Happy Halloween!


  1. that gave me goosebumps...i'm glad they were nice ghosts. i love how your mom yelled at the ghost too :)

  2. Oh! That makes me think of my ghost stories. *runs to blog it*

  3. Holy crap!!!!!! Um, wow about all of that. The pictures that you have are incredible. What a piece of living history. I got the goosebumps reading your encounters! The pink ball thing sounds like something from the movie IT. I would have screamed bloody murder. I'm glad your ghosts were nice...despite the one that trapped the poor dog under the couch....

    ooooh man, I have the shivers. Thanks for the link love, by the way. I'm going to write the final installment in the ghost story either this afternoon or this evening. :)

  4. OOO that last one gave me the chills. I always find it fascinating the way dogs and cats interact with ghosts (or rather lack of interaction). And babies too. Happy Halloween!

  5. That’s so crazy – Those pictures are really terrifying. That must be surreal to know the building as it is now.

    One of my friends has had similar experiences where she and her sisters would be supervised by an older gentleman when their mom was in another room who would keep their games from getting out of hand and keep them from getting hurt. There was a rocking chair in their house that would rock on its own when they got older, and they would all say hi to him.

    Later on they experienced times where they would be writing and suddenly their handwriting would change and they would write long sections of text that were very old fashioned and unfamiliar to them. Really strange stuff, but also very benevolent. Thank goodness!

  6. great halloween post! i love ghost stories. b lived in a haunted house and he's got some good stories too.

  7. ooooh! that's nuts. when we lived in germany there were some similar creepy things about our base (wwII, nazis, jewish folks, you get the picture).

    oh, and i love your costume in the above pictures! you look fab!

  8. OMG that is sooo spooky! I wouldnt last in that place for a minute!

  9. rialeilani - if there's one word to describe my mother, it's feisty!

    mich - yay! loved it.

    kayleigh - if there had been a clown involved, like in the movie IT, yes, I would have screamed bloody murder as well :) woo for link love! truly, love your story!

    kristen - i know, right? it's like some sort of paranormal filter goes up when you get older or something?!

    kyla bea - holy crap! writing out things not in their handwriting and not what they wanted to write?! THAT would scare me!!

    sarah - you should tell B to post these stories :)

    sonya - happy halloween!

    jamie - not as creepy as evil vampires wanting to hunt you down a kill you, whatever.

    lyndsey - thanks, girl! army bases and historical places always have the ghost vibes!

    alya - i feel like my brother and i didn't even realize at the time! and in the army, you take what they give you, ha.

  10. officially freaked out.

    a couple of things happened to me like this before, but nothing like SEEING a ghost. that is so crazy jessica!

  11. I loved when you first told us these stories (brunchy in 'boken)...I still get chills. :)