“I bought this house now you know I’m boss,
Ain’t no haint gonna run me off.”
—“Haunted House” 1964 song by Jumpin’ Gene Simmons
“Ghosts. Apparitions. Haunts, or haints,” my friend teased me, “Whatever you call them, do you believe in them?”
Listening to campfire stories as a youngster in Coach Sam Parker’s Boy Scout Troop in Mount Pleasant instilled in me an appreciation for lore. His story telling skills were legendary. While his recitation of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade” was unforgettable, his spooky stories could keep a Tenderfoot Scout camped deep in Titus County woods awake half the night trying to forget.
While never investing heavily in paranormal perception, I’ve also never doubted unexplained occurrences. Particularly, personal experiences in a Center house I called home a few years ago, one built in 1900. Experiences that were, well…difficult to explain.
They started with minor distractions—sounds of walking in the attic at night. Then a bedroom with “possessed” lighting.
I blamed George, as I called the assumed unseen inhabitant to give him some personality. I also decided George resided in one large bedroom connected to a smaller bedroom and bath via a common door—standard construction in houses from that era.
George was seeking attention, it seemed, with the light in that room. After we ignored the attic sounds, the light began randomly coming on for no reason, frequently as someone walked by the door. Switching it off worked, but it would come on again at some point.
Fearing faulty wiring in the old house, an electrician was summoned, but nothing found. In fact, he argued events such as described were not possible. Nobody told George that. It continued during the years we lived there. We also learned to ignore that.
Other events were less easy to dismiss. Like one quiet morning when a slight noise caused me to look in time to see a kid’s football rolling through the door. It apparently fell off a bookshelf in the large room, rolled across the floor, through the door and stopped at my feet.
Early morning, no one else up. What made it fall off the shelf, and at that moment? What made a football that neither rolls easily or straight, navigate perfectly from one room to another, through a door, stopping at my feet? Having no other explanation, I said, “George, I don’t have time to play ball. I have to go to work.”
Preparing for work another morning, I deposited a washcloth on the lavatory and exited the bathroom, making the 180-degree U-turn necessary to face the closet. As I did, the aforementioned washcloth came flying out of the bathroom and landed on the floor beside me.
Again, I was the only one awake—an assumption I verified this time. Taking time to allow my heart rate to slow down, I looked around the room and announced loudly, “George, you gotta cut this out. If you have something to say, can you just write it on the wall? I’ll get back to you.”
Numerous oddities came and went at the old house, all in the area of those same rooms. I became accustomed to it, audibly addressing George with the blame and assuming he was hearing me.
Despite everything, after leaving the old house we often wished our stay there had been longer. Pending of course, George’s approval … and, whether I admitted to really believing in him.