My House In New York

When I was fourteen, my family moved to a new town in upstate New York. The house we moved into wasn’t your classic “haunted” variety at all, but a fifteen-year-old ranch house. Nothing spooky about it at all.

Some months after we moved in, however, I started hearing footsteps in the dead of night. I would hear them walk through the basement, climb the stairs into the dining room, and enter the kitchen. There they would always stop.

No amount of arguing with myself would make those footsteps go away. Night after night I would lie awake in the dark with my heart pounding, praying those steps wouldn’t continue out of the kitchen and down the hallway to my bedroom.

I finally told my mother what I was experiencing by way of explaining why I so desperately needed the hall light on all night. Don’t ask me why I thought the light was any protection! Mom thereafter allowed me to keep the light on, but she was very impatient with me. She told me I had a hyperactive imagination, and that I’d damn well better not mention these steps to my brothers and sister, because the last thing she needed to deal with was four children who were terrified of ghosts.

So I never mentioned it to another soul. Until…

Two years after I moved out and married, Mom told me she owed me an apology for her reaction. It seems my brother, two years my junior, had been hearing the steps, too, and on more than one night he had climbed out of bed with a knife and gone to find out who had broken into the house.

This brother brought his wife to live in that basement for a couple of years while he finished graduate school. One night during that time, my youngest brother was sitting on the patio outside the dining room in the evening. No one at all was home. But he heard footsteps on the basement stairs and thought my older brother and his wife had come home. He went inside to check…and found no one there.

A guest, who slept in the basement, early one morning felt someone grab his leg and tug gently, trying to wake him. No one was there…and no one had told him about our ghostly steps.

Eventually, the steps began to pass beyond the kitchen and down the hallway to the bedroom area. I was long gone, thank God, living elsewhere, but my poor mother watched all her kids grow up and leave, and then, when my dad was out of town on business, would retire to her bedroom at sunset and keep the door closed, too scared to be out where the ghost roamed.

One afternoon when Mom came home from work, she found the sugar bowl upended in the middle of the kitchen floor, a good four feet from the counter. She got so mad when she saw the mess, that she yelled at the ghost (by this time called George by the entire family) “You can live here if you want to, but don’t you dare make another mess!” It struck her then that she was yelling at a ghost, and she said she felt so creepy…

Everyone in the family heard the steps at one time or another. We have no idea what was going on, only the conviction of presence that was inescapable, and a haunting that seemed to strengthen with time.

My folks moved away from there fifteen years ago, but we all still talk about it from time to time.

And then there was the ghost in my Aunt’s house….for next time.

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