Thursday, October 31, 2013
I woke up to the most perfect Halloween morning I believe I've seen in some years. There is a storm front approaching our area, so the skies are overcast and an insistent breeze urges the leaves to take flight in showers of scarlet and gold. Inky black crows occasionally pass overhead as they go about their mysterious duties. Though I've always been happy to have left my childhood years behind, Halloween is the one holiday still able to conjure the spirit of nostalgia for me. Keep in mind, Halloween when I was a child bears almost no resemblance to what occurs today. At least, what I see. We took great delight in making our own costumes or getting our parents to help a little. Though we were right on the cusp of different times, children could still roam freely about their neighborhoods at night with little adult supervision, and it was okay. There was no rampant paranoia, no PC and thank God, no Trunk or Treat crap. You actually associated with your neighbors, although the one creepy house in every neighborhood was staunchly avoided, that night in particular. All the houses kept at least one pumpkin alight on the porch, the universal symbol for available candy, but most of our decorations were simply the drying fields of corn silently watched over by real scarecrows, not the garden variety bought from Wal-Mart. Swirling clouds of leaves against a twilight sky are remarkably hard to differentiate from hordes of bats. At least, in a child's view of that night. Maybe, because of those times, Halloween was the one night a kid could look forward to being freed from the oppression of, well, over-enthusiastic authority, let's say. No matter how creepy a candle lit house was to approach with it's glowering black cats, those terrors could be easily outrun and laughed about later. The fear and anxiety of what sometimes awaited at home though, was a different matter. But for that one night... we were the wild creatures.
I thought I'd also repost another Halloween edition from way, way back. Most of you probably have not read this one. It's an oldie but a goody, to me anyway.
In honor of Halloween I thought that I would post something a little different for you all. Most of you know I have been working on a restoration of this very large house in Birmingham. Some of my early posts show some details of the house. I've been so busy lately I have not put much up about it in awhile so, here we go. There is a very large room on the bottom level (it has 5 levels) of the house that is actually a hall taken from a castle in England and shipped over here and reassembled. The weapons and armor and other decorative items (there are some jousting lances in the corner) have all been authenticated to be from the Middle Ages. The man who built this house was a little eccentric and loved anything to do with England. Unfortunately, he didn't get to live in the house very long before the Depression hit and he lost his fortune. He tried to conserve his money by living down in these lower levels and eating creatures he caught on the property as he was a pretty good hunter and his trophies from his big hunts are still displayed all over the house. But, alas, it was not enough and he could not make his last payment, so the bank took the house and all the contents. Some say he cursed the house when he was forced out and something horrible has befallen every owner since him. Some say that the wife of the 4th owner haunts the house because she was murdered in her bedroom.
Let me tell you what I know and have heard. I haven't seen anything since working in the house but I have heard plenty that I cannot explain. I was working on the outside of one of the windows to this room one day. The room is half below ground so if you are outside you can walk right up to the windows. I had the window open to work on it and therefore I could see and hear what went on in the room. For the most part, we are not allowed in the house and the exterior doors are kept locked. Well, I was just working along and I distinctly heard someone walk across the room. The floor is limestone and so it's hard to walk across it quietly. It was so audible that I just casually looked down into the room to see who was in there, because it's a little unusual for people to be down there. No one was there. A few more minutes passed and I heard them walk by again. This time I leaned in the window all the way so that I could get a good view of the whole room. As before, no one was there. There is a back door to the room but you can't open it from the outside and it makes a horrible noise when it is opened so I would have heard if someone came in that way. About 20 minutes later one of the other carpenters came to help me get the window put back together and as we were working on it we both heard the footsteps again all the way across the floor. We turned, without saying anything to one another, and looked down into the room and of course, didn't see anyone. We looked at each other and I said, "You heard that too!" Stubbornly he said "I didn't hear anything!" but we threw that window back together and hauled our butts out of there.
Later, I was down in this room on another occasion with one of the masons cleaning up after a storm because the ceiling leaks some now. This is one of the items we are in the process of repairing. Most everyone else had left and the owners were not there. We suddenly started hearing this woman talking and just going on and on about something. At first I thought someone had just called and I could hear the answering machine from upstairs but I realized that is impossible. The walls are 2 feet thick for the most part and all the phones are way up on the top levels. It was so loud we thought maybe some neighbors had walked over so we went out the back door to see who was around. No one was there. It got quiet for awhile but then started back up after about 5 minutes. We looked all around the back yard and when we came up to the main levels we looked around to see if the people had come home but no one was there. Neither experience was really frightening, which is surprising to me because I can be a real scaredy-cat sometimes. When I went down this afternoon to get these photos though, I made one of the guys go with me. Halloween....in this house... I'm not taking any chances!