Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Poltergeist Plague

I was fifteen years old when my family pulled up roots and moved us from Easthampton, a small town, to Westfield, MA, a small city. My sister had one year of high school left. I had just finished ninth grade. My brother would be starting high school as he was a year younger than me.

We moved into a brand new house that was still under construction- interior decorating was still ongoing, the kitchen cabinets were still being installed. We lived with the builder and his crew for about two weeks as they finished up work on the house. The house sat on the side of a mountain and at that time the road was still dirt and our house was the last one on the street. There was an empty house to our left and one across the street that was under construction. There were rough dirt roads defining what would eventually be paved streets and additional houses. Power ran as far as our house. We had to hike down to the nearest accepted street to get our mail from a box we had to install there. For a week or so we had to drive down the road to the telephone booth (yeah, they still had them in June 1973) at the variety store to make phone calls until the underground telephone lines were brought up the mountain to our street.

The point is that this was a brand new never lived in home on virgin ground and nothing bad or anything had ever happened there.

Until I moved in. Everything was fine for the first year. We made the house a home. We stayed in contact with friends from Easthampton by mail, phone and occasional visits. There wasn't any great distance between our prior home and the new house- maybe 8-9 miles total. Once school started though and everyone in that school was a complete stranger the distance felt like hundreds of miles.

In January of 1974 I developed anorexia. I suddenly had a phobia about choking on food. I have no idea where that came from but I subsisted on mini oyster crackers, soft foods, and liquids. I lost a lot of weight-probably dropping from 135 to 107 lbs overall. My mother invited a number of my Easthampton friends over to celebrate my 16th birthday in April and pictures from that day show me looking decidedly thin compared to my healthy friends.

Around that time I taught myself to do sand paintings- a popular hobby in the mid-70's. I was fairly decent at it. I did the paintings in Libby glass jars in various shapes-mushroom, ginger jar, bell- whatever I could find. I put them on shelves my Dad had put up on my two exterior walls between the front window and the side window at 90 degree angles. I had some paperback books and other knickknacks on the shelves.

One night I was woken from a dead sleep by a loud crash. The bottom shelf beside the side window had tilted and all the sand paintings in jars had crashed to the floor in a colorful heap of sand and broken glass. What a mess! My mother blamed it on jet planes from the airport shaking the walls, but they didn't fly in the dead of night. Then she thought we might have had an earthquake. There was nothing else damaged or out of place in the house. So she finally blamed it on too much weight on the shelf. I could live with that.

I cleaned up the mess and more or less gave up that hobby.

The next thing I remember that was strange was that I was in my room listening to my radio, which was a small square box on the shelf near the front window. Also on that shelf was a nightlight shaped like a hand holding an ice cream cone that I had found in the basement of an old department store in Northampton in the household appliances area. I just fell in love with it and had to have it. The radio was plugged in and playing softly. The ice cream cone light was not plugged in.

I left my room to go talk to my mother up the hall in the living room. My sister was in her room with the door shut across the hall from my room, and my brother was in his room with his door shut beside my room. I walked past both their closed doors and stood at the top of the hall and would have both heard and seen them if either one had opened their door and gone into my room. No one emerged from either room.

A few minutes later I returned to my room and immediate I noticed that the radio was no longer on but the ice cream light was glowing! I walked further into the room feeling confused, puzzled. How could that be possible? What really made the whole thing surreal to me was when I looked at the outlet beneath the shelf near the floor and saw that the cords were both plugged in, however the radio that had been plugged into the top outlet since it was used all the time was now plugged into the bottom outlet, and the ice cream cone light was plugged into the top outlet! I kind of yelped and left my room fairly quickly.

My mother, sister and brother could not explain that weird happening. They said, well, maybe we have a ghost. We'd all had ghostly things happen to us, but I couldn't figure out how we could have a ghost in a brand new house. Where had it come from?

Then came the night where I was woken from a sound sleep by the sound of something hitting the wood floor near my bedroom door. At this time my bed was against the wall between the door and the double closet doors and I was using my chess table as a bedside table, placing my wind-up alarm clock (white with a green face and green bell on top) on the table before going to bed. Now, the door opened inward toward the front of the house. My head was against the north wall, my feet facing south. The front of the house faced east, the rear west. So, the door opened eastward and was half shut when I went to bed. The chess table with clock was on my left in front of the closet doors. When the sound of something hitting the floor near the door woke me I had to sit up and lean forward and to the right to reach the light switch beside the still half closed door. I actually then had to get out of bed to see what had fallen on the other side of the door- the hallway side.

It gave me goosebumps to find my wind-up alarm clock lying on the floor on the other side of the door. For me to have thrown it there in my sleep I would have had to grab it with my left hand, sit up, lean far forward and throw it across my body and bed, and at a curve to get it around the door that far. I'm right-handed. If I had used my right hand it would have been even more awkward because I would have had to sit up, reach across my own body and bend over to grab the clock, then scoot down in bed and toss it underhand around the door and then quickly lay back down which is how I woke up when I heard the noise- flat on my back. No one else heard the clock hit the wood floor.

I lay there in the dark after replacing the clock on the chess table, trying to puzzle out how that had even happened. We had a cat but the clock was too heavy for a cat to carry in its mouth. We didn't have a dog.

I was beginning to suspect that we had a nasty little poltergeist who was plaguing me because I was not a happy teenager. I missed my friends, my health was not the best at that point, I was depressed. I also had some family issues I was coping with, and an on-again off-again cheating boyfriend who was taking me for an emotional roller coaster ride. I was a toxic stew of volatile emotions. I was the perfect draw for a poltergeist, even though I was 16-18 years old at the time,  on the old side to be bothered by these mischievous spirits.

I kind of got used to stuff in my room being moved around, drawers pulled open, shades snapping up for no reason, weird feelings, odd noises, and dark shapes like ravens fluttering around in the periphery of my vision. I kept a diary and later journals so have these things documented in those pages. What I'm writing here are the events that are still the most vivid in my memory to this day.

Things eventually settled down, but I never felt comfortable alone in the house. I'd hear the garage door go up, hear voices as if my parents had come home- and then nothing. I'd go down to the door to the garage and open it, fully expecting to see the car there and- nothing! About ten minutes later I'd hear the same thing and my parents would actually be home.

The last straw came when I was 24-years old and had moved out of the house, and was living in a truly haunted house in West Springfield. My sister was living downtown, my brother was living int he second floor apartment (which was the haunted apartment) above me. My parents were on vacation so I was running to the house to water the plants, bring in the mail and newspapers and just check on things.

It was like eleven o'clock in the morning. My parents were due to come home the next day, so I brought in the mail and newspaper. Then, in the kitchen, I leaned against the counter to write a note for my Mom to let her know when I'd last watered her plants. As I was writing the note something unseen poked me so hard in the butt the material of my jeans was tucked between my butt cheeks! I jumped and the pen skittered across the paper! I whipped around and there was absolutely nothing there, but I was totally creeped out. Being older, I was also braver, so I said, "That wasn't funny, so knock it off!"

I quickly finished writing the note (unmolested) and left the house as quickly as I could.

I still have that note in my jewelry box with the squiggle across the page. It's a reminder that this stuff actually did happen to me.

I wasn't entirely heartbroken when my parents sold that house. John and I had bought a house on the next street back from my parents so we could be close as they got older and I could help them out. Then we had Kelly so I would walk over with her to visit as Mom retired just after Kelly was born. Dad retired just before they moved. But then Mom couldn't get up the inside steps in the raised ranch from the garage to the main floor due to arthritis and neuropathy. They had to move to a single level home, and went to live on the first floor at my sister's two family house.

I guess as my life stabilized I outgrew the poltergeist, wasn't radiating that negative energy it fed off of, but it couldn't resist that last poke!

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