Thursday, July 10, 2008

Please Welcome Guest Author...Marilu Mann

I'd like to share a ghost story with you. Unlike many of the things I write about, this one is real…

There's a lovely Victorian home in a small town in Arkansas. Built in the 1920s, it has a wrap-around porch, rounded corner rooms, and the carriage house still stands in the back yard. There's also a gazebo where you can almost hear a band playing while men and women stroll around the backyard - the men in their high collars and the women in their long dresses carrying parasols. On certain nights, you really CAN hear music coming from the backyard…no, it's not the neighbors--it's some of the ghosts.

The house belonged to a friend of mine - I don't know if she still owns it, so I'd rather not reveal her name or the town itself, just to protect the privacy of whoever does own it now. I first saw the house at Christmas time. My friend, let's call her Barbara, had put a lighted tree on the porch on the second floor and another one in the front room (to the right as you faced the house). The front doors had oval glass fronts, and when you drove or walked past the house, you could see the staircase leading to the second floor. She'd wrapped greenery around the newel posts and had a small votive candle on every other step going up. All in all, it was a gorgeous house and I loved going by it.

One year, in the fall, I tried out for a play at the local little theater. The play was Blythe Spirit by Noel Coward. For those not familiar, the main characters are Charles (a writer), his second wife, Ruth, their friends the Bradmans, Edith (the maid), and Madame Arcati - a spirit medium. Madame Arcati has been invited along to the dinner party as a research subject by Charles. He doesn't believe in spirits, so when a séance is proposed, he goes along willingly. Little does Charles know that a real ghost will be raised…the ghost of his first wife, Elvira. Complications ensue…but I won't spoil it for those who aren't familiar with the story. J (There were several movies made of this play - Rex Harrison plays Charles to Margaret Rutherford's Madame Arcati (Remember her? She starred as Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in many BBC productions.) in one of them.)

Anyway…I was cast in the play as Ruth, the second wife. Barbara was cast as Madame Arcati. We spent many nights at the theater, talking, becoming friends, practicing our lines. One night Barbara asked if anyone wanted to come to her place for a glass of wine. I took her up on it - being a poor college student in a 'dry' county, it was a good way to actually GET a glass of wine!

So, imagine my surprise when I followed her home and found that she lived in the Victorian house that I had to pass twice a day on my way to and from college classes, and that I secretly adored. Barbara introduced me to her husband who then excused himself to go work in his shop - the converted carriage house. She gave me a tour of the house - pointing out the curved glass windows on the first floor and the antiques in each room - including a baby grand piano in “the music room” (the room where the downstairs Christmas tree had been).

We went into the “family room,” no antiques in this room, just Barbara's cats - all four of them. The family room adjoined the kitchen where Barbara's collection of Carnival glass adorned shelves above the kitchen windows. We sat talking, sipping our wine and relaxing. Suddenly, from the kitchen, I distinctly heard the sound of glass breaking. I looked around, seeing all four cats in the room with us, one of them staring into the kitchen. There wasn't anyone else in the house, but Barbara didn't react to the sound. I just waited to see what she would do…eventually she got up and asked if I wanted more wine. When I agreed and followed her into the kitchen, we both looked around.

Barbara asked if I'd heard anything and I told her I had - we couldn't find anything broken anywhere, and Barbara shrugged it off as “the ghost trying to get some attention.”

Of course, I HAD to hear more about 'the ghost,' and here's what she told me. The house was haunted by three distinct spirits, an older woman, a younger woman (the daughter), and a little boy. The older woman was the wife of the man who built the house, the younger woman was their middle daughter, and the boy their grandson. Both the daughter and her son died tragically in the house, the daughter by suicide, the grandson by a lung infection possibly caused by influenza. The older woman died of a heart attack in her 80s, and not in the house.

The music from the gazebo is attributed to the younger woman - she loved the parties her parents would throw for all their friends and frequently hummed around the house. The breaking glass was an activity of the boy, as was the moving of some small objects (keys, shoes, glasses) from room to room. The older woman was a bit more direct - once overturning a glass case built into a table that was filled with knives belonging to Barbara's recently deceased son. Apparently the older woman didn't approve of any type of weapon in the house.

A medium who visited my friend told her about the two women and the child, even going so far as to tell Barbara that the older woman was very pleased with the renovations Barbara and her husband were doing to the house, and that the stain in the upstairs bedroom (the medium had not been upstairs at all) was caused by a leak in the dormer window in the attic, and the rattling in the pipes upstairs was nothing more than air in the pipes. Seems the older ghost wanted my friend to know about those two items specifically since one of them could be easily fixed and the other was going to take some time and effort.

I should mention here that my friend Barbara would NEVER read her lines in the house - you need to remember that she was playing a medium and many of her lines revolved around the séance in the play - she definitely didn't want to increase the ghostly population of her own home! There are more 'adventures' I could share from my visits to her home, but I'd like to hear about some of your 'ghostly visits/sightings/experiences.' Won't you leave a comment and share your experiences with everyone?

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Disclaimer (because we don't have a choice): The views expressed by the guest blogger do not necessarily reflect those of The Deadly Vixens.

12 deadly screams:

Alessandra said...

What a lovely post Marilu, I was enthralled and glad that these spirits didn't seem to be malevolent. I enjoyed the easy flow of your writing very much.

Personally, I haven't had any ghost experiences, except for the usual seeing shadows out of the corner of my eye on occasion and unexplained noises in the house but never attributed either to being "ghostly". On one such occasion whilst visiting my parents, my father yelled "Yes George, we hear you!" I looked at him quizzically and he said it's the ghost. I laughed as I knew my father didn't believe in such things but the noise did stop! Old house and coincidence probably but I've tried to always have an open mind towards what may exist in this still vastly unknown universe of ours.

If you can, please share some more of your 'adventures' from your visits.

Sierra Wolfe said...

I agree with Alessandra! We'd love to hear more of the ghost stories that happened at the house! Great post! Thanks for joining us today.

Gracen Miller said...

Great post, Marilu! Thanks for joining us today!

Your blog had me entranced. Unlike Alessandra & Sierra, I have had encounters with ghosts. What I believe to be my great-grandfather, appeared to me more than once at my dad's house on many occassions. Scared the bejesus out of me though. It felt more stalkerish than anything and occurred each time I visited my dad for at least a month. The last time I saw him he was at the bottom of the steps to the front porch--not far from where I was standing. I got the sense that he was staring up us, but I couldn't see his face. Instead, all I saw was his white t-shirt. When I told my step-mother that someone was out there, she turned around and looked and said "no one's there"! I was so scared I was ready to go through her to get inside the house.

At night I could hear him rocking in a rocking chair in the room I slept in, which was his living room when he died. Other times you could hear raking in the backyard when no one was there. His presence was very malevolent feeling. I still do NOT feel comfortable in my dad's house. It's as if someone is constantly watching me. I don't remember my great-grandfather, but I've been told many stories about how hateful and mean he was. Many of my great-aunts (my great-grandfather's daughters) have mentioned they've seen and heard things in that house too. As a side note, he died of a heart attack sitting in his rocking chair in the living room.

I grew up in a house that had a spirit. We heard him all the time. I even had friends that heard him, but he was a comforting feel. We co-existed together and I have fond feelings toward him. WHY I think it was a male spirit I don't know, but my mother and I always thought of the spirit as male.

If you want to read more about this, this story is posted as a blog from probably April. Here's the link (I hope) if anyone's interested: http://deadlyvixens.blogspot.com/2008/04/gracen-millers-ramblings-on-haunted.html

Okay, I have more, but I won't continue. Figure that's enough.

I'd love to hear some more of your stories, Marilu. Thanks again!

Gracen Miller said...

Sorry, I meant to post this link for my other experiences too (if anyone is interested in the absurdity of my life):

http://deadlyvixens.blogspot.com/2008/04/things-that-go-bump-all-day-long.html

Thanks again, Marilu! Would love to have you come back and give us some more stories if you don't want to share here in the comment section! :-)

Nell said...

Great story. I post local history and real life ghost stories on my blog every friday.

Tarot By Arwen said...

Thanks everyone! I'm half of Marilu Mann. We don't have any ghosts showing up our first book "Changing Times" from Ellora's Cave, but there's a bit of a Cajun ghost story in the sequel "Changing Hearts."

Staci said...

Loved the story. I don't have any experiences with real ghosts, but I do love to read about them.

Cai said...

Hey all. I'm the "other half" of Marilu Mann, and the experience above was actually mine. My friend related a few other events that had occurred in the house - one involving her (then) teenage daughter.

Seems said daughter was walking down the "back staircase" (read, servant's stairs(grin)) that led straight from the back hallway of the house to the kitchen. She was wearing a tank top, shorts & sandals, but when she looked down at her feet, she distinctly saw the tips of black pointy-toed boots and a long black skirt. Apparently Daughter-dear was so frightened that she screamed and JUMPED down the last six stairs!

I'll share another event in a bit...I'm "sneaking in" while at work. :)

Jenny S said...

Okay that is really creepy. I couldn't imagine what she must have felt like. I've had a few experiences with ghosts. Mostly hearing things banging around in the attic. I've never actually seen a ghost though.

Cai said...

Here's another story for you - Barbara said that when they first moved into the house, there was a lot of "junk" in the attic. She and her husband recruited some friends of their kids to help them clear out the attic. Usable stuff for the house went one way, unusuable went another, and Goodwill benefited greatly(grin).

Anyway, a week after they'd all been tramping around up in the attic, stirring up dust and moving heavy furniture, Barbara went back up into the attic with a man who'd come to look at the windows to see which ones would need to be replaced. There were several "planks" (Barbara's words) of wood laid over the roof support beams in the attic, some with gaps between them, others very tight against one another.

The man was over by one of the dormer windows, Barbara was standing closer to the doorway, listening for the phone (this was before everyone had cell phones & cordless phones(grin)). She asked the man a question, and when he turned to answer her, not moving from his spot, just turning in place, a bundle of papers fell from one of those planks of wood onto the floor about halfway between them.

Now, a week earlier, there'd been a veritable ARMY in the attic moving stuff, jarring the floor, bumping into things, but it was Barbara's VOICE that caused this bundle to fall? She walked to the bundle only to discover it was a packet of letters tied with a faded blue piece of ribbon.

When she opened the bundle, she discovered they were letters from the daughter who had committed suicide in the house to her parents, her son, and her ex-husband. Barbara had done some investigating into the history of the house, so recognized the woman's name. She said the letters were "heartbreaking," but she didn't feel comfortable in sharing them with anyone else...I think the daughter wanted Barbara to find those letters as it was just after her own oldest son's tragic death...though he hadn't committed suicide, his death was totally unexpected and, for Barbara, at least, unexplainable.

Sierra Wolfe said...

Oh Wow! That is really chilling. You gave me goosebumps with that story. Thanks for sharing.

Arkansas Cyndi said...

WOW. What a great story. My local RWA chapter is hosting the Central Arkansas Society for Paranormal Research this month as our program. After dinner, they are taking us on a ghost hunt. Then, we are all spending the night in a local hotel with a known haunted room. The CASPR members are staying in the haunted room. The rest of us are in rooms around it. I'll be posting on our experience in early August.

Thanks for sharing your story. I'm forward a link to my chapter members.

Marilu - If you feel comfortable, please contact me off blog. I'd love to know if this house is in our area.