Friday, January 16, 2009

Meeting the Laundry Ghost

This is part of the series, The House on High Street. The entire series is indexed here. 

If we were delighted to own an old house with wavy glass and four fireplaces, we were thrilled to have one with four staircases.  There was the steep captain's staircase at the front of the house that led up to the front bedrooms, the straight stairs behind the kitchen that led to the warren of little rooms in the "back hall," the stairs down to the dirt cellar, and the attic staircase. 

Now, as you may recall, our bathroom/laundry room was torn out that first summer, pending repair to its underpinnings. This meant that I could choose between driving eight miles each way to a crowded laundromat or I could stay at home and do the laundry by hand. I've never liked laundromats; and so I found myself wringing out sheets in the kitchen sink early one July morning. 

The attic, it seemed to me, would be the perfect place for drying clothes. It had never been insulated--in fact, you could see the nails that held the shingles in place poking right through the wooden ceiling. This meant that it was cool in the morning, and just like an oven on a summer afternoon. Beez and I hung clotheslines from one side to the other, and I was in the laundry business. 

I carried my laundry basket up the back stairs, through the back hall, and up the attic stairs, accompanied by my loyal dog, Red Rachel. I had just pinned up eight feet or so of various articles of wet laundry, when I paused to admire the view of our barn out of the old gable-end window. When I turned back to continue with my work, I was surprised to see that everything that had been pinned on the line was now lying on the floor. The interesting thing, to me, was that all the clothes pins were still in place on the clothes line. Rachel, oddly enough, was halfway down the stairs, whining and looking anxiously back up at me. 

Vaguely wondering what might have caused my wet clothes to all fall off the line simultaneously, I hummed a little hum, picked them up, and began the work of shaking off the attic dust from each piece and re-pinning it to the line. This time I was sure to firmly peg everything into place, while glancing back over the line to be certain things were staying just where I had put them. 

Now, I think that I am more practical than imaginative, and so I hope that you will believe me when I tell you what happened next. Right there, before my eyes, all the clothes on the line jerked up and then fell down to the floor again. The pins all remained in place on the clothes line, just as before. Rachel was now at the bottom of the stairs, barking at me in a warning sort of way. 

I felt a little tingle up the back of my neck and across my scalp. I gathered up all my poor laundry, putting it back in the basket and heading toward the stairs, while saying, quite clearly, "I think that I won't hang this laundry in this attic. I'm going to take it downstairs right now. Good-bye!"

You should also know that my good dog, Red Rachel, although she accompanied me everywhere else during the day, refused to ever go up the attic stairs again. 

Next: Fire!


Judy said...

OMG, I would have been packing to move right then! No way, would I have stayed in that house another night. I used to work with a black lady that said if your dog barked at nothing or acted like it was looking at something that you did not see, it was seeing a ghost. She said she had a little dog that would always bark and growl in one place in her house.

Sylvia K said...

What great tales you've had to tell about this house! Wow! is your luck always that good? Is that why you've moved a lot? The ghosts follow you?

clairz said...

This house was truly a special one, unlike any other I've lived in. When a place has stood for centuries, I believe that it holds traces of all the lives it has held. I might not have felt that way when we moved in, but the Kelley House certainly taught me otherwise.

June Saville said...

Whew Claire - I don't rule out anything! And you actually saw things happen.
You have had a string of interesting places to live ... not boring!
I can't see how any place can stand for so many years without taking in the surrounding influences.
I want to hear more!

I have a question for you in two comments I made on 70 Plus. I hope you don't mind me asking.
June in Oz

Rebecca Zarges-Joy said...

I remember this story mom! I always loved/hated it. I loved it because it intrigued me and I have always and will always love the way you tell stories (true stories,by the way!) I was not living with you at the time when this took place, but I was there for other mysterious happenings... The reason I hated this story was that it scared me. There was never any reason for me to believe the ghost(s) were evil,but,just the thought of there being someone in the house that I couldn't see and that could be standing behind me at any moment without me kn owing about it,always frightened me. I also did not like it when I had to go in the attic AT ALL!!! Lol