When we were dating, Excy used to call every night around 11:30 or midnight to say goodnight (we are both serious night owls). He had his drafting desk in the attic of his family's old house in MD, a 13,000 sq. ft. 'summerhouse' that had been built and lived in by his family relations since 1863. One night as we were chatting away I heard a scuffle, the phone drop, and a few seconds later, he got back on the line and stammered, "I gotta go."
The following day he told me he had been sitting on his drafting stool, doodling as he always did when we talked, when a wicker chair that had been pushed to the far side of a wall rapidly slid all the way across the room towards him. He had thought it a good time to leave the attic. In the morning he went back up and the chair was in the same spot as where it had stopped that night. He shoved it back to the side. He said it was heavy. He switched his studio to the old tool shed shortly afterwards.
We lived in the house -- called Burnside, in Stevenson, MD -- for two years. His cousins had one end of the house and we had the other, and we shared the old kitchen, laundry room, two front parlors and the dining room. We got married in the old cutting garden and had our reception on the wrap-around front porch and terrace. Everything in the old part of the house was from 1863, and it was like walking into a time capsule. I loved it, having grown up in a Frank Lloyd Wright-like house my dad designed and built in 1963. I loved the integrity of the place, the high ceilings and walls, the dark wood floors, the old wavy glass, the marble, the old fixtures -- nothing had been replaced. While we were at Burnside, I actually saw one ghost, and had experiences with two others. But they were all in the family, and I never felt threatened or very scared -- it was just shocking and eery, and your mind is busy processing that the experience is happening but you're not prepared for something so extraordinarily outside the realm of 'normal.'
No one replenished the family fortune and unfortunately Burnside was given equally to two remaining sisters - one cousin, who lived in the house, and another who just wanted to sell it for money. So after 130 years as the family home, it was sold to strangers. We couldn't bear to see it and the front pastures sold off, and we moved away. We have been back -- family still live in houses converted from former buildings -- Burnside also had been a working diary farm -- so the bowling alley, trunk house, laundry, and 'honeymoon' cottage still are homes of relations -- and it's still bucolic and wonderful, but when we lived there it had the feel of almost a commune serenely buffeted from the outside world, and it's not the same.
As we get closer to Halloween I'll write about the ghostly encounters. Halloween memories are on my mind and I'd like to share a few....