Second Home in Indiana

I just returned from a few days in the Midwest, that part of the country that startles you as you’re driving toward it and all of a sudden everything you can possibly see in any direction is FLAT. The first time I saw it I was sixteen-years-old, riding with my family on our way to move there. I don’t remember what I thought, but it has been a shock every time I’ve done it since. Makes the old Appalachians of Pennsylvania look big.

We had family to visit, and on the first day, we drove around the town for memories’ sake.

There was sadness, mostly. In the 1970’s, Marion was a growing town with varied industry. Since then, the industries have slowly. slowly left town or closed completely, so empty parking lots are pocked with weeds growing up through the lines where cars used to park. Windows are broken on the building windows and if there has been enough time, green ivy and other plants snake their way through to the roof.

The factories are one thing, but it was disheartening to see homes that must have been completely abandoned for years. Most of them were wooden, and the once clean paint was chipping away in big chunks. Porches–some with the furniture–were sagging and slowly falling closer to the earth. Cement steps were chipping away. And the ever-present green weeds were replacing the houses as though no person would ever return, and the weeds could grow without worry.

I learned Marion’s population had dropped to half of what it had been when I graduated from high school. No wonder, the houses were dying. They were dying of emptiness.

And yet, my family was there, and there were pretty houses and shops where people still cared and were trying hard to make Marion a nice place to live. You could stop in front of these places like my brother and sister-in-law’s, and be astounded by the mounds of colorful zinnias and daisies and see the soft green lawn that had been tended carefully for many years.

Many things had changed, and yet, others stayed the same.

My brother-in-law, Michael, had lived near Marion, but he was taken too early from the world ten years ago. We visited Pat, his widow, and as I walked into the house, I could almost hear Mike’s teasing laugh, but I felt his presence, and a few times, could have sworn I saw him coming into the kitchen from the hallway. Sarcasm. Mike and I had a great game with that, and his energy seemed to fill the home so much that I got distracted from the conversation at times. As I stepped out on the front porch to leave, I gazed up at the beautiful tree he had planted thirty or more years ago, and I stumbled on the second step.

Okay, Michael, I know I called your tree a stick and told you it would never grow, as it has.

You get the last laugh, Mike, because I have a stick tree in my yard, and I look at it every day and hear your laugh all the way from Marion, Indiana with love.

Spirits,anyone? Part 2

Before I tell this story, you need to know that I don’t walk around the world looking for ghosts; however, I am sensitive to energy around me, and since I’ve gotten older (sad face), I seem to be able to identify or sense more energy. For example, I live in a 118-year-old home in an older part of the city, so guess what? There’s energy here. I believe that we leave “remnant” pieces of ourselves in places when we have spent time, but that doesn’t mean that it is negative. Other people often think it’s fun to tell stories about evil ghosts, and I’m not denying their existence.

This story also takes place at the girls’ boarding school. This time we’re away from the classrooms, on the third floor of what was called the senior annex. The whole top floor was purposed for different things over time. When I was there part of the floor was a large classroom used for testing and study halls.

It was early September, and I was placement testing my international students for English ability. I did it every year, usually in this large room. I had proctored final exams and study halls many times in this room without noticing any energy, but in that particular year, the energy or ghosts removed all of my schedules and papers for school orientation.

I didn’t notice until the last student had left, and I was packing up everything.¬† I had the test booklets and answer keys, but what had happened to my notebook and all the orientation schedules? I tore apart the desk and room, but I could see the 25 desks had nothing in them. Where had I been? I thought. The little old-fashioned bathroom? Okay, but not likely. No, nothing there.

I walked all around the third floor, my steps seeming to creak more loudly as a went. I wondered. Would the girls have taken my stuff as a prank? Not likely. These students were new and nervous as me going to the dentist. Besides, most of them were not used to speaking English.

By the end of the afternoon, I had given up. I had spoken to faculty members but no one had seen any missing papers and a notebook. I checked my mailbox and my classroom. Sighing, I went back to the office, grabbed another schedule and carried on with the evening activities.

After a few days, I forgot about the missing papers. I just figured I had put them somewhere and forgot where that “logical” place was.

Weeks pass.

Randomly, one evening, I mention the “lost papers” to my husband, and he immediately suggests I go up to the study room when no one is there and talk to the ghosts.

“You’re kidding,” I said.

“No, just nicely ask the ghosts if you can have your papers back,” he said.

So, the next afternoon, when no one was around. I asked the ghosts if I could have my papers back. I felt silly, and I walked away thinking nothing more about it.

This was several months into the school year, and I really didn’t need those papers back, but to my alarm and surprise, the next day they showed up in my mailbox. Everything. I was shaking because I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I ran to the admin secretary and quizzed her. Had she put these papers in my mailbox? No. I asked other faculty and staff, especially the dorm staff and housekeepers.

No. No. No. No one had put those papers in my mailbox.



Spirits, Anyone?

As promised, I have a ghost story from a boarding school. I worked there 16 years, and my classroom was either on the third or fourth floors of the old school building. This school is older than the United States, and during the Revolution, a nearby building housed injured soldiers.

Even after 16 years, I would balk at going upstairs to my classroom during study halls, and if I did, I turned on every single light as I went, practically running the whole way up and down. Why?

I believed my classroom to have extraordinary energy as it was a dormitory room many years ago. There were four separate closets which led me to think this was a room for four students. Perhaps that was why every time I walked next door to the copier (in a former teacher’s lounge), I heard definite footsteps in my classroom, although I knew no one was there!

I tried to debunk this. First of all, the footsteps were loud, and there was a stairway between my room and the copier room, so for years I told myself  it was the students going up and down the stairs, changing classes. That worked (at least in my mind) until I had a student watch for movement on the stairs. No one was using the stairs. The footsteps continued every time I left my classroom. I would even walk into the copier room and run back to my room as soon as a heard the steps. No one was there.

This got a little creepier when I began to hear furniture being moved around when I was making copies. I could never find anything out of place, but I confirmed both the steps and the furniture noises with several students and faculty. They heard it. too.

This was not all. I had a large poster hanging inside my door. The day after I hung it, I found it on the floor. Okay. I secured it better the second day, but the next morning, it was on the floor facing down. I tried again, using command strips. It was on the floor with the strips intact.

I finally decided whatever spirit, ghost, or energy that haunted the classroom did not like that poster, and I changed it. The new poster stayed on the wall exactly as I had hung it.

One day, I switched back to the previous poster. I found it on the floor the next morning.