|A house can’t be scary in the snow, can it?|
When I last left you, faithful readers, I was telling you about my boyhood home in Kentucky, Southwood Manor. A Victorian home with a strange, dark past and an uncertain future. A place that was, without a doubt, haunted in no uncertain terms. My sister and I knew it. Our neighbors knew it. And though they wouldn’t admit this until I was well into my adult life, my parents knew it as well. This was the house in which I grew up. It’s the home that, for better or worse, shaped me and made me into the person I am today.
To recap my last post, I told you why Southwood Manor was originally built and the strange occupants that lived in it prior to my own family moving in in 1977. I told you about the creepy old bathtub in which a lady had died and I was forced to regular take baths in myself (ahem…child abuse, anyone? By the way, the picture to the left shows the very same tub with my adorable puppy getting a bath, so I guess that’s pet abuse too!) I told you of Mr. Todd, who led a mysterious, if not sinister life practicing black magic and possibly even more nefarious activities that I’d rather not discuss in this forum. Then, of course, I described the rather common bits of paranormal activity that I experienced on a regular basis in that house. The activity my friends would experience as well. All, of course, was rather innocuous. It seemed harmless. Almost fun. But then, my family was also convinced there were at least two spirits dwelling in Southwood Manor with us. One was playful and fun (especially to a young boy between 7 and 12 years of age). But there was another thing that stalked those ancient halls at night. Something much more frightful. Something equally as playful as the first, but in a much more malicious way.
The best way to introduce this darker element of my childhood haunting is with a specific story. One that has stuck in the psyche of my entire family since that threatening day. And I use the word “threatening” on purpose. I can’t say it was terrifying. Or even scary. Creepy would definitely work, but it wouldn’t convey the full implications of the event and so I choose the word “threatening.”
My sister is five years older than me (she has been since I’ve known her. haha!). At the time of this story, she had a rather impressive collection of dolls. Now these dolls were not mere Barbies or even baby dolls. These were the female equivalent of action figures. Within these collection were the likenesses of the Charlies Angels, the Bionic Woman, Farrah Fawcett, Donnie and Marie Osmond, and even Sonny and Cher. These were celebrity dolls and they had a very special place in my sister’s room…a wicker bookshelf dedicate exclusively to them. By this point, my sister was too old to play with them, but she displayed them proudly on this bookshelf in the finest of doll attire. The Charlie’s Angels were decked out in multi-colored jumpsuits. Donnie and Marie sported these horrendously realized purple pant suits. And Cher looked ready for the Oscars in her sequin gown and long feather boa. I tell you all this in such detail to paint the picture of what happened one day when we returned home from school.
You see, we returned home…my mom, my sister, and I…from a long, exhausting day of school (and I suppose, work for my mom). Everything appeared fine. Nothing seemed amiss, but when my sister walked into her bedroom, the house suddenly erupted in startling shouts of “Mother! Mother! Come quick!” Immediately, we bolted up the steps, rounded the curve of the upstairs sitting room, and ran into my sister’s bedroom. My sister stood next to her bed, pointing at a disturbing tableau resting ominously on the bedspread. It was my sister’s Cher doll. The feather boa wrapped tight around its plastic neck like a noose. I should pause here to tell you that the doors and windows of the house were all secured when we came home. There were no signs of a break in. And nothing was missing. I should also point out that this display bookshelf was on the far side of the room and probably fifteen feet from where my sister’s bed was located. There was no way that this doll could have simply fallen from the shelf onto the bed. It would have had to be picked up and moved there by someone. And the noose-like boa was too well wrapped to be anything but intentional.
|Guest bedroom, not my sister’s room|
Now at first, one might chalk this little episode up to a human culprit. Someone might very well have broken into our house during the day and played with my sister’s doll and nothing else. But things did not stop there. From that point on, my sister was plagued by nocturnal visits. She would awaken in the middle of the night to see the shadow figure of a man hovering over the foot of her bed. These visits even carried over into her college years when she’d return home to visit. The shadow man would do nothing. Say nothing. But would simply stand there…its presence a constant threat.
But my sister wasn’t the only one that felt threatened. I told you last week about laying in bed at night and counting the footsteps coming up our front stairs…13 creaky footsteps up 13 creaky stairs…every night. I didn’t, however, tell you the other part of it…the voices. To be honest, I don’t like telling people about the voices I would hear at night. It just makes me sound too darn schizophrenic. But now, knowing more about things like EVPs (electronic voice phenomena), I know that things that go bump in the night often do try to verbally communicate with the living occupants of a haunted dwelling. And what they have to say isn’t always pleasant. The fact that I never heard the voices after moving away from the house gives credence that I wasn’t in fact crazy, after all…well, at least, not THAT kind of crazy. But the voices I would often hear at night were simply terrifying. Their whispered threats would send me trembling with fear into my parent’s bedroom where I would hide under their bed until morning. I won’t say what these audible messages said, however. That’s my own burden to bear. But needless to say, it was plumb scary for a young kid. (FYI, it’s also one of the reasons my faith in Christ is so much stronger today than it could have been…I’ll explain that in an upcoming post).
|I’m not sparkly, am I?|
I spent almost seven years in that house. There are just too many stories to share. Some terrifying and some quite amusing. I could tell you stories about things that happened to my friends (like one seeing a little girl walking up the steps one night), but those are stories that they should tell if they feel so inclined. But I never set out to give you a run down of every paranormal experience I had in the house. I just wanted to give you a taste. And I think I’ve done that. But I would be remiss if I failed to share my final experiences with Southwood Manor and that’s how I will end my tale.
In 1985, my dad got a job with the railroad, requiring us to move to Alabama. But as you could imagine, selling the house was no easy feat. There were too many stories about that old house. Too many rumors. My poor parents had a heck of a time getting rid of it and for a couple of years, they were forced to merely rent it. Then, one day, they got the call they’d been waiting for. They had a buyer. And we were asked to come up and finalize the deal. Now there are two things I have to tell about this last visit to Southwood.
The first involves my very last interaction with the house. My parents were staying in town at a hotel. I had decided to spend the night with my best friend and next door neighbor. We were all set to meet at the house to sign the papers early on Saturday morning. So, bright and early, I get up, get dressed and run over to the house. I noticed a car in the driveway and assumed it belonged to the new owners and that they must already be inside. I wanted an opportunity to say “goodbye” to the old place before my parents arrived, so my friend and I went to the door and knocked. There was no answer, so I knocked a second time. This time, a female voice on the other side of the door asked, “Who is it?” I responded, “It’s Kent Holloway. I’m the son of the people you’re buying the house from. I was hoping to have a chance to come in and take one last look around, if that’s okay.” There was no response to this. I thought it was strange, but thought maybe she hadn’t heard me, so I knocked again. Still no response. I looked at my friend. He’d heard the person too and her silence now was a bit baffling. But since no one opened the door, all we could do was wait. Ten minutes later, the new owners of the house pulled up in the driveway. They had two cars and had been out when I had knocked on the door. No one was home. No one could have spoken on the other side of the door. Yet, they had.
The second account is a story told to us by the real estate agent. Apparently, as she was preparing the house for its new owners, she hired a local pest control operator to go and take care of any nasty little critters they might happen to find. Of course, I guess pest control people aren’t really qualified to take care of critters of a spectral kind because when the real estate agent drove by the house to check on their progress, she found them outside in the front yard and in a state of near panic. The owner of the company told the real estate agent that he simply would not go into the house and that she would need to find someone else to do it. You see, like I said before, it was a locally owned company and the owner had lived in that town for years. He knew several of the occupants of that house before my family moved in. When asked why he wouldn’t do the job, his response was simple: As we approached the house, we saw Mr. Todd looking at us from the upstairs front windows. The same windows, I should tell you, that belonged to my own bedroom.
Now, nearly 25 years later, I miss that house something fierce. I always tell people that my dream is to one day return and buy Southwood Manor again, fix it up (yes, it’s fallen into disrepair yet again), and enjoy my remaining days in that grand ol’ manor house. Ghosts and all.
But see, I no longer fear ghosts. Living there for as long as I did saw to that. As I mentioned before, it built my faith in Christ to the point where I know there is nothing truly to fear from them. But many will be asking, how can a Christian believe in such things? Doesn’t the Bible discount the notion that ghosts are real? Well, in an upcoming post, I will share with you my many theories about ghosts and hauntings. We’ll talk about spirits…both human and non-human. We’ll discuss theoretical physics and time distortions. I’ll share with you exactly what the Bible says about ghosts as well. You see, as a Christian, I think it’s essential that the Church has answers to these questions. If we truly believe the Bible and believe our faith is true, then we have nothing to fear from the apparent contradiction that the dilemma of ghosts provide. Instead of sticking our head in the sand and hoping the phenomena goes away, we should be attacking the questions the same phenomena presents and developing answers to all those questions! And that’s what I hope to accomplish in the coming weeks as we approach Halloween.
But now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share with you news about BOOKS! After all, that’s what this blog primarily is supposed to deal with, right? Well, tomorrow marks the official release of NY Times bestselling author David L. Golemon’s THE SUPERNATURALS (A Ghost Story). It is a paranormal investigation adventure at its finest! If you love a good ghost story or horror novel, then this book should definitely not be missed. It’s currently available in ebook form everywhere, but tomorrow (Oct. 18, 2011), it will be officially available in print as well.
In the next week, I’ll have an exclusive interview with David about The Supernaturals too. You won’t want to miss it. But in the meantime, show some love by purchasing your copy today at The Supernaturals! And let me know what you think about it. I’m really proud of this book. I hope you will be too.