During this Halloween week, I thought a real ghost story would be in order.
On this fall evening, I had a few friends over. We were sitting around the fire pit near my patio.
As is usually the case, we started talking about urban legends. I’ve always thought some truth originated from them, but the location is usually never pin pointed and some have been proven false, but retold nevertheless.
Someone mentioned the urban legend “The Babysitter.” I always get a creepy feeling about that story, but I didn’t expect my friend Barbara’s reaction.
“That really happened to me,” Barbara said quietly.
We waited. I was torn between wanting to know and not wanting to hear a story that would keep me up until the break of dawn. Especially an urban legend I already found disturbing. I didn’t need to put a real person’s face on it.
“It’s not exactly like the urban legend, but the similarity cannot be mistaken,” she began. “I was at my aunt and uncle’s house staying with my younger cousins. My parents were having an anniversary party for them. My brothers had dates and that left me to stay with the cousins.”
She quickly added, “No one was killed.” And, the only similarity to the urban legend is the babysitting part … but I’m sure there are numerous variations.
I just knew it had to do with telephone calls or creepy sounds upstairs or in the basement. I had to shut off my wandering imagination.
Barbara’s story took place in the mid 1960’s.
“We were all downstairs. Aunt Harriet had dinner prepared for us. June and I just had to put it on plates. Brady and Mark were watching an old western on television. They wanted to continue watching their program and set up TV trays for all of us to eat together in the living room. During the commercial, the boys got a cold bottle of soda for each of us and made a big production of popping off the caps. They carried in their plates and the sodas just as the program began. June and I followed with silverware, napkins and our own plates.”
“I remember just getting settled when the telephone rang.”
No one was there, but the phone line seemed to crackle.
Barbara returned to the living room and began eating when the telephone rang again. She got up to answer it. This time there was laughing on the line. She decided it was a prank call and said, “Tell me the joke and I’ll laugh along with you.” She heard a distinct click indicating the call was disconnected.
“During the commercial break, we refilled our plates in the kitchen, grabbed another roll or two and the boys opened up another bottle of soda for each of us.”
They were having a pleasant evening together, it was like they were having their own “party” in front of the television.
After dinner and after the television program, the boys searched for something else to watch while June and Barbara washed the dishes. The boys later put the soda bottles in the garage and took out the trash.
They rushed in white as ghosts. “Upstairs, we saw someone in Mom’s sewing room.”
June didn’t believe them at first. She knew her brothers were probably up to something. Barbara immediately believed them. She went outside and the sewing room window was dark.
The boys insisted the light was on and there was someone in the room, walking by the window.
“Let’s all go out for ice cream,” Barbara suggested.
They all got into her car, parked out front. June noticed the light on in the front bedroom window.
“That’s my room!” she said. “I didn’t have my light on.”
They watched the window. Nothing crossed in front of it, but the next window lit up. They were sure someone was in the house.
Barbara carefully drove to the store. She found a telephone booth and all four of them crammed inside as Barbara called her house. Her father answered. She told him what was happening and she and her cousins were at the grocery store. He told her to come home with her cousins.
She had to pass the house on her way home and saw her uncle’s car parked across the street. She parked behind him. He was relieved they were safe and said he was waiting for the police.
A couple of police cars pulled up and parked a couple of houses away on the same side of the street as her aunt and uncle’s house. Her uncle got out of the car to join them.
The police went inside. When they stepped on the porch, the porch light went out. Two other officers went around back.
Barbara remembered leaving the kitchen light on when they left. It was now out.
The police went inside and through every room in the house. What they found was disturbing.
Uncle Roy told Barbara to go home with her cousins.
“Daddy’s going into the house,” Brady said.
“What’s in the house,” Mark wanted to know.
That’s what everyone wanted to know. They waited for Uncle Roy.
He returned with the police. Neither Uncle Roy, nor the police gave much information, but they asked plenty of questions from what they did that evening to what they had for dinner. Barbara explained about the telephone calls. The boys spoke about the light being on in the sewing room.
Aunt Harriet remembered checking the bedrooms before she and Roy left for the evening after Barbara arrived. Nothing was out of place she insisted.
Barbara could attest to the fact that no one went upstairs. The bathroom downstairs was used. All the children were in agreement. Either the boys were together or June and Barbara were together when they were all in the living room.
They didn’t hear anything upstairs.
Years later Barbara found out what the police found and why her aunt and uncle moved out of the house.
No windows were found open. All the outside doors were locked, but something strange had entered the house or been in the house when Harriet and Roy left the children in the care of Barbara.
It was strange no one heard anything, but the television was on and they were watching a western with galloping hoofs and gun fire.
Upstairs was a complete mess. Toys were thrown around the room, beds were set upended against the wall, some toys were broken and all the heads of June’s dolls were gone — not in the trash or anywhere in the house. Clothes were ripped, not slashed with a knife while still on their hangers. Drawers were dumped out and the contents ripped up.
This was impossible for Barbara and her cousins to have done during the two to three hours they were alone in the house.
It was concluded that it had to be poltergeists.
Harriet and Roy didn’t return to live in the house with their children. They hired someone to clean the house and remove all the furniture to the dump. They stayed with Barbara’s family for a couple of weeks before moving into an apartment while they were selling the house.
Whatever was in the house may not have wanted to harm Barbara and her cousins, but since Harriet and Roy were away, it made it very clear that it didn’t want them in the house.
Barbara has never forgotten that night and still gets chills remembering the laughter she heard over the telephone.
Did you find that real ghost story creepy?
Thanks for stopping by!
I was at a used bookstore one afternoon and I found this old diary.
I was excited about it, but I was also nervous about buying something as private as a diary, but I bought it and kept it in my car for a few weeks before smudging it and bringing it into the house. Then, it took me a few more weeks before I sat down to read it.
The year was 1864.
The diary opened with accounts. Adaline Murphy and Franklin MacArthur were making plans for a June wedding. They had begun pooling their accounts.
Adaline lived with her mother, father and brother outside of town. Her mother read tea leaves, cards and made potions of various kinds the “well to do ladies” wanted to keep their husbands faithful and give their children an edge over their peers. Adaline’s specialty was a face cream to keep women looking young. She always had something brewing in the cauldrons out back. There were all sorts of potions that were in demand.
Franklin was a friend of Adaline’s brother. They ran the local horse and buggy service to take ladies shopping or to take crops to market for the various farmers. They also would deliver furniture to the various mansions they picked up at the train station or at the docks. They had a good business. Adaline’s father was a businessman, but it wasn’t explained what kind of business he ran, but he was very successful in whatever he did and knew all the important people in town, but he never mixed with them socially. There was a definite line that wasn’t crossed. The fact that the Murphy’s were considered gypsies could have been the barrier, but Adaline didn’t seem to mind, they had a commodity that sold well and was always in demand.
Franklin’s family were farmers. He was the eldest of eight siblings and went out on his own as soon as he saved enough money to start his business with Bentley Murphy. He lived in a room above the barn on the Murphy property, but every Sunday he and Adaline would go to the MacArthur farm for Sunday dinner.
Adaline didn’t go to school with the other children. She learned what she needed to know about business from her father and potions, card reading and cooking from her mother. She also had her own following of “groupies” who bought her hot lunch specialties during the week. The athletes would fill up on her stews and wear amulets she made for them. It was good no one asked what meat was in the stew. From what I learned from the diary, they would cook whatever got caught in their traps — even things that most people wouldn’t normally eat.
Church Revivals were a big thing in the area and with all the land the Murphy’s had, they invited preachers from all over the country to hold their revivals on their land. Although, the preaching and the tea leaf reading, potions, etc. didn’t mix, they seemed to during these revivals. Adaline would lure them over with her cauldrons of tasty stew and whatever else they had to sell.
The sad truth revealed in the diary was Adaline had no loyalty to the hometown team. Money was money to her and her family. They would tell fortunes and make amulets for anyone who wanted one and would pay the price.
There was a big cross town rivalry homecoming game that was the talk of the town.
Both teams bought from the Murphy’s and both teams thought they had the edge to be the winner.
After the game, with a close score of 56 to 57, the losing team heard about the Murphy’s and how they must have made stronger amulets for the opposing team and they were going to get even with them.
Adaline was killed and never did marry Franklin. Mr. and Mrs. Murphy were out of town at the time and Franklin and Bentley were busy with their buggy service that night.
Franklin was heartbroken and never married. His eldest sister took Adaline’s place behind the cauldrons and making potions and beauty creams. She had an interest in learning this craft and worked closely with Adaline and later with Mrs. Murphy.
According to the diary Adaline’s ghost had been seen on the back roads of the town. She was going to the school with her hot lunches. She was also seen in the woods selling amulets to women who passed through on their shopping trips. I believe Franklin’s sister wanted to keep the legend alive and she would dress like Adaline and appear in the woods and sell amulets and potions. It seemed to be the talk of tea parties when someone bought an amulet or potion from the ghost of Adaline Murphy.
One incident occurred at the wedding of the star football quarterback. Some of his friends got a bit too drunk and loosened the reins of the horses on the buggy. The idea was for the horses to run off leaving the newlyweds stranded in the buggy, but something went wrong and when the men fired their guns they shot the young couple and the horses took off with the buggy and the dead newlyweds.
One entry said that the spirit of Adaline was seen at the wedding. It is believed she was seeking revenge of her murder.
Whenever she appeared at a wedding something went wrong either that day or with the young couple during the first few months of their marriage.
I don’t know the truth of the diary. I don’t know if Adaline’s ghost appears from time to time to avenge her murder. It has become a local urban legend.
One diary entry I found particularly interesting was dated March 26, 1864:
Franklin and I are planning to go far far away once we’re married. We don’t want to raise our children here. We both know how to make money and we want to live in one of the fine houses and raise our children with all the fine things money can buy. Our children will want for nothing and they will have amulets and potions to fulfill their heart’s desires. I will not be able to practice my trade openly, but Franklin’s sister Mary may come join us and carry on in my place.
I don’t know about being a fine lady, but I will learn for the sake of my children. Being backwoods gypsies isn’t the life I want for them.
The smoke of the third cauldron foretells of my not seeing my wedding day. There will be no children and no great home. I am not meant to be a fine lady. I am who I am and the plans Franklin and I have made offended the ancestors. Franklin and I shall not be wed. My heart breaks with this revelation, but I cannot bring myself to tell him. I cannot bare to see him with another.
Mother says the smoke of the third cauldron tells the truth and it cannot be changed.
I suppose the blessing was that Adaline didn’t know the full extent of her revelation. Too bad it wasn’t a warning of what was to come so she, too, could have been away the night of the homecoming game, but it wasn’t meant to be.
I found this entry to be a bit unsettling. I do, however, find it interesting how superstitions can be self-fulfilling prophacies.
Thanks for stopping by!
The photograph of The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall is familiar to most everyone. It is included in everyone’s collection of ghostly apparitions. Many believe it is authentic, but there are always those who believe otherwise.
I’m no photography expert, but I am open in believing it is real and I’m also open to the possibility of light getting into the camera or there being some sort of double exposure. However, this doesn’t explain away the actual sightings many have claimed to see around Raynham Hall.
The first was in the early 1800’s by King George IV. He said he saw a woman dressed in a brown dress standing next to his bed. He remarked that her skin was pale and her hair disheveled. During the Christmas holidays of 1835, Colonel Loftus saw a woman wearing a brown satin dress with a pale luminescence around her. He further described her as having her eyes gouged out. Captain Frederick Marryat and two friends encountered “the Brown Lady” in an upstairs hallway carrying a lantern in 1836. It is reported she grinned at the men in a “diabolical manner.”
Who is this “Brown Lady”? Why is she haunting Raynham Hall?
According to legend, the “Brown Lady of Raynham Hall” is the ghost of Lady Dorothy Walpole (1686-1726).
She was Robert Walpole’s sister (Robert Walpole is regarded to be the first Prime Minister of Great Britain) and the second wife of Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount of Raynham and residents of Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England in the early 1700s. Rumor has it that before Dorothy married Charles, she had been the mistress of Lord Wharton, 4th Baron Wharton, an English soldier, politician and diplomat
Now Charles Townshend was known for his violent temper and accused his wife of adultery. It is likely he strangled her right on the staircase of Raynham Hall in 1725 and buried her. It is a tidy little story and ties the picture in nicely for this legend, but more rumors suspect the funeral was a hoax and Charles locked his wife away in a remote location on the estate. It is believed she died of small pox in 1726 and others believe she lived out her life locked away.
What is a legend without contradictions? Why are these sightings so rare? Is the photograph a hoax or proof that spirits walk among us? Was “the Brown Lady’s” life cut short by a jealous husband or small pox . . . or was she locked away for the remainder of her life in the place she now haunts?
I suppose “the Brown Lady” will forever be shrouded in mystery . . . until someone holds a séance at Raynham Hall and Lady Dorothy Walpole Townshend comes forward to tell her story. Actually, I’m surprised it hasn’t been done.
I sometimes wonder if not knowing is sometimes better than actually knowing the truth of a legend. It would truly be a shame if this was just a photographic anomaly. Photography in those days was in its infancy. It would be interesting to see if there have been other photographs, more recent photographs depicting the fine lady in brown.
Thanks for stopping by!
Yeah . . . That box, sold at auction on eBay and was said to be haunted.
Wasn’t there a book and a film about that creepy old thing?
It’s a wine cabinet — a dybbuk box and also spelled “dibbux”. It’s said to be haunted by a dybbuk.
That makes sense for a dybbuk to live in a dybbuk box.
So . . . what’s the big deal?
This real ghost story begins with Kevin Mannis. In 2004, Mannis put The Dybbuk Box up for auction on eBay.
He’s a writer and at the time of the eBay auction owned a small antiques and furniture refinishing business in Portland, Oregon. In 2001, Mannis bought the Dybbuk Box at an estate sale. The box belonged to a Holocaust survivor of Polish decent by the name of Havela. She escaped to Spain prior to immigrating to the United States . . . bringing the box with her.
According to Mannis, Havela purposely sealed a dybbuk inside the box. Evidently she and her friends were performing a séance when a dybbuk contacted her.
Jewish folklore claims a dybbuk is a restless, malicious spirit believed to be able to haunt and even possess the living.
Now that we have some background on the dybbuk and his box . . . we return to Mannis. This is what he found when he opened the box:
- 2 pennies dated in the 1920’s
- a lock of blonde hair bound with a cord
- a lock of dark brown hair bound with a cord
- a small statue engraved with the Hebrew word “Shalom”
- one dried rose bud
- a single candle holder with four octopus-shaped legs
- a small golden wine goblet.
These items, according to Jewish folklore, are for exorcising demons.
That’s all fine and good . . . yet it appears the Dybbuk wasn’t exorcised. He was still in the box and when Mannis opened it . . .
He had horrible nightmares involving an old hag.
Even guests in Mannis’s home experienced these nightmares, too.
So, what did he do?
He gave the box to his mother. Oh good grief!!! And, the same day he gave her that stinky old Dybbuk Box she suffered a stroke. I said “stinky old Dybbuk Box” because it did have an aroma about it of a cross between cat urine and jasmine flowers.
The current owner of this Dybbuk Box is Jason Haxton, Director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri.
Haxton had the winning bid at the eBay auction, thus buying the Dybbuk Box from Mannis.
Jason Haxton wrote The Dibbuk Box and published it in November of 2011.
He developed some strange health problems including hives, coughing up blood and “head-to-toe welts”.
While he had the box in his office, light bulbs burst.
Haxton removed the box from the museum and locked it in the back of his truck. He parked it at his house and that night experienced the same nightmares of a hag-like woman as other previous owners.
He contacted Rabbis to seal the dybbuk back in the box after he and his son noticed a black mass shaped like a flame in the room with them.
Currently, Haxton has the freshly resealed Dybbuk Box hidden in an undisclosed location.
Reminds me of a Genie in a Bottle or Aladdin’s Lamp.
Just in case you come across a dybbuk box, this one has the Shema carved into the side of it and the box measures 12.5″ x 7.5″ x 16.25″
Although this tale creeps me out, I can say that it is an attractive box . . . one I could see myself buying in an estate sale . . . but in light of all this . . . I would have to take a pass. I don’t like inviting danger into my life unnecessarily.
Oh yes, one more point . . . This was quite popular up until 2014 . . . so why am I writing about it?
I know this particular Dybbuk Box is now sealed in an undisclosed location . . . but do you honestly believe that there is only one Dybbuk . . . or is it merely an urban legend . . . Maybe those owners got caught up in the hysteria of the legend . . .
Or . . . there are Dybbuk among us . . . hidden in some old antique cabinet . . . an armoire perhaps . . . or a lovely vase . . . just waiting . . . for . . . you . . . to discover it . . . and . . . set it free . . .
Thanks for stopping by!