When we first start talking to people about the fact that we own a house that is 125 years old in an historic district, one of the questions people tend to ask is "So...Is your house haunted?" Some want us to say no (usually the people who think they may eventually stay with us), some want us to say yes, but almost everyone wants to hear some sort of story. Well, it is almost Halloween, so there is no better time to satisfy all of those people that want a little story of the not easily explained that comes along with our house. This is just one story, there are others, but this is a good one to start with.
When Wendy and I moved into our house in January 2003 we were met with a pretty tall task. Sure, we had a lot of renovation ahead of us, but the first task at hand was the daunting effort to clean up our newly purchased mess of a house. The house had been lived in by single men for going on 15 years, and their level of cleaning had left something to be desired.
During our cleaning adventures, we worked inside, outside, in open spaces, and tight corners, we cleaned everything we could. One of the common things that we kept finding everywhere oddly enough was peanut shells. This may sound a little ordinary, and we didn't think anything of it at first, but that would soon change.
At first we found them all over the flower beds in backyard. For these we just chalked it up to the squirrels we would see running all over the place. Then we started to find them left in front of the doors and on the sidewalk. We started to think that maybe our neighbor Paul, who perpetually "patrolled" the alley, ate peanuts and dropped the shells wherever he happened to be...and maybe even threw them over the wall into our backyard. At any rate, these shells were popping up all over the place, and we didn't have any explanation for it.
We just sort of laughed off all of the peanuts and shells outside, but then we started to find them in some of the strangest places inside. We found several in the corners of the basement, and a couple thrown about in the dirt crawlspace. We even found one or two in the sun porch area. Then, during our cleaning process, Wendy started to clean under the sink in the kitchen. There was a removable piece of wood that covered the bottom of the cabinet. When Wendy picked up the piece of wood she found dozens of peanut shells piled together. They had been there for who knows how long, but they had been put there on purpose.
After the mass finding of peanuts, the "excitement" died down a little bit. We would still continue to see them around in the backyard and in front of the doors, but not much more than that. It was about this time that we started to joke that we had a "peanut ghost." He seemed harmless, but had a serious love of legumes.
Several months later, I was headed off to work. As was my normal routine, I was rushing around the house, grabbing my lunch, shoes, and anything else I needed. I realized that I had put my backpack in the wash the day before, so I ran down to the dryer to grab it. Since it was completely empty, I packed it full of everything that I needed for the day, zipped it closed, and headed out to work.
When I got to my office I opened my backpack to start my day. I unzipped the main area of my bag and sitting on top of my clothes and lunch was a single peanut shell. I laughed a little and called Wendy to let her know that I appreciated her little joke. I didn't know when she had the time to slip it into my bag, but complimented her on her efforts. The thing is, she didn't know what I was talking about. She wasn't anywhere near my bag, I was the only one who had put anything in or taken anything out, and I hadn't put the peanut into the backpack. How the shell ended up in my backpack is still a mystery to this day.
A little while later, Wendy and I were working on replacing the door at the very back of our backyard. The door that was originally there was an awful looking disaster. It looked like a port-o-potty from Greece.
We decided to tear that whole thing out and had build a new door with a curved top. Our hope was to build a brick archway to complement the door, so we decided to make our first attempt at masonry in constructing this archway. We built a wood form for the archway, got everything prepared and ready to go, and started to mix up our cement mortar. Do you see the bucket and bag of Portland cement in the bottom of the next photo? That's where our next peanut situation occurred.
We had a clean empty bucket, clean pitcher of water, and a new bag of cement. I poured the cement into the bucket, then the water, then I began mixing with my drill. Almost as soon as I turned on the drill I saw a peanut shell sitting in the cement, but not covered in powder. It was as if it had been placed there by someone. Wendy wasn't near me, and I had just done this all in the span of a few seconds, never leaving the bucket, but the shell appeared. Almost as soon as I noticed it, the shell was mixed into the cement. I tried to find it again while mixing but it was gone. The shell ended up somewhere in the mortar that made up our brick archway. Incidentally, that archway fell during a serious windstorm on New Year's Eve 2008. Who knows if the peanut shell played any role in that event.
The final unexplained situation involving peanut shells is the most creepy to me. Wendy was away on business one spring back around 2004. I was left to my own devices but was working hard on the house, trying to get some major things accomplished while she was away. I always want to give her some unexpected progress to come home to. This particular evening I was working on plastering the hallway and stairwell on the second floor of the house. I had put in a full day and was quite tired.
With sore arms, I went into the bathroom to wash the plaster off of my hands. When I turned off the water the house was quiet, but I heard something very odd. It sounded as if someone was walking around in our attic space directly above our bathroom. I stood quietly and listened, and the footsteps continued for 30 or 40 seconds. It sounded as if a person was walking slowly, but with a somewhat heavy foot. Thump...thump...thump...thump, then suddenly it stopped after final and particularly loud thump that sounded like someone jumping away. It wasn't loud enough to hear if the water was running, but was plenty loud to hear in the quiet. I thought it could have been an animal on the roof, but didn't know how something large enough to sound like a person's footsteps could have gotten up there. Also, the sound definitely sounded like it was coming from our attic, and not the roof.
The thing with the attic space where I heard the noise coming from, there is no way it is large enough for someone to walk around. At that point in the attic there is a maximum clearance of about 20 inches, barely enough to even crawl around in. But I was sure I heard footsteps, so much so that I called Wendy to tell her what I had heard. I listened a bit longer, but they were gone, and I never heard them again. I stuck my head and a flashlight into the attic, not sure of what I might see, but all I ended up seeing was nothing.
Roughly six months later, a project we were working on required me to shimmy my way back into the attic. It is dark, claustrophobia inducing, and dirty. You have to wear a respirator because of the loose insulation, and it is never a pleasant experience. (Why can't we just have a normal large creepy attic, not this small one?) As I crawled back towards the area above the bathroom, I had an odd feeling that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I moved a few things out of my way and my flashlight beam caught something sitting in the insulation. As I moved closer I remembered the distinct sound of footsteps I had heard months earlier. My heart began to race and I looked down to see a nicely formed pile of about 20 peanut shells just sitting among the insulation. Is this the noise I had heard, was our peanut ghost pacing in the confines of our attic and depositing his spent peanut shells?
I left the shells undisturbed where they sat and covered the area with an old piece of wood. I've not been back to this portion of the attic since that day, so I assume they are still sitting there where I left them. We'll be doing some work in that area in the next few months, so I guess I'll find out soon enough.
We have no photos of ghostly figures, or gruesome displays of the paranormal, just some creepy experiences that make you think twice about whether or not we're really alone when we're home alone. Be it animals playing tricks, or some spirit or energy of the beyond, If we actually have a peanut ghost, it seems to be rather harmless.
I hope you've enjoyed our little story of the Old Town Home Peanut Ghost. We're planning on one more story on Halloween, so think of this as a bit of a haunting warm-up.
Do you have any stories in your home that make you question if you're really alone? Please share, we'd love to hear.