If growing up in an old large, rundown farmhouse, in the middle of nowhere wasn’t creepy enough, just add a dark, narrow stairway leading up to an old, extremely terrifying portrait of an ancestor reputed to be a witch - and an old dark storage room.
Once removed, old family stories do not hold the horrors and shame that the same generation had to face. Once removed, and grown up, you can look back and logically understand that my great grandmother, whose photo portrait I had to face each night while going up the stairs had had a very tough life, and her face showed it. Sitting next to my very distinguished looking great grandfather, my great grandmothers lined, craggy, and unsmiling face, hair pulled back unrelieved and taunt, bore witness to each and every hardship that was a farmwife’s life, surviving in the frontier that was the 1800’s. She survived years after my great grandfather passed only to slip into a world of her own, wandering sometimes a few miles away from our farm, to show up behind some unsuspecting neighbor and scaring the be-Jesus out of them. So much so, that my grandfather had to post a type of bail for her, a thousand dollars (a huge amount in the early 1900’s) to keep the state from placing her into an asylum and promised to keep her on the farm. Rumors spread through the neighborhood that she was a witch.
Reality was she most likely had Alzheimer’s.
So how did my grandfather make sure she stayed on the farm? I never really thought about that, but I have a feeling I know which room had been hers.
Had her room been the ‘haunted’ storage room upstairs?
The room, originally a bedroom with its own separate closet, had had three windows in it at one time, open to the world. During my childhood however, they were perpetually shuttered with heavy fabric nailed to the upper sill. One dim bare bulb in the ceiling was the only source of light.
A large, plain brass antique bed filled the back of the room that always called to mind the Princess and the Pea bed, since my mother had piled high on it, old quilts, linens and feather quilts that had been used years past and no longer. Under the bed were old waffle irons and other items she had received on her wedding day …never used. A huge old box of disintegrating old family photos was shoved next to them, double and triples of photos of people I did not know and never would, their names lost with succeeding generations.
And everywhere on either side of the room, were boxes and boxes of old clothes, just stuff and more presents opened but never used, having been silently declared by my mother as their being “too nice” to wear or use?
At the other end of the room was the closet, the heavy door having been lifted off its hinges long ago, leaning against the opening, stacks of National Geographic and other old magazines piled precariously throughout, my father’s old Sunday suit, and coats hanging off one rod on the side. The moth ball smell will be forever burned in my nostrils.
The storage room always gave me the creeps. It got so bad at times that after running quickly in and out for whatever item my mother had sent me for, I ended up locking its door on the way out (from the outside) locking ‘whatever’ in - so ‘whatever’ could not venture back with me into the rest of the house.
Creepy – Yup.
I also had a dream that kept repeating itself over and over about that room. In it, there was a little crawl space door next to the storage room’s actual door. I would crawl through it into the room’s closet and something horrible was in there with me.
Years later, when I was grown, sometime after my father had passed and we were cleaning out his things in that closet, I remarked to my brother about how creepy that room had always been to me.
He nodded his head and then proceeded to tell me about a bad dream that he had a few times when he was young about that room.
…Something about a little crawl space door leading into the closet of that room.
copyright 2012 Stepka