Just when I thought I couldn’t be surprised anymore, I find out there’s actually a Haunted House Industry – with a Haunted House Convention and everything! This year, the scariest thing at the convention was when somebody showed up without a mask. (Sorry – I couldn’t resist). The industry spends a lot of time and energy learning about the different types of people who visit haunted house and puts them into 5 basic groups:
The Brave One (you know who you are and you’re darn proud)
The Offerer – this is the one who “offers” his girlfriend/boyfriend by shoving them in front of the ghoul. BTW, if you are the offeree, it’s time to get out of that relationship.
The Fifth Wheel – this is the girl/guy who comes along with other couples (and probably just left an “offerer” relationship).
The Screamer – every person who works in a haunted house lives for the Screamers. This is what makes their day, folks, so if you go to a Haunted House – be sure you scream - even if you’re not scared.
The Expert – these are the people who attend Haunted House Conventions (see above).
So – here is my haunted house story. In 1986, My husband took a job in Norwich, NY. The following year we sold our house near Delanson and bought an old farmhouse. The house was on a dirt road and needed a LOT of work. It was built in 1885 and we were just the third owners of the property. The house had been abandoned for almost 25 years when it was purchased by a couple from Long Island. By the time we came around, the barns were gone and there were trees where the original owners, the Dunn's, had farmed the land. I loved it but it needed a LOT of work (wait, did I say that already??).
Shortly after we started renovating the house (which needed a LOT of work by the way)... we removed the front porch. In order to do that, there was a lilac tree that had to come down. It was a clear and sunny day when my husband took his chainsaw to the trunk of the tree. Every time he tried to cut the tree, the chainsaw stopped working. It had never done that before so we thought that was odd. But, after about four tries, he finally kept it running long enough to start the cut. As soon as the saw hit the tree, there was a loud crack of thunder! Since there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky, we were more than a little freaked out by that. But, the tree was cut down and we thought that was the end of the weirdness. Or not.
That night, we went out to dinner with the kids. I wore an outfit that I had bought recently. We had a nice dinner, came home and I hung the outfit up in the closet next to the bed. All was fine. In the morning, I got ready to take the kids to church and grabbed the pants hanging in the closet from the night before. I put them on and just happened to look in the mirror as I walked by. I was shocked to see that the pants were completely shredded in the back! There was no way I would’ve missed that when I hung them up – they were destroyed! I knew if some animal had been in the closet shredding my pants, I definitely would’ve heard it. So, I brought them out to my husband figuring he would come up with a reasonable explanation because, well, he’s an engineer and reasonable explanations are his job. His response? “Woah - that’s weird. I have no idea how that could’ve happened.” So now I was really freaked out. Apparently, whoever didn’t want that lilac tree cut down also thought I was responsible for it and was exacting revenge! Yikes!
A while later, we were talking to the couple we bought the house from and learned they had stayed in touch with Mrs. Dunn (this was back the '40s). While they were giving us the history of the house, we learned something very interesting. It turns out, the Dunn’s son had been killed in a farming accident which was why they abandoned the farmhouse and moved to town. What happened to the son was even creepier, though. I won’t go into details but there was a pitchfork involved. Yes, a pitchfork that could easily shred pants. Double yikes!!
I decided right then and there to replant that lilac tree. I also recreated the stencil that had been in the parlor and stenciled it right back up after we sheet rocked. I was going to do whatever was needed to protect my wardrobe!
There were other unexplainable episodes but as time went on, things settled down and I think the son was happy with the changes we made to his house. Over the years, he quietly went away and gave us some peace. He did leave me with a good story to tell around the campfire though.
What type of haunted house person are you? Do you have any scary stories to share? What better time than on Halloween??