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Growing Up With Ghosts (Part 2)

My uncle Dave and his wife Reiko lived next door to us beginning in 1971.

I was 6 years old at the time.  They would spend a lot of time over at our house from the early to the mid-1970s.  These were great times with a lot of fun as I recall!  In the kitchen, they, and many of my brother and sister’s friends (they were a bit older than me) would spend hours and hours talking, laughing and sometimes getting “spooky!”  Dave and Reiko were very savvy when it came to ghosts, and me, as a young kid loved being scared every minute of it!  These were the days that most likely made me very fond of the “Nightlife!”  I was mesmorized by them and my siblings “older” friends!!

One evening, after a great deal of “ghost talk” and scary stories from my aunt and uncle, I remember being very afraid to go to bed.  It was late!  Well, late for me as a 7 or 8 year old.  I believe we even may have had a séance that night.  Thinking back, I don’t know of those seances we merely to “scare” me, or if they truly meant to conjure up the dead!  In any case…this night “conjured up” someone or something!

When it was time for everyone to go home, Dave and Reiko headed for the front door to return to their apartment next door.  Leaving the house entailed two BIG doors…first, the one that entered (or exited) the house and the second was after passing through the foyer, onto the front porch.  As Dave “touched” the second door knob that night, all the power in the house went off!  Bang!  Just like that!  The rest of the street and homes were well lit, but our home went dead!  Chilling!  Frightened as we all were, we all scrambled back to the kitchen, lit candles, and checked the fuse box!  Nothing was out of order!  Nothing!

About twenty minutes later, all of a sudden, lights and power came back on.

(What was that?!).  We all nervously laughed it off until Dave and Reiko went to leave a second time.  Again, when Dave “touched” the second door knob lights and power off again!  NOW we were scared and I was petrified!  Who or what is doing this?!

Nervous laughter again…candles, spooky talk, but no fuse problems and no other “power outages” in the neighborhood!  What was happening???   Back to candles, another cup of coffee and again, 30 minutes later, lights and power back on.  Whew!  “That was scary!”

“Well…its 330 in the morning.  We have to go,” Dave said.  We all waited in fright for the “touch” of the “second door knob” by Dave and then……bang!  All power out again for the third time!  Now we were all scared senseless!!!  This was no coincidence!  Something was happening!

Back in the kitchen with candles and coffee….we all waited patiently yet in terror.

I was shaking, and praying that I wouldn’t have to go to bed that night!  There was no explanation for 3 times!  Was it the séance?  What had we done?  Who or what did not want Dave and Reiko to leave?  Again, the power eventually came back on.  This time, Dave and Reiko left by way of the back door, and nothing paranormal happened.  I slept with my bedroom lights ON for weeks after that night!

There was just something about that kitchen, or the door to the basement in the kitchen, or both!  There was a door leading into the kitchen from the downstairs hallway proper.  This door had a full-length mirror on it facing from the kitchen.  My guess is that in the home’s “day” this kitchen door was closed and the mirror allowed residents and visitors to “check themselves out.”  There was a door at a 90 degree angle from the mirrored door immediately to the left entering the kitchen.  This door or “area” has been a haunted hot spot over the years!

My aunt Reiko was “hit” in the back of her head numerous times walking past that door!  The “hits” were enough for her to insist that someone struck her!  Yet, there was no one close or near her as she passed by!  My sister, as well, was “hit” in that spot on several occasions!  She even blamed  me but I was in front of her at the time, sitting at the kitchen table!  However, the “blow” was so real, it was incomprehensible for either of them to fathom that the “blows” were not human!  “Thelma” was rumored to have “died” in the basement!  Oh there is more!

On one occasion, I had a few friends over to “just hang out.”  As I recall, I was in my early teens.  And, as usual, “talk” of “Thelma” came up.  My friends wanted to have a séance.  (Another one?!).  Well, okay!  So into the basement we went.  The table was there, complete with chairs, and as I recall, there were 5 of us.  Candle lit….someone began to “call” upon the spirit of “Thelma….”  I was queasy, scared and knew this was not a good idea!  I had seen before the potential outcomes of inexperienced thrill-seekers calling upon the ghosts in my house!  But, as a young adolescent, I foolishly went along with it, hoping for something!  Acceptance?  Proof?  Nothing?  I don’t know for sure….

As I said, there were 5 of us.

The shadows on the wall as we “conjured up Thelma” reflected that, five.  Suddenly….there were six shadows on the wall!  This was truly frightening!  Once one of us noticed that, five adolescents ran out of the basement faster than a weed grows in April!  “Oh my!!!!  What happened?!”  I knew!  The “legend” continued to grow and grow!  This was real!

We had a dog named Travis.  He was a rescue.  He was black with a white tinge on his chest and a very loyal guy!  Travis was with our family for 18 years before we had to put him to rest.  The poor boy lost ability in his back legs.  It’s so hard to say goodbye to such a loyal, long-standing member of the family.  He was a great watchdog and great protector!

In the living room, there was an E-Z chair.  On one particular day, there was a towel or blanket draped over the top of that chair.  Travis, that day, was barking incessantly.  It was early morning, perhaps 4 or 5 am.  Being the great watch dog he was, my parents and I all woke up to descend from our bedrooms to see what he was alarming us to.  He was fixated on the E-Z chair.

“What’s the matter boy?”  Travis barked like we’ve never heard him bark before…all the while…staring, teeth showing, hair standing, at that chair!  We could not calm him down.  We could not pull him away.  Fear rose in all of us, but we knew!  We somehow knew!  In a while, he stopped.  Just like that!  At that moment, the towel or blanket, whatever it was draped on the chair, flew across the living room!  Literally flew!  It was as if something threw it across the room out of anger!  We couldn’t go back to sleep that early morning!  We waited for something more to happen, but it didn’t….not yet.  “It’s Thelma.”

“Things” got quiet for some time…there were still “noises” flashes of shadows, bangings, missing things, moved things, but nothing big and frightening.  We wondered what may have happened to Thelma.  A family member took it upon herself to “exercise” the house on her own, and we thought, “well, maybe Thelma is gone…”  Maybe she was….

My mother passed away in 2006.

She had lived in “her house” for about 50 years.  Five months after my mother’s passing, I got married.  As the City of Elizabeth, New Jersey was “forcing” us to leave our Haunted House, my wife and I were still taking care of it.  The city had declared “Eminent Domain” on this majestic home in order to build a new school there.  My mother, who never wanted to leave the home, passed away after a long illness in the hospital.  (We believe she wanted it that way as she would have never been able to return to her beloved house!).  The site of the house is now occupied by a behemoth grammer school.  What a shame.  All of that history, all of those lives, memories, beauty….gone.

After my mother’s repass, my wife and family were at the grand house to continue celebrating my mother’s life and to mourn

her passing.  My wife saw a man that evening after many had left, and the rest of us went upstairs into the attic to find and look at old pictures.  She didn’t recognize who he was, as she hadn’t seen him all day.  But, she thought nothing of it at the time.

Later, she asked me who the man was with the thinning hair, and trench coat on.  I hadn’t seen that man, but asked her more.  She continued to describe him to me, and it more and more sounded like my Uncle Luke.  There was no man there that anyone remembered that fit her description.  She insisted that he was there and was walking about the living room and dining room, and eventually went upstairs.   None of the family saw him or could say who this was.  We let it go.

As we looked through those “old pictures,” my wife said, “That’s the man!  That’s the guy I saw!  Who is he?”  We asked her, “Are you sure?”  She was.  We all were astonished that it was our Uncle Luke.  He died in the house in 1983.


By Leo Battenhausen is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.