Of Things That Go Bump in the Night



It’s October, the best month of the year. At least to kids. Ask what their favorite holiday is and they’ll probably say Halloween. Ask the boys what they’ll wear, and shivering with delight, they’ll no doubt announce their plans to be zombies or Count Draculas with fangs dripping blood. The little ladies? Hey, witches are still in.

I have no idea why little people love to be scared. Big ones, too. (Think Psycho and The Twilight Zone.) I remember having bad dreams after seeing the skeleton in the queen’s dungeon in Snow White and waking my mother up so many times that she finally said, “If you do this again, I’m going to dress up like a rooster and stand at the foot of your bed and crow!” I had to giggle.

Ever after, getting scared was just plain fun. I sat enthralled while Mother read James Whitcomb Riley’s verse about how “the Gobble-uns ’ll git you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!” And when we gathered around the Capehart to listen to Inner Sanctum—starring Boris Karloff among others—with its eerie organ music and creaky door. (The door sound actually was made by a rusty desk chair.)

Later I’d sit around campfires in New Hampshire while our counselors told ghost stories. The one about the hairy arm, detached somehow from its owner, crawling through the window while you were sleeping to find the rest of its body, used to freak me out. But I couldn’t wait for more.

Some people claim they’ve seen ghosts. Our daughter, for one. After dinner at Gelston House in East Haddam, an old inn once a convalescent home for Civil War soldiers, Audrey went upstairs to the loo and saw the door of a stall swinging on its hinges, back and forth, back and forth. But she knew no one else was there. Everybody had left for the Goodspeed Opera. Back downstairs she asked the hostess, “Is this place haunted or what?” “Oh, no!” came the reply. “What are they doing now? They do such weird things. I never go up to the third floor by myself!”

Greenwich, of course, has its own ghosts. Some people don’t like to talk about them, perhaps fearing the price of their houses might plummet. But in October 1991 Divya Symmers wrote a story for us entitled “Our Local Haunts” and managed to get a few interviews, including one with town historian Bill Finch. He said that author Anya Seton believed in ghosts and, as a child, swore there was the ghost of a slave girl living in the old washhouse on the Bush-Holley property, now home to the Greenwich Historical Society. “She would hear it scream at certain times,” he said, confessing that he’d lived at Bush-Holley for eighteen years but all he’d ever heard at night was noise from the turnpike.

Over at the Homestead Inn, strange sightings have been made. One couple booked into the second-floor Bride’s Room, heard unexplained footsteps pacing the hall at night and checked out. Another pair in the Groom’s Room saw the figure of a woman in white. Nancy Smith, then co-owner of the inn, reported: “They said she was in an old-fashioned dress, looking out the window as if she were waiting for a sailor to come home.” Strange, because on the porch directly below that room sat a replica of a figurehead known as the Lady Lancashire, carved in the 1830s for a ship owned by a sea captain living next door to the Mead House (now the Homestead). The ship was lost at sea after the Lady, painted white, was removed from the bow and given to the Meads, who put it in their grape arbor as a beacon for passing sailors. “The Mead children were frightened of her,” said Nancy. “They thought she was a ghost.”

And the Bruce Museum was said to be haunted by the spirit of an Irish lass who worked in Belle Haven, according to the uncle of letter carrier Patrick McTeigue. The girl fell in love with a handsome piper; when he disappeared into the mists, she re-turned to Ireland and died of consumption. Patrick’s uncle claimed that a sudden wind had whisked him to the mansion one night where he heard the skirl of a pipe and saw a piper standing there in full regalia with a young girl wearing a white Aryan shawl. Ghostly voices were calling the piper to come in and play for them, and he warned the girl to run because once inside, they could never get out. “To his dying day, Uncle Tommy believed the otherworld might call him into the Bruce Museum,” said Patrick.

I’m not much into ghosts, but when we bought our house in Willowmere fifty years ago, we were told it had one—a Saint Bernard ghost. So late one winter night after a party, I put on my mother’s old fur coat, crawled into bed with Jack, woofed softly in his ear and nuzzled his cheek with my cold nose. I’m not sure if he thought it was funny, but I did.

Now Halloween is upon us. I’ve got to go to ShopRite to load up on juice boxes, my treat of choice for thirsty goblins. We had 157 of them show up last year. Ours is a dead end street with houses close together, a popular neighborhood. But the best house ever had to be the Walzs’. Edgar would lie under a sheet on a table in their front hall, candles at head and foot, waiting for kids to come in. Then with a groan, he’d slowly sit up, which always sent them screaming into the night—and returning the next year for more.

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • Cool and Collected ‘14

    2014.07.10
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

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    2014.06.21
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

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  • Exhibit: Tales of Two Cities: New York & Beijing | Greenwich, CT

    2014.05.03
     @ Bruce Museum

    May 3 – August 31, 2014 Tales of Two Cities: New York & Beijing This exhibition focuses on two of the world’s leading...

  • Happy Hour Beauty Thursdays!

    2014.06.30
     @ ELLELA Cosmetics & Lashes

    Our Summer Happy Hour Beauty Thursdays are back at ELLELA Cosmetics! Hit the top of Greenwich Ave from 4pm to 8pm for the BEST Blowouts before...

  • Wine Time Social Hour | Greenwich, CT

    2014.01.27
     @ Barcelona Greenwich

    $4.00 select wines, $4.00 well drinks, and $3.00 beers.

  • Happy Hour | Greenwich, CT

    2014.01.26
     @ Morello Italian Bistro

    Refresh yourself with our famous Red & White Sangria! Don’t forget that during happy hour every day 4:30pm-6:30pm your 2nd drink...

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • Wine Time Social Hour

    2014.08.29
     @ Barcelona Wine Bar

    Fairfield Monday - Friday 3 - 6:30pm $5 select wines, $4 well drinks, $3 beers. 3 for $16 tapas Greenwich Monday - Friday 4 - 7...

  • Seaside Center: Arts and Crafts

    2014.07.18
     @ Seaside Center

    Let your creativity float free! Practice the art of Gyotaku fish prints; make a sundial, a shell wind chime, or fish bowl! Activities vary every...

  • Vals Free Weekly In-Store Wine Tasting | Greenwich, CT

    2014.05.09
     @ Val's Putnam Wine And Liquors

    Each Friday we feature new wines just released and new to market for you to have an opportunity to taste and learn about through our sponsored...

  • Saturday Vals Free Weekly In-Store Wine Tasting | Greenwich, CT

    2014.05.10
     @ Val's Putnam Wine And Liquors

    We will feature an array of new and different International wines that are selected by our staff as “Staff Picks Favorites” in...

  • Polo Benefit for Hope

    2014.08.31
     @ Greenwich Polo Club

    For the second year in a row, Virginia's House of Hope is having a fundraiser at the Greenwich Polo Club! Join us on Sunday, August...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • Animal Meet and Greet

    2014.06.22
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 22 - August 31, 3:30 - 4:00pm Stop by for a chance to meet one of our Overbrook Nature Center or Heckscher Farm animals up...

  • Bar: Live Music | Greenwich, CT

    2014.03.09
     @ Barcelona Greenwich

    Join us in Greenwich every Sunday for live music and half-priced bottles of wine!

  • Exclusive Tour of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Yale University Art Gallery

    2014.09.09
     @ Yale University Art Gallery

    Join JCC Greenwich for an exclusive tour with museum curator Elizabeth Manekin. The collection is noteworthy for exemplary works from the...

  • Understanding the Gaza War: Strategic & Political Implications

    2014.09.09
     @ Greenwich Library, Cole Auditorium

    Dr. Efraim Inbar is a Professor in Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and Director of its renowned Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic...

  • Bruce Museum: Look and See - Into the Deep

    2014.09.10
     @ Bruce Museum

    A program especially designed for children ages 3-5 years and their adult caregivers, who will explore the Museum’s exhibition through...


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