Friday, June 05, 2009

The ghosts never bothered MY family...

On or about 1985, when I was still fairly young, my family moved from the only house I'd ever known to the next suburb over. There were three kids in our family now, and the old house was starting to feel small. Or so my parents told me: being just seven, I didn't really have much of a grasp on life and the way things worked.

Some time within the first couple of years after we moved, the couple who bought our old house got in touch with my parents. They were asking for some information about my family's time in the house; specifically, had we ever noticed the ghost?

Ghost, what ghost? That was my mom's reaction. Apparently, the new family had suffered repeated and unexplained phenomena in various rooms of the house. Their key rings would move around without reason. Doors would creak and shut in unoccupied rooms of the house. Upstairs footsteps could be heard when all occupants were downstairs. As far as I recall, there was no "Ghostbusters"-level haunting going on. No people getting slimed. No legless librarians.

If I remember correctly, the family called my parents to ask if anyone had died there. This mysterious ghost had them quite concerned. My mom explained that there had never been anything remotely supernatural about the house or its occupants. If the ghost lived (?) there while my family did, it kept very much to itself, or went completely unnoticed with all the other background noise and pick up/put down behavior of three boys.

Eventually, the "occurrences" had so completely unnerved the occupants that they called on their priest to bless the house. I believe that marked the end, inasmuch as they never called back. Should this last as a historical record beyond my and my family's lifetimes, I'd also like to state that the current family home in St. Louis has no ghostly behavior. Neither does my current residence in Kansas City.

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I thought about this strangeness (which occurred more than 20 years ago) recently because the house next to my parents is currently on the market. The wife and husband who lived there had finally gotten too old to properly manage, so they moved into an assisted-living community.

One of the prospective buyers that visited ruled the house out because of "bad fung shui". Apparently, houses near railroad tracks have poor fung shui, due to vibrations from the trains and rails being "pierced into the earth". Our neighborhood railroad tracks don't actually enter the earth at any point, sitting as they do on ties that are nestled into gravel. But I'm not a fung shui expert, so perhaps it's a more metaphorical piercing.

Living near train tracks is certainly not for everyone. The trains do come by at all hours of the day and night. Guests to our house remark on this, but any longer-term occupants find (as the family did) that eventually you largely tune them out. To this day, I almost never notice when a train is rumbling past, despite the passing of something like 37 each day.

It enabled me to largely ignore the EL trains in Chicago, living (as I did for three years) in a building right next to the tracks. Others complained while I remained largely unaware. Here in Kansas City, I have no regular trains to pay attention to OR ignore.

I do hear one occasionally in the spring and fall, when I have my windows open. Late in the evening, I'll hear the whistle nearby. The tracks are about two or three miles from here, but I can always tell when the train is going by.

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