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Our Yucaipa, October 2014

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The first house I ever lived in was haunted. It was a two-story brick colonial (pictured above), built in the 1950s in Lincoln, NE, by a man who had several children. He lived there with his wife and kids for a few years when their lives skipped the tracks and headed south. As his children entered their young adulthood, each met with a tragic end — car accident, heart attack, murder — and within a year, all were dead. His wife, heartbroken, died soon after burying her last child. The man was all alone, surrounded by the echoes of his family still resonating in his now empty house. Finally he decided that he couldn't go on. He drew a bath and took a lethal dose of pills. He fell asleep in the water and drowned. He had, however, not turned off the water before passing away and by the time he was found, the first floor was flooded. A contractor bought the house, repaired it, and then sold it to my folks in 1969, soon after I was born. My father worked at the university during the day and my mom stayed with me, fixing up her first home. I was an excellent baby and took long afternoon naps. One day when my mother was downstairs doing the weeks ironing in the kitchen, she heard someone walking around above her. She sat still and listened as footsteps led from my nursery, down the hall and into the master bedroom. Her first thought was that her eight- month-old daughter had escaped her crib and learned to walk. She pictured me coming to the top of the stairs and then falling. She sprinted upstairs and ran to the master bedroom, looking for me. There was no one there. She then hurried to the nursery and found me sound asleep, sucking my thumb. A chill ran through her. Who had been upstairs? Had she imagined it? She shook her head and decided it was all in her head. Being alone with a baby all day will make anyone a little batty. She went back down to the kitchen and stopped cold at the threshold, looking around in disbelief. All the cabinet doors were standing wide open. When my dad got home, he found his bride in the nursery with me, door closed. She told him what had happened and he rolled his eyes. I'm sure they fought about it (it was their favorite pastime until their divorce seven years later). Things were quiet in the house for a couple of months. Summer came and dad was home more. Mom was out running errands the day my dad changed his mind about the ghost. I was over a year old by now and was walking. He and I were in the basement where he had been patching some leaks in the concrete walls. I sat on the ground and rolled a ball of putty in my hands. The basement stairs led up to the kitchen. Dad heard a noise and called up, "Diane? Are you back?" There was no answer. I looked up the stairs and watched as the door slowly closed. "Diane!" my dad yelled. "Open the door — the light down here is crap!" Nothing. Dad, pissed by now, dropped what he had in his hands and stomped up the stairs. He opened the door and found the kitchen empty. "Where are you?" he yelled to my mom. As he stood there waiting for her to call down from upstairs, the can opener on the counter came to life. It was one of those counter appliances that everyone had once upon a time. This one was avocado green, I remember. As Dad stood there, the metal arm closed and was being pressed down by an unseen force. The machine made a high pitch/no can being opened sound, "WEEEERRRRR!" for about 20 seconds. Then it stopped. Dad turned and ran back down to the basement where I was still sitting, oblivious to what he'd seen. He picked me up, took me up to my stroller and walked around the block a dozen times until my mom returned home. We lived there until I was four and experienced a few more incidents. During a visit, my great-grandmother saw a man sitting in the bathtub when she got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. She thought it was my great- grandfather, a man I called Pop. "Get back in bed, Jim," she said to him.. "Who are you talking to?" Pop asked from behind her, startling a scream out of her. The man in the tub vanished. Mom should have warned her when she came to visit. You see, they were staying in the bedroom that connected to the bathroom where the home's first owner died… but had never left. ~ Courtney 2 OUR YUCAIPA | OCTOBER 2014 My Ghost Story

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