Read an Excerpt
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! The thunderous noise ripped through our sleeping house.
Something in my brain was commanding me to open my eyes. What in the world was that? I thought to myself. I rubbed the crumbs of sleep out of my eyes as I slowly opened them to the darkness. I lay there silent and listening,
curled in against the small of my husband George's back. Had I heard a booming noise or did I dream it? Maybe I had just drifted off into that shimmering sea where we seem to float between sleep and consciousness,
that often jolts us with the alarming thought that we're falling or that we've missed our step.
Boom! Boom! Boom! The sound tore into my ears like reverberating thunder, but I knew it wasn't thunder. It had been a beautiful clear evening in May, with not a cloud in the sky.
George stirred from his sleep. “Did you hear that?” he whispered.
“Of course I heard it,” I whispered directly into his ear. I was too scared to speak any louder and even more scared to move. “What do you think it is?” I asked anxiously.
“I don't know. Are all the kids in bed?” he murmured under his breath.
I released my bear hug on George and quietly, so as not to even have the bed squeak, turned away from the security of his body just leaning over to the other side of the bed enough to see the amber glow on the alarm clock-1:05 A.M.
Speaking rapidly and barely audibly, I replied, “They were. Before all this racket started. In bed and sound asleep.” I had completed my routine bed check before turning in just after midnight. George and
I had laid in bed talking about our new house, a very old Victorian style house we had just moved into two days before.
Boom! Boom! Boom! The splitting noise intensified, again blasting my momentary pleasant thought through the rooftop.
“George, the noise is inside the house,” I exclaimed in a whisper.
“It's coming from downstairs.” He could hear the anxiety in my voice.
Without saying one word, he quietly slipped out of bed and pulled his trousers on. Sliding his hand under his side of the mattress he retrieved his handgun. If he was expecting my usual argument about the handgun, he was wrong. I hated his keeping a loaded gun under the mattress, but I hated the idea of an intruder even more. George tiptoed barefoot to the landing of the stairs and didn't utter a word for what seemed like five minutes. After those few agonizing minutes of dark, dead silence, the crashing booms echoed again. He turned on the light at the top of the steps and that gave an illuminating yellow glow to the downstairs entryway as well as to the upstairs hallway.
The loud booming continued.
I bolted straight up in the bed, breathing heavily from the uneasiness of what George might encounter. I waited for George to say something. Finally, I called out in a loud whisper as if trying to shout in a lowered voice. “What is it?” All I heard was silence. After three separate successive occurrences of those deafening booms, I figured whoever was causing all this commotion wanted to make sure we heard them, so why whisper? Common sense told me that it wasn't a burglar. Intruders, who break into other people's homes in the middle of the night, try not to get caught, but who was it? And where the heck was George?
“George?” I called to him sharply, no longer whispering, but in a perfectly audible voice. Still there was no reply.
A little concerned for George's safety and a little annoyed at him for not answering me, I threw back the sheet and bedspread and got out of bed. As I approached the doorway, I cautiously peeped around the door frame and looked down the hall to see George still standing silent on the landing and completely motionless. He was frozen to the spot,
leaning against the wall, his left hand holding his handgun limply, his right hand gripping to the banister so hard his knuckles were white.
His gaze told me he didn't hear me when I had called out to him. His stare was glued to the entryway below. All the while the drumlike booms continued. What did he see? What was down there? As if in a trance, I grabbed hold of the banister with a firm grip and slowly walked the length of the hallway, standing beside George. I looked over at him, but he didn't look at me. He never took his face away from the entryway below us. I was afraid to look downstairs. I lowered my eyes to the front entrance and instantly became as paralyzed as he by what I witnessed.
The old house has double doors, both outside and inside. The outer doors were screen doors and inside are finely finished, sturdy hardwood double doors. At the bottom of the stairs, in the entry, our eyes were fixed on the inner double wooden doors. Finally, and for only a moment, we looked away from the doors and at each other in stunned disbelief, my eyes questioning George for an answer. Both of us hoped the other would say that our eyes, the house, our imagination,
something or somebody, was playing a trick on us. But we knew better. We knew. There was no way that what we saw could have been anybody's trick and certainly not our own imaginations.
The outside doors remained closed. We could see the metal hooks latched tight on the screen doors as the inner double doors were slamming back and forth. Those solid wooden doors swung open wide, all the way to the wall-then Boom!, they would slam shut with deliberate force. We saw nothing, nobody was to be seen. Our bare feet might just as well have been nailed to the floor of the landing,
as we stood spellbound gazing down at what we saw. Dumbfounded,
we watched the doors open wide and slam shut for three or four more performances.
After it became obvious that we had seen the show, it stopped.
We stood there waiting for an encore, but the show was over. I was trembling so hard I grabbed onto George's right shoulder for some support. Without speaking a single word to each other, we both walked in dazed disbelief back to our bedroom. George returned his handgun to its hiding place beneath the mattress and we got back into bed. We neither one knew what to say, so we didn't say anything, not a word all night. Soon enough I heard George's soft familiar snoring,
but sleep did not come as easily for me.
I lay there in the dark with my eyes wide open, thinking about what had just happened. I knew what it was. When there is no explanation for something so bizarre, then the only explanation is not only simple, it's obvious. And whether George would ever agree, it didn't matter. How I wanted and loved this house! Now two days after we moved in, I find it is already occupied-by ghosts!
The house was built like a fortress; even the inner walls were brick.
George liked to brag that you could tear this house down one room at a time and all else would remain in tact, right down to only one room standing, and that one room would be unharmed. Before we moved our family here, we had taken two months to do some serious cleaning and remodeling. Our new house had no central heating system before we added it. Nearly every room had its own fireplace.
How in heaven's name could George be snoring? He saw the same thing I did and yet he crawled back in bed and managed to fall right to sleep. I needed to get to sleep too, but I couldn't sleep. How was I
supposed to sleep after what happened? My brain was telling me we were going to have to move and my heart was telling me everything would be okay. But how?
As I lay there in the darkness, I thought about the first time I saw this house. I fell in love with this piece of history eight years ago,
before I ever knew George McConnell. I was nineteen years old. I
rode the city bus from New Albany, Indiana to work just across the river in Louisville, Kentucky. One particular summer, repair work was being done on the old K&I Bridge, so for a time the bus had to use the new bridge and travel through the old Portland area of
Louisville en route downtown. That's when I first took notice of this house. That whole summer I always made sure I sat on the righthand side of the bus so I wouldn't miss a chance to get a glimpse of
“my house.” As soon as the house came into sight I sat transfixed with my face to the window, and I would watch it as long as I could.
It is a splendid old Victorian house. I don't know what drew me to it,
but every day it beckoned to me and I was captivated by its stateliness.
The house has an air of dignity all its own. Eight years ago I
wondered who lived in this wonderful place, never dreaming that someday I would.
Many times I saw a little girl standing at the upstairs window. She always waved as the bus went by and I'd put the palm of my hand flat against the bus window. I knew she couldn't see me that far away,
but I'd made the gesture to return her wave.
I ordered my brain to stop thinking, but it kept up its constant bombardment on my efforts to sleep. My mind was flooded with memories of this house and how we came to live in it.
The house had been for sale a very long time before George and I
bought it. Actually, I think it had been for sale when I watched it from the bus those eight years ago. George and I had looked all over
Portland for a house we could afford that was big enough for his,
mine, and our kids. In 1971 we decided that, with a new baby on the way, we just couldn't stay in our little house on 27th Street much longer. Our little house would be too crowded once the new baby outgrew the bassinet. George wanted to stay in Portland. He grew up in the Portland area and loved its rich Ohio River history.
I reached over in the bed and gave George a squeeze. He was sleeping too soundly to notice. I wanted to shake my fist in the air and shout. How in God's name could he be sleeping after what happened just minutes ago? I knew there was something very wrong with our lovely new house.
My mind continued to wander. I had mentioned on a number of occasions that I liked the house over on the Parkway. I knew George thought the same thing I did, that we just couldn't afford it. It would undoubtedly be way out of our budget. If George thought there was even a chance we could afford it, we'd be looking at that fine old house. George is the best husband any woman could hope for. If I
wanted the moon, he'd start building a ladder.
One Saturday afternoon, we'd looked at another big two-story frame house that was very pretty. It wasn't brick, but it was still lovely.
I had no real feeling one way or another about brick. I really didn't know why I wanted the other house, but I did. I think the draw was its elegance. It had style and charm that spoke of noble men and highborn ladies.
We were very close to making an offer on the two-story frame house. The owners were asking eleven-thousand dollars, but George said we could get it for ten. One day he just walked in the door from work and, out of the blue, said, “Let's just see what they're asking for it.”
“Asking for what?” I said. I knew exactly what he was talking about, but I didn't want George to know I had the other house at the forefront of my mind, and I didn't want him to know it mattered that much.
“The red brick over on the Parkway,” he answered.
I didn't want to get my hopes up, but it was already too late. I was sure the house was way out of our price range. We both thought the sellers would be asking no less than twenty-thousand dollars. In
1971, twenty-thousand dollars was a lot of money for the average working family to pay for a house, and I'd be leaving work soon enough with the baby coming.
“It don't cost nothin' to ask,” he said.
George called me from work the next day. “Guess how much they want for the house?” he teased.
“I bet at least twenty-five thousand.” As I said the words “twenty-five-
thousand dollars,” my spirits dropped like a stone in a deep well,
with the realization of such a great amount of money.
“Nope,” he paused. “How about eighty-five hundred.”
I was silent. I couldn't speak. All of a sudden a dream had become a possibility.
“Are we interested?” he asked. I could hear the grin in his voice.
He had just handed me something he knew I wanted very much and he was pleased with himself.
“Are we interested? Are we interested?” I bubbled. I could hardly contain my excitement. “When can we see it?” I asked.
I hung up the telephone and danced around the kitchen like a fool.
“Yes, yes, yes!” was all I could say. I could hardly wait for George to get home from work. I was six-and-half-months pregnant, and the pregnancy wasn't going so easily. George and I had been married less than two years. His youngest daughter, Linda Sue, now sixteen, had moved in with us a month after the wedding. His ten-year-old son,
Mike, would be with us most of the summer once school let out, and my own little boy, Ward, would be five in September. George built an extra room onto the little house right after we married, but with the baby coming we just plain needed more space.
That evening we were supposed to meet at 7:00 P.M. with the owners of this beautiful stately old house. We were both excited. We couldn't wait. We went over at 6:00 P.M. just so we could snoop around. The house loomed to three stories. White framed the windows of the red brick. The roof was steep and came to a high point in the front, not like so many of the old red-bricks in Portland that are square with flat roofs and have no style. This house had real stained glass over the double doors at the entrance and a two-foot border of beautiful stained glass over the arched picture window in the front room. A black wrought iron fence surrounded the yard,
front to back. The fence had lots of fancy work and the black spokes were twisted and looked like licorice sticks. Each spoke was topped with what looked like thick heavy arrowheads. The only color trimming this elegant old Victorian beheld was the white stone that was carefully inlaid above every window. Even the front window had the white stone set in to fan around the archwork of the stained glass.
This house was surely some stonemason's masterpiece. There was white lattice on one side of the front porch that begged for climbing red roses, and on the other side of the porch was a tall green juniper bush. There was only a small walkway between the house and the fence at the sides.
To the right was a huge corner lot and the big yellow stone neighborhood library was there. On the left was another big two-story frame house. Both yards were filled with children. It was mid-March and the temperature was in the fifties. They were playing flag football in the library yard. We would later learn that the neighbor to the left had nine children and only four of them were girls.
We made our way to the backyard by walking down the library side.
We would have a big backyard, I thought, which looked like about a half acre. There was a big, old, dilapidated, three-car wooden garage all the way to the rear of the yard. I remember thinking that I would never park in the garage. I'd have to drive down the alley and then walk the entire length of the backyard just to get to the door. I'm such a coward;
I knew I'd be parking on the street right out front. The backyard was nice and tidy. Someone was keeping the place presentable even though it was empty. There was an overhang on the back stoop. The overhang extended the full length of the back of the house and there was a concrete patio that was walled up on two sides. That seemed to me a bit strange, because the concrete patio turned out to be the top of an old well that was sealed off. Next to the concrete patio floor was a big,
wooden cellar door. There was an old cellar door just like that at the farm where I grew up with my four sisters and a brother. This cellar door was padlocked and, unlike the one from my childhood, this one was still solidly together and not falling through.
George and I held hands as we walked around to the other side of the house. Extending from the roof and just outside an upstairs window was a sitting area with white railing around it, where one could sun. I told George he'd have to close it off because the boys would want to play out there and one of them would fall off the roof. He grinned and nodded yes, but I knew he wasn't going to close it off.
He's such a gentle man, but was far softer with the boys than I. At forty-three, George is seventeen years older than I, and I think he is the smartest and wisest man I have ever met, except where the kids are concerned. We continued on around the house until we were back in the front yard. There, in the left side of the front yard was a humongous tree stump. The stump was short and close to the ground, but still massive in circumference.
“I bet that was a magnificent tree. I wonder why anyone would cut down a wonderful old tree? Maybe it died.” I answered my question before George could say a word. He knew I was babbling. I was excited at the possibility of having this house.
As we were standing at the tree stump, the owners arrived. They came over and introduced themselves and after the proper handshaking
Mrs. Lambert said, “Did you read the plaque?”
“What plaque?” George and I said simultaneously.
Mrs. Lambert grinned at us and bent down in front of the big old stump. She pulled up some grass from around it and wiped some dirt away with the side of her hand. There, nearly swallowed up by the earth, was a thick black and brass metal plaque about three inches wide and eight inches long with raised brass letters that were greenish blue with tarnish that read: “The Fontaine Manse.”
I knew it! I thought excitedly. I knew it. This magnificent old house was somebody's mansion in years gone by. I would have offered them the asking price right then and there, sight unseen. Eight years ago I
had begun a love affair with this house and perhaps I was about to find out what the attraction was. I had loved this house from a distance much like the shy fourteen-year-old schoolgirl who dreams of the varsity football captain.
Mr. Lambert went around to the back door and we waited on the front porch for him to let us in. Mrs. Lambert explained that the outer screen doors didn't lock with a key, but had latches. I was rocking back and forth in my shoes. I could hardly wait to get inside. Finally,
he opened just one side of the doors and we stepped into the entry.
There was a small vestibule that offered passage as well as a glimpse of the beauty that was to come from the left of the entrance right into the living room on the main floor, as well as to the upstairs.
To my immediate left was a doorway surrounded by six-inch solid oak wood trim that shined like it had a permanent wax finish.
I walked over to the doorway and ran my hand across it to see if it was greasy or sticky. I smelled the wood, expecting the smell of fur-
niture polish, but it only smelled of wood. The luster was the natural finish of the oak. Still in the entryway and on both sides of the shiny door frame were hooks that in years past held gas lamps. I
stood in the doorway between the entry and the living room and beheld a breathtaking vision. I was facing the living room, but I
could see through to the dining room through a huge cutout that appeared to me to be bigger than a double-door opening. The glistening,
deep, wide oak trim went all the way around the rooms and up and around the door frames. If the room had been decorated by professional interior designers, this splendid lustrous wood trim would have still stolen the show. Its natural gleam captured the eye and would not be denied its attention.
I walked over to the living room fireplace. It was built from some sort of unusual beautiful white stone. There were no bricks. The mantle was one solid piece of this white stone. The only color added to this white fireplace was a very thin line of gold all the way around the edge of the mantle.
“Does the fireplace work?” I asked, my voice revealing my excitement.
“No.” Mr. Lambert said. “All of the fireplaces have been closed off.”
“All?” I said. “How many fireplaces are there?”
“Two down and two up,” he answered, sounding as if every house had four fireplaces.
All of a sudden I wanted to run through the entire house, room to room, just to get a glimpse of what was ahead, and then come back for the slow tour. I grinned at the Lamberts, but George knew I was hooked. I would be no good to George with any efforts to negotiate a lower price. I'd never been in a house like this. The closest thing I'd seen was the Howard Steamboat Museum in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
The Howard's home was a mansion that the city had turned into a museum. It was much grander, of course, but still similar. I was a little old county girl, and to my innocent eyes this house was a mansion.
I was in love with it.
“Please God,” I prayed. “Let what happened tonight be just a bad dream.” I've lived in this wonderful old house for two days now and
I do love it. And now, after those two short days we discover that it's haunted.
I shifted my body in the bed and snuggled closer to George, and I
thought to myself, we should have asked the Lamberts why they were selling this house so cheaply and why had it been on the market so long. There are some things and some areas that are better left alone when buying or selling a house.
How could anything be wrong in my new house? “How could this stately, wonderful, old mansion be haunted?” I whispered to myself.
“Pretty darned easy.” I answered. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe something else caused the inner doors to slam back and forth. “Kathleen,
you dumb butt, nothing else caused those doors to slam. Your house is haunted.”
Unable to sleep, I again diverted my mind back to the day we met the Lamberts and our first tour through this house. The floors were solid inlaid oak, but whoever decorated had no imagination or just no taste. The wallpaper in the living room and dining room was all the same brown and white checkerboard that was absolutely horrible.
The white had yellowed with age, but was probably just as ugly when it was new. The doorway between the living room and the dining room wasn't your usual doorway. It was six or eight feet wide-but why not? The ceilings were ten feet high. Mr. Lambert had walked over to the doorway and reached into an opening in the frame and pulled out the door. When he did, doors came sliding out from the left and the right. There, before my eyes two magnificent lustrous oak panels gracefully came together to separate the two rooms. Mr. Lam-
bert pushed one of the panels back toward its hideaway place and simultaneously the other door withdrew back into its secret place as well. George called them “pocket doors” and I told him that was just too bland for such beauty. The more I saw, the more I loved. The thought never entered my mind to ask why this house was being sold for eighty-five-hundred dollars.
The kitchen went across the entire width of the house. It was a little peculiar-looking. A big, country kitchen in this elegant Fontaine
Manse looked out of place. The kitchen definitely needed help. In truth, even in all its glory, the whole house needed help. The hideous wallpaper, no central heat, ten-feet-high ceilings, a silver-colored steam heat radiator glaring awkwardly in the entryway-we would have a lot of work to do before we could actually move in. Oh, but looking beneath the surface I could certainly see the potential of what would soon be my new home.
There were four rooms and a bath downstairs, two small coat closets and many areas I preferred to call “nooks and crannies.”
George called those areas “dead space.” There was a four-by-eight area between the living room and the kitchen that would be just perfect for a downstairs baby bed. To the left of that space was a bathroom, and to the right of it was a small bedroom.
We continued our tour upstairs. The stairway was the product of a master carpenter. The slender, white spindles of the balusters were rounder in the middle and tapered on both ends. The white paint enhanced even more, the gleam of the oak railing. No nails in this stairway, not one. It was masterfully put together with wooden pins,
tongue and groove. The fancy woodwork of the banister continued to the top landing and made a tricky little U-turn and continued to the end of the hallway upstairs.
As we ascended the stairs, Mrs. Lambert began to tell us what she knew about the house. She was a short, round woman and I noticed her face was red as she paused to catch her breath. She placed her index finger against her mouth as if she were recollecting her thoughts. “An old riverboat captain, name of Aaron Fontaine, built the house . . . and it was the Fontaine family home for many years.
My daddy bought this house from some of the Fontaines and when me and John got married we lived upstairs over my parents. When my dad died, he left this house to me.”
Upstairs were two huge bedrooms, one small bedroom, and two large walk-in closets in the hallway and another bathroom. A third walk-in at the end of the hallway was large enough to make a sweet nursery for the new baby. It even had a window that overlooked the
I had never seen such unbelievably large bedrooms. The master bedroom was next to what would soon be a nursery. The middle room would serve for the boys and the smaller one at the back of the house next to the bathroom, which wasn't all that small, would do nicely for Linda Sue. George would definitely have to build closets in the middle bedroom and the back bedroom.
There was a small black ominous wooden door in a large area of
“dead space” next to the smaller back bedroom. Looking at Mrs.
Lambert, I began opening it, asking, “What's this for?”
She didn't answer me, but looked at Mr. Lambert for direction. Just as I opened the door and saw only stairs, Mr. Lambert cleared his throat and said, “Goes to the attic.”
I tugged on George's arm, pulling him toward the little black door. “Come on, let's go see.” I said gleefully. There was still more to see in this fine, old house and I wanted to see it all. Mr. and Mrs.
Lambert didn't want to go up to the attic. I just figured because they both appeared to be in their sixties they didn't want to climb more steps. I never gave it a second thought. About ten steps went straight up to a tiny landing, and then curved around, and about six more steps continued to the open attic entrance. We just stood there and looked around a bit. The attic was one big open A-frame room due to the high pitch of the roof, and only a big old box of junk obstructed the view. Books were strewn around the room, and it was dusty and dingy. Way at the other end of the room was a window framed with black wrought iron into the shape of a porthole with long windows on both sides of it. The porthole-shaped window had a stained glass transom above it. We just panned the big,
open room and then went back down to the second floor. Neither of us said a word about the attic. It wasn't gruesome or eerie or anything, just a dirty, old attic. I thought to myself, it was quite fitting that the attic window would resemble a porthole considering a riverboat captain was supposed to have built the house.
The Lamberts expressed no regrets or sadness at selling a house they obviously had lived in for nearly thirty years. We all shook hands with the understanding that George and I would talk it over and give them a call tomorrow.
After we left, and George and I were out of sight of the house, I
could hardly control my emotions. I had this tremendous urge to squeal, but I held it in. It was just a big, sprawling, three-story house and it was old to boot. A house that needed a lot of work, not to mention a lot of furniture that we didn't have, and I still wanted it bad enough to cry. I was six-and-a-half months pregnant, sick as a dog most all the time, and George loved me better than life. All I would have to do was cry. I didn't want anything that bad, but I sure wanted this house. I did not let George see exactly how much the house meant to me. We were nearly back home on 27th Street before either of us spoke.
He looked in my direction and smiled. “Well, Kathy, do you like it as much as you thought you would?” I thought I detected a bit of excitement in his usual staid and monotone voice.
“Yes.” I said calmly, half holding my breath so I could control my excitement. “What about you? What did you think of it?” I asked. I
loved it, I thought, but what if he hated it?
“I think it has a lot of potential and I think it would be real economical to maintain.”
That was two points for my team, I thought. George's Scottish blood had surfaced. He was frugal to a fault with everything but me and the kids. “How so?” I said, smiling.
“The house is solid brick. It'll be cool in the summer and it will hold heat in the winter. We won't have to put in air conditioning because the brick inner walls will keep it cool.”
“What do you think about buying it?” I asked, as calmly as if I'd asked him what time it was. I couldn't read George. He never shows excitement or enthusiasm, personifying the strong, silent type.
“Well,” he paused briefly, then cooly said, “Let's make him an offer.”
“Sounds good to me. What are you going to offer?” I said anxiously.
Knowing George's frugality, I just wanted to give the Lamberts what they wanted and be done with it, but I've never bought a house before and this was nothing new for George. Besides, George is a horse trader at heart.
“He wants eighty-five hundred, let's offer him seven thousand. I
think he'll come back with seventy-five hundred,” he looked at me and winked, and I smiled.
“I bet he won't come down one penny.” I said, “I can't believe he is only asking eighty-five hundred dollars for that grand, old house.”
“For one thing, the house is in Portland,” he said.
Portland is not the most desirable area of Louisville. It's basically lower-middle class and downward from there. Much of Portland has extra wide streets and some of them are brick streets or cobblestone.
The side streets of the Parkway area lead down to the Ohio River,
where in years past it was the port where all river traffic had to stop,
unload and take their cargo overland, because the Ohio River has a falls at this point and boats could only come this far. Freight would be loaded onto horse-drawn draft wagons and hauled uptown to 4th
Street, beyond the falls, and then put back on other boats that would carry their cargo or passengers on to their destination. Portland is a wonderful historic community. The Parkway, where the house is located, is lined with dogwood trees and is a lovely neighborhood.
The little house on 27th street where we lived when we bought this house was also in Portland. I loved Portland nearly as much as George.
The people here are nice (a lot of them are poor). Most of them would help you any way they could. Most any one of them would give you the shirt off his back. They might not know who's shirt it was, but they'd give it to you. It's a diversified community and predominately white Irish.
“I don't think the value of the house would drop drastically just because it's in Portland.”
George laughed out loud and said, “Of course it would.”
“I never thought of it, George, but we should have asked them why they were selling it so cheap.” All of a sudden my common sense kicked in.
“No, I don't think we should have asked them that at all. We don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth,” he said.
“When you call Mr. Lambert tomorrow, ask him how long the house has been on the market. I'm pretty sure the house was for sale when I was riding the city bus to work about eight years ago.” I was now more curious than ever about the low price they were asking.
By the time we actually arrived home I wasn't quite as excited as I
was earlier. I still wanted the house, but now I wanted to know why it had been for sale so long and why the Lamberts only wanted eightyfive-
hundred dollars for what was worth at least twenty thousand,
even in Portland. That didn't dampen my desire to buy the house, but it did pique my curiosity.
When we went to bed that evening, George said we'd better be prepared to move because he felt like the Lamberts would take our offer.
“Are you ready to move?” I asked quietly.
“I don't think we have much choice about moving. I just want you to be happy with the choice,” he said matter-of-factly. “I can be happy anywhere, as long as you're with me.”
“I love the house, George. If you like it, and we can afford it, I'd love to have it.”
The next day we bought the house for seventy-five-hundred dollars.
I was overjoyed, ecstatic, and sick as a dog. My mother had come over as usual to watch Ward while I tried to go to work. This morning was worse than usual. I was having chills so bad I couldn't be still.
I called the doctor and he asked about contractions. “None to speak of,” I told him.
I called the bank where I worked and told them I was too sick to come in. They'd been very understanding throughout this pregnancy.
I stayed in bed and was miserable all day. The chills and the fever continued. Mother had kept hot compresses on me all day.
When George got home from his work, he took Mother home. The chills and the fever got worse and a constant pain persisted in my lower stomach. At 11:00 P.M. I called the doctor again and he told us to meet him at the hospital. He didn't want to see me nearly as bad as I wanted to see him. Linda Sue stayed with Ward and waited for our call. “I sure hope it's a boy,” she said as we walked out the door. I
was only six-and-a-half months along. I knew this wasn't labor pains,
but something was very wrong. Knowing the baby would be delivered
Cæsarean, Dr. Powell and I had discussed a June 10 delivery date for surgery.
Once at the hospital, things began to move quickly. The diagnosis was appendicitis and the prognosis was not good. They would have to deliver our baby when they removed the appendix. Duncan
McConnell was born just after midnight in the very early morning of March 25, 1971, and, in the arms of his pediatrician, was taken by an ambulance to the Children's Hospital.
Five days later, when I went home from the hospital, he stayed.
The minute I was released I walked the three blocks from my hospital to his hospital so I could finally see my tiny new baby. I looked through the nursery window and saw my new infant. He weighed three pounds and eight ounces, and I thought probably the eight ounces is red hair. Duncan's pediatrician, Dr. Hess, walked with me into the nursery and handed me my baby. I held him for about an hour and called George at work. I told him I had been released and to pick me up at Children's Hospital. Five weeks later, Duncan came home.
George had enough to worry about with me and Duncan, but he had moved ahead with buying the house.
Every day of the five weeks of Duncan's hospitalization I was allowed three visits a day, but they were long visits so I could give him his bottle, and he ate very slowly. He was born with hyaline membrane. His lungs were not developed. I thanked God every day for allowing me to keep my baby, when a most beloved president lost his infant son to the same problem. I knew Duncan was special and that God surely had plans for him.
After my recovery, George and I would have supper each evening,
and then go over to the house and clean and dream. Linda Sue was the only one who didn't want to move. She was in high school and most of her friends lived close to the little house on 27th Street. Linda was a beautiful girl, five feet two inches, with long, brown, naturally curly hair. She has blue eyes, perfect skin, and a dark complexion. An honor student and a cheerleader at Male prep school, Linda is as pretty inside as she is outside, and she has bushels of friends.
Duncan was eight weeks old when we finally moved into the new house. And now, just two days after moving in, this strange noise thing was happening.
As I lay in bed, my pleasant thoughts of our new house eased my mind and settled my nerves. I tried to think of some explanation as to how the inside doors could be slamming back and forth while the outside screen doors were latched down tight. I closed my eyes. I was surrounded by the darkness, but the realization of the truth was as plain as day.
I opened my eyes and stared at the ceiling. “The house is haunted.”
I whispered in the darkness. “It's really haunted.”