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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gate, 2

I wonder if Pasadena has any good haunted houses. Real ones, I mean. There must have been a haunted house where you grew up. Every town has at least one. I knew of two haunted houses in my hometown, both on the outskirts, one west and one southeast. Old farm houses, both of them.

In the 1960's, farm flight was already beginning. It's possible both homes had been abandoned by owners who sold their farms for good money and moved to town.

To kids, the emptiness of these lonely houses left room for imagination to expand. The house west of town slumped alongside the road; we pedaled our bikes to it in daytime and wandered inside, wondering at the graffiti and the odd items left behind. Did they belong to the people who left, or the ghosts who stayed?

We discovered the other house in the early 70's. On a double date, for some reason I was driving and not one of the boys, as would have been the usual back then. I parked my father's compact car at the end of a long driveway and turned off the headlights. All four of us, sixteen-year-olds, tip-toed along the darkened lane toward a house hidden by trees, while our eyes became accustomed to the night. We crept up the porch stairs and peered into the windows, but it was so dark we couldn't see inside. Then we heard something. I don't know what it was--don't remember--but it came from the house and I know we all heard it because we all leapt off the porch and ran as fast as we could back down the lane, shrieking and giggling, to tumble into my father's car and make our getaway to the lights of town.

The next day my father asked how the print of a large tennis shoe had ended up on the ceiling of his car.

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In case you missed it, we're having a contest here on the ol' PDP. It's called "Camelot Where You Are" and all the details are here on yesterday's post. Enter a photo of Camelot Where You Are to win a copy of my upcoming novel, 
"Camelot & Vine!"

16 comments:

dive said...

I'd hate to be a postman in that neighbourhood, Petrea. The sunshine and the cheerful yellow bungalow say "Come on in" but the spiderweb and dead leaves scream "You'll never get out alive."
Brr!

Petrea Burchard said...

This house is woefully unattended, Dive. It just got me to thinking.

Adele said...

What a great photo and story! Sierra Madre has a couple of supposedly haunted houses. I can't imagine that there aren't dozens in Pasadena!

Petrea Burchard said...

Things are a little slow around here, it being Saturday. But yeah, Adele, there must be ghosts in Pasadena. Have you photographed the haunted houses in Sierra Madre?

TheChieftess said...

Ahhhh...your story of your haunted house exploration made me laugh!!! I also was on a haunted house quest with another girl and 3 guys in high school...we went up into the Hollywood Hills where the guys knew of an abandoned old house...I remember the guys walking in front and behind the girls and carrying big sticks they picked up on the way...We got to the house and walked around...there was an empty pool, and it was a very cool house...modern and quite interesting...as we wandered in the house we came across some ratty blankets and sleeping bags and empty bags of chips and stuff...now, keep in mind, this was in the 60's...shortly after Manson's helter skelter...yeah...well...we all sort of freaked and hightailed it out of there!!!

Petrea Burchard said...

Oooh,definitely, Chieftess! I'd have run, too! A ghost is a lot less scary than the real thing.

wilf said...

Photos which captured sun rays are always a beauty to look at, nice work!

Bellis said...

I thought this was going to be a Blair Witch adventure story. Glad you got out safely. This house probably belongs to a Bank now - but that's a horror story of a different kind.

Petrea Burchard said...

I'm glad you like it, wilf!

Bellis, I don't think the house is there anymore. It was a long time ago and so much has changed.

Susan Campisi said...

That's a fun memory, P. Chieftess, glad you didn't meet up with the Manson clan!

We lived a few towns over from Amityville, of "The Amityville Horror" fame. When I was a kid, I tagged along with my older sisters and a couple of their friends to check it out. We snuck into the backyard by the garage and heard these ghost-like sounds that scared the bejeesus out of us! Then we discovered it was some neighborhoods kids in a rowboat in the canal behind the house.

Speedway said...

There was an old house a couple blocks down from where I lived as a kid. It hadn't been painted for so long it was gray - this in a time when people used coal for fuel.

The house had a brick porch that my friends and I would approach with trepidation because the old man who lived across the street from me owned it and we didn't want to get caught sneaking a look in his window.

We were sure there were ghosts and peered through the front door window at the dusty furniture inside. One time I thought I saw a ghost but it turned out to be my own reflection in the side-board mirror inside the unlit house.

Another time, though, I looked in the window and saw a pair of old blue eyes staring back at me from the rear of the house. It had a white hood on, with an oval cut for the eyes. I screamed an ran away. Never went back.

When I got older, the image took on another meaning for me; the hood I saw resembled those of KKK members. The old man would have been about the age that he could have been a member of that evil crew in 1920s Indiana. Maybe he still had it and decided to use it to become the ghost we wanted to see. I was scared then, but scared again years later for different reasons.

Katie said...

I bet that house has some good stories, even if it's not haunted. I like the photo; just slightly spooky. When I was a kid in Indiana we lived across the street from a house we called the haunted house, but I don't remember why it was called that other than no one lived there. The building where I used to work in SF was supposedly haunted, but I never saw or heard anything. Would have been cool though!

Petrea Burchard said...

Susan, immediately I thought of the "Halloween" house, in South Pasadena. Not the same, of course. http://bit.ly/U2CRHi

That's a hell of a story, Speedway.

I'm sorry you missed out, Katie! A kid needs a ghost now and then.

Adele said...

Wow! You guys have great stories. PB, in answer to your question, I have photographed only one house that is said to have a ghost. Here's the link to the photo. Check out the first comment below the post: http://www.seeingsierramadre.com/2012/05/fletcher-house.html

Petrea Burchard said...

That is too cool, Adele. I guess I understand why the homeowners don't want their homes listed in a book of haunted houses! But it's too bad that book disappeared.

Ms M said...

Great haunted house stories! Wow!