In the summer of 1980, I moved from my hometown of Ft. Morgan, Colorado to Ravenna, Ohio (40 miles from Cleveland). I was married at the time and had three children ages 4, 2, and infant. We’d moved to Ohio to run thoroughbred horses at Thistledown Racetrack in Cleveland.
(I’m sorry that I don’t have images for this article, and I don’t remember the address of the house, which makes me sad. I’ve moved too many times since 1980, which means I purged items I now wish I’d kept, and I lost many items in a basement flood in 2013. I did include a picture that I found on the Internet that reminds me of the one I’m going to tell you about, but it is NOT THAT HOUSE.)
We rented a farm house that was 150 years old. It had gone through many renovations over the years. It was a sprawling two-story house over a root cellar type basement with double door that opened at the top of a few steps at ground level (creepy down there). We were told that the German immigrant couple, who raised a large family there, had built the house and farmed the land. They both died there in old age.
About a month after moving into this house, I saw the old man for the first time. I asked the landlords about him, and they said other renters had seen him, too. In the year I lived in that house, I suppose I encountered him a couple of times a month, give or take.
He was a stoop-shouldered, stout fellow of short stature. He wore heavy leather work shoes that I would call ‘brogan’, a winter coat, a woolen hat with earflaps pulled down, and mittens. He always carried a milk bucket. He never varied his path, and he never looked at me as he made his way through the house. I followed him, but he didn’t notice. I spoke to him, but he didn’t answer.
He always showed up in the evening just before dark (typical chore time on a farm). He came in at the porch door on the back step, which opened into the kitchen. I kept an Am-FM radio on the windowsill over the kitchen sink, and it was always tuned to the local country and western station. If the radio was on, you could hear the dial change as if someone was twirling the dial-tuner from one end of the station numbers to the other.
From the kitchen, the man continued through the dining room to the living room and into the hallway that led to the stairway up to the second floor bedrooms and attic. At the landing at the top of the stairs, the bedrooms spread out along a hallway. To the right of the landing was a window overlooking the front yard. To the left of the landing was a short door that opened into the attic, which was little more than crawl-space high for an adult, but for my four- and two-year old children, they could stand upright and not hit their heads, but just barely. The attic was a perfect playroom for a while.
Back to the man…
He’d go up the stairs and disappear into the attic, as in walk through the closed door and simply vanish. While he never gave off malevolent vibes, he definitely didn’t want us in the attic. The day I felt his grouchy attitude, I knew we were unwelcome in the attic. Apparently, he was letting me know that he didn’t want children and toys in his personal space. I moved the toys out, didn’t let my kids play there anymore, and I stayed out of the attic. My children never said anything about him, so I took that as a good sign that the man wasn’t opposed to children, he just didn’t want them in his area.
I never encountered him coming downstairs to tend to morning chores. Weirdly, I missed him when we moved.
On to Day 6 – Spooky Blogging – On sacred ground – A Restless Native American spirit
Until next time,
Find Kaye on…