There are those persons who seek out an encounter with the supernatural, and there are others who have incidents unfolding before their eyes, making them unwilling witnesses to the shades of those who have long since been dead.
Footstep Back in Time
Born at the turn of the century Mary’s grandmother, Florence, carved a strong figure of Independence for her time. She attended law school and later bought a 1795 clapboard farmhouse on 115 acres near Belvidere, New Jersey, with money or husband gave her to purchase a fur coat. The couple lived in Staten Island but spent summers and weekends at the country house with their children and grandchildren until their death in the 1980s.
After that, the kids would come up on weekends, often with friends. It was an amazing place, filled with antique furniture, hand hewn floor boards, and wood burning fireplaces, and when Mary following in the tradition of her grandmother and her mother, went to law school she love to visit the house to unwind.
Right after graduation in 1989, Mary arrived with a friend from law school. At dusk, she went out for a run, leaving her friend reading in the kitchen. On her way back through the woods she jogged alongside the big horse pasture leading up to the farmhouse. There in the dark, her friends sat perched on the split rail fence.
“Is that you? What are you doing out in the dark?” Mary asked
“Look, look”, she stammered, “I know you don't believe me but, your grandmother's in the house!”
“I heard someone coming down the stairs! I heard these loud footsteps!”
For as long as Mary could remember, her grandmother had worn oxfords with curved heels, and the sound of them flicking on old floorboards was very distinctive. Too scared to stay in the house, Mary's friend had been willing to hang on the fence in the dark for as long as it took Mary to get back.
Since then, Mary has heard the clicking heels coming from the back of the house, or a stairwell leading up to the dormitory. So have her three younger sisters and many of their friends.
“I don't believe in ghosts, but I could name 34 other people who've heard the clicking heels sound”, Mary says, “it's so distinctive. At this point, everyone's just acknowledges it's my grandmother. Somehow, it's not scary anymore. It's such a familiar sound, I find it almost comforting, as if that's the way it should be, as if she's glad we're there.”
That Lady Was So Strange
It was a cold and raining Veteran’s Day and the drizzle only added to the eeriness of Arlington National Cemetery. Twenty at the time, Mary Anne had flown to Washington DC from Boston with her sister Kathy, to visit their older sister, Joan, her husband, Karl, and their daughter in their new home of the outskirts of the capital.
Tired and wet, the sisters hoped to warm up with a tour of the Arlington House, the home of Confederate General Robert E Lee, which sits on a hill in the cemetery. Karl went to get the car. It was late in the afternoon and the house was dark, but the doors were open. There were no guides waiting to lead tours, however, and not a single other tourist waiting to take one.
“Hello? Anyone here?” Joan called out.
“Hello? Is it okay to come through?”
Still no answer.
Huddling, the group move slowly down the dark hallway, passed cordoned-off rooms that were illuminated only by The fading daylight.
“We were giggling like kids do when they're somewhere they know they're not supposed to be”, said Mary Anne.
Finally, they reached a room with a fireplace, above which hung a painting of a young woman they assumed was Lee’s granddaughter. Unlike the other rooms, this one had a metal gate spanning the doorway instead of a rope. And in front of the fireplace, a woman stood with her back to them, in a white bonnet and a long dress from the late 1800, lighting candles on the mantle.
“Excuse me?” Joan said. “Hello? Excuse me, but is the mansion closed?”
The woman continued lighting candles without turning around.
Shrugging the woman off, the group continued down the hallway and around the corner, only to come to another metal gated door leading into the same room.
“Now here's the strange part”, Marianne recalls, “the woman was gone”. The sisters looked around, thinking maybe they'd miss an entrance to the room. They hadn't.
“The more we thought about it, the more questions were raised. How did she get into the room? Where did she go? And how come there was nobody there?” said Marianne.
Joan suggested they leave without finishing the tour, and they raced out the door, never knowing who was lady lighting the candles on the mantelpiece. The house has been known to be haunted by the ghost of a little boy and a dog, but considering that it’s located in the middle of Arlington National Cemetery, and that it was seized early in the war, it became a last resting place for Union war dead.
Source - Redbook May 1998, Vol 191, Issue 1, p.128
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