Thursday, October 11, 2012

Countdown to Halloween - Day Eleven - Mom's Haunted House

First off I want to share with you another submission we received for the Jandek Cover Art Contest from Thomas. Another great entry folks - you are all feeling the Jandek!

The photo taken by Steven yesterday reminded me of the pictures I'd taken at the end of the summer during my postcard tourism trip. I made the trip with my Mother and made a point of swinging through her hometown on the way home. While there she told me about a haunted house that her group of friends would go out to when they were in school. Since we were in that neck of the woods we thought we'd see if it was still there - I wasn't about to pass up a chance to see a haunted house!!

It was on a gravel road off of a gravel road, and set back a ways into a grove of trees, making it difficult to find. But find it we did - and I just had to get out of the car and take a closer look. The sun was still out, it wasn't dark yet but my Mom opted to stay in the car. It was a walk up hill through chest high weeds and shrubs, but it was so worth it.

My Mom explained to me that this house had belonged to a woman who would walk into town daily from her home and wander the streets. She probably wasn't crazy, but definitely an outsider and in a small Iowa town she stuck out like a sore thumb. Kids would cross the street to avoid her when they saw her coming their way. Then one day she didn't show up in town. And then another day went by and another. A week had maybe passed before anyone thought to go out and check on her, and when they did they found that she had died in her home. Her rotting body had been there for most of a week before being discovered! The house was never razzed and being that she had no family to take care of things it remained untouched for years and years.
Now keep in mind that I knew this story while approaching the house  but this has all happened over 60 years ago! I figured I would be walking into an empty house full of sagging ceilings and spider webs. The windows were old thick glass and impossible to see in. The rooms inside were just filled with shadow.
Do you see what I mean?
I had approached the house from the side leading to the back door, as the front was really overgrown. And these were my only glimpses inside at that point. And then I  followed a deer path around the corner and found an open window.

My first glimpse was a torn curtain hanging kitty wumpus fom the window I'd tried to peek in. There was a bed too. I wanted to see more but found myself creeped out enough that even holding my hand in the window with a camera to take a picture seemed risky! I looked a little bit closer and saw a sign on the floor in the corner. I couldn't believe that there was still stuff in there!
I gathered up my courage and stuck my hand in the door and snapped a picture. In the world of digital cameras you can instantly see the image taken. I peeked at the photo and was taken aback by what I saw.
The mattress was long gone, eaten up by rodents, but the metal bed frame remained, and the sun managing to peek through the window caught the wallpaper design, or what remained of the wall behind. Knowing the story behind this house, this very well could have been the bed where they found the woman's body, one week after her death.
I was intrigued so I brushed the shrubs away and managed to take in the whole room and was happy that I did. Have a look for yourself.
spooky shaped water stain in the back corner!
It amazes me what is left in the house after so long - a chair, a radio, a bed. But I was scared just standing by a window. There was no way I would ever enter into the house itself. I don't think you could ever stage a haunted house as well as what I found in this one room. Who knew what was upstairs? The picture below shows how close I was willing to go in the door.
I called it quits then, I didn't want to leave my Mom waiting in the car too long, and honestly it was a relief to have that as an excuse to leave. Your mind can make you see and hear things not there, and this creepy environment had me jumpy and scared. And then the sun was setting too. I understand why my Mom and her friends would head out of town to try and go to the haunted house - but she said they never made it too far up the hill before they'd turn around scared to death and run for the safety of town and the familiar.
Happy Halloween everyone - twenty days to go!!

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