THE FOREST GREEN: Who Turned Out the Lights?    
 Who Turned Out the Lights?1 comment
Tuesday, May 20th 2008, by Marissa A Spencer

A story from my childhood.

Who Turned Out the Lights?

In Sacramento in the old part of the city is a neighborhood of Victorian homes. They are two stories and have wide steps that walk up to the front door. The cement banisters are wide and you can slide down them if you don’t mind tearing your shorts. They all have a basement and small back yards. It was in such a place that the infamous Dorthea Puente did her nefarious work of liberating her elderly tenants of their retirement checks and burying them in the back yard or other places. It was shades of “Arsenic and Old Lace” right in the River City. To read more about those interesting adventures… read this:

Back to the story…

My uncle own a house not more than a few blocks from the famous Puente place. This was however, many years prior, when the neighborhood stood reasonably proud if not slightly dilapidated. His house was really quite lovely and I liked it for the most part when I saw it for the first time. In 1962 my Mother had divorced my Father and was invited to live with my Father’s brother to help him with a snack bar he ran for the California Department of Water Resources. My Uncle was going blind and could no longer handle the work. My Mother accepted and moved she and I from the country to the city. It was not an easy adjustment for me. I was a reasonably resilient 8 years old and managed pretty well through this difficult period of my life.

My Mother and I lived in the basement. I will never forget that unique smell of earth and old things. It had small windows so it wasn’t completely dark. A small hanging light lighted the narrow stairs. We shared a large bed. I loved to read and was down there alone quite frequently. Any apprehension I felt there I usually ignored.

Uncle and Aunt lived upstairs, my three cousins; the twin boys and Pamela, who was close to my sisters age. They were quite a bit older than I. I used to get to visit Pamela in her upstairs bedroom. Her windows gave access to the porch roof, which we could climb onto and eat fruit from the Loquat tree. I remember spitting the slimy pit off the roof to see how far it would go. She was an is one of my favorite cousins. She was very close to my sister, who lived there also for a period of time several years before.

Some pretty strange things happened when my sister and Pamela lived there at the same time. Two teenage girls with no small amount of fire in their personalities were bound to shake things up a bit. A popular game of the times in the 1960’s was the OUIJA board. It was considered a parlor game. One day my sister and Pamela were playing it, when the planchette flew out of their hands on its own and launched itself across the room. We all know the energy produced by pubescent girls; let this be a lesson to you. There were also frequent tappings, footsteps, beds being bounced… lights going on and off on their own and my personal favorite…toilets flushing of their own volition.

There is a history to this house. They all have that don’t they? There was a carpenter, which helped build a number of the homes in the area. It was reported that he had been seen at several of the homes he worked in. My Uncle’s house was no exception. He had been seen on the staircase, and it was surmised the footsteps that had were heard from time to time were his. The lights going on and off are also attributed to him. I do wonder about the toilet flushing though. Maybe he was testing the plumbing? I am sure my sister and cousin kept things energized pretty well. When I lived there, only my cousin and I were possible catalysts. I was only 8: so let us rule out me at this time. Far as I know I was never a ‘poltergeist’. My uncle also was a delver into the unknown and more than likely attracted a bit of excitement from his own experiments into the spiritual realm.

There was a time when a friend of mine tempted me to play hooky and play in her back yard in a small pool she had. As in most unwise plans this went awry. I ended up with my fair skin fried to a crisp with a second-degree collection of blisters on my shoulders. I got as sympathy vote an opportunity to go into my Aunt’s bedroom. This normally was totally off-limits. As I lay in that very lovely room, I could feel the oppressiveness of it. I felt like the ceiling was pressing in on me. I was happy to return to my dark bedroom in the basement.

One day I think I was pretty much alone in the house. My cousins didn’t do any thing with me and my friend wasn’t over to play cards so I was in my bedroom reading. I always kept the light on the stairs leading up, as it was quite dark without them. I was aware of the antics of the resident ‘ghost’. One day I was about to ascend to the first floor. The light goes out. I KNOW…it is the mischievous ghost. Being the plucky gal I am, I stood there glaring at the stairs and I said sternly,

“It’s not very nice trying to scare an 8 year old girl!”

I never had any trouble after that.

And that’s the truth!

© March 2, 2005 Marissa A Spencer



1 comment

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