Grandmother’s Haunted House
My grandmother allegedly lived in a haunted house on Harrison Avenue, in Hammond, Indiana. Growing up as a kid in the 70’s and later in the 80’s, I never heard anything, and I remain skeptical, but the ending has me puzzled. The stories I’m relaying here for the first time on the internet are second and third hand, anecdotal at best, but I’ll try to reconstruct what I can remember.
My grandmother hailed from Warren, Ohio and seeking work moved to the Calumet Region of northwest Indiana, plentiful with steel mills and refineries, in the late 1940’s. She was a single parent of two children, my father and my aunt. My dad went in the service and my aunt got married. My grandmother remarried and they purchased a turn-of-the Century home on Harrison Avenue, in a distinctly blue-collar neighborhood of Hammond, Indiana. All of Hammond was blue-collar. A year later her husband died, leaving her with a very large, old duplex on a corner lot. As a kid, the house creeped me out. On the ground floor there was a closet that contained stairs which abruptly ended at the ceiling. My grandmother used them as book shelves. Apparently this was a stairwell to the upstairs (attic) apartment, but someone had partitioned (covered) the stairs and enclosed the whole matter in a locking closet. The house’s rooms and locks were keyed with skeleton keys. Upstairs there was no evidence of the stairwell.
To supplement her income, my grandmother rented the upstairs apartment to several different couples and a single college student over the years. Several people noted peculiar sounds and other happenings in the house. My grandmother laughed and acknowledged there was a ghost present in the house.
My dad conveyed a story that he was once sitting with his sister in the house and heard distinct forceful footsteps in the upstairs apartment. He noted to his sister that the renters both worked and their cars weren’t around. My aunt and dad ran outside and went to the upstairs apartment to see who was upstairs. When they went upstairs no one was around. Later, that evening the renters returned home and my dad asked them if that had friends around and they both said no.
My grandmother used to hear sounds like beads rolling around the upstairs floor. There were also frequent knocks and bumps. My dad told a story that on one especially hot night he pulled a mattress to the living room area and slept in the cooler confines of that area. He fell asleep but woke up and saw a vision of a woman in a night gown walking by. He assumed it was a dream and went back to bed. Many years later my grandmother was visited by her two sisters. I was a young boy sitting with my dad, grandmother and her sisters over breakfast when one of the sisters blurts out “Isabelle, what on earth were you wearing last night? That was the ugliest nightgown I’ve ever seen you wear…” My grandmother emphatically denied anything about wearing an ugly nightgown and walking around in the living room. My dad made the connection and described the vision to his aunt.
Jewelry went missing. One time my grandmother lost a gold bracelet. Several years later it showed up stretched out on the armrest of a couch.
The tenants heard sounds at night. A young boy laughing and whistling. Knocks on the headboard and on walls. On one occassion my grandmother had church guests. When asked about odd thumps in the night my grandmother responded, “Oh that’s just my ghost.” The visitors packed and left, claiming the house was demonic.
One time in the 80’s, my grandmother called my dad and complained that she had a water pipe break. So my dad grabbed his tools and we headed over to her house to repair the break. There was no water anywhere –on the floor. But a bed spread was sopping wet all around the perimeter of the bed along the edges of the cover. The bed surface was dry and the floor was dry, but the bottom 6-inches or so of the spread was saturated. My dad squeezed water into a mason jar. To this day that was one of the strangest things I have ever seen.
Later in life my grandmother, who was always sharp as a tack, developed Alzheimers. We heard less about the ghost. My dad sold her house in the mid 90’s to a developer, who gutted and flipped it, and my grandmother passed away in 1999 in rural Kentucky. A few years later, my brother and dad decided to visit grandmother’s house. They pulled up and the place had changed quite a bit. A young woman sat on the porch and my dad noted that he had once lived here and it was his mom’s house. The girl didn’t flinch or miss a beat and confidently asked “Do you know about the spirits in this house?” A few minutes later a man pulled up and was eager to talk to my dad. The girl claimed sometime she would come home and her CD player would be playing. The man claimed his youngest boy went into the basement one time and felt something touch his shoulder. The man claimed he woke up one night and felt something rubbing his feet. A ghost with a foot fetish?
I’m trained as a scientist, but can’t explain how these folks would know that the house was haunted unless they experienced it themselves. Why would they make this up? One of these days I’m going to return to my grandmother’s haunted house.