Ghosts of our Own Making
Ghosts of our Own Making
Back in Time
October 8, 19__
7:00 Friday early evening
It appeared that fall was coming early this year.
Today had been blustery, overcast, and cool. Leaves were already starting to die and turn.
I meandered up along the cobblestone path that followed the rutty road that led off the main street.
I had left my car parked in a small lot on the corner.
It would be safe there, I had no neighbors for several Kilometers in either direction.
I had driven here directly after work, traveling the 110 kilometer’s in just under 2 hours
I approached the house, stopping at the foot of the stone steps that led up …
It had been a while, and I let the distant memories come back.
I stared up at the house that dominated the small hill upon which it had been built.
Hill House, I thought, remembering the title from a book in my fathers’ small library. It was a ghost storybook, and as such, I never bothered to read it past the opening paragraph. My feelings about ghosts at the time being that they do not exist outside people’s somewhat overactive imaginings.
The house that loomed above me had stood for over 110 years, built by Jacob Froes, a great uncle of my Mums.
Old Jacob had been a brooding sort of man, or so I had heard tell, him having died 25 years before, my twin brother and I had been born.
He was 95 at the time of his passing, judging from a photo, he was a gaunt old man with sunken eyes, pointed nose, and a thin mouthed frown!
But Jacob had built a brooding sort of house, with many crooked corridors, and small rooms, all of which had shutting or sliding doors to keep the heat in.
All the rooms still were furnished with old-style gaslighting, small lamps on the walls that liked to cast shadows in the rooms that they were hung.
The plentiful oak woodwork was very heavily scrolled and decorated with wooden roses and petals, all done by old Jacob.
Who also hand-built most of the houses’ furniture.
I mention the woodworking, for as a young girl, I had thought the roses looked like small shadowy faces, some of them not very pleasant looking, and the thorns looked like spiked teeth waiting to tear and devour one up.
Needless to say, the house at that young girl’s time of my life, gave me the creeps.
As did all its elderly occupants at the times I had visited.
There were three of them still living in the house at that time.
Three of the six children of the late Jacob and Adelaide Froes.
Jacob had been 45 and a Batchelor, living in the house he had been building and furnishing since he was 25.
Twenty long years it took to this demanding perfectionist finish.
So, at age 45, Jacob decided it was time to start a family.
He courted Adelaide, a sheltered 23-year-old second cousin still living out in the Moorish far country with her family.
It was an 8-hour ride by buggy, so it was a long-distance courtship.
Once Married, Jacob took Adelaide from her family, and quite soon they started one of their own in the house he had built.
I was told they brought forth 6 children into this world…
The first 5 ( 2 girls, 3 boys) born in a period just shy of 5 years!
The burdens of bearing and taking care of so many children, in such a short period, all by her young frail self( apparently Jacob was always working in his basement shop) added to her homesickness at being so far away from her family home, cost poor Adelaide her health, and ultimately, after bearing her sixth child 2 years later, her remaining sanity!
With her mother, In and out of sanatoriums for the rest of her shortened life, it fell upon the eldest daughter, the all of 8-year-old Frances, to take over the majority of the responsibilities of raising her siblings.
One or another of Adelaide’s sisters did come and stay a spell to help out also for the first few years, but eventually, their Family commitments took precedence and poor Frances was eventually left on her own, to be helped mainly by the second oldest, her sister Mary, to care for the youngest four, all rambunctious boys….
The family never had any near neighbors, and lived pretty much an isolated existence…
With only themselves as company; the 6 children, they’re frail, wasting away mother Adelaide, and their anti-social, strict church-going father Jacob.
It should come as no surprise then, that the children took on the characteristics of their parents, all were sullen, lifeless and obedient to a fault.
None of the 6 ever married, or even dated!
After their parents passed on, four of them, the two daughters, and the two youngest sons lived in the same old stone house together in strained harmony.
The two oldest boys would have probably followed suit, but their young lives were tragically cut short in the battle trenches of World War 1 France.
Then, in the dead of winter, 5 years after their father Jacob had passed on, the second youngest son, Frank, packed his bags and left the house one misty morning never to return!
He had walked the 4 miles to the small terminal in town, bought a bus ticket to somewhere and was never heard from again.
His sisters had found pamphlets about gold prospecting in Alaska, and as they grumbled about how stupid he was to have left, it wasn’t hard to understand at how, then at the age of fifty, he had had enough of the constant bickering and complaining that left hanging an unhappy air about the musty old place and had sought solitude elsewhere.
And so, my earliest recollections of the house and its inhabitants were of the three, Frances, Mary, and Joseph.
Joseph, as the youngest, was well into his seventies at the time.
Three sourly cranky, unhappy souls.
Not a happy family atoll, and not a happy house to be spending time in, even just for a visit while my uncle worked on maintaining the house for them (which, being a relative, he never received more compensation than a forced grumbled thank you.)
My brother, Cousin Jesse and I were usually dragged along on Uncles excursions, to keep the “occupants” occupied and out of his hair.
The two sisters had been teachers until their retirement and took great pleasure in having us read to them, happily correcting any errors we made.
Not sure what Joseph had done for his living, for he never talked much, just sat in a corner working on his stamps, smoking his smelly pipe, and getting yelled at by his two cackling spinster sisters.
The trio never updated the house, leaving it as their father had built it.
For they were obedient to their father’s wishes, even years after the old codger’s death!
They had one car (even then, an antique still sitting in a side yard) between the three of them, but I only ever saw them walk anywhere they went.
Which was just to town for food or Sunday Service.
It was during one of the walks back from Sunday mass that a car, taking a corner too fast, lost control and ran into the 3 of them.
Mary took the brunt of it, and for the last 3 years of her life became an invalid, much like her mother had been, finally passing on in her bed at the age of 90.
Two years later, Old Joseph was found sitting on one of the garden benches by the victory garden he still kept, pipe clenched between his teeth, still smouldering, paralyzed by a stroke at the age of 86, he was sent to an infirmary to live out the last of his days,
which as of this writing had not yet occurred..
So Frances, the oldest child, and oldest living resident of the creepy old house had dwelt on in solitude, passing on the night of her birthday, some four years later, at the age of 101.
She died in her bed, in the house she had been born in and had lived her whole life.
She had been dead 3 days they figured, before my cousin Jesse, who had made it a habit to check on her once a fortnight or so, found her cold lifeless form.
The First Night, Alone