Portsmouth, NH – Real Ghosts, private home – pt 3

(Continued from Portsmouth – real ghosts, private home, part two)


There were a few more incidents of things casually flying through the kitchen. The faucets turned themselves on more frequently, and with more force. Other odd little things happened, but nothing particularly destructive or frightening. In fact, many of these things struck us funny.

One of the funniest “ghostly” events was when the paper cups would topple in the kitchen. It almost always happened when my oldest daughter was in the kitchen. She did the dishes every afternoon at about three o’clock.

With three children, we have always used paper cups for beverages. It reduces the number of dishes to wash, and the cups were safer for the children when they were small; my youngest liked to chew on the edge of whatever held his beverage. Paper was a vastly better choice than glass. As the children got older, we simply continued to use paper cups for convenience.

Paper cups come in two stacks of 40-50 per plastic-wrapped package. They stand on a level counter easily, and our kitchen counter was level; we’d checked it.

However, when my oldest daughter was in the kitchen, and usually when she was washing dishes, the cups would topple repeatedly. One of us would straighten them back up, make certain that the cups were stable, and stand back. While we watched, the stacks would begin to sag and then fall over, as if someone had accidentally leaned against them.

This didn’t happen just once or twice, but dozens of times. We finally gave up, and learned to leave them sprawled across the counter the first time this happened, each afternoon. Later, we’d prop the cups back up again when my daughter was about to leave the kitchen. Then they would stay in place until the next time she visited the room.

Although the poltergeist incidents ranged from funny to annoying, the bigger problem was the general sense of discomfort we felt in the house. We tried painting the front hall a warm, cheerful yellow with crisp white trim. I displayed quaint country quilts on the walls, and later tried sunny landscape paintings. I bought country-style bleached pine furniture. We read about feng shui and tried a variety of “remedies,” and though they made the house look better, they didn’t solve the problem.

The house still wasn’t cozy and home-like, although we’d been there over six months. Still, the house seemed like an irresistible real estate opportunity, so we stayed. But I was anxious about the fire premonitions, and kept making trips to the storage place with boxes of our belongings, ignoring the illogic and unnecessary expense of it.

More and more, I had the impression that the woman in white was kindly urging us to leave the house, while the man in brown was ordering us out in a sinister manner. I have no idea why I got this impression. The woman seemed to be trying to leave through the kitchen door. The man always seemed to pause abruptly at the door instead of trying to exit. I can’t honestly say that I ever connected their focus on the door, with the idea of leaving the house, but in retrospect it seems obvious.

Nevertheless, I rarely saw the man in brown, and he visually appeared fewer than five times during our year in that house.

Then the neighborhood took a turn for the worse. About three nights each week, I’d answer the door to the police, who were searching for reported criminals. During the day, the police were often on our street, dealing with malicious mischief. Tagging — words I didn’t want my children to see — appeared on walls a few blocks from our house.

My husband and I decided that the house might not be a smart investment, after all.

Then, one night, our next-door neighbors’ truck had been smashed with what looked like a baseball bat. They gave notice to their landlord at the same time we told our house’s owner that we would not be staying.

We prepared to move. It wasn’t much work. Many of our belongings were already in storage on the other side of town.

The story concludes in part four