USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘attic’
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Ghosts in the Attic

The informant is a 20 year old girl and also my current roommate. I have always been aware of her belief in ghosts, and in this interview, I asked her to tell me about her experience with ghosts in her home. She currently resides in Mission Hills, Kansas in a home built back in the 1800s. Her home is right on the border of Kansas and Missouri.

Me: Can you tell me about the ghosts in your house.

Informant: *Thinking* I don’t know where to begin…okay…So… I moved upstairs into my sister’s room. It’s third story of my house, and it is right next to the attic. When we first moved in, there was this really creepy closet that had all of these… like… graffiti markings around it. There were these rules in it, that said ‘no breathing’ ‘no eating’ ‘no sleeping’. Really creepy stuff. But a teenager lived there before we got there so we were like ‘okay whatever this is really creepy. This teenage is on crack or something’ and didn’t think anything of it. But I moved upstairs. I have always been really kind of scared of it. And my sisters all left so it was just me living upstairs on the third floor and I would always hear things at night, but I never really thought anything of it. I would hear footsteps up and down my hall… Didn’t think anything of it. And then it got to a point where my mom was finding underwear with the crotch eaten out of it… really freaky stuff. We found out we had a rat problem. But besides the point, we got rid of those and I was still hearing footsteps down the hallway and stuff. Then finally, one day, I was sleeping and I heard purring. Like a cat in my ear. And I was like ‘okay I am not making this up.’ Shot up in my bed and there was a bat flying in circles around my bed. So I screamed and ran out! We caught the bat and it was fine, whatever. Then, after 2 weeks of me being afraid of my upstairs, I went back to sleep in my room and I was sleeping and I felt something slapping both of my cheecks. I opened my eyes and it was another bat. And it had landed on my face. So, swatted that away, but we could not find it. I had to get a series of rabies shots. Wasn’t fun. Then, after that, I continued on, kind of got used to the shadows and footsteps in my hall. Then one night, I was not feeling well and I was home alone so I slept in my parent’s bed and I had my best friend sleep in my bed. But she left at 6am that morning, and I had no idea why. She didn’t talk to me for like 2 days and then finally called me and was like ‘did I ever tell you what happened to me at your house?’ and I was like ‘no what happened?’ and she said she was laying in my bed, she heard a big thud on the wall behind her from the attic, and she shot up to see what it was. Didn’t see anything, laid back down and then heard someone sprint down the hallway. She shot up and there was a man at the end of my bed, staring down at her. She screamed and he disappeared into thin air. She went underneath the covers and did not sleep for the rest of the night and left as soon as the sun came up.

We always tell these stories as jokes, just being like ‘oh yeah there is a ghost on my floor’ but now we are serious because Audrey first hand saw it. We told my friends, and they all told us we were full of shit. Even one of my friends who dose not take to this stuff was like ‘no way you are so full of shit.’ Really did not believe me. I had a huge group sleep over on prom night and she, my friend Madison who doesn’t believe in any of this stuff, was like, ‘I never wanted to tell you this, because I don’t believe in this stuff, but I saw him standing by the pool table on prom night. I didn’t believe it until the next morning when I walked over to the pool table to see what was making that weird shadow, and there was nothing there.  So it had to have been him.’  Ever since, I always say I swear there is a ghost there. I think he is friendly. I think he just lost his way, but he is nice. I think he is just protective. I just think he isn’t happy with strangers sleeping in my house.

My analysis:  Similarly to the other informant I interviewed about ghosts, this informant also believes that they mean no harm.  Both women have views of ghosts being very docile and simply lost.  I would say that this story is an example of a memorate. The informant had it in her head that there were ghosts in her house, so when her friend came to sleep over and heard weird noises/saw a shadow, she immediately jumped to use this as evidence of their being a ghost. In reality, it could have been a dream, or a shadow from a tree, but instead the informant deemed it as the ghost. From there, what was initially just a joke became real.

Childhood
Festival
general
Narrative
Tales /märchen

The Girl in the Attic

Context: It was Halloween night at USC’s New Residence Hall, the perfect time and place to tell a ghost story. When I first asked my friend [the Informant], if he would be willing to share one of his numerous family ghost stories he was hesitant. After much coaxing, the Informant finally decided to open up and share with me a part of his haunted heritage. I quickly grabbed my camera and sat him down in a chair, as a small group of friends gathered around to listen in on the story. This was Halloween, and of course who could resist hearing a good ghost story? What follows is the story as it was presented to me:

Interview Verbatim:

Informant: “Okay, so this is not my ghost story, this is my family’s ghost story… uh I heard it from my dad, who heard it from his mother… uh, it has been passed down for a couple of generations. So, I guess that makes this my story as well. But my dad’s great Uncle John, okay so he bought this house on the kind of like wrong side of town, well back in that time it was still the good side of town, but you know how cities develop, now it’s in the bad part of town… uh this is Kansas City Missouri by the way. So he bought this house on the wrong side of town but, the nice side of town then…I’m sorry if I’m being confusing.”

Me: “It’s alright, continue. I get you.”

Informant: ”So it’s an old house… and uh, he moves in with his family and all of a sudden he starts complaining about like weird experiences there, but no one believes him because he kind of had a reputation for being crazy… uh, in fact… uh when his mother was dying in the hospital, because of some argument he had had, he refused to see her and she died before he could get there… uh to visit her and I don’t think he had any intention of visiting her… uh so she died and… uh a couple of weeks after she died, Uncle John started claiming that he had been visited by her spirit, and that she was tormenting him for uh… never saying goodbye uh… but he was crazy. The family actually had him committed and no one really thought much of it or of the house that he had purchased. And had complaints about occurrences inside of it…uh a family tradition of mine is that usually the house uh my family has this tradition of moving into other relatives homes once they are gone. So… uh, Uncle John’s son who was also named John, John II. My family also has a habit of passing on names along with houses, but now I’m going off topic, but uh…So John II moves into his dad’s home, after his dad’s been committed, and one day, this is a couple of weeks after they have moved in, uh he’s throwing a birthday party for his little girl…and…all the kids are up in the attic playing, and they all come down for cake and ice cream. And there’s this one kid in the group who’s really freaked out, and no one knows why, and so John (II) asks the kid, ‘Hey what’s up’ and the kids like, ‘Where’s that other kid?’ like there is someone missing from the party. And John II says, ‘No there isn’t’. So they do a head count of all the kids and they aren’t missing anyone, but this kid swears to God that there is another kid who is missing. And they ask this kid, ‘What did this other kid look like?’ and he explains that it was a little girl with ghostly pale skin…and since that…uh, John (II) and his family kept seeing this little girl in their house from time to time amongst other weird ghostly visitations. It was never malevolent in any way. It never did anything bad, it was just kind of there…so…”

Me: “I understand. Okay. Now when did this happen? Were you alive at this point in time?”

Informant: “No, this was far before I was born.”

Me: “So this pre-dates you?”

Informant: “Yeah, this pre-dates my dad. Because my home, the house that I live in which is also a relative’s home…that was built in the 1950s, and that was my dad’s other great uncle’s house…so I assume this happen around the 40s.”

Me: “Alright. Have you ever been to the house personally?”

Informant: “No, I’ve never. It passed out of family hands.”

Me: “Okay, I see. So it’s someone else’s problem now. Any ideas as to what you think it was?”

Informant: “My family is Irish Catholic, so… we were always kind of a superstitious bunch. And I would personally like to believe in the ghost story…uh…my family kind of treats it with this weird pride, so they can say, ‘We once owned a haunted house!’, so yeah…  

Analysis: This story, as it was presented to me, appears to have more validity then a typical FOAF (friend of a friend) story due mainly to the fact that this is a supposedly true story that continues to be passed down from generation to generation. The thing that really convinced me of this story’s potential credibility was, perhaps, not so much the story itself, but the way it was presented to me in context. While the Informant told us his story, he seemed distanced and quiet, very different from his typically energetic attitude. Whether he was simply setting the tone for his story or he was just expressing a deep amount of reverence towards his family’s home remains to be unknown. While I have heard this same type of story before, the playful child ghost appears to be a popular motif present throughout ghost belief, this should not be used to discredit the story in any way. In my opinion, the story is probably just a family tradition that continues to be told from person to person.

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