Tag Archives: home

Richmond ghost story

Content:

D: So growing up, you know, I moved into that house when I was five years old. And so it was just became knowledge that there was something else in the house with us, but we were never taught to be afraid of it. And we were never, it never really scared us. It never really gave us, you know, an evil feel to it.

Me: Where was this house?

D: Richmond, Virginia. 

Me: Okay. What did you know about the ghost?

D: Well, I never saw a visual of him, but my mom saw him twice. And he was a dark headed man in a uniform, a soldier type uniform. And our house was built over an old battlefield, old battleground for the revolutionary war. And so we always felt like he was a soldier that died young and he seemed to be most active when the three of us kids were living in the house. And once we grew up and moved out the activity decreased. So Mom always felt like he either connected with people closer to his age or, um, felt like he died too soon and you know, was looking for something. She just felt like he was kind of watching over us to some, some degree.

Me: So when you say that you had experiences with him, what were those like?

D: Um, a lot of things. The, the one thing that most people experienced in and outside of our family, um, is that we would be sitting in the living room watching TV or talking or whatever, and we would hear the front door open and close and back then, you know, people didn’t knock to come in if they were family or neighbors or whatever, they would just kind of open the door and just kind of holler, “Hey, it’s me,” you know, as they were coming into the house and we would all hear the door open and close and the dog would bark and run to the French doors and look out onto the sun porch, which was what our front door came into, and the dog would stand there and wait. And we’d all look towards the French doors to see who was, you know, coming over to visit and nobody would come through and we’d get up and look, and the front door would be locked and there would be nobody there. And that happened multiple times and people that were not in our immediate family heard and experienced that. But then I also experienced cold spots most often. And the house didn’t, the house didn’t have central air. It only had heat. And we had one window unit in the living room and one small window unit in my parents’ bedroom and we didn’t turn it on during the day when we weren’t there. We wouldn’t even turn it on until after four o’clock in the afternoons when we would get home from school and work and stuff. So the house was always really hot, especially, you know, in the, you know, late afternoon, early evenings until the, the air could cool it down. And even with the house being that hot, there would be a significant temperature change and it would be something that you could stick your hand in and pull back out and feel the temperature change. That happened to me a lot. So, I mean, that was, it, it almost became, you know, like a family thing to exchange, you know, your experiences and stuff like that.

Background: D was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1963. This story revolves around the house she grew up in with her parents and brothers. 

Context: This story was told to me over a phone call. Analysis: D’s story connected her family’s ghost to the haunted battlegrounds of Revolutionary War and Civil War era Virginia. The experiences that she had with the ghost are common in ghost stories as well, such as the feeling of cold spots when in the presence of a spirit. Many ghost stories also rely on the reactions of pets to support a supernatural claim, like D does when mentioning how her dog reacted to hearing the door open while no one was there.

The Woman In The Green Dress

I am interviewing a friend (ED) from high school who is describing an old house his family used to live in that he claims had a ghost of an old owner. My friend is a member of a family with one brother, one half brother, one step brother and one step sister.

Me: What is the background of this house you used to live in?

ED: The house was a vintage, white mansion that reminded me of a colonial era home. I was only about eight years old when we moved in, but I distinctly remember being told that the old woman that used to live there died in the home before it was sold to my family.

Me: Was there any remains of the past owner in the home when you first moved?

ED: All the furniture was moved out of the house for the most part. The odd part was that throughout the house, family pictures were littered around on the walls and remaining furniture, almost as if there were no family members left to take them or want them.

Me: And this is where your story begins as I recall?

ED: When you first walk into the house, a giant portrait of the old woman was still up on the main wall of the foyer. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the image. The lady had on a long, green dress that shined through the portrait. As we settled into the house and set up our rooms to move in, we took down the portrait and threw it out. After about a week, all of my siblings started seeing this woman in a green dress roaming around the house and coming into our rooms at night.

Me: Your family all saw this while you were together?

ED: No, each of us had our own room and would come downstairs the next morning each claiming that we woke up and saw her in our doorway or walking in the hallway. I would hear footsteps coming from outside of my room and by the time I could get out of bed to check, she would be gone.

Me: And did your parents see this ghost as well given that they were sleeping in the master bedroom?

ED: Surprisingly not. Neither of my parents saw this lady and claimed that we were all just goofing around or seeing things.

Me: Did this ghost ever do any harm, or take any actions on you or your family?

ED: No, it was almost as if this lady was just hanging out around the house and checking up on us. You would think that she would try to get us out of the house that was previously hers, but she seemed okay with us being there.

Me: And why do you think that would be?

ED: Because the lady didn’t seem to have any family left by the way her house was left without taking the pictures of her and her family, I think the woman enjoyed our company in her home after living the end of her life in it by herself. I was never scared to see her at night since she always seemed to be smiling at me as she moved on throughout the house.

Me: Did you continue to see her until you moved out?

ED: After a few months, all of us stopped seeing her or noticing her movement around the house. It was almost as if one day, she dipped out of the house and officially gave it to us.

This story given by my friend was very interesting because it did not go how I expected. When I first talked to him about it vaguely before interviewing him, he just said he used to live in a house that was haunted. After interviewing him and diving deeper into the story behind it, I came to realize that this house may have had a spirit within it still, but in a friendly way. I always assume that in a story such as this where a family moves into the home of a deceased person, the person who died in the home would come back to haunt the newcomers and push them out of the house. In this case, it was actually the opposite. Even though the informant’s family threw out her belongings and images, the spirit or ghost of the old owner never went out of her way to induce harm or wrongful actions to scare the family. Instead, she rather seemed to enjoy their company and never went out of her way to punish or scare any of them. The way the spirit, still with her beautiful green dress on, just roamed around the house at night checking on the children without bothering the parents has impactful meaning to her intentions. In my analysis, I believe that the spirit was looking out for the children she never had in a way of making up for her loneliness. She never bothered the parents or went near them, but was seen coming in and out of each of the childrens rooms. I had my suspicions that this was the case, and when my friend claimed that she “always seemed to be smiling” at him, it occurred to me that this spirit is enjoying the company and family in her home that she didn’t have before her death. Spirits such as this are interesting because although they are still roaming around trying to fulfill their lives and move on, they aren’t necessarily taking any action. This spirit potentially was fulfilling her need for family and care was finding this by simply watching over the new family in her home. My informant and his siblings grew to genuinely enjoy this spirits company, which must have fulfilled her need and let her spirit move on, away from her home as she let a new family in.

What Trees Not To Plant in Your Yard

Context:

The collector interviewed the informant for Chinese folklores. The informant is the mother of the collector. She lives in Shanghai. She learned some of the following folk beliefs about twenty years ago from a seller, when she was buying trees for a new house she bought. Another time she learned the superstition about peach tree because she saw her new neighbors cutting down a peach tree in their front yard and asked them why.

 

Main piece:

  • Peach tree

Peach trees should not be planted in front of the house.

The first reason is related to a Chinese folk speech: 桃花运 (In Pinyin: Táo Huā Yùn, Literally: Peach Flower Luck), which means good luck of encountering love relationships. If people in the family frequently see peach flowers as they step out the door, that might bring extramarital affairs to this family, which should be avoided.

Another reason is that in Chinese folklores, weapons or charms made of peach wood are used as tools in exorcism. So peach wood is considered to be related with evil things and people don’t want them to grow near their house.

 

  • Mulberry tree

Mulberry trees should not be planted in front of the house. The Chinese name for mulberry tree is 桑树 (In Pinyin: Sāng Shù, literally: Mulberry Tree) . Meanwhile, another character with the same pronunciation, 丧 (In Pinyin: Sāng), means funerals and mourning. Thus it is not a good sign to plant mulberry trees in front of one’s house.

 

  • Willow tree

Willow trees should not be planted in the back yard. Because willow trees do not bear fruits, willow trees in the back yard are believed to signify a family without offspring. Also, because willow trees often appear in Chinese grave yards (Collector’s note: which the informant doesn’t know why), they seem ominous.

 

 

Collector’s thoughts:

There are a lot of Chinese folk beliefs based on homophony or puns, probably because there are numerous Chinese characters with the same pronunciation. The belief about mulberry trees is a very good example. Chinese people also care a lot about arrangement, decoration and surroundings of their home.

Even though people do not necessarily believe in any cause-and-effect relation stated in these folk beliefs, they always think it’s better not to violate these taboos.

The folk belief about peach trees might count as a meta-folklore because it is derived from a folk speech and belief in magic.

The Devil in your bed

Main Text:

“My Aunt always told me that if one of us in the house did not make our beds then the Devil would come and play in them. The only way to protect ourselves from the Devil was to make our beds before we left the house.”

 Context:

I collected this piece from a hispanic male whose family is Catholic. When I asked him why he remembered this piece and why he thinks he learned it from his family he told me that he remembers it because he used to have meltdowns when he would leave the house after forgetting to make his bed and that he also thinks that his Aunt only told them this as a way to get them to clean their rooms.

Analysis:

I agree with the informant’s explanation that the reason that his family was told to make their beds was not because the Devil would actually appear in an unmade bed but as a way for the children in the family to get in the habit of cleaning their rooms and making their beds. I think that one of the reasons this is passed down is as a way to teach children their manners as well as discipline and it is done in a folkloric way so that the kids will remember and abide by it.

Another explanation for why this folk belief has been told and continues to be shared by that family has to do with religion. Many western people’s religions all agree that there is a Devil and that the Devil is someone you meet in hell if you sin and do not repent for your sins. I think that this has a very strong affect on children who are just learning about religion and beginning to attend church because it equates their uncleanliness to sin and something that they have to repent for in order to protect themselves from finding the devil in your bed. Naturally, when a child gets in trouble for doing something that they are not supposed to be doing they try to apologize and find some way to not be punished. In this case, the punishment is coming face to face with the devil and the only way to avoid this is to make one’s bed- which is a pretty dark but effective way to make children more disciplined and clean.

I would also like to analyze this folk belief by seeing the choice of diction and how this would affect kids specifically and allow them to remember it. This folk belief  does not just say that the devil will appear in your bed but that the devil will play in your bed if you leave it unmade. The word choice here is directly targeted towards children to whom the notion and action of playing was natural ever since birth and that is what they are used to doing. When they hear the word play, I feel like they connect to it in a different way than an adult would because that is what they spend most of their childhood doing so it resonated with them in a different way.

Bedroom Arrangement Superstitions

Main Text:

HS: “The foot of your bed can’t face the door because that brings bad luck.”

Context:

HS and I were in my apartment by ourselves rearranging by bedroom so that it allows for more space and when I tried to put the bed on the wall opposite the door she told me this belief that her grandma had always told her. I responded in a sense of disbelief because I thought she was joking because I have ever heard anything like that but she reassured me that she was being serious and that her grandma really used to tell her that. She believes it was just a weird preference that her grandma had and that there is not really anything else to it but she likes to pass it along just in case something were to happen to the person that she did not tell it to. After we finished rearranging the room ( I refrained from putting the foot of the bed facing the door just in case) I had to run and get a piece of paper so that I made sure to collect this belief exactly as I had heard it.

Analysis:

Although the informants grandma moved here from England in her mid-life years, many cultures actually share this same belief. The thing that make the most sense to analyze from this piece is the why the bed cannot be placed a certain way which begs the question that a different arrangement must be better. Because this folk belief focuses mainly on the arrangement of material object I feel that it is appropriate to start my analysis relating this piece to Feng shui. Feng Shui originated in China but many different people of different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs still believe in practicing Feng Shui. Feng shui claims to use energy forces in order to make people more in harmony with the surrounding object and surrounding environment and I think this folk belief has appeared because putting the foot of your bed facing the door is against the Feng Shui because that specific arrangement does not place your bed on a spot of good qi or energy. People and cultures who believe in Feng Shui I believe continue to pass along this folk belief as a way to get people in good energy with their surroundings and as a way to spread the belief of Feng Shui as well.

Another reason I believe that people have passed along the idea that putting the foot of the bed facing the door as being bad luck is a historical one. I have heard that when someone dies in a room, they are taken and passed room to room feet first. So in a way, by putting one’s bed oriented towards the way a corpses would be removed from a room instills bad luck upon that person and symbolized that they are going to die soon.

The last way to analyze this folk belief is that people who believe in spirits are those that pass along this belief. This is because it is also said that if you orient your feet towards the door while you are sleeping, then spirits will be able to drag you out of the room in this way. Although this is another folk belief explaining a folk belief, I think it is important to understand that this explanatory folk belief ties together a group of people who will be ready and willing to pass down the folk belief being studied. This group of individuals all share a common belief in ghosts and this common belief in ghosts and evil spirits is not what only ties them together as a specific group of people but also affects the lore that they tell to other people and their reasons for telling it. If they believe in bad spirits pulling people out of a room if given the right opportunity, then it is logical that they would tell others not to orient their bad in an opportunistic manner towards spirits as a way to protect them from the bad luck of being taken by one.