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Ghost Story of the Kingsville Haunted House

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Kingsville Haunted House

The teller is 24 years old, and works for the state department of education. Originally, he was from the Baltimore area where he attended an elementary Catholic school. He moved to Bell Air in second grade and grew up there. After his parents separated, he moved back to Baltimore to live with his grandparents, and has remained in Baltimore ever since. The sister he mentions in the story moved away to China years ago. A weekend or two ago, he, I, and a few other friends spent the evening in one of our favorite hang-out spots in Columbia, Pub Dog. It was there, sitting in our dimly lit booth, over some beers that I heard him tell this story from his childhood. He spoke in a strangely matter-of-fact tone, considering the weirdness of the story he was telling, and in a smooth, comfortable manner that seemed to indicate he had told the story many times before. Here is the story he told:

Ok. One night my sister and I were at my father’s house. He lives in Kingsville on 10 maybe 9 acres of land in this [small pause, looks at ceiling] I wouldn’t really call it a farmhouse, just a kind of small house out there. The previous person who lived in the house was supposedly shipped to an asylum, for, you know, normal stuff [pause] schizophrenic or something. My sister and I were at the house one night and we were cleaning up the house while my dad was on some sort of job out of the state and my step mom was at work in the hospital. We were doing our stuff, and then the power flickered, and came back on. We didn’t think anything of it. Then, outside of the door, we heard a noise, kinda like a dog barking, but like, just enough not so that we knew it wasn’t. So, we hear this noise, and start to get freaked out, but we just go back to doing our thing. Then the power goes OUT [quickly jerks hand horizontally]. Then we hear the sound over and over. So I go down to the basement to check the fuse box, cause the power everywhere else nearby looked like it was on and my sister was scared. So I’m walking down, and my dad has this rack of paint cans against the wall across from the stairs, so when you walk down the stairs it’s right in front of you. And the cans start just dominoing off the rack [waves hands around]. I only had to see that once before I went running back up the steps shouting to my sister, and we barricaded the door. The sound kept repeating outside and it sounded like it was getting closer. At that point, we noticed that the wind was howling really hard, and that scared us even more, so we just sort of smashed ourselves into a corner with whatever we could find as a weapon. So there was wind, and noise, and things kept falling downstairs. Then we hear this huge bang on the door, and then the lights came back on, and my dad walked in. He wasn’t supposed to be back for a week. We told him all about it. And when my step-mom comes back the next morning, we tell her about it. She’s not like, a super crazy ghost hunter or anything, but she’s you know, like… intrigued by ghosts. She had us tell her the story a couple times, and it turned out the previous night, she had come back from work, and as she was getting to the door, she heard this high pitched scream, and she turned around and there was this white man with white hair sticking out and white clothes and his hands reaching out [holds arms out and reaches out fingers] just screaming at the top of his lungs, and she ran in the house. But then, when she turned around, he was gone [shrugs]. So, that’s the story.

This story was told in a very personal manner. It was told by the person who witnessed it first hand, and thus reflects his actual beliefs and experiences, and has not been altered or diluted by passing through generations of storytellers. Even though this story, due to its personal nature, is atypical when compared to traditional legends such as The Vanishing Hitchhiker, it has many traditional and common themes with social implications. Insane asylums, mysterious sounds, inanimate objects falling or moving of their own accord, loss of light and electric power, the return to a house of a deceased previous tenant, and screaming or disappearing people are all found in many ghost stories, traditional or otherwise.

Insane asylums or hospitals are common settings for ghost stories. Stories about these places, such as the Glen Dale Hospital, frequently contain the mistreatment of the trapped patients by their doctors. The ghosts of the insane then wander the halls of the asylums, looking for revenge or justice. While my friend’s story does not give details as to how the previous tenant of the house was treated in the asylum to which he was sent, simply mentioning an insane asylum brings forth to listeners memories of other frequently told ghost stories, and with them, images of being confined and trapped, being experimented on in terrible ways, and being surrounded by unpredictable, tortured, and crazed people, intent on revenge and murder. This asylum folk imagery is combined in this story, with another common theme of ghost literature: the return to a house of dead previous tenants. Virtually all haunted house stories, including the local stories of Belle Manor (Sceurman, 195) and “The Most Haunted House in Maryland” located in Fells Point (Sceurman, 193), contain the account of at least one previous tenant that was murdered, committed suicide, or died in some questionable way, who returns to the house looking for closure of some sort. The return of this story’s screaming ghost dressed in his asylum clothes is a terrifying image, combining these traditional themes.

This story contains many motifs with implications about people and society, and specifically, because this story took place when the narrator was a child, about children. One of the prevalent themes of this story is found in the line “Then, the power went OUT.” Fear of the dark has always been a very common phobia, particularly for children. We develop a fear of the dark around the age of three or four: “Children’s imaginations have by then developed to the stage where they can put themselves in other people’s shoes and picture dangers that they haven’t actually experienced.” (Spock, 171) Most ghost stories take place at night or in the dark, and similarly, are told after dark around campfires or other spooky places. Our inability to see in the dark makes us feel disoriented and vulnerable, making us afraid in real life, and increasing tension and suspense in ghost stories.

Another common fear of children, is being abandoned, or being alone. In this story, my friend and his sister are alone when they experience the spooky events in their father’s house. As soon as their father returns, the scary noises and wind disappear and the power and lights return. Most likely, in the minds of these children, their dad’s return home and actually rescued them from these ghostly occurrences. This admiration and belief in a parent’s power to protect against all danger stems from being dependent on parents from a very young age. “Young children idolize their parents and draw strength from closeness to them.” (Nichols, 190). As soon as my friend and his sister were near to their father, they felt safe, and things returned to normal.

This story, although somewhat unique in its exact plot, contains many elements that make it a typical and traditional ghost story. These elements suggest common fears in today’s society of people in general, and children specifically.



Works Cited

Nichols, Michael P. Stop Arguing with Your Kids: How to Win the Battle of Wills by Making your Children feel Heard. New York: Guilford Press, 2004.

Sceurman, Mark and Mark Moran. Weird Maryland: Your Travel Guide to Maryland’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. New York: Sterling Pub. Co., 2006.

Spock, Benjamin. Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care 8th Edition. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004.

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