One of the most haunted places that I have ever been in was the apartment building where I grew up in Yonkers, NY. During the six or seven years that we rented there, my parents and I lived in two different apartments. One was located on the fifth floor and the other was on the second floor. All of the paranormal activity took place in the second, larger three-bedroom apartment.
Things started off weird almost from the second we moved in. I remember my mother cleansing the place with Florida water, smudging the doorways, and mopping the floors. Something about that place wasn’t right. It felt different from our former apartment. I think I was about seven years old when we moved in and I instantly felt strange there. My parents’ bathroom terrified me. I was always afraid that someone was going to come out of the shower stall and try to grab me. I didn’t feel that way about the other bathroom that was located toward the front of the apartment though. I took all of my baths and showers in the front bathroom and insisted on keeping the back bathroom door closed whenever I was in my parents’ bedroom.
Then there were the strange echoes that spoke our names. This happened to everyone in the house. We would suddenly hear someone calling our names. I would hear mom or dad calling me from some other area of the apartment, but when I went to them, they’d say that they never said my name. This happened to my parents, too. They would hear either me or think that the other person was calling for them. This got very frustrating and was particularly eerie whenever it happened because you didn’t know if you were really being called or not.
Other times, I would be playing in my room, deeply immersed in a game when I would suddenly feel someone watching me. Usually, I would get scared and run and find my parents. This got a bit better after we got my dog, Bambi. He was extra-protective of me and I believe that he guarded the house in a spiritual capacity.
One summer day, I had a friend over and we decided to play with my mother’s Ouija board. I had told my friend that I thought our house was haunted and wanted to see if I could contact the ghost. I lit a white candle and brought a bowl of water just as I had seen my mother do many times before in her stores and me and my friend sat down to do our first Ouija board reading. Mom saw what we were doing and must have got a kick out of it because she didn’t stop us. We had a few false starts where either my friend or I were pushing the planchette, but soon it was flying over the board, spelling out messages.
“Hello. Is anyone there?” my friend and I asked the board.
The spirit responded back with, “Yes. Hello.”
My friend and I looked at each other. I swallowed. “Are you the ghost who is haunting this house?”
The spirit responded back, “Yes.” We started giggling a bit out of nervousness, but I warned my friend that Mom told me that we always had to be respectful of spirits. “Have you been in my room watching me play?” I asked.
“I have been in all the rooms,” said the spirit. “I used to live here.”
At this point, my mother came over and started taking down the notes for us because they were coming so fast. The spirit identified herself as a woman who used to live in a mansion that had been on the site where our apartment building now stood. Having read enough ghost stories to know about unfinished business and trapped spirits, I asked, “Why are you still here? How did you die?”
The spirit spelled out, “I hung myself.”
“Okay…Time to say goodbye now, kids,” piped my mother. She jumped on the board with me and said, “We’re very sorry to hear that. We wish you peace. I’ll light a white candle for you to help you cross over to the other side.” The planchette spelled out “Yes, thank you, and goodbye,” and my mother closed up the board. When I asked her about it later, she said that the board was just probably messing with us and not to read too much into it. I asked if we could move, but my mother said no. We had to learn to live with the ghost and vice versa. I decided not to play with the Ouija board anymore after that.
That winter we had a series of terrible snowstorms. My father went out to help people shovel and dig out their cars. One of the people was an elderly woman who happened to be a local historian. She invited us in for coffee and hot cocoa and asked us where we lived. When we told her, she started telling us about why there were huge slabs of slate in the wooded area that surrounded our apartment. Back in Victorian times there had been mansions in this area where people like the Rockefellers hosted and attended great balls. A lot of the mansions had been knocked down, the grounds bought up, and real estate moguls had built new housing on top of them. She winked as us, “But I still like to think that you can feel the spirit of those people in the air around here, don’t you?”
I stared at my mother. She turned to the lady. “You have no idea,” she said.