Who's Haunting You?
Pretend ghosts and goblins will be trick-or-treating this weekend, but have you had experiences with some real things that go bump in the night?
Come Oct. 31, we'll be inundated with pint-sized facsimiles of ghosts and ghouls.
But some of my friends say they've encountered the real deal.
With homes as old as we have in some of the neighborhoods here in the Patch and some of the tragedies and loss of life the area has experienced, it's no surprise that close encounters of the ghostly kind have occurred.
Downtown has the former Winecroft Hotel — now the Ellis Hotel at Ellis and Peachtree streets — which had the tragic fire of 1946 that claimed 119 lives.
Over the years people have said the site is haunted with the spirits of some of the guests there.
Right here in East Atlanta, two of my neighbors on Flat Shoals Avenue say they've had otherworldly experiences.
One said she'd leave her home to go to work, only to come back to find things moved.
The man — she described the spirit as seeing him take the form of an older man — never did anything much beyond that. Still, she wasn't keen on sharing her home with a freeloader so he had to go. Her mom saw to that.
The second neighbor said his home had several negative energies stuck there and he got rid of them by smudging sage to cleanse his house.
As best as we could figure, what they experienced could be traced to the Civil War and the Battle of Atlanta. That particular fight, which played itself out in East Atlanta and adjoining neighborhoods, claimed the lives of 12,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.
Several years back, my best friend rented a house on Atlanta Avenue in the Oakhurst neighborhood. He told me of waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of people speaking. The first few times, he thought there were people on the street having conversations. But peering from the window of his bedroom, which was just off the street, he never saw anything.
He finally told his landlord, who him the property had a sordid history. The landlord said he himself experienced at least one encounter: He awoke from a nap one time to see a man standing in the corner. As the man walked toward the landlord, he faded away.
As for me, I've had two distinct experiences with the other side.
In the early 1990s, I'd spend the weekends on Long Island, N.Y. with another friend who owned a home in the village of Sag Harbor. The community, which dates back to the 1700s, was an old whaling center and my friend's home is among the oldest there.
One night, while staying in the guest room, I woke up to see two women, leaning over the bed just staring at me. I closed my eyes, whispered "oh, hell no" to myself and opened my eyes to find them still leaning over my bed, watching me. They slowly faded away.
My friend later told me that I wasn't the only guest to see the two Colonial-era women in the spare bedroom and that they were kind spirits. She also had a rule of not saying anything unless houseguests did so as not to scare them.
My second experience happened a few years ago. I woke up in the middle of the night coughing from smelling cigarette smoke. I don’t smoke but the smell of cigarettes was strong. I immediately thought of my dad, who smoked Marlboros for as long as I could remember. Minutes later, I fell back asleep.
Later that same day, I received a telephone call from my cousin who informed me that my dad, who was living in South Florida, had to be taken to the hospital and died. To this day, I think that was his spirit saying goodbye.