THE HOUSE ON LIBERAL
Updated: Aug 13, 2019
The following story is about the place where I started developing the part of my psyche that sparks with interest when I hear the word "paranormal".
I wasn't born yet. The year was 1971 and it was summertime in Detroit. My parents resided with my grandparents and my older 3 month old brother on the northeast side. It's an area dotted with small aluminum clad, bungalow style homes. This area of Detroit was considered a middle class neighborhood at that time which housed many of the city's employees. At that time you had to reside within the city to work for the city. My parent's were quite poor compared to today's standards. Their menial beginnings weren't uncommon for couples starting out back then. My dad was finishing up his short lived two year Army career and it was time for them to find a home of their own. It was in August of 1971 that they struck up a deal on a small Cracker style home approximately five miles northeast of where my grandparents lived.
The house was near the very outskirts of Detroit, situated a half mile south of the renowned 8 Mile Rd. Closest to 8 mile were mostly larger sized, stately brick homes just across from the East Detroit border. A few blocks south of the brick homes was State Fair Avenue which marked the half mile point between 7 and 8 mile road. South of State Fair began the sea of white bungalows. Most of the homes were bright white bungalows secured in their lush manicured lawns with pretty bordered gardens. The bright colored shutters stood out against the crisp white siding on the homes. Right in the middle of that area is where our home was. We weren't in one of the crisp white houses with the bright green, red or sleek black shutters. Nope. Our home was an old wood clad house that sat smack right in the middle of a street full of adorable homes. It was positioned all the way back on the lot while every other home stood in a uniform tight row on the front part of their lots. Our home sat so far back that our rear door was three feet from the back property line and only separated from the garbage ally by a rusted cyclone fence. The white paint was peeling and the house was a tiny 900 square feet. It had one ratty enclosed screen porch, a living room, and a small den off the narrow galley kitchen which was lined on one side with worn white metal cabinets. The kitchen ran straight back from the living room and ended at the back door near the full bath that was probably six feet squared. The flooring throughout was the asbestos peel and stick flooring. It was between the back door and the bathroom where the stairs were to the two upstairs bedrooms. The stairs were so incredibly steep and dangerous that my dad eventually replaced them. The two bedrooms adjacent to the stairs were roughly the same size, around 100 square feet each with a tiny closet. The bedroom to the left of the stairs had a closet with a small door to the attic space. The home had a damp Michigan basement. The steep steps going down were located in the den off the kitchen. The basement was only under half the home and barely large enough for a furnace, washer, dryer and work bench. The other half was on a dirt eighteen inch high crawl space. The finishes in the home were very basic and the house was already very old by 1970's standards. Later we approximated the age of the home to be around fifty years. We found newspapers in the walls dated back to 1920 during a kitchen renovation.
I was born in April of 1972 and the renovations on our home were starting little by little. In 1974 my dad finished converting the screened porch into extra living room space. This year would be the first instance of paranormal activity. My parent's were sleeping in one of the upstairs bedrooms. I was in a crib in their room and my brother was in the adjacent room. My aunt on my dad's side had recently lost her son who was only a the tender age of five years old. Due to despair my aunt asked my mother to pick out the funeral outfit for her son, to which my mom agreed. My mom and dad would head out to buy a suit for their nephew first thing the next morning. Around one in the morning my mother was awakened by a light in the room. She eased up to her elbows and at the foot of the bed she saw her little nephew surrounded by a glowing light. He was wearing a white suit and tie. She immediately nudged my dad awake and he admittedly saw it too. We kept the vision within the immediate family. We didn't want my aunts feelings to be hurt. My mother never understood why he came to her that night. Maybe because she adored him or maybe to help ease the burden of what to find him to wear? My mom decided it was simply to send her a message that he was fine. Nonetheless, the next morning my mom walked in and out of the Sears store within 10 minutes carrying with her the exact suit she'd seen him wearing the night before. My mom sat in the car next to my dad holding the suit in her hands as she cried.
In between the more prominent paranormal activity there would always be noises happening in the house. Footsteps in the kitchen were common. Lights flickering, doors creaking open and dishes rattling were the norm. We always raced up and down both set of steps as kids as we always felt a strong presence behind us. My mom and dad felt the same way. My mom said one night she felt a hand brushing through her hair and thought it was my dad. The pets would even alert to something that was never there. It was pretty easy to laugh and shrug off a lot of these small occurrences, it was the ones the you just couldn't explain away that really stuck with us.
My first recollection of anything terrifying was when I was very little. I believe I would've been five around the occurrence. My dad had carried me up to bed as usual as my mom waited at the base of the steps. She would control the hall light switch for his hands were busy holding me. Dad put me in bed and covered me up. It was always the same routine he would say goodnight and kiss my forehead. My brother was not in the room with me that night. He would often fall asleep on the couch downstairs and my mom would just let him lay there for the night. I remember my dad walking down and my mom calling out goodnight as the hall light went dark. I would often fidget a bit before falling asleep, as I still do now. There were wood spindles in my headboard and when I twisted them they would squeak. I would play with the spindles, or the silk corner of my blanket until I fell asleep. This night I recall letting my right hand drop between the spindles of the headboard. I suddenly felt a cold, feminine, bony hand grasp my hand. I jerked my hand away and bolted to a standing position in the middle of my bed screaming until my mom rushed in. I remember her coming in and consoling me while I sobbed and relayed to her what had occurred. I don't remember anything after that. Still to this day I do not put my hands behind my headboard or let them dangle over the edge of my bed.
I believe the next profound event would be an experience my brother had. My dad had started attending college in the evenings. My brother was eight and I was six. The only person to recollect this story was my mom. Apparently, she was frazzled with having to care for two children while my dad worked all day then headed to school three nights out of the week. She said she was washing dishes at the kitchen sink when she heard my brother talking to someone. He was in the den off the kitchen. She figured he was playing around and ignored it until she heard my brother
laughing. She dried her hands and walked toward the den off the kitchen. My brother was sitting at the top of the basement steps having a conversation with someone downstairs. My mom immediately asked him who he was speaking too. Too which my brother replied, "Dad". Well my mom knew that couldn't be and she pulled my brother up to his feet and brought him back to the kitchen. She shut the den door and waited for my dad to get home. It was also, around this time that I was hearing multiple voices whispering in my room. It was a collective discussion going on but I don't think I was meant to be included. I would compare it to the hushed sounds of people talking before a performance. It would happen in the morning and in the evening after dinner. It only happened every so often but it was always in my room. It went on for a couple months. I never told anyone until I was an adult. I knew it was odd but I didn't know anything about the paranormal. Being so young I didn't even think to tell anyone. After all, it would stop outside of my room. It didn't compare to the time my hand was grabbed in the dark so I shrugged it off.
In the summer of 1979 my cousin stayed with us for a few months. She was a figure skater and lived in Taylor, Mi. She was sixteen and found herself having to commute an hour to and from Grosse Pointe Civic Center every weekday. My mom and dad decided to take her in. It only made sense as the rink was only 15 minutes from our home. She was given the pull out couch in the living room to sleep on. Most nights she and I slept on the couch in the living room together. I adored her and it was like having a big sister. We'd often stay up giggling and talking until we both fell asleep. One morning I woke up before her and saw a little girl in pioneer style clothing standing in the archway between the kitchen and the living room. She was all white, head to toe. I could only see her profile. She was wearing a long dress and a puffy bonnet with a brim that was large. I couldn't see her face. I woke my cousin up and she said she saw it too.
I was probably eleven if my memory serves me correct. My favorite item in my bedroom was a ceramic piggy bank that my neighbor made me. It was marked Shirley on the bottom. She always signed her items. It had puffy purple flowers and green twirling vines painted on its back and feminine eyelashes. My neighbor was amazing at her craft and she'd often gift us with her ceramic pieces. I had it about a quarter of the way full with coins and a few dollars. It was sitting atop my five drawer dresser. One day I went upstairs to retrieve something from a drawer in the dresser and when I shut the drawer the bank whizzed across the room at an angle and hit the wall just under the light switch by the door. I remember it going inches past my face. It sailed an impressive eight feet and left a dent in the wall under the light switch.
Not too long after that incident I experienced what I thought was my dad lying on the couch. It was an early summer weekday mom was asleep in the den which she and my dad used as their bedroom now. I came downstairs and entered the living room to watch television. Everyone else was still asleep. I turned the corner out of the kitchen into the living room and saw an adult sized person stretched out on the couch. It appeared they had taken the orange and white crocheted afghan and pulled it taunt over their head down to their feet. I ran back through the kitchen to the base of the bedroom stairs to call my brother down. I saw a dark male figure standing at the top of the steps, he faded away just as fast as I saw him. I went back toward the front of the house and peeked around the corner into the front room and the afghan was in a pile on the couch. As I finally got the nerve to go back up the stairs I saw my brother still asleep in bed. I went into the opposite room which was my bedroom now. I closed the door, crawled under my blankets and went back to sleep.
During 8th grade the rumors were out about my house. It looked creepy, it felt creepy, it was creepy. Even now with new light green vinyl siding and white shutters it looked different from the rest. The two windows on top looked like eyes staring out toward the neighborhood kids as they passed by on their bikes. I would quickly dismiss the rumors or change the subject when kids at school would ask about the house. Some of the kids knew a couple of the stories but I never acknowledged whether they were right or wrong. They also asked about new stories they heard of a witch living there which made me laugh. I learned really fast who not to talk too. Gossip spreads like poison ivy in junior high.
I'm still in touch with a friend who experienced paranormal activity at my home. She and I had made fast friends in 7th grade and she spent the night on many occasions. This particular night we were talking about hauntings and we both had heard the story of another haunted house of a local girl. She was two grades above us and we only knew her by name. Apparently, she had a residual spirit in her home. It was a lady all in black who would rush down the back staircase and would motion her arms upward and held what appeared to be an umbrella. The movements she made looked as if she was going to pop open her umbrella on her way out. She'd then disappear through the door. I spoke with a good friend of hers years later who confirmed the story. We were done talking about that story and I went to go turn the television on. The only light on was in the kitchen. Just then as I moved toward the television a ball of light zoomed across the top of the wall. It sat there for a moment, growing brighter. Then just as suddenly as it appeared it was gone. My mom, girlfriend and I checked behind the draperies to see if any cars pulled in our out next door. All was dark. I saw something almost identical years later. It happened in 2015 while I was investigating the Union Hotel in Ontario.
I didn't keep a journal on all of these events. So this is all purely recollection. The house was still active into the 1980's but really seemed to settle down after my sister was born in 1980. She was diagnosed as having severe colic and it took its toll on my mom. All three of us kids were baptized in 1981. Immediately after the baptismal my mom saw my little sister change from a screaming sick baby to an angel. After the baptisms it really quieted down. As a teenager I wasn't around as much and I constantly had my Sony walkman on full blast. My brother was driving now and spent a lot of time at his friends house. We weren't around much and we really weren't paying the minor occurrences at the house much attention.
One winter night in 1986 something pretty bizarre occurred. We had a five foot long hi-fi stereo. For anyone who doesn't know, it's a wooden decorative piece of furniture that housed a turn table for records and a radio. The bottom had two wooden cabinet doors that opened to store records. It had a flip top hinged lid. When opened it revealed the record player and all the on and off switches for the system. I was in the kitchen and my mom was in her recliner watching television. I could see her from where I sat the table. Suddenly the radio was on full blast. My mom ran over and flipped the wooden lid open. The radio "ON" switch had been toggled to the on position somehow. She turned off the radio and looked at me. I looked at her and we both shuddered for a moment, exchanging a few words. It was this homes typical behavior.
The following year my great aunt on my dads side passed away. She was a lively woman who was on crutches as she had contracted polio at a very young age. She wore her black hair coifed and always had on bright red lipstick. When the family would all gather at my grandparent's home she was always there. She loved to hear my dad play his guitar. She'd always say "play another" until my dad ran out of songs. When ever my dad was done playing he would place his guitar in a black leather case she bought for him. It was lined with red velvet, her favorite color. He'd slide it under his bed as he did every time he was done playing. On the night she died my dad sat on the edge of the bed and was praying about her death. He heard his guitar pluck three chords. This story comes from my dad, a man that's good for his word.
Not long after that my grandfather died. I was 15. It was my mom's dad. He was a cold rigid man and seemed bothered by us when we were kids. He never said much to us and our visits to his house were mainly to see my grandmother. The only time he paid us much mind was when he'd offer us the chance to give his prized schnauzer a dog treat. I loved sitting under grandma's table with Ralph the schnauzer. We grew used to our grandfather's intolerance and eventually would just bring grandma to our house for overnight visits. The day he died I felt oddly at peace. I felt glad I wouldn't have to feel his rejection anymore. That night I fell asleep as normal. I remember laying there thinking how I felt bad that I had few feelings about his passing. The next morning I checked my clock. It was 7:20. I got on my knees in bed and looked outside. As I said earlier our house was situated far back on the lot. Our front yard was fenced and we had a picnic table under a tree my grandpa had planted for my mom. What I saw that morning cannot be explained. I saw my grandpa clear as day, sitting on the picnic tabletop his elbows resting on his knees, with his hands clasped in front of him. It was foggy and the grass was dewy. The window was open and I could smell the earth. The sun was shining through the fog. He looked up to me and without moving his lips he conveyed to me the following. "I'm sorry for how I treated you kids, and "I love you." After that message from him he faded away. Well here's where it gets really weird. I suddenly awoke and looked out the window. It was like instantaneous Deja Vu. The grass was dewy, and the sun was shining through the fog. Everything was exactly like my dream, even the same time, 7:20, but this time the table outside sat empty.
As I got older I had a marriage at the age of 18 that quickly dissolved in anullment. The things that occurred during that time in my personal life were a nightmare in itself. I'm telling you this because the day of the wedding tensions were very high. My parents were against the marriage and rightly so. It had been a few years since anything of major concern had happened at the house. I had a hair dresser coming to help me get ready in my old bedroom and she was running late. I remember bickering with my mom before she arrived. Once she showed up she and I proceeded upstairs. There was a long dresser and mirror in my bedroom that had been my grandparents. I had planned to get my hair done sitting in front of that mirror. Halfway up the stairs we heard a crash! I got to the top and peered in to see the large mirror on the opposite side of the room smashed. Glass was everywhere. All the windows were closed. It was a cold day on September 26th 1990.
The last story I heard about the house was just a few years before my parents moved. Both my brother and I were long moved out by then and had kids of our own. My sister was finishing high school and my parents planned to move out soon as the area was quickly going downhill. My dad was asleep and he woke to a sound. He saw a tall grim reaper all in black duck down to enter the bedroom doorway. It stood staring toward my dad. My dad stared back at it. This lasted 10 seconds. My dad said it felt like an hour. My dad said he looked at it straight on and said out loud, "In the name of Jesus Christ be gone with you!" It backed up tucking under the doorway and disappeared.
My husband and I married in 1995 and we moved in with my parentt in 1996 to save for a home. We stayed in the house for a year. During this time I gave birth to my oldest son. I suffered from severe postpardum depression and I sometimes wonder if the house had anything to do with it. Things improved immensely when we moved out into our first home.
My parents moved out in 1997 The house was torn down about five years ago. The neighborhood there is in very bad condition which makes me sad. Sometimes, I wish I could just go over there and check it out. Even though we had lots of scary and unusual experiences there it was still home. Now there's just an empty lot berween two run downed white bungalows. It doesn't resemble anything like it did 30 years ago.
(Empty lot where our house once was. The front of our house would've been even with the far back of the house on the right.)
I would like to think that whatever was spiritual in the house was released when the home was demolished. Thinking back about the familiar visitors makes me wonder if the home or the property was a portal. I'm happy now that I grew up in a not so ordinary home. It made me who I am today and enriched my love of all things paranormal.