Friday, April 27, 2012

The Ghost Diaries: Volume I

Editor's Note: For many years my grandmother, Mrs. Kathryn Montenyohl-Mattis, lived in what she always claimed was the "oldest house in Santa Rosa," California. I don't know if that is true. Situated on an oddly-shaped triangular piece of property across the street from the cemetery, the ramshackle little clapboard house -- which still stands -- has no foundation but sports four rather two-big-for-its-britches Doric columns out front (though family always entered from porch at the rear). It's a strange house. The second story, where she often boarded foreign students, is accessed by a little doorway next to the fireplace, which forces you to bend down to get through. Even in summer, it was always cool, if not cold. It's on a slope; you can place a marble at one end and it will roll down to the other. The tree next to the house, she once told me, was once a hanging tree, where crooks were executed. I don’t know if that is true, either. But I always loved it. She always hinted that something mysterious was going on in the house, but never explained. “You’ll find out one day,” she said. After she passed, in her effects was found a set of handwritten notes on yellow legal paper, dating from the 1970s through the early 1990s. I have finally decided to publish them here. Below you will find the first few entries, with her spelling and grammar intact. At first they describe merely odd noises but grow increasingly strange as she entered the final stages of her long life. I make no claim to the paranormal but merely provide them as a chronicle of one woman’s experience. I will continue to transcribe and post these diaries as time permits.

16 April, 1974

The time has come for me to make a record of what I choose to call “The Unexplained Noises in the Nite.”

I have lived here at [address] since July 5, 1969, in this very old house, which has had considerable remodeling in its existence. There is nothing unusual about it though – just a charming setting of trees and plants surrounding a small, old home.

But for the past three years, more or less, there have been occurring strange noises (to me), rappings for which I find no logical reasons. Certainly in a house as old as this there will be creakings and settling, possibly mice or other nite-time visitations; the wind blowing in the branches, stray dogs, even a prowler or two. None of these can account for what I hear.

[In the margin here is written “1971”]

To describe these sounds will tax my ability to find the right words and even this will not be entirely accurate because they are different from any sounds I’ve ever heard. But I’ll make the good old try anyway.

About three years ago was the first time. I was sleeping soundly and dreamlessly when I was startled awake by what I thought was someone knocking at the front door – three loud knocks. I lay there, waiting for further knocking, thinking, “If someone wants me, they will knock again.” There being no further sound, I got up and, turning on the lites, I went out, opened the door, looked over the porch and yard. Seeing no-one – nor any animal either – went back to bed. It had startled me so – such a loud noise – that I was uneasy for a while but went back to sleep. The next morning I had forgotten about it until later in the day – then searched the porch and yard again. Maybe a branch? No. Nothing.

I said nothing to anyone – it wasn’t even notable and I quickly forgot the whole thing.

About a month later – again I was in a deep, quiet sleep – when I was suddenly awakened by the three loud knocks on the front of the house. The sounds were the same as before but the placement was different. This time the noise was “inside” the house – more into the room. The raps were strong, sharp, masculine, but not exactly the sound of knuckles on wood. (See it is hard for me to get it correct!) Again, I listened for further activity. Nothing happened. I thought about it for a while but didn’t get up. I was not particularly frightened (as for instance of an unwanted prowler), but I had just a sense of wondering, “What the hell is going on?” Again, I said nothing to anyone.

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