Death, cemeteries, haunted houses and ghosts have been my passion since I was a girl of seven. Budd Lake, New Jersey. 1970. That’s where it started. My mother put me to bed. The fire station sounded their siren like they did every night for the 9:00 town curfew. A tall, thin, transparent man materialized at the side of my bed. Dark hair. He wore what I call a “burglar cap.” Think of cartoon icon Andy Capp. Remember the hat he always had on? Yeah… now you can see it. The thin man’s t-shirt was striped red and white. Big, thick stripes. Three to four inches. I've always had the sense that it was a French-looking shirt. No idea where that thought came from. I've never been much on fashion. His baggy trousers (I call them trousers because he seemed to be from a time well before ours when pants were trousers and clothes were more of an “event” than just a way to keep covered) were gray and flannel-esque. His trousers were cinched with a thin, black belt. And the best part…he was smoking a corn cob pipe. He just stood there. Looking down at me, smoking his pipe. Yes, the covers went over my head several times, accompanied by a lot of eye scrunching. And then the covers came down again several times. He still stood there. Smoking and looking at me until he eventually faded.
You may say it was my imagination. I was young…probably dozed off and dreamt it in the early stages of slumber. My parents thought the same thing when I ran screaming into their room. I have questioned it myself many times. But there are few memories from my childhood as clear as this and I always return to the confidence of knowing that it was real.
For the next ten weeks, beginning May 4, 2012, I will tell a ghost story that covers more than a century and meshes my life experiences of writing, cemeteries, ghost-hunting, and working in the field of criminal law.