If you were to jump into your hybrid import and quietly drive through your town, at some point, maybe even before the electric motor kicked in, you will come across the local haunted house. You’ll know it’s haunted because, invariably, whoever you are driving with will retell a tale they had heard 15 years earlier during their sophomore year in high school. The same tale thousands of others have told to thousands of others.
The house, by all accounts, will be old. Sort of turn of the previous century old. Your grandparents may not be as old as this house. Usually the house will have ominous looking oak trees surrounding it and unkempt shrubbery(somehow the house has managed to avoid your township’s fine for not cutting their grass for the past quarter century).
You may not have even know the house was haunted. It’s not as though Century 21 listed that amenity next to the summer/winter hookup on the handouts. The stories of flickering lights, opening and closing doors, furniture moving on it’s own, may have long since faded. The most recent tales may involve ’77 Nova’s and 8 tracks. In fact, it is a very real possibility the only ones who know of the haunted origins of the house are a bunch of guys sitting in their parents basements watching TiVo’d episodes of ‘Ghost Hunters’ and considering themselves amateur ghost hunters.
But that haunted house is there(hopefully a good distance away from your house if for your resale value only).
My local haunted house was Lizzy’s. Perched on top of a small hill on Lincoln Road in Exeter township, for years, Lizzy’s house had provided chills to the residents of Exeter. While not quite as famous as Lizzie Borden’s axe wielding exploits in Massachusetts(and with no cute jingle I know of), Lizzy’s was all Exeter’s.
As legend has it, Lizzy met her untimely death at the hands of her adulterous husband(it seemed the mister had a thing for the housekeeper). Lizzy found out then found the bottom of a flight of stairs when her husband gave her a ride down them. From that point forward, Lizzy has roamed the house(although why she would want to continue haunting a house her husband no longer lives in is beyond me).
Exeter’s claim to fame(besides maybe Betsy King) has been Lizzy. Instantly, Exeter township’s haunted street credibility rose. Unexplained noises, sightings, and ghostly phenomena soon followed. Every teenage lettermen and his cheerleader girlfriend, every future amateur ghost hunter, everyone around either told a story or drove to Lizzy’s.
Yet, like so many other haunted houses littering our country’s neighborhoods, Lizzy seemed to lose her fright. The trees that had once added just that little extra shadow along the house grew to completely obscure your drive by view. Lizzy never bothered to keep up with the chores either. The house fell into ruin. The stories told by kids and adults alike from their cousin’s friends were no longer being told. No one was hearing noises. No one saw the unexplained. The stories being told were recycled a hundred times over to the point where people just claimed them as their own. The guys living in their parent’s basements moved on to the next haunted house and Lizzy, much like John Edwards, lost credibility.
We were Juniors at Antietam Jr/Sr High School when someone brought up a Lizzy story. I’m sure it began something like this, “…I knew this guy who had a friend who saw….”. The next thing I knew, we all were retelling the stories our older siblings told us or stories we had heard as kids. We laughed at some. We went wide eyed and feigned disbelief over some more. By the time we had run out of tales of Lizzy, we all realized one thing.
Come hell or high water, we were going to find out if Lizzy were still around and the only way to do that was to get in to her house.