GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:
Now, the third lesson for the day's "Campfire Tales" is that whenever you move to a new place, first, be sure it's not occupied. Now, Auntie Rita - she met her friend, Leah. And Leah - she's got a story about how she had to learn things the hard way.
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LEAH: My name is Leah, and I'd always had a thing for old houses. I was 22 and bulletproof at the time. And so long story short, I ended up buying my first house. This one - it was a 6,000-square-foot brick Victorian. It looked so miserable. It was literally like a time warp walking back into that house. Everything was as you might have found it in 1901, except for the fact that it was falling to pieces.
And it had a very distinctly empty feeling throughout the majority of the house, except in what was the servants' quarters. On my very first tour of the house, once I walked into the servants quarters, there was no question my mind that there was somebody right around the corner in that room.
And so while still standing outside the room, I just said that I wasn't there to cause problems. And I didn't want them to run away, but that I would appreciate not being frightened out of my skin, thank you very much. And please do not let me see you because that's what freaks me out. I just kind of got a sense of peace that was like a breath of air that said, oh, OK. I really felt like it wanted to take care of the house, and that's why it had stuck around.
We started calling it a she, and she was always amazingly considerate. Very early on, my family members started having occurrences. At night, they would hear slippered footsteps, and the door would open to their bedroom. And somebody literally asked them if they had enough blankets. Or, are you warm enough? And you would hear the skirts rustling.
And these doors - there was no way to just push a door open. You had to turn the handle all the way, and then you had to push it open. They had a very distinct catch to them. And so on innumerable occasions, there were people that asked, you know, did you come into my room last night? It was always, no, wasn't me. I literally can't pawn it off on being my own imagination.
Now, when we would hear her on the stairwell that was the servant's quarters stairwell, we would hear shoes - you know, the clicking. But if she was on the main staircase, it was a softer footfall. And I discovered that servants were required to wear soft slippers on the main stairs so as not to scratch the finer woods.
I started to have more and more experiences with her in the kitchen. I've always enjoyed cooking, but I was confronted by a situation in that kitchen because I had a about 150-year-old wood cook stove, and it just confounded me. And I was just really bent on the idea of learning how to use it because my great-grandmother had, so why couldn't I?
And so I got it into my head to bake a pie one day. And I tried to get the temperature up on the oven part to be sufficient to be able to make a pie. And no matter how much wood I stuffed into the box, I couldn't get the temperature to come up. And that's when I first heard the sound that I came to really associate with the spirit that we later came to call Annabelle.
She would tisk and hiss, sort of like a clucking, old mother. It would sound something like (clicking tongue, sighing). So she would tisk and sigh when she was just completely aggravated with your obvious ignorance. And so I heard the tisk and the sigh. (Clicking tongue, sighing) And I was so frustrated with the stove at the time, I just didn't really care.
And so I kind of stomped my foot and said, what? If you've got something to say, say it. And I very distinctly heard, pull that lever. And I stomped my foot again, and I said, no, I'm not going to pull that lever. I tried that a minute ago. And it just killed the fire completely. And so I hear again (clicking tongue, sighing) again and, just pull the lever.
So figuring, fine, I'll fill the room with smoke just to prove you wrong, I went ahead and pulled the lever, and the temperature shot straight up. Apparently, I hadn't pulled it at the proper time. And then, she proceeded to teach me how to make a proper pie crust. Those are the things that happened in my kitchen on a fairly regular basis. I think she was utterly astounded that I'd ever found anybody to marry me because I was obviously, completely incompetent as a woman. But she took me under her wing, to a degree, and helped me fill those areas where I was so obviously weak.
Of course, I wanted to know as much about the history of the house as I could. We all found some documents literally underneath the floorboards in the attic that indicated that it had been built by the man who owned the brick factory in town. And he had alcohol problems and died fairly young. The mother also had passed away fairly young. He had all but bankrupted the family before he passed. And now, with the mother being gone, the girls and, apparently, their nanny - they had the house over their heads, but no way to support it.
We found out that they were running a car polishing business. And there was two sets of leather bound ledgers with identical dates, but different charges for each line item. Mr. So-and-so had such-and-such done for 50 cents, and on the other book, the same Mr. So-and-so had such-and-such done for five bucks.
And rumor had it, it was a rather notorious cathouse for that same time period. So left to their own devices - and that was about the only way they can make a living. And so it became part of our story that maybe she had been the nanny when they were young, and then became the madam after the fact.
One of the very last rooms that we renovated was the stairwell going up to the servants quarters. There was wallpaper in that stairwell that had an odd brown mark every other step at about shoulder height. If a person was walking up the stairs with some sort of wound on their shoulder and leaned against the stair every time that footfall hit, they would leave a smudge on the wall there. And that's exactly what it looked like. Every mark was the same as the next with the sort of streakiness.
You had asked if I had ever been afraid around her. One occasion - and it was literally one occasion out of the nine and a half years that I was there - I rounded the corner leaving the kitchen and encountered what I had come to be familiar with as her presence. But behind that presence, I felt something completely different. And it was dark, and it was not pleasant.
And it was the first time she had ever addressed me without that sort of tisk, sigh, here's what you're doing wrong kind of thing. She said, turn around and get out of here. It's not right. And so I hightailed it out of there up to her room, and I closed the door behind me. And there was no way those coming out of that room until I got the all-clear from her, and that didn't come til the next morning. I got the distinct gut impression that it had something to do with whatever had caused those marks on that wall.
As the renovations on the house were becoming more and more complete, and as it started to look like the home that she remembered it being, her presence became more and more infrequent. She just didn't feel the need to come around quite as much anymore. And besides, I'd learned how to use the stove.
WASHINGTON: All right, kids. You know, that pie - that pie you're eating right now? It was made from Annabelle's secret recipe - that one right there. You can find it yourself right now at SnapJudgement.org. And you know, evil wouldn't happen without Lanie Amber(ph) and Estelle Marcheson(ph) going to some very scary places. (Laughing). Now, I'm going to get up, go to the little boys' room. When I get back, I'm going to tell you all a story of the exorcist. Be afraid. Be scared, for real. When SNAP JUDGEMENT "Campfire Tales" continues. Don't go anywhere.
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