Date: Sun, 5 Feb 1995 14:20:45 -0600 S
Subject: Meeting Uncle Joe
I collect true ghost stories as a hobby and have compiled jillions of them over the years. Most of them come from close relatives and friends whose integrity I respect. Occasionally, I'll get a real zinger from somebody whom I think is pulling my leg.
However, the following story was told to me by a woman, named Barb, who came to do some interior work on our house for several weeks. As it turned out, we both experienced poltergeist activity in our lives, and she told me the most incredible ghost experience I've ever heard. I kept the notes to myself thinking no one would believe it, but with the posting of 'A Ghost Story For Your New House, I feel a little braver in submitting it.
Hope you like it.
Barb's Grandmother owned an old and very large plantation style house in southern Ohio. The house had three floors and sat on a large parcel of land that even once had a built-in reflection pool on the property.
The house was turned into a convalescence home in the early sixties, which was managed by Barb's grandmother, and her grandmother's brother, (Barb's great-uncle), who died before Barb was born.
Even back then, the house had a reputation for being haunted. Employees often heard footsteps going up and down the hall when no one was there, and Barb's grandmother found the bare footprints of a child on the third floor balcony one morning, after a snowfall. In one closed off room that was locked up, the sounds of furniture could be heard moving around at all hours of the night. Some of the patients complained of ghostly visitations, which were met with grim sadness by the staff at first, considering some of the conditions of the residents. Later, some employees quit because of their own experiences
In the 1970's, the house was too difficult for Barb's grandmother to keep up, so she closed up the convalescence home for repairs. Once renovations were completed, she planned to place the old building on the market.
Barb and her family drove out to the house to help with the endless amount of work that needed to be done in order to get the house ready. It was not unusual to have workmen on the premises working in numerous areas of the old mansion, so Barb and her siblings were accustomed to running and bumping into them as they chased each other around the house.
Late one afternoon Barb was playing on the fire escape stairs, an area she was not allowed, but since her mother and grandmother were so busy in another part of the house, Barb felt she would not be noticed. At the top of the fire escape, looking through the window of a third floor room, she spotted a man in his late sixties with iron-grey hair and sporting dark horned-rimmed glasses, sitting at a desk that was stacked high with papers. He had his shirt sleeves rolled up and was rummaging through the amazing sea of papers, as if searching for some important documents. Behind him, hung a sport jacket on a coat rack. The only other thing that Barb spotted on the desk was a glass jar of stick candy. Barb assumed the man was her grandmother's lawyer or some such fellow hired by her grandmother to deal with the sale of the house. Apparently the room was an old office of the convalescence home.
The man glanced up at Barb and sat back in the chair smiling at her. He motioned for her to come in but Barb, wary of talking to strangers, started to turn away. Then she heard the man call out, "Now Barb, come back here and talk to me!"
The man knew her name! She turned back to him expecting to be scolded for playing on the forbidden stairs, but instead the man seemed very friendly and talkative.
The man said he knew her and insisted he was her Uncle Joe but she replied she had no uncle by that name. She had never seen him before in her life and she was feeling unnerved around this man whom she felt was just teasing her for his own amusement. He then turned to general questions about school and her siblings but Barb just hung back shyly, politely answering yes or no to his promptings, deliberately avoiding any details.
The man noticed Barb keenly eyeing the candy jar and asked her if she would like a piece. She hesitated, telling him her grandmother would have a fit if she were caught with it so close to dinnertime but the man urged her to help herself. Timidly, she took the stick of candy and backed out of the room thanking him. She left the room skipping down to the first floor where her grandmother and mother spotted her eating the candy. They inquired as to where she got it and she replied, "From the man upstairs." The grandmother and mother turned to look at each other then told Barb that all the workmen had left for the day and she'd better buck up and tell them how she got the candy.
Barb insisted that a man was upstairs working on some papers at a desk in a room near the fire escape door, and that he had teased her endlessly about being an uncle of hers. The grandmother gasped and ordered Barb to show her where she had seen the man. Barb led her upstairs to the room where she had just been, but when the door swung open, the room was entirely free of any furniture. The mother glared at Barb and chewed her out for telling such an outrageous tale but the grandmother insisted Barb tell her more of the details. Flustered, Barb told her about the coat on the coat rack, showed her where it stood in the room and where the desk had been.
Her grandmother turned to Barb's mom, "If I didn't know better, I'd swear she was talking about my brother, Joe."
Barb's grandmother asked her where exactly the candy had come from. Barb described the glass candy jar that had been sitting on his desk.
"Oh the candy jar!," she said, "I'd completely forgotten about that. He had the most awful sweet-tooth. You could never see the jar because it was always covered up with all the paperwork he had on his desk."
Barb asserts there was nothing ghostly about the man who had given her a piece of candy. He was as real as any living person she has ever seen so she has trouble believing she talked with a ghost that day in the old building. Still, she can't figure out what happened to the coat on the coat rack and the paper-piled desk with the glass candy jar.