I am a very unlikely person to be writing about ghosts. As a kid I avoided campfires where the group gathered to share stories about apparitions; roaming ghosts, abandoned houses, chain saw murderers, and the like.
My lack of education in all things ghostly didn’t prepare me for life when I purchased the former general store now known as North Side Store. Certainly if I were a believer I would have believed the building was haunted. The store had a worn out front door that led into the main section of the building. The door had no window so anything or anyone could hide behind it and jump out as it was opened. Walking into the main room of the building, poor lighting cast shadows that gave the feeling that unknown entities were hiding amongst the old store shelves. Meandering through every type of antique cast-off; passing through a doorway draped with a ratty old quilt was another smaller and more sinister area that led upstairs to the apartment. The top of the stairs opened to what was once a kitchen, now strewn with odd chairs, lamp bases and picture frames. Through the doorway the dining room and the parlor beyond were filled with every type of antique, gathered on the floor and hanging from walls. The most noticeable thing as you walked through the apartment was the way the building echoed and you got the distinct feeling that you were being watched.
North Side Store predates the Civil War so of course there is opportunity for a number of ghosts to reside in it. The previous owner felt that the ghost was of a woman who had died in the store and as was the custom a hundred or so years ago was laid out in the front parlor of the store’s apartment for people to pay their respects. The problem came when they tried to remove her from the upstairs apartment. The steep stairs ended at a small landing at its base, this meant they had to carry the casket on end; according to the story standing her on her head. While that could have made her mad enough to haunt the place, my personal pick was a lady named Sadie whose nephew had forced her to sell the building twenty years before I purchased it. Sadie’s nephew had his aunt’s best interest in mind. She was robbed in the building and tied to a chair where one of the neighborhood children found her when she came to purchase candy. Sadie’s nephew felt it was time for her to leave the building and move south with him. People would later tell me how unhappy Sadie was about leaving. The store had been the center of her life since her father had owned it before her.
About a year after I purchased the building something happened that changed the way I viewed the store. It had been a busy Saturday with customers crowding the store walking around a wing chair covered with a sheet of plastic to protect it. I was going to have a big yard sale the next day with a number of dealers joining me. After I went to dinner I remembered that I had left a big bowl for the salad I was going to bring for our pot luck. It was late but I thought nothing of entering the store — that is until I opened the door. When I left earlier I had leaned an old Radio Flyer sled against the ledge of a display window. The sled was now lying in front of the door pointed in the opposite direction. The wing chair covered with the plastic that hadn’t moved with people passing by, now looked as though someone had grabbed the plastic on the seat, pulled it off the chair and then dumped it on the floor in front of the chair.
I admit being greeted with these changes gave me shivers but the thing that gave me the greatest pause was the eerie silence that greeted me. Since I really didn’t believe in ghosts I rushed to the back of the store as quickly as I could for the bowl almost running out of the building.
Over the years I have had many more interactions with Sadie and her friends, but the other instance that still makes the hair on my arms stand on end was years later.
The store was closed and I was working in the newer section of the building. I thought I heard something in the older section and walked into that section but nothing was there, I walked out only to hear the noise again. The third time I saw a man standing at the front door. I silently laughed at myself for being spooked by the noise, thinking the man must have knocked on the door before and I had just not seen him. I let him in asking if he had just knocked, but he told me he had only just walked to the door. As we talked with me facing the front door, a grandfather clock next to the door suddenly started ticking. I stopped talking and just stared at the clock. You see, the clock had been cleaned 3 months before but part of the pendulum was broken and the clock man had not been able to get the clock to run.