Tim Woodward

The poltergeist that haunts my house has a new name now: Casper, after the protagonist of the “Casper the Friendly Ghost” cartoon series.

A recent column about the poltergeist that inhabits the Woodward residence cited instances in which keys, a cell phone, a robe and other common items vanished for months, even years, only to reappear in plain sight. It asked, only half jokingly, if readers could recommend a good exorcist and encouraged them to share their own poltergeist stories.

I didn’t really expect much in the way of responses. How many people, after all, even believe in ghosts these day? And how many would actually have stories about them, let alone be willing to share them?

Well, let me tell you … .

The responses made my poltergeist seem like a harmless practical joker.

Boisean Mary Barnett reported doors unlocking themselves as she watched, four screws simultaneously falling out of an air vent (it remained attached to the ceiling with the screws gone) and a drawer moving in the middle of the night from a dresser to a floor where her dog was sleeping, triggering enough barking to wake the household, if not the dead. And, perhaps creepiest of all, an invisible hand touching her foot while she was lying in bed.

She claimed to have “numerous witnesses” to these episodes, adding that a former editor of mine whom I know to be perfectly sane would vouch for her.

Madeline Hall, who lives in Caldwell, “grew up with a ghost attached to me. When I was little, he just stood watch. If my blankets slipped off, he pulled them back up and tucked me in. My mom thought I was crazy.”

As Hall got older, things got weirder.

“Things started disappearing. First was the TV remote. It was just gone. Dad bought a universal remote to replace it after making us get up to change the channel for several months as a lesson.”

A few months later, her mother was getting canning kettles down from a cupboard to make jam and heard a rattle. It was the remote — inside a kettle that hadn’t been used for a year.

Hall’s mother blamed her for losing a necklace that disappeared for several months. Then a teenager who had had her fill of being blamed, she angrily told her mother she wished whoever took the necklace would return it and stormed out of the room. When she got up to leave, the necklace was lying on the bed “right where I’d been sitting.”

The occurrences went from weird to spooky. Hall’s fiance’, now her husband, was waiting for her to come home one night when he saw “a glowing image of a man wearing a long-sleeved white shirt, a wool vest and a fedora.”

The next day, he happened to see an old family photograph at the home of Hall’s aunt. The man in the photo and the one in the glowing image, he said, were the same. The man was Hall’s great-great-uncle.

When the couple married, they moved into a house her great grandfather had built.

“We started to remodel, and things got really weird. We heard footsteps and voices. The voices spoke in Flemish, the language of my great grandfather. It was always at least two different voices speaking to each other. (Her great grandfather and great-great-uncle had lived in the house together.)

“My dad was helping with the remodel, and it got to the point he’d only come over when we were home because the spirits tormented him so badly. Between the talking and things like hammers and saws moving, he couldn’t take it any more.”

“… We still have weird things happen, but they’ve become so normal we don’t even notice much. It sure does spook our visitors, though.”

Vincent Kituku, a Boisean whom I’ve known for years, wrote to say that his family’s home is “not only haunted, but bewitched. I see people leave. Always leaving. We have heard them talk and move around.”

One instance was alarming enough that he called the police.

“I was alone downstairs and my wife was asleep when I heard the garage door opening. I rushed in and sure enough, the unknowns had opened it. My kids were too young to play tricks then. So I called and the police came.”

His son was so frightened at one point that he went to a neighbor’s house and refused to come home until his father returned from a trip.

“He was and still is a strong young man, captain of the Eagle High School football team in both his junior and senior years. And he was still scared of those who have made it their calling to torment us.”

Boisean Jesse Newman saw “a little girl ghost in our house about eight years ago. … We’ve had things disappear never to be found. A platter in a hutch with several items in front of it that were not disturbed. Two cookie sheets from a drawer in the bottom of the oven. We’ve had keys disappear, bedding and numerous other items.

“Stranger than things that disappear are those that reappear. The most notable was a mini Swiss Army knife that dropped between the seats in my car. I searched many times for it. About three months later, I’d just gone down the stairs to the laundry room. There was nothing on the stairs. When I returned, there was my pocket knife — on the stairs in plain sight.”

Craig Bullock was alone in his home in Emmett when he heard a door open and close and footsteps going up a stairway leading to two bedrooms. Every drawer had been opened in the dressers in both bedrooms. A few months later, he said, his wife was alone in the house when the same thing happened again.

Bullock was on a hunting trip in a mountain basin years ago when he came to a place where the ground became spongey, “with water showing and holes in the ground. One looked like a grave. It was about three feet wide and six feet long. I poked a limb into it and it wouldn’t reach the bottom.

“I’ve been back there several times since then. It’s a small basin that I know pretty well, and I’ve never been able to find anything that looked like what I saw that day.”

Shirley Biladeau thinks the ghost at her Boise home is that of her late cat, “Miss Kitty.”

“Since she passed on … more and more items disappear into the ‘Fourth Dimension,’ some never to be seen again. It’s our philosophy that when things move or disappear inexplicably, or the ice cream carton in the freezer is suddenly empty, it’s just Miss Kitty, and she will either make the things magically appear again or not.”

Shirley Kroeger, who lives in Murphy, has “a sprite” that lives in a bedroom closet. Dogs bark at the closet. Cats won’t go near it.

This brings us to my request for an exorcist. Two candidates responded, but I’m out of space and that’s probably enough ghost stories for now.

Maybe I’ll invite them over for a seance someday. If so, you’ll be the first to know.

Tim Woodward’s column appears every other Sunday, sometimes more often, and is posted on woodwardblog.com the following Mondays. Contact him at woodwardcolumn@hotmail.com.

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