The Lady (Just an introduction)
Such a beautiful, old house. Built in 1897, the cape cod style home captivated me from the start. The first time I saw it I told my daughter, “It feels just like Grandma and Granddad's house.” After we purchased it I realized it now was .. Grandma and Granddad's house!
The first clue we had that something was different about this house was when we noticed the scent of cornbread and beans being cooked. Which was fine, except that we weren't doing any of the cooking! We had entered the front door and were stopped about three feet in, where we were pleasantly surprised with the aroma. Cool!
Of course, as with any Southern cook worth her apron, this wasn't her only dish. We were to be privileged with the smell of other truly wonderful meals. Too bad her talent did not include actually putting this food on our table!
We nicknamed the provider of these pleasures of the senses, the Lady.
The Lady never appeared to us a full blown apparition though she made her presence felt in many other ways.
Now, at certain times the scent of cigars would waft from the sitting room (just inside and to the left of the front door) as if the gentlemen had retired for their after dinner brandy and cigars.
This was our introduction to 'The Lady' in our house. We didn't know that we would come to know her much better over time.
The Lady and the Hunley
My wife, Lisa and I took a day trip to Charleston, SC to view the Civil War submarine, C.S.S. Hunley. It had been recently moved to an area where you could tour and see the ship and listen to lectures concerning its construction and short history.
While there we decided to purchase a print titled 'the Blue Light'. This depicted the Hunley as she should have been after her ill-fated mission. It showed a mariner holding a signal light denoting “mission accomplished”.
When we returned home I felt that the perfect place for this print was centered above the antique upright piano in the sitting room. Since the walls in this room are still covered in thick plaster instead of modern sheetrock I drilled a hole and inserted a hollow wall anchor to hang the picture from.
After carefully centering and leveling the frame I stepped back to admire my handiwork. “How does that look?” I asked my wife.
“I think it is perfect”, she replied.
We retired to the den at the back of the house content that we had just added to our wonderful home.
The next morning my wife came into the kitchen and asked, “Where is the Hunley?”
Taken by surprise I said, “Let me guess, in the sitting room?” Well I thought I was witty!
“No, and I can't find it,” she said.
Look, I'm no genius, but even I know that if you put something somewhere and you don't move it, then it should still be there the next morning.
That is what I thought, anyway. What I discovered was that it was not only NOT where I had hung it, but in its place was a hole that may have been made by forcefully pulling a hollow wall anchor out of the plaster!
Okay, I didn't do it, my wife didn't do it and no one else was there... so … oh never mind! Didn't even want to think about it!
So where was my picture? I gauged that if the picture had just fallen from the hanger, it would have bounce off the top of the piano, shattered the glass and wound up on the floor. One problem, no picture. No shattered frame and glass. No shards on the floor. Hmmm!
It was as if the print had been ripped from the wall and taken away! No, I did not believe someone had broken in during the night, ripped my picture from the wall and escaped from the house the same way they had gotten in. And all without myself, my wife or the 5 dogs that we have, hearing or seeing anything. So, where was it?
After searching everywhere else, I peeked behind the piano. This piano was built in the 1850's and is super heavy. I sits only two inches from the wall, so I already knew that the picture could not be there. But it was!
Sitting very nicely behind the piano, leaned up against the wall, face out and with no shattered glass, scratched frame or even scuffed finish, was the print that I was so fond of. We never did find the anchor!
I leaned the picture up on a table and left it there, un-hung and undisturbed for several months.
Not a bad little tale of unforeseen spookiness. I guess things would have been fine if I had just left well enough alone and the picture on the table … riiiight.
The Hunley .. Again
The picture of the Hunley had been residing on an antique plant stand for several months when I decided that the Lady must have just been having a bad day when she ripped it from the wall. I was also sure that I would not allow something unseen to dictate where I hung my pictures or in any other way influence my decorating decision in my own home.
With this in mind I politely got my trusty hammer, a small picture hanging hook (the kind with the small nail that doesn't leave too big a hole when you eventually pull it out) along with the print and proceeded to have my way in the sitting room.
Okay, all I really did was put the hook a few inches above the hole left by the anchor and hang the picture in such a way as to cover the evidence that I had been too lazy to fix the hole.
Our youngest daughter, Rachel and her husband, Randall were over and they steadied the chair that was standing in for the small step stool that I couldn't seem to find. After carefully and artfully hanging the Hunley back above the piano and stepping back to ascertain its being level, we retired to the den for some well earned iced tea.
As our Sunday afternoon progressed we wandered in and out of the house on various errands. After one such outing Randall entered the den looking a bit perplexed. “Jerry, did you move the picture?” were the words that still send shivers down my spine.
“No, why? Don't tell me its gone again.” I had just gotten over the first incident of whatever entity that roamed our halls taking it upon itself to rip the print out of a perfectly good plaster wall.
“Well,” he said, “Its not where we left it.”
My wife and I along with Rachel and Randall made a hasty advance to the sitting room where, sure enough, there was a bare spot where the print of the Hunley should have been. I was, however, pleased to note that there was no new hole in the wall but that the hook was still in its place.
Wait a minute, the hook was still in its place. That meant that whoever, or whatever removed the Hunley had to have lifted it straight up off the hook instead of just pulling on it. For some reason this seemed worse than the previous event.
This time I did not even bother to search the sitting room .. instead I first looked behind the piano and sure enough, there it sat. No scratch, break or scuff of any kind.
I was beaten.
I retrieved the print, tucked it under my arm and retreated to the den where it hangs to this day, a year later, in a wonderful spot just above and to the left of the T.V.
Oh, in the place where I had tried twice, unsuccessfully to hang it in the sitting room, now resides a very innocuous 'Home Interiors' print. Totally unmolested by the Lady, who, truth be known, must have no sense of taste.