When I was around five years old, our family lived in a very small town in Texas. The Second World War had only recently been decided, and my father was struggling to get his painting contractor business running smoothly. The small house in which we lived was barely adequate for the needs of our growing family. Besides our parents, there were my sister, age eleven; my brother, age eight; and me, age five. We all seemed to fit nicely in our small dwelling, although a bit snugly, so our parents decided that we needed more space. Then it was that we moved. Our little house was just too small to accommodate our growing family. My sister wanted and needed her own room. My parents needed their privacy and my brother and I just wanted the adventure. There was no way of knowing what was in store for us. Things change, no matter how much you want them to stay the same. Our lives were to be radically altered, as life moved right along with us to our new address. Dad had gotten a good deal on our next house, but it wasn’t until later that we knew why. The house that we moved into was haunted… period! Mother was convinced of it.
My memory of it isn’t very clear but I heard members of my family talk about it regularly - the Copeland House. We didn’t stay there very long, however. It was a creaky, spooky, older, three-story house that made strange noises in the night and sometimes even in the daytime. The rooms were all very large (much larger than we were accustomed to) and the ceilings must have been twelve feet high. Throughout the house, there were hidden closets, pantries and recesses that offered many opportunities for exploration and adventures for curious children; and then there was... the attic, and...... the dreaded cellar. I was told that no one ever went there; I know that I certainly didn’t. Of course, our apprehensions were augmented by previous evenings sitting in the dark, in front of our console radio, listening to our favorite shows such as; Inner Sanctum, The Shadow, and Lights Out. The only visible light in the dark room, emanated from the very small, amber bulb above the radio dial. Otherwise, there was only us, our vivid imaginations, and any other entity we might have conjured..
Mother was certain that the entire house had been cursed. A family of bats lived in the attic. Doors and cabinets would open and close by themselves, lights would go off without notice, after being turned on, and then… there were the noises that we were afraid to hear, but heard anyway. We made a game of placing our ears against the walls as we listened curiously to the almost constant whisperings that emanated from within. We never found out who they were, or exactly where they were hiding, but someone else was living in that house besides us. (Maybe “living” isn’t the right term.) Mother tried her best to ignore the occurrences but we could see in her facial expressions and reactions that she was afraid of something. Constantly, she would call out, asking us where we were and who we were talking to; even though she knew we were alone. (At least we thought it was her calling out.) We believed that. Without a doubt, someone else was there. I wouldn’t do it, but my brother and sister even tried to carry on conversations with them.
In your mind’s eye, conjure up, if you can, a huge, gothic, 19th-century house, sitting on a hill with moonlit silver clouds illuminating and amplifying its spooky features, and with bats flying in and out of the soffits. Then you’d have a perfect picture. We saw Dracula in every window and spiders in every cobweb. We didn’t search very hard, but we never discovered the origin of those strange noises. At night, and before any of us would go into another room, we would broadcast that we were coming in and ask if anyone was in there. A reply of the smallest sound would send us scurrying back to our beds, covering our heads and eyes; as if not actually seeing them might save us from some eerie, strange fate worse than death. However, I can report that those experiences were responsible for numerous frightening dreams during some very long nights. Although, at my young age, the events that occurred in that old house were mostly fun for me, as I wasn’t old enough to be aware of true evil, or of other dimensions existing outside of my own. It wasn’t until much later that my developing mind simply could not reconcile those happenings with logic and reality. By then, I was old enough to be very afraid of the things I had seen in that old house, but could not explain. Because to me, I had been witness to them, and believed they had indeed occurred. When Mother wasn't happy, nobody was happy. Therefore, we were given the ultimatum of either moving to another house, or advertising for a new mother. Once again, we moved.
However, after our move, those days and nights in The Copeland House that had scared us so badly, were not so easily forgotten. Those strange noises and odd happenings seemed to follow us. We talked about those things and tried to explain them to one another, but to no avail. Mother had finally had enough. One afternoon, she armed herself with a broken broom handle, told us that she would be back in an hour and stormed out the front door. Two hours later, she calmly returned with a smile on her face and missing the broom handle. We asked her where she had gone and what had happened, but she only smiled glibly, and told us that from then on, everything would be all right. Mothers are smarter than anyone suspects. We realized much later in life, and after a course in psychology 101, that Mother had used her power of suggestion to relieve our fears about those “Spirits,” when she supposedly drove them away with a broken broom handle. However, sometimes it’s more fun when we don’t know everything. I like a little mystery in my mundane life.
From that day forward, our nightmares about that old house vanished into a darkened room with only an amber light emanating from the radio dial. Still, whenever Inner Sanctum came on our radio, we stayed very close to one another.