The Ghost Had the Last Laugh

In 1969 my family moved to Watertown, Wisconsin. Back then, the Watertown area was very rural.
The only shopping was in mom and pop stores and when you went to check out, the cashiers would first speak to you in German. Most of my new friends came from farm families. I mean old world rural. With that in mind, my best friend lived on a small farm on which his father worked the land and milked the cows for the farm owner. On the farm was two houses. One was a very large house. Not a farm house but more like a Victorian style house. That was the owners’ home. My friend’s family lived in the small house next door, without running water. There was just a one light and one wall outlet in the kitchen. For a bathroom they used an outhouse. For water they had a hand pump in a well across the driveway. The only heat was from a wood stove.

My friend’s mom and dad were very fond of the owner and his wife. The owners treated my friend’s family as if they were part of their family. My friend’s mom would take the laundry over to the main house and use the wash machine. They did not have a dryer so all the clothes would be hung up to dry on wash lines. In the winter kitchen near the stove. In the summer outside. She and the owners would sit and fold the laundry, drink coffee and talk (in German). They would also go over and use the bath tub on a Saturday night. Overall, everyone was very happy.

As time went on, Mr. and Mrs. Owner passed away. Mr. Owner died from a heart attack. He was coming in from the barn and went down on the back porch. Mrs. Owner died from old age, in her bed, a few years latter. All this happened 10 years before our move to Wisconsin.

My friend’s mom would still go over to do the laundry. They would still go over and use the bath tub. She would sit and talk to the late owners as she would fold the laundry, telling them what was going on with the kids and so on.

Now for the start of the scary part. My friend’s sister was walking by the back of the main house one day and saw Mrs. Owner standing in the kitchen window. Ok, that’s not the scariest thing I have ever heard but it gets better. In the parlor was an old player piano that would start on its own. You could see hand prints in the dust on the stool and keys. One of the games we kids would play would be to dust off the piano and bench. Then leave it alone and watch for the hand prints to reappear. I personally saw this, although I never heard the piano play. You could also see hand prints on the couch, small kid’s hands. I personally saw this too.

You could hear voices and children giggling and many other strange noises in the house. At the top of the stairs from the first floor to the second floor was the creepiest painting I have ever seen, of a huge stag looking over a valley. The eyes would follow you as you went up the staircase.

The strangest thing in the house was the laundry. My friend’s mom would have the laundry all washed and hanging on the lines in the kitchen to dry. Then she would walk home to the other side of the barnyard. In a few hours she would go back to the main house to fold the laundry. When she would open the door, the laundry would be folded and sitting on the table. This happened more than once. Sometimes it would just be that the socks were rolled up and ready for pick-up. Sometimes just a shirt or two. You need to take this one on faith. The kids were all in school, my friend’s dad was working in the barn or working in the fields. And my friend’s mom was not the type to make up stories.

As time went on my mom would drop me off to hang out with my friend and play around the farm and in the woods, all the stuff two boys would do. All the time I would keep an eye on the house and from time to time I would see movement in a window but really nothing you could say was not a reflection or a shadow from a tree. My friend and I knew it was haunted but not in a scary way. His mom told us that the late owners were nice people and they would never do anything to hurt us.  Why be afraid of them? But like I said before, we knew this was a haunted house.

When I was about 17, I went over to pick up my friend for a night of cruising main street and looking for girls. When I got to his house, his mom told me he was over in the main house taking a bath. So I started walking over and at the same time I started to think what type of rotten trick could I play on him. What are friends for? Come on, I had a buddy in the tub in a haunted house. I couldn’t just let that go.

I came in the back door to the kitchen. The staircase was in the hall towards the far wall of the kitchen. On the stairs was a radio playing normal rock music. At that moment my plan came to me. I would change the station on the radio and step back around the wall in to the kitchen. When the victim would come down the stairs to see what was wrong, I would jump out and scary the wits out of him. Good plan.

I reached around the wall to the radio and gave the dial a spin. This part was just pure luck. The radio stopped on some creepy organ music. Sure enough, I hear the water slosh around and my friend starts to walk down the stairs. So far so good, all that was left for me to do is jump out and game over. Yep, worked great. I think he set the world record for jumping up a flight of stairs backwards while wearing a towel and being soaking wet.

After he was done using some very bad words, we both had a good laugh. He decided to go back up stairs and dry off, get dressed and we would be on our way. Nope, that was not to be. Just as he turned around, we heard a click and the radio turned off. It was not just the plug coming out of the wall. Oh no. The switch on the top was clicked to the off position. That got us both. It took all the courage we had to walk up the stairs. All the time that stag was staring straight at us. He went in the bathroom and  I guarded the door.

So much for my plan. I was outsmarted by a ghost. And he or she had the last laugh.

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