The Day I Saw a Ghost

Oct 19, 2015 by

The Day I Saw a Ghost

Do you believe in ghosts? Some people think the mere mention of spirits is silly nonsense. I, however, am a believer in ‘something else out there’. I’ve believed since one summer day when I was 9 years old. That was the day I saw a ghost.


I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, where my family lived in a large stately home which was built in the early 1900s. The house had a double living room and a graceful staircase with a polished wooden banister which led to a landing. Beyond the landing, the staircase turned and continued out of sight upstairs to the second floor. One sunny afternoon, I was alone in the main living room, curled up on the Staircasecouch reading a book. My father was at work, my mother was in the kitchen making dinner, and my younger sister was outside playing. I was reading, when all of a sudden something broke my concentration. It wasn’t a noise, just a ‘feeling’. Looking up from my book, I glanced around. Everything looked the same, yet something was different. The very air seemed charged with energy, and I remember feeling suddenly spooked: afraid to move, afraid to breathe. I felt as if someone was there, watching me. I glanced into the second living room. No one there. Then slowly I lifted my gaze and followed the stairs up to the second floor landing.


That’s when I saw the ghost.


A man—a very old man, looking like he’d stepped straight out of a faded photograph—stood on the landing glaring down at me.


Bowler hatHe was dressed in a shiny suit of black cloth, with a tab collar white shirt buttoned tight around his neck. A bowler hat sat atop his head. His face was stern and gaunt, and his eyes burned black and menacing. I’d never seen him before, but I knew right away he didn’t belong on our stairs, or in our house, or in this world. He wasn’t a person. He wasn’t real. Or was he? I was terrified as he continued staring at me with those piercing evil eyes, and I realized I must be seeing a ghost. Even scarier was the thought pounding through my heart and beating through my brain:


What if he started down those stairs?


Naturally I did the only thing a 9 year old could do. I slapped my hands over my eyes and kept them shut. Good-and-tight shut. And I prayed. I prayed as hard as I could, for as long as I dared, that I wouldn’t feel the sudden cold touch of skeletal hands curling around my neck, choking the life out of me. I prayed that if and when I found the courage to chance another look, the man would be gone. I buried myself in the couch cushions, trying to tuck myself into a tiny little ball. I could barely breathe. I’m not sure how much time passed… it might have been seconds, it could have been minutes. Finally I managed to talk myself into chancing a look. With a deep breath, I peeked through my fingers… and saw nothing in front of me. Taking another breath, I dared a glance up the staircase at the landing.


The man was gone.Ghost


And I was, too! I bolted off the couch and flew into the kitchen, to the safety of my mother’s presence. I didn’t tell her what I’d seen. I was too scared to talk about it. I was afraid if I talked about the ghost man, it would make him more real. Worse, it might make him come back. And I knew he was real. I hadn’t been dreaming. It had really happened. He had been on those stairs, on our landing. I never wanted to see him there again.


Thankfully, I never did. We moved away the following year, but I’ve never forgotten the day I saw the ghost man. A few years ago, my 90 yr. old mother and I were chatting about the house in Toledo where we used to live, and I finally told her about the ghost man. She listened quietly, then asked me what he’d looked like. I described him exactly as I remembered, right down to the black suit and the bowler hat atop his head. Her face whitened, then she slowly began to tell me the story of the couple who’d built the house we’d lived in. They’d been married many years when the man suddenly died in his sleep… upstairs in one of the bedrooms of the very house we’d lived in. After his mother died, their son sold the house to my parents. When the sale was transacted, he showed my mother a photo of his parents. According to my mom, the photograph was an accurate description of the man I’d seen: an unsmiling man with hollow black eyes, dressed in a black suit and wearing a bowler hat.



Nearly fifty years later, the memory is still as vivid as the afternoon it happened. I try not to think about it… much. Seeing that ghost man and the malevolent look in his eyes as he stared down at me from the stairway landing put a fear in my heart that remains to this day. So I think you’ll understand why Halloween, when the spirits of the dead are rumored to wander the earth, is not my favorite holiday. I have no desire to meet up with my ghost man again. My advice for Halloween: enjoy the trick-or-treating and the parties. But while you’re celebrating, if you happen to look up and see a man with piercing black eyes and a black bowler hat staring at you, turn around and run away as fast as you can… and whatever you do, don’t look back!


Do you believe in ghosts?  Now you’ve heard MY story, let’s hear YOURs!