The Ghost In The Basement: A True Ghost Story

23 Oct

When I was 9, my family moved from one side of North Bergen to the other side, to a house on 78th Street and Boulevard East. It was a great house with a wonderful backyard on a street with lots of children and fine neighbors.

Next door, our neighbor grew peaches and when they ripened he would give us some. There were two other girls my age, plus children for my brother and sister to play with. Up the hill at the other corner lived James Braddock, yes Cinderella Man, the great boxer.  We were one block from the park and could easily look across the Hudson River to New York City. There was so much to do and so many places to explore!

I loved my street. We had great games of stickball, played at each other’s homes, and wandered over to the park. And we even had the Grandma of one of my friends watch over us when our Mom was still at school; Mom was a teacher. It was a wonderful community.

As for my house, I loved it sort of…well…. except for the ghost in the basement. From the moment we moved in, I knew he was there. I would see him or feel him in certain areas of the basement. But my parents did not believe there was actually a ghost. They thought I just wanted to avoid chores. When we first moved there, I was really scared. I would confront my parents and cry to them, “There is a ghost in the basement! Really. There is really a ghost. I am not making it up!!”

But nothing ever changed their mind. I still had to go help with the laundry and do chores. I eventually just came to accept the ghost. He never hurt me or really did anything spooky. He was just there, in the basement and on the back stairs. He just became part of my life. I stopped talking about him.

I set up a little house in the basement for my dolls, doll furniture and me. And I would often play there. I put down scraps of linoleum to mark the outlines of my house. I felt safe there, within my ‘house.’ I always felt a sense of warmth when I sat in my area. But at night, when it was dark, or on rainy days, I would get a different vibe from our basement dweller. And I did not want to go down the basement then.

When I got older, I dreamt about the ghost. I knew, in my heart, that he was from the Revolutionary War, and I knew he died in battle. But it did not make sense because even though my area of New Jersey was part of the original settlements. The battles around Ft. Lee were several miles from my home. I could not understand how a dying soldier could make it that far along the Hudson River and the cliffs of the Palisades. But I knew he was a soldier. I just did not know about any battles close to home.

Then recently, on the “Town of North Bergen” Facebook page, some one posted a link to a booklet: “North Bergen Yesterday” by Michael K. Kruglinski and others, published in 1997. And right on the cover it says “May 27, 1780, Patriots Attack British Blockhouse at the Top of Bull’s Ferry Road.” Oh My Goodness! Bull’s Ferry Road, the scariest road in North Bergen, is easy walking distance from my childhood home!!! There was a Revolutionary War battle right where I walked many times. So close to my home!

This was it! I remembered back to my childhood haunting, and thought, The Ghost is explained!”

Now before you think I am totally crazy, I am really not the only one who saw the ghost. He never came into to our kitchen. He haunted the basement and would come up the basement stairs to the landing to the back door off the kitchen and stand there. He never went outside. He never entered our living areas. He just liked standing in the entranceway, watching.

One day, when I was a freshman or sophomore at North Bergen High School, I had some friends over. We were sitting in the kitchen having a snack, when one of them started to scream. “There is a man standing there.”   She was looking behind me towards the steps. I knew exactly what she saw.

“No,” I said, “Don’t worry, that is just the ghost from the basement..”

My statement did not go over very well.

My two friends started screaming and headed for the front door to run out. Oh no! My brother had just arrived home. He was coming in the front door and popped his head into the window on the door to look in before he entered. He startled them! My friends really started screaming then. As he opened the front door, they ran out!!!

A high school senior, my brother thought we were all insane. I really never was scared of the ghost once I got older. But when my friends started screaming, I did as well. They did not want to go back into my house, so instead we walked around the corner to one friend’s apartment. Once we got there, and they had calmed down, I told them all about the ghost in the basement.

We all saw the same thing.   A young man standing against the wall in the doorway. He had long brownish hair in a ponytail and was wearing a dark/black ‘turtleneck’ type shirt…or so it seemed, and a long jacket. He always wore the same thing.

I told them that he was safe. Not to worry.

That evening at dinner my brother told my parents the story of my crazy friends running out of the house. None of them believed that the ghost existed.   My Dad said my friends were being ridiculous that I probably told them about it, so they thought they saw him. It was just a matter of suggestion!

“But Dad, “ I insisted. “I never told them about the ghost. I never told anyone about him. They saw something and mentioned it first; they started screaming, before I told them.”

He did not really believe me. But it was the truth.

My sister was home during the great ghost sighting, although she did not see him. She actually never saw him, although she admits that “the basement was creepy!”

However, I believe other friends saw my ghost over the years. He would just stand there, always watching. I never spoke about him outside of the house, except with friends who had seen him.

In fact over the years, I stopped thinking about him. Once in a while I would remember the day my friends got so scared, but that was secondary to my ghost.

So seeing this book and this sentence about a Revolutionary War battle so close to my home brought it all back, just in time for Halloween. I hope he has found peace and is no longer haunting my childhood basement and stairs. It has been 234 years. I think he deserves some peace.

But I do wonder if the people who live in my childhood home ever feel the presence of the ghost in the basement?

4 Responses to “The Ghost In The Basement: A True Ghost Story”

  1. Susan October 23, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    I lived on 78th Street too, but down by Tonnele. I have seen ghosts too. I believe you.

  2. Brian Peretti October 24, 2014 at 1:53 am #

    I lived in the big house on the corner of 86th. St. and Kennedy Blvd., and I’ve had almost an identical situation. A strong presence in the basement, it would scare me, but I felt it tolerated me. Friends of mine weren’t as fortunate. One kid ran out of the house crying after we locked him in the basement for a few minutes, and never told what happened, or even spoke to me again. My girlfriend Connie, in 1971, went upstairs to use the bathroom. When she went back, she was pushed and fell down the cellar stairs. But nobody was there. She only told me about this a couple of years ago. Definitely something very wrong about that house…

    • zicharon October 24, 2014 at 6:03 am #

      Luckily my ghost was kinder!

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