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Don Chapman

MidWeek Readers’ Ghost Stories

Following a recent MidWeek Poll that asked people if they had ever seen a ghost, letter writer Elizabeth Tam responded in shock that each of the five people polled said yes, they had seen a ghost. This came as a relief, she said, after years of ghostly encounters in Manoa – at least she wasn’t alone. She also suggested MidWeek readers submit their own experiences with the spirit realm. Some of those responses follow here, as well as her own story.

I’m not certain what to think about these tales, except that each one is sincere. And some years ago I was staying in the former home of Lily Langtry, the famous British actress, at what by then was Guenoc winery in California. Sleeping in her bedroom, I awoke in the middle of the night and heard footsteps coming up the old wooden stairs, creak, creak, creak. Flinging open the door, ready to meet an intruder, there was nothing. Too bad. I was hoping to meet Miss Langtry.

From Michel Grotstein, Kaneohe

What’s so weird about my story is not that I saw a ghost but the kind of ghost I saw.

It must’ve been 1990-something. I was in the kitchen, middle of the day, cleaning a bunch of stuff and there was a big black Hefty sack on the floor behind me that I was filling up with trash. I was home alone and kept getting a feeling I was being watched. I turned around a couple of times to see who was there … nothing. And then I turned around again and there, sitting on top of the Hefty sack was a ghost! It was like a hologram. This “kid” was sitting there, stretched out with his legs in front of him, grinning from ear to ear like he was just sooo happy, with his arms crossed over his chest. He was blond, about 16 and wearing lederhosen. In Hawaii!

I stood there just stunned, and as I watched him felt like I was being tickled from the inside out, thinking, “This can’t be happening – I’m seeing a ghost, a real ghost!”

He was transparent but completely “there.” This went on for 10 seconds or so and then he just faded out.

I swear he was dressed as if he’d just walked out of the Bavarian Alps. Why he showed up in my kitchen that day in Punchbowl, I’ll never know. But I sure won’t ever forget that blond, blue-eyed wayward ghost!

From Rico Leffanta, Kakaako

My wife and I were leaving the grocery store, walking toward an intersection, when I noticed a Disney-type “old crone” scurrying along on the opposite side of the street, brandishing a polished, twisted-branch cane. It was almost as if she were riding a Segway, because plodding along with her cane she floated past other pedestrians as if they were walking in slow-motion. When I turned to my wife and said, “Look at that old woman …” the apparition suddenly zoomed right up to my face with a sinister smile that made my hair stand on end. Then, still “smiling,” she slipped behind my wife.

My wife asked, “What’s wrong? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost!”

I said, “Didn’t you see that old woman?”

I turned to look after her, but the old lady had disappeared without my wife or anyone else seeing her.

Just then a driver zoomed through the red light and would most certainly have made us and our groceries another statistic had we not stopped. According to my wife, this incident proves a guardian angel need not look like Marilyn Monroe to get my attention!

From Tim Donahue, Kaneohe

Years ago as a Peace Corps volunteer, I taught at an elementary school in Koror, Palau. One evening I was walking past the playing field and noticed a young boy in a school uniform. He was on the opposite side of a drainage ditch that ran along the road, and as I approached he reached out for help across the ditch. I stopped and reached out to him, but as soon as I did he disappeared.

Later, I found out that two years previously, a second-grade boy had been struck and killed by a car at that spot.

From Wayne Gau, Saint Louis Heights

Some years ago, my mother and I occasionally would hear the sound of heavy footsteps walking up the stairs to our front door. But no one knocked on the door or pressed the buzzer. Looking outside, we could see no one was there. A couple of times, however, the door buzzer sounded, but in coming to the door I found no one there.

From Makana Risser Chai, Kailua

When I was in law school at UC-Berkeley, one night I awoke to see my housemate in my bedroom. She walked from the door to the window at the foot of the bed, and I heard the curtain rings move on the rod as she looked out. She walked back toward the window at the head of the bed a few feet from me. Then she flew out the window. I thought I must be dreaming, so I went back to sleep. In the morning, I found her dead.

From Elizabeth Tam, Manoa

When I was 6, my mother came into an inheritance and bought an old home in Manoa Valley with gardens and a pond. The entire top floor of the home was the children’s quarters, where my younger brother and sister and I lived and played.

The entire bottom floor of our home was my mother’s quarters, which she used largely for entertaining.

There was a long wooden staircase that connected the first floor to the children’s quarters. Almost from the very beginning, strange things began to happen. It started when we were awakened at night by the sound of footsteps running up and down the stairs. We would wake up, terrified, and run to the top of the stairs and look down, only to see my mother at the bottom of the stairs, her frightened face looking up at us.

“Go back to sleep, children,” she would say, “it was just a dream.”

When I would insist that it wasn’t a dream, she would admonish me not to frighten the little ones, or she would say, “It was the cat.” or “Old houses creak.”

There was a grand piano on the first floor that none of us knew how to play. It came with the house and sat untouched, except when one of the kids fooled around on it. Soon after we moved in we would be awakened in the middle of night by the sound of someone playing loudly on the piano. We would jump out of bed and run downstairs, but before we could get there, the music would stop. Often we would encounter our mother running into the room ahead of us. “It was the cat,” Mother would say. When I argued that the cat couldn’t possibly lift up the fallboard that covered the keys, she would say, “A cat is capable of doing anything it chooses.”

In the second grade, I told my teacher that we had a ghost in the house. My teacher called my mother. My mother had to go to school and talk to my teacher. She was very upset with me. Afterward, she sat me down and said, “A well-bred lady never airs her dirty linen in public.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but figured she didn’t want me telling my teacher about the ghost anymore.

As I got older I began to sense the presence in our house was a gentleman. Some nights I would feel him sit down on the edge of my bed. I wasn’t afraid, because I felt he was watching over me. I liked it when he came, because it made it easier for me to fall asleep. Sometimes he would sit on my little sister’s bed, but mainly he just sat on mine. One night my mother came up to my bedroom when he had just been sitting with me.

“Who were you with?” she asked. It was almost as if she knew. My bedroom looked out over Diamond Head, and the moon was shining in on my bed. My mother smoothed out my sheets where he had been sitting. “Were you alone?” she asked. I thought that was an odd question – she had to know I was alone. Later, I wondered if he sat on her bed too.

It wasn’t until high school when my mother finally admitted the truth. She was hosting a large dinner party, and I was in the kitchen helping her. The kitchen was in the very back of the house separated by a long hallway, a butler’s pantry and a set of swinging doors. As we were fixing drinks, we heard the sound of a man’s shoes echoing down the hardwood floor toward the kitchen. As the kitchen doors swung open, we both turned to greet our guest. The doorway was empty. No one was there.

“You see, Mother!” I demanded. “Are you going to tell me that was the cat?!”

She stood there staring at me, unable to speak.

“Admit it!” I insisted, “Once and for all, admit the truth! You know there’s a ghost in this house!”

“Yes,” my mother finally admitted. “But why?” I demanded, “Why did you always try to convince me I was imagining him?”

“Because,” she said, “I didn’t want you to frighten the children.”

Twenty years later I was at my daughter’s piano recital when a young boy sat down at the piano and began to play. I almost fell off my chair. It was Beethoven’s 5th – the same music the ghost of my childhood had played.

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