Way back in the mid-sixties my then wife and I bought a house on Marlborough Street in Boston’s Back Bay. It was a typical three-story, bow front, brick job with a steep front hall staircase leading up from the first floor living-dining-kitchen areas to the bedrooms upstairs. The master bedroom was at the front of the house overlooking the street and the children’s rooms were behind it down a long corridor.
As you might imagine, the day we moved in was very hectic. There were packing boxes everywhere and the furniture was placed pretty randomly. The only rooms we really concentrated on getting set up were the bedrooms.
So as night fell and after a makeshift supper of random takeout things we fell into bed. Our sons, John, age almost three, and Gavin, still a pretty small baby, were tucked away in their new rooms down the hall. Everyone was pretty pooped and we fell asleep quickly.
Around 1 or 2am I woke with a jolt. The street was quiet but I was sure I had heard something. There it was again. Someone was climbing the front hall stairs towards us. It was no dream. The stairs creaked and the footsteps were absolutely clear. God Damn! I was really scared.
There were no weapons handy so I grabbed a fireplace poker and started yelling. “I hear you! I coming to get you! We’re calling the police! Better watch out you son of a bitch!”
I ran to our open bedroom door, turned left to face the stairway, took a couple of steps to the head of the stairs and looked down. Nothing; no sign of anyone. But the sounds had been real. I heard them clearly and my wife did too. It was no dream. There was someone in our house.
With poker in hand and bellowing murderous threats I searched everywhere. From cellar to attic. Nothing.
Nobody was there.
After about an hour I finally I gave up, totally puzzled and still quite nervous. The kids by then had gone back to sleep and finally, finally we did too.
A few days later the broker who had sold us the house came by for a visit to see how things were going. By that time we had pretty much settled in. Things were going fine we said, except for our first night and we told her about the footsteps. There was a pause and then she told us this story.
It seems the couple that had owned the house before us had a terrible marriage and the husband had not only sued the wife for divorce, he had obtained sole custody of their children on the grounds that the wife was too mentally unstable to care for them. The day the court handed down its decision the wife killed herself in what was now our house.
Brokers don’t tell you things like that when they are trying to sell you something and I never thought to dig into who the previous owners were. We had only known their names.
After that first night we never again were bothered by any kind of strange sounds or occurrences. About five years later I found myself again telling friends the story of our scary first night in the house. Our oldest son John listened to it intently and then said that that night he clearly remembered standing up in his crib/bed and looking over its railing at the rocking horse in his room going back and forth.
Back and forth slowly, steadily with nobody on it.
He claims today that is his earliest memory.