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MeandDadWestStFew things in life leave lasting impressions, but one has stayed with me for over forty years. I grew up in a small town in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. Follansbee was an industrialized town with a coke plant pouring out red dust from its smokestacks, trains screeching past on the outskirts of town, and the parking lots of steel mills filled with large, square American cars. It was also an Italian town. Every year, there was a Garibaldi parade. I never had any idea who or what Garibaldi was so, to me, it was just a parade.

My parents rented a nice duplex on the same street where my grandparents lived. West Street was idyllic, with large, mature deciduous trees dotting the lots, green, trimmed lawns, tidy, moderate sized houses, and friendly neighbors. The coke plant, which sat behind this small community, ruined that lovely facade, however.

One of the first memories I have is of this house when I was no more than three. I remember the black and white linoleum in the foyer, a wooden banister leading to the second floor, and my bedroom. My twin bed faced the door leading into the hall. To the right of my bed, was a nightstand with a lamp on top. The top part of the lamp was a regular light but the bottom half had gold with stars cut out of it allowing light to shine through. I used to stare at this nightlight when I couldn’t sleep, which was fairly often.

As I lay in my bed, I could see into the hallway. My door remained open, but in the darkness behind the open door, I felt something watching me. I would avert my eyes and my stare gravitated to the stars on my nightlight. The feeling persisted and gradually my gaze drifted back to the darkness. I strained to see clearly amidst that dark but I could never make out anything lurking there.

One particular night, as I lay in bed fretting over the creepy sensation of being watched, my concern spiked. This night felt different than other nights. My heart raced drowning out all but the sound of my thundering pulse. Whatever stared at me, was evil. Its presence there terrified me. I wanted to call for my parents, but that would have made them angry. I pulled the covers over my head, but then I worried that it might sneak up on me. When my stomach tied itself in knots, my heart slammed against my chest, and tears burned my eyes, I felt a calm wash over me. I can’t recall now whether I heard the voice or felt it, but either way the meaning was the same. If I looked at the light, I would be fine and I could fall asleep. Keep looking at the light.

From then on, I fell asleep staring at that gold nightlight.

It wasn’t until decades later, that my parents told me of all the strange occurrences that happened in the house on West Street; from pictures falling off walls to potted bowls of ivy being tipped over, to my mother feeling she was pushed down a flight of stairs and my father hearing an unfamiliar woman call his name. I don’t remember anything else about West Street, but I do know that no one wanted to sleep in the room that had been mine for several months; not even my grown up uncle.

My family eventually moved from the duplex into a house several miles away, but apparently, whatever bothered my family on West Street followed us to the new house. My parents end up calling a priest to bless our new home and ended up requesting an exorcism, which I’ll write about another day.

I always wondered if the people that moved in after us experienced anything usual. It’s too bad we didn’t call Ghost Hunters!

What’s the earliest memory you have? Or have you had similar experiences in a place where you lived?