The Ghosts I Grew Up With

Most people who meet me and know me often wonder why the paranormal fascinates me.  I’m not religious, superstitious, and I’m so skeptical that I look both ways before crossing a one way street, so you would think that I would be the last person to buy into this kind of new age nonsense, right?

The truth is, I think I grew up with it.  Now, I’m not saying that I’m sensitive and I’m not arrogant enough to assume that I am important enough for a ghost to follow me around all of my life — all I can really do is relate my experiences to you before time washes them away.  I’ve never really written about these experiences. In some cases because I’m a little afraid too as, anytime I have shared them, it’s led to some embarrassing ridicule.

As I get older, though, that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it used to because I know what happened and no amount of finger pointing and laughing will change what I know happened.

One of the very first things I can ever remember happening to me was when I was very young.  Myself, my mother and father and two cousins lived in a two-room trailer house in Texas.  We were poor but didn’t know it because it was really the only thing that we did know. 

The sleeping arrangements in the house were starting to become problematic, especially when my mother announced that another baby was on the way. I was three or four during this time.

My grandfather and my father started work on an extra room. It was large enough to accommodate plenty of kids and solve our space problems forever (particularly since another kid was going to show up a few years later).  I think I was about six or seven when the room was completed and we moved in shortly afterwards.

To my little tiny baby body, the room was massive, bigger than any other room in the house. It was a paradise of classic toys and glorious mess.

I’m not sure exactly when strange things started to happen in the extra room and, to this day, I don’t know why they happened in that extra room at all.  My grandfather died in 1981, but I never had the feeling that he was the one behind the haunting.  To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure that whatever or whoever was behind it was good or bad.  I still don’t know.

One day, I was playing in my room.  If I remember correctly, I was playing The Dukes of Hazzard with my matchbox cars, recreating stunts I had seen on the show.  All of the sudden, I was struck – very hard – on the back to the point that I fell forward from being seated Indian style.

At first, I thought that I had been hit by one of my cousins and turned around to confront them, but the only thing behind me, resting on the ground, was my metal Tonka truck that had been across the room.

My back hurt and I was certain that I had scratches from where the truck had hit me. I remember distinctly the pain in my shoulder blades as I was a rather boney kid.

I was alone.  No one else was there.

I immediately went to my mom.  I don’t remember running because, I suppose, even then this was something I was used to.  I don’t even remember being scared.  If I had reason not to be afraid – my prior experiences – I don’t remember them, but I know this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened.

I found my mother in the kitchen and told her about what had happened the best way my naive five-year-old brain could say it.

“Mom, God just threw my truck at me!”

My mother, preparing dinner, hardly gave me a look.  “God wouldn’t throw something at you,” she said, “It must have been the devil.”

Sufficed to say, I didn’t sleep very well that night.

Long after the truck incident, I began to suffer from severe insomnia and would literally not sleep for two days at a stretch (even now, I still suffer from it, but at least I’m not forced to lay in a bed all night and can be productive).

It’s been a long time so I’m not sure how many times this happened, but I know it happened several times and several different ways. I would receive what I guess you would call “visitations” by entities… or a single entity in multiple forms.

The extra spare room I slept in wasn’t well insulated as it was a West Texas rush job and, in the winters, it would get very chilly but thankfully it was also heated by an old-fashioned gas heater. At night, the blue exposed flames would cast eerie shadows and the faint hiss of gas would only add to the strange aura of the room.

As I remember it, a scratching sound caught my attention. Keep in mind, the room was unusually dark even with the heater going as if something had ramped up the inky blackness. As I looked towards the flames, I saw something walk in front of it — I couldn’t see its body, only its legs… thin things as though it were an animal. The closest approximation I could think of was a deer. What was a deer doing in my room?

The animal made soft scratching noises on the floor as it walked and reacted when I shifted in the bed the way a skittish wild animal would by stopping and standing perfectly still. I watched this thing silhouetted against the blue light of the heater for several minutes until it simply walked off, the scratching sounds on the floor fading away. I never saw it again.

What I did see several times was much more terrifying — a black oozing smoke-like shape that would billow in through the door and crawl along the ceiling. It looked like smoke, but it would move with intelligence and purpose into the room, around the ceiling, and then back out again. Occasionally, it would stop over my bed and pause for a moment as if it were regarding me with a passing interest. I would be petrified with fear and wouldn’t move, the only thing I was able to will myself to do was breathe like a marathon runner and try not to think about my heart throbbing like a subwoofer in my chest. The black mass never made a sound as it came and left. I’m not sure how many times I saw it, but I do remember it pushing a door open one night that I had specifically closed to keep it out.

My little brother shared the room with me, but never mentioned anything about the weird things that happened there. I myself had learned not to say anything about it either as, like I said, it would often lead to family members making fun of me.

Looking back, I still don’t understand what exactly happened… how much of these events were simply my imagination or how much genuinely occurred. If there were more incidents, I don’t remember them and, yeah, I had a few other things happen to me as I got older, but not in that house.

We moved out around 1984 into a more sturdy structure with almost enough room for all of us. Strangely enough, our old trailer house home moved to the property next door where it remained for years, lived in by neighbors and then eventually abandoned and left to the elements. I walked through it once just to remember old times a few years ago before it unceremoniously disappeared as the lot was cleared off. I’m assuming that it was hauled away and demolished or, who knows… maybe it’s still rotting somewhere forever unknown to me.

Strangely enough, that haunted extra room is still around about a block away from us. It was moved to my aunt’s property and remains there to this day. My aunt moved from the property years ago and so, now even that extra room has fallen into massive disrepair. The ceiling has caved in, the windows have broken, and it just sits there open to the elements, decaying like a piece of roadkill.

I tried going into the old room once, but the condition of it and the debris from the roof collapse made it foolhardy at best, so I just decided to, if you will pardon the play on words… leave the old ghosts alone.

There was no strange feelings. No sense of being watched. Nothing sent chills up my spine. The only feeling I had was one of melancholy… sadness. The same feeling I got when I walked through the ruins of my old home proper.

My childhood trailer house was special to me, as cheap and as small as it was… I had come home and everyone was gone and the house was dead.

Written by Jason Gaston

Father, teacher, writer, photographer, artist, actor, male model, and inventor of the semicolon.

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