Friday, October 25, 2013

Haunted Vintage

Some believe that a spirit or energy can attach itself to objects. I'm sure most of you have heard old ghost stories about this topic. I specifically remember one that my cousin told me about a wiji board that was possessed. She told me that her Mom threw it in the garbage and the next day, it mysteriously ended up back in her room. Her mom threw it in the garbage a few more times all with the same result. Finally, she burned it in a fire pit in the back yard. She thought that solved the problem and they would never see the wiji board again, but it still came back. This story frightened me immensely when I was a kid. I didn't know it at the time, but that was one of those urban legends. But, is it possible that physical items can be possessed by a spirit?
There is a show on syfy, called The Haunted Collector, that explores this subject. A group of people travel around seeking items that are reportedly haunted. Some of these items are then put in The Zaffis Museum of the paranormal. Another widely known case of this type of phenomenon is the story of Annabell the haunted doll. Reportedly, a demonic entity had attached itself to the doll and displayed strange paranormal behavior often negative in nature. Eventually, world renowned demonologists, Ed and Loraine Warren were called in to help the people effected by the doll's activity. Read the full story here. Another paranormal show, Paranormal State, investigated a case that believed an evil spirit invaded their house from a voodoo doll. For someone like me, who frequents estate sales, buying items that belonged to a recently deceased person, the idea of their spirit being attached to said items is frightening.

Annabell the possessed doll

Psychics often use a person's personal items in order to communicate with their spirit. They claim to be able to pick up energy from these things and can give accurate descriptions of the person it belonged to and/ or "see" specific events that took place in that person's life. The TV show, "Sensing Murder" uses psychics to try to find new clues in cold case files. These ladies use personal items from the victims to pick up energy and get an idea of what happened to them. It's amazing the details that they get right. Of course, this is just a TV show and the odds of it being fabricated for ratings is very high. However, I personally believe that such a phenomena is possible.

Over my lifetime, I have had many strange things happen to me that have led me to believe there is some sort of life after death. Perhaps some of these occurrences were fueled by an overactive imagination. I definitely always take that into account when something "unexplainable" happens. I always try to explain it away first. However, I haven't always been to debunk everything. Sometimes it remains unknown and it has lead me to lean on the side of believing. I'm not trying to convince anyone that ghosts exist, because like I said, I really don't know. Who really does? For the sake of this post and for upcoming Halloween, I'd like to share one of my haunting vintage stories.


As a vintage seller, it is my job to frequently shop at yard sales, thrift shops, estate sales, etc...  When shopping at estate sales, in particular, I often feel a tinge of sadness. Most often, these estates are being sold, because of the recent decease of its owner. You can always tell when that's the case. You can often see it in the eyes of the sellers manning the cash box. Or from the person sorting through random things in the garage who seems to be saying goodbye to each item they touch. When you ask about the price of something, you can hear it in the voice of the seller who responds. You can smell the lingering scent of medicine and illness in the air. Sometimes you can touch a shirt and get a sense of the person who will never again wear it. And sometimes you can hear it in the air.

At one particular estate sale, I got all of these senses almost the second I pulled up to the house. I even thought of turning around and leaving as I walked up the driveway. I could see the incredible pain on the face of one middle aged man as I said "hello." I continued on, however, perused some of the items on the tables in the garage and made my way through the kitchen door and  into the house.
Let me just say, this place was a thrifters dream. The most glorious mid century housewares furnished the entire house. The kitchen appeared to have been stopped in time in 1960 something. Everywhere I looked was mustard yellow and avocado green. Flowers and mushrooms and star bursts adorned the towels, the curtains and appliances. And the kitchen was just a precursor to the rest of the house. I felt like a kid in a candy store and quickly forgot about the sadness in the mans eyes.

I made my way through the house gathering up all of the items that I thought I couldn't live without and wishing that I had a shopping cart with me. Then I reached the front room, which only had one table with just a hand full of items on it. Most of the other buyers were just walking straight through this room. It was really just a passageway to the bedrooms. In the corner, however, was a closed door and while often times at estate sales a closed door means do not enter, I took it upon myself to open it anyway. It was just a small coat closet with nothing more than a few coats and a couple boxes inside. One particular jacket stood out and seemed to shine like a beacon of light for vintage clothing sellers everywhere. It was an impeccable tweed men's coat. The type of coat you would buy even if it had numerous flaws. It was incredible. I was hypnotized by its light and was drawn into a world of my own where I carefully examined its craftsmanship and admired its unique buttons when suddenly I heard a woman shout, "That's Roger's!"

Startled, I swiftly turned around to see who had come into the room behind me. To my surprise, DUN DUN DUUUUUNNN, no one was there. Seriously though, all dramatics aside, there really was no one in the room with me even though the voice sounded like it came from right behind me. I stood quietly frozen for a moment listening to hear that voice again coming in from the next room. I went to the hallway to see if someone was standing there and again there was no one. Where did that voice come from?
I started to wander down the hall to find the body to the voice. The coat was pulling me back to it, screaming, "Don't leave me! Someone else is going to get me!" But I kept going down the hall. I had to find who it was that said that. Then I found her room.

The last woman who ever lived in that house, lived in that room. The dresser was white french provincial with a giant, ornate mirror on top, but the lace doilies, old perfume bottles and hanging necklaces that once adorned it were missing from the scene. Delicate sheer curtains pooled loosely at the floor. A light pink and yellow light filtered the room making it appear to be at sunset even thought it was noon. It was serene and  feminine and beautiful except for the hospital bed.
Sitting upright and awkward like an uncomfortable kid being scolded at while sitting in his wooden desk at school. So out of place in a setting so beautiful, yet it commanded the scene. And that's when the sadness rolled back in. Slowly at first, like when I edged up to the curb. Then suddenly all time stopped.. back in 1960-something. I saw those eyes again, filled with sorrow when I said hello. And then I heard the voice again. But this time it was softer, like a distant violin being played, and it said "that's mine."

I felt so sad while standing there that I almost cried. The sterile smell of the room had almost completely replaced the sweet smell of lavender that used to fill the room, but a hint of it lingered on.
I headed back down the hall and came again to the nearly empty room with the nearly empty closet. The door was still open wide with the coat beaming out. I ran my fingers along its perfectly constructed seams one more time. I admired its decorative buttons for longer than is normally accepted to admire buttons. And for good measure I took in a little whiff of the scent at its collar and was happy to detect a hint of something like old spice. Then I said goodbye. I shut the door to the closet, extinguishing its brilliant light and I walked away.

I did buy a few things from that sale and I often wonder if I'm drinking from the same cup that Roger used to. Or I wonder if the woman whose voice I heard was the previous owner of the bedside lamp that I use on a nightly basis. I don't believe there are any spirits attached to the things I bought there. I haven't experienced anything freaky since I brought them home. If I had bought that coat, however, I think there is a good chance I might have some paranormal activity over here.

That story wasn't incredibly terrifying and it very well may have been just a case of an overly excited imagination and a predisposition to believing in ghosts, but this next one is a little... weird.

I wonder if any other avid vintage shopper have ever had any similar experience? Have you ever bought something from a thrift store only to find that it coincides with strange occurrences?

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