My grandson, Dallin had a Webelos camp-out in his front yard, which just happens to be on the ranch and placed their tents in front of my daughter's family mansion. What could young men be afraid of in the dark? Not too much, all the kids walk around here in the complete darkness at night not afraid of anything, ever. I could hear them outside and off and on during the night, in the early morning hours, and at dawn. Hey, they weren't my responsibility and I figured if they made too much noise my daughter would be right-out sending them back in the tent or worse, in the house.
I asked Dallin if the kids even slept and no, they were looking for someone. Dallin's friend, Gavin saw a tall, lanky, old guy with baggy clothes, a cap, and big boots walking near our house and over to the barn, then out in the middle of the roping arena and he got on top of the compost pile and lifted himself up and went into the Pepper Trees where the tree house was built and couple years ago. Dallin said that he had a LCD flashlight and he looked blue and thought it was his grandpa outside checking on the animals. The kids wondered how he managed to get from the compost pile to the tree house. The distance is about 75 feet, plus the tree house is at least 12 feet off the ground. I waved-it-off as imagination and thought their escapades are going to be so fun to talk about when they're older, like..."Remember the ghost we saw at your house and he flew threw the air?"
I'm sorry my daughters... but I have to remind you sweet ones about the stranger we had here 16 years ago. Remember when we started missing eggs and we had a huge slew of chickens? Remember when Larin and all the 4-H kids' heifer pens were opened all the way? Thankfully the heifers were young and no heifer's going to leave it's pen when they know the food's coming and it won't be outside their pen.
Who would do that? But we soon found-out, maybe. My own children had never been afraid of the dark except when walking under big Oak Trees just when turns real dark, the spiders drop-down to the warm ground. Yeah, it does freak-them-out. Those spiders don't bite, but they feel creep.We all carry sticks to wave so we won't walk through spider webs to the barn, to the lambs or anywhere outside. One night when my Steve was on-duty, my kids wanted this super great pizza that was from a shop downtown and all we had to do was heat it in an oven. Our oven quit working so Larin volunteered to take the pizza to my mom's oven. (My mother lives next door) Mom said she would take it out and call us when it was completely cooked. One of the kids, I think it was Marnie, my older daughter was the one going to go over and get the pizza when it was done because Larin didn't come back. It made sense, pizzas don't take long to cook and we figured she was waiting to just bring it home herself. I knew she didn't have hot pads and the thought rammed through my head I would have to remember to take all the hot pads from mom back to her. I had a stack of them, maybe I had all of them.
My daughter Kiely was six or seven and super anxious to eat because she'd worked-out a full three classes at the dance studio and was starving. This is in June, so our dinner was really late. Kiely ran to the side-front door, a little weird because it wasn't directly the shortest route from my mom's, but Kiely thought Larin just walked around the porch. Kiely grabbed the doorknob and swung the door open while I was setting the table in the kitchen. I heard the door slam harder than any time ever in my life! It shook the whole house and I was worried that the window panes in the door had been cracked. Kiely came flying into the kitchen grabbing me and screaming, crying, and sobbing between words. She said she had opened the door (she couldn't even breathe) and there was a tall man in the doorway, with big boots and a hat standing on the threshold and he just looked at her.
I went to the door without Dustin, because he was with Steve at the firestation. I locked the house and shut the windows. A bunch of girls and a stranger. I got in the car with the girls and went down the driveway to my mom's. Sheesh, right next door, but I didn't want Larin making her way back were this old man was hanging-out. Larin had come back on her own and was locked-out of the house. Mom said Larin was on her way back, so I did a "brody" in the driveway and raced-back to the house. Larin's screaming and pounding on the door with her hip holding a hot pizza with washcloths, yep..I had all of mom's hot pads. Her hands were burning. There were no lights on the porch and she was locked-out with this hot pizza and scared so bad she couldn't talk once she got in the house. She was white and this kid is my dark-skinned and tan, girl; like my side of the family. Larin looked sick. Kiely and Larin just attached themselves to each other.
|This is the door closest to my mother's house.|
Larin didn't come back with the pizza because there was something under our porch. She knew something or somebody was watching her and was moving around. She told me how she bolted into Grandma's house. Dustin had scared her before from under the porch by grabbing her feet and at first she thought it was Dustin and then it occurred to her that Dustin was with his dad at the firestation.
My husband got an ear-full that night when the boys came home and they completely walked around the house and in the barn. No one was around. There wasn't a peep from the horses, sheep, goats, or our dogs. No one was there.
We had hired painter that was painting our house for Marnie's wedding. He was just dying of the heat, so he had made the decision to do most of his work in the mornings. The painter usually got here before sun-up and prepared the paint, sand, or do what painters do to get ready to paint each side. He was set on painting around the porch and was in the process of laying-out painter's cloth on the porch when he saw a man sitting-up and looked like he was asleep. He had a shotgun beside him and had a cap on his head. The old guy was leaning-up against the wall. Our painter was so afraid of him he just left and came back hours later to pick-up his materials and talk to us about our "ghost man." He said the man stood-up and looked at him and picked-up his rifle and went around the corner of the house and disappeared. The painter, I wish I could remember his name. Rats. Anyway, he wanted his church to come-out and say prayers before he started work again. We just told him to come in the day-time. He was still painting the day before the ceremony, he was so slow and I sure wasn't thinking of his crazy ghost. For some reason we didn't think of the guy that Kiely had seen before or Larin had thought was under the porch.
One afternoon this man, in a hat, big 'ol wrinkled and dirty jeans, huge boots, and a large rifle came down our driveway. He had a hound dog with him and our dogs went nuts. I saw him -- well, we all saw him, including my Steve. The old man disappeared before we could get to him, but he "booked-it" into the creek bed behind our place. He had walked all the way through the arena, through gates, over lots of rocks and brush and still we lost him. Steve called the police.
The sheriff's and the local city police didn't have any jurisdiction over the river-bed area, it was the flood-control district. The police chief at the time didn't give a hoot about the area and he and a few of the cops on-duty went down there to where we thought he had gone.which was right across where the duck pond was located, and behind the Beach's place. There he was as happy as a man could be. He was living off the land. He had a full garden, table and chairs, and even a bed. He had the works, a home. This old guy even had a place to stay in bad weather. No telling how long he had been there. He probably had our eggs for breakfast everyday. There was an underground house some kids dug-out years ago and inside the underground room was another table, some chairs and a bed. Spooky place, with roots and dirt ... but a shelter like that of Jud Fry in the movie, Oklahoma.
The police arrested him for trespassing but they didn't book him. They did take him for a ride out-of-town, clear outta' town, with his dog and told him if they ever, ever saw him in Santa Paula again they'd arrest him on the spot.
My children quit going to the creek bed, even though we own property on the other side and rights to the creek, itself. It's off-limits to the grandchildren now and ya think my grown children would take them down there to catch tadpoles and play in the water. No way! I was down there all the time growing-up. I rode my horse down there and walked down to the creek all alone, all the time. Frightening times these days, I guess.
Okay, back to the old man in big boots, baggy jeans, and a cap. It's been sixteen years. Did he come back? We've been missing eggs. Go figure.