Friday, July 22, 2011

Our Smoking Ghost

Sorry about the Christmas photo in July, but I wanted to tell this story, and it originated during the holiday hence the pic.

And it kind of makes the house look spooky, which is good for the atmosphere I want to create.

Besides...doesn't it make you feel cool?

Anyway...we have a smoker in the house.

And since Z and I live here alone; and neither of us smokes….

Well, you can see where I’m going with this.

Z will be in the kitchen chopping away at some poor radish or cucumber or other unsuspecting salad making ingredient.

Believe me…you don’t want to be a salad making ingredient in our kitchen. 

I’ll wander in, sniff the air and say, “Someone’s been smoking in here again”. And Z will reply “Yep”…since Z is not a big talker while chopping, which is a good thing.  Then she’ll put down the knife and open the window and put on the exhaust fan.

This has been going on, intermittently, since our first Christmas, soon after we moved in, almost ten years ago.

At first we thought it was just some old smoking residue seeped into the walls, since time in memorial or hold over smoke from our pretty stone fireplace; but no...this was definitely tobacco smoke. We poked around in all the corners, under and behind all the counters; even the basement ceiling tiles below.  And none of that smelled like smoke.
So the only “logical”conclusion we could come to was...we had a ghost in the house…a  smoking ghost to boot. 
And while you might think, at first, as we did, that this was undeniably a thoughtless, rude ghost, who refused to follow the norms and customs of today, by taking it’s filthy habit outside, you have to remember, ghosts operate under a different set of rules than us live folk.  Plus, I’m guessing that smoking is probably quite common among the dead since, well, since they’re already dead. So the health risks are minimal.

Anyway, that’s pretty much the extent of its ghostly activity.  No tables moving, no chairs balancing on end, or green slime oozing from the walls.

Just smoking. 

So I guess it could be worse.  I mean the ghost could be ordering pay per view, and it doesn't, so in that way it’s a considerate ghost.  

Interestingly, when we first moved in to our humble little abode, we replaced the original oak floor in the dining room and found this old-fashioned tin for small cigars tucked under the old floor boards. So it must have been sitting there since at least 1927 when the house was built. 

It got me wondering who put it there.

Obviously, one of the builders; but did he just misplace them or did he put them there thinking that it would be cool for some folks in the future to find them?

But I don’t think he would have said “cool”. He most likely would have said that would be the “cat’s pajamas”, which is the kind of thing they said back then. I think it had something to do with the unfiltered water.

I tend to think it was the latter; since the box was empty…”no cigar” as it were. But it would have been the “cat’s pajamas” if he had left a note from the “past” for us to find.

Even "cat pajamier" if it read, “A fat guy named Lou left this on August 7th, 1927”.

Or even better if it said, “There’s an annoying loudmouth named Lucille buried under your bathtub! August 7th, 1927”

Then I got to thinking about all the people that lived in this house; the house I now own, but really just reside.

In truth, we’re only the 3rd set of owners. The previous ones lived here from 1972-2001. Besides the funky Laugh-In style wallpaper they left under the funky treasure chest stove hood thing in the kitchen, plus a lot of graffiti in the boiler room, they didn’t leave behind anything of much least to me. 

It’s the original owners, who lived here from 1927-1972, more than half the life of this house, who comes to mind when I think about the past, and feel their presence.

Think about all they lived through, right here. 

All the happiness and all the sadness that comes with a life, right here. 

A Model T parked in the driveway. The ice man cometh. The milkman goeth. The Depression, Prohibition, Al Capone, Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde,  those funny crank style telephones, party lines, a farm down the street,  trolley tracks, radio soap operas, Little Orphan Annie, two World’s Fairs, one World War, rationing, blackout curtains.  Coolidge, Hoover, FDR, Give em Hell Harry, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, NIXON!!!  Those poofee women hairdos, those slicked back men’s hairdos, crew cuts, shag cuts, Korea, Vietnam, Sinatra, Goodman, Miller, Elvis, The Beatles, B&W TV, Color TV, rotary phones, Princess phones…and of course my recently departed beautiful relic of a slop sink. 

These are the things I think about as I tend to my fire on a cold winter night, and imagine it’s 1927 and we’re all sitting close to the coals, trying to stay warm.

Me, Z and our smoking ghost.

Okay...back to the summer....


  1. I love the annoying loudmouth buried under the tub. Love even more your evocation of the past. I can feel that family too in your pretty house if not the secret smoker!
    And this is the first time I've heard you use the word "sad." Nice...


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