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Posted in Afterlife, Entities, Ghosts, Hauntings, Kids, Paranormal, Saturdays, St. Augustine, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Betsy Slavin knew the house was haunted when she bought it. The previous owners were candid about it. They’d told her about the little girl, Rose Marie Slater, who had died in the back bedroom upstairs in 1837, during a typhoid epidemic. They’d told her she was still there, not menacing, but present. Betsy didn’t care. She didn’t believe in ghosts anyway. She wanted to live in St. Augustine.

As a single mom Betsy had struggled for several years, until a long-lost uncle left her with millions. Tired of living out in the sticks in Hastings, she turned her eye toward St. Augustine and quickly found this fine, old coquina house on Marine Street. The asking price was $950,000, a little steep perhaps, but Betsy had the money. Why not? She could afford it. The house had been built in 1794 by Don Hector Vitorio Montalvo de Sevilla, during Spain’s last possession of Florida. It was one of the oldest structures in the city. The history of St. Augustine fascinated Betsy, and she snapped up the house as soon as she saw it.

Seven-year old Alice Sue loved the house, too. She ran through all the rooms, laughing, inquisitive, and instantly was drawn to the back bedroom. “This is my room, Mommy,” she shouted to her mother out in the hall. Betsy, knowing the room had once supposedly belonged to Rose Marie Slater, smiled and said, “Of course, sweetie. You can have the room.”

The property was narrow but ran from Marine Street all the way over to Avenida Menendez with a wall surrounding it. The previous owners had done a wonderful job of landscaping the back garden with little nooks and crannies, vine-covered pergolas, and hideaways. Betsy thought her daughter would be enthralled by it all, but from the very first Alice Sue preferred her own room overlooking the beautiful garden.

Alice Sue loved her room, because she had found a playmate there, another little girl about her age who arrived and left through the closet. Alice Sue thought that a bit odd, but the little girl was otherwise a wonderful friend. Her name was Rose Marie. She said her father was an American and her mother Spanish. Her black hair and dark complexion contrasted nicely with Alice Sue’s light skin and blond hair. And she didn’t come just to play. Sometimes she came at night and slept with Alice Sue, because she missed her parents.

Betsy often passed by her daughter’s door to hear giggling and laughing. She might have been concerned at least enough to look in on Alice Sue, but the child had always had imaginary playmates. Betsy thought this was the case again, just an imaginary playmate. She did think about Rose Marie Slater but quickly dismissed the thought. Besides, if Rose Marie was the “imaginary” playmate, what harm was there.


Posted in Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2012 by Dave Lapham

     My mother died a few years ago in May, two weeks short of her ninety-fifth birthday.  She was living at the time with my sister in Cambridge.  She had been doing poorly for weeks but seemed to be hanging on, as though she wasn’t quite ready to die. She was all but comatose, eating and drinking almost nothing, but still clinging to life. Maybe Mom just wanted to say goodbye to my brother and me; neither of us had seen her for three months.

     I called my brother, and the next morning we were both on our way to Boston. We met in Baggage Claim at Logan and took “The T” together out to Porter Square. Ten minutes later we quietly entered Mom’s bedroom. I was shocked to see her. Mom had always been a hardy, robust woman. She walked up to ten miles a day and had more energy and stamina than an ox, but here on her bed lay a tiny, lifeless, wizened creature not much bigger than a doll. My eyes filled with tears.

     The three of us stood around her bed. “Ma. Ma,” we shouted; she was almost deaf. “We’re here, Tom, Dave, Diane.  We’re all here, Ma.”  She was so still. We couldn’t even tell if she was breathing. But then her eyes opened slightly, and her parched lips stretched into the faintest of smiles. She had heard us.

     We spent the next three days planted in her bedroom reminiscing with her, talking to her as if she were awake and fully functioning, instead of dying. On Friday Tom and I both had to leave. We went into Mom’s room one last time, kissed her, told her we loved her, and said that it was okay for her to go. Half an hour later as Tom and I were saying goodbye to each other at the airport, Diane called; Mom had just passed away.

     Two weeks later we returned with our families for a celebration of her life and a wonderful family reunion. Mom wanted to be cremated and have her ashes strewn over our flowers, so that’s what we did.  I brought my portion of her ashes home with me and scattered some of them over my rose bush, one of her favorite flowers, but I held back some of the ashes, thinking perhaps that I might  sprinkle other flowers with them.  I knew she’d enjoy that.

     Later that month I was planting a Chickasaw plum tree in my backyard. It was warm and sunny, not even a hint of a breeze stirred, a typical Florida summer day. I was almost finished digging the hole when I was shocked to see hundreds and hundreds of tiny, bright-white feathers, no bigger than a little fingernail, scattered in a ten-foot circle around me. Ma, I thought. She was there. I ran quickly into the house, grabbed the remaining ashes, and ran back outside putting them into the hole. Then, I turned around to pick up the tree.  When I turned back again—the feathers were gone!

     A storm blew the tree down last year, but Ma is still there. I’ve since planted more flowers in her spot, and it is a very happy place.