Wait, was that a ghost?
Back when faux finishes were all the rage, I had my own business in the San Francisco Bay Area. Decorative painters are usually among the last workers allowed in on construction and remodeling job sites, and since construction schedules are almost always tight, it’s not unusual for us to work through the night to meet a deadline.
So, one night at about three in the morning, I was working with an assistant in the front parlor of a Pacific Heights mansion. Supposedly we were the only ones in the massive home, but darned if we didn’t hear a faint creaking, followed by the unmistakable sound of footsteps overhead.
Spooked, we crept up the sweeping stairs together, calling “hello?” and checking out the scene. Nothing looked out of place, and we didn’t see anyone. The next day I mentioned it to the foreman on the job.
He replied: “Oh sure, there’s at least one ghost in this place. That’s why I bring my dog with me – he always feels things before I do.”
*Gulp*. The truth is, the more I asked big, hearty, seemingly unfazed construction workers about their experiences in historic buildings, the more ghost stories I heard. The carpenter met at the door by a little girl in a robin’s egg blue dress, later to find that the only girl in that house had lived –and died– a century ago. The locksmith so spooked by the sensations in a basement that he refused to go back, then later learned about a murder that had occurred, decades earlier, in that very cellar. The landscape designer who could have sworn she saw an old lady in a shawl whenever she passed by a certain window, but who disappeared when she peeked inside.
Do you believe in ghosts?
I’ve always been drawn to historic structures. It’s more than the great craftsmanship and the intricate design work. I love the vibrations they seem to give off, the sense of lives lived within their walls, the almost palpable memories of the laughter of children, the dreams of newlyweds, the parties and family holidays…and even the moments of sadness and despair that inevitably come our way. I titled the first in my Haunted Home Renovation series IF WALLS COULD TALK because I do genuinely wonder what the walls would tell us, if only they could.
But ghosts per se? Physicists tell us that there are many more levels of energy humming around us than we can see or feel. Could souls leave traces in the buildings they live –and die– in? Might they return, or never leave at all? Or are “ghosts” merely shadows of our own imaginations, fed by our past experiences?
No matter the ultimate truth, San Francisco is chock-full of ghost stories, and I don’t mind cribbing one or two for my books. In the Haunted Home Renovation series, Mel Turner, General Contractor, starts to see and sense spirits behind the walls of the historic homes she’s renovating, and comes to learn their stories and help them to rest.
In A GHOSTLY LIGHT, Mel’s taking on a new challenge: she’s renovating a historic Victorian lighthouse located on an island in the San Francisco Bay. And who’s ever heard of a lighthouse without a lingering ghost –or two? Add to that rumors of a buried treasure, the death of a friend’s abusive ex-husband, and a long-ago missing child…and a teensy problem with acrophobia.
Mel’s got her hands full, and yes, she most certainly does believe in ghosts.