When I was a little girl, my family and I moved from Alexandria, Virginia to the ‘country’. I remember house hunting with my parents, running and romping over sloping lands with little rills of rivers cut through them. Just what a little girl wants to have in her front yard, a ‘crick’ to cavort and play in. My mother, I can still hear the command to this day, said to me ‘don’t get wet’. Well of course I did.
So I was a little disappointed when we moved into a different house.
There was no creek on the property. It wasn’t as big a house to my six-year-old eyes, but it did have one thing the other place did not have.
A real, honest to goodness ghost.
The previous owner, a lady named Florence Broaddus, lived next door and I would go to her house after school and get cookies and milk. She would tell me stories of her world travels – she lived with the Inuit in Alaska, among other places – and she was the first to tell me that my new home was haunted. Being six at the time, of course I was completely petrified and didn’t want to go home anymore, but she was quick to say that our ghost was a friendly one. I remember her telling me how ‘Ruth’ as she called her, protected the house.
One day, Florence accidently left the electric stove on with a pan of grease on the burner, and went into the living room where she fell asleep. The next thing she knew something was shaking her violently, as though she’d been grabbed by the shoulders by someone, only there wasn’t anyone there! Rising out of an afternoon nap, at first she didn’t know what was wrong, but then she smelled it – smoke. Billowing out of the kitchen in big, dark clouds, she raced in and found the entire wood cabinet above the stove engulfed in flames.
Did I mention the house is made of wood? 200-year-old, dry, ancient wood?
Well, Florence knew the house could burn straight to the ground in a flash. She grabbed a box of baking soda and somehow managed to extinguish the flames that would have raced through this old place in a matter of moments, and maybe taken her life with it, had she not been warned.
There have been other fires and other near catastrophes over the years, and other warnings that have saved the place from certain destruction. The house still exists pretty much the same as when it was first built so long ago now. I’ve learned not to be worried about having a spirit wandering around, keeping an eye on things. I like to think she loved this place just as much as I do, and after all the regulation fire alarms and extinguishers, in Ruth the house ghost, I have the best protection of all.