Ghost House

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(Host) Commentator Joe Citro joins us today to talk about a new book that makes for fascinating Halloween reading.

This is the beginning of the Halloween season. So, to launch things right, I’d like to tell you about a new book that offers an interesting balance of ghostlore and scientific speculation. Written by Paul F. Eno of Rhode Island, its title generates a little chill of its own: Footsteps in the Attic. Mr. Eno, whose family founded Enosburgh, Vermont, is a prize-winning journalist, longtime editor, and historian. Also, he’s been investigating the paranormal for about 30 years.

He looks at ghosts in unorthodox ways, even applies a new vocabulary. In effect, he takes ghost investigation “out of the s ce room,” suggesting they are not spirits of the dead. On the subject of “psychic” investigators, he’s a bit irreverent. “With few exceptions,” he says, “I find them ridiculous.” While applying quantum physics to paranormal exploration, he recounts many fascinating cases from all over New England.

One comes from Vermont. It involves two land surveyors who were working in Johnson. As they came out of the woods they saw a good-sized farmhouse, an old one – about a quarter-mile away. Moving closer, they noticed it was pretty dilapidated. Yet, smoke curling from the chimney and clothes drying on the line suggested it was inhabited.

But there was something strange about the scene. No vehicles were in the yard. No electrical wires ran to the place. From about 60 feet away they saw a bearded man come around a corner with an axe over his shoulder. He was slender, and wore a broad-brimmed hat. One surveyor spoke, but the man didn’t seem to hear. The other shouted. Instead of answering, the man just looked around, apparently confused. The surveyors wondered if he could be deaf and blind?

For some reason maybe it was the axe – the surveyors began to feel uncomfortable, and left. Later, they studied their U.S. Geological Survey map. Oddly, the old house wasn’t on it, though normally such maps include all major buildings and houses. Later after many jokes about government inefficiency they returned to the spot. They were shocked to discover the old house really wasn’t there! “There was no sign of it!” one said. “We didn’t make a mistake about where we were – maps don’t lie!”

Completely flummoxed now, they hurried to the Johnson Town Hall where town records revealed there had been a house at that exact spot – but it had burned down in 1910! Mr. Eno has reported a rare paranormal phenomenon: the ghost of a house. A dangerous place, perhaps, to go trick or treating. The book is Footsteps in the Attic. And this is Joe Citro. Happy Halloween, everyone.

Paul F. Eno of Woonsocket, Rhode Island says this story happened in 1974 in Johnson, Vermont. He identifies the surveyors as Clement Ridley and Bud Harper. The complete title of Mr. Eno’s book is Footsteps in the Attic: More First-Hand Accounts of the Paranormal in New England.

Novelist Joe Citro is a native Vermonter. He lives in Burlington. His new audio book is called “Weird Vermont, the Strangest Tales of Vermont and Vermonters.”

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