The quiet town of Hastings, Minnesota, is located on the Mississippi River about 20 miles south of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. It is a farming community that has, in some parts, more animals than people. The town folk are friendly and often wave at cars that pass by. This may seem strange to outsiders but there is, of course, a good reason: If you are from the area, chances are you are related by blood or marriage, and being thought of as a snob could get you a dead fish in your mail box. I love being from a small town.
About seven miles out of town, an old white farmhouse sits on a hill surrounded by towering oak trees. This is the home where I grew up. It is also the place where I return, as often as I can, to escape the stress of living in the city. I have to admit, it does look pretty creepy at night. But even scarier were the sounds of footsteps and knocking that I heard when I was growing up.
I remember asking my mom (Carole Menge) what it was that was making those noises. Most of the time she would say the house was just settling. Once in a while she would say, “It must be the ghost.” Mom had a strange sense of humor. She would also tell me that there was no such thing as ghosts when it was bedtime and the noises were keeping me up.
I grew up thinking that ghosts were sort of a joke. They were a figment of the imagination caused by a settling house that could be blamed for just about anything from missing keys to cupboard doors being left open. Anything potentially paranormal could easily be dismissed by the fact that there were five kids (not including any neighbors, cousins, or strays) in the house, any one of whom could have been the culprit. But now that I am older, and have had some truly unexplainable experiences, I think perhaps we did have a ghost and didn’t realize it.
As I was leaving Mom’s house on Christmas night 2007, I had an overwhelming feeling of being watched. I pulled out my camera and pointed it toward one of the monstrous oak trees. I said out loud, “Gracie [the name of my grandmother, who I felt may have been watching over me], if you are here, please come in front of the camera.”
In one of the pictures you can see a spirit orb appear to be landing on one of the branches. In another there is a strange white shape. It was so freezing cold out that night I only took a few pictures. Now I wish I had taken more.
Looking back to when I was growing up, it must have seemed peculiar to any ghost who may have been trying to get our attention. Despite all the footsteps and banging, we did not take it seriously. We may have inadvertently teased it by saying, “Oh, it’s just a ghost.” Come to think of it, we even played a game called “ghost around the house,” which was a form of tag at night.—
Christy McGuire, Richfield, Minn.