Generally, I am not into so-called ‘scary’ books. I sway a little when it comes to things that are supposedly true. This book is supposedly true.
Back in the day, a little while after WWII Harold moves his family across the country because he has been transferred by his company. Apparently, right after WWII there was practically no housing to be had anywhere. This meant the family of seven spent a long time in a single hotel room. If you have ever stayed even one day in a hotel room with anyone besides your spouse you will know that it is not that pleasant. No one wants to share a room with their parents and parents really don’t want to share a room with their kids. You can imagine this was not a pleasant experience for the Cameron family.
Harold combs the Philadelphia area for houses for rent. He can’t seem to find anything. One day he comes across a great ad. A mansion for 3600 dollars a year. Harold is very pleased at this prospect. He and his wife go and take a look at the house on Plum Lane. The real house, yes, there is a real house, or rather, there was a real house, was actually on a road called Rose Tree Rd. The name of the real house was the Heilbron mansion. The house burnt down in 1987 after being unoccupied for a good while.
Anyways, Harold thought the deal was too good to pass up. He signed a two-year lease with some really awesome fine print. In no way could Harold break the lease for any reason. As soon as Harold signed on the dotted line he was stuck paying 300 dollars a month for the mansion for two years.
He moved the family in. They were quite pleased with such a large house. There was a summer-house(green house), a carriage house, and all sorts of other interesting things. The house contained three floors not counting the basement. The owners were even very pleased to completely remodel the kitchen and replace the furnace before Harold and his family moved in. If you don’t know how much a kitchen remodel and a furnace costs let me tell you that it isn’t cheap even way back when. Those were some expensive repairs and they probably cost more than the owners would receive in rent for one year.
It wasn’t long after the family moved in that strange things started to happen. Every family member heard footsteps in the hallway, the library and in their bedrooms. When they went to look to see if there was a person to match the footsteps they never saw anybody. The family tried to explain this away for a while, but to no avail. Soon another set of more manly footsteps was heard outside of the house. Doors were seen to open and close by themselves. A terrible stench even bugged Harold and his wife in their bedroom, and, no, Harold hadn’t eaten a bunch of dairy and blamed it on a ghost.
At this point Harold tried to break the lease. This was when Harold found out about that awesome fine print. Harold had pretty much signed his name away in blood for this house for the next two years. The family realized they had to live with whatever was going on.
They gathered in the library one night because this seemed to be where the woman presence in the house liked to spend most of her time. They made a deal with the thin air of the room. The family would live in their bedrooms, kitchen and living room, and in turn, they would let the lady presence have the third floor and the library. Surprisingly, this seemed to work.
The family grew used to strange happenings in their home. They tried to hired people to help cook and do yard work, but no one would ever stay over three months. Almost every person who was hired to work for the Camerons told the Camerons they were tired of being spied on in the night. The family was at a loss because clearly Harold’s wife could not take care of the house and kids by herself. Please, I’ve watched 19 Kids and Counting, Michelle Duggar is super mom and their house is over 7000 square feet. Enough of that, anyways, so the family is a little despondent about having to clean up after themselves.
Family members come to visit along the way. One family member, a soon to be, ex-sister-in-law, comes to visit the family. She stays in one of the bedrooms, but can’t sleep one night. She makes the mistake of going to read in the library. While in the library she is startled by a very big boom. The only thing the family could trace to the large noise was a single book on the floor.
The family is curious of what went on in the house to cause such unrest. By coincidence Harold happens to find an elderly man living in the barn on the property. Harold talks this ancient man into working for him. As the months pass Harold soon learns some of the past of the house. Supposedly at one point the original mansion burned to the ground and seven people died in the fire. Those seven people are still buried on the property in an underground crypt, which Harold and one of his sons actually find. Supposedly, the house was also a stop on the underground railroad, Harold and his family also find the hiding spot, a single room in the basement with no way in, well, there used to be a way in, but over the years it was closed off. The most terrible of all is what Harold soon finds out about what happened later on in the house.
The mansion was supposedly rebuilt on the foundations of the mansion that had burnt down. There was a doctor, his wife, and their daughter. There was also a myriad of servants and slaves living in and around the property and supposedly the old man who works for Harold was there to see the whole thing. Enoch, the old man, tells Harold that one of the slaves raped and murdered the young girl right out under the tree everyone had been admiring for so long in the front yard. The slave then put the girl’s body in a nearby creek. He was caught by the other slaves when they realized the girl was missing. He was hanged on the same tree before the doctor and his wife even arrived home.
Harold and his family did move out of the house and went on to live in another old house. Supposedly, Harold started his own church and became like a psychic preacher or something.
What I liked: Generally, I like true ghost stories. I come from a family that is more open and accepting about strange happenings than many other people are. When you tell me you saw a ghost I am not automatically going to say that you’re a liar or you were on drugs. In fact, quite recently one of my cousins has been having some strange happenings at a house she is renting with her family. I kind of like stuff like this. I like to hear other people’s experiences.
I liked how Harold was able to manage to tell his story in a narrative fashion. He didn’t just present facts. I do feel his experience was a little tainted though.
I liked that this was a real place I could look up. Harold didn’t just make this completely up, although I do have my doubts in some areas of the story. There are other pictures of this home and there are other accounts of people seeing and hearing strange things at this site. The house burnt down in 1987 and they built a subdivision over it. They used the remains of the original house to build a new mansion and the owners said everything has been dandy and nothing strange has happened in their new house.
What I didn’t like: Part of the time, I felt like Harold was full of junk. When regular old joes tell of an experience they had with the other worldly, no matter what kind of other worldly it was, they tend to be more believable than people who say they research psychic phenomenon. Harold started his own church based on all this psychic phenomenon. People who research this stuff want to believe that it’s true. They see things where no one else sees things. They see a shadow where you see nothing. They photograph an orb where you see a speck on a picture. They see a curtain move when you feel the wind blow. Although I am a little more accepting than most on the subject of ghosts and spirits, I am fairly skeptical about it. There can be rational explanations for quite a few things.
For example, growing up in my house, when we shut one door we would hear other doors in the house move of their own accord. Sometimes we were creeped out by this especially when we were the only person in the house. Later on, we added a room onto the end of the house and the door moving pretty much stopped. I can rationally say that the added room got rid of the suction in the house and therefore all the doors moving by themselves. I could also say that the ghost just got tired of moving all the doors. I am leaning towards the option that the added room reduced suction in the house.
No I don’t think Harold and his family are full of junk for hearing footsteps. In fact, I have my own story about footsteps. Once upon a time, I moved out of my mom’s house and into a really nice basement apartment. I was the first person to rent the remodeled basement. I had a stone fireplace, laminate wood floors, and a fairly large bathroom. It was nice. Deer walked right up to my door. Since I was on the bottom of the house I could hear the goings on above. sometimes I would hear footsteps of a person walking across the house above or loud bangs like a person was jumping or setting something heavy down. I didn’t think anything of this for the longest time because I just assumed my landlords were making all these noises. It wasn’t until sometime later that I found out that my landlords were not making all of those noises. How I actually found out was on rent day.
I was with my husband in the apartment. I had the rent check ready to go. I heard some loud bangs and thought, “Hey Barbara’s home.” I told my husband to go and pay the rent. He dutifully took the check upstairs. He came back a few minutes later with the check in hand and said, “Nobody’s home.” Of course I ask, “What do you mean nobody is home I just heard people up there.” Realize that there were only a few seconds between when we heard these noises and when my husband went to pay rent. It was true; nobody was home. No one was inside the house and no cars were around. No UPS or FEDex guy was even anywhere near the area. There was no one upstairs to explain why there were footsteps and loud noises when no one could be making them.
So in short, no I don’t think Harold is full of junk, completely. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he is at least a little full of junk. I think he might have stretched his story or maybe he really wanted to believe other things were going on. Part of his supposed history of the house can’t even be confirmed. Some of it is fact. Some has either been lost to society or is nothing but local lore, which Harold just used to his advantage.
Harold had a lot of money. To pay three hundred dollars a month back when he did meant Harold had plenty of money to spare. Part of his narration of the book feels like he is presenting himself higher than everyone else. I don’t like that.
Overall, this is free. Even if it’s not one hundred percent true, it still makes for a good story. There is conflict, there is a climax, there is resolution and all the other parts a great story should have.