The following are True Stories that actually happened to me growing up on Staten Island NYC. These stories are being related exactly as they happened and have not been embellished to make them more interesting. They are what they are. You decide whether or not you believe them...
The Lady in Blue
The Cross on the Car
During my younger days in NY during the 60's. My friends and I used to take turns borrowing our fathers cars on a rotating basis (without their knowledge) but, not unlike many other guys. We would all get together and one guy would sneak his dads keys. Then the guys would push it out of the driveway very quietly then down the street where it was, anything goes from there on. As long as the car was home before dad woke up. After a night of driving around the island we would go home and coast the car into the driveway and no one was the wiser. We always had a good time until one night we decided to visit a cemetery at the end of a dead end road.
There were four of us this night. Nothing out of the ordinary. It was my turn to take my dads station wagon. It was a fairly new Oldsmobile vista cruiser. It had no roof rack. (this is relevant to the story)
We pushed it out of the driveway and down the street. We all jumped in and I started driving around. Little did we know that this night wasn’t going to be just another ordinary joy riding experience.
It began just like any other night. Nothing special and it was even getting boring just driving around. One of my friends suggested that we go to a graveyard. He just said a lot of cool things could happen in a cemetery. We figured it had to be better than what was going on so we headed toward the river. On the way one of the guys said he knew of this cemetery at the end of this old road. He gave the directions as we went. Sure enough all by itself at the end of this lonely old road was a very old cemetery.
I remember there was just one street light at the entrance but the cemetery was dark. I drove up into the cemetery until the road ended. I am not sure why now but, everyone got out of the car except me. Maybe I was nervous, or maybe concerned for my Dads car. They were all acting goofy. You know how young guys act. A couple of the guys started acting like the Night Of The Living Dead. Climbing on my car etc., until one of them broke my dads rear view mirror off the car. That took the fun out of it for me so I yelled for everyone to come back so we could leave and go to Wetson's for a burger at the other end of the island. Staten Islander's, remember Wetson's? Is it still there?
The guys came back to the car and one was carrying a wooden cross. It was one of those temporary markers used for graves before the headstone is put on the grave. It was faded, dirty and some of the paint was missing. The guy wanted to bring it with us but everyone objected saying it was bad luck. He held it by the end of the longest part below the cross and tossed it with a full swing into the darkness. Then he jumped in and I backed the car out of the cemetery onto the road.
Now under the street light the guys told me to burn rubber. (something we said in the 60’s meaning to spin the tires) I tried and tried but could not break the tires loose from the pavement. So everyone but me got out to lighten the load. I tried and tried but still couldn’t. (It was a family station wagon!) I then drove up the street and backed up as fast as I could and threw it into drive but the car would just stall. (Now here is a very significant part) One of the guys saw an old tire and tried to put it on the roof to see if the car even had enough power to knock it off. I told him no, it would scratch the paint and he dropped it. Well, the guys all got a big laugh about that. They all got back into the car and we drove down by the river road. It was a windy road that went up sort of the west side of the Island. As we drove along one of the guys suggested we stop by this closed bar he knew of. He said they threw away their empty kegs behind the bar and we could get a few.
So we went and I backed in and two guys go out and started loading the kegs. Little to my knowledge that they were lying, the bar was open and a few kegs they took were full. Well, the bartender had seen or heard us. We took off and now we had the bartender after us in his van. Racing down that winding road. Me screaming at them for lying to me and taking the kegs. Them rolling the kegs out of the back of the station wagon in front of the guys van until the guy broke off the chase.
By now we are all excited and I am very nervous and agitated. Just then someone yells, “Take a right”! So I slammed on the brakes and made a right up a road with no houses. My friend said that he had been down the road a few days earlier and they had put down fresh tar to make repairs. (they did that back then) He suggested that I make one last try to spin the tires in the new tar. I drove for a little bit and he yelled there is the tar, STOP! I did. Being in the excited state that I was, I slammed on the brakes and the car came to a full stop. Then, (after the car came to a full stop) we all heard a scraping noise on the roof of the car and a bang on the hood.
There on the hood of my fathers car was the wooden cross that everyone saw my friend throw away more than an hour before. We had driven miles, made sharp turns, sudden stops and drove quite erratically to evade the angry bartender. Yet the cross held on? Or did it? I don’t see how with a smooth roof and no roof rack. (remember I said that in the beginning) Also, the one kid had tried to put the tire on the roof and no one saw it. Did it just get there somehow? One of my friends was beside himself, very upset and yelling at us to get rid of it. The friend who originally found it swore he threw it away. (we did all see him do it) He said it was an omen and we should keep it. I got out of the car, took it off my hood and gave it to him. We took it and talked about it the rest of the night. My one friend never was comfortable with keeping it. We finally drove to the other side of the Island that night to Wetson's. On our way back home we got stuck driving behind another car. All of a sudden, in what seemed like slow motion, the entire area lit up as bright as day but with a strange orange glow. Then there was an explosion louder than anything I have heard to this day. The car in front of us and mine were pushed into the oncoming lane by the shock and we both screeched to a halt. By now my one friend was really upset, saying that we should have never taken the cross.
Well, it wasn’t the cross’ fault. I don’t think. It was a huge oil tank from a refinery in New Jersey that exploded. Talk about scary. Well, we all went and watched the fire from across the river before going home. That ended our night of adventure. Our parents never knew.
I got hold of and talked to the friend who took the cross just before I wrote this. I asked him one last time if he had put the cross on the car somehow? Nearly 40 years later he swears he did not, even explaining that if he did, how would it have stayed on the car so long and no one saw it when they were out of the car a couple times. I had to agree that I had no explanation either. Oh and one last thing. Remember my friend that was so upset about the cross. It turned out that when the cross was cleaned and examined, the name on the cross was his Grandmothers name...
We talked about this for many years...
The Cross on the car story will be published in a book called Trucker Ghost Stories in Aug 2012.
...and here is the official book cover to look for...
Lastly the story of my Uncle Johnny...
Uncle Johnny was my favorite Uncle. So too was his sister my favorite Aunt. As was things in the old days children often lived with their parents when not married, even when they were older. (Parents William & Anna >)
I grew up next door in a small (actually tiny) house on their property. We were all very close. Uncle Johnny and his sister were like second parents to me. As I grew up he would show me everything he knew about building and fixing things. But as life would have it I would go away to Military School and then move to Pennsylvania. We visited but not as much as I would have liked. Then one day as I was coming home. I saw my father leaving with my sister to get my mother from work. His only words to me were to stay in the house until he returned and that Uncle Johnny and Bill were dead. A million things ran thru my mind of how it could have happened. Car accident, some type of accident at home. What could have killed both of them? To my shock it was natural causes.
My uncle had worked on Friday and had Saturday off. As usual he went out that evening after work with friends and came home around 1am. They all heard him come up stairs. He followed his normal routine as usual, used the bathroom, washed up and then went to bed closing his door behind him. This night he mistakenly closed the door very hard, no one knows why. The next morning my Aunt got up early and went into the City to go shopping and his parent’s let my uncle sleep in, since it was his day off.
Around noon my uncles mother (great aunt) decided to wake him up. She went to his room and called. No answer. After several attempts, knocking on the door and no answer she decided to enter the room. There was my uncle lying peacefully in his bed. She went up to him to shake him awake and instantly knew he was dead.
She ran to the window and screamed to her husband that she thought their son was dead. His father ran into the house and up the stairs to his wife. When his father reached the top step he had a massive heart attack and dropped dead at his wife’s feet. Understandably, she lost control, ran into the street yelling and crying when a police car stopped to help. She never rebounded from the ordeal and died little more than a month later, leaving my aunt Nina alone.
After all this tragedy we thought it was over until about 6 months later. I drove back to NYC to visit my aunt one weekend with my soon to be wife. We did the normal stuff. Chit Chat, dinner etc. I decided to stay the night and leave the next morning. When it came time for bed my aunt said I could sleep in her room since I knew about my uncle dying in his room. I told her it didn’t bother me if I stayed in my uncle Johns room but she insisted I didn't. She then said it was ok since she no longer slept upstairs. Mainly because she couldn’t get her Doberman to go upstairs after everyone died. She said things were going on but wouldn’t elaborate. So I went to her room and my wife to be went to my uncle John’s room. (we didn't tell her) I went to bed with the door open. My aunts open door faced the top landing. I could clearly see the hall light at the top of the stairs. It was a low wattage bulb and the hall was dimly lit but could be seen clearly.
I was just about asleep when an upstairs door slammed shut hard. It startled me and I sat up. All of a sudden the light in the hall seemed to fade out but it wasn't the light. There, standing in the doorway to my room, was the figure of a man. I could clearly see the lit hallway behind it but since it was backlit by the hall light, I could not make out any features. Everything around this shadow type silhouette was clear. It looked exactly like someone put a cardboard cutout of a man in the doorway. I was just frozen. I don't know if I was scared, paralyzed or what. I just sat there for what seemed like forever staring at this thing. It never moved but, finally just kind of faded away before my eyes. I hadn’t fallen asleep yet so I know it wasn’t a dream. After that everything was calm and I finally went to sleep after a long while of popping back up to see if it came back.
The next morning I went downstairs for breakfast and asked who slammed the door. My wife to be said it woke her up and she thought it was me. My aunt was sleeping at the bottom of the stairs on the couch with the dog at her side but said she heard nothing. I don’t know how she couldn’t have heard it. I never did tell my aunt what I saw but years later after she moved she admitted things happened in the house but never would go into it. We remained close for many years later and I even lived with her after my divorce at the end of her life. Not until then did I find out how afraid of dying she was. She was one of those people who are terrified of death to the point of not even wanting to speak of it. Which is why I guess she never spoke of her old house and the incident. She passed away in 2000 in such a way that she knew she was dying right to the last second. I was there and the look of terror on her face made my blood run cold. I miss her very much and still have feelings of guilt to this day that I couldn't help her at the end.
The old house is no longer there but, I am curious if the new home that is, has any activity?
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