Halloween always takes me back to childhood—to growing up in that cozy pink house with a “u” shaped driveway on Whitcomb Street in Glendora, California. Memories of a more imaginative time take hold of my mind: telling ghost stories with girlfriends in the orange grove at the end of our block…daring each other to trick-or-treat at the mysterious mansion known as the Tin Palace.
And every Halloween there was that bungalow on Leadora Street that transformed into a terrifying haunted house. My brother, Jeff and I would stand by the curb, paralyzed by the clanking chain and sinister laughing sound effects, trying to muster the courage to approach the front door, while ghoulish figures ushered in the brave trick-or-treaters.
Fast-forward to last night, a Halloween themed “girls-night-in” at my place. As we sat around the dinning room table, devouring roasted salmon, sipping wine and gabbing, conversation went from girl-talk to ghost stories.
Jasmine shared about witnessing the spirit of her grandfather and Cindy told us about mysterious orbs in photos she took on her travels to the pyramids of Egypt.
“My ghost is a cat,” I said.
“I’ve seen the filmy shape of a cat wandering the hallway by my bedroom. And last week I was wide awake in the middle of the night, so I sat up, turned on the bedside lamp so I could do some reading. All three cats were lined up next to each other sleeping at the foot of the bed. I reached for my book on the dresser when movement on the floor caught the corner of my eye. I looked down and saw a cat saunter along the side of my bed then abruptly disappear. I looked at the foot of the bed again for a quick head count and all three cats were still there sound asleep!”
We contemplated “who” I might have seen. Was the phantom cat the spirit of one of my beloved kitty angels, Punkie, Frankie or Bella?
Over dessert our spooky stories continued. “Lori, I know we’ve heard it before, but tell us, again, about your haunted apartment,” I eagerly requested. All eyes were fixated on Lori as we listened to her tale: One night upon returning home from the Marine Room, as Lori walked up the narrow indoor stairwell leading to her studio apartment in a circa 1930s apartment building, she saw a family at the top of the stairs on the second story landing. The man, woman and little girl were dressed in “Little House on the Prairie clothes,” as Lori described, and looked somewhat transparent. They stood motionless, staring down at her, smiling. Another tenant and his girlfriend who were friends of Lori also saw the ghost family—right in his apartment.
“Wow, that’s crazy!” we all marveled.
I felt like a kid in the orange grove again.
I thought to myself, why is it that my ghosts are cats? I’ve been to Lori’s several times and have never seen the ghost family. I guess it figures that a cat lady can only tune-in to the spirits of dearly departed felines rather than the early settlers of Laguna Beach.