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Fresh Laundry

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GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:

Welcome back to SNAP JUDGMENT, from PRX and NPR. My name is Glynn Washington and today, SNAP JUDGMENT crosses the veil, "Spooked V: Innocence Lost," real stories, real people. And next, we're traveling to Old Louisville where some know it, the most haunted neighborhood in America, where Dave Domine, he bought himself a rundown Victorian mansion. But David, he wasn't scared, 'cause he didn't believe in ghosts. SNAP JUDGMENT.

DAVE DOMINE: I consider myself a skeptic, you know. I say when I see a ghost, I'll actually believe in ghosts. And so when I was talking to the previous owner, I just offhandedly asked, you know, are there any ghosts or anything associated with the house? And she said, yeah, there's one. Her name's Lucy and she's a poltergeist. And I didn't really, you know, believe her. We moved into the house, didn't think anything of it. And I started decorating and painting and such, and sure enough a couple of months later, the strange things started happening. It started with pictures falling off the wall. One time, I hung three pictures in a row and went to the dining room and slap, slap, slap, all three pictures were lying face down. The glass had been broken out, and the nails were still the wall, so I don't know how the pictures came down over those nails. I was always looking for rational explanations. I thought, well, you just - you didn't hang them the right way whatever - whatever happened, it was your fault. So for the next couple of months, it went on like that. Strange things kept happening always in the same parts of the house - the butlers' pantry, the dining room, the kitchen. I started hearing footsteps and, you know, not creaks and groans, you know, these were just discernible footsteps going up and down the hall. The freakiest night was Kentucky Derby night of 2000. You know, in Kentucky, the Derby is a big, big thing. I had fallen asleep.

(SOUNDBITE OF KNOCKS)

DOMINE: Three loud raps at the back door woke me up. And so I got up and I went downstairs to the back door and opened it, and there was no one there. You know, there were lights coming from the neighboring houses and the street lamps in the alley. I tried to see if anyone, you know, was leaving and I couldn't see anyone. So I crawled back into bed, and I was lying there with the dogs.

One of my friends called. You know, he was one of the friends that knew about the strange things happening in the house, so he made an offhand comment, you know, I don't know if I'd stay alone in the old house all by myself if I were you. And I said, well, it's sort of funny you mentioned that. I said someone keeps knocking at the back door. And as I said that, all of a sudden we heard the raps again, and it was so loud that he actually heard them through the phone. So I shot out of bed and I ran to that back room and stood at the window and looked down, and there was no one there. I came down the hallway, and I was shutting off the lights as I did so I laid back down in bed.

And everything was pitch black and he was trying to convince me, you know, he was trying to warn me about the house and I said, well, you know, I said I'm probably just imagining things - I think I'm just psyching myself out. And I said, you know, if there's anything here that wants me to know, it'll let me know. And at that very second, the light in the hallway went on, just filled up the bedroom with light. And it was so shocking that I was at a loss for words, I couldn't say anything, I just sort of gasped, and my heart started pounding. So I walked out into the hallway with a baseball bat expecting to find someone, but when I got out there, there was nothing there, just a blinding white light from the bulb that had come on. Of course, you move into a new house, you want to put your own personal touch on it. So we hired two local men who were very good at restoring old floors and houses.

And I - you know, I hadn't told them anything about what had been happening, but they had been having their own experiences and so they reported strange things in the backroom like people were watching them. I was standing there with one of the workers and we were talking, and all of a sudden, a big vase on the mantle started - just slowly moved two feet across the mantle, and it stopped right before where it would've fallen off the edge. You know, I went back and I tried to get it to move like that again. I put it back, I even shoved it a little, I couldn't get it to move at all so it happened just that one time.

I remembered it was a cold winter's day, I was on the second floor alone in the house and I had this smell of laundry being done, and I sort of followed my nose and it took me down the hall to that little room at the back of the hallway. And I went inside and it smelled like someone had just been doing laundry or folding laundry in there. And there was also this smell of ironing, you know, the starchy smell. Sometimes I even smelled, you know, like charred wood and a couple of times I thought there was a fire in the house, it had to be a fire at the neighbor's house. I even went and searched the whole house, convinced that there was something going on.

I was down in the kitchen making some lunch, and one of the workers leaned down over the railing and said, hey, can you come up here for a minute. And I said sure. So I went up there. He said, you know, we got to show you what we found in this room because we're not going to be able to get this out of the wood, this is something that's going to be staying in the wood for a while. They walked me into the room, and they pointed to a spot on the floor, and it was a spot on the floor right by the hearth where the fireplace was.

When I saw it, all of a sudden the hair started standing up on the back of my arms 'cause I saw that it was a burn mark that had been left there by an old-fashioned flat iron. So someone had been ironing. They took the iron they were heating up in the fireplace and they must have accidentally set it down on the floor and left it there. But when I stared at that, that burnt mark that was left there by that old-fashioned flat iron, all of a sudden things started to make sense.

If there's a ghost here and her name's Lucy, she had to be the former maid or the housekeeper. It was sort of a relief, it made sense all of a sudden, you know, even though I wasn't convinced that I believed, you know, made something seem more rational even if it was me conceding to the paranormal. There was something that explained it and so it was a lot easier to live with. I just started saying, yes, there's a Lucy here, and I better start doing things the right way if I don't do what she likes, you know, things will get worse. So from that point forward, even if I was doing a joke and I said, OK, I'm going to do this now and I'm going to paint this and I hope you like it. And the funny thing is, for the last seven years I was in the house, nothing ever happened again. So people said she obviously liked what I was doing to the house in the end.

WASHINGTON: Thank you, David, for sharing your story with SNAP. David wrote a whole book on his neighborhood called "True Ghost Stories And Eerie Legends From America's Most Haunted Neighborhood." That piece was produced by Anna Sussman. You've crossed over to the other side of SNAP JUDGMENT's "Spooked V," but you want more, right? Don't worry. Do not fear, hear the entire Spook series right now at snapjudgment.org. Podcast? - Yes, we got a podcast, what's wrong with you? Subscribe to the podcast right now before it's too late. Facebook? - Snap Judgment. Twitter? - @snapjudgment. SNAP was produced by myself and a coven of the undead.

Have you ever put a person's head on a spike as a lesson to others? Well, the Corporation Public Broadcast has never done that either, but that last conference call sure felt like it. Am I right? Much love to the CPB. PRX, Public Radio Exchange, takes your head and exchanges it for public radio. Good deal? - prx.org. WBEZ in Chicago, WBEZ live, however misusing their name. And this is not the news. No way is this the news. In fact, you could wake up with a cloth over your head wearing your best suit of clothes inside a box underground and realize that, you didn't wake up all and you would still not be as far away from the news as this is. But this is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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