No, I don’t like being scared

Randy Riley - Contributing columnist

Mamaw lived in the same old, two-story farmhouse her entire adult life. She was 98 years old when she died.

She loved that old home. Her essence permeated every room. Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas meals were pure tradition. Everything was the way Mamaw wanted it.

After she died, we continued gathering at the old, family farmhouse for holidays.

After Thanksgiving dinner, we always went upstairs to bring down Christmas decorations. One year, my brother-in-law told me, “You have got to go upstairs into the attic.”

I asked what was up there, but he just smiled and insisted that I climb the creaky old staircase into the attic. So, I did.

While standing in the attic, at the top of the stairs, I heard a noise in the far corner. I looked across the empty space toward the sound. There was Mamaw’s old rocking chair. It was slowly moving – back and forth, back and forth. I was the only person up there.

It had to be Mamaw.

The hair on the back of my neck started to tingle and standup. I think I stopped breathing for a second. I don’t like being scared. I don’t like scary movies or haunted hayrides where you pay people to scare you. I didn’t like seeing Mamaw’s rocking chair moving on its own. There had to be an answer.

Under my right foot was a loose board. The board stretched across the entire attic floor to Mamaw’s old rocking chair.

When I lifted my foot, the board moved. When I lowered my foot, the chair would continue to rock. OK. It wasn’t Mamaw, but it was still scary.

When I came downstairs, my brother-in-law was grinning. He was the one who had discovered the haunted chair. He knew that he got me.

I still don’t like being scared.

In the fall of 1977, I was living alone in a small house on Westfield Drive. The book about the Amityille Horror had just been released. The book, the movie, the entire story about the horrors endured by the Lutz family is still scaring people today.

One part of the story involves members of the Lutz family looking out their windows only to see a creature with red, beady eyes staring back at them.

It was late at night as I sleeplessly read in my bed. The only light was coming from a small reading lamp. The open window to my right brought faint night sounds into the small bedroom.

The tension in the Amityville story was growing and growing. I couldn’t stop reading. I certainly couldn’t go to sleep.

As the story unfolded, more horrors were being revealed. I was just reading about the beady, red eyes glowing in the darkened window, when two cats started to fight just beneath my window.

The screech of the cats nearly stopped my heart. The book flew out of my hands. My feet hit the floor. Breathing came in gasps. I was scared. I didn’t like it.

My mother has told me stories about her personal ghostly experiences. Mom would not lie to me. Seeing the ghost of a little girl in a gingham dress sitting on the stairs of a farmhouse might stretch the belief of many listeners, not me.

I believe every tale she told me. I’m not sure whether I believe in ghosts, but I know my mother would never lie to me.

There are mysteries in this world. Some are very scary.

In my late teens, I was working the evening shift in a Dayton factory. I usually got home shortly after midnight. Several of my friends worked the same hours. After work, we were wide awake. Our routine became that we would stop at the apartment of a friend, drink a few beers, watch some television, talk, and laugh for a few hours before heading home.

Around Halloween, our discussion drifted to the macabre. We talked about hauntings, ghosts, and spirits. They found an old Ouija board. We messed around with that for a few evenings.

Diana, who claimed she had a spirit for such things, recommended we have séance. It sounded creepy, but I agreed to give it a try.

Diana talked us through it. As the ritual unfolded, I felt creepier and creepier. Finally, I quit. I was done. I haven’t touched a Ouija board or thought about participating in a séance since that night. It was very scary.

Halloween isn’t just a holiday. It has become an enormous holiday.

Last night, we even drove around town looking at Halloween lights and decorations. According to many sources, spending on Halloween has increased so much that it now accounts for more consumer spending than all other holidays… except Christmas.

I hope that it will never surpass Christmas.

Years ago, my daughter bought some Halloween lights. They were like Christmas lights, only pumpkin shaped. She displayed them on a small unused Christmas tree.

That confused her little ones. She explained that many people love all of our holidays and like to put up lights in celebration.

She told me that Clayton became rather quiet for a few minutes.

Then he looked at his Mom and said, “The Easter Bunny is gonna love this.”

Randy Riley is a former Mayor of Wilmington and former Clinton County Commissioner.

Randy Riley

Contributing columnist