Ghost stories have been around for ages scaring kids around the fireside and bonfires in the dark woods. There are people who swear to the truth of these stories and a sub-culture of ghost hunters trying to document the existence of these apparitions. This is my story of what I saw and nothing anyone can say will change my mind about the incident. This is a true story.
I lived in Bargersville when the kids were growing up for about 12 years. We lived right down town, diagonally across the street from the Post Office. It was a beautiful old house that since then has been doubled in size to almost mansion like proportions. It was a big enough house when we lived there to accommodate my family with plenty of room for all the kids that seemed to call it their second home.
The house was built in 1912 by John Rapp who owned the grain elevator down the street. He piped water from the elevator to a large copper tank in the attic so that they had running water for washing clothes, dishes and bodies. There was, I was told, an outhouse in the back yard but I could never determine its exact location. Also, the house was built with gas lights. The gas, acetylene, was from a generator located in the side yard.
John Rapp had three children, John, Jr., Esther, and Frances. Esther later became Mrs. Demaree my High School English teacher and Frances married William (Bill) Switzer who owned the Bargersville canning factory. We bought the house from Frances and have many fond memories of living there. I don’t know if Mr. Switzer or anyone else died in the house. You don’t ask that question because you really don’t want to know.
The house was a story and a half with a half basement that was dry and well lit and became a great play place for the kids. There were several shelves that I ‘m sure were for storing canned goods and they became my tool storage area. The stairway to the basement was under the stairs to the second floor and behind the kitchen. Like most basement stairs they were not built for beauty just function. Like most homes built around the turn of the century there was a chimney to serve the wood burning cook stove and this chimney went down to the basement about half way down the stairs. This allowed a triangular space between the chimney and the top of the stairs that you could look thru and see into the basement. The stairs continued to a landing and made a right turn for 2 more steps down to the floor.
On this particular day, it must have been a Saturday because I was home and was by myself. Like all owners of older homes there were always projects to do and this day I needed some tools from the basement. When I opened the door I felt a rush of really cold air much colder than the normal cool basement temperature and as I started down the stairs every hair on my body stood on end. I looked to my right into the basement thru the triangle space and there stood a man. Khakis pant and a plaid shirt working on something with his hands. It was like he was trying to fix something. I knew who he was. Bill Switzer. Just like I had seen him walking thru the tomato fields so many times. There was no doubt in my mind who he was. I am not ashamed to admit that I was shaking and scared but I continued down the stairs to the landing and as I turned right he was gone. The basement was freezing cold and there was an odor that I had never smelled before or since. I stood there for a considerable time trying to reassure myself to what I had just seen. Finally I convinced myself that I had indeed seen a ghost. The ghost had a name, Bill Switzer.
After a while I went back upstairs and sat on the back porch trying to sort out what had just happened. I finally decided the following:
- I had indeed seen a ghost. No doubt what so ever! And I even knew who the ghost was.
- No one would probably ever believe me if I told the story.
- Unless I wanted to spend the next several weeks living in a motel room while looking for a new house I would not tell my family about my experience.
And so, I never told the story until after I had moved out of the house and then to a very limited number of people. I was never sure if anyone ever believed my tale and perhaps you may not either, but I know what I saw those many years ago. Not all ghosts go bump in the night. Sometimes they are just trying to fix something that is broke.
Thanks for listening.