You would think with the winter months upon us, I’d be home in front of the computer pounding away at posts for this blog. Well, this winter in New York has been so mild, so lovely, that I’ve been out and about for much of it.
One of my outings took me to Old Bethpage Village Restoration, a historically rich location that makes me think of Colonial Williamsburg and how it might have looked in its earliest planning stages.
Known as the Jewel of Long Island, Old Bethpage Village Restoration (OBVR) has been severely underfunded and budget cuts have cost it the “living history” part of its description since almost all of the full time costumed interpreters have been laid off. Fortunately, new management seems interested in revitalizing the Village and our hope is for a rebirth.
Meanwhile, as the Village stands cold and closed for the winter months, a skeleton crew – of sorts – is charged with maintaining and cleaning the buildings. Each house in the Village was brought there from another part of Long Island, each teaming with its own history. Some of the furnishings in the homes belong to the family that once lived there, other furnishings are mismatched.
All of this makes OBVR a prime location for paranormal activity. Because of that, one of the updates I would love to see in this village is a regularly scheduled lantern ghost tour. When I am in the Village, there is no question in my mind – Here, there be ghosts.
On a particularly sunny cleaning day, we brought our cameras and digital recorders. There wasn’t much activity that day, mostly personal experiences of cold spots, unease, dizziness and headaches. In each home, however, we captured whispered voices, barely audible. I will share four that seem the most vivid and urge you to use headphones for a fuller experience.
If I sound less than disappointed about our soft bits of audio evidence, it’s because of the phenomenal visual evidence we captured. At first, I was excited, then I became frightened. I don’t know what or who we captured in the pictures I’ll be sharing here, but as I considered it, I realized, we’ve never felt threatened in those homes so our perception of what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ looks like is just that, perception. We don’t know what’s on the other side and so we shouldn’t make judgments – can’t judge a book by its cover, right?
A word about the recordings on this page. For some reason, the player will play all of the recordings in succession. Just press pause to prevent if from continuing until you’re ready to hear the next track.
And so without further ado…
In the Schenck House – a home built in 1730 by a Dutch Farmer – We are standing at the front door having just walked into the house and locked the door behind us. I just noted the size of the floorboards and beams – HUGE gorgeous wood – when a light sing-songy female voice comes from the space immediately around us. We know it’s not us because it happens as I’m talking about the beautiful wood and my daughter laughs. We didn’t even hear this voice at the time.
SCHENCK HOUSE 2:06 Ghost Child – SCHKANK FOYER
The Williams House – build by a master house carpenter, Henry Williams, in 1820 – is known for its hautings and though presumption is its residual not intelligent, some of the otherworldly ‘comments’ tell us the opposite. Take for example this bit of recording while we stood in the parlour –
Listen hard for the whispers, there are two. The first is at 7 seconds, about two beats after I say, “You have a beautiful house”, the whisper sounds like, “What?” The second, at 11 seconds, sounds like a slow, drawn out, “They’re here.”.
WILLIAMS HOUSE – Parlour Ghost Hunting – WILLIAMS HOUSE PARLOUR
Eventually, we set the recorder in the family room and went about our work in the other rooms and upstairs. While the recorder remained alone on a table by a bible and spectacles, there were separate comments made – we, remember were in the other rooms or on the second floor and our voices, when heard, are distinctly ours.
Listen at 14 seconds. We hear “go”. At .21, .25 and .27, we hear, “That’s you.” “Go.” “Take them.”
WILLIAMS HOUSE BIBLE Ghost Voices – WILLIAMS HOUSE by Bible
At this point, we are upstairs, talking while we work. Listen at 4 seconds. We hear a frustrated – almost weary and bored of our presence – “Go home.” Just before the whisper, you’ll hear silence then us talking in the background.
WILLIAMS HOUSE “GO HOME” GHOST HUNTING – WILLIAMS HOUSE – GO HOME
And finally, at the Noon Inn, built in 1835, we climbed up to the attic. Well, I didn’t. I stood on the steps to the attic and had to come back down. I felt heavy, the air thick. Cold. My daughter followed me down and our friend remained on the stairs, feeling uncomfortable and asking me to take her picture at that moment because something did not feel right to her. The first picture you’ll see is the photo I took at that moment and cannot explain. Look to her left. Right there in black on the stairs.
BLACK MASS NOON INN
Please forgive me, but I’ve chosen to delete this image due to some ‘darker’ comments I’ve received (and also deleted) regarding it.
Not one of us ‘knows’ what is beyond this world. We can only judge by what we experience, what we believe and what we feel. In all my years visiting the Village, I have never felt that I or my family was in any type of danger and I would never want others to be turned off because of what they interpret from our experiences there. This image seemed too much of a hot button, and I thought it best to simply remove it.
This next photo is one I took once we were all down the stairs. I cannot explain this one either. Look toward the top right.
FACE NOON INN
This last picture is one I took almost immediately after the one above.
NO FACE NOON INN
I’ll leave it to you to decide what these images mean. Your comments, opinions and/or personal experiences are VERY welcomed.
Recently, Daughter talked about going back to school. The idea of high school as portrayed in shows like Saved by the Bell and Degrassi thrill her. She remembers why we stopped traditional schooling but truly believes High School would be different. I believe it, too, but my thoughts of how different things will be don’t exactly thrill me. And so, I’ve decided to nix the idea of sending her back. At least for another year. After that? I don’t know. I’ll have to decide that as the time draws nearer.
The homeschooling lifestyle is just that – a lifestyle. I enjoy getting up in the morning without having to rush or worry whether homework has been completed and put away. I love not worrying about my daughter carrying a 15 pound book bag on her back all day. And I love not worrying about how much homework she’ll have and when she’ll have the time to just ‘be’.
It’s not pure bliss. I won’t lie. But it works for my family. In fact, the beauty of it is being able to adjust the learning methods as we grow more comfortable with the process. And of course, there’s the freedom of participating in activities with other homeschoolers. Like recently, when we went to Raynham Hall in Oyster Bay and covered both American History and Art.
The owner of the house, Samuel Townsend, was a Patriot when the population of Oyster Bay area was mainly Loyalists. The children – ranging in age from 6 to 14 – were given an in-depth description of how a family whose loyalty was so firmly embedded in hope for this infant country had to live a lie when, after the Battle of Long Island, the British army occupied their home. They saw a letter written in 1777, from George Washington. Read it, ooo’d and aaaah’d at being so close to that original and recognizable piece of history. They were told how people lived during the times – day to day activities and chores, including the methods and necessity of candle making. They were shown entries in a diary from one of the Townsend girls who fell in love with one of the British soldiers occupying her home. Heartbreaking in it’s honesty, it clearly expressed how she knew she loved an ‘enemy’ but earnestly hoped – no, prayed – their differences could be overcome and they could one day be together. That day would never come and Sarah, or Sally as she was called, never married, but instead lived the rest of her life pinning for the one man who’d stolen her heart.
At the end of the tour and lecture, the children were given quills to form into pens. Using it to write and draw proved interesting… and, for some, quite messy. They gave a valiant effort though not one of them came close to the billowy and ornate flourishes contained in Sally Townsend’s diary or even in the hasty yet fluid lines from George Washington’s letter.
They came away from the tour excited and enlightened and with an appreciation for the advances we’ve made in our day-to-day existence – as well as with a deeper understanding of how vital and personal the fight had been.
Sure, public schools have field trips, too. I know that. But there’s something magical about being there as a family, about learning together and sharing those wondrous ah-ha moments. Of course, as I said, it’s a lifestyle that’s not for everyone, but it works for us and my only regret is that we didn’t start the homeschooling process when Daughter was in elementary school. I would have loved to witness the ‘ah-ha’ moments she had during those wonderfully innocent and exciting years.