My 1980s Ghost Story
The House at 5501 Smith Avenue
My best friend Alice and I were moving out on our own for the first time. We found this incredible rental in Newark, California. It was an old six-bedroom farm house.. perfect for kids just starting out. We figured if we could keep all the rooms rented it would cost around $100.00 per month per person.
We fell in love with the house at first site. It needed a little paint and work but it was awesome! It was connected by a water tower to a smaller "apartment", Aside from our neighbors we were the only house on that side of the street. Perfect for the many parties we planned on having!
While moving in the first incident happened. We got locked out. The front door lock required a key to lock it from in or outside. Alice climbed in through the window. The door was definitely locked. No one was in the house and there was no key in sight.
The first things we found out about the house was from the people 2 tenants back (Later we observed everybody who lived there came back). The garage, kitchen, pantry and Alice’s room was the original house. It had been a bunkhouse, Eventually it became a family home and it grew as the family grew. The last addition being the apartment next door. The first floor consisted of the rooms mentioned, the dining room, my bedroom, a dressing room, and a bathroom.
The staircase had several landings. The first flight led to the sunroom, which had a door to the sundeck (flat roof). More stairs led to the bathroom (they went in a square pattern). The next few stairs led to 2 more bedrooms.
The house had a huge garage, a Quonset hut (which we were not allowed in), 2 small play house like sheds, lots of trees and space. Apparently there had been an Olympic sized pool behind the house at one point. There was also a capped off well
What we learned: Before becoming a rental the house had belonged to one family (all names withheld). The last member went insane in the house. He had dogs chained to some sort of pulley system (it was still there …. I kept one) Anyone who came on the property was chased by dogs. The man died alone.
Years later a local contractor bought the house and a group of kids like us moved in. They rebuilt the kitchen and the upstairs bathroom… They said it looked as though the Adams family had lived there… It was full of webs, dirty and there were splinted wooden counter tops in the kitchen.
After we had lived there a good 6 months they asked us if anything weird happened and told us their stories… They heard a lot of noises in the house. Most of them centered around the staircase… footsteps going up and down… banging. One of them was sure it was sounds from the nearby freeway.
The people after them were a big problem (and yes they came back too) No one told us the house had been repeatedly raided by the police. A police officer fell down the stairs and broke his back. They were eventually busted for the biggest porno ring in Alameda County. There had been thousands of photos taken in what was now our living room. The house didn’t like them. A very heavy and stable tape drive (remember computer tapes) had somehow fallen on one of these guys in the garage.
So here we were living in this amazing house…. Alice’s room bugged her… so she shared my room. She said she couldn’t sleep hers. A few people from parties or visits tried to sleep in there but they couldn’t either. I tried once…. I had a cough and didn’t want to keep Alice up. I stumbled out of her room 3 or 4 hours later so sick I had to call for help. I could barely walk
We had lived there for just a few weeks when I had this weird daydream. I was upstairs in the last room and there was a little dark haired 8 year old boy watching out the window. He was waiting for his dad to come home. I don’t know how I knew these things…went with the dream. I started talking to my roommates about it and the person living in that room completed my description of the boy. He said he had seen him. .
We heard a lot of sounds, and whistling. People acted weird and wouldn’t come back claiming the house did something to them. A woman friend of my roommate’s husband to be refused to come into the house she said something about a little boy.
I’m a psychic… at that time I didn’t realize it. I also channel spirits. Which might explain why things affected me like they did. I do tarot readings and one night it was like something bad came in the house…there was even a draft ..lol! I couldn’t do readings in that house from there on. When I tried to do readings it was like I was reading our house not the person sitting across from me. If I had the understanding that I do now I might have seen this as the house trying to speak to me. All I knew was that there was more than just a little boy there..
I started having dreams about a house I didn’t know. There was a small secret hidden door that led into a finished attic. There was some old furniture (an old bed etc) and friendly ghosts. As the dreams progressed they made me feel very welcome. The furnishings became new,,,then things changed the ghosts turned dark and they trapped me in the room. These were major nightmares and I had them until I moved away.
Other things about the house:
The Sunroom: It was the first and the nicest of the upstairs rooms and no one who rented it stayed. We finally put our sewing machines in there. One guy who stayed there said the window bugged him… he couldn’t look out it.
The kitchen: There was an area on the wall above (facing you) the stove where they has made a hole for a fan and never installed it. It had a bag stuffed in when we moved it. On the other side of the wall was a closed garage. Somehow the bag repeatedly was knocked out of the hole from the garage side and sent sailing across the room. We finally nailed a piece of thick cardboard over it.
The sheds outside: We cleaned them but never did anything with them. I never felt safe there.
The garage: To turn on the lights you had to cross the garage. Alice and I talked about it years later and both felt the same. It was like there was someone out there waiting to grab you. Then I asked the star question… Where in the garage were they? We both had the same feeling… around the corner from where the wall hole was.
The fireplace: It was full of burnt children’s toys.
The last room upstairs: Three different people lived in that room while Alice and I had the house. The first one was just there for a few weeks. The other 2 both had stories about the little boy. Also the closet opened itself in the wee morning hours.
The apartment: I’ll cover later… it had its share as well.
Alice’s room: Aside from what I’ve already told you. The closet where the heater was had a weird brick mess in it.
Then the topper… the room on 2 occasions (that I know of) breathed. The weirdest part was Alice who told me everything never told me until it happened to me. I had gone in there to get something and this horrible male breathing started (like a madman about to rape you). It came from all around me and it was loud. I knew it wanted to scare me so I did what I needed to do and got out of there without acknowledging it. I went right to Alice. She was like yeah that happened to me about a month ago. If you knew Alice you would know there is no way she wouldn't have said something.
Outside: A friend was visiting one night and a few minutes after he left we heard his car horn and he was screaming. We rushed out there and he just kept saying it’s in my back seat! It took a lot to calm him down. It was obvious this thing liked to scare people and was doing a great job at it.
The sundeck: Only one story for you. Alice and I decided we were going to sit out there under the stars and get drunk. Well it was all overcast. We stayed out there for awhile until this huge white owl flew over our heads. So we decided to drink inside. When we stood up and looked at the overcast sky we noticed it ended at our property line. It was a straight line… very odd.
Towards the time when we (and the neighbors) moved things got weirder…but in a different way. The whistling outside stopped… All the wildlife disappeared. We had rabbits, squirrels and lots of birds, The neighbors broke up (so we thought) They fought a lot and one night we heard him screaming and he ran our slamming the door got in his car and never came back;
Whatever it was that was outside could only come into the original part of the house. It couldn’t cross the threshold between the kitchen and dining room. There was more than just the little boy in the house. He seemed to live there. The others just seemed to pass through. There was a lot of spirit activity in the house.
Moving weekend: The day started with a phone call. Some psychic research group 800 miles away called about our house. We never talked about it and were puzzled until it was explained to us that one of our guests that tried sleeping in Alice’s room had contacted them.
They told us there was a little boy and his father who haunted the house. There was an evil presence outside the house that they called "The Jailer". Their psychic said the house was a center of psychic activity but whatever was drawn there couldn’t leave. The Jailer wouldn’t let them.
They wanted to arrange to investigate the house. This wasn’t possible due to the time factor. So they asked us to wait until dark and enter each room to take a picture. We had a little speech to the spirits about if they wanted to be seen. We did this latter that night… As usual Alice’s room made my arm hairs stand on end. If you look at the picture you’ll understand why. The picture from Alice’s room was taken in total darkness. It shows a shaft of light within 3-5 feet of where I was standing. I saw absolutely nothing. I had the photo lab and a pro-photographer check out the negatives for damages or camera malfunction and there were none. They couldn’t come up with any idea as to what that picture was or how it happened. I still have the original prints but the negatives are missing.
They asked us to talk to our neighbors as well. One of the investigation team was local and would be out the following day to do what he could.
They asked us to talk to our neighbors as well. One of the investigation team was local and would be out the following day to do what he could.
The neighbors: As requested we went next door and asked them if anything odd happened in their side of the house. She said yes and that her boyfriend was afraid of the house!
She said weird things happened in the water tower. They would hear boxes being slid around and find things moved. She said one day her boyfriend was alone in the house and it started up. He went up into the tower to investigate, As he was coming down the stairs he heard things moving in the kitchen. He assumed it was their cats but when he went in the room they were laying on the floor asleep… Then the whole room started to breathe. She said he said it came from everywhere and he was out the door in seconds and refused to come back in the house.
She asked if we wanted to see the water tower room. So up the stairs we went. The room was small and had some boxes in it still. As we were heading for the stairs to go down she stopped us and said ohhhhh…. You’ve got to see this. She opened a closet door at the top of the stairs. There was a small door on the far closet wall… She opened it and we looked inside. It was a finished attic over the main part of their house… It was full of webs and in it sat an old bed frame and some old furniture. She asked us if we wanted to go in, I wasn’t about to as it was right out of my nightmares. Alice knew about the dreams and she avoided it as well.
Later: The investigator: He wandered around the house. All that was left were sleeping bags and cleaning supplies. We had planned on being out the following day. We started in Alice’s room using a quija board and a tape recorder. Communicating was abit difficult but we did it, The little boy asked to be called Jimmy. We asked him what the thing outside was. He basically used every dark evil word he could come up with. He said he was waiting for his father who went out to battle this thing and never returned.
Jimmy said there were unwelcome spirits trapped in his house. He didn’t like them. He also told us children had been hurt in the sheds out back. At this point communication got difficult. The investigator was a little freaked. He had us listen to the monitor on his recorder. You could hear heavy male breathing as well as a child. We decided to go upstairs to Jimmy’s room.
When we settled into Jimmy’s room there was only the child’s breathing on the monitor. A lot of things came out in the conversation that followed that we later confirmed as fact. Although we never identified Jimmy. Jimmy said the thing came from the well. Not the one at the house but one east of the house. He said it was outside and it wouldn’t let him leave.
He talked about going to the train station with his father and taking the ferrys across the water to the big city. He discussed his school and where it had been. He said his father used to whistle songs. We remembered hearing a man whistling outside when we first moved in. Those are the things that stick in my head.
Later that night Alice and I had the realization that when they tear down the house Jimmy wouldn’t be protected. We spent the day cleaning and talking about how in the world we could get him out of there. We came up with a plan and did it. We sucessfully moved him to where we had moved to.
The rest of the team arrived a few days later. They went to the house but had no access inside. They said their compasses did some odd things in the quonset hut area. Next they wanted to talk to Jimmy. By now we had pretty well figured out that I was the medium so they decided to test Jimmy to confirm I wasn’t faking. Jimmy was very insulted. They held up a card where I couldn’t see it and asked him what it was. He expressed his anger and told them what card it was. Jimmy was getting nervous and scared. They talked to him for awhile then headed back to the house for one last visit before dark.
They had been gone for about an hour when Alice and I got this real bad feeling. It was like impending doom ….really bad. It occurred to us that the thing might now know where Jimmy was. We told him to reach out for his family and go to them, Then he was gone, A few minutes later darkness hit… It felt bad! The investigators called us and said weird things were going on. We told them what happened. They agreed we did the right thing.
The investigators borrowed our notes and promised us a copy of the tapes, We never saw them again. The psychic did get a message to us that we did the right thing and Jimmy found his way.
Over the next few years things we learned a lot of things. We found an article about Jimmy’s School. We found out the old train station was within walking distance to our house. It went to the bay and there were ferrys to San Francisco. Jimmy had to have lived in the late 1800s or the early 1900. It’s hard to say if it was his house. He never did confirm his name.
We were warned to stay away from the area.
About five years later a job interview took me back there. I was maybe 2-300 feet east from the property line applying at Deer Trucking. I pretty much had the job. Then she said…oh and one of your other responsibilities will be monitoring for contaminates in the well. I was like what well… she answered, the one that runs under us from down there… and she pointed towards where the old house had been. I’m sure she saw the blood run from my face. I sat down and told her my story and said I can’t take this job. She didn’t argue. It was the well Jimmy had described.
So that’s the short version of the story. There’s a lot more, but my fingers would fall off…lol.
There were many people involved as well as guests to the house and any of them would agree. The place was majorly haunted.
Eventually I will make a point of going through all the pictures taken in the house and check for details. Like the picture of the curtains that I posted. If I find more I’ll post them as well. I do have one of Jimmy’s window from outside that I will add in. There’s an odd light in the glass.
Some of the historical information can be confirmed at http://www.ci.newark.ca.us/live/history.html
Luna Nyx May 31, 2009