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From the Valley of Shadows

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Three ghosts for Christmas

“Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls one. Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to vibrate.”   Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”  -Charles Dickens

ONE

     As usual, no specific references are made to protect the anonymous.

Somewhere along Division St. in Sandpoint, one house, occupied at one time by a prominent local politician, is haunted by a spirit, probably that of a workman who was murdered during a remodeling job and whose body may yet be sealed with its walls.

A nondescript structure, it has been remodeled several times over the last 50 years.   I walked by it as a teenager on my way to high school for three years.

The rumor is that a workman, whose boss suspected him of an affair with his wife,  was confronted by the boss at the end of a workday; he denied the accusations. In his rage and disbelief, the foreman grabbed a pulley, wound the attached rope around the young carpenter’s neck, and pushed him over the edge of a partially completed second floor remodel where he struggled for several moments before passing out and strangling.

Cutting the body down, the foreman, now in a panic, took the body to the basement and  stuffed it into a narrow gap in the stonework, packed insulation around it, then proceeded to brick up the opening.

The next Monday, the other workers wondered about the missing man, but the foreman said little until  a day later when he came up with the excuse that the missing carpenter had left for a family emergency.  No one questioned this as they knew the man’s family lived hundreds of miles away.

After finishing the remodeling, a family moved in several weeks later and they immediately began experiencing unusual things.

The final straw was a nighttime encounter in an upstairs hallway between the family’s young son and the specter of a man hanging, his face swollen and purple, tongue protruding.

The next residents were a middle-aged couple.  The most they experienced though was and occasional sound, what sounded like the slapping of a rope against an inside wall.

TWO

     On the northern edge of Sandpoint is a house built long ago, perhaps a contemporary of the Lincoln School, built perhaps by the railroad in the early days of the 20th century. There, the spirit of a woman waits at an upper floor window for a son who will never return home.

The most common version is that her son, upon turning 18 in the early years of the 20th century, had gone to the original Sandpoint, on the east bank of Sand Creek, an area then of debauchery and vice where a young man just coming of age feels he needs to prove himself.

The boy found himself outmatched in a fight with several rough customers and was beaten to death.

The mother died a week later from a broken heart, but to this day stares out of her bedroom window for Jimmy, who can never return because ghosts cannot cross water. He is trapped forever on the east bank.

THREE

They called it the Bonner Meat Packing Company or Sandpoint Meats, the old slaughterhouse that used to occupy land on the east side of Division St. It was located just before crossing the railroad tracks and west of the pole yard and was closed decades ago. It sat there empty until the 1960s, when it was finally demolished.

My father worked there briefly as a young man and in its day, the plant supplied meats to local and regional butchers.  I particularly remember three meat counters. The first was at the corner of Second and Pine, the second at First and Church and the third at Pine and  Forest. This last one I used to accompany my dad to in the 60s to get a huge steak for the barbecue. That one is now an apartment building, but you can still see the original cement steps going into an empty wall that faces Pine.

But back to the late 30s at the slaughter house—ever wonder about the deaths of all those animals?  My dad never gave it a thought until one early evening as he was going home. Shrugging into his jacket on a chilly March night, he headed down the narrow stairs from the break room and ran smack into... something.  Something firm, yet giving and rubbery.  Something cold, smelling of raw stinking meat.  Backing up, he put a hand out and felt... nothing.  Frowning, he stepped forward and met no further resistance. 

Near the door, he encountered one of the older workers who noticed Dad’s expression. “Something wrong?” he asked in a knowing tone. Dad described what had just happened and older man nodded in understanding. “You don’t expect there not to be consequences, considering what we do here? Animals may not have souls as we do, but there is something, something that remains, especially considering the number of deaths here in one place.”

With that, I sincerely hope to see you next month  with many new tales from the VALLEY OF SHADOWS including the contributions from time to time of a local paranormal investigator.

 

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Author info

Lawrence Fury Lawrence Fury is an inveterate letter-to-the-editor writer, and a conservative conscience for this area of North Idaho. He's also an expert on local ghost stories, and is compiling a group of them for future book publication. You can read more about him in a Love Notes feature for the River Journal

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