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In the Valley of Shadows

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The little old ghost of Bottle Bay Road

“... of the January sun; and not to think of any misery in the sounds of wind, in the sound of a few leaves.” Wallace Stevens

 

A local professional bought a house on a  narrow lane off Bottle Bay Road some ten years ago. Built in the early days of Sandpoint by the Wolf family, the house and various outbuildings were, shall we say, in need of some TLC. In fact, mold, rat droppings and various nesting birds and animals were abundant in the structures. It was obvious that simply remodeling was out of the question.

The Sagle Fire Department was called and they gladly agreed to put the outbuildings to the torch with an eye on training new volunteers. The first structure to go would be the old barn/shop fifty feet behind the main house.

The night before the torch party, the parents entered the old building to make sure there was nothing they could salvage before it burned the next day. Ascending an old set of stairs to the small second floor, they looked around and saw resting on an old shelf a porcelain angel. As the father reached for it, a strong gust of wind blew through the small nearby window and carried the angel figure away into the night.

The next day the Sagle Fire Department burned the outbuilding to the ground, leaving a great pile of ash and debris. Picking through it the next day, one daughter of our professional, Lindsey, poked and prodded and found something with the stick she was using. Reaching into the now cold, grey ash she withdrew... a ceramic angel. Whole and intact. Showing her parents, both were surprised at this unusual turn.

As the year went on, the daughters of our professional began seeing a “lady” watching them from time to time. In the garden, the kitchen... even their bedrooms. But they never felt threatened. In fact, they felt as if they had a protecting angel watching over them.

Mr. Wolf, the very elderly descendent of the original owners, who still lived nearby and had befriended the home’s new owners, related one day that his family, who had homesteaded the property before World War I, had witnessed the death of his mother from scarlet fever in the 1930s. It was an unfortunately common illness then. (Author’s note: a four-year-old uncle and 14-year-old aunt I never knew died in the 30s of scarlet fever.)

Determined to live there, the family went about their business.  But often, as members of the family would enter the basement, lights would flicker. Other times, one of the twin daughters would be bending over her bike, then look up to see the smiling face of an old lady looking at her, then instantly disappear.

Finally, one week when the father was alone, the family away visiting in-laws, he experienced an encounter with the ‘ghost.’ Drying his hair as he came out of the shower, there in the hall stood the figure of an elderly woman in a print dress from another era.

Unnerved, the father decided then and there that the house did not belong to them, but to its past residents. He decided to raze the house and build a new one.

The Sagle Fire Department had another training day and less than a year later, the family had built a new home, minus its protective spirit. Or so they thought.

Jumping forward to Halloween 2008, the original house was now a memory. The now teenaged twin daughters had a sleep over Halloween party. One of them took a digital photo of one of their friends sitting on a fence. Looking at the digital photo on their computer, lo and behold an orb appeared in the photo. It was too large to be a reflection off a dust particile, and obscured the other girl’s face.

Is it the protective spirit of the kind older lady looking after her girls? You can decided as soon as I can obtain the photo.

Next month: the first of two strange stories than took place over thirty-five years apart, but nonetheless may be related.

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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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