Memories from the attic.

For whatever reason, my dad felt like he wanted to live in a more affluent neighborhood.  He began looking for a new home for us when I was in the 6th grade.  Although I loved where we lived and hated the thoughts of leaving neighboring friends, it was exciting looking at new, larger houses.

Dad struck a deal with a friend of his who happened to be looking for a smaller home.  Our house on Gardener Park Drive was a split level with three bedrooms.  Dad’s friend’s house was a large home in the Country Club area of town that had five bedrooms and five baths.  The two men worked out a deal that my father felt he couldn’t pass up.  We would simply trade homes.

Moving day came.  We had to have our moving truck packed and ready at the same time that their moving truck was packed and ready.  With a phone call from my dad’s friend, the trucks began moving our belongings to our new home.  When we arrived the previous owners were finishing up, and their truck was pulling out.

Mom showed my sister Beth and I a large bedroom in the center of the upstairs hall.  My brothers would have the bedroom at the far end of the hall. My older sister, Katherine would sleep in the first bedroom at the top of the stairs.  In that bedroom the previous family had left behind a beautiful antique four poster bed, an old upholstered rocking chair ,  antique book case, and a dresser.  My mother called the previous owners and asked when they might come and get the rest of their belongings.  She was told that they really didn’t have room for the furniture left in that room and that if we’d like we could have it.  This worked out pretty well, as Katherine did not have a bedroom suite of her own.  In our house on Gardener Park we three girls slept together in one bedroom, sharing a king size bed, which would now be shared by just Beth and I in our new room.

So Katherine’s room was already set up. She just needed to put her clothes in her dresser and lay out her stuffed animals and personal belongings and she was all moved in.

Christmas prior to this big move, Dad had given his kids a full size pool table, which went well in our family room at the Gardener Park house but did not match the style and decor of this more formal home on Country Club Drive.  So mom chose to have the movers put the pool table in the walk in attic off of Katherine’s bedroom.  They set the table up and put the balls and cue sticks on the table, ready for play.  While watching the movers in the attic, we noticed a set of leg braces hanging from a rafter. Also in the attic, were crayon colored pictures obviously drawn and colored by a child. They were taped to the wooden rafters as if proudly on display in a childs make believe art museum.  They were each signed Tucky in the right hand lower corner.

Mom commented on how she would not have left her child’s artwork behind.  “Poor little Tucky, I’ll just save these in case he wants them.” Mom had met the family and recalling the three children’s names, could not remember there being a Tucky.   She thought perhaps the artwork was done by one of their friends or cousins and stopped worrying about it.

It wasn’t long after moving in to the Country Club house that we began hearing noises. “Stop being silly.” Dad would say, “This house is old. Old houses settle and make noises”

Through the door that led to the attic, Katherine and I could hear the sound of a ball being hit by a cue stick, then rolling into a pocket on the pool table. We’d stop what we were doing and look at each other in silence.  Katherine would make sure the attic door was locked. We’d wondered why there were so many locks on the door. A slide lock, a hook lock, and a regular lock in the door knob.  Locking each lock became a nightly ritual for Katherine, as did asking either Beth or I to come and sleep with her each night. “I keep hearing noises in the attic and I’m afraid” she would beg.   One of us would always comply.

Mom’s and Dad’s bedroom was downstairs directly below Butch and Tom’s bedroom.  For the first few months after moving into the Country Club Drive house, they would come upstairs late at night and check on us frequently.  Mom later told me that she and dad would lay in bed late at night and hear what sounded to be furniture being moved around, so they’d come up stairs to tell the boys to go to sleep, only to find them both fast asleep in their own little beds and all was quiet and still. No furniture had been moved.

So we settled into this big house of noises.  “Settling noises” as Dad would put it.  We lived in the house on Country Club Drive for many years.  I never believed the noises were ‘settling noises’.  I believed we co-habitated with Tucky.  We’d found out via mutual friends and neighbors that there had been a boy named Tucky. That he had been the previous owners’ first child. They had adopted him after years of trying to get pregnant, believing they would not be able to concieve. They showered him with love, attention, and all the material things a little boy could ever need.  When Tucky was around six or seven, his parents did conceive. They had a beautiful little girl they named Christina.   Tucky slept in the room Tom and Butch now shared. Christina’s room had been the room at the top of the stairs that Katherine now slept in.

I could never find out exactly how Tucky died.  Some accounts were that Tucky used to like to go swimming at the rock quarry off of Neal Hawkins Road and that one tragic afternoon he dove into a shallow end of the quarry and hit his head, killing him instantly.  Another story we’d heard about Tucky was that he’d gotten in trouble as a young teen ager and committed suicide while being held in a home for juvenile delinquents. We were told that evidently, after the birth of Christina, the attention Tucky had been accustomed to was now directed to her, and he became jealous and rebelled in his early teens.

I remember a lot about my childhood.  I remember being afraid. I remember stories about Tucky. Hearing how he died, and later hearing how Christina died. I was told she died in that canopy bed that Katherine slept in. I was told that there was a crawl space that led from Tucky’s bedroom at one end of the hall to the larger part of the attic on the other end of the hall and that Tucky would sneak across and then sneak into Christina’s bedroom, scaring her and making her cry, thus the several locks on the attic door.  I found out a lot about the ghosts in our new home on Country Club Drive.  I tried to live there with them and wondered how the rest of the family could go about their daily lives not being afraid.  I remember coming home from school in the afternoons, even as a teen ager, and being afraid to come in the house if no one else was home.

I remember a lot about my childhood.  But, as an adult, when I bring up Tucky and Christina, my siblings waive me off, as if nothing like that truly ever occurred.  So now, at the age of 54, I often question my memories.  Did Tucky only exist in my mind?  Was I schizophrenic?  Have I passed this illness on to my own son? Were there no noises in the attic?

I am riddled with guilt that my son has lived his entire life in fear of faces and voices and noises that do not exist to anyone but him.  What a horrible way to live.  I know first hand, because I remember a lot about my childhood.

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