12/27/2013

Haunted House on Wolf Hill










Today is a milestone for David's Musings.  Today we have our very first guest blogger in the nearly six year history of this blog.  Catherine B. (Catherine has requested her last name be omitted) is going to relate her paranormal/supernatural experience I requested in my post "Guest Bloggers for Paranormal Experiences".  Catherine is a 70 year old retired schoolteacher from South Dakota.  She is an accomplished pianist, author and dedicated mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.  In her spare time, Catherine works as a volunteer at animal shelters in her city.

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My story begins when I was all of 12 years of age.  I was really starting to like boys, I was becoming more self-conscious of my appearance and starting to wonder what life itself has in store for me.  I had so many wonderful friends in 1955.  It was the year that rock and roll really came into its own.  It was a year that many of us feared would end in nuclear annihilation.  In South Dakota, all small burbs and Drive-Inns were hopping and bopping to the sounds of the McGuire Sisters, Bill Haley and the Comets and Ol' Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra. Drive-inns were the rage for teens and pre-teens such as myself.  It was also a time of mischief and mayhem if you were a youngster.  There was nothing more mysterious in my neck of the woods, in southeastern part of South Dakota, than the Haunted House on Wolf Hill (as it was fondly referred to by locals).  I'm not sure why it was named Wolf Hill since we seldom had any wolves in South Dakota.  They would stray from Yellowstone National Park on occasion.  But, other than that, there were no wolves in our region.  The reason for our interest in this particular abandoned house was due to lights that would appear for no earthly reason at various times of the night.  None of us had any inclination to go up to that house.  My dear friend Millie did run up to the front door one night to knock on the door. A light in the attic immediately came on as a result.  We all ran as fast as our legs could carry us. Other than that, we were too afraid to go exploring in that house.  That all changed in November of 1955.

The Friday after Thanksgiving of that year saw my group of friends (Millie, Sandra, Molly, and Missy) and I bored beyond tears.  Like the vast majority of South Dakota (even in present day), we lived in a mostly rural area of the state. But, there were a cluster of about 8 homes within a mile of each other.  This was the equivalent of New York City in South Dakota.  Most of us were either related or fathers and mothers were lifelong friends.  So, there wasn't much to do.  The one thing that always got us fired up was when someone suggested we visit "that house on Wolf Hill."  Most of the time, this idea would be voted down by our group of five.  But, not this night, not this cold, blustery night in November of 1955.  This night we were going to the Haunted House on Wolf Hill come hell or high water.  As usual, it was Millie who suggested we go.  Millie always was the instigator of our daredevil escapades or what transpired as a daredevil escapade.  This was about 7PM that Friday after Thanksgiving.  I didn't really want to go.  It was cold, snowy and the threat of more snow that night.  I was outvoted, of course, thanks to the 3M Girls as we referred to them (Millie, Molly and Missy).  So, off we went to the "house!"

We arrived at Wolf Hill about 30 minutes later.  Yes, it was a long walk.  If our parents knew we this far away, we would have been in trouble.  Looking at the house was intimidating.  It was an old ramshackle, two-story home that had been abandoned as far back as the 30s as far as anybody could remember.  The wind had started to pick up as we walked the winding path up to the Haunted House on Wolf Hill.  I remember thinking, what have I gotten myself into this time!  Millie went to the door and tried the knob.  It was locked.  Not to be deterred, Millie kicked the door.  It came loose at the hinges and fell in toward the house.  I told Millie someone is going to ask about this!  She didn't seem to care.  One by one, we entered the house.  If it was possible, the house seemed colder than outside (which was probably in the teens with the wind chill factored in).  There were many old pictures of long deceased family members who lived in that house.  My father said it belonged to James Thurpin, a man of means back in the day.  He owned a farm and feed store in town, some five miles away.  He was not the most liked man amongst town folks.  In fact, he was hated by most due to his temperament and unrelenting retaliation against those he perceived as unscrupulous in his business dealings.  He died a financially broken man due to the depression in 1938.  The house was never occupied after that.  I thought about that as I looked at the rotten staircase leading up to the second floor of the house.  Suddenly, we heard a loud crash from upstairs. We were all frozen with fear.  Then a bright light shown from a room upstairs.  I was heading toward the broken down door when I heard someone say "STOP!"

It was a loud booming voice of a man.  All of us were now mortified.  We couldn't move toward the door because we were just in shock from the loudness of the voice.  Millie spoke up (of course), "Who said that?"  We then heard the first quiet whisper that sent chills down our spines (and still does to this day when I think about it)....why are you in my house?  We should have left right then and there.  But, at 12 years old, you aren't usually blessed with the most common sense in the world.  Millie (again) "Sir, we were just looking around to see why there are lights turned on and off in this house.  We mean no disrespect to you."  The shapeless, formless voice whisperer replied, "Do you young girls always walk into a man's house uninvited?  You are lucky I can't find my shotgun."  I was simply trembling all over.  I wasn't alone.  With the exception of Millie, we were all trembling with fear.  Molly had actually wet on herself.  Millie asked, "Is this Mr. Thurpin speaking to me?"  "Yes, yes it is!  How do you know my name," replied the voice whisperer.  Millie said, "Mr. Thurpin, you have been dead for almost 20 years, sir.  You need to move on from the living to the spiritual."  There was a quiet respite of conversation for about two minutes before Mr. Thurpin replied.  "You children had best run off before I get riled up!  I will take no more of this nonsense.  Now, get out before I get Sheriff Tanner out here and have you all sent to the juvenile home for detention! NOW GET!!!" We didn't waste any time running out the door after those last two, booming words from the voice of one James Thurpin.  We all ran the half-mile back to my home.  We were all too scared to talk about it any further that night.  The 3M girls went back to their respective homes, Sandra asked if she could spend the night with me.  Mama said she could.  But, neither one of us discussed the night's events.

None of us talked about what happened that night in the Haunted House on Wolf Hill with anyone outside our group.  I discussed it briefly, from time to time, with Millie.  Even the extroverted Millie didn't like talking about it.  None of us told our parents about our being there mostly due to fear of being punished.  We never went back to the Haunted House on Wolf Hill.  We would walk by there (hurriedly) just to go to the local fishing hole.  But, we never walked by there at night.  At least, no one would own up to walking by that house at night again.  We were too scared.  Most of us could just imagine Mr. Thurpin coming out his door and screaming at us again.  We didn't want to chance that.

 I left that area of South Dakota in 1961 to attend The University of South Dakota.  I lost all contact with the 3M girls.  Sandra stayed and married a farmer which was the traditional thing to do in South Dakota.  I came back there with my husband (now deceased) in 1969, two days after Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon.  We were there to visit my aunt and uncle whom I had not seen since leaving in 1961.  It was a warm, pleasant evening as I decided to drive our 1966 Chevrolet Bel Air up to Wolf Hill.  My husband offered to go with me (I told him about our encounter with Mr. Thurpin, but he laughed it off as I expected he would).  But, I felt as if this was something I needed to do by myself.  As I approached the Haunted House on Wolf Hill, I stopped the car and just looked at the old house.  It was in worse shape than the last time I was there.  The door that Millie kicked in was still there.  On cue, a light in the attic came on.  I was not frightened by it.  I just figured it was Mr. Thurpin still looking for that lost shotgun to get after those girls who broke into his house in 1955.


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