Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ghost Story #10: A Horrid Hag Hisses

Kentucky New Era, February 6, 1963 (enlarge)
As soon as I saw this story in a Google News search I recognized it as one that Gundella recalled* in The Martin Street Myth from her 1976 publication The Werewolf of Grosse Pointe & Other Stories. Though she attempted to change the names of the participants, as authors are wont to do to protect the identity of involved parties, she slipped up on the third page and stated the name of one as Patterson despite having renamed him Dan Stonehouse. Other than that the stories are pretty much identical.

Another thing of note is the name of the Free Press reporter being misrepresented as "Nea Shire." Part of that was my fault as I edited the column and accidentally chopped off the "l" on Neal's name. The other half is the "Office Cat's" fault in misspelling Mr. Shine's last name as Shire. On to the story.

The William Adams family lived in a rented house at 5508 Martin Street in Detroit in the early 1960s. The source of disturbance in their residence was a secluded bedroom that appeared to have been added onto the original house. Mr. Adams, a graveyard shift factory worker at Cadillac, used the addition to sleep during the day so as not to be disturbed by the normal bustle of activity in the homestead.

At first the haunting was relegated to him having bad dreams that caused him to wake up screaming and wondering if the incidents were actually occurring. But when his grandmother visited from out of town and experienced sounds which seemed as if somebody was trying to enter the room she refused to sleep there again. The family dog was likewise terrified and after spending one night in the room refused to enter it thereafter.

In late January of 1963, a week before the article was published, Adams' cousin Patterson stayed over on his passing through Detroit en route to his home in the South. He had no forewarning of the room's history and retired to bed when Adams left for work at 11:30 on the evening of his layover. Almost as soon as he retired he felt himself being turned over in bed. Startled, he turned to see a woman with long hair facing away from him and looking into the kitchen through the connecting door. He assumed that it was Mrs. Adams but soon realized that it wasn't and screamed for her while leaping from the bed. Just then all the lights in the house went out.

Bounding through the door he met Mrs. Adams in the kitchen where both were struck silent with fright. Groans and the rotten smell of sulfur emanated from the bedroom. Neither could sleep afterwards and waited the night for Mr. Adams to return home. He was apprised of the situation and called the police. A search of the house and basement turned up nothing unusual.

Mr. Adams was a non-believer up until that point and remained skeptical even then. An experience a few days later would change that sentiment. He lay down in the bed as usual but this time heard a noise in the room. He turned over to look what it was and an horrific face with a hissing mouth faced him accompanied by the return of the acrid stench.

Adams raced from the room pulling at his hair in hysterics until he reached the front room where Patterson and Mrs, Adams were sitting. Adams was so shaken that Patterson had to cover him in a blanket and comfort the frightened soul. An hour later they moved out and only returned a few times during the daylight hours to retrieve their belongs.

Below is Gundella's rendition of the story:


Apparently Rod Steiger wrote about this story as well.

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