My aunt and uncle, Sally and Bob live in a lovely, old farmhouse on land originally deeded to William Penn’s son. Best they can figure, the house was built around the mid 1700s. This is probably a very good guess since Bob and Sally are very thorough people in all things. Built of stucco covered stone, the original building was one square room downstairs where all the cooking and indoor activity occurred. One wall is taken up by the original walk-in fireplace, complete with hooks for cooking. Tucked in the corner to the left of the fireplace are very narrow, winding stairs to the original upstairs bedroom. Above that, a small attic.
Over the centuries the house has been added on to and modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing installed. As there were no building codes to comply with for the oldest renovations, the rooms all have their own character. Floorboards were laid without regard to the direction of the previous ones. The new kitchen just sits on the ground without basement or even a slab underneath. The second and third bedrooms added centuries apart aren’t level with the original. The almost one hundred acres of farmland have shrunk to about a 1/2 acre surrounded by several developments. But the basement is still dirt. The house sits in the middle of some sort of weather vortex where storm clouds circle, thunder rumbles and lightning tears the sky but never settles overhead. You can watch the show but the plants still need watering when it’s all done. It’s all rather erie.
So Saturday, Bob and Sally had us all over to celebrate my dad’s 76th birthday with a cookout on their wrap-around porch. Bob brought out some old maps he’d found of the area which showed his house and the dates that people past had occupied it. One of the previous owners was named Ephraim Cobbs. He and his brother owned the property in the early 1800s. One story led to another until Bob told of the pipe tobacco and whispers in the night. The house, it appears, is haunted by a very soft spoken man who smokes a pipe by the fireplace. Nothing is ever disturbed, doors never slam, no cold spots or rearrangement of knick knacks. Just quiet conversation by the fireplace at the end of the day.
I think Ephram must have had a rocking chair and a sweet smelling pipe.