Jacob Hatcher

The cabin on the hill 

By Jacob Hatcher  

Community Columnist 

Our uncles told us it was haunted as if a single one of them ever believed in ghosts. They regaled us with stories from their youth of wandering up the hill at twilight and hearing spooky noises as they slowly climbed the century-old staircase. Sometimes they would open the front door and hear someone rushing down the stairs, only to find that a cousin had tied a rock to a string. Other times they would hear long drawn-out moans echoing from the back room, later discovering someone had recorded themselves in the nearby train tunnel.  

While exploring that cabin one day, I noticed a very old piece of newspaper plastered to the wall; a faded panel of Dennis the Menace from the 50’s was flapping in the wind. My Uncle Harold explained that hobos would jump the train to spend the night in the old cabin, and they would insulate the walls with newspaper.  

“When we were younger, it wasn’t the ghosts up here that worried us, it was the hobos. Never knew what you might stumble across.” 

Uncle Tom had wandered in one evening and while feeling his way through the pitch dark, someone touched his shoulder. Fearing he was being attacked, he swung as hard as he could until his assailant fell to the ground. He ran to the house to tell Grandma he’d been attacked, when shortly thereafter, Uncle Bob came stumbling in the house with a bloody nose and a swollen lip.  

Recently I was sitting by the fire when a train blew its horn in the distance and it brought that cabin to mind. I thought about all of the hobos that had sat behind that cabin, watching a fire and listening to the train go by. I thought about the unmarked sandstone gravestones and wondered who might be buried underneath them.  

I thought about family and pranks, and I could have sworn I heard Uncle Harold mimicking a hoot owl through the nearby trees. So I dowsed my fire, hooted back, and whistled a Jimmie Rodgers tune as I made my way back into the house. 

 

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