I grew up in Ravenswood, WV. My parents were the proprietors of the local Washington Motel. As a result, I practically grew up there, as did my older sister and brother. There were large living quarters in the main office, which included two bedrooms, a second kitchen, and a bathroom on the second floor. As kids we often slept and played up there. Looking back now, we can all recall many times when doors would suddenly slam or creepy sensations would overcome us. Even mom told of ghostly music that seemed to emanate from the walls at night, but we never thought much about any of it until we all got older and began to experience what I am about to tell you.
In 1988, when my sister got married, the upper portion of the office was completely renovated and turned into a private apartment for her and her new husband. Although they were then able to access it via a private entry out front, it was also still accessible by way of the 14 stairs inside the office. Often when I or my mother and father needed to speak with my sister or brother-in-law, we would simply stand at the foot of those stairs and call for them until they came and opened the door at the top to answer.
By this time in the late 80’s, business had become quite slow at the motel, so we didn’t stay open 24/7 as we had years earlier, when local plant business was booming and the town was thriving. By now it was nothing out of the ordinary for mom and dad to close up early in the evening and retreat to our family home across town.
This is precisely what they had done one evening that same year, when Julie and Tom were enjoying a quiet night in the apartment watching TV. Julie was on the phone when she heard Mom calling for her from the bottom of the stairs, just like always. “Julie! Julie!” she called. “Julz” said Tom. “Get off the phone. Your mom is calling for you.” At this point Julie ended her conversation and headed for the door to see what mom wanted. She opened the door and was shocked to see no one there. All she saw, in fact, was darkness, and upon further investigation it was obvious that the office had been closed for the night. She and Tom were both confused, as each of them had heard my mother’s voice calling out to her as clear as day. Julie immediately picked up the phone and called our house, only to find out we had locked up the office and left several hours earlier.
Strange indeed as were other things that frequently went on inside the newlywed’s nest. For example, when their brand new heating and cooling system failed and the cause was found to be a blue blanket stuffed inside. Who had placed it there, no one knows. And occasionally a doorknob would rattle, a door slam shut, or an object flies off a wall. Many nights, when Tom worked the night shift as a police officer, I would spend the night there with Julie. We were awake most of the night talking and laughing, often hearing the same eerie music mom had spoken of so many times before. It was creepy, but never particularly scary. As time went on they pretty well learned to just live with their mischievous house guest, as did we all. In fact, we all affectionately began referring to it as “George” since it was, after all, the Washington Motel. It didn’t seem to mind, and any time it’s antics got a little out of hand, all we had to do was say, “that’s enough, George” and things would settle down.
Fast forward 8 years to 1996. By this time Tom and Julie had moved out, as had several other renters. I was dating a young man named Garren at the time, and we had just returned from a concert late one night when he had the pleasure of being introduced to our resident ghost. At the time the apartment was vacant, and on this particular night mom and dad had closed up hours prior to our return. Garren went to use the restroom which is located at the foot of the inner staircase. Upon his return he asked me if the apartment had recently been rented again. He was surprised when I said no, and went on to say that he was certain he had heard someone walking around up there while he was in the bathroom. Perhaps, he said, he should go up there and have a look around. I told him not to bother, that it was probably just George. Naturally he asked me “who is George?” When I told him George was our resident spook, he replied with several choice curse words and told me I was crazy.
It was at precisely that moment when George decided to make his presence known. I will never, ever forget the look on poor Garren’s face as we BOTH stood there and listened to the footsteps that slowly descended the stairs. I counted them, fourteen exactly. Garren’s eyes were as wide as saucers, but I thought they would pop out of his head completely when the footsteps continued onto the linoleum floor inside the downstairs kitchen. He immediately ran in there and flipped on the lights, sure he would find an intruder. He didn’t, of course, and from that point on he stopped doubting any of my stories about George or any other weird stories, for that matter.
George’s antics continued on, even after Garren and I got married and moved into the apartment ourselves. There we were, lazing in bed early one Sunday morning, when a familiar voice called up the stairs once again. “Linda! Garren!” mom called. Garren and I both looked at each other in puzzlement, wondering what in the world mom would be doing in the office this early on a Sunday morning, when any other week she would be relaxing at the house with a cup of coffee before going to church. I dragged myself out of bed to go to the door and see what she needed.
There was nothing, nobody, just silence and a closed office. I just snickered and shook my head, knowing that George was once again up to his old tricks.
Tricks continued on for as long as we lived in the apartment. After we moved out, dad rented the apartment several different times, but if anything was going on we never heard anything about it. When dad passed away in 2000, keeping the business became too much of a burden on my mother, and our family business was sold in 2005. These days it operates not as a motel, but as more of an apartment complex. We all drive by it on a regular basis, and it saddens us to see the disrepair into which it has fallen. The apartment remains occupied almost constantly, but we have no contact with the new owners and are not aware of whether or not strange occurrences continue there.
We all, however, have our own memories, and we know what we experienced. George was a very playful and benevolent presence in that apartment, and as long as we respected his presence and his space, he never scared us or posed what we felt to be a threat to anyone. I have always been curious as to the history of the building and the property, but somehow it seemed like a violation of that trust to poke into it too far. As it is, we have all just done with George what we did with every other motel guest, welcomed him and given him a warm place to stay.