Bloodcurdling, spine-tingling, bone-chilling—and just plain weird paranormal tales (Part III)

Looking for aliens—er, the building blocks of life—inhabiting faraway destinations in our solar system doesn’t inspire fear for many Johnson Space Center team members. But sometimes, strange occurrences right here on our home planet are enough to do the trick.

Get into the spirit (eeeek!) of Halloween by reading some personal tales involving ghosts, paranormal activity or just the plain inexplicable by some of our own JSC team members. Hey, maybe it’ll be the impetus needed to escape this planet in favor of other worlds.

Dive into the third part of this series.

A strange coincidence ... ?

In 1972, after I’d been at JSC for about three or four years, my wife (at the time) bought a new Chevrolet and took it down to Corpus Christi, Texas, to visit kin folks. Our little boy, unrestricted by safety regulations and laws for keeping children safe in car seats (rules I totally support), roamed free in the back seat. He reached into his mother’s purse, got her jingly set of car keys, and proceeded to pull out the rear astray on the starboard rear door and drop the keys down into the “pit,” which was almost impossible to get to without tearing things apart.

Later we took stock of what keys were on the ring and went about replacing them. We found out that the key to our deposit box would cost quite a bit of money to replace, and decided we’d leave the car intact and let the keys lie there “forever.” We’d worry about the safety deposit box key later.

Soon after the Corpus trip, we sold the Chevy and put the whole matter out of our minds. We kept paying rent on the safety deposit box, but we never used it.

In 1975, I was working in Building 2 at JSC and carpooling with a lady who worked in Building 4. She always parked her car in the Building 4 parking lot, and I normally walked to Building 2.

One morning in late October, not long before Halloween, I was running kind of late, so I literally started running. I stumbled on something on the ground that was partially sticking out above the grass, which had, over a long period, grown over it and held it in place. As I stumbled, I actually kicked away roots and impacted the item very hard. It went flying into the air.

As I reached out with my right arm to catch it, even before I could make good visual recognition, goose bumps galore popped out on my limbs. I opened my fist and saw almost a dozen rusty keys on a rusty key ring ... and a three-leaf clover-shaped key that was the very safety deposit box key that I had become disconnected from years earlier. I have tried to imagine what possible set of circumstances led to that weird result. We were living in Sugarland when we bought and sold the Chevy, and the person we sold it to lived in Rosenberg. All those locations are more than 50 miles away.

I get goose bumps today thinking or talking about that incident. And though it was very rusty, the key still fit my strong box at the bank.

Mike Gentry, AD

A kind-hearted spirit

About 20 years ago, my cousin asked me to stay at her house while her mother, my aunt, left for a mission trip. I agreed to stay with her, although I had always felt a sense of uneasiness, but never said anything.

The first two days were fine. The next evening I happened to arrive at the house before my cousin. I also had my daughter with me. We were in the bathroom when I heard the front door open and close. I also saw someone walk (shuffle) by and go to my aunt’s room, which was just next to the bathroom. Thinking it was my cousin, I simply told her that we would be out in a short minute, but received no response.

It was really quiet, and I started to feel somewhat nervous. It was not like my cousin to not greet me or say anything. I stayed in there until my cousin came home, which seemed like hours—but really was about 10 minutes. When we stepped outside, my cousin said I looked as pale as a sheet. I told her what had happened. She told me she thought it could be the spirit of her dad, and that he was still there checking on things, making sure that the house was protected. She also said that she and her family had heard the shuffling of feet—the sounds her dad used to make while wearing his house shoes. This was something she and her family had never shared with me!

She also said that her house was built on Indian burial grounds, but that was not confirmed. She and her family say that activity has decreased in the house, but you can still feel a presence and sometimes hear voices.

Sylvia P. Paden, EA

The haunting

The Carousel Gardens in Seymour, Conn., constructed in the late 1800s, is a beautiful three-story Victorian mansion with a gable and a huge, circular glass-enclosed room on the main floor. Sometime in the 1960s, the first floor of the mansion was converted to the Carousel Gardens Restaurant, with a museum on the second floor depicting the history of the mansion. In the fall of 1998, my family and I visited the restaurant, not knowing that it was considered haunted.

After our meal, my 10-year-old daughter and my sister-in-law decided to explore the museum on the second floor. At the top of the stairs, they felt a gust of cold air flowing across their arms. The air was not cool, but cold, and it was experienced only on their arms. They looked around the room uneasily, and both their gazes were drawn to the same photograph of a young lady on the right wall, who seemed to be smiling at them. They suddenly felt the air in the room weighing heavily on their shoulders.

My daughter was going into the room when my sister-in-law stopped her. “Let’s go back downstairs,” she said.

Although my daughter wanted to see the rest of the museum, she quietly followed my sister-in-law back down the stairs. That evening, my daughter related the incident to me and told me about being scared, but not knowing why. At about the same time, my sister-in-law was describing the same experience to my wife.

The following Monday, a friend at work told my sister-in-law that the mansion is considered haunted, and many people have had the same experience. That evening at home we discussed the events, and that’s when I realized that both my daughter and sister-in-law felt the same uneasiness at the mansion, but neither wanted to admit to being scared.

Wally Khan, BB

It won’t hurt you … really

My ghost story revolves around a house in a sleepy little town called Clear Lake City—yes, just around the corner! Street address undisclosed to protect the paranormal. Yes, “they” are still there.

Being between spouses, I moved in with a buddy. He told me there was a “friend” living there, but not worry: “It won’t hurt you.”


The first time it happened, I had arrived after work before my tenant/friend came home. Armed with a series of grocery bags, I unlocked the back door, swung it open and chucked my bags onto the dining table ... only to be startled by what I would call the sound of a startled cat tearing across the living room. Shaken, I recalled the stories that my tenant had shared earlier. Calming the goose bumps on my arms, I set out to prepare dinner.

I was again startled ... and ducked to miss the expected flying debris—when I heard a very loud scratching on the ceiling just behind me. It was like someone was violently scratching the ceiling with a wire brush. It was sudden and stopped as soon as I turned and ducked. Then again it occurred, on the ceiling and off to my left, and again! And again! Loud!

Now, more than spooked, and losing my trust in my buddy’s words, “It won’t hurt you,” I ran out of the two-story house and called the tenant.

“This ghost is scaring the hell out of me!”

“Don’t worry, it won’t hurt you,” he reaffirmed. “It’s just testing you. Be brave!”

So I returned to my cooking ... to have it happen another three times! I shook like a leaf while I finished dinner. It ended.

It was months later before another episode happened ... but I’ll save it for next Halloween!

Name withheld

Catherine Ragin Williams
Johnson Space Center, Houston


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