Hey, guys, it's Mike Rowe, and this is Episode one ninety two of the way I heard it, and it's called not really a ghost story, not really a ghost story. This should not be confused with next week's episode, which really is a ghost story.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Episode 192 begins with the true tale of a little girl who dreamed of becoming a homemaker and saw those dreams come true thanks to the man who proposed to her over 100 years ago in what many might call the most romantic setting imaginable.
We then pivot from that remarkable homemaker to the remarkable home that I occupied back in 1992, a remarkable home that I lived in for free for a year.
And the ghost who lived there with me. Hmm. How's that for a tease?
Chuck and I then discuss America's fascination with all things supernatural, the enduring power of a good ghost story, and our universal fear of things that go bump in the night. Then at Chuck's urging, I share the true story of the most frightening night of my life and the downside of living rent free in a haunted mansion. It's not really a ghost story unless, of course, you believe in those sorts of things. Either way, it all starts right now.
And by right now, I mean right after.
I assure you that posting a job on ZIP recruiter is nothing to be scared of.
Why? Well, for starters, it's free. And even though they're matching technology might seem otherworldly. There's nothing supernatural about zip recruiters. Incredible track record in helping businesses of all sizes find the talent they need. Just some really powerful technology that fills your inbox with qualified candidates 24 hours after you post the job. It is insanely fast and the results really do speak for themselves. Four out of five employers who posted job for free at zip recruiter Dotcom cigarroa really do find a quality candidate in 24 hours.
I've used it myself for years and I'm telling you the technology is nothing to be scared of. But why take my word for it? Post the job for free at zip recruiter Dotcom cigarroa W.T. and see for yourself why they really are the smartest way to hire.
And this this is not really a ghost story. It's just the way I heard it.
Chapter 14, not your typical homemaker. Julia stepped out of her tent after dawn and marveled at the sight in front of her, a sloping hill covered with wildflowers, a pristine beach and unlimited view. Bill was a catch, no doubt about it. Handsome, successful, ambitious. His proposal had taken her by surprise. But having slept on the idea, Julia was still undecided. Bill was the kind of guy who believed a man's home was his castle.
Which begs the question, did he see himself as a king?
If so, what did that make her? Bill's happy little homemaker? Coincidentally or maybe not, Julia held in her hands a copy of yesterday's San Francisco Examiner, which Bill had left on her suitcase on the front page, just below the fold was an article entitled Rules and Advice for Wives. It wasn't really an article. It was more like a public service announcement printed for the edification of America's aspiring homemakers. Did he intend for her to see those rules before he popped the question?
Julia didn't know, but she perused them. Nevertheless, one don't be extravagant. Nothing appeals more strongly to a man than the prospect of economic independence to keep your home clean.
Nothing is more refreshing to the eyes of the tired, nerve wracked worker than the sight of a well tidied home. Three Do not permit your person to become unattractive. A slovenly wife makes a truant husband. Well, Julia thought rule number one shouldn't pose much of a problem, her tastes were sophisticated, but so, too were bills, surely the purchase of a few nice things wouldn't threaten his masculinity.
Likewise, for rule two, she was all for keeping a clean house. But did Bill really expect her to be dusting and vacuuming? Surely a man with his resources would spring for a maid. Regarding rule three, Julia understood the importance of appearances hers would be maintained regardless of their future together. Rule for red do not receive attention from other men, husbands are often jealous and some are suspicious without cause. Do not supply the cause actually thought Julia, that wasn't bad advice.
Bill was possessive and made no secret of it. She knew all about the phone calls he'd made before popping the question pointed calls to specific men with whom she had a history. If she said yes, rule four might be worth heeding. Rule five was do not resent reasonable discipline of children by their father, mothers should not assume that all chastisement of a child by his father is severe and unjustifiable, not an issue, thought Julia. Bill already had five kids, six, if you believe the rumors, if he wanted to slap them around, that was none of her business.
Rule number six do not spend too much time with your mother, you may easily, in such a way spend too little time at home. No worries there, if she said yes, Bill would become her priority. A simple fact she and her mother would have to accept.
Rule seven do not accept advice from neighbors, have a plan of your own for the solution of home problems, neighbors thought Julia what neighbors? Julia doubted that there would be any neighbors at all. As for a plan of her own, that was a given. Julia never did anything without a plan. Rule eight do not disparage your husband. Funny thought, Julia, Bill is basically in the disparagement business and what nasty thing could she possibly say that hadn't been said a thousand times already?
Rule nine, smile, be attentive in little things an indifferent wife has often supplanted by an ardent mistress, Julius snorted. Bill had a mistress and everyone knew it as well as a wife. But Julia understood attention to detail. Indeed, it was her obsession with the little things that had attracted Bill in the first place. Rule 10, be tactful, men in the last analysis are but overgrown children, they do not mind coaxing, but they resent coercion.
Femininity attracts and compels them masculinity in the female repels. Julia snorted more loudly. This time, she knew that certain men were impervious to feminine wiles, just as certain women were immune to the charms of men.
It was a fact to which she could personally attest. Yet here she was, a single woman who'd been whisked away to this most romantic of locations to ponder a proposal from a married man with a mistress who'd promised to make all her dreams come true. Bill emerged from his tent holding two cups of coffee, Julia folded the newspaper and tucked it under her arm. They stood together in silence, sipping their coffee, admiring the wildflowers, the beach, the Pacific location, location, location, said Bill.
It is a good one. Julia agreed. Have you come to a decision? I have. She turned to face Bill, who owned the newspaper tucked under her arm, she considered his reputation, his pension for yellow journalism, for printing wild rumors and spurious gossip. She also considered his budget. Are you sure you want me? Julia asked. I'm not your typical homemaker, Bill grinned. I don't want a typical homemaker. He said, I want to build a home with you.
She took a deep breath and nodded, OK? She said, let's do it. And so they did right there on a sloping hill covered with wildflowers. As always, Julia began with a plan when construction ended three decades later, Bill's family campground had been transformed into 123 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways, a zoo filled with exotic creatures. And in the center of it all, a new home with 165 separate rooms designed by the homemaker who'd had the good sense to accept Bill's proposal.
No, no, not a marriage proposal, a business proposal, a proposal to build a home unlike any other made to the first female architect licensed by the state of California, a woman who left behind 700 unique buildings and homes, all marked by her tireless attention to detail and unwavering commitment to satisfy her.
Many clients say what you want about Bill. Back in 1919, when Americans believed a woman's place was in the home. He hired a homemaker to build one, a woman who shared her clients belief that a man's home was his castle, in this case, a castle by the sea built by a trailblazing architect named Julia Morgan and made famous by the king who lived there, a king of media named William Randolph Hearst. I lived in a castle once upon a time, not like Hearst Castle, but not unlike it either.
I wound up there because I'd been renting a room from a man who turned out not to own the room in question. This was a complicated, awkward situation that left me with less than 48 hours to find a new place to live and filled me with the level of domestic anxiety that briefly eclipsed the uncertainty surrounding my budding career in home shopping. The year was 1990. I'd been at QVC for three months now. I was on the verge of sleeping in my car, a poor calling card for an aspiring TV personality with dreams of working in prime time.
So I turned to the classifieds and found an ad in the real estate section that was impossible to ignore. Owner of large country estate seeks discreet caretaker to oversee home and grounds it read free rent, utilities included. It wasn't the free rent that caught my eye or even the country estate, it was the quotation marks around caretaker. I understood what a caretaker does, but a caretaker in quotes. The secretary who took my call told me that her employer was seeking a discreet gentleman to occupy a mansion she owned on a 300 acre estate in Pennsylvania horse country.
The mansion was called Georgia Farm. Really? I said, your boss wants someone to live in her mansion rent free, someone discreet. How about someone confused, I beg your pardon, I'm not sure I understand, I said, what exactly would I be doing there? Aside from being discreet, very little. She said there's already a caretaker on the premises. He and his wife live in a separate building behind the barn.
All that you have to do is occupy the main house and assist my employer as directed. I see I said so your employer is seeking companionship, the secretary giggled. Oh, no, she said. My employer has all the company she requires. You'll live alone. A Georgia farm alone, I said, and discreetly, she said. It was an utterly baffling phone call, but the secretary was nice, she sounded sane and seemed to like me there, and then she arranged a time for an interview with her employer.
Time is of the essence. She said, Tell me about it. I said. Marion Bolton Stroud was the socialite's name, her friends called her Kipe, I met her a few hours later on the patio of the Marshalltown in just outside Philadelphia. It was unusually warm for late October. But thanks to Joe, the bartender, my Heineken was unusually cold, just what I needed to process Kipe story. Kipe told me the Georgia farm had been her childhood home, according to her, it was idyllic, exquisite, a perfect place, and now she had inherited it.
Well, then I said, why don't you just move in? I'd like to. She said, but my father's still there. We've never gotten along, not even a little. Who did you inherit the estate from? I asked my father, Morris Stroud. He died last year. But your father, he's still in the house? Oh, yes. He walks the grounds at night. In the evenings, he sits in the great room by the fire.
Kipe was in her mid 50s, well put together and matter of fact, like her secretary, she seemed sane. And you want a caretaker who isn't a caretaker because Kipe smiled patiently and addressed me as she was a child, the terms of my father's will are problematic. Georgia farm is mine for as long as I want to live there. I inherited that right without inheriting the actual property. But if I don't move in within a year of his death, the estate goes to the Natural Lands Trust.
They're itching to get their hands on it. And you don't want that to happen? No, she said not yet anyway. But you're scared to move in because your father is still walking the grounds. Yes, she said something like that. And what is it you'd need me to do? If people from the trust come poking around, as they surely will, you will tell them, I live there. When they ask you where I am, you will tell them I'm traveling.
When they ask who you are, you will tell them that you are my lover. I nodded to Joe, who brought me another Heineken, just to be clear, we're not going to be lovers, are we? Of course not, said Kippie. But feel free to invite them into the house, show them where we sleep, the closets filled with my old clothes. And your father, what should I tell him if he starts to ask questions?
Handle the ghost of my father as you see fit. She told me, my hope is that he will eventually move on so that I can move in until he does. I won't return to Georgia Farm. But in the meantime, I don't wish to lose my right to live there, even though you don't want to. Precisely, she said, even though I don't want to. It was the strangest offer I'd ever received, but given the circumstances, it was an offer I couldn't refuse.
And so on Halloween, I moved in to the mansion and started in on the strangest year of my life thus far.
Strange, because Kipe turned out to be right. Georgia Farm really was haunted. So now we're actually going be recording on Zoome and I'm recording on my phone and you're also recording on your phone. No, I'm recording on my laptop. So you're in GarageBand on your laptop on a separate track. We're both on Zoom and you're recording those two separate tracks and I'm recording as well on my iPhone, on the Voice memo app. On a separate track. Yes.
I'll send all this to you and you'll determine which one sounds better.
That's pretty much how it's going to roll. Yeah. See if you thought a haunted house was scary.
Try doing a podcast with a guy named Chuck.
How are you?
I'm well, man, I'm well, I'm ready to talk about some ghostly stuff.
I remember George AFAM, who I bet you do this chapter, the one you all just listen to, by the way, probably generated more response, more feedback on Facebook than anything else. And I think it's because everybody has a ghost story.
Even skeptics have ghost stories. People love to watch him on the TV, their entire mendo. The Travel Channel is now just the paranormal channel. I don't know if you've noticed.
I haven't, but I'll take your word for it.
Well, trust me, because old reruns of a show I used to narrate are still out there called Ghost Hunters. Do you remember ghost hunters? Yes. Previously on Ghost Hunters.
And that's your ghost hunters voice. That's my ghost hunters voice. Aneta Ghost Hunters International. They ran forever. Do people love the paranormal? And this chapter inspired a lot of those people to write. And the chapter that I'm going to share next week. And I want to talk to you then, too, because that's that's when the actual encounter that I had in Georgia farms actually happened. And I don't want to give that away now, but I wanted to talk with you because you at least can confirm a couple of things.
Georgia Farm is real. Yes. You've been there. Yes. And you know, for a fact that I inhabited that place for the better part of a year in the early 90s.
Yes, amazingly so. It was one of your forties is finding places to live that you didn't have to pay for. You were so good at that.
I was so lucky. But I was based you know, that was the first time it happened. You know, I had a full time job. I worked the graveyard shift at QVC every night. And by day, I. I inhabited this place. But the story that I just shared really did pick up when I met Kipe Stroud, who really did run that ad searching for a caretaker in quotes. And I knew I knew the second I saw that classifieds, something weird was afoot.
Yeah. It just got progressively weirder to all the people who have said, was Kipe real?
Yeah, you can Google her. She was actually a nice woman, very artistic, very smart. Marianne Stroud was her name. Everybody called her Kippy. And when I met her at the Marshalltown end in nineteen ninety two, she told me with a straight face that her dead father walked the grounds and it was an Indian summer, you know, early mid October.
And the Heineken was cold, the air was warm, but the hairs on the back of my neck stood up at attention, not because I believed her, but because she believed it. And I knew it and I knew I was talking to a woman who was 100 percent certain that either the ghost of her father or her reanimated flesh and blood was walking the grounds. That is what you just described, the hair on the back of your neck. That's why people love ghost stories, because whoever's telling them believes it and we get sucked into the storytelling.
It's just a great story. The Ghost Every Ghost story is always a lot of fun. And I can't wait to get to a lot of those. But I think before we go any further, you should describe in vivid detail your first night at Georgia Farm.
You really want me to do that? I absolutely want you to do it because.
Well, I'll tell you why later. But yes. Well, I mean, look, I'll do it. That story's not in the book, so it's probably worth sharing now because it really did happen. But I'm only sharing it to provide a little context for what happens next, which will actually talk about next week. But, look, if if I sound like I'm talking around it, it's because I. I disagree with what you just said. I don't think every ghost story is truly believed by the person who's telling it.
I think sometimes we just get a yarn and it's just a great tale and we want to go along for the ride. Look, if you look at Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International, I mean, the the entire hinge of every story comes down to some guy in a room with a bunch of electronic equipment saying, if you really here, give us a sign, which is the same as saying if you're in here, don't make a sound, do nothing.
And then in the ensuing silence, they say, aha wanted so nailed our brains, they find would we tell them to search for.
And if we're open to a good tale, as most of us are, then we go on a ride.
But what is really true and what is really false and where is Poe and where is Lovecraft and where his last house on the left and Friday the 13th in this entire dude, you did a movie, you did a horror movie, a couple of pretty bad one, as I recall, The Unnamable, H.P. Lovecraft to Lovecraft.
And it was so good. We made a sequel, The Unnamable two. Yes, that's right. Not unwatchable. Merely Unnamable. Yeah.
And I produced and was also in a movie eight years later that wasn't necessarily a horror movie. More of a slasher movie, you know, about the all girl band that goes on tour and crosses paths with a homicidal maniac that goes off the beat of beautiful women otherwise known as bad for the band.
Yes, that one was that was a cute look.
My point is somewhere between truth and fiction is the enduring appeal of a ghost story, whether you're around a campfire or a podcast or spending the first night alone in a mansion, whose owner has convinced you that she believes it's haunted? Was it actually haunted? I didn't know. But here's what I did know. On October 30th, nineteen ninety two, I knew that I was homeless. I knew that the apartment I had been renting, I was paying money to a landlord, a guy who didn't actually own the apartment.
Right. So I was thrown out of the place. I answered this ad as I just described, and I made a deal with Kipe Stroud to occupy the residence known as Georgia Farm. And she asked me what I needed to move in. And I said immediately and immediately was the next day and that day was Halloween. So I went to the apartment that I wasn't legally allowed to live in. And I gathered up my belongings, put them in a truck, got a guy named Dan Hughes who I worked with over at QVC.
Another show host, people might remember from the glory days. And Dan helped me unload and. When I drove up the driveway to Georgia Farm, which, by the way, is a mile long, right, and their cattle guards every quarter mile, there were still cattle on the property. It's horse country. They had fox hunts on Georgia Farm. It was out in the back of beyond and driving over those cattle guards.
But, you know, one after the next after the next, further and further from the road. And then you finally come around the corner and there's the old barn and there's this old Georgian estate giant porch pillars on the front, both gothic, warm, inviting old and a little creepy. But of course, the sun is still up, you know, and I've got a truck full of stuff and my buddy Dan has somewhere to be. He doesn't have a lot of time and he's going to help me unload and.
You know, we kind of walked around, took the measure of the place, opened the front door and as quickly as we could, got all the stuff off the truck and inside the foir, no time to explore, no time to look around. It's an enormous house. Is this Halloween? This is Halloween, 1992.
So I get the crap out of the truck. I thank Dan for his trouble. And by now the sun is setting and it feels totally different when the sun is setting, you know, as everyone does. But he kind of leaves and looks over his shoulder and says, you have a nice evening, you know? And I say, yeah, it'll be great. So he goes and I and I go inside of this old mansion for the first time and try and get my head around it.
And Chuck, it's so big. You know, the the the kitchen itself was the first place I saw. And it looked like the kitchen in The Shining, it was an industrial kitchen. It was huge, like four or five stove tops and all of these endless cabinets. Everything's, you know, loaded. I mean, it's all the appliances are there, all the silverware is there. The entire place is furnished rugs in the foir that were two hundred years old.
And the dining room, old tables and chairs and heads of animals on the walls and fireplaces and and a player piano.
That is just ridiculous. The player piano. Oh my God. Yeah.
That story. Anyway, I'm increasingly getting the sense that this place is very, very old indeed. And I set up the stuff on the first floor. I go upstairs and what's left of the light to look at the bedroom where I'd be staying in. There were five bedrooms, Kipe. Ask me, she said, you can have the run of the house. Just just don't take the the bedroom that my father died in. And I said, which one is that?
And she said, it's the it's the main one. I didn't mean anything to me, but I knew there was one place in the house that I wasn't supposed to go. And I got my stuff in and I didn't need a bed. Obviously, it was furnished. There was a bed up there. And then I went downstairs and I made a fire. And the lights were on on the main floor and I saw something up in the first bedroom and I wanted to go get it.
I had left there was something on the the mantel in the fireplace up there, nothing of any consequence. I don't remember what it was. It was just I just wanted to go back up and see whatever it was. And I went on the stairs and I flip the switch and the lights didn't come on. So there are no lights upstairs. So I go downstairs and I'm looking around for a flashlight and I can't find one. And I sit down by the fire that I just made.
And I'm feeling like the whole place is both enormous and closing in on me at the same time. And I'm just kind of overwhelmed with this sense of wanting to see the place. I don't want to sleep in a place that I haven't explored.
That's what you said to me. You were like I didn't I wasn't going to feel comfortable sleeping there until I had just looked at every square inch of it.
Right. And the breakers were off. There was no light upstairs. I didn't even know if there was a downstairs at this point. I just knew there was this enormous first floor with a living room and a dining room and a foir and an enormous kitchen. And a couple of there was a den and some other chambers and whatnot, small hallways, you know.
So I lit a candle obra that was on the player piano and I took it upstairs and I started looking around. And I went from one bedroom to the next, didn't see anything of. Didn't say anything alarmed me, and then I found a door at the end of a corridor and that opened up and there was a set of stairs that led back down to the main floor, a back staircase. And I said, oh, that's interesting. So I walked down that set of stairs and then looped back around through the dining room, up the main stairs again, back to the room where I would be sleeping, worked a little bit further down the same hallway, looking around, opening doors.
Well, I opened the last door and I look inside and it looks like it looks like the ghost and Mr. Chicken that Don Knotts was all the sheets like overstuff everything else. Right.
And the verboten room. Yeah. I mean, I added it up real quick when I saw a shape in the bed under the sheets and immediately realized it was the corpse of his father, because by now the sun has gone down in the moonlight streaming through the window and my heart rate goes from wherever it was to maybe double it. And of course, then I realized it's just pillows, you know, it's not a corpse at all. It's just pillows under a under a sheet.
But now I'm in my head a little bit. Why would someone put pillows under the sheet? What would you do that for?
Because they left the room exactly as it was when they found him dead. And he had pillows underneath the sheet. Well, whoever went in there, they threw stuff together and then they put sheets over everything, sheets over that. Right. It's just it was just a creepy sheet covered room that appeared to have a corpse in it but didn't just a trick of the eye. But it hit me in my head. OK, right. So I'm now I'm I'm continuing my tour of the upstairs.
With an elevated heart rate for no good reason, but it's dark and I got a candelabra in my hand and I'm walking through a creepy old house, I opened a door to nowhere. It was just a door. And inside was a small room and it was red, like Red Room again from the shining, a small red room with nothing in it. This begs questions. There are no answers. I stand there looking at the small red room and I close the door and I walk past the bedroom.
I'm not supposed to be in. I go down the secret back stairway and I sit by the fire a bit longer and I pour myself a bourbon and I'm alone in a house. At the end of a long, winding country road, far from civilization, working the graveyard shift. So I'm never fully awake and I'm never fully asleep, but I'm in a place that is undecided. Just. Straight up creepy on Halloween IV putting, that's where my head is when I walk back to the kitchen and notice another door and this door doesn't look much different than all the many other doors in the house.
But I open it and there's a set of stairs that go down. And this is a very, very different experience, because Georgia Farm had been redone many times over three hundred years or so, it's an ancient home on three hundred acres and it looked great up top. But downstairs, virtually nothing had been done.
And the the brickwork, the masonry, the stonework going down these wooden stairsteps on either side was truly ancient, you know, and I stuck my head in far enough, held up the candle to take a look around, you know, couldn't see much flick the switch. Of course, the lights don't come on. And I'm standing there at the top of the at the top of these stairs holding a bourbon in one hand and this candelabra in the other, thinking, you know, I could step back and I could close the door and I could just go to bed and enjoy a nice Halloween alone with my bourbon at Georgia Farm.
Or I could satisfy this annoying little itch that says you ought to check the place out, Mike. You ought to check it all out, so I walked down the stairs and of course, the stairs creak because why wouldn't there they there wouldn't. And they've been there for millennia. And I, I get to the stone floor of the basement and I look around in the first thing I see is the boiler and it's sitting in a pit. It's a stone pit and it's on, you know, and so you see the little bits of the fire on the inside.
It's licking around.
Again, there's nothing inherently scary about this, except it's sitting there squatting like some lupine pest from that chewed his way out of the bowels of the earth and just sits there at the foot of this impossible stairway in this ancient home, smoldering and all of its twisted evil. Right. And I'm thinking, well, there's a welcome.
I walk past the furnace, the boiler, and I hold up the candle and this basement runs the length of the house. It's big. And in the basement are filing cabinets, old wooden filing cabinets, one after the next. Well, Kip, his dad, Maurice Stroud, was a he was a doctor pioneer in geriatric research. And all of his files were still there, all of them. And being nosy, I just walked over and I opened the top one.
And inside was just folder after folder after folder folders full of the histories of dead people.
You know, in the basement of the old house, I close violating all sorts of hipple laws for sure. You know, of all the things that were troubling me, Chuck, in that moment, Kipa Hippo's none of that was germane. I was just it was just one it was one more layer of creepiness, that's all. Yes, but these are wooden filing cabinets. Can you picture them? Not the industrial steel kind, but old wooden filing cabinets.
The creak when you opened full of the sad stories of the dead and one after the next. After the next. And I walked down this this lane of filing cabinets. And of course, this is so hackneyed. It's it's ridiculous to point out. But there is a skull and bones, a skeleton set up, just like you'd see in a doctor's office. Yeah. At the end of it. Perfect. Like now I'm looking around for the camera.
Right. Like, you got to be kidding me. Now I'm standing down here with a candle.
In my hand, looking at a skull and bones at the end of a long lane of wooden cabinets full of the records of dead people flanked on the other side by this boiler that appears to have chewed its way out of Haiti's and by Skull and Bones.
You mean like a hanging. Yes. Skeleton, the full deal. Yeah, the whole the full Monty. Yeah. Not not just a skull, the skull and the bones. All the bones. Right. Everything but the flesh and the organs.
It used to be this organ. Right.
So I laughed to myself at this point because I'm in my head, my heart's still beating from going into the wrong room, seeing the corpse that wasn't there in the moonlight, seeing the inexplicable red closet that can't exist for a good reason. There's a fire going upstairs, there's bourbon waiting for me. And now I'm satisfied that which needs to be satisfied. My curiosity. I've seen what feels like every square inch of the house.
I'm going to go upstairs, going to make a couple phone calls, maybe turn in early. And then I turn around and I see four steps carved out of the stone that lead straight down, down. And at the bottom of the last step is a wooden door and it's a short door. Looks like the door to a. To a summer seller, to a spring seller, you know, maybe it leads outside, I don't know where it leads, but at this point I've come this far right, I'm keen to guess.
And so I go down the stairs and I open this wooden door. And. Right in front of me is a wall, a brick wall, and then hard to the left are two more steps and another door. So I go down those two stairs and I open that door and inside is pitch black, it's a very low ceiling. I hold the candle up, I look around the the floor is dirt. And I'm not quite sure where I'm standing, but I turn around and in the flickering candlelight, I see four cages.
Two on the ground and two on top now at this point. Your brain is taking in information and in fits and starts, right, your eyes are seeing more than your brain can actually process. So my brain is saying, OK, you went through two doors, you're at the bottom of a couple of stone stairs, you're standing on the dirt floor. You're in a room with a very low ceiling that has four cages in it.
And then I noticed that the bottom cage. Was open the door to the cage was open, and then my brain sent the inevitable question, the second or two after my my retinas summed up the situation and said, huh, I wonder what was in the cage and wonder how come the door's open. And then I heard back.
I heard a crashing sound, sound like a shotgun.
It was so loud and it was the door behind me slamming shut. This door slammed shut like a giant, grabbed it with two hands and just swung it closed.
It made such a sound that I literally jumped in the air hard enough to hit my head on the ceiling, which was already grazing my hair. Right.
So no big shakes, but it knocked me to the floor and I dropped the candle and the candle went out. That, to me was. Really, the first and only time that I felt something leave me right, like like the sensible, rational part of me just stepped out of my body for a minute and I began to make sounds that I'm I'm not terribly proud of kind of a whimpering kind of thing, you know.
Yeah. And I can still I can still feel I can feel my fingers in the earth, the earthen floor and on my hands and knees. I mean, all I could think of was the thing is out of the cage. The thing is out of the cage and I'm down here with it. I don't know what the thing is, not even wondering what the thing is. Maybe it's a small, evil dwarf that lives in the subbasement. Maybe I don't know what it I'm not thinking clearly, but I do quickly know that that that was the sound of the door slamming shut.
And once I get my motor skills back, I hop up and I run over to the door and I grab it. And I can't open it. The door is locked, just so we're clear, yeah, it's still pitch dark, you know, it is another match. You don't have dark, like flapping your hand in front of your face. Nothing. Yeah, it's as dark as dark gets. And and and I can't get the door open and I start to cry.
Right. I mean, not sob, but just the hysterical kind of gasping thing that happened. I'm waiting for the thing that got out of the cage to grab me by the calf and drag me into some pit. And I can't believe this door is locked. And of course, it's not. It's got the old style handle. And I'm grabbing the handle and I'm pulling and I'm pushing.
Yes, the thumb unlatch. Yeah, my thumb was under the thumb latch and blessedly my other hand fell on top of it. And I got the door open and I ran up those two stairs and smashed into that wall. Nearly knocked me down again. I turned to my right and I ran up the next four stairs and that wooden door is still open and I'm gasping for breath. And I'm standing at the top of those stairs and there's the damn skull and bones just waiting for me.
So I squeal again like a ten pound baby girl run past the wooden filing cabinets full of dead people, leap over the boiler, still spouting flames like the lupine pest from hell that it is. Sprent up the wooden stairs stumbled twice like Joe Biden trying to get on a plane, get up to the top, slam that door shut. Look at myself in the mirror in the foir tears on my cheeks. I'm shaking. I grabbed the bourbon. I pour some more.
I walked back into the living room and I sit there by the fire. And Chuck, I did nothing, nothing for, I'd say the better part of an hour except sit there and sip bourbon, thinking to myself, if that player piano starts playing right now, what's left of my dignity and rationality is going to fly out my ass.
And about an hour and a half after that, the bourbon was gone and I went to bed. And I slept through the night. Incredibly, and the next morning, the sun came up and I called Kipe, I said, we need an electrician out here and have any power upstairs or downstairs and over. The breakers are.
But I rooted around and I found a flashlight and I went back down into the basement. To see exactly where I'd been. Mm hmm. And I wasn't a I wasn't a spring seller and that second set of doors led down to a sub basement and the subbasement now had light in it.
The light was streaming through a crack in the wall, which was actually hurricaine doors, like there were hurricaine doors on the side of the house.
And and I later learned from Kippie that Georgia farm, among other things, was a national dog training institute. And they boarded Labradors all the time because there was a huge pond on the property and there was duck hunting all the time. And this is where they trained the labs to retrieve the ducks. And so those were cages that were used outdoors during training exercises for four dogs. I learned all this later.
But the point of the story is just to say that I am a skeptic, I don't you know, I don't go there. I know, dude, I went there. I went there to and I stayed there for a bit.
Well, I remember when I first came to visit you and you like the dear friend that you are decided to tell me this story. You decided to wait until we we've got in our cups. And then you said, did I ever tell you what happened the first night I was here?
And I was like, I don't think you did. And then you just told the exact same story that you did, except you did it by candlelight, walking me every step of the way where you were. And when we went down into that basement, I was like, no, no, no, no. Mike, what are you doing now? This is this is your you're pulling my leg. This is and you're like, no, no, no.
I swear to God this is what happened. And you took me down into that room and we got in there and you say and I look around and you put the light around and my gaze followed where the light went and I saw the cages.
And then you slammed the door shut and blew out the candle. And I peed a little and was like, because it was blackest night and I couldn't see anything, I was like, Dude, what do you do it?
Because I can't. I can't. So this is what I'm doing. So this is what happened. You continue to tell me the story as if this is all part of the story. You know, like I paid the extra money for the really scary tour.
You know, I wasn't trying to to scare you. I was trying even then to make sure that somebody else knew what I had gone through on Halloween in nineteen ninety two.
Somebody somebody needed to know. And I started to have parties over there, you know, in fact I, I lived like a duck for the better part of the next year and that's what the next chapter is about. And I took people on that identical tour. In fact there's video around here somewhere because I just I knew that I wasn't going to stay in Georgia Farm forever. And I knew that the time I was there was unique. And and I didn't think there would ever be another moment in my life where I ever got in my head that bad and was so straight up frightened.
So I just wanted you to know, you know, you were my best friend. And I just I just felt like I didn't want to have to tell you that story the way I just did now and not be able to grab you by the scruff of the neck and say, here, remember that it cages.
It was so scary bad.
And then you put my hand on the handle and you're like, pull, pull. And I'm like, oh, it's not happening. It's not happening. It's like, I know. And then you took my thumb and you're like, Sanfield. I'm like, oh yeah. That makes perfect sense. Let's get out of here. Yeah.
And that was creepy. Creepy man. So look, having said all that. Georgia farm is real. You can Google, it doesn't look scary online, it was in nineteen ninety two and what happened to me next over over the course of that year is a ghost story in and of itself. And at the risk of sounding too tizzy. Chuck, what do you say we save that one for next week?
I think I think that's a good idea because it's worth the wait. You're biased, of course. I am just a little bit. Hey, I'll make you a deal, though, if if we do this again, you and me, next week, I want to hear the story about your buddy Rico and his place. What happened to you up there. And and I'll tell you what, it just for grins, because I know everybody has a story.
If you have one, you gentle listener, go to my Facebook page, tell me about it. I'll read the best one I can find next week or at least share it with the gang. I don't know what it is, actually, I do know what it is, it's the fact that nobody knows for sure. That makes us also certain that we must know something. You can't prove it.
But people people experience things. And I know I want to hear the story. You know, the story. I want I want to hear. Yeah, I know it. Oh, you want to you're talking about Antietam and Tatum. Yeah. All right. I'll tell you that one, too. Yeah. Oh yeah.
Now that's going to be a good one next week. In the meantime, don't forget you've just listened to what chapter wasn't.
I don't think I don't know, man, 13, 14 or something like that.
It doesn't matter. There are 30 in the book. Yes, right. So if you want to hear the rest of them all at once, rather than getting them once a week, you can get this book The Way I heard it by Mike Rowe. Wherever fine books are sold and audio books at what is the audio place, doesn't matter if they're smart, they'll find it probably on Audible Audible.
That's the one.
In other very brief news, the rumors are true. Both rumors Dirty Jobs is in fact back in production. I spent last week out on the road getting getting filthy and dirty and that was great. Also, while I was on the road, I celebrated yet another trip around the sun. Thanks for your many good wishes regarding my dotage.
Now, I think I'm going to have myself a bourbon and wish you all a delightful week, keep the lights on, I would.