‘True Ghost Stories’ Contest Winners; ‘When I Found His Tombstone, My Heart Stopped…’

“Coming Through.” Photograph by Stephen Harmon.

By Carol Tannenhauser

Here are the winners of WSR’s “True Ghost Stories Contest,” in which readers were invited to submit accounts of actual “otherworldly” experiences. Today is the day before Halloween, and tonight is Mischief Night, or Goosey Night, as they call it in New Jersey. Allegedly, it is the night when a crack opens up between the realms of the living and the dead, and ghosts can slip through. Masks were supposedly worn to scare the apparitions away. This year they’re in for a surprise, with most people wearing them whenever necessary, at least on their chins. The stories are presented in the order in which they were received, and have not been edited.

Mark Moore
October 19, 2021 at 4:39 pm

For about 15 years I owned a 27-inch standard definition TV and for the entire time I owned it it never once malfunctioned or failed to work properly. About ten years ago when we got our first HDTV, I had the old TV on while I unboxed and set up the new HDTV.

When I was done and ready to move the new TV to its rightful place in my living room, I said to the old TV, “That’s it, time to go,” and pressed the power button on the front of the set for what should have been the last time.

And, it refused to turn off.

I pressed that button that I had used countless times before over and over but with no results, the only time the TV had ever not worked properly. Finally I unplugged it and took it down to the garbage area in the basement.

That TV may have been possessed.

Ann Lurie Berlin
October 19, 2021 at 10:00 pm

From my deeply sleeping state I heard my name being called repeatedly. Turning over I heard a man saying, insisting, ”Go in the living room. Go in the living room now.” I got up and went into the room. One of the candles I had lit was flaming a foot in the air. Its wooden holder had caught fire. I got a wet dish cloth and put it out. A neighbor said the bald man in coveralls was the farm’s past owner. He saved me.

October 19, 2021 at 11:14 pm

Each summer I head up to Monhegan island in Maine where I rent a house for a week. It is an old fishing community and artist colony. One summer I rented a house on a hill with an expansive view of the ocean. We had a full house that week and I chose to sleep on the pull out sofa in the living room. Windows surrounded the room, with a lovely old parlor chair placed right at one of the windows. Suddenly, just at dawn, I abruptly woke up, something that is very unusual for me. The first light of the day was coming through the window and without my glasses on, there appeared to be a fuzzy image by the window that I couldn’t make out. I reached for my glasses and clearly saw a woman, dressed in Victorian garb, sitting in that old parlour chair. I thought perhaps I was still sleeping and dreaming. So I did what any adult would do. I threw the covers over my head. When I pulled them off, there was the woman, slowly turning her head back to look at me and as our eyes met, she began to dissolve. I watched as her image disappeared into the air. I knew, on some instinctive level, that she was looking out to sea for her sea captain husband’s ship. And she never stopped looking.

Jeff French Segall
October 19, 2021 at 11:43 pm

I wrote this song several years ago and have often sung it, amplified loudly, on All Hallows Eve outside our West 90th Street building to the ears of thousands of terrified young ghouls and goblins. Imagine the melody if you can.

Lonesome churchyards, chilly and cold
Chill your body and suck your soul
The Withered hand, the shrunken head
The vampire’s killed you, now you’re dead

Late last night you were fast asleep
At your window a chilling beat
The beat of wings, then cold, cold air
Now into space your dead eyes stare.

Where did it come from? Where did it go?
It pierced your heart, the blood did flow
The beast of doom’s infected you,
You can’t escape, now you’re one, too.

Vampire blood flows through your veins
Your soul is wracked, you scream with pain
Fire, brimstone, sulphery lake,
Will only end at a wooden stake.

October 20, 2021 at 6:55 am

When we first moved into our Pre-War apartment building on 102nd and West End Ave, all sorts of bizarre things kept happening. Shut windows would open by themselves – we’d ascribe that to the age of the building. My sister kept complaining other people were using her bathroom in the middle of the night and waking her – we blamed the creaky floors expanding and contracting. The dog would suddenly jump up and growl at thin air – but he was a bit nuts anyway. Little things – a favorite knife and fork, a silver charm, a set of keys – would suddenly vanish. We blamed that on absent-mindedness.

One day an old man no one knew was seen walking into my sister’s bedroom. We investigated and of course, no one was there but we had seen him very clearly. Quite old, short, plump, with a bald spot on top of his wild white hair, in tee shirt and boxers.

We were getting friendly with our neighbors across the courtyard at this point and one of them exclaimed how nice it was no longer have to see “old Mr Weiss in his underwear playing the violin in front of the windows.” Well – – she described him and he matched the description of the man we had seen exactly. He had died IN the room we saw him walk into about six months before we took possession!

Over the next few months we would talk out loud to him and explain that he needed to “go towards the light” and other stuff like that. The manifestations grew weaker and they finally stopped completely. This was in 1979-1980. I’m still there, but Mr Weiss has been long gone – – – I HOPE!!

October 20, 2021 at 7:36 am

One day in the fall of 2019, I arrived at the 72nd street 1/2/3 subway stop late at night on a cold and rainy, dark night. Sitting outside the subway was a little boy, about 8 or 9, shivering in the rain, drenched, rocking back and forth.

I approached him to ask how he was doing and to offer help. He could barely project his voice, but I was able to get his name, Bobby, and his need to get home. I offered Bobby my sweater, a favorite light blue knit sweater my mother had given me for my birthday many years prior.

Slowly he stood up, now wearing my oversized sweater, and together we walked towards his home – a beautiful brownstone somewhere in the 80s between West End and Riverside.

When we approached his home, he told me he was okay and I left him as he used his own key to pass the threshold.

A few days later, unable to stop thinking about the boy and wanting to reassure myself that he was doing well, I returned to that block. I climbed the steps of the brownstone and buzzed the only buzzer available. A kind older woman answered the door.

I asked her, “have you seen a little boy named Bobby? I brought him back here a few nights ago in that rain storm.” She turned white. “My son Bobby has been dead for 20 years.” She gave me a look indicating the conversation was over and there would be no further discussion.

But, sure as I was standing there, I knew the events of that day with Bobby were real.

Later that night, having learned his last name at his building buzzer, I googled Bobby and sure enough he had died decades prior under mysterious circumstances.

The online obituary revealed that he had been buried at the Third Shearith Israeli Cemetery in Chelsea. So, the very next day, a similarly rainy and dreary day as the day I had met Bobby the prior week, I took the train down to Chelsea to pay my respects.

When I found his tombstone, my heart stopped. Sitting on the top of his grave was my old blue sweater.

Maria Dering
October 20, 2021 at 11:45 am

Ciao-ciao, Margarita! Juana Margarita Figueroa (Margarita “Pratacan”) was a well-known, upbeat and always stylish West Sider for more than 50 years. (WSR ran her obit.) Shortly after she died in June 2020, I saw her in our lobby — or should I say I saw her ghost? As I went to step onto the elevator, a shadow beckoned to me from the mailbox area. I turned and saw Margarita waving slowly, saying good-bye to the building and people who loved her so much. Pratacan, baby!!

Prof Rial
October 20, 2021 at 7:26 pm

It was not a stormy night. On 109th Street, Cleo was deep asleep. Then a compression in the mattress, one step at the base of it then another. A cat. But Cleo didn’t own a cat. Next week, she calls in the shaman-lady she met in the Park. “Yep, you’ve got a cat ghost in the apartment. It hangs out in the back. You have to tell it firmly to leave.” That night, Cleo sits up in bed after she turns out the light. “I’m sorry, you cannot stay,” she says, her voice sonorous in the dark room. The next morning, she grips the tab at the base of the window shade, enjoys the whirring sound of its rise. There in the window looms a cat’s face, gazing back at her from its perch on the fire escape. It slowly turns its back, casts a last long look over its shoulder then slowly patters its way down the escape. Wait–it climbed 6 flights? How did it get up to the ladder at the base? Or had it been roaming her floor for the last century?

Janis Corsair
October 20, 2021 at 10:08 am

Last November, for our anniversary, my husband’s cousin and his wife sent us a huge gift basket filled with all kinds of goodies, including a large box of Lindt Chocolate Truffles. Since we were both on strict diets we decided not to even unwrap the huge gift and left it on the dining room table.

Two days later I noticed that the cellophane covering had been disturbed and half the box of truffles were missing. My husband says it must have been a ghost. At least that’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.

If you are a winner, please write to us at westsiderag at gmail.com and we’ll tell you how to claim your prize of a WSR T-shirt. We have limited sizes which will be given out in order of responses.

Thanks to all the other writers whose stories appear in the comments of the original article. And, if you haven’t already, you can subscribe to our free email newsletter here.

Happy Halloween!

    1. Ed Kurtzman says:

      Blue sweater story is a winner! BOO!