CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When I was a child I lived in a very large house.
It was very large when I was a child, but had shrunk enormously when I visited 60 years later. Before the days of concrete slabs and two-story houses, we were accustomed to having a basement and an attic. I grew up with both.
My father, a "swinger" of the 1920s, had his personal bootlegger and kept his stashes of bottles in a closet in my third-story playroom. Dinner parties were frequent and called for an assortment of cordials. When one of these ran short, I was called upon to "run upstairs" and fetch a new bottle.
Adjoining the playroom was an attic -- and that is where the ghosts lived.
Now, as everyone knows, ghosts are nocturnal, so, during daylight hours, it was quite safe to navigate the wooden plank to delve in the old trunk under the eaves, where an assorted collection of my mother's retired dresses provided a rich source of costumes.
After dark was an entirely different matter!
As I crept up the staircase, I could feel the cold chill of a ghostly presence emerging from the shadowy recesses of the attic. I wasn't sure what a ghost looked like or what it would do -- and I didn't want to find out. I grabbed the desired bottle as quickly as possible and ran down to the safety of the second floor, thankful that I had survived one more expedition.