The Old Cement House

Elizabeth Lopilato

© Copyright 2024 by Elizabeth Lopilato

Photo courtesy of the author.
Photo courtesy of the author.

    Come with me now back to 1967, when I was a child, right around the age of five.  I was moved out of my mother’s house trailer by my new father (my mother’s then boyfriend) and into an apartment with him and his sister. My new aunt would become my “Mimi”. This was such a happy experience for me. 

     The first apartment we lived in didn’t seem to have any weirdness about it. By weirdness, I mean it wasn’t haunted as far as I can remember. But we didn’t stay in that apartment long. Maybe we stayed there only a month or two. It was a one bedroom apartment and Dad had to sleep on the couch.  It wasn’t until after we moved into the second apartment that all the craziness began.       

    At the top is a picture of the front door to the second apartment. I found this picture in my dad’s photo album. He would take pictures of the most random things. But I am glad he took this picture, so that I could give you a visual of the old haunted cement apartment house. That creepy apartment house was my home growing up from age 5 to 18. Scary freaking house, let me tell you. That door was located right off the sidewalk. The street was right there. People walking by could easily look right into our apartment. And they did!
      This second apartment was in the basement of this huge, old, cement apartment house. There were two apartments above us, three apartments in total including ours. You would have to step down into our apartment from the street to get in. In truth, it was nothing but a furnished basement. But it had two bedrooms! Dad had the smaller bedroom. Mimi had the larger one and I slept on the couch in this apartment. Which made sense, I was the smallest of the three people living there. It was always cold and damp inside. A lot of spiders lived there with us. I really hate spiders! If I remember right the rent was only $100 a month. Can you imagine that? Things sure have changed since the 1960s.

     The apartment above us housed an old Italian woman who made the best pasta and sauce I had ever tasted. Our apartment had a back door that would open directly into what we called the “cellar”. The old women’s back door was above our door located at the top of an old wooden staircase. Because of her frailness and the risk of her falling, she wasn’t able to make it down the stairs to bring us her wonderful pasta dishes. She would yell out her back door and my aunt Mimi would send me up those old wooden stairs to get the big bowl of delicious pasta.  

     The old woman had invited me into her  apartment once or twice. I think her name was Sophie. Let’s call her Sophie anyway. Her apartment smelled weird, like old people; I guess. I remember her apartment being dark inside. She had something wrong with her eyes. If I remember correctly,  bright light bothered her. She had those old fashioned dark green pull down shades. They worked pretty well to keep most of the light out. Another thing I remember about her apartment was seeing this picture of Jesus hanging up in her kitchen. In the picture Jesus had his eyes shut. Sophie  told me to stare at the picture for a few minutes without blinking.  She said, “ Keep staring at Jesus’s eyes. You will see, they will open up”. I let out a little scream and jumped backwards bumping right into the old woman when Jesus’s eyes did open. That was a bit scary for a little kid. 

      Anyway, as far as I can remember, she was a nice old lady. While living in the apartment under this woman, I got to eat some wonderful Italian dishes.  My biological grandmother, my mother’s mom, was Italian. Her name was Mary Grace Farino. I stayed with her sometimes when I was very little. I still remember her making homemade pasta. She would roll the pasta dough out on the kitchen table with an old fashioned rolling pin. Then, she would cut it into thin strips and hang the thin strips of pasta over a wooden clothes rack to dry. 

     Back to Sophie now, one day, and I remember this day like it was yesterday. We were all in our kitchen eating dinner. When we heard a loud thump from above us. Mimi sent my dad up the backstairs to check on Sophie. He came down right away and said she was on the floor. He yelled out for Mimi to call an ambulance. Most of the details around this incident were kept from me. I think at the time, I was only around 6 or 7 years old. I had started school while in this apartment.  All I knew was, I never saw her again.
Not alive…...anyway. 

     The summer I turned eight is when my paranormal experiences started. I remember this because the number eight has always been my favorite number. I have always loved the curviness of the number.  Also, it was the age when I was able to stay home alone and not need a babysitter anymore. Up until this point, anything unusual I may have heard was explained to me, by my adults as, “just the house settling.” Mimi would joke and sometimes say, “Oh that’s Charlie our ghost.” Then laugh it off. 

     After Sophie died, the apartment house for some reason remained empty, except for us living in the basement. The third floor had been occupied by an elderly man at some point, but he moved out either right before Sophie departed or just after. I can’t remember for sure.  

     The very first time I saw something weird; I was playing with my Barbie dolls in the living room. It was after supper and it was dark outside. Mimi and my Dad were in the kitchen. Something drew my attention away from what I was doing. I really don’t remember if it was a sound or just the feeling someone was watching me. I looked up and there she was! It was Sophie. She didn’t look completely right, kind of translucent and bright. In my eight year old mind, I knew this wasn’t right. I could see through her. Then she disappeared! I jumped up and ran into the kitchen yelling, “I just saw the old woman that used to live upstairs. I just saw Sophie!” Of course, this didn’t go over well with my adults. They were confused and were asking me questions like: “What do you mean you saw the woman upstairs? Where? In the living room? Was the T.V. on? Did you fall asleep?” They didn’t like my answers.  My answers: “Yes in the living room. No, the T.V. wasn’t on and no I wasn’t asleep!” So, we all marched into the living room. Guess what?  Nothing, that’s what. They didn’t see anything. So the solution to the problem, if there was one. I must have dozed off while playing with my dolls and had a dream about the old woman upstairs. Yeah, that would have worked if it ended there. 

 A few days went by, and I saw her again. She was scaring me. She didn’t mean to; I don’t think. She wasn’t a mean person in life. But I was a kid and my adults told me this wasn’t real. I was dreaming. Seems like I was always falling asleep and having this repetitive dream. I am eight years old and no one believes me. Oh wait, someone believes me. My dog, Smokey does.  I found this out one day while I was home alone with Smokey. We heard footsteps moving across the kitchen ceiling; like someone was walking around upstairs. Smokey looked up too. I was so relieved when I saw him look up. Up till now, I really thought I was a crazy person. This went on for a few minutes. I ran outside to see if the landlord was there. No car in the driveway. Smokey and I sat on the sidewalk outside in front of the house for a long time. I was waiting to see if anyone came out of the apartment upstairs. Nope, no one came out. Dumb little me, decided to tell everyone when they got home what the dog and I heard. Turns out having my good ole dog Smokey as my only witness did not help my situation. 

     Oh but wait, things get worse.  

    So, now it’s 1970, we are very low income. Some people would say we were poor; but I didn’t know it. Mimi would become very cross with my dad  because he liked to gamble his money away,  leaving nothing to put towards our rent. He would  always say he was waiting to hit it big, but that  never happened. Mimi worked as a clerk at the  discount store uptown. That job couldn’t have paid  much. As for me, I didn’t have many store bought  toys but that didn’t matter much. I could make a toy out of anything; even a few sticks and a leaf. For  the most part, you could say I was a pretty happy  kid. My life had improved so much since coming to  live with these two wonderful people. Besides, my  Dad is inventive. He made me this cool playhouse.  It was made up of three large boxes that Mimi  brought home from work. Picture this, I’m eight  years old and I can sit comfortably upright in each  of the boxes. My Dad cut good size holes in each  of the boxes so I could move from box to box. He attached each box together by using heavy duct  tape. This playhouse took up a quarter of our living  room. I loved it! I bring in blankets and pillows to sit  on. My Barbies move in, as well as anything else  I can find. Hours fly by while I play in my new
playhouse. This box is a good thing because I often find myself alone while my adults are working or sleeping.  Now, remember I told you, ”It gets worse”? 

    Here it is…

    It’s a hot summer day, too hot to play outside. School was out for summer. I am alone in the house; with the exception of my dog and cat. I don’t know where my dad is. He works nights but he isn’t in his room sleeping. Mimi is uptown working in the discount store. I am ever so happy playing with my Barbies in my new playhouse. When all of a sudden there is a bang on the roof of the box that I am sitting in. I poke my head out of the playhouse door, expecting to see someone, or my cat on top of the box. Nothing. No one. I got out of the box and looked around. My cat was sleeping on the sofa. No one else was home. My thought was, “Well, ok that was weird but this house is weird.” I returned to the box and resumed playing with the dolls. 

     Then the real banging started! This time not just one bang but rapid beating on the top of the boxes. It was like someone was playing the drums on top of my playhouse. The banging started on the top of the box I was sitting in. Then it quickly moved on to the next box and then on to the third one. Then it would repeat. I was paralyzed with pure fear, for a few, what seemed like minutes but possibly just seconds. It could have been just seconds. Anyway, after a repeated series of bangs, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I bolted up and out of the box screaming. Hoping to see someone playing a trick on me. No one was there. I was so frightened. I ran outside the house and all the way uptown to the discount store where Mimi worked. I would find out later that I had left in such a hurry; I didn’t even shut the front door.  Remember, I was only 8 years old. Thank God in 1970, animals were all allowed to be outside. So, I arrived at the store in hysterics. This didn’t go over well to say the least. 

     Now, the doctor is involved and the school gets involved. I am taken for a psychiatric evaluation. It was during this psychiatric evaluation that I realized I had to stop telling my adults about this. This was something I needed to be quiet about, no matter how bad it got. At that moment, I promised myself I would keep whatever else happened concerning this “weird stuff" to myself.  My adults were very pleased when I stopped talking about Sophie.  Wish I could say it all ended and I really didn’t have anything else to say. But it didn’t….

     It is my belief now as an adult, that once a spirit figures out you can see them, they tell others. Or maybe other spirits just find out by accident. I don’t know. I just don’t believe Sophie was the spirit that liked to scare me. I remember her being a nice lady. In my mind, there was another one. Another spirit or ghost that enjoyed scaring me. My feeling about this spirit was that it was a ‘he’. Maybe ‘he’ was that Charlie Mimi would blame unexplainable noises on. Like the tapping on the walls. This is the stuff they make horror movies about nowadays. Back when I was a kid the tapping was just the house shifting or settling. That house should have fallen over with all the ‘shifting and settling’ it did. However, It still stands today as I write this. It has been completely remodeled and looks very different, but it still stands. 

     So, let’s talk about the other spirit now. This one continued to haunt me until the day I moved out of that house. It would torment me while I tried to sleep mostly. I feared night time.  Honestly, to tell the truth, day time was no better. From age 8 to 18 whenever I was alone in that house, it would act up. Doors would open and slam shut. There would be knocking on the walls. My dog Smokey continued to hear things with me. We continued to hear footsteps above our heads. No one ever moved into the apartments upstairs. At least I had my dog to keep me from going insane. I would stay outside with my dog all day. I hated to be inside that house alone. Nothing weird ever happened outside of that place. It had a nice backyard and I felt safe in the yard. 

     One night I woke up with the feeling I had someone's hand over my face. The fingers were pressing down hard and I couldn’t move.  Finally, I managed to scream and then it let go. Of course, this woke Mimi up and she came in to see what was the matter. I had totally given up on telling people about these strange events. So, my story to her was, “It must have been a bad dream, sorry I woke you.” That was it, no follow up the next morning, thank God. 

      Often, my bed covers would be pulled down off of me while I slept. That’s a real thing folks. Scary as Hell- but real. This would wake me up from a sound sleep. I would grab them and pull them up over my head. Like that would save me. But somehow it did. 

     On more than one occasion, as a teenager listening to music on my 8 track tapes. I witnessed the 8 track cartridge suddenly come flying out of the player with such force that it landed on the other side of the living room. How can this be explained away? Later in life, I would watch horror movies and see this kind of stuff happening on the big screen. It really terrified and comforted me at the same time; to see other people going through what I had experienced most of my life. This meant I wasn’t the only one in the world experiencing this stuff. So, that must have meant I wasn’t crazy? Right? 

     To some point, it gave me a feeling of belonging. I belonged to this crazy group of people who loved to watch horror movies. The thing was, I knew what I was watching was fake. Those horror movies never really frightened me. Real life is what frightens me ... .a lot. Especially those unseen things that touch me and make me scream at night!

I am a divorced white woman who identifies as female. I grew up in Woburn, Massachusetts. I graduated from Woburn Senior High in 1981; pregnant with my first child. This child would be the first of 5 daughters. Somehow, while raising two small children and maintaining a full time job as a waitress; I attended Middlesex Community College in the late 80's. Surprisingly to me, I graduated in 1993 with a GPA of 3.7 and an associates degree in nursing. Passing my boards that same year; my nursing career began. 
Over the years, I gained experience in many areas of nursing, including telemetry, endoscopy and most recently in psychiatrics. Currently, I am employed by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston MA, in their emergency department.   I have written and self-published 4 books.

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