Column: Doorbell was source of unexplained phenomena

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 20, 2003

A woman of mystery I am not. Ask me any question, however personal and, facing you squarely eyeball to eyeball, head erect, knees straight, toes slightly turned out, I shall give you as full and as truthful an answer as I’m capable of.

Moreover, I deny any evasion about my doorbell. It is not reticence that keeps me from explaining why my doorbell remains disconnected. I used to explain, but people kept giving me those funny looks. There was the house guest, too, who begged me to let her send for someone from that organization that investigates psychic phenomena.

The doorbell was the least of our troubles. I was not at home in November 1941 when my parents moved in. I had known of the move, but was still a student at the U when it actually took place.

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I arrived home at night for Christmas vacation, having been able to get away earlier that I expected, and took a taxi home, there being no one to meet me at that midnight hour. The driver point blank refused to deliver me.

&uot;You can’t be going there,&uot; he argued. &uot;No one lives there. The place is haunted.&uot;

When I insisted, he said grimly that he would stay in his cab out in front and &uot;If I hear so much as a squeak out of you, I’ll come barging in and drag you out of that hell hole.&uot;

It’s a tricky thing finding your way around in the dark in a house you’ve never been inside of. I couldn’t find a light switch, I did find the radio and turned it on. At that point I heard my father’s voice out of the darkness, &uot;One step more and I’ll blow your damned head off.&uot;

By then, though, he had the lights on.

&uot;You weren’t supposed to be here until tomorrow,&uot; he said. &uot;Why didn’t you ring the doorbell and I’d have been down to let you in?&uot;

&uot;We have a doorbell?&uot; I was surprised. We’d never had a doorbell before.

By that time my mother had joined the party. &uot;We have a doorbell,&uot; she said. &uot;It rings all the time, whether anyone pushes it or not.&uot;

&uot;It has a short in it,&uot; said Dad. &uot;I’m going to fix it.&uot;

&uot;He’s fixed it three times already,&uot; said my mother. &uot;It still rings when nobody is there.&uot; It continued to ring when nobody touched it.

After while we sort of took it for granted. When it rang we glanced out of the window. If anything human was standing there we opened the door. Otherwise we ignored it. Visitors were inclined to be a little uneasy, but if they stayed long enough, they learned to live with it, too.

At one point I’d hired a woman to come over and help me clear out the basement. The doorbell upset her. I could glance out the basement window and see no one at the door, but she insisted I go up and make sure.

When I reported no visitors, she grabbed her coat and left. &uot;I’ve worked in houses where the kids were so bratty I wanted to kill them,&uot; she said. &uot;And I’ve worked in houses where there was a dog that showed all signs of wanting to bite me. But one thing I’ve never done and am never going to do is to work in a house where something you can’t see rings the doorbell all day long.&uot;

It was after that I had the doorbell disconnected. Those wanting to visit me can always give me a ring on the telephone and I’ll meet them at the door. It’s more hospitable anyway.

Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column appears Thursdays.