I do, or want to. There must be more to life than what we can see, and it's comforting to believe in an afterlife.
But only once in my life did I really think I saw a ghost.
Years ago, the 21 Red and Tan commuter bus from New York dropped me off right on River Road by the side of my old, historic house in New Milford, NJ. From the bus stop, I could see my wife in our back bay window. She was reaching up, hanging a flower pot.
Moments later, I was home and in the living room. No one had greeted me at the front door, and I found nothing hanging in the window. All I found was a note in the kitchen from my wife, saying she had taken our two young daughters on a play date and would be late arriving home.
I was more puzzled than frightened. I’ve lived there many years since without any similar incidents, and the back bay window was long ago replaced during a renovation. Still, my daughters swear they sometimes heard “ghost cats” from their bedrooms when they were young. That might be explained by mice or squirrels. I can’t explain what I think I saw with my own eyes.
On further review, I realized it was an advertisement for one of New Jersey’s “premiere indoor haunted house attractions,” right in the center of my home town. There’s a a website with further information, a Facebook page (of course) and this news story in the Bergen Record, which gives plenty of details about the 23-room site, open weekends during October.
During the day, I went to check it out for myself before it opened, and a friendly representative of New Milford Boy Scout Troops 78 and 291 invited me in to look around – as long as I didn’t post any photos. The attraction was still in set-up mode – but I was impressed, both by the quality of the project and by the enormous volunteer effort that has made this remarkable Boy Scout fundraiser come to life. Or death.
I was admiring this shot on my cell as soon as I turned to head home… and promptly tripped. I instinctively used my iPhone to break my fall to the concrete. I’m OK, but the screen was shattered.
Somehow, I managed to extract the photo of the sink as a grim reminder – and warning to you -- to always listen to whatever a Boy Scout leader tells you to do, even in matters of the paranormal.
Aside from the Nightmare on River Road, I know of few other haunted places in New Milford.
The borough is, however, bookended by two sites where people have claimed to see ghosts. One is the old Steuben House at historic New Bridge Landing just over the border on the south side.
I ask you, though, does this room look haunted?
OK, so it does.
Just over the border on the north side of town, there’s also this…
… It’s the abandoned Oradell Water Treatment Plan on the Van Buskirk Island property owned by United Water (formerly the Hackensack Water Company). You can’t tell me that place isn’t haunted.
According to local legend, if you drive or walk backward around the tower at least three times, you see the ghost of a woman who leapt to her death there. You might also find yourself face-to-face with the devil.
I took these 13 photos of The Devil’s Tower, but I didn’t dare drive or walk backward while there. When it comes to the supernatural, I’m a skeptical believer… not a fool.