760 Boulevard, Athens Georgia: Halloween Story

Oct 29

Boulevard is the name of a street in Athens Georgia. The surrounding historical district bears the same name. In 1898 the streetcar came to Athens. This meant a greater convenience in transit and resulted in new neighborhoods that, in their day, were considered suburbs. The same year the streetcar arrived, the Athens Park and Improvement Company bought the 150 acres that would comprise Boulevard. The lots were north of Prince Avenue and its attendant Neo-Classical mansions. 

Variously, the homes in the Boulevard District were built in Greek Revival, Queene Anne, Neoclassical, Craftsman and American Foursquare. There was a park to the west of the development, with a lake. Oaks that still stand today were planted and line either side of the street upon which electric cars ferried people to town and back again. Eventually, as Athens grew, the population of the area also expanded. As this happened, people moved out, to get further and further away from the town to the apparent quiet and safety of outbound suburbs. Boulevard was, in time, largely forgotten. The park and lake were gone-today, no one knows they were ever there. Instead, there is a sloping trench choked with kudzu and dilapidated businesses in cinderblock squares roofed with tin sheets. As with many historic areas, memories the place has for itself is still there, melancholy and uneasy.

I moved into 760 Boulevard in 1990 with my good friend, Jason Emond. The house was built in Craftsman style in 1915, by the parents of Leonard Postero (the personality of Leonard’s Losers). Tim Gore, a friend of Jason’s, had just bought the house. We were eager to move in. I loved the idea of living in a historic home in a historic neighborhood. The district was well-known for its forward thinking, and many of our peers lived in the area. The house had hardwood floors, an open staircase. The backyard boasted fig, apple and pecan trees. Morning glory profused over old clothes drying wires, and mint was everywhere-the remains, no doubt, of a garden that once decorated the large  back plot.

The house needed repairs. A wandering handyman, fellow Vietnam veteran and friend of Tim’s was on site-plastering walls and doing odd jobs. He noticed, in the course of his work, that the chimney was askew. In 1974 two tornadoes hit Athens in the same week. I remember it vividly. I was down in the park behind our house playing with my childhood friend, John Crook. My mother came out anxiosly, telling us a tornado was coming. We went inside and sheltered in the basement, in complete darkness-the power went out. After this incident, another tornado followed. Ever since, I’ve been under the impression that tornadoes happen often, even though one hasn’t hit Athens since then.

The skewed chimney was important, you see. The family that lived in the house before us was…eccentric. One of the members of the family attempted to rob a bank, but got off on insanity charges. The itinerant handyman theorized that gases leaked from the chimney into the house, and slowly drove the family into a chemical madness. That sort of thing can seep into the walls-when we live in a place we leave an imprint of ourselves. In a sense, the whole house was as skewed as the chimney-you could feel it. Things bent and turned in odd ways are paths for bent and turned events to occur.

There were noises in the house at night. Even when I was the only one home. The television would turn itself on. Items tended to fall off of shelves. An unsettling presence filled the place, which was always dark and cold. Strangers would avoid the house. We never locked the door, confident that whatever was in there would frighten away any potential thief. Jason and I took it in stride. It was an old house in a old neighborhood. The area was crawling with stuff like this-you could feel it. We were laid back guys, we could handle a ghost, whoever he was. We found out later that the father of the previous inhabitants had died of cancer in the hospital sometime before we moved in. He wanted to die in his home. Apparently, after death, his spirit, perhaps restless of its circumstances, returned.

Then, things got worse. The occasional poltergeist phenomenon, I could handle. Heck, it even made for good story. But matters intensified: the pilot light kept going out, we couldn’t keep a third room-mate. I started to have dreams with the old man in them. On one occasion, he was putting a plastic bag over my mouth. After that, I decided enough was enough. At that time, I was self-initiating in Golden Dawn Tradition; among the various elements of this school a prominent one is practical Kabbalah. Practical Kabbalah is, basically, using ritual to achieve various ends-generally by invoking angels, names of God, etc. This phantom needed escort to its next stop: purgatory, its next incarnation, what have you. And I meant to give it to him. One night, I lit the candles, burned the incense, called on the god-names and archangels of the cardinal directions and banished the space that was my house.I achieved the desired results with little fanfare. The spirit was gone-late night rappings no longer were heard, and, more importantly, I could sleep undisturbed.

I’ve returned to the house on occasion since then-Jason still lives there-and it’s still quiet. My treatment may seem stern to some, but I am confident that, in fact, I helped the ghost out and sent it on to where it needed to be.

5 comments

  1. WOW. Holy moly, are you serious? You know, this would make a great screenplay.

    I love scary old houses, and friendly or well-meaning ghosts. But I definitely would not have been comfortable with things going as far as they went for you. Good for you for taking matters into your own hands. I have no idea how you knew about that ritual, but I’m glad it worked!

  2. Thanks Heather. Yeah, that house and its surrounding neighborhood is very scenic and features prominently in a lot of my longer stories. Ritual isn’t a big deal, really. The best way to think of it is as physically enacted prayer. It helps focus the intention of the practitioner and thus delivers more intense results.

  3. Really? Who was your best friend?

  4. Lindy /

    Just found this. I lived in a rental house a few houses down from here. I’ve heard of a ghost on Boulevard from other people too. I had a weird ghost encounter over a decade ago, and I still remember it. I was awake, lying in bed, and a strange man/being came into the room and tried to suffocate me. I thought I was going to die, but then he suddenly disappeared. I couldn’t move for awhile I was so in shock. Later, someone attributed it to a “night terror,” but I know I was fully awake before/during/after. Several years after that, I heard various other ghost/suffocation stories which made me wonder. It’s interesting that your story is a suffocation story too. I noticed no other problems after this encounter. I just see a pattern with these stories, and I wonder how many other people like me had experiences but never really mentioned it to anyone. Strange!

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