Haunted Childhood Memories

The Haunted House on Round Top Street

This photo taken in 2008 would indicate that someone finally bought this old house and refurbished it.  When I was a child in the late 1940s and early 1950s, my friends and I were afraid to walk past it.

The photo clearly illustrates what an imposing edifice the structure is. It sits on the highest point in Crafton Heights and, when all the surrounding area was overgrown with weeds and vines, and the home was badly in need of paint, it was easy for a child to let his or her imagination run wild. Add numerous broken windows and a roof that was missing many shingles, and it became more frightening. And all of this was prior to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”!

There were rumors that some brave boys entered the stately old mansion (it still has the stone hitching post on the sidewalk in front of it) and found such oddities as a dumb waiter. But I never met one of these lads, so I could only go on what I heard from the rumor mill.

In any case, I avoided it like the plague, especially on Halloween.

Our woods above Steuben Street

These woods, which – surprisingly – are still there, represented one of our favorite places. We spent many hours playing games in the woods and throwing snowballs and other objects down on passing vehicles.

However, I was not permitted to go into those woods until I was allowed to cross the street by myself. I really don’t recall when that magical part of my youth came to pass. What I do remember is the night we were scared silly walking this road past the woods. It was in 1954, when I was ten years old. My brother and I, along with a number of friends, walked down to the Crafton Theater to see the latest horror movie.

By the time the movie ended, the sun had set. I don’t recall the exact season of the year, but it was warm enough for the crickets and other noisy insects to be out chirping away. Those chirps sounded just like the giant ants in the movie we’d just seen. That’s one time our parents didn’t have to worry about our dawdling on the way home. We made record time!

I’m sure there were other things that kept us awake at night, but hiding under the blankets always seemed to keep us safe.

The one thing I miss from childhood is movies that allowed us to use our imagination. Today’s films, with their constant displays of blood and gore, are disgusting… and not nearly as frightening as what we can envision by ourselves.

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3 Responses to Haunted Childhood Memories

  1. Jim McGrail says:

    I grew up in the house right below that one. When I was a kid the ‘hill’ between us and that one was a child’s dream playground. There were apple trees, our neighbor Mr. Porter had a rather large garden. Many hours were spent up there playing.
    Then one day the fellow that owned that house, William Schmidt had the whole hill bulldozed to make way for a very unnecessary large driveway. Today it looks alful.

  2. jimsjourney says:

    Jim,

    Thanks for your comment. Which side of the hill did you live on – Stratmore of Clairtonica? I wonder if your Mr. Porter is the same man who once owned a dairy store next to the cleaners. You didn’t indicate your age, so you may not even remember the cleaners.

    • Jim McGrail says:

      I grew up on 27 Round Top Street, right below the “haunted house”. I had to laugh because that is what I thought when I was a kid. I’m 50 now and live in West Virginia.
      The Porters lived in the house across the alley from us. I don’t remember what he did for a living. He had a grandson named Paul I used to play with when I was very young.
      On the other side of Round Top was Mrs. Tunney, Howard and Gert Unger and Mr and Mrs. Boyd. The Scotts lived on the top of Round Top. There was a house tucked away next to the Schmidt mansion. The old lady that lived there was Mrs. Boyd’s sister Betsy (we called her “Aunt Betsy” even though she was no relation to us.)
      I remember Stratmore Market. We used to stop there on the way home from school. I’m tearing away the cobwebs in my brain trying to remember the cleaners.
      We went to St. Martin School and used to walk down Hollywood St., cut through a yard OR we climbed the wall of some old torn down building to get to steuben. That was our ‘adventure’ on the way to school.
      Hey, I noticed you have a picture of the bottom of Stratmore Street where there is a pizza place now, beautiful brick buildings. Do you remember a little building there run by an old fellow who repaired shoes?
      I’m pretty sure we knew many of the same people.
      Hope you have a Merry Christmas
      Jim.

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