So. I’m going to do a miniseries.
Doesn’t the word “miniseries” immediately make you think of cheesy Sunday night television on ABC and CBS? Yes, well, I’ll try not to make it cheesy, and it will be on Monday mornings instead of Sunday night. So we’ll see if that helps.
You see, it’s going to be all about Mister Early.
And, if you’ve never met him, Mister Early is our family ghost. Or at least he used to be.
And yes. This IS a true story.
I know, I know. Ghosts. Sounds flaky. Being that I’m a pretty black and white person, it goes somewhat against my nature to believe in ghosts. However, I always have to a certain degree, thanks to Mister Early.
My Grandparents (My Dad’s Parents) lived in a suburb of Birmingham – Homewood – in a very historical neighborhood called Hollywood. It’s the kind of neighborhood where the houses were built like castles in the early 1900’s (I’ll definitely have pictures later in the series), and sell for half a million to over a million dollars nowadays. However, my Grandparents bought their modest-for-the-neighborhood house in 1970 for $20,000, and lived in it until they died in 2006 and 2007.
They bought the house and all of it’s furnishings from the estate of the Early family. The Earlys built the house in 1927 and lived in it until the last one died in the house, which was a man who has become legendary in our family, Mister Early.
As soon as Grandmother and Granddad moved in, the odd happenings started. They were frequent, and very strange, so Grandmother quickly attributed them to a ghost, and decided that it must be Mister Early, since he was the last one to die in the house. A lot of their run-ins with him had to do with the house’s original furnishings and build. If they were being moved or tampered with, something strange would happen.
I wish that I had gotten Grandmother to tell me everything that she remembered about Mister Early (the ghost) before she died in 2007, but I didn’t. However, I am going to be collecting stories from the family, as pretty much everyone in our very large family (except for me, ironically enough) has had some sort of direct experience with him.
I’m curious of your thoughts on ghosts, and will also be curious if they are changed any by the end of this miniseries. I am certainly not encouraging belief in ghosts, just sharing our family stories.
To start the series off, I am going to share an article from The Birmingham News where my Grandmother was interviewed about our strange family visitor.
Author: Maggie Hall Walsh News staff writer
“There’s no fear. He’s just accepted. He’s here and that’s it.” – Margaret Z.
Mysterious footsteps in the night.
Items that randomly disappear and reappear later.
A strange voice calling out a woman’s name.
It sounds like a script from a Hollywood horror flick, but it is just another day in the life of Margaret Z. The only Hollywood connection is the Z’s living in the Hollywood section of Homewood.
Mrs. Z and her husband, James, have lived in a small, English Tudor home on Le Jeune Way for 24 years. Their four children are grown, they now have grandchildren and great-grandchildren and they are the only two people who live in the house, but they contend they have a constant house guest – the ghost of the man who lived and died in the house before they moved in.
“I talk to him all the time and none of my friends really think I’m crazy,” said Mrs. Z, who retired from working in communications with the Birmingham Police Department after 23 years of service.
“There are just too many unexplained things that go on around here to not believe it,” she said.
They call the ghost Mr. Early, after the man who built and lived in the house with his wife and sister-in-law for about 28 years. By the Z’s accounts, he is a mischievous character.
Mrs. Z readily lists several unexplained shenanigans attributed to Early. One of her favorite involves an oil painting left in the house, along with most of Early’s furniture and several personal items, when his nephew sold the house to the Z family.
“There was a picture of the sea that looked like it was painted from the bow of a ship left in a closet that I use almost every day,” Mrs. Z explained. “Last summer, I went to get it to show it to some of my grandchildren but it wasn’t there.
“In its place was another, much larger oil painting that was unfinished that none of us had ever seen before. I had cold chills up and down my neck. I just don’t know where it could have come from.”
The painting that was left shows a house on the edge of a cotton field. “We have tried to find out where it came from, but it is unsigned so we haven’t been able to find out anything about it,” she said.
The ship painting has never been found.
The ghost of Early has been seen only twice, once by a 3-year-old granddaughter and once by a neighbor and a friend out on an afternoon stroll, Mrs. Z said. “My grandbaby was sitting on the floor in the living room and she looked up and said to her mother, “Mommy, who is that old man?’ A second later she asked her mother, “Now, where did he go?’ ” Mrs. Z said. “The other time was when a minister neighbor and his friend, who was a professor, walked by our house. Our friend said he saw an elderly man sitting on the front steps and he did a double take and the man was gone.”
She really became convinced that something strange was happening when her son and daughter-in-law brought their dog to the house. “He would lie in the arch between the living room and the dining area but he could not be coaxed to the back of the house,” she said. “The hair on his neck would stand straight up and he would not budge.”
“When one of my daughters was young, I was sewing a red dress for her,” Mrs. Z recalls. “I didn’t have a zipper so I folded up the dress and left it to the side until I bought a zipper. A couple of weeks later, I was at the machine mending something and I unfolded the dress and found a zipper exactly the right size and color for the dress. It was an old metal zipper that you couldn’t even buy anymore.”
There was the pencil drawing made from her high school picture that twice crashed off a large floormodel television set and now will not hang straight on the wall, no matter how many times she straightens it. And her husband’s tools disappear, then are found – hours, sometimes weeks, later.
Just last week, there was a mysterious cry, Mrs. Z said.
“I try to keep the house as close to original as possible, but we had to have some sheetrock work done in the front bathroom,” Mrs. Z said. “I was out in the back and I heard my name being called. I thought it was the workman. He said “Margaret,’ very loudly, twice. I went inside to ask what he wanted and he said he hadn’t called me and didn’t hear any other male voice. “It was then that I noticed he was tearing the plaster out of the wall. I told the workman I hadn’t intended for him to tear out the plaster. It was like he (Early) was calling me in to see what the workman was doing.”
Although Early has been blamed for the fall of a large crystal chandelier that narrowly missed their then 14-year-old daughter and the sudden opening of a glass cupboard door that sent a stack of bowls crashing to the floor, Mrs. Z said they are not afraid of the ghost or his intentions.
“There’s no fear. He’s just accepted. He’s here and that’s it,” she said. “I think he’s a friendly fellow. He just wants us to know he’s still here and not to forget him . . . . All this may sound crazy to y’all, but these things happen.”
So you can now consider yourself formally introduced to Mister Early.
He’ll I’ll be back next week to tell you more of his stories.