Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Basements: The ultimate horror!

I had a friend when I was growing up. She had a suburban modern basement. It was completely lined with concrete and ready for a pool table, even had some happy windows.

Not the one I grew up with.

Our basement was worse than any dungeon in a castle. A lot of folks grew up with these kind of basements. You know the ones; where mushrooms could grow and damp permafrost earth meets with walls made of stone and concrete and horse hair and chickenwire. Oh the horrors!

Basements seem to hold the most unease of any part of a home. Attics can be crowded and hot, but basements are cold, damp, and kind of tomb-like. The one I grew up with had rickety wooden ancient steps that bowed and creaked and were perpetually cold. On the right side was a wall but on the left side an opening to a crawlspace that contained hard packed earth and hibernating black snakes underneath the kitchen which was an added on room. That dark void would stare me down. Anything could be in there, even Pennywise (above).

At the bottom of the stairs was another set of stairs that led up to the flip open root cellar doors. To the right, a creaky old door that led into the heart of the chilly beast. The floors were concrete and uneven, a sump pump nearby was used after rains to empty out the ankle high water. Cobbled together benches made up my father's work area where all kinds of big angry tools sat and waited to work on some other thing that had broken down in the over 200-year-old house.

Supports held up the center of the room. Mother taught art and stored many of her paintings in this miserable place. Few of the survived the climate.

The canned foods were kept in the far corner of the basement. Sure enough, every day it was my task to go retrieve the goods. The race through the musty smelling basement to gather the foods and race back upstairs before whatever seemed to be lurking chased me was a fast sprint. I always felt like I just barely missed getting caught each time as I swung the door shut and entered the sunlit kitchen.

As a ghost hunter, I find it rare that anyone with a basement does not complain about it. Of course, they are often the holding place for all unwanted items and the place where wiring and plumbing and radiators and the like are stored. They lack lighting and a sense of the outdoors. They are damp and musty. They feel as if they have few exit options. They are tomb-like. All of these reasons unsettle people.

Is there, however, a reason we should be scared of basements?

Other than a hypersensitivity to mold or EMF coming off of exposed wiring, there's no higher incidence of haunting activity in basements. This is more than likely because (if you follow popular explanations for hauntings) people are not likely to die there or particularly miss that spot so much they have to haunt it.

Even though there may be no legitimate reason to fear a basement, we still will. Their very characteristics make it impossible to ever be truly comfortable.

(*After 3 years of blogging, on Friday ya'all will get to meet me on a vlog I will post*)


  1. Basements are always special then the rest of the house. Besides storage as a kid I used ours to explore like a maze.

  2. Echo;
    I had some friends with basements that were more like bachelor pads. I had these cool cousins with hippie beads in the doorway and a jukebox with all the latest music on it and bean bag chairs. Now, that's a good use of basement space. I think I had the creepiest one in existence.

  3. Well how did you know I was spending time down there today! I brought out some fall and Halloween decor. I want make my studio down there it's a huge space. There are windows and a doorwall so not too creepy. Now the house I grew up in the basement was finished carpet, dance floor. My parents used to have wild parties. The scary part of the basement was the small door in the laundry room. That door had a lock on it and it lead to the Crawl Space! That always creeped me out! The perfect place for a troll or other creature to live. Glad it had a lock!

  4. Becca;
    That sounds positively magical and scary depending on you mood when you're down there. It's funny that our basement freaked me out so much but nowadays my favorite thing is crawling around dark scary and abandoned places. I guess it built up some tolerance.

  5. I still occasionally wake up in a sweat dreaming about one of the creepy basements I had as a kid.

    My current basement is kind of cozy and nicely furnished. However, the dog refuses to ever go down there.

  6. Scout, right? You should heed his warning, Pangs!

  7. I may hate clowns more than Dale.
    Sorry Dale !

  8. Max;
    Dale takes no offense. In fact, he hates clowns so much, I sometimes threaten to get a clown doll. That might be the next thing you see on here is Dale and the clown doll having wars.... (who will be meaner?)

  9. So glad I stumbled onto your blog. I found it looking for info on the string theory & ghosts. I'v read alot of your blog so far, and clicked on your links...Great Stuff!!

    I have you bookmarked...and will check back. Great content, and I love your writing style.

    Thanks for your part in keeping readers informed and entertained!

  10. Karri;
    String theory--very intriguing. I've written about it here