Years ago, I attended a Fourth-of-July picnic when I struck up a conversation with an elderly gentleman whom I had never before met. His name was Charles. He looked to be about 80 and leaned comfortably against an old sycamore as he finished off the last few bites of potato salad.
At first I felt a little sorry for the old chap, standing there alone, so I went over to strike up a short conversation. What began as a simple chat with Charles quickly grew into a riveting exchange about his encounters with ghosts.
It all started when we learned that both of us had grown up in St. Louis. Although, he was a generation older than me, we walked the same memory lane recollecting neighborhoods, stores, and abandoned buildings (there are many of those in St. Louis) . . . as we started on the topic of old, abandoned buildings he asked if I had ever seen the inside the Philmont Mansion—one of the most haunted buildings in North America. The place is so possessed that it has remained condemned and boarded-up since 1923 when on Easter Sunday, Lady Philmont jumped to her death from a 3rd story window while neighborhood children, participating in an Easter egg hunt in her meticulously-landscaped expansive front yard, looked on in horror. Her body landed directly in front of a 7-year-old boy—Charles.
As the now-80-year-old Charles recollected this event, he did so with as much ease as if he were talking about his first day of Kindergarten. He took another bite of potato salad and then proceeded to explain that as he grew older, he be began to wonder about what ever became of the inside of that old mansion. In his childhood (at least until he was seven) he would visit the place every Easter for Lady Philmont’s fabulous Easter egg hunt. Always a good time had by all, the hunt was a must-attend event for dozens of children in the neighborhood who descended upon the park-like setting to seek out eggs filled with money and candy.
Curiosity finally got the best of Charles when, as a 15-year-old, he and two friends conjured up a plan to sneak through the locked iron gates and stay the night in the Philmont Mansion. It wasn’t good enough to simply sneak in and then out. They were determined to make an over-nighter out of it. Each of the boys told their parents that they would be staying at a different friend’s home that night, so none of the parents expected any trouble.
Why Lady Philmont decided to jump to her death . . . , nobody knows.
At nightfall, coincidentally on the Saturday night before Easter Sunday, the boys climbed over the front iron gate and walked confidently toward the giant, lonely, wooden front door. The oak door was windowless and was the kind that had the doorknob smack dab in the center of the panel rather than to the side. The wood had already begun to dry and rot through just a few years of neglect, something that could have easily been mitigated with a bit of Melaleuca Rustic Touch or Old English Wood Polish. It’s a shame how quickly something as magnificent as a mansion’s beautiful front door can devolve into garbage. Yet, I digress. Back to the story.
At that moment in the story-telling, Charles stopped leaning against the Sycamore tree and looked at me with a spark of fear in his eyes as he recollected what happened next.
Before 15-year-old Charles and his buddies could touch the door knob, they heard a tremendous scream as if someone was falling from the 3rd floor to their death below. It was the same scream Charles heard as a 7-year-old in the same yard . . . on the same day. The boys turned to run away, but were forced back by a sudden gust of wind which shoved the three of them into the front lobby of the mansion whereupon the door immediately slammed shut.
Screaming and yelling for help, Charles and his comrades tried in vain to open the door to escape. The lights flickered on and off inside even though there was no electricity to the building. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, but was only about 60 seconds according to Charles, the door suddenly flung open. The same wind that brought them inside violently threw them outside. The door slammed and a ghostly, evil, chilling whisper scolded them with the words, “Stay away you fools!”
The boys stumbled as they ran to the front gate and helped each other over and back to safety. As they ran away from the mansion property, Charles looked back and saw what he clearly recognized to be the body of a woman lying in the front yard directly under an open 3rd story window.