All little Diane Garder wanted to do was play. As she stood in her aunt’s yard one afternoon, she noticed someone standing nearby.
“When I was three years old I saw a shadow person,” Garder said. “It looked curiously at me as I played in the backyard of my aunt’s home.”
Alone in the yard – her family was inside – she approached the shadowy figure; it didn’t like that.
“The entity looked at me and when I acknowledged it, it seemed to have feared me,” Garder said. “I chased it and said, ‘Wait wait. It’s OK. Who are you? Do you want to play?’ As a little child I did not know yet enough that I should have been scared.”
She chased this figure until it ran between two trees, through a fence and vanished.
“Was this entity from a different dimension or a ghost?” she said. “My mother had an abortion a few years before I was born and the shadow looked like it would have been the age of the older sibling if it had lived on this planet and not had been terminated during my mom’s pregnancy. Could it have been my dead brother or sister? Till this day at the age of 26 I am in utter amazement and awe of such a being.”
Children see more than adults. Invisible friends, ghosts, little people. Children often startle their parents by discussing encounters with someone whose description is similar to a grandparent the child has never met. Is it imagination, or can children tap into a part of the world adults can no longer see?
Bill Bryant was one of those children.
“I saw the Hat Man when I was a kid,” he said. “My brother and I shared the same room. Maybe 30 years later I was talking to my brother about it at my mom’s house. He said he saw the same thing.”
The Hat Man is an often-seen type of shadow person that wears, of all things, a fedora.
“Last fall my sister was telling my mom of seeing the Hat Man,” Bryant said. “(Mom) remembered my story and described him to my sister before she could describe him.”
Is the ability to see the paranormal something we outgrow? Or do children experience frequent paranormal encounters because society has yet to tell them there’s nothing unusual under their beds – or up the stairs.
In the late 1970s, Stefanie Woolsey – then four years old – and her three-year-old sister saw something in their house.
“This particular event we experienced together still haunts us,” Woolsey said.
Woolsey’s family lived in an older, A-framed, red brick house in southern Indiana near the Ohio River. In the upstairs room under the peaked ceiling was the Woolsey children’s playroom.
“Our oldest sister was in kindergarten,” Woolsey said. “When she went to school, my mother encouraged my other sister and I to play upstairs while she cleaned the house.”
In the upstairs room, the girls would open a closet door “that looked like a barn door,” take out their toys and play. But their fun would always be cut short.
“We would play until we disturbed the Soldier Boy,” she said.
A young man, angered by the noise the girls made, would emerge from the closet and gruffly yell, “Get out of here.” The Soldier Boy wore a military uniform with big black boots.
“We were so little, as we turned the corner to the stairs we could only see his big, black boots,” Woolsey said. “My sister and I ran so fast we’d land on our rear-ends and flop down the stairs until we reached the bottom with our hearts almost beating out of our chests.”
Hearing the noise, their mother would step around the corner holding her cleaning supplies and tell them to go back upstairs.
“My sister and I answered, ‘We can’t. The Soldier Boy won’t let us,’” Woolsey said.
This happened almost every day for the year Woolsey’s family lived in that house.
“My sister and I collected our toys and played in the middle of the stairs appeasing our mother and the Soldier Boy,” she said.
Woolsey’s mother never saw the Soldier Boy, nor did she believe them, but she did notice strange things in the house.
“Even though my mother’s an avid cleaner, the house became infested with roaches forcing us to move to a wonderful, white house in the country,” Woolsey said. “The closest neighbor lived a mile away in an old church made into a house with a cemetery in the yard. My sister and I continued to have experiences – but not with the Soldier Boy.”
Can children see into an unknown world? It seems adults should not so easily discredit a child who speaks of a “friend” who plays in their room.
Copyright 2009 by Jason Offutt
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason’s books on the paranormal, “Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us,” and “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri’s Most Spirited Spots,” at Jason’s blog, from-the-shadows.blogspot.com.