Lets Get Weird: the real life basis of Poltergeist

Alright nerds, sit down and buckle up, its time for our very first installment of Lets Get Weird, where I tell you about some strange folklore, paranormal studies–weird fucking shit that’s happened to me or that I’ve researched for book stuff.

Today’s installment is…not the last one. Okay, its a bit of the last one, but it’s the first one…first.

I digress!

We begin our tale with a bit about my weird ass fucking family. For family drama reasons (its like Shameless mashed with Game of Thrones) my family moved my brother and I across the country from Worcester, Massachusetts to Crosby, Texas–a little old suburb nestled less than two hours outside of Houston (which is the Texas definition of ‘close to Houston’). The southern Texas definition of “old” is original build homes from the mid 1970’s, which is what we got. A one and a half story with cathedral ceilings, a tiny pie slice of woods, some yard, and one dog that would later become three. Houses here are built on shitty slab foundations, have single pane glass windows, and are literally sitting in a swamp that some guy decided would make a great suburb. It had grabbing stairs, which I would one day punch my brother in the head over.

The year is 1997. My friends have moved away to parts unknown, and I’m bored out of my fucking skull because I don’t like to do Girl Things, and I’m getting too big to hang out with the boys anymore. It’s a frustrating time. There are no iPads or mp3 players, no high speed internet, and my parents are too poor for cable. I’m watching horror movies in the middle of the afternoon, waiting for my parents to get home so we can go to the pool or the park or SOMETHING before I go fucking stir crazy. My brother is hanging out with friends, so I’m home alone a lot. I eat a lot of popcorn and cheese nachos, and sometimes, the microwave stops halfway through. The lights flicker. There’s an occasional noise from the upstairs loft.

But I am a rational child (what?) and I tell myself and my parents that it sounds like we have something in the attic and also I think we need to replace the microwave, (it was a present from their wedding, which I derive to be centuries ago, so this thing is clearly an antique that needs to be put out to fucking pasture) and also can someone check the breaker box because I think the last lightning storm fucked with the wiring. My father checks. He puts a radio in the attic to scare off any racoons that may have taken roost, checks the breaker box and tells me it’s fine, and that no one else has a problem with the microwave but me.


I shrug it off. I continue reading and watching horror movies. I take the dogs for walks even though the neighbors think I’m gonna die this way (a purebred pitbull was clearly going to eat my face rather than slobber me, little did they know she pees when it thunders) and start writing my own stories. Then one day, a fucking door slams. I think its the dog, or the wind. But there are no windows open and the dogs are outside. The door slamming continues for months, but it only happens when I’m home by myself, so I have no proof to show anyone.

The Creep Factor comes to a head when I’m in bed trying to fall asleep one night (I’ve had insomnia since I was a kid, my noisy brain would rather read or write till 11 than go to sleep at 9) and I roll over to see a fucking person standing outside my window. My dad is working late, mom is sound asleep. I don’t scream, because I’m terrified that if my mom goes outside to check she’ll get murdered like in every horror movie ever. So I close my curtains, bury myself under the blankets, and will myself to sleep. The next morning I rush out of bed to walk round the side of the house and look for footprints. The ground is soft from the rain a few days ago, so there should be something.

There isn’t.

And I keep seeing this figure. The perfect silhouette of a balding man standing right outside my bedroom window, watching and waiting. I keep the curtains shut, but our neighbor has a light outside their house over the driveway, so you can still see the shadow against the white floral fabric. Every morning I go around and check under the window, and every time I find nothing. I don’t tell my parents, because they have their own mess of issues and I really didn’t need one more thing for them to fight about, so I tell my friends instead.

And that’s how I learned about ghosts, and from there magick and ways to protect myself. I start reading up on witchcraft and for the first time feel like I can actually do something, like maybe I’m not powerless against this creepy ass thing.

I off-handedly mention to my dad one day when we’re out running errands, just the two of us, that maybe there’s a ghost in the house. I say it casually, like I’m making a joke. And he replies, casually, like he’s making a joke, that our town is built on the real life basis of the movie Poltergeist.


I think he’s yanking my chain, giving me shit because he knows I have seen this movie back to back with the Shining one afternoon. I brush it off, we go to the grocery store, I eventually forget all about it.

Fast forward to me in my twenties, living in a triple-decker from the 1920s in the slums of Fitchburg, a starving college student working on my pro writing degree. Like a poorly-derived urban fantasy, my ghost problems have followed me, and I am now the proud renter of a unit with the scariest fucking basement I’ve ever had to this day. We have rules written specifically about the fucking basement called ‘you don’t go down after dark alone’. I am tasked to write a spooky story for my blog as an assignment. I tell my dad about it one evening as I’m over for free food and laundry. He tells me to look up Black Hope Cemetery. I side-eye him, and go upstairs to wrangle the shitty western Mass DSL.

And there it is. Black Hope Cemetery, the real life basis of Poltergeist in Crosby, Texas: an African American unmarked slave burial ground gets rediscovered on accident in the 80s when some guy decides to put an inground pool in his backyard.

What he finds is a collapsed pine box coffin, and then another, and another. And then everything goes to shit. His digging equipment dies on him. The sliding door slams open and shut. The guy buys alarms to try and stop what he thinks is a burglar and cameras to catch them and while the cameras catch nothing the activity sets the alarms off. Flower beds all die. The water gets fucked, even though its town not well, and this happens to every home within a few square mile radius; every home built on top of the burial ground. People die mysterious deaths. Every incident of Weird Ghost Shit you can think of, happens.

My old address is in the zone. It’s been made into adaptations coined the Black Hope Horror, and was later used by Spielberg as the basis of Poltergeist.

Thanks for the horror story Dad, and making us That Fucking Family who buys the house for dirt cheap (and it was, total cost was 58k in 1994 and we resold it for 150k in 2003) and goes “wow, what a lovely home, can’t imagine why its so affordable!”


Because GHOSTS DAD, thats fucking why. Motherfucking ghosts who literally haunt your ass so you don’t get a decent nights sleep for five years till your parents move across the country and creepy as fisher cats and coyotes wake your ass up in the middle of the night instead.

Thanks for the nightmares, Texas. You racist flaming poop mountain.

Sources and additional info:




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