Living among the ghosts kept life interesting for local family
By Cindy Mullet
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
“The ghost did it.”
For years that was the answer Colleen Lee heard when she questioned her daughters about shoes left in the middle of the floor of the bedroom they had just been told to clean or toys scattered around their rooms.
When they moved to a house in Glendive, her daughters insisted it was haunted, Lee said. She didn’t believe them and could always find another explanation for the strange things they said were happening in their bedrooms, one upstairs and one downstairs, and the downstairs rec room.
“What’s wrong with you?” she’d ask when they insisted that ghosts were active in those rooms.
Then one day, when her oldest daughter was gone and Lee was sick, she decided to sleep in the daughter’s bedroom so she wouldn’t keep the family awake. She had just fallen into a restless sleep when she was startled awake by a noise, she said.
An empty rocking chair was vigorously rocking away. “Oh, stop,” she snapped. “I’m sick and trying to sleep.” The rocking stopped instantly on her command. There was no gentle slowing down. It just stopped.
“Ok, there might be something to this ghost thing,” she decided.
The Lees came to accept the ghost or ghosts in their home. They were never threatening. They just became an interesting part of the house. Unexplained noises, the downstairs television coming on or going off when no one was in the room were just part of life, she said.
If the television going on and off got too annoying, they would just holler down the stairs, “Quit clicking on the tv,” and it would stop, she added.
Not everyone appreciated the presence of ghosts though. One year they hosted a foreign exchange student who was very uncomfortable with the idea of ghosts and definitely didn’t want to talk about them, she said.
They had given him the downstairs bedroom and one morning he came up and asked if he could move upstairs. Lee told him they’d have to clean out the other bedroom first and questioned why he wanted to make the move.
He told her that he had been having bizarre dreams that seemed very real. The previous two nights an older lady had been in his room. She said her name was Gracie and she kept crying, telling him she couldn’t find her way home.
“Oh, that’s just Gracie,” Lee told him, explaining that an older woman who lived two doors down had died a few days before. The woman had Alzheimer’s and couldn’t remember where she lived.
Lee assured the student that “Gracie” wouldn’t hurt him. He should just tell her that she was almost home, she just had to go down two more houses. That did not comfort him. He went back down, packed his things into two bags and brought them upstairs. He never entered that room again, she said.
After living with ghosts for 25 years, Lee’s interest was piqued and she started looking for them in other places. On a tour to Bannack, they visited one of the buildings where people had reported seeing ghosts, she said.
As she stepped into the building she decided to say something to test for ghosts so she announced, “Obviously, you aren’t here,” and immediately she felt nauseous and was suddenly cold, even though it was a 100 degree day, she said.
Lee told her husband she needed to step outside as she was afraid she was going to throw up. She went outside, sat down on a bench and immediately felt fine. The ghost had made its point, she said.
On a visit to the Bullock Hotel in Deadwood, S.D., Lee was part of a tour group who had gone upstairs to the second floor. Members of the group were standing on one side of the stairway looking across at the guide on the other side, she related.
As the guide was talking everyone in the group was clicking away with their cameras, taking photos of the ornate furnishings, when one woman suddenly exclaimed, “Oh, my gosh.” The others gathered around and discovered she had captured the image of a young girl in pigtails with a cheesy smile standing in front of the guide and on the stair side of the railing. They were looking at a ghost, Lee said.
The Lees no longer live in the “haunted” house, but the memories of living with ghosts are still very real. They weren’t scary. They just made life interesting, she noted.
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