Clinton Road …
The house was better than any we had looked at so far. We were tired and anxious to get settled. There were two more houses to look at, but when Mom saw the kitchen in the Clinton Road house that was it. Dad told the Real Estate agent we would take it and made an offer. We moved in two weeks later.
We had never been to the area and moved there because Dad received a great promotion in his company and that included a transfer. As for Clinton Road, we had no idea of its reputation. The house was listed as a “Quick Sale” which we thought was our good fortune. We had no idea it was because of Clinton Road. It turned out to be our nightmare.
From Sissy’s Diary
My cousin Jacob and his family moved to West Milford, New Jersey about six months ago. His dad, my Uncle Jeff, was transferred from his job in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Jacob and I grew up together and I miss him sorely. His mom, Aunt Millie, always treated me like a daughter and it is so hard to not be able to walk over to her home to have a scrumptious lunch or supper, and to be embraced in her loving arms. She is rather heavy-set and her hugs are warm and cozy. My own mother died when I was four and Dad raised me on his own, with Aunt Millie’s help, of course. We have always been a close family. Now, even at 19 years old, I often cry at night for missing Aunt Millie so much. She is the only mother I have.
Jacob and I always hung out together. People who did not know us thought he was my boyfriend. Sometimes we would play along and humor them, pretending to get into a spat over jealousy or some such petty thing. Those who knew us admired the way Jacob took care of me and threatened any guy who tried to mess with me. Jacob is really big and broad-shouldered, like Uncle Jeff. Few guys would tempt to challenge him. Jacob is very intelligent and is now in college, working towards a Masters in Forest Conservation. He was so happy to be living in a forested area now. “Funny, though,” I read in one of his letters, “the dogs won’t go in the forest with me. And they don’t even like to be outside when it starts getting dark.”
Vacation in West Milford
Jacob was getting the whole summer off from college and had been begging me to come visit for a few weeks. Aunt Millie, too, wanted me to come and spend the whole summer with them. She has a room decorated in my favorite colors and “No one,” she says sleeps in there, for it is “your room, child.” Aunt Millie is fun, I love to listen to her talk. She never let go of her deep south family talk and still used those old phrases — “archaic” Jacob calls them. She grew up in Georgia and saw no reason to ever change her ways, which is just fine with all of us. We love her just the way she is. She did not like living in New Jersey. In a letter to me she said it was just too spooky, “Something is not right here!” she wrote. I think it is because she has no friends there yet and may be lonesome.
So, here I am on Highway 95 heading north to New Jersey. It was hard to leave Dad and he was worried about my driving that far alone, but he knows I am sensible and a good driver. He gave me all the “Now don’t do…” and “never stop at any dark places” instructions. Good grief! It took us a long time to say our goodbyes and I love yous and hugs galore. We had never been separated for more than a few days at a time. But, he finally has a lady friend he is getting quite serious about. Madeline is her name and she promised me she would take good care of Dad. I am sure without me around day and night, she will take very good care of him. That thought made me giggle.
After a little over four hours of driving, I found a nice rest stop. A lot of people were there, families and truckers, so I felt safe stopping to get out and stretch my legs — and use the facilities. I had to pee so bad I barely made it to the restroom in time. Thank goodness there was no waiting line.
After freshening up a bit I went back to my car and got out one of the little ice chests Madeline had packed for me. Good grief ! Four ice chests she packed, each with two sandwiches, fruits and cupcakes she had baked last night. Now, I love to eat, but there was enough food there for at least six people. I felt good though that she did that for me. I grabbed the thermos of coffee and a bottle of water, one ice chest and sat at a table near a creek. Several families were picnicking there and they were all nice folks. I gave my four cupcakes to the lady with two little kids at the nearest table to me. Four cupcakes! Geez, Madeline must think I will starve to death without all this food. The kids were very happy to get the treats.
I looked at my watch and figured I would be in West Milford in about another four hours or so, just right around four o’clock. I figured I had enough time to take a little nap in the car before heading out again.
Rest Stop Folks
I was cleaning up, putting things away when the lady’s husband came back to their table after taking the dog for a walk. He sat down and said, “I don’t ever want to go back to your sister’s place again. That road coming out of her area was just too spooky for me!”
“Spooky!?” the lady said. “It was downright terrifying! I can’t get over that truck following us then disappearing to nowhere, like a phantom. Its headlights just appeared suddenly from some mists that weren’t there afore. And those strange animals in the woods … we never should have stopped there for a rest, but that river was so pretty I just had to go to the bridge and look down at it. The sound of water was so refreshing, but, my gawd, Ephrin, those coins flying back up at us! What was that all about?”
“Beats me,”said Ephrin, rubbing his forehead and pushing his cap up. “Makes no sense, Juney. I was tempted to stop at that gas station when we got out of the woods, to ask someone about the area and the things we saw, but, I just wanted to get the heck out of there. And that face in the water will haunt me forever. I remember Everett telling me a young boy had drowned there quite awhile ago. Many people stop and toss coins into the river in remembrance and have claimed to see his face in the water. It is said the boy’s spirit tosses the coins back up. I didn’t believe Everett till I saw it myself.”
“I know, me too. I thought he was just pulling our leg. But, Ephrin, I don’t recall him saying anything about strange looking white animals. I mean, what we saw were more creature like — same as that strange beast they call the Jersey Devil round those parts.”
Ephrin scratched the back of his head, pushing his cap back on his forehead again. “Well, now … Everett did tell me there was once a zoo or some sort of Safari Jungle or something in that area. A lot of animals escaped over time and mated with the natural wildlife or some such thing. So, some strange, weird looking animals came from those unnatural couplings. Seems rather unholy to me. Everett said there are a lot of them out there and they are pretty big and vicious looking.”
Juney shivered violently. “Well, I am just glad we are lucky to have gotten out of there. Mabel did keep telling us we should get on the road afore dark. I wish we had listened to her. But that river just after dusk, with the sound of rapids just felt so cool and looked so purty. I just had to go take a gander at it.”
“Ya, and that was when we could have been eaten by those wild creatures, gawd Juney … you just too damn curious.”
“Ephrin, just after we left the bridge, did you see those old women or men in long black robes? I didn’t say anything, cause the kids had woken up and I didn’t want to scare them. But those people each had a small torch, walking in line up a hill to some ruins, like a castle or something up there. I could barely make out the tops of the old walls.”
“Aw! Come on, Juney. Now you’re putting one on me. I saw no such thing!”
“Well, that is cause you was probably watching in the rear view mirror for those headlights to come back and run us off the road. Now I know that bothered you a lot more than you let on, Ephrin!” she said, shaking her finger at him. “A phantom truck, I say … that’s what it was, a phantom, and probably had no driver either.” Juney slammed her hand down on the table to make her point.
Ephrin laughed nervously. “Ya, and Everett told me about a crawling hand that creeps along the ground in some old cemetery around there. Supposed to be a hand that belonged to the driver of that truck. He lost that hand in a wreck he had on one of those bad curves. And the hand creeps all over the cemetery,” Ephrin leaned forward to Juney, saying the last words in a raspy, scary voice, trying to tease her and shake off the fear it seemed.
Heading to West Milford
I was so curious, for I love to read about things like that, hauntings and such. I was so tempted to ask them about their experience, but felt that would be snoopy and impolite. Then Juney said, “Well, if my sister wants to visit with us again she will have to come to our place. I ain’t nevva going back to West Milford agin! How can they live there with those kinds of strange happenings?” I just had to ask.
“Excuse me, but I couldn’t help overhearing what you are talking about. You said that road is in West Milford? That is where I am heading, to visit family.”
“Oh, now don’t you fret, chile,” Juney said. “West Milford is a lovely little town,” she continued. “Just stay off Clinton Road and you will be fine. What part of town do your folks live in?”
“Well, I have never been there. My cousin says to stop at a gas station near Echo Lake and call him for directions from there.”
“Oh, my! I hope you don’t have to drive down Clinton Road to get there,” Juney clasped both hands to her chest. “You best call your folks to make sure you don’t have to drive that scary road by yourself.”
Ephrin gently kicked Juney’s leg and she jumped. “Ephrin I am still a bit fidgety about all that back there and you startled me!”
“Now, don’t carry on about it, Juney,” Ephrin drawled. “I am sure she won’t have to go near Clinton Road.” He cleared his throat then sipped his coffee. “Best to find out afore you get there, young lady, just in case. But, I heard tell there are no problems during the day, only after dusk, which is when we were there. Probably our imaginations anyway. My brother got Juney all worked up about legends there so we might have just been overly spooked and expecting something weird. You will be fine.”
“Oh, okay,” I finished picking up my stuff and thanked them for the chat and nice meeting them and all that. When I got back to my car, I locked up tight and grabbed my pillow and blanket from the rear seat. I reclined my seat back and got all snuggled in. I tried to sleep a little, but my mind was on those strange happenings Juney and Ephrin talked about. It was the first time I wish I had brought Router, my German Shepherd with me. Even though I was a bit stressed I did fall asleep and slept longer than I wanted to. It was late and I was not looking forward to driving after dark.
Three hours later I stopped at the gas station near Echo Lake and called Jacob.
“We haven’t been here long enough to meet any folks and we been so busy getting unpacked and all that. You will love it here, Sissy, it’s a nice area lots of woods all around. Funny though, the dogs don’t like it here. They will go out during the day, but stay close to the house. They will not go out at night. You will pass by the town of Clinton, but the town is now under water in the reservoir there. We live just east of there, on Clinton Road.”
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© Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved Phyllis Doyle Burns
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This story is based on the actual Clinton Road in New Jersey, United States. It is reputed to be very haunted. Many people have reported seeing strange things and have experienced frightening events. There seems to be no end to the stories of ghosts and other strange incidents on Clinton Road.