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The Haunted Portrait

Posted on September 16, 2010

My aunt Idella was an unusually beautiful woman, winning state beauty pageants and drawing the attention of many men. She eventually married a man she had known most of her life and they were happy for a time. However, the man grew increasingly jealous of the looks his very attractive wife received and he accused Idella of deliberately inviting attention. He began drinking heavily and his drunken rages were directed towards Idella. After suffering several beatings, Idella left the man and divorced him (something rarely done in those days.) In time,Idella remarried and the man died from his alcoholism.

Idella married a foreign diplomat and had the glittery life of high society and money, but she kept a house in her former neighborhood. I remember visiting her there. It was so much fun to try on her fur coats and jewelry, and I loved playing with her baby grand piano. She never had any children, so I became the recipient of her attention with designer dresses and a rabbit fur coat similar to her mink. A brutal attack during a break-in at her home in Washington had rendered her deaf and I communicated through sign language that she taught me. Eventually, Idella developed cancer and died, but I never forgot her beauty or her sense of class.

When I was about nine years old, my Granny’s brother, Jerry, arrived at the house carrying boxes with old books and mementos from their childhood home. He explained that he had divided the belongings among the surviving siblings. My Granny enjoyed the flipping through the photos and horn books from her youth. She and her siblings reminisced about growing up and swapped some of their treasures so that each had the things that held the greatest sentiment to them.

A few months passed when Granny received a call from one of her sisters named Ruth. Her sister asked if Granny wanted a portrait that she had been given by their brother. Granny was puzzled but told her that she would take it. Ruth immediately brought it over. Granny and Ruth had a private conversation about the picture, then she left our house. Granny carried the portrait to the top of the stairs and sat it on a bureau.

When she came downstairs, I asked her about it. She told me that it was a picture of Idella and her first husband. I was surprised, because I had never known Idella had been married twice. She said they didn’t speak of the man because he was a mean drunk who abused Idella. I asked why we received the portrait and Granny told me, “Because no one else wanted it.”

I went upstairs and looked at the black and white picture. I easily identified Idella with her bright smile and perfectly done hair and makeup. It was cold when the photo was taken; Idella wore a long pea coat and her husband had a scarf. I looked closely at the man. He had a tight smile and unfriendly eyes. In his right hand he was clutching a bottle of liquor.

Weeks went by, and I began to notice strange noises at night like footsteps walking around. At first I thought it was simply Granny and Pap walking around downstairs, but I realized the noise was upstairs with me in the hallway outside my room. Granny left the hall light on as a night light, the single naked bulb protruding from the ceiling. My door was always opened, with the light spilling into my room.

One night as I lay in bed, I heard the footsteps. I rolled over and looked in my doorway, expecting to see Granny going to  bed. To my sheer terror, a huge masculine-shaped shadow filled my entire doorway. I hid under the covers and cried out for Granny. She came to my room to find me crying about the shadow man but saw nothing herself.

Several nights passed and I was so scared that I tore my sheets off my bed trying to hide.  Granny eventually took safety pins and pinned the sheets to the mattress.  She kept asking why I pulled at them and I told her the simple truth. There was someone watching me at night.  Granny soothed me, but some nights I was so afraid that I slept with her.

I began to ask again about the portrait. Granny sat me down in the kitchen and told me that the picture had been given to her oldest brother. They had the picture for several months when they noticed unusual noises in their house at night. After a series of “strange things” had happened in their house, his wife believed it was the fault of the picture and she insisted they get rid of it immediately. They gave it to Ruth and their house returned to normal. (I never found out what strange things happened.)

Ruth kept the picture for a month or so. During that time, she and her husband heard footsteps in their house. After speaking to the brother, they also believed it was the work of the portrait. That is when it was passed to Granny. Granny admitted that she had spoken to more of her siblings and found that the portrait had made it through four households, not two, before it came to ours. She told me, “They all say it’s haunted, but I don’t know about that.”

The footsteps and noises continued, though I never saw the shadow man again. The portrait remained in its spot until my Granny’s death, and it was one of the first things I took down after her funeral. I don’t know where the portrait ever ended up; I never saw it again. Sometimes I think about it and wonder if someone is walking the halls of a new home or if they have at last found peace.

Sent in by Lisa Smith, Copyright 2010

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14 Responses to “The Haunted Portrait”
  1. FaerchFan says:

    Whoa creepy! Sorry to hear about your Granny but Its a good thing you finally got rid of it. I hope the spirits have found peace :D

  2. LMC says:

    Hello Lisa… first off let me introduce myself my user’s name is LMC I just wanted you to know that the L is for Lisa… so hello Lisa from Lisa… ok I’m a dork!

    getting to the portrait that was a very interesting story it made me think… maybe your Aunt’s ex never moved on and because of what he did to your Aunt he haunts the portrait forever searching for forgiveness??? Just my opinion.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. trolldoll says:

    it’s seem the tortured spirit of idella’s husband stayed with the portrait. i know the type of man he was and it’s too bad that he took it out on his beautiful kind wife! thanks and maybe it’s a good thing the picture dissapeared.

  4. bpotter says:

    My Grandfather on my dad’s side always told a story about a painting that his Father burnt because they thought it had a demon in it, the story goes that when papaw was a boy his father had gotten a picture in some stuff from a uncle who had died but had been a evil man in life and the painting was of him and papaw said the way it was painted was evil looking. They started hearing the noises and strange stuff was happening in there house, so papaw’s mother blamed the painting and wanted rid of it, but his father wanted because he thought the frame might be worth a little money so they argued finally getting really mad at the nagging throws the painting in the fire place one night and the painting is really hard to catch on fire and when it finally starts to burn he said they could hear horrible screams coming out of the painting… Maybe the story was true or just a story to scare us kids my dad said he heard the same story when he was a boy. great story B.P.

  5. AnNa bites back says:

    sorry about your granny,she sounded really nice.the story was well writen.i cant believe about the hjusband what a meany.at least she got out while she could.im curious to about the picture where it went to.

  6. AnNa bites back says:

    oh maybe whoever has it,its not that bad maybe it just happens to the family members that can hear or see things..do you have anymore stories you want to share?one more question how old were you when this all happened?thanks for the story.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi, again! I was about nine or ten when we got the portrait and I took it down when I was twenty (when Granny died.) I have a lot of stories from my family. They were very superstitious . For example, every New Years eve, my biological Grandma, Mam, would burn a lock of everyone’s hair in her stove to “keep the witches away.” She also believed if your nose itched, you were getting company. The sex of the visitor depended on which side of your nose you scratched. I will post some more stories although some have been told to me instead of being a personal experience.

  7. willowwitch says:

    hi, i am relating to another story that u had written about the girl with long hair and navy blue slacks. maybe that could of been her, your aunt, when she died. and maybe age got to her, so thats why u might of not recognized her. maybe.

    • Lisa says:

      Good point! I was thinking along the same lines after I had the dream of her and my mother-in-law that I had never met.

  8. Anonymous says:

    WoW! Something was definitely in that painting….very scary- great tale and very well written… THANKS!

  9. Witchking Andy says:

    Exellent story very professianal said.Wow i would have wanted to meet this beauty queen of your aunt.

  10. The Nate says:

    You are such a good typer, very professionally told, if you were a author i could read your books all day, anyway, wow, I’m 12yrs old and ever since i was small ive always been scared of old pictures, i used to dream about them blinking!!! And of all the weird things ive hurd of being haunted, I believe this was a haunted portrait, I mean, why couldnt it be, maybe your aunts 1st husband just wanted to “meet” you, I am absolutely fascinated by history of the past. And there no good ghost story without a “old” background. Im very glad you took the portrait down. It had to be horrific to see something so paranormal like that at your door. well take care now.

  11. scared says:

    sucks to be the people that have now

  12. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the compliments on the story. My aunt was very beautiful, even as she aged. She had a certain glamour about her, even though she was raised on a farm initially. I love antiques and I often purchase old photos that I find in antique stores or flea markets. I feel sorry for the people in the photos because there obviously is no one in their family who is left to cherish their memory. However, the picture of my aunt and her ex- husband is not one I would even take free of charge.

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