HOMEPAGE: Haunted by Love
Thursday, August 18, 2005
From the street, the house at 1555 Mira Mar Ave. in Seaside has such a nondescript façade it’s difficult to imagine that it spawned a legend that lasted for decades amongst neighborhood children. Like characters from Twain, Faulkner or Shirley Jackson, these kids believed the house was haunted, and believed it so faithfully that none could even be double-dared into finding out. Kids whispered to one another of unspeakable horrors the haunted house kept.
The story begins nearly 40 years ago, when a young couple moved in immediately after their wedding to start their lives together. They had bought a good house in a quiet location on a big property.
The tale continues that very soon after the newlyweds settled in, by some means (no one now can say), the husband was tragically killed. His widow was lost to grief, inconsolable to the point of boarding up the house and abandoning it, never to return.
Remanded to insignificance after that, the house sat empty as years passed and squatters arrived in the form of thick ropey ice plant running from curb to porch. No one cared a thing about the house, except the children who honored its singular status.
So things went until seven years ago, when the vanished owner passed away and the two-bedroom, one-bath home and large property went up for sale. Noticed immediately, it was sold soon thereafter.
“My brother saw it,” says Babette Langford, the lady of the house. “He’s a contractor and so is my husband. We talked ourselves into buying it and now we’ve lived here seven years.”
There wasn’t a thing to inspire anyone’s ownership after 30 years of neglect. Except one. Inside, the house was pristine, still a home, captured in time, undisturbed by anyone or anything. The walls, the hardwood floors, the kitchen, bathroom, every room was like new. Pearl gray carpeting with tastefully spaced floral designs remained silky and sleek and was kept in the Langford’s living room. Elsewhere, they freed the hardwood beneath.
Langford, whose artistic sensibilities match those of her whole family, designed the inside of their home and repeatedly paints characters according to the changing heroes of their 8-year-old son, Rick, on the bedroom walls. (It’s now going from Bat Man to Star Wars.) Her talented father, Rick, saw the chance for a graceful architectural recess in the ceiling of their lovely corner kitchen—a gracefully understated touch that is an eye-catcher anyway.
“My dad was so good,” Langford says.
Her husband, also named Rick, isn’t so bad either. He remodeled the bath with a Jacuzzi tub and soft-toned marble walls.
“My husband even took down walls between the living room, dining room and the kitchen,” she says, indicating the elegant wide archways in their place. He also built a fountain in the back of their huge yard behind an arch erected only after its shape was carved through the astoundingly thick hedge surrounding it. In front, he created a two-tiered waterfall with a pool in which tiny fish flash jet-turns in the flow.
Langford says what will be missed most when they move is the blue jays they know.
“They’re so wonderful, we love them. They light on our shoulders. And all these years,” she says, “they’ve taught each generation a ritual for taking the peanuts in the shell we put out. They have a specific routine when coming to the French doors everyday for breakfast. One at a time, they repeat the ritual. We really wish they could just move with us.”