In Heather’s post yesterday about things that freak her out, she mentioned that I grew up near a haunted Toys R’ Us. A number of people asked to hear the story behind it, so here it goes!
I first heard about the haunted Toys ‘R Us not long after Poltergeist hit theaters back in the early Eighties and scared the bejesus out of everyone. Our local news, likely hoping to capitalize on the Poltergeist craze, did a story about the spooky goings-ons at the toy store.
The newscaster, using a very dramatic tone, explained that back in the 1800s the land the store rests on was a farm, and on it worked a farm hand named John who was in love with the farmer’s daughter. When she eloped with another man, John was crushed. A few days later he was found dead in the woods, mysteriously killed by his own axe. Dun dun dun!
Today, the newscaster went on to say, John haunts the Toys R’ Us, moving toys around, cackling late at night, and generally freaking everyone the freak out.
When the story ended I turned to my parents, breathless.
“That’s the ‘Toys R’ Us’ we passed on the way to the car wash that you wouldn’t stop at!”
My Mom smiled and said, “Bet you’re glad we didn’t stop there now, huh?”
But I wasn’t glad. I was a weird little kid who liked scary things, and wanted nothing more than to check out this haunted toy store.
The next night I went to a sleep over party, and my friend David (yes, this kid) told us a late-night story about how he had bought a skateboard at the Toys ‘R Us in question, and that his uncle had slipped on it and broke his leg!
“Even the toys are haunted!” David said with a flashlight illuminating his face. “EVEN THE TOYS!!!” He then raised his skateboard and we all screamed.
That was it. I HAD to go check out this place and buy a haunted toy. After much begging (or, um, whining), my Mom agreed to take me.
Upon arriving at the store it looked like a regular ol’ Toys ‘R Us, but that didn’t fool me. I KNEW the place was haunted. On the doll aisle I found an employee stocking Cabbage Patch Kids and ran up to ask if it was true the place was haunted.
The Toys ‘R Us employee got a far-a-way look in his eye as he told me about how he had come upon the ghost one night in the warehouse while unpacking Transformers. John asked the employee “Where Elizabeth was” in an agitated tone before disappearing. This story sent a chill down my spine, and still does today even though in hindsight it was clear from the employee’s appearance that he likely smoked a LOT of marijuana.
I said goodbye to the employee and set off to pick out my haunted toy. “Okay,” I asked myself. “If all of the toys are haunted, which haunted toy would I be most comfortable having in my home?”
A haunted G.I. Joe?
A haunted My Buddy doll?
A haunted Lego set?
After much deliberation I settled on a haunted Teddy Bear. I figured that even if it was a haunted, demonic Teddy Bear, it was still only a Teddy Bear.
For months I waited for that Teddy Bear to do something scary, but alas, it just sat on my bed, harmless. Eventually I decided the Toys ‘R Us haunting story was a bunch of hooey and focused my interest in the paranormal on collecting Ghostbusters stickers.
Fast forward to yesterday when, upon Googling “Haunted Toys ‘R Us” to see if I could find anyone else who had heard this story, I discovered that it was actually a somewhat well-known thing! My haunted Toys ‘R Us has a Snopes.com page, and there is even a YouTube video of Montel Williams’ favorite psychic, Sylvia Browne, talking about how she talked to John during a séance at the store. He’s Swedish, according to Sylvia, for what it’s worth.
Scary stuff. Maybe it IS real after all. Me thinks that next time I’m at my parent’s home I’m going to look for my haunted teddy bear. It just might do something scary yet!