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20 Rooms and a Couple of Friendly Ghosts

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Sadly, their plans never came to pass. But Gretchen and Jim did have children, two sons and four daughters; by the summer of ’83, the house was filled with family. The Johnsons’ six children are grown now, and their extended clan has expanded to include thirteen grandchildren, three step-grandchildren, and nine nieces and nephews.

Nid de Papillon has become their tribe’s summer clubhouse, a stage set for family fun: birthdays, picnics, children’s plays, beach-plum picking, and hurriedly organized surf-casting expeditions when the striped bass are running.

What would the Appletons think of what the Johnsons have done with their dream house? Their spirits certainly seem to be having too much fun to leave. For one of the many wonders of Nid de Papillon is that it’s haunted. Gretchen swears, though she never fails to lock and bolt the house at the end of the evening, she often wakes up in the middle of the night to find the front door open wide and welcoming to the mist that swirls in off the ocean. Gretchen and Jim, being the gracious hosts they are, are happy to share the house with fellow free spirits, as long as they abide by the house rules: only one beach towel per day, and no smoking in the bedrooms.


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