My Only (Somewhat) Ghostly Encounter

It was the summer of 1976.  I had just finished my freshman year of college and was working at the Alpine Village resort in Lake George, New York with a bunch of other high school and college kids — along with one 30-something guy named Jerry, a Vietnam War vet who captained the Alpine Village boat and who was focused with laser-like intensity on achieving meaningful dalliances with every unescorted mother bringing her two kids up for a week-long stay at the resort.

Jerry’s family owned a house that was located nearby.  It was the old family homestead, a sprawling, century-old house back in the woods that was still fully furnished, although no one lived there.  It was a convenient place for Jerry to take those lonely young mothers.

IMG_0859One night Jerry invited the lot of us to the house for a clambake and sleepover.  The house was like a scene from Arsenic and Old Lace or a Vincent Price movie, complete with creaky floorboards, odd family memorabilia, portraits of long-dead relatives whose eyes seemed to follow you when you moved, dusty drapery, and unexpected alcoves where you might be startled by your reflection in a mirror as you passed by or the sight of a stuffed raccoon.  It was a creepy place, and Jerry told us without much elaboration that family lore had it that the place was haunted by at least two ghosts — a weeping woman who had died during childbirth in one of the upstairs bedrooms, and a boy who had been killed by a fall into a well out back.

We chuckled at the story, gobbled our clams and burgers, and drank more beer than a responsible person should.

That night, I awoke after I thought I heard an odd noise.  It was black as pitch, and the wind was blowing.  I stuck my out of the bedroom door and out of the corner of my eye noticed some movement down at the end of the upstairs hallway.  I didn’t have my glasses on, but something seemed to be moving down there.  The floorboards creaked, I suddenly felt cold, and the hairs on my arms stood on end — then I retreated to the room, shut the door, and got back into bed, soon to fall into alcohol-assisted slumber without further incident.

The next morning I explored the other end of the hallway.  There was a mirror and window, and a table with some old framed photographs.  Perhaps I saw myself in the mirror, or curtains blowing in the early morning breeze?  I’m not sure.

In The Mood For A Ghost Story

Who doesn’t remember sitting by a campfire as a kid, seeing the reflections of the flames dance across the faces of your fellow campers, and felling that delicious chill flash up your spine as you heard a particularly creepy ghost story?

Ohio has its share of such stories, ranging from a haunted carousel horse to the ghost funeral train of Abraham Lincoln rolling through Urbana to the spirits who roam the halls of the Buxton Inn in Granville to the weeping Woman in Gray who mysteriously appears to visit the grave of a Confederate soldier who is buried in the Camp Chase Civil War prison camp cemetery here in Franklin County.

Of all the stories, I think the creepiest is the tale of the Dark Angel of Maple Grove Cemetery — a large stone angel protecting a grave that was inhabited by evil spirits, flew across the countryside slaughtering livestock, and then returned, blood-smeared and distraught, to the grave by morning.  Sadly, the true story simply seems to be one of a vandalized grave.

The Buckeye State not only is home to tales of the supernatural, but also to an organization called The Ghosts of Ohio that will investigate and debunk those tales.  Its website is worth a visit, and its roster of spooky stories provides lots of good ideas for some of those campfire tales that might be recounted come Halloween night.