Sunday, November 14, 2010

Something Olde's Ghost

Years ago, during my Lovejoy-esque period as a roving rogue antique dealer, I had booths in flea market/antique mall booths all across central Kentucky, from Mt.Vernon to Lexington to Irvine. And when you're dealing with such a quantity of raw materials from the physical world, soaked with all the history and psychic emotional residue that ends up attached to these items (if you believe in such things), it could drive a man insane.

And, some might say, it did the same to me.

If you believe that objects could have a will of their own and that they can express displeasure about being someplace they don't want to be, imagine surrounding yourself with antiques - much of which originally entered the market because their former owner died - and you can end up getting bad vibes all over yourself like baby powder or craft glitter.

Those were some strange times indeed, and they could provide fodder for countless ghost-story books - no doubt, sooner or later, I will write them. All in time.

But one particular incident that comes to mind was a ghost, poltergeist, entity, manifestation, what-have-you, that haunted the Something Olde Antique Mall on Chestnut Street in Berea. I haven't been by there in a long time, but as far as I know, the mall is still there and the ghost probably is too.

The building itself was converted from an old Western Auto store from the 50s, but who knows what was on the site prior to that. The upstairs of the place was entirely devoted to old books, with an elaborate array of shelves built to accomodate them. Soon after I moved into the place as a dealer, I learned that everyone there was quite spooked by the goings-on above our heads.

Even when nobody was upstairs, you could often hear footsteps walking across the floor directly above our heads. Now, there's no way to convey this via text, but you'll just have to take my word for it that I know the sounds that old creaky buildings can make, and that these sounds were not typical of those red-herring noises of settling foundation, expanding/contracting floorboards, or rattling ductwork. No, these were clear footsteps no different from the ones made when a real person was up there walking - you could even discern that the steps were consistent with a man of some weight, wearing shoes with hard clompy-sounding soles.

"See? There it is again!" someone would shout, and we'd all go running up there immediately. And of course, there was nothing. Those who stayed downstairs would invariably report that the footsteps stopped while we were on our way up. It was, truly, one of the weirdest things I've ever seen - or, rather, didn't see.

Lo and behold, a Google search for Something Olde Antique Mall brought up this old archived news article from Berea Online, and it interviews the shop's owner, Karen Todd, on the matter:

Strange things began to occur after the bookstore opened. People reported hearing the sounds of footsteps overhead when the upstairs rooms were presumably empty. And one piece of furniture back in a dark corner of the store is consistently found out of place when Todd opens the building in the morning.

Since the light switch for the second floor is in that corner, Todd says she makes a point of always putting the chair aside when she closes the store at night - a precaution to insure she has a clear path to the switch. One morning, however, she tripped over the chair, which during the night appeared to have been pulled into the middle of the floor, as if someone moved it to sit down for a good read.
"I knew I moved that chair the night before because I always walk out that way," Todd says.

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