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A ghostly gig

KEELY BROWN
Keely Brown
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The building where I live has housed many a celebrity in the past, ranging from former presidents to Baby Doe Tabor and her daughter Silver, when they took winters off from living at the Matchless Mine.That means, of course, that there are ghosts in this building. Wherever a celebrity has once lived, someone is sure to have seen their ghost. In fact, celebrities seem to leave their ghosts behind a lot more than us common folks do. No matter how historical a building is, if it was inhabited by Joe Schmoe, nobody ever sees him. On the other hand, if Marilyn Monroe or Elvis or Lincoln lived there, then you know it’s going to be full of what the trendy psychics call “paranormal activity.”There actually are supposed to be ghosts here, but so far no one has seen Chester Arthur or Baby Doe (although, to be fair, she has been seen outside the front door peering in, so you can’t blame her for not trying).Our most popular ghostly inhabitants are two children, a little boy and girl. Half the people in this building claim to have seen them. One resident even claims that they have Tonka truck races with his grandchildren. Of course, after hearing about all these ghosts, I couldn’t wait to live here. I envisioned myself becoming buddies with the Tabors and putting all my antique teddy bears out for the two little waif-children. But so far, I haven’t seen a thing.

The problem is, I don’t know how folks go about attracting ghosts. Discounting the phony psychic goofballs on TV (worth watching only if your other viewing option is the “World Series of Poker”), I have no idea how to get a ghost to come and visit me.I mean, it’s not like you can go out with a Snausage in one hand and holler, “Here, Ghostie! Snausages!”The other problem is that, if you do succeed in luring a ghost to your home, you don’t know what you’re liable to get. Your new ghost friend may end up being a hellish poltergeist straight out of the Amityville Horror.And even if you do get a nice ghost, what about the company he keeps? Your historical hero or heroine may have become beer buddies with Caligula in the afterlife.Like it or not, Colorado is Ghostville to a lot of fans. One of my favorite Colorado ghost stories comes from the Old Homestead House Museum in Cripple Creek.The Old Homestead House was originally a brothel. After opening up as a museum (and only Colorado would have a brothel museum that advertises free admission for children under 10), several visitors claimed to have seen the “girls” of the house from bygone days. No one has ever said what exactly the girls were doing. Hopefully for the sake of the visiting children under 10, they were enjoying a bit of time off.

It seems like everyone I’ve met in Colorado has a ghost story. To tell the truth, I have one, too. But it didn’t take place in Colorado. My ghost story, or “paranormal visitation” (or “moment of loony-bin madness”) took place about seven years ago in Roswell, Georgia (you thought I was going to say New Mexico and get into alien abductions, didn’t you?) I used to perform at a historic Roswell restaurant that in Civil War days was a makeshift Confederate hospital. Legend has it that a young Southern nurse, Katherine, fell in love with a Yankee soldier named Michael. Michael died of his injuries, and Katherine succumbed shortly afterwards.Throughout the next hundred-plus years, visitors and employees at the restaurant have claimed to see their ghosts. In fact, restaurant managers claim that after they lock up at night, the mischievous couple moves all the chairs around. More than anywhere else, Michael and Katherine love to inhabit the area upstairs around the piano. Almost every morning things have been found in disarray up there, as if the young couple was dancing. And in fact, ghostly photos with eerie images have been taken from the window behind the piano. One night a little girl was showing us a book about famous ghosts of Georgia, and there was a ghost-photo of Katherine at the window. It was a crowded Saturday night and I was on break; I rather recklessly told my audience that I would love to see Michael and Katherine, but only on such a night when the lounge was packed, so that there would be plenty of witnesses.

And there were.The little girl soon left with her mother, saying she felt “creepy.” I went back to the piano and started playing.And that’s when my tip jar, a huge, heavy vase appropriated for the job, flew up in the air and landed completely upright on the carpet, missing my face by about two inches. It was as if someone had mischievously picked it up and buzzed it right by me, then gently placed it on the ground. And the minute it happened, about 20 people in the lounge yelled out, as if on cue, “Michael and Katherine!”I got up, recovered my jar (with every dollar intact) and my composure, and, just in case, played a few Civil War tunes for the pair to waltz to, while my audience hummed along.The following Monday when I told my radio audience about it, several restaurant patrons who were there that night phoned in as witnesses. Sometime later, I heard that the management of the restaurant was referring to the event as “Michael and Katherine’s Latest Sighting.”To this day, I don’t know what to think. I don’t know if getting buzzed by a tip jar counts as a ghost sighting or not. But I’m hanging up my antique photo of Baby Doe and keeping my teddy bears out, and I’ll let you know if anything happens.


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