Have you ever encountered a ghost? I may have. Whether they were actually ghosts or not, they were clearly among the unexplained. One of them was in a famous haunted house in Savannah, the other was in downtown Athens.
The white house on Victory Drive in Savannah has been written up in books and magazines worldwide with various descriptions of the ghosts said to live there. While living in Savannah, I became friends with the owners of that house and was invited to visit there on several occasions. On one occasion I was a member of a discussion group. Yes, there was a time when people gathered at each others’ homes for discussions on various topics. That was before the Internet.
We were aware of the house’s reputation for ghosts, of course. But we never expected a manifestation to occur during our meeting. There were three different spirits said to occupy the house. Grandmother was one. She had a habit of going into the kitchen and rattling the pots and pans. Then there was a servant that had discovered how to run the dumbwaiter up and down from the kitchen to the dining room. But the one who appeared on my visit was called the Old Judge. His thing was to play the piano.
We were in the parlor having our discussion when sounds came from the music room. The Old Judge was playing for us. Our hostess indicated that we were to quietly file out into the hall to the door to the music room. We surrounded the door and she opened it. Instantly the music stopped.
We were invited inside to check the piano. There was no other exit to the room. The piano was a standard instrument, not a player or automated type. There were no speakers, wires or any other object that could have been producing the music.
I do not know how it was done. But somehow, the Old Judge played for us.
My several careers included a period in which I operated a photography studio in downtown Athens. It was located on the second floor of a three-story building on Clayton Street. The ground level was a shoe store. I had a door at street level and a flight of stairs up to my studio.
This was in the days of black and white photography. I did portraits, commercial and real estate photography and a number of weddings. The film was hand-developed and the prints hand-made in a dark room at the head of the stairs.
Often I would be in the dark room at night. It was easier to do that work at a time when I was not likely to be disturbed. But it did not always work out that way. There were several occasions when I was there with the door to the street locked. On several occasions, I was disturbed by the sound of boots stomping up the stairs. The sound always came up the stairs, never down. When I left the dark room to investigate, no one was there.
When I asked some of the older merchants in the area about this, they repeated a story about a doctor who had previously occupied the rooms who made a mistake causing the death of a friend. He was said to have hanged himself from the balcony on the third floor above my offices.
Now, I cannot say that real ghosts made these sounds. I can only say that I have never found any other explanation for them.
Some of you may wonder why I would tell ghost stories when a major election is only days away. You would expect me to comment on the importance of voting. The fact that this election falls in the season of ghost and goblins may be appropriate. When we step up to that voting machine, some of the choices we are given are out-right scary!
Vote, but vote carefully. The results might haunt you for years to come.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.