Friday, October 22, 2010

Memory Lane Friday - A Spooky Story

This week's Memory Lane Friday topic is "A Spooky Story." I enjoy this time of year, so the multiple Halloween-themed Memory Lane Friday topics are fun . . . even thinking of a spooky story to relate was fun!

So . . . while I was a student at Lake Forest College (LFC), I was very involved in the theater, mostly as an extracurricular activity (props crews, lights operator, sound operator, stage manager, playwright). I did take a couple theater classes for credit (a "history of the theater" type of class, as well as a joint English-Theater Arts "play/screenplay writing" class), but a big part of my theater experience was just for fun.

Then in mid-May, just a couple weeks after I graduated from LFC in 1993, one of my Culver friends and I headed to the historic town of Gettysburg, PA; we were going to do Summer Theater at Gettysburg College. She has asked for a pseudonym, so in this post, I shall call her "Geena." Geena, by the way, had actually attended and graduated from Gettysburg College, and had been heavily into the theater.

My summer theater experience would actually include acting (mainly children's theater) as well as behind-the-scenes work for both children's theater and main stage production.

Now, as you may know, it's been said that Gettysburg is one of the most haunted places in the U.S. because of the large number of casualties occurring during this Civil War battle.

Needless to say, on our road trip to Gettysburg, Geena told me plenty of "ghost" stories about Gettysburg (both the college and the town).

I wasn't sure what to think, not really believing in ghosts, but hearing all these . . . coincidences and sightings that Geena was telling me about? It got me really curious, and just a teeny bit nervous about what kinds of "ghostly" encounters I'd experience while there, especially since Gettysburg College has so much paranormal activity.

See, Gettysburg College existed during the Civil War (though it was known as Pennsylvania College at the time). So it's natural for spooky things to happen there nowadays.

For instance, Geena told me a story about Pennsylvania Hall ("Penn Hall").  This was one of the College's administration buildings. I'm not sure what it housed before. Maybe it was a dorm?

I haven't heard this story for a while, so the details are a bit fuzzy. But here goes . . .

During the Civil War, though, it was taken over by the Confederate Army and used as a hospital and morgue. You can just imagine what it was like, considering the state of battlefield hospitals in the 1860s.

Well, during the 1980s (if I remember the story correctly), after the building had become the administration building, a couple administrators had been there, working late. Finally, they'd wrapped up and headed for home. They took the elevator, pressing the button for the 1st floor. The elevator started going down from the 4th floor . . . to the 1st, right?

Wrong! As the story goes, the elevator mysteriously bypassed the 1st floor and went directly to the basement. Unexpected, but no big deal. When the elevator doors opened, they'd be in a storage space. Right?

Think again! 

Now here comes the part not for the squeamish.

As the doors opened, the two administrators witnessed a horrific, bloody scene - an 1863 battlefield hospital setting! 

Injured, dying (or dead) men all about . . . red-stained doctors and orderlies rushing about, doing what they could to save as many lives as possible.  

These two administrators were understandably FREAKED OUT!! They tried pushing the buttons, frantic. Just as the doors closed, a doctor looked directly at them, silently beckoning them, as if wanting them to  help.

Ugh, too creepy!!

Okay, so that story would be enough to creep anybody out, right?!

Well, there are many other ghost "encounters" that happened at the College and in the town itself. Geena, of course, had relayed some of them to me as we drove to Gettysburg. Most weren't quite as creepy as the Civil War hospital scene, but they were jolting nonetheless.

Here's one more example.

Since we were going to Gettysburg College to participate in summer theater, Geena told me about the "resident" ghost of the College's theater, simply known as "The General." Seems no one knows who he is, but he apparently enjoys watching stage productions from a seat in the house, or sometimes from a catwalk above the stage. 

Well, early in the season (having been there a few days, maybe a week), another summer theater participant (we'll call her "Sue") and I were in the theater one afternoon. I don't remember what we were doing. I think Sue had given me a quick tour (filling me in on stuff Geena hadn't shown me yet). Then we went to the green room, to work on a project.

Since it was warm out, we had opened the door leading outside, propping it open with . . . a door stopper? Something heavy? A cinder block?

You know what? I seriously can't remember what it was, but since the door was kinda heavy, it must've been either a door stopper (you know, one of those wedge things you stick underneath it) or something heavy enough to keep it propped open.

We also had the door to the costume shop opened at the other end of the hall, just to get a breeze going through.

Now Sue had really been apprehensive about being in the theater alone, because everybody knew about "The General," and Sue didn't want to be there by herself because of "The General."

Actually, now that I think about it, I think she'd originally asked me to go with her to keep her company as she worked on a project. I was up for it, partly because I didn't really believe in ghosts, partly because I wanted something to do, and partly because I was curious. I mean, come on . . . was there a "General" haunting the theater? Really?!

Well, I think Sue and a number of other people had had unexplained events happen while at the theater. Maybe "The General" or maybe something else. I dunno, since I hadn't been there. But like I said she wanted company, just in case . . . she didn't want to be there alone.

So, we'd been there for a bit . . . maybe an hour or so. We had some music playing. She was working on the project, and after I wandered around, checking out the place, getting a feel for it, I was sitting in the green room, reading. A nice, quiet afternoon.

Well, it had been a nice, quiet afternoon.

BOOM!! The doors slammed shut! Both doors - the costume shop door at one end AND the door leading outside at the other.

The noise startled me, so I'd jumped. Plus Sue had let out an excited utterance. She was sure it was "The General."

I was sure I had the hair on the back of my neck standing on end. I hadn't seen anything, but then again, I hadn't been looking for anything.

We investigated, together. Couldn't figure out how both doors slammed shut - the heavy outer door was held open securely. At least we thought it was secure.

Now I can't say for sure that this event was caused by "The General." Maybe the doors weren't as secure as we thought they were.

But then again, I can't say that it hadn't been caused by "The General."

Ooooooooh! Spooky, huh?

 Okay, here's a Children's Theater group shot with a bit of  Penn Hall in the background.
I'm the "bunny" in the lower right hand side of the photo. 



Here I am as "Missy Mouse," again with a bit of Penn Hall in the background.



Here's Little Round Top. Fighting took place here. 
Downhill to the left is "Devil's Den" (for those of you history buffs).




Memory Lane Friday is hosted by Two Bears Farm and the Three Cubs. Please click on the button below to read her Memory Lane Friday post, as well as other bloggers' entries.
Come back next week when theme is Halloween, Part II.

2 comments:

varunner said...

Oh, fantastic story! You make it all come to life :-)

babypickel said...

Spooky stories...gosh! Now...what did those 2 admins do? Leave?! I wonder what would have happened if they stayed. Hehe.
Cute pictures, too! :)

oxox-Camille

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