Thursday, July 9, 2009

A harrowing tale

I was on ravelry today (aka facebook for knitters/crocheters) and was reminded about something that I haven't thought about in a long time. Ghosts.

My parents used to own this restaurant...and it was haunted. It was 1997... I was going into the 8th grade, and I had to read The Diary of Anne Frank and Farewell to Manzanar for summer reading. I was reading Anne Frank upstairs in the musty apartments above the dining rooms, when I started smelling flowers. I thought my mother had bought a candle or something. Then a little while later, my mother and I are staining and schlacking the tables in one of the dining rooms. Tables we were working on were in the middle, all finished tables got moved to the wall. All of a sudden, the both of us are wiping cobwebs (or what felt like cobwebs) from our faces...except we're in the middle of the room.

It wasn't until later that week when a woman who said she used to work for the restaurant under the previous owner (who had abandoned the building in like 1978 and you could tell) stopped by and asked us, "Have you met the ghost yet?" She told us this story about when she used to close the restaurant, and one night her 3 yr old son was with her. He wasn't allowed to go up and down stairs, and he was upstairs in a playpen in the apartments (there were two full apartments upstairs. we used them for offices and storage). She went to go and get her son, except that he was standing right next to her. When she scolded him for coming downstairs alone he replied, "but I wasn't alone. The nice lady with the pretty blue dress held my hand all the way down."

Then we started to notice other strange things.

Like when my father was moving wood from one side of the building to another, and he was going through this one doorway between the two small dining rooms. The first time, there was a chair blocking his way. He put down the wood, moved the chair, and kept going. When he came by a second time... the same thing happened. And it happened a third time. The third time, he said outloud "I am picking up and moving the chair. If this chair is here when I come back... I am going to have a heart attack." It wasn't there the fourth time. And everyone else who was in the building that day was working on the bar... which was pretty separate from where my father was.

Another occasion... my dad was planning the menu with our head chef. At the time, they were the only people with keys. My dad had bought cookies from the grocery store across the street (you know, the ones from the bakery in the plain clear containers?) and there were a few left. Both my dad and the chef thought about taking the cookies home, but then decided to leave them for breakfast in the morning. My dad left last... and he showed up the next day first. The cookies were not in the dining room where they left them. They were in the kitchen on the counter... and the container was empty. And closed. And there were no crumbs anywhere, so it was impossible that it was an animal.

She also liked to play "hide the wine." We had different people dropping bottles of wine off for my parents to taste so that they'd put their wine on the menu. This particular day, we had few contractors but I think they were mostly outside. And my aunt had come to visit (she's a nun. It's not important to the story, but she is). My parents and my aunt were in the small dining room with the fireplace when my dad said "Oh...THERE it is!" and he picked up a glass of red wine from inside the fireplace. Apparently, hours earlier, one of the bottles was open and missing a glass of wine. My parents hadn't poured it... and neither had my aunt the nun. And the contractors were outside. And the glass of wine wasn't in the fireplace when my dad found the no longer full bottle on top of the mantle. The ghost apparently just loves cookies and red wine.

We did discover (or rather, my mom discovered) the ghosts name... Susanna Levan Kemp. Her father was the original owner of the restaurant 250+ years ago when it was the Levan Inn. Her husband inherited it, and it became the Kemp Hotel. Her story is actually published in one of those "Ghosts of Eastern Pennsylvania" books. I'm pretty sure it was volume 3, but I'm not 100% positive.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this? I have others, too, but this one is I think the best one. With the most incidents.

1 comment:

Joanie M said...

I forgot about the cobwebs!