HAUNTED VIRGINIA

(Discussion Board Files courtesy of Matt Muller)

 

 

Subject: Re: college ghosts

From: M1ROBINS@vax1.acs.jmu.edu (MICHAEL J ROBINSON)

Date: 2 May 1995 17:45:14 GMT

Message-ID: <3o5r3a$9rq@doc.jmu.edu>

 

In <Pine.Sola.3.91.950424152234.29140A-100000@ux5.cso.uiuc.edu>

bveihman@ux5.cso.uiuc.edu writes:

 

Goody, a chance to delurk...

Well, here at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA there's a story

about a young woman who hung herself in the tower of Wilson Hall (one of the

larger buildings on campus. It now houses the Administration offices). Nobody

that I've talked to seems to know anything about the hanging incident itself,

but the story goes that at night if you look up at the tower you can see the

woman hanging in the window.

Well, I've seen it.

Or,more accurately, I've seen what can be imagined to be the ghost. I'm a

firm believer in extreme possibility, but in this case it was fairly obvious what

people were seeing. Anyway, one night I looked up at the window and saw a

shadow in the window of what looked like a skirt and a pair of legs hanging

in the window. I looked closer and realised that it was simply the shadows

of various cross-beams that just happened to look like the infamous ghost. I

I suspect that here are more ghost stories floating around campus,but I've

yet to come across them.

 

-M

 

I'm thinking about spending this summer visiting haunted places around VA,

anybody got any ideas for good places to check out?

 

 

Fromnetcom.com!netcomsv!decwrl!spool.mu.edu!howland.reston.ans.net!cs.utexas.edu!convex!news.duke.edu!acpub.duke.edu!jfurr Sat May 28 10:59:52 1994Xref: netcom.com alt.fan.joel-furr:668 rec.arts.prose:1825 alt.folklore.ghost-stories:5145Path: netcom.com!netcomsv!decwrl!spool.mu.edu!howland.reston.ans.net!cs.utexas.edu!convex!news.duke.edu!acpub.duke.edu!jfurrFrom: jfurr@acpub.duke.edu (Joel Furr)Newsgroups: alt.fan.joel-furr,rec.arts.prose,alt.folklore.ghost-stories,bburg.generalSubject: Ghost storySupersedes: <2rudq5$k1j@news.duke.edu>Followup-To: alt.fan.joel-furrDate: 25 May 1994 02:50:41 GMTOrganization: Moderator, alt.configLines: 643Message-ID: <2ruee1$kfj@news.duke.edu>NNTP-Posting-Host: bio6.acpub.duke.edu   I wrote this a long time ago -- a non-fiction, chatty account of a cool old theater.  It's not immortal prose but I still get requests for it, so here's a repost for old times' sake. The Ghosts of the Lyric:  Part I: The Lyric Theater: An Unusual Place    Part II: The Ghosts of the Lyric     Part III: The Lyric Today Part I: The Lyric Theater: An Unusual Place     The stories I have to tell you are set at the old Lyric Theater in downtown Blacksburg, Virginia.  The theater  belonged to some friends of mine, the Kelseys, who had owned  various incarnations of the business for decades.  When I  was just starting graduate school at Virginia Tech, in 1988,  the theater was past its prime, aging, soon to suffer a  death blow when an eight-screen theater complex opened at a new mall south of town.  Still, the family held out and kept  the place open, both out of pride (I think) and because the theater seemed to be the only thing keeping Grandfather  Kelsey alive.  It was a nice old place, even if the some of  the seats were torn and the floor had a stickiness scrubbing  couldn't completely eliminate, and some nights I would  wander by after class got out at 10:00 p.m. to chat with Beth Kelsey and her husband Bud Bennett. Beth had been a classmate of mine in high school, though we really hadn't become chatting friends until after graduation.  She'd married Bud Bennett, four years her senior, in the summer of 1988 and the two of them worked days at the Virginia Tech library and then spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and  Thursday evenings running the theater.  They hated the necessity of spending three evenings a week watching the meager crowds trickle in and out, but since they worked unpaid it permitted the theater to stay open a little while longer.  Profitable once, the days of competition with the eight-screen cineplex at the mall and the burgeoning video- rental businesses had reduced the Lyric to the point where the bank account balance spiraled downwards rather than creeping upwards or staying even.  Without the clout to get  the must-see movies, they showed what they could get, often having to show several also-rans as part of the package that  brought them their rare popular film. I wondered why the Kelseys kept the place open, since they  knew full well that they would never make a profit again.  One day I asked.  Beth explained to me that, to be quite honest, it was only until her grandfather died.  Without the Lyric, he'd have no reason to exist; even in his advanced     years he would wander down to the theater in the evening and poke uselessly around for a while before leaving. Evenings spent chatting with Beth and Bud while we waited for the late showing of whatever dubious blockbuster they had that week to finish generally included at least a half     hour of extensive complaining about the Virginia Tech students who vandalized the building during the day, when the University leased the space for large lecture classes.  Each evening's crew would find a few new depredations, whether it be Coca-Cola syrup emptied out onto the snack counter floor, or wooden lap-boards shoved up under the carpet, or graffiti written on the bathroom walls in magic marker.  We called the students "ingrates" out of a sense of irritation     with the casual way they destroyed property that belonged to people who had never done them any harm.   After Beth and Bud got that out of their systems we'd chat about life for a while, and then the movie would end and the twenty or thirty patrons would wander out and we'd close up.           I felt odd about staying after closing with them, worried that they'd think that I had nowhere else to be, but I did enjoy talking and truth to tell they were about the only people outside my cluster of fellow students with whom I did get to talk on a regular basis.  And it was interesting     getting to go in the places most patrons wouldn't even know existed: the back stairwell that must have been used decades ago by black theater-goers, the vast empty stage behind the movie screen where once, long ago, theatrical plays had been presented; the eerie crawl space under the stage where no one had much

desire to explore; the boiler room with Russell's 55-gallon drum of stale popcorn; the odd crawl spaces ABOVE the projection booth where we found stacks of 1940's-era phonograph records, hopelessly warped.  There were all manner of little nooks and crannies in the Lyric building, stuck as it was in the middle of a city block, part of one huge interconnected building that elsewhere had stores on the street level and apartments above. The Lyric was owned by the Kelseys but the land it sat on was the property of the HCMF corporation, the local real estate barons with a finger in every pie and little interest in preserving a fine old movie theater when there were rent checks to be cashed.  The money that had to be paid to HCMF     was in large part the reason for the perpetual cycle of  weekly losses, and Beth and Bud believed that HCMF would like nothing better than to take the Lyric and raze it and replace it with modern apartments, which would probably have  made them a lot of money since the theater was a block from  campus. Nevertheless, Grandfather Kelsey was still hanging on and while he was, the Kelseys managed to keep the place open.  I had the vague idea that they had money saved up from the flush years of decades past and that they were paying the deficits out of that, but for all I really knew, they were taking out huge loans each week to keep paying the power bill.  It wasn't the sort of thing I felt comfortable inquiring into.  So while the place stayed open and the one dozen or two dozen people per night came in to see the movies the Lyric had to show, I'd drop by as often as I felt safe doing and would chatter with Beth and Bud until 11:00  when they'd lock up and I'd help them with closing. There were certain things that had to be done each evening and eventually I learned them and was able to help out. They had to make sure everyone was out of the place, then lock up.  Then Bud would go up to the projection booth and start the movie feeding off the big platter it had collected onto and backwards onto another platter for the next showing.  Or, if the movie was being shipped out in the morning,  we'd collect it into two massively heavy movie canisters and lug it down the back stairs to the street entrance.  Beth     would go down to the right-side emergency exit passage and  get the piles of wooden lap boards out for the students to use in classes the next day, and wheel out the overhead projector and microphone and slide projector and get them all set up.  We'd take all the cups and napkins from the snack bar and lock them in a closet so the students wouldn't fill them with soft drink "post mix" (the syrup that gets combined with soda water to make the actual beverage) and splash it around, as they had done back in the days when Beth and Bud didn't know better than to leave the cups sitting out. Fortunately, the actual cleaning of the theater was not a chore we had to do; that was taken care of by an extremely old, senile man named Russell.  Russell came in late at     night, usually long after we left, and would clean up the spilled candy and popcorn and drinks and clean the restrooms and all the other distasteful things that one has to do in a place frequented by sloppy college students.  Russell liked to collect things; Beth and Bud laughed hysterically when it occurred to them to show me his fifty-five gallon drum full of stale popcorn.  Apparently he took all the leftover popcorn from the evening's showings and collected it in the     aforementioned drum which he kept in the boiler room, a room accessed by a mostly-hidden panel located in one of the emergency exit passageways.  Beth had asked him about the drumful of popcorn and Russell had told her that he saved it up for his "pups."  "Pups?" Beth had asked, and Russell had assured her that the dogs he raised for sale loved to eat the stale popcorn.  Beth never failed to go into conniptions if you mentioned Russell's cornfed "pups."   Russell also collected used drink cups, combs, burned-out fluorescent light tubes... assortments of all of these would turn up in closets and storage areas and the back stairwell to eventually be thrown out by Beth or Bud or one of the other theater employees.  Once, he had retrieved some burned-out, dusty, singed-looking fluorescent light tubes from the garbage, had stuck them in a box, marked the box "new," and placed them safely away in a closet for future use.  Beth and Bud eventually stopped trying to understand why he did these things; they simply took each newly-found     cache as a pleasant discovery to be examined for possible actual usefulness and then disposed of once the diagnosis had come up "negative."  Russell never seemed to mind; in fact, he seemed to be pleased when he noticed the absence of his prizes and would take it as an impetus to search for new and even more interesting treasures. Part II: The Ghosts of the Lyric  This narrative will shortly take a turn into a more mysterious vein, but before I got to that part, I wanted to     explain to you what kind of place the Lyric Theater was when I was spending some evenings there chatting with my friends.  It was a nice old place, although it was disintegrating slowly.  Beth and Bud were nice too; they were big Grateful Dead fans, frequent wearers of tie-dyed shirts, the sort of people who I figured would always be fairly happy no matter what they were doing.  I was glad that I got to visit with them, and happy also that I got to look around the theater and find out about all the little cubbyholes and dark corners that I'd never known about back when I was a kid and attending movies there.  Let me begin this part of the narrative by saying "I don't believe in ghosts."  It's almost obligatory, I think, to begin a true-life account of a "haunting" with that disclaimer, so as to keep the reader from thinking that they're in for another credulous narrative from an under-skeptical lunatic. I really don't believe in ghosts.  I've never heard of any "documented evidence" on the subject of ghosts that didn't turn out to be misinterpreted or manufactured upon subsequent examination, and you'd think that if there really were such things someone would have been able to call in scientists and settle things for once and for all. However... (long pause, deep sigh), I do have a few stories to relate that strike me as being pretty close to saying "If there aren't such things as ghosts, you tell me what it was I heard that night."  I present them here not as evidence of the existence of ghosts but rather out of a desire to share my puzzlement with the reader.  At first, it didn't occur to me to be spooked about all of the old out-of-the-way places I came across while exploring the Lyric.  I was generally not the sort of person to get myself all worked up over creaks and cold drafts, especially when there were neat things to be looking at.  I really did like poking around, so I wasn't going to spoil things for myself by imagining haunts. All this changed in a hurry one night when Beth and I were in the projection booth, high above the theater, watching Bud do what he had to do to get the movie off the platters and back into the cans to ship out the next day.  It was a quiet night, and we'd long since shooed everyone out and locked the doors and gotten the stuff out for the morning's classes.  All that remained was to stow the movie away and we'd split, perhaps to go over to the nearby Cellar beer-joint for a pitcher of something cold and effervescent.  Then, during a lull in the conversation, there came a loud shriek, basically what one would expect to hear if you had a banshee close at hand, coming from just outside the booth and over to the right hand side of the balcony.  All three of us reacted in the same way: we blinked and snapped our     heads around to stare in the direction the noise had come from. "What the hell was that?!" I asked, extremely startled by the volume of the shriek coming from what I had every reason to believe was a completely deserted balcony. Beth and Bud looked at each other, then at me, and then Beth shrugged, and said "We hear things like that all the time."   "What is it?"  I wondered if it was some sort of equipment in the walls rasping against something.  Ever the skeptic, I was looking for a reasonable expectation before jumping to the conclusion that it was ghosts. Bud spoke up, matter-of-factly.  "We assume it's a ghost.  Like, there's no one in the theater and even if someone had hidden in the restroom and then sneaked up here to scare us they'd have no way to get out without coming to us and saying 'Can I get out?'"  This was true, since even the     emergency exits were locked at night for reasons I wasn't sure of.  Intrigued by the bland way Bud accepted the fact that a loud shriek had come from a deserted balcony in an empty, locked     theater, I wondered what else had happened in the past to accustom them to such things going on?   "We assume that there's a woman's ghost haunting the building.  Every so often we hear her screaming from over in the direction of the ticket booth."  Beth pointed down through the floor and to the right, in the approximate direction of both the ticket booth on the floor below and also the direction the scream had seemed to come from.  I'd thought of it as more or less on the same floor as us, but then again it hadn't lasted long enough to stop and triangulate its position.  "No kidding," I said.  "Does she ever say anything, or does she just scream?"  I was being facetious, not expecting the answer I got.  "No, sometimes she says 'Let me out, let me out.'"  I  thought Beth was kidding but from the look on her face, I realized that she wasn't.  Now I began to get the impression that there really was more going on here than I had originally thought.  I was still     mostly expecting to go downstairs after Bud finished and find something parked out on the street that could have made the noise we'd heard, but Beth and Bud seemed to take it as just another odd occurrence in a string of odd occurrences. The fact that all three of us had heard it and registered shock was another point in favor of it being something requiring more explanation than I had handy. Bud finished his work and he and I each carried one of the heavy movie canisters down the back stairway to the street door.  On the way, we passed many little openings stuffed full of old fliers and boxes of junk, and a door that was nailed shut, and more boxes of junk, and an opening that led off to a dead end, and so on down to the door.  Where once I'd just poked around and wondered what all that stuff was kept lying around for, now I was eyeing the door and the dead-end opening with a little suspicion and a little edginess.  Bud, for all that he had much more experience with the noises, could just as well have been walking down Main     Street at high noon as using the dark, cluttered back stairway of a haunted theater at eleven thirty in the evening. He didn't seem nervous or worried so I just shrugged and went on down and out to the street, where we met Beth coming out of the main doors and locking them behind her.     "Do you really hear things like that often?" I asked?  They maintained that they did. For two people who had to work three nights a week in a place where they regularly heard eerie screams late at night, they were pretty composed, I thought.  We were all fairly tired that particular night, so we didn't stick around to discuss the "ghosts."  Beth and Bud went on home and I went off home too and mulled it over. The next night, after class, I came back and sat in the foyer with them and we talked about the ghosts.  Beth said that there were actually three or four places within the theater that had ghosts or ghostlike phenomena associated with them.  The first was the screaming woman, who usually just shrieked wordlessly but sometimes screamed to be let out of wherever it was she was trapped.  For some reason, Beth and Bud focused in on the origin of the sounds; they both went to great lengths to explain how it had seemed to come from the     direction of the ticket booth.  They usually heard it when they were up in the balcony, but one time Beth had been in the ticket booth itself, which sat just in from the street in a large entrance way open to the weather, and had heard the screaming coming from directly above her, from the other side of the ceiling and perhaps coming from the rooms directly above.  I asked the obvious question: did they know of anyone who'd been walled up alive in the theater?  I asked this facetiously, of course, but their story seemed to indicate that a spirit of a woman was trapped in some way in the offices or ceiling above the ticket booth.  The answer?  "Well, a workman WAS killed when the Lyric was getting built..."  Not the answer I'd expected, but it did make me stop and think.  If ghosts did haunt the place they died, it might mean that some of the "paranormal activity" in the theater might be caused by the ghost of that workman.  And, in fact, there were some stories that made one think again of this workman who'd been killed there.  Beth said that she sometimes heard a man stomping around on the stairs leading up to the balcony and sometimes on the old back steps leading from the balcony and projection booth to the street.       A good place to hear and sometimes see odd things was the balcony steps, they said.  If you stood on the steps up to the balcony, still in sight of the candy and drink station in the lobby, you could often feel a chill brush past you and now and then you'd be able to hear and see faint mutterings and shadows from up above.  Bud had several stories concerning voices he'd heard in     places where he could definitely attest that no customers or Lyric employees had been.  He said that he had once or twice been up in the balcony and heard a voice speaking quietly to itself down in the main seating area, in the area of seats nearest the screen.  He'd looked out from the balcony and seen absolutely no one anywhere out in the seats, and yet here was this quiet voice speaking to itself.  With the Lyric locked up tight so no one could get out without a key, it would have been tough for someone to hide there to fake the "ghost" and then sneak out after Bud had left.  And what would have been the point?  Beth and Bud were both so blase'  about the whole mess that anyone who stayed behind in the Lyric night after night to try to startle them would quickly have gone mad watching Beth and Bud yawn and lock the place up and leave night after night.  A similar story involved a man and woman talking in the balcony one night when Bud was tidying up downstairs.  He started up the balcony steps to take care of the movie and     heard them talking and waited a few minutes for them to resolve their conversation and head on out.  When they didn't come down past him, he went on up and found the balcony area empty.  Since the back steps leading down to the street required one to use a key to get out of the     building, the people couldn't have gotten out, so either they had hidden themselves in one of the dead-end passages off the back stairs or in the crawl space above the projection booth, neither of which sounded likely, or they had vanished into thin air. The idea of anyone staying around after closing might have made sense if the Lyric had ANYTHING worth stealing, but it didn't.  The projectors were these massive, far-too-heavy-to-move pieces of equipment that used carbon arcs for lighting.  Wandering into the projection booth was like wandering into a mad scientist's workshop and if a thief had found him or herself there, the first reaction would likely have been     to curse at the junk and head for the exit.  Vandalism was by far the greater problem for the Lyric management and employees.  People would tear most anything apart if it was left out for anyone to get their hands on the next morning.  That nothing substantial ever turned up smashed or wrecked by some "stay-laters" makes me think that some other explanation was needed to explain the Lyric "ghosts."   None was forthcoming at the time, and since Beth and Bud had     no explanation either save that it might possibly have something to do with her great-grandfather who had spent a lot of time in the building during his life, we went on to talk about other subjects.   A few nights later, Beth and Bud were in fairly perky moods when I dropped by, and Bud asked me if I wanted to see what was behind the screen.   "Sure," I said, not really expecting anything in particular but willing to look.  Once we had closed up, Bud led the way to the right-hand emergency exit passageway and opened a locked panel a few feet above the floor in the left-hand wall.  Beth hopped up, and then I climbed up, and Bud followed.  We were behind the     screen, in the vast emptiness of the old stage.  It was fairly dark but Bud turned on a few lights that revealed just how large it all was.  High above us, if you turned to look, there were openings that led into rooms, or something, but there was no way to get to them.  I pointed and asked     and Beth told me that those were the old dressing rooms, used when the theater had offered stage productions.  The stairs and catwalks that led to the dressing rooms were long gone.  Bud said he had been up and in them, finding nothing all that exciting to look at, but I didn't think to ask how     he'd gotten up there because he was leading us over to another locked panel, this one in the floor of the stage near the middle of the screen.   Bud opened the panel, and looking down into the opening, I saw just blackness. Bud said that if you jumped down you'd find yourself in a tunnel leading along underneath the stage.   "Hmm," I said, for some reason none too enthusiastic about     jumping down into a pitch-black tunnel leading into the bowels of a darkened theater.  "A friend and I once got some flashlights and went down there.  It was spooky as hell."  Bud placed a great deal of emphasis on the phrase "spooky as hell."  I could see why.  It was dark down there.  "We crawled down the tunnel until we got to this grate.  It felt cold.  Like there was something just beyond it waiting for someone to come through."  Anticlimactically, he finished, "We got the hell out of there."   "Why don't you shut the hatch?" I suggested?   Beth grinned at me and Bud shut the hatch.  Once it was shut, Bud pointed out that the old orchestra pit was still down under the theater.  If you stood in the front row of seats, there was a semicircular area of floor between     the seats and the screen where the old pit had been covered over.  Bud theorized that the tunnel beneath the stage might well have led to the covered-over orchestra pit; the grate might have been the entrance to the pit.  We had just been talking about the voices in the seats that Bud had heard one night, and I think we all started to wonder if there might have been any connection between the voices and what I privately thought of as the "malevolent force" beyond that     grate.  Perhaps someone was buried under the floor in the old orchestra pit.  Once our thoughts started down that avenue we could keep coming up with new ways to scare ourselves, so we got out of there and locked the stage access panel back.  Before we left that night, Bud showed me the boiler room, located beneath the stage and accessed through a panel at the back of a little niche that seemed made for a garbage can to sit in, there in the emergency exit corridor.  That     was when I found out about Russell's popcorn.  The drum was three-quarters full and a whole stack of empty, soiled popcorn tubs was sitting next to it.   I wondered how an aged man such as Russell would be able to get the drum of popcorn out when the time came to take it off to feed to his "pups."  Perhaps he emptied it into smaller containers.  One might never know. One day the popcorn would be there and the next night it would be gone.  It was a few evenings before we resumed our explorations of the haunted areas of the Lyric.  Back up in the balcony one night, Bud mentioned that if I climbed up on top of the tank of the old, disconnected commode that sat in a closet off the projection booth, I could get up to a place above the booth, looking out over the suspended ceiling of the theater itself.  Not to be a coward, I climbed up, getting quite dirty from the accumulated soot and dust as I climbed up out of the closet and into a dark area lined with cinder blocks beneath the metal support beams.  There was a whole stack of old, warped records up there, and I took a few and hopped back down into the booth to see if any of them had familiar artists.  None did.  They were all the "Johnny Doe Band" or "Jackie Sings," with faded color jackets and dates from the 1940's and 1950's.  I assumed that they'd once been used to     provide music for the theater... but why would they have been stowed up in the ceiling?  Who knew.   I climbed back up and past the stack of records and looked over a low wall of cinder blocks where the projection booth wall continued on up past its ceiling, and looked out over the top of the theater.  In the dim vastness of the theater, I could see metal struts and beams, all supporting the weight of the ceiling and lighting, and far across the theater, at the stage end, I could see a catwalk of some sort.  Once I'd noticed it I could see it running back toward me, stopping part-way across.  I assumed that it might have been there for changing of lights or something.  For some reason, though, my imagination started to click, wondering who or what might be out there on the catwalk.  Before I knew it I was half-imagining something coming along the catwalk toward me, something headless and dark.  I ducked back down and into the projection booth, having actually seen nothing but having managed to spook myself     considerably nevertheless.  Back down in the balcony after we left the projection booth, I asked Bud what was on the other side of a door that one could see in the balcony wall, half-blocked by chairs and painted over.  I'd asked this before but forgotten his answer.  He replied that it led to the offices, he thought, although he didn't remember which office had a door that didn't go anywhere.  I'd never been up in the Lyric offices, which looked out over the theater marquee, since there wasn't any way to get from the Lyric proper into them.  You had to go out to the street, down past Carol Lee Donuts, and back in another entrance that led to a stairway and up to     the offices.  Bud said he'd take me up there sometime.  It was nothing all that exciting, he said, but I just wanted a look around.   So, a couple of weeks later, I asked Bud if he'd show me     around up there, since he'd just gotten through telling Beth that he'd come in early the next afternoon to set up a new movie.  He said "Sure, come on by and we'll go look."   So, I did.  I found Bud up in the projection booth, about five-thirty in the afternoon.  He left what he was doing and we went back out to the street and up to the offices.  The offices themselves were pretty humdrum, typical dusty old offices with pictures and things from Beth's father's high     school days and even further back than that.  Bud then showed me the rest of the rooms, after having showed me each of the offices.  We went into a storeroom full of junk, passing right by another door as we went.  I stopped and opened the door we'd passed by.   Dark.  That was my first reaction.  The hallway was none too well lit and the room beyond the door was not lit at all.      More than that, it seemed to be full of a kind of inky blackness.  I kid you not when I say that I felt a kind of awareness in the room.  I was still standing there, staring worriedly into that room with the hair on the back of my neck standing up, when Bud came back, having noticed I was     not following behind him.  "Joel, I would close that door."  I closed it.  I looked at Bud and said "Ack."  He nodded and said "I know.  That was why I passed that door by."  I looked at him, then at the door. "Wow," was all I could say.  We poked around a little more, but it really wasn't that impressive a place; it was just a set of offices with old movie schedules and projector parts and boxes of cups sitting around.  Except for the Door.  When we left and went back into the theater, I was thinking furiously.  For one thing, that room was just precisely situated to be on the far side of the painted-shut door in the balcony wall.  For another, it was more or less right     above the ticket booth.  For a third, it seemed alive, or perhaps dead would be a better way of putting it.  Well, whatever it added up to, I left the theater that day certain that I would not go into that room for any amount of money.  Not unless I had about six floodlights and a Bible and a  crucifix and about six gallons of holy water with me.  I don't know what works against ghosts but I was fairly sure one was in there and that was good enough for me. Part III: The Lyric Today     The Kelseys sold the Lyric to HCMF a few months later, shortly after Beth's grandfather passed away (I think that was it), and I happened to be driving by one night by just as Beth and Bud and Mr. and Mrs. Kelsey were leaving the theater for the last time.  I didn't know that was it, but     Beth looked pretty upset, and with all four of them leaving the theater on a week night around ten o'clock I felt something had to be up.  I parked and got out of my car and walked down to where they were standing talking to each other.  Bud told me that they had just done their last walk-through of the Lyric; the next day they'd give the keys to the HCMF people and that would be that.  They'd essentially given the Lyric to HCMF in return for canceling all the accumulated debts. (I think.)  None of them were exactly happy about it, and there was nothing I could say     that would cheer things up.  With the sale of the Lyric, Beth and Bud suddenly had three more nights a week to do things in, so from that standpoint it was nice for them; they had not been getting paid for their time so they didn't even lose money in the process.  HCMF tried to keep the Lyric open, using the old Lyric staff who'd worked for Beth and Bud and the Kelseys, but even with staff that knew the operation there was just no way you could make money at it.  Even without having to pay themselves rent, the amount that they had to make to pay off the movie distribution companies each week before they could make any profit was way more than they could take in each week.  Eventually the Lyric closed its doors for good and wound up being used only when Virginia Tech needed it for some reason.  The Virginia Tech Union showed films there for a while (even going so far as to sell the incredibly stale candy that had been left over from when the Kelseys had owned it) but when the student center on campus re-opened     that was it.  Since the Lyric occupies the center of a block, with apartments above parts of it and stores all around it, no one can  just go in and demolish it and build something on the site.  So until someone comes up with the money to gut the insides and put something else there, or comes up with the where-withal to restore the theater and use it for theatrical productions or something people would come to, the Lyric will remain closed and shuttered, with only its ghosts for company. Copyright 1989 Joel Furr

 

From: cpowanda@nova.umuc.edu (Carrie Powanda-Croft)Newsgroups: alt.folklore.ghost-storiesSubject: More NoVa HauntsDate: 17 Jan 1995 09:53:53 -0500Well, hello to all from Northern Virginia.  Let's see which ones I can remember.  I'll state up front that none of these have happened to me, but a few I have heard first hand.  Let's start with more Occoquan tales, which are secondhand stories. There is a ghost that has made her presence known to several merchants.  For those who are unfamiliar with Occoquan, it is a small, historic town, more like a small shopping district, on the banks of the Occoquan river, which is in the vicinity of the Potomac, near DC.  Anyway, this is the ghost of what some people think is the widow of a sailor.  Apparently, when stores get new merchandise in, she will go through the merchandise, sometimes rearranging stuff that has been put on the shelves.  Merchants know she has been visiting because she leaves flower petals around, in boxes, or on the stairs, or wherever.  She has also been seen descending staircases with a basket of flowers. Another ghost is a woman who lived at the corner of one edge of town.  She died within the last year or two.  She was pretty much the matriarch of town.  She was a mayor at one point, I think.  Anyway, her absolutely favorite thing to do was to sit in her rocking chair on the second floor, looking out a window and watching what was going on in town.  After she died, the house was converted into some shops.  The merchants would hear the squeaking rocking chair.  Going up to the second floor, they would see the chair moving, although no one was anywhere near it.  (Apparently, some of the woman's possessions were still in the house.)  Finally, the merchants got rid of the rocking chair, but would still hear it squeaking.  After about six months, the merchants left, and the building still hasn't found new tenants. That's all I have time for now.  I will post some more later this week, if you want. Let me know! Carrie From: cpowanda@nova.umuc.edu (Carrie Powanda-Croft)Newsgroups: alt.folklore.ghost-storiesSubject: NoVa Ghost Stories IIDate: 20 Jan 1995 08:09:50 -0500OK, OK, OK.  Thanks for your responses!  I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged to tell some more Northern Virginia ghost stories.  Hello to all neighbors and ghost fans alike.  First, let me state that this are my personal thoughts, yada, yada, yada.. (OK, now that that's out of the way, let's get down to business, shall we?)These are a continuation of the stories about Occoquan, a small historic shopping area on the Occoquan River, which feeds into the Potomac eventually. This first story I heard first-hand from the owner of a small bookstore in town. The bookstore used to be a small grocery store for the people who lived in the town.  It had been in the family for many, many years.  The father died of a heart attack inside the store.  After his death, his son (or brother, I can't remember which) took over.  The son also died in the store, in the same spot as his father.  I should state that these men were well-liked in Occoquan.  After the last man's death, the family boarded up the store and it was left vacant for about five years or so. Finally, the now-owner of the bookstore convinced the family to sell him the property and open the bookstore. When the owner first went into the building to do some renovation, he had a few strange experiences.  He was doing some construction, measuring pieces of wood and marking them with a pencil.  He would put the pencil down and turn around to do something with the wood.  When he turned back around, you guessed it, the pencil would be on the other side of the room.  It gave him the creeps the first few times.  He would leave very quickly and come back when he was braver.  What made him feel braver was what he described as a feeling of warmth and happiness that came over him.  He interpreted that as a sign that the men were happy that he was in their store. One of the men also had a bit of a mischievous personality.  One time, the owner was presenting a series of speakers about one subject or another.  An attractive woman was one of the speakers.  After her presentation, a greeting card (the store also sells cards) flew from its rack and landed at her feet.  The card was of the romantic sort and had "I love you" printed on it! Books have also been known to fly off shelves and unaccountable noises have also been heard.  Overall, the owner is quite happy to have the ghosts there.  They are a benign presence and he likes their company.  Plus, I'm sure they're great for business, too! The other story involves some weird happenings outside at an intersection of two streets.  One of the town's residents heard an awful commotion outside--shouting and guns being fired.  Because this is an extremely small town with very little violence, she became quite concerned.  She either looked out her window or went outside and saw nothing.  Several other people also heard the commotion, but saw nothing.  After some research, it was discovered that a significant skirmish occurred there during the Civil War.  Probably people were hearing the noises from the battle in progress. Related to this, there's a patch of road surface near a curb on one of the streets that is constantly having to be repaved.  The reason is that civil war bullets and such keep on rising to the surface.  They just seem to work their way up from the ground below.  Pretty neat, huh?  Well, I guess I better go.  I'll see if I have time to send some more next week.  Happy hauntings!Carrie

 

 

Subj:     Re: Blackbeard's ghost

Date:    95-05-22 21:32:44 EDT

From:    Susananita@aol.com

To:        ghost-stories@netcom.com

 

From:    Susananita@aol.com

To:        ghost-stories@netcom.com

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 The headless body was thrown overboard and  legends say the body swam around the ship 7 times before sinking. Blackbeard supposedly burried part of his vast treasure on Ocracoke Island.

Many people have searched (in vain) for it. Many treasure hunters have been scared off the trail of the treasure by what they claim is a headless ghost. They believe the ghost is that of Blackbeard. Some

say he is searching for his head while others say he is protecting his

treasure. Either way, many  have claimed to see the headless ghost

of the pirate Blackbeard.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

 

Blackbeard probably knew the U.S. eastern seaboard better than

any topographer of his day. 

 

I live in southeastern Virginia where tales abound that Blackbeard

(Edward Teach) buried looted booty up in a 50-acre area of what

is now called Old House Woods (or Old Haunted Woods) in

eastern Mathews County, VA.  Fishing late at night, watermen have

reported seeing an illuminated full-rigged ghost ship gliding up White

Creek, (a tributary of the Chesapeake) and sailing right over the

shore and into the woods itself, with sailors leaning over the rails

and lanterns swaying as it passes by. One fisherman even reported

hearing harp and organ music from the vessel as it passed his fishing

boat in the creek.

 

Other interesting sightings include those of two sailors digging

feverishly in the woods by lantern-light, with a man standing by

giving orders and brandishing pistols.  It was thought that

Blackbeard had his diggers put to death after the treasure was

successfully buried.  This  custom, pirates believed, held dead men's

spirits earthbound to protect the treasure from being carted off by

someone else.  And supposedly there are a couple newspaper

accounts from the 1920's about several late-night travelers being

accosted by a luminous skeleton figure in the road wearing a

transparent armor and threatening any trespasser with a gleaming

thrashing sword. Makes you want to go up there and do a little

camping, doesn't it? ;-)

 

The area boasts of more ghosts; from that of a long haired, night-

gowned woman warning  fishermen and  watermen of severe

weather, to the ghostly figures of British soldiers who buried yet

another stolen treasure box in the woods but later killed by

American revolutionaries. The reason for their ghostly return is to

continue the search for their buried goods.

 

I found the information for these stories from a book called 'The

Ghosts of Tidewater .... and nearby environs,' by L. B. Taylor who

writes quite extensively about the true and exaggerated stories of

Virginia's historical past.

 

Additional tidbit:

 

 In one of his more recent books, Taylor relates that his story of

Old Haunted Woods prompted a Richmond man to ask him for

detailed directions to the area.  The man was never sure if he found

the right spot but at one point he got out of his car and started

walking around.  He began to experience a really weird, creepy

feeling that he couldn't account for and a few moments later was

suddenly overtaken by a huge black swarm of horseflies.  He says

the flies were enormous, about the size of a quarter each. When he

bolted for his car, the swarm followed.  Once enclosed inside, he

still had to killed off the ones that got in with him.  Finally he shot off

down the road with the swarm trailing behind.  He thought he lost

them for good when he circled around a large opened field only to

discover that the flies had taken a short-cut across the same field to

catch up to him.  The black swarm followed his vehicle for six miles

when the terrified man from Richmond saw them no more. 

 

Sue

Susananita@aol.com

 

 

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