The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On Ghosts

What are they?



This morning there was an article in the Springfield Republican stating that "investigators from the popular SciFi Channel TV series "Ghost Hunters" spent the past two evenings looking into what goes bump in the night at Theodores' and Smith Billiards at 201 Worthington St." I've seen Ghost Hunters and was bored by it. Still, according to the article the phenomenon they are supposed to be investigating sounds intriguing:

Workers at the century-old, five-story brick building have reported eerie occurrences including:

-- The loud sound of balls rolling across the vacant fourth and fifth floors, which housed a bowling alley 80 years ago.

-- Voices whispering to waitresses with no one in sight.

-- Ghostly footsteps in the club after closing time.

-- A chill in one part of Theodores' basement.

-- The apparition of a little boy seated on a pool table.


Yikes, that last one is especially creepy, however the bit about the bowling balls sounds sort of hokey. If the dead are up to anything, it ain't bowling. Besides, there could be non-supernatural explanations:

-- The loud sound of balls rolling across the vacant fourth and fifth floors, which housed a bowling alley 80 years ago.

Have you seen the size of the rats downtown? Probably just a few of them running around upstairs.

-- Voices whispering to waitresses with no one in sight.

Actually those are the flesh and blood customers trying to get service.

-- Ghostly footsteps in the club after closing time.

Oh c'mon, everybody knows about the after hour parties downtown.

-- A chill in one part of Theodores' basement.

Isn't Theodore's motto Booze, Blues and BBQ? Well, then chill out, that's where they store the soul of the blues between shows.

-- The apparition of a little boy seated on a pool table.

He's simply heard that Smitty's is a place where they don't check ID's.

Is there such a thing as a ghost? Probably, but they are almost certainly not the souls of dead people. It is actually disrespectful, if not sacrilegious, to think they are. An immortal human soul is spending its time rattling teacups to frighten innocent homeowners or stamping their feet to alarm bar patrons? I don't think so.

In Amherst across from the gates of the West Cemetery are the backs of a row of shops. Through the opaque glass of a dress shop this model's image looks very supernatural. I dare you to walk past it at night, the cemetery on one side and this image on the other, without getting the chills.



The persistence of ghost stories throughout human history makes me suspect there is something to at least some of the tales. I think that they represent phenomenon on the far edges of experience that we just don't understand yet, perhaps persistent patterns of energy that form when events of special psychological and physical intensity occur. Once upon a time we thought lightning and thunder was a supernatural occurrence - some even suggested it was the Gods bowling - but thanks to Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison and others we not only discovered that there was nothing magical about lightning but that it was a natural electrical force that could be harnessed to transform our world.

Ghosts are probably something like that, a sort of energy whose nature we don't quite grasp yet but which will be very enlightening when we do. Until then we seem to have fun giving each other the creeps over tales of ghostly appearances, and I guess there's no harm in that. To read some local ghost stories click here.

In the early 1990's I thought I had lost my drivers license. Not lost it as I later would to drug violations, but physically lost the actual object. Of course once I went to the registry and paid for it to be replaced, then naturally the original reappeared. In my frustration and disgust I threw it in a box, where I discovered it again last week. Here I am as I appeared to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles in August of 1991.



Yesterday after we visited Leverett, Jeff Ziff and I crossed the town line into Shutesbury.



There we visited this cool conservation area.



It had something I've never seen before - a solar powered outhouse!



Despite it's camouflage skin we spotted this frog. Can you?



A traffic mirror was all the excuse we needed to ham it up.





4 comments:

Mary E.Carey said...

A DEEvine post! That face in the window by the cemetery really is sppoky.

Pineconejohnny.blogspot.com said...

my grandfather was the caretaker at notre dame cemetery in south hadley for many years. i've seen lots of ghosts.

Dr. Ed Cutting said...

What a lot of people overlook are two things. First, while wood is somewhat elastic, as building heat or cool, they make noise. And second, a old building has started to settle which means it won't expand and contract as designed.

Dr. Ed Cutting said...

Of course, I still remember mistaking a moose for a headless horseman one night at about 2 AM, in a full-bore thunderstorm, out on the "Airline" (Maine Route 9 between Brewer and Calais/St. Stevens NB) -- halfway from nowhere without another human being within at least 30 miles.