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January 29, 2020

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Once upon a time in Ada

Local ghost story

By Leland Crouse
From Small Town Sampler, by Betty Miller
October 24, 1990

Sitting in a group of friends one of the ladies brought up a story about seeing a ghost at her downtown apartment. I had to hear the whole story and went to visit my friend.

My friend’s husband had bought a building in Ada. For several years the couple had lived on the second floor apartment while they remodeled the third floor, a former lodge hall where meetings and entertainment were held from 1905 until sometime in the 1940’s. When the work was finished, about seven years ago, they moved into the third floor apartment with its now spacious and comfortable rooms. Soon the woman began to sense they were not the only inhabitants of their new home.

One evening as the couple came up the wide stairs leading to the apartment entrance, the woman thought she saw what seemed to be the lower section of a figure “wearing a black cape or long skirt” standing beside the door. She dismissed the experience by recalling “The first time it happens, you just think, oh well you know shadow or something.” But the figure and the cape appeared again by the door “again and again.” That winter a small room off the living room, she saw the same black cape. Later another figure appeared wearing white. The ghostly appearances didn’t frighten the woman and became familiar sights. As she told me, “I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen them in seven years."

The next episode involved a rocking chair. Returning from a shopping trip, the woman stopped first to talk to her husband who was in his workshop on the first floor. Climbing the stairs, she unlocked the door of the third floor apartment. After placing her packages on the kitchen table she went into the living room. The chair was rocking as she entered and then suddenly stopped, “just like somebody stopped it.”

Two years ago, two smaller figures, still only partially visible, appeared in the doorway of the little room. The woman describes them as “about the size of teenagers.” Last winter as she passed the room, she saw in front of her sewing machine the lower half of a child, perhaps five years old, “spinning and twirling around in a circle” as children do. She couldn’t see the top half of the tiny figure but the skirt appeared to be one of those old-fashioned dresses with a dropped bodice that children once wore. The remarkable thing was that it was the first color the woman had seen, for the dress was blue.

No one else had seen the figure until the woman’s mother came for a visit.  One afternoon after waking from a nap in the small room, the mother reported she had seen the figure in the black cape. Unlike her daughter who saw only the lower half of the figures, the mother had seen the full figure. Questioned by her daughter, she said she could not make out features since the face was covered.

The woman’s husband had never seen their visitors, but he wonders about the women in the old picture he found in the building. She is wearing a dark dress accented with a white lace collar, a dress reminiscent of a style before World War I, and she has “a tired worried face.” He also wonders about the door to the little room that he finds open in the morning when he and his wife are sure they closed it the night before.

In September as I walked down the long hall to the stairs leading to the third floor apartment to hear the story again, I thought about the people who had once lived in the building- Robinson, Lucinda, Grace and the others. I hoped the figure in the black cape would be standing outside the door. When I sat in a chair facing the little room “their room,” I wanted to see the little girl twirling in her blue skirt. I took pictures with my camera, hoping when the pictures were developed a blur in the photo would indicate something was there I could not see with my eyes. The photographs showed nothing.

 Perhaps the next time I go I can report to those who are skeptic that, as Shakespeare’s Hamlet says to his friend Horatio “there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy."