Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hopefully Haunted Berkshires

I had moderate success today with two cemetery visits in Upstate New York. I found a few ancestors on my list, which is always exciting, and I was able to photograph the headstones for extra assurance that my names, dates and places are correct in the family tree. Although most of the older headstones just look like this:

 Stupid two-hundred years of weather and mold, obscuring all the details.

New Scotland Cemetery was my favorite, and my people had a beautiful spot under a big tree - possibly oak, possibly something else. I'm not an arborist. 

This was by far the coolest headstone I've seen yet. It was as if the tree grew up right around it, and was sheltering it with a big hug.

I gave my long-gone ancestors a mental hug (not as snuggly as the tree hug, I know), and departed New Scotland. I headed down I 87S toward my next destination - Sheffield, Massachusetts, The Berkshires. Now, I know I described the Saratoga Arms as being "just like Granny's house", so please extend that description - but further back in time - to Staveleigh House:

Staveleigh House is just like Granny's house, if Granny had kept house in the early 1800s. I walked through the front door and into the 19th century, with original 1813 floorboards and everything. As I was creaking up the old stairs

 I gleefully thought to myself "OH, I hope it's haunted!"

Little old-timey dolls are oftentimes an excellent indicator of "haunted". I asked my cute little proprietess Ali (emphasis on the "i") if my suspicions (hopes) were correct, and she paused a moment before assessing that my expression was more excitement than trepidation. She pulled out the drawer on the little writer's desk and withdrew a framed newspaper article titled "Bed and breakfast ghost". She explained it had been written by a very straight-laced woman who had spent a night in the same room I would be sleeping in tonight. Ali confided, "She and her husband were very Archie and Edith Bunker-type people", alluding to the fact that the story was more likely to be legitimate coming from them, as opposed to some goth witchy chick.

An excerpt from the article (which I could not find on Google):

"The bedroom door was closed but suddenly and forcefully swung open. The house being over a 100 [sic] years old, the floors slant. However, our floor slanted in the opposite direction, that is, towards the hall and not to our room's outside wall...I had to explain [to the proprietors] what had happened.
Dorothy [one of the previous proprietors] noted that their cat had been acting strangely and that one evening when they were entertaining, one of their guests, upon leaving, indicated that they had 'friendly spirits' residing in the house. She also related that on several occasions she had experienced fleeting sights of 'something' in their hallway."

(Do the italics add an element of spookiness? That's kind of what I was going for.)

I was thrilled, and wondered if the ghosts were watching me right now! Do they find me curious and perplexing? Are they impressed with how efficiently my suitcase is packed? Do they think I'm a really fast typist? Do they think these jeans make my butt look big?

I wonder what they think of Facebook.

Then I saw that the article was from 2000, and at the bottom the author had added, "We continue to return to the B&B every October, but have not experienced our 'ghost' again."


Ghosts, if you have internet access and are reading this, remember this room?

Come visit! But no door slamming, and nothing too scary. Maybe a little murmury chatting, and if you could conjure up a sweet 19th century dream for me (I never dream in past centuries, which bums me out), or if you happen to know my ancestor ghosts, and could provide the details of those worn-away headstones, that would be great.