Greetings from the Ridge.
The ghost hunters came to town last week. It was a big deal to the locals, but of course in Coonridge the appearance of more than three pickup trucks on Main Street at one time is an occasion. We’ve always considered ourselves to be a stable, conservative community so anything out of the normal seems, well, paranormal.
In case it matters to you, an Associated Press poll says that 32% of Americans believe that ghosts exist, that is if a ghost can actually exist. This means that when three of you sit in a church pew, the guy in the middle is statistically spooked. And for what it’s worth, only 28% of Canadians profess a belief in phantoms and nearly 40% of our British cousins think that specters haunt Churchill’s little island. Statistically, our belief in ghosts decreases as we age. I guess if you’ve hung around for 80 years and still haven’t seen the ghost of Aunt Maude in the pantry then you just give up on waiting for her to arrive.
The subject of the Great Coonridge Ghost Hunt was of course the oldest house in town and as is usually the case, someone once died in the house. I think this is a necessity for a real ghost. He or she must be dead. For fifty dollars you could join the ghost hunters as they made a midnight trek through the old two-story structure, which made me wonder if the real haunting was taking place in our pocketbooks. The team of three fellows unloaded their equipment including a series of thermometers to find “cold spots” in the house. Heck, if I’d have known that cold spots indicated ghosts I’d have divorced mine years ago.
I chose to keep my money and go for coffee the next morning to hear the results. From what I was able to glean from the two folks who actually took part in the creepy journey, the ghost hunters were more concerned with the history than the science, and I remember enough of my high school science class that any good scientific method seeks to find an answer instead of going into the project trying to prove a specific outcome. In other words, if you want there to be a ghost in your basement you’ll probably find something close enough to tell about. After all, if you’re the one who decides whether that flash of moonlight was actually the spirit of your ex-wife then you’ll probably rule in your own favor.
Membership in these Spook Detective groups has doubled in the last five years, mainly due I suspect to the glut of TV shows featuring eerie treks through dusty attics. Chasing Casper through dark buildings can be dangerous. A Toronto ghost hunter fell from a building and ended up dead on the sidewalk while a group of Ohio teenagers snuck into a supposedly haunted house one night to be met by the sleeping owner with a shotgun. One student was injured rather seriously. If you’re out to find the ghost of Uncle Mortimer it’s best to knock…or perhaps call ahead.
My only experience with ghosts comes from sitting around late night campfires while my Uncle Lyndle would tell the most outrageous stories designed to scare the hot cocoa right out of us. In fact, I live around some genuinely spooky people but none to whom I’d give the more elevated title of ghost. When I hear a strange growl, rumble or moan in the night I simply write it off to Herb’s digestive system. Now there’s a place to look for ghosts.
I’m sure we all have at least one friend who’s an ardent believer in ghostly things; mine’s name is Rita. More than once she’s told me, “Freida, you can at least show some respect for my beliefs!” How can you respect the theory that every church basement and abandoned farmstead houses a herd of glimmering apparitions? Is that normal thinking? So I lie through my teeth and tell her, “Of course you may be right, Rita. There are probably ghosts everywhere, I’ve just been too busy to notice.”
Whether I believe in these phantoms or not, they do irritate me. Why do they sleep all day and only come out at night? Are they lazy ghosts? And if they’re so scary and powerful why have they hidden from real science all these years? Do my ghosts have something to be ashamed of?
Tell you the truth, I’ve got enough flesh and blood problems without worrying about what rides on the wind and creeps on the stairs.
You ever in Coonridge, stop by. We may not answer the door but you'll enjoy the trip.