Monday, October 9, 2017

Downtown Lorain "Ghost" Story – 1907

In honor of Halloween later this month, here's an interesting "ghost" story from the pages of the January 31, 1907 Lorain Daily News.

Erstwhile Morgue is Scene of Terror to Boston Store
Elevator Boy – Hair Raising Story of Herbert Tucker
and His Experiences With Inhabitants of the Spooky Cellar
Did you ever see a ghost, or stating it in a broader and more logical sense, did you ever imagine you saw one?
If you have never come in contact with his ghostship then you cannot appreciate the feelings of Herbert Tucker, elevator boy at the Boston store, as he pushed with blanched and terrified countenance through the store yesterday afternoon to fall limp and terrorstricken into the arms of the clerks just as he was exercising his powers of locomotion in placing the basement of the Boston store as far from him as possible. The young man had fainted.
It’s a story that had its beginnings several months ago and though it reads like a fairy tale it is nevertheless true in every particular, as young Tucker and other employes of the Boston store will readily vouch.
The building in which the Boston store is now located was formerly occupied  by Wickens and Ransom, undertakers, and the basement was used as a morgue. Young Tucker was apprised of this fact soon after taking charge of the elevator and his trips to the dimly-lighted basement were made with alacrity, mingled with awe as his hurried vision swept the large quiet room and his thoughts reverted to the dead that had one time lined its walls.
Several weeks ago duty necessitated a penetration of gloom farther than had been his custom on former occasions the young lad was horrified to see a row of white robed figures barely discernable through the semi-darkness on one side of the basement. Thoroughly frightened, Tucker was unable to move from his tracks for a minute, but with the return of a flash of courage, he seized a club that was lying at his feet and hurled it at one of the figures. Not waiting to ascertain the result of his onslaught, he fled as fast as his legs could carry him. He returned a few days later when the cellar had been equipped with electric light fixtures and was brilliantly lighted to find that his ghost was a dry goods dummy covered with muslim. The club he had wielded on the day of his fright had gone true to its mark and was lodged firmly between the steel ribs of the imaginary goblin.
This tale had barely been imparted to one of the clerks of the store yesterday afternoon when Tucker was called upon to perform an errand in the basement. Descending the elevator the young man was in the act of stepping from the cage when a cold and clammy hand closed over his and he was greeted with “Hello, boy.”
Tucker let out one terrified yell and made a bolt for the stairs. No time to take elevators on an occasion like this.
Tucker came to the end of his flight as he was about to open the door leading to the street where he fell into the arms of a clerk. The strain had proven too much for the little fellow and he had fainted. He was soon revived and only after it had been explained to him that the hand placed upon his as he stepped from the elevator was one of flesh and blood and the property of the electrician who had been making some necessary repairs in the basement, was his fears allayed. The man having just entered the basement from the outside his hands were chilled and possessed altogether too much of that clammy, ghoulish feeling for the elevator boy.

I tried to find out if the Tucker lad remained in the Lorain area after his fifteen minutes of fame, but was unsuccessful digging around in the city directories. I chased down one lead but was unable to determine if it was the same person.

By the way, I did posts about the early days of the Boston Store – later (and better) known as Smith & Gerhart – here and here.


Loraine Ritchey said...

Love it

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Halloween...I remember when the downtown storefront windows would be painted with Halloween scenes around Halloween time, it was fun to check out the scenes and what school or group painted them. As a kid it got you in the mood for trick or treating. Todd