August 09, 2009



On summer nights, a ghost glides up and down the staircases at the old mountain hotel. That’s what they say. The building is more than 100 years old, but it still looks very much like it did for most of last century – a dining room with a tin ceiling and big windows, three floors of rooms overlooking a mountain lake, and wrap-around porches set with Adirondack chairs. I can see why a woman who spent summer evenings dancing in the mountains would come back in the afterlife to slide down the banisters.

I wasn’t scared of the ghost. I had a plan. If she came gliding past me as I walked back to our room at night, I’d introduce myself and say, “I bet you know my Dad. He was the accordion player.”

Yes, in summers during the 1950s, my father lived and worked at the mountain hotel, playing every evening in the building he called the Casino. The guests dressed up in those days, the women’s dresses swishing as they strode across the porches and gathered at the Casino to dance. Down in the bar, an old photo shows my father dressed in white, with a black bow tie and his accordion –looking like a well-groomed, short-haired version of my son Shaggy Hair Boy.

Of course, it's possible that the ghost might resent the fact that my father, age 78, is still alive and healthy, while she's been dead for years. As I walked up the staircase after dark, I began hoping she wasn't someone who had an unrequited crush on the young musician with the dark hair. It's a bit alarming to walk through a haunted building and realize that your safety might depend on how much your father flirted a certain ghost when she was young.

During our stay at the hotel, I kept telling my husband all the stories my father tells me when we visit the mountains every fall: “One dark night a car almost drove off the dock: the driver thought it was a bridge.” In the lobby, we looked through the old photo albums that held random photos of the inn looking as it had in the old days. The hotel was empty for most of the 1980s and 1990s – that’s when the rumors about the ghost had started – and only in 2003 did someone finally buy the place and begin the renovations.

As I sat with my husband on the balcony outside our room, I could hear the noises of the hotel around me: a family group giggling and pushing each other as they posed on the lawn for a photo in front of the lake, the crunch of tires on the gravel as guests arrived for dinner, the murmur of conversation from dinner guests eating on the porch, the thud of footsteps as a small child ran along the wooden porch. Plenty of life to keep that ghost company.


heidi said...

how cool to have such personal history with a place like that.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to intrude - tin ceiling?

kathy a. said...

oh, wonderful story! and how cool to have a photo of your dad there.

also, that shaggy-hair looks much like your dad in his youth. i'm not terribly adept at seeing family resemblances until they are unmistakable, but there is no question that any person in a family will remind others of someone else. i have a photo of my dad when he was just walking, and he looks exactly like 2 of my sisters and my daughter at that age. saw one of my dad's first cousins recently, and i was blown away by how one of my cousins resembles him in the face.

Anonymous said...

How lovely. I'm pleased she has plenty of company again.