The most haunted location in Keene is reputed to be around the Knight Summer Chapel, which is part of Woodlawn Cemetery. A spirit of a little girl is reported, that will peek at you from behind tombstones and trees. The area is a favorite for those with cameras trying to capture photographs of orbs and other ghostly subjects.
Traditional folklore says you must never curse near the chapel, or you will taste soap in your mouth. This soapy discipline comes from a ghost that objects to cursing, and will try to wash you mouth out . This rumored ghostly punishment means that people are often around the chapel, cursing away hoping for a ghostly, if soapy, encounter.
So many stories abound, that it’s hard to choose just one to feature.
This story can perhaps be representative of all the strange happenings that take place near the chapel. A group of teenagers, bored during the early evening hours, decided to go to the Knights Chapel to see if they could have a ghost wash their mouths out with soap. Keene has often been described as a lovely town but a bit dull for young people, though I’m surprised this was their best option for entertainment. Still, what could be more fun than to test this ghostly myth, and so the 5 young people piled into a car and parked near the chapel.
The 5 were all teenagers, and 2 of them were a new couple. At first everyone just cursed away, with 3 claiming “I can feel the soap, it’s really awful!”. The taste did not stop the teens from cursing, as could be expected it made them curse even more! The only 2 that did not claim to be able to taste the soap were the new young couple.
They were teased by the others, that they were “too sweet” for the ghost. The couple just claimed they were too smart to fall for this trick. They were sure the others were just imagining the soapy taste. Finally the couple was challenged to really curse as much and as creatively as they possibly could. The couple then faced the chapel and yelled out curses and insults for almost a full minute, and at the end they just laughed and claimed to taste nothing. Their friends suggested the couple French kiss, so they could taste if there was soap in each others mouths.
What happened next at first seemed very innocent. The couple kissed deeply, embracing each other tightly. The couple kept kissing and kissing, until their friends began to joke “get a room!” Still the deep kiss continued.
The couple then began to not embrace, but instead to try to push away from each other. Soon they were using all their strength to try to break off the kiss, even digging their feet into the ground. Their deep kiss was endless, their lips locked together, as if a powerful magnetism held them together. The three friends at first thought the couple was joking, but soon were convinced by the terror in the eyes of the couple.
The friends ran over and began to physically pull the couple apart. It was only when one of the group shouted “They are sorry, we’re sorry! We won’t do this again, let them go!” that the couple broke apart.
The couple fell to the ground, exhausted and catching their breath in deep gulps. They later said they did not taste soap, but tasted ashes. “It was like eating smoke from a campfire or from hell.” They claimed they could not break apart, and were having trouble breathing. The young woman claimed she could feel as if a bony hand were holding her head in place, the young man refused to talk about the experience ever again. The group left the cemetery, and warned their friends not to bother the chapel ghosts.
“It just seemed like a lot of fun, but cursing in a cemetery is a bad idea”
So, go visit Woodlawn Cemetery, but please be respectful. If you aren’t, the residents there will be sure to let you know they like to be left in peace.
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