Downtown Ghostly Bowling Alley

There is a store on Main street where soft music plays. The music is supposed to be left on at all times, even through the evening, so that when a worker comes to open the store in the morning they do not hear the mystery sounds the music hides.

An employee at the store will offer well known customers a chance to hear the sounds. She turns down the music, and if you stand in just the right area you can hear a sound of muted rolling, and then a sound as if something has been knocked over. If your hearing is good enough, you might even hear muted footsteps and the voices of men. It sounds much a modern bowling alley, only very muted and the balls and pins falling have a distinct sound of taking place on a wooden floor. It’s bowling, but then again, it’s not bowling as we know it.

The salesperson will point out that the floor will vibrate at times. It could be a large truck going by, or it could be coming from down below. It’s down below this business where things get interesting. Opening the door to the basement, there is a distinct smell of stale cigar smoke. The owner of the business will tell you it’s just fumes from cars passing by, or perhaps something to do with mold and damp. However, most people that visit say it smells like someone has been down there smoking cigars, though the odor has faded somewhat.

The salesperson feels there was at one time a bowling alley in the basement of the building. Bowling was a well known early pastime in Keene. Not the alleys such as we know today, with machines to lift the pins back into place. These were simple alleys, simply men gathered together that set up the old wooden pins themselves, which were usually much smaller than those used today. More of a gentleman’s get together, bowling along with billiards, were a popular form of recreation at one time. Possibly even today, bowling is popular with some resident ghosts who still show up at their favorite bowling alley to enjoy an eternal game or two.

The music plays still plays softly, just loud enough to cover the slight sound of the gentleman’s game, though nothing can cover up the gentle rumble that comes up perhaps whenever a strike is bowled.

Advertisements

The Eternal Tenant

Ghost stories are often just that, a story told by one person to another. There is rarely any sort of proof, perhaps a fuzzy photograph or strange video. Proof of life after death would require far more than just eye witness testimony and vague photographs.

However the story that most impressed the staff at the Cheshire County Historical Society was that of one ghost, reported by two different people.

Image

The story is a simple one. A tenant at an apartment in an old house in town came in to try to find out about a ghost. The was a woman dressed from a long ago era that he had seen sitting in his apartment looking out the window. The tenant wasn’t afraid of the ghost. Indeed, it seems Keene is a town that accepts ghosts as simply part of the pleasure of living in an old historic home. Still, the tenant wanted to know more about the ghost. While there is no official record of ghosts, the Historical society was glad to help look up the history of the house. The tenant went home and was not heard from again.

Many years later, another tenant came to the Historical Society to find out who was the women in old fashioned dress sitting in his apartment looking out the window. This sounded familiar to the staff. Upon checking the address, it was indeed the same apartment. The same ghost, but a new tenant. Again, the tenant had no fear of the ghost, simply a wish to get to know the history of the eternal tenant in his apartment.

Keene seems a town very tolerant and accepting of sharing their homes with previous occupants.

While no other tenants from this apartment have shown up, it could be that the last tenant to check is still living there, perfectly happy to pay rent for both himself and the ghost. The mysterious woman who has a keen interest in what’s happening outside the home she’s never left, like most Keene ghosts, is welcome to stay as long as she likes.

Beaver Mills Night Ghost

A retirement home on Rail Road street was the location of probably the most horrifying ghost reported in Keene. This story comes from a young woman, who heard it from her now deceased grandmother that lived in the retirement home.

She relates her grandmother often had trouble sleeping at night, but didn’t want to go out side for a walk. Her grandmother would wait until late at night and go for a walk inside the building. She said her grandmother was very aged, and would simply push her walker gently for a few steps to help deal with her insomnia.

The young woman shared that one day when she was a child, she stopped by with her mother to visit her grandmother. To their dismay they saw her grandmother’s walker just lying on it’s side in the hallway. The young woman remembers the panic her mother voice, as she quickly knocked on the door of the apartment where her grandmother resided and cried out “Mom are you alright?”

Her grandmother opened the door, shaking with fright. The young woman remembers her mother calming the grandmother and asking her why her walker was in the hallway. It was a very frightening experience for this then young child to hear the story her grandmother then told.

It seems her grandmother was doing her usual insomnia cure, a few steps up and down a hallway. She said she became upset when she thought she noticed white smoke coming from the other end, and was trying to hurry back to room to report a fire. She said it wasn’t like “real smoke” but “more of a mist”. Still, her grandmother then said she felt the building slightly shake, as if a large truck had traveled nearby.

At this point her grandmother stopped and peered at the mist, wondering what was to come next and trembling in great fear. She worried something had gone “terribly wrong” and fear of how the entire building of seniors would escape washed over her.

Her grandmother then saw coming down the hallway, “almost floating slightly above the mist” was a man that had been in a “horrible accident”. Even though it was dark, her grandmother claimed he “glowed from within” and she could see he was burned and bleeding. He reached out his hand to her, she noticed the other arm he did not raise seemed to be almost completely blown off. The man then gave a low moan. She then said she could begin to smell the stench of some explosion or fire, and she quickly dropped her walker and stumbled back into her room.

Her grandmother had sat there the rest of the night, with her back to the door, terribly afraid and shaking. The young woman, then a child, said her grandmother must have been very afraid as she would not have spoken in front of her about it. The young woman said she asked her grandmother “Why didn’t you call the firemen?”

Her grandmother just shook her head and said “He wasn’t real, he couldn’t have been real.” It was then the young woman’s mother realized she was there and sent her to another room.

When she later tried to ask her grandmother about this spectral victim of some horrible calamity, she said her grandmother would never speak of it again. Still the young woman said she could never forget what her grandmother had said, even though no one in the family would speak of it. She thought her mother believed it was just late night imagination, but she herself never felt convinced of this.

Image

The story behind this frightening scene could lie in the former life of the building. The retirement home was built using some of the walled remains of the old Beaver Mill building. The Beaver Mill site would be a good candidate for a haunting or two.

There was a horrible boiler explosion at the Beaver Mill building on May 22nd 1893. While rare today, boiler explosions were a horrifying possibility at one time. Bricks from this explosion were found streets away. The explosion killed two instantly, and one man was burned. The sad part was that workman’s compensation meant those hurt were out of work. Even those that survived the blast would find themselves without a job in an era when there were few social welfare programs for the unemployed. It was truly a disaster to not only the men killed but those that had worked at the factory.

Perhaps the ghost was one of the poor victims, scalded by the great boiler explosion? Some say ghosts are nothing but a memory of a tragic event, forever imprinted on the location because of the great grief associated with the site. If any site in Keene would have such ghosts, this site would surely have them.