By Bruce Stambaugh
I wasn’t going to say anything about the ghost I saw last summer. But with the ghoulish season of Halloween upon us, and the details of the experience still fresh in my mind, I decided to share what I saw.
First and foremost, I am not a fervent believer in ghosts, especially the horror kind put forth each Halloween season. I have watched with skeptical interest the ghost hunter shows on television. Once I saw how excited they got after showing video of some supposedly spectral orb, I was more convinced than ever that such adventures bordered on silliness.
Nevertheless, I had occasionally wondered how I would respond if I had encountered a ghost first hand. Last July 3, I found out. I just sat there watching, calm and unafraid, taking in every detail.
I was hardly alone when the apparition appeared. More than 2,000 others were in their seats two-thirds of the way through a lively, if not loud, concert in Hoover Auditorium in Lakeside, Ohio.
During one of the songs, something caught my attention directly above the stage. I looked up, and I saw the bluish-white shape of a man walk across the catwalk that held the lighting and speaker systems for the performance hall.
I say “appearance of a man” because that is all I can logically conclude that it was. I watched as the man, dressed in period work clothes of the early 20th century, casually walked across the catwalk from stage left to stage right. He bent down as if to pick up something, and then simply disappeared. I glanced to the stage where the band continued to belt out its Celtic vibrations, looked back up, and saw only darkness.
I knew right then and there that it would have been impossible for a human being to actually walk across that purposed bridge. The crisscrossed steel structure had no stairs that led to it. In fact, the structure wasn’t designed for anyone to ever walk there. The horizontal frame was simply lowered by a system of ropes and pulleys.
Convinced of what I saw, the next day I headed to the Lakeside Historical Museum to see what I could discover about ghosts and the construction of Hoover Auditorium in 1928-1929. Neither the young museum curator nor the senior archivist blinked at my story. Neither did they laugh at me.
After an exhaustive search by the three of us, we had come up empty on both the report of previous ghosts in Hoover, and the report of any serious accidents or deaths during its construction. The one interesting fact I did discover from old blueprints was that the scaffolding that was used to erect the large meeting room was exactly the height of the structure that held the speakers and lighting.
I also learned of reports of ghosts in the Hotel Lakeside and in the museum where I had begun my search. I appreciated the fact that both the curator and the archivist dived right in to help me find whatever facts we could.
Unfortunately, the facts were few, but the personal encounter was real. If anyone else in the audience saw anything, they never said so. It wasn’t like seeing the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and it certainly wasn’t the commercial and entertainment-driven ghoulishness currently being spewed out.
I know I saw this man in clunky work boots, old-style work pants, a thick leather belt, and old-fashioned work shirt and slicked back hair. I just don’t know why.