Library tales and some Halloween fun
Published 5:34 pm Friday, October 25, 2019
By JEN BOUTIN
Much to the delight of some, Halloween is upon us. Whether you’re just in it for the candy, enjoy dressing up or going all-out with the decorations and scary stories, this is one holiday that truly stirs up the imagination. Many people in this area tell stories of odd or inexplicable occurrences that they attribute to hauntings. It may or may not come as a surprise to learn that the library has its own mysterious tales.
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Here are a few of the Boyle County Public Library’s (tall) tales. Enjoy!
‘The Tale of the Ghost and the Time Clock’
Many years ago, a man named Ralph was the custodian at the library. Ralph is remembered as being a pleasant man who especially loved to clean the outside windows. His slow, methodical way of doing the windows was almost mesmerizing. His quiet demeanor allowed him to move almost silently throughout the library as he worked, often catching his coworkers off guard.
One evening, after all other staff had gone home for the night, Ralph became trapped in the elevator. Instead of using the phone to call for help (some speculate he didn’t know it was there), he waited all night in the small, dark, stuffy elevator until help arrived in the morning. Tired, uncomfortable and a bit rattled, Ralph survived the ordeal and continued in his thoughtful custodial service. Once the elevator was cleared for operation, no one gave too much thought to the elevator incident until after Ralph’s passing. That is when a few mysterious happenings began.
The occurrence that started the story of Ralph’s ghost happened a few months after he passed away. At the time, current library director Georgia de Araujo was responsible for processing staff payroll every two weeks on Monday mornings. One week, when she knew she was going to be gone on Monday, she came in on Sunday evening to process.
“When I printed the timesheets, there was a timesheet for Ralph with one clock-in on the previous Saturday night — this was a few months after his death, and there was only that one clock-in, late on a Saturday night,” says de Araujo. “It was weird, but I just chalked it up to a computer or time clock fluke.”
She says, “Two weeks later, on Monday morning, I was processing that day’s payroll. I printed the timesheets, and once again, there was a timesheet for Ralph with one clock punch on the previous Saturday night (two weeks after the first mysterious clock punch.) That was just too weird.”
de Araujo says there were never any more mysterious time clock punches after that. “And as we all talked about it, we decided that Ralph must have thought he had work left to finish, so he clocked in on one Saturday night and clocked out two weeks later.”
After that, anything that happened in the library that seemed a little mysterious, such as the empty elevator taking unexpected trips, was just attributed to Ralph. Library staff liked to think he was helping keep an eye on the place, and to this day, Ralph is referred to regularly.
‘The Tale of Room 218’
The library has been added on to and expanded over the past 125 years. One such expansion was the addition of the Mahan House and with it the acquisition of what is now known as “Room 218.”
Years ago, when the Mahan House was still a residence, a family rented the house for a short period of time. The story goes that the couple’s young daughter refused to sleep in her bedroom because there was something (or someone) in there with her. This could simply be attributed to a child’s active imagination; or perhaps the room really was haunted. What we do know is that the girl refused to sleep in the room and was moved into a different bedroom at the back of the house until the family moved away.
To add to the mystery, during the expansion and renovation of the Mahan House a construction worker reported finding some signed, dated handwriting hidden beneath the drywall in Room 218 that said “John Dillinger slept here.” We may never know if the infamous gangster actually stayed in the Mahan House — in the very same room as the little girl who experienced the unsettling presence — but the coincidence is interesting to note.
One former staffer was trying to get into Room 218 late one night. The library was having a Google 360 taping the next day and she wanted to retrieve some special collection items and place them around the library.
“The door would not open,” says Mary Girard. “It often sticks, but this was crazy. I finally stopped trying and made some comment like, ‘come on!’ and the door swung open. When I went in, the room was cold. It turns out a friend of mine had a great uncle who lived in that room for some time. He died at the hospital, but Tim said his great uncle always liked the library. He said he loved fishing as well, so every time I would go into that room, I’d ask how the fishing was.”
While there are likely completely logical explanations for most occurrences, the truth remains that peculiar things have happened, making one wonder if there is something else behind the mystery.
Whether the library is actually haunted remains to be seen. However, if you are looking for a scary movie to watch with friends, the library has a large assortment to choose from. For those who prefer to read their way through a thriller, there are plenty of books and audiobooks available, too.
For those who are looking for Halloween activities that won’t leave you with nightmares, the library is here to help. Prior to Trick-or-Treat on Main Street, the library will host a Zombie Prom 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. Youth (ages 9-18) are invited to stop by the library to make crafts, play games, dance and eat spooky snacks to celebrate. Costumes are definitely encouraged. The fun will wrap up at 5:30 p.m., just in time for trick-or-treaters to head to Main Street.
The Bookmobile will be set up downtown at Trick-or-Treat on Main from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Kids can stop by for a free book and pick up information about upcoming youth events.
Later on that evening at 6:30 p.m., the library will host a Halloween Escape Room for adults (ages 18 and up). Guests will have one hour to solve puzzles in this supernatural-themed escape room to put a family’s curse to rest, or share in their fate. The library probably isn’t haunted, but one never knows …
More information about other upcoming events and resources can be found at www.BoylePubLib.org or by calling the library at (859) 238-7323.