Friday, March 22, 2013
Our Willard Library Ghost Encounter?
Willard Public Library in Evansville, Indiana, is rightly famous for its long, colorful history, grand architecture, intriguing interior designs, extensive genealogical and local history collections, and impressive and knowledgeable staff. But most out-of-town visitors have only heard about the spectral sightings there.
Miss Lynn, who, until 2009, was a children's assistant at my Library, previously worked at Willard. She never saw any evidence of paranormal activity. Many other staff, however, who had worked much longer there witnessed inexplicable paranormal occurrences. Patrons, too, reported ghostly sightings and strange unexplained happenings. Over the years, haunting spirits have become part of Willard's folklore.
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Ghost stories are fun, regardless of whether or not anything other-worldly is taking place. My minions and I are open-minded, but we critically analyze any experiences for rational explanations. Good psychical researchers are objective but demand high levels of proof.
I sent "Flat" Cauli VI, along with the Lady With the Red Hair and Scowl-Face, to Willard to investigate. Actually, they have always just wanted to see the library for its historical and service-oriented qualities, but we would welcome any peculiar events if they transpired spontaneously.
Scowl-Face got much more than he bargained for. As he entered the men's restroom in the basement (down the hallway from the children's department), he found himself quite alone. He had occasion to use the single toilet stall, so he knew nobody else was present in there or at the urinal. (These details are important observational facts; my apologies for discussing male restroom particulars.) As he was washing his hands, with his back partially toward the single entry door, ol' Scowlly heard and saw the door open out of the corner of his left eye. He distinctly saw a green shape, like a person wearing an olive overcoat (something like an long army jacket), pass behind him moving into the single stall toilet. Scowl-Face immediately looked up, turned around, and examined the entire restroom. Nobody else was present. It would have been impossible for anyone to have exited through the single doorway without Scowl-Face seeing him leaving. He is certain of this.
Scowl-Face asked the Lady With the Red Hair if she had seen anyone enter the restroom after him. She said she saw a man (wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt) walk down the hall toward the restroom but did not see him return. There were two hallways by which this fellow could have departed, but she could see both from her vantage point and did not see anybody walking through either hall until ol' Scowlly left the restroom. She admitted, however, that she might have missed the mystery man's departure.
The simplest explanation, of course, was that an unknown male had opened the restroom door, moved inside but instantly retreated, retracing his steps, which the Lady With the Red Hair must not have observed.
The facts, however, do not bear out this suggested scenario. Scowl-Face has some experience in paranormal investigation and is an attorney to boot. He understands how human perception can be deceiving. He therefore has spent years training himself to be a careful, unemotional observer of relevant facts. The Lady With the Red Hair is even better at this critical reasoning faculty. Although she is not prepared to state that it was impossible for the mystery man to have escaped unnoticed down the hallways, she was in a good position to see such an egress. Scowl-Face, on the other paw, positively states as indubitable that no human could have entered as far into the restroom as he observed (and then exit as quickly as physically possible) without 'ol Scowlly seeing him do so.
Was it a ghost? Was it an overwrought imagination or two of my minions? Despite Scowl-Face's seemingly conclusive statement, the evidence remains inconclusive. Since Scowl-Face was facing partially away from the restroom door and, using peripheral vision, saw the green figure pass behind him, his observations were not as persuasive as they would have been had he been facing the action. True, he immediately looked up and scrutinized the entire restroom to find no one else present, but not facing the figure from the initial observation makes it reasonably likely that the movement he observed was something other than paranormal. His testimony "is suggestive proof only and would not convince a trier-of-fact by a preponderance of the evidence," says Scowl-Face in his best legalese. The Lady With the Red Hair's uncertainty further weakens any paranormal explanation.
Still, it was an interesting development, from a folklore standpoint. Whatever happened, it adds to the mystique of Willard Library.
In our next installment of this travel log, "Flat" Cauli VI and my minions will discuss (with more pictures) "ordinary, everyday" intriguing features at Willard.
Your Roving Reporter On The Go,
Cauli Le Chat
P.S. ACCESS USI, a television newscast at the University of Southern Indiana, filmed this news story in 2009 about Willard's "grey lady" hauntings. There are several excellent shots of the library interior, and the general tale is told quite concisely in two minutes. You can easily find other videos (many by library visitors) on YouTube.