Halloween is almost here, as well as the first Witches of Eastport Festival. Almost everybody enjoys hearing about strange and spooky incidents that have taken place or passing on mysterious stories they have heard.
Kathy Lewis of Eastport loves listening to ghost stories and can tell a few of them herself. When she was a teenager, her family lived for four years at the old Page farm, which used to stand where the Pembroke Elementary School now sits. "It was pretty haunted," she says of the farmhouse. "We used to hear sounds upstairs that sounded like children running or kittens playing with something."
"One of my sisters and I would have the sensation that a boy who was about 14 was looking into the house and that he wasn't allowed to come in. I could almost visualize him," recalls Lewis.
Sometimes there would be a knock at the door and no one outside when a family member opened it. "We never saw anyone but, for some reason, I started calling him Jamie. Once, when there was a knock, I said, 'Alright, Jamie. Cut it out,' and it happened to be my father," she recalls with a chuckle. "That was embarrassing."
"We never saw anybody, but my mother and I were going upstairs one time and the glass base of a floor lamp just broke into pieces. Nobody was near it," recalls Lewis. "And sometimes things would turn up in a place that you'd already looked."
"Once in a while you'd have the sensation that you were being rained on," she adds.
In 1880, Pembroke residents Josiah and Laura Page's family consisted of daughters Ella, Cecily and Lennie and sons William and Otis. Otis was still living in Pembroke in 1940, but William disappears from local history.
Spirit on Shackford Street
After Karen Harner purchased her Shackford Street home in Eastport from Ken and Patty Moholland, her daughter Caitlyn Stellrecht moved into the bedroom that had belonged to Rachel Moholland. "We moved in just after the Fourth of July before I started second grade," recalls Stellrecht. "The wallpaper in that bedroom had been a birthday present for Rachel just before they moved," recalls Stellrecht. "She had wanted it for a long time."
On January 13, 1998, 18-year-old Rachel Moholland passed away after battling cancer. "After she died, the wallpaper started to peel off the wall," points out Stellrecht. "It had been fine until then."
In 1989 the Halloween issue of The Quoddy Tides ran an article about ghost stories, and among the more amusing tales were two that involved the Hillside Cemetery and well-liked locals. One story concerns the late Harry Jollotta and a memorable stroll he took through the graveyard. As his brother Jim recalls, "Harry was a good musician, and he was a member of Lodge's Orchestra [in the post World War I years]. This night they were playing at the high school, and one of the old-timers had a flask and passed it around to the band members. My brother was pretty young, and he got a heavy head. He decided he had two choices on how to get home, either go through town or cut through the cemetery, and he decided on the cemetery."
"He was nervous, so he was hustling through the cemetery going down towards the tombs when he fell into an open grave," chuckles Jim. "Between the drink and the fall, he fell sound asleep, and all dressed up in his blue suit, he looked laid out."
"When he woke up, he saw all the mud and said, 'How did I get in here?' Then he dug his toes into the side of the grave to get out, and when he got to the top he looked around and said, 'For heaven's sake, it must be the resurrection, and I'm the first one up!'"
Another story that has made the rounds and has several different versions involves the late Eddie Lee. His father Andrew was the cemetery superintendent, and somehow Eddie became locked in the Masonic tomb and was unable to get out.
Peering out of the window in the back of the tomb, Lee spied a young woman with a baby carriage walking up Capen Avenue. He knocked at the window and yelled for assistance, only to watch the poor mother turn around and run as fast as she could in the opposite direction with her child. She obviously was not expecting to see any live bodies in the Masonic tomb.
Ladies in black
Also in the October 29, 1989, issue of The Quoddy Tides, Ruth McInnis vividly recalled an incident that took place in a relative's home on Shackford Street when she was about 12. She was with four or five other children in one of the rooms of an ell that was off from the main house.
There was a heavy drape separating the house from the main room of the ell. When they entered that main room, McInnis remembers they saw a woman all in black, right up to her gloves and black shoes, holding up the drape, but they couldn't see her face. The figure disappeared as soon as they entered the room.
"We were petrified. For about five minutes, I don't think we moved," remembered McInnis.
The youngsters' first thought that somebody was playing a joke on them. But when they finally ventured out into the next room, no one was there. "We didn't hear any footsteps going down the stairs or any doors slamming. Just dead silence."
Another Eastporter told the story about a relative who walked out of a Sullivan Street house one day in 1946 and met a "forerunner," a messenger of death.
"She was dressed all in black and wore a veil. He couldn't see a face. She followed him to Soldier's Lane, where he turned off, and the forerunner went down Back Lane [Sullivan Street]."
The next day, swore the Eastporter, a close relative of the man passed away.
Signs from beyond
Other-worldly happenings seem to have accompanied the activities of a group of Shead Memorial High School students back in the 1970s. Says Larry Avery of the strange series of incidents, "I'll tell you a story, and it's a true story about a seance that was held on a Saturday night."
"We all got together when we were in high school and held seances to try to bring back [Eastporter] Johnny Knight," he related. "The first one was held in the old West house in North End. We all gathered there, and everybody felt kind of creepy about going in."
The group formed a circle, lit a candle and held hands. "I was the ringleader, and I'd say, nice and loud, 'Hold hands' and 'Give us a sign.' Then I'd have a friend upstairs in the bathtub rattle a set of chains in the tub. It sounded pretty creepy, and it wasn't long before everybody abandoned the house."
The teenagers decided they had to have a less scary place to hold the next seance and chose a location outside another North End house. "We had a few more people who were kind of curious join in. Word got out," noted Avery.
The participants sat in a circle, joined hands and closed their eyes. "We lit a green candle. It was a real calm night. There was no way it could blow out," Avery stressed. "I said, 'Give us a sign,' then the candle would flicker. I said it again, and the candle flickered, and the next time it went out."
"Then everybody got scared, and they ran," he said. "We couldn't get that candle started again. We tried, but it wouldn't light again," he recalled.
The initiators of the seance returned to the scene the next day to prepare the spot for another nighttime seance. "We brushed the leaves away, and the name 'John' [engraved] on a gravestone popped up," said Avery. "The stone had fallen over, but there was no graveyard there."
"We'd been trying to bring back Johnny Knight. And that was the end of the seance."