There comes a time of night when the mind turns to ghosts. It's that hour when you let in the unknown, and shades reveal themselves, and possibilities open. Encounters with the inexplicable float back to mind. Dead people can seem more real than living ones.
Whether it's encounters with the dead, paranormal occurrences, or tricks of radiance or energy or time, Seattle is full of ghosts. Plus, new people are dying every day. We will be emphasizing nonfiction ghost stories at Give Up the Ghost, but future storytellers will also include fiction writers, poets, actors, singers, artists, and Stranger staffers. I am the curator of the series. It happens the second Saturday of the month. Think of it as something to do on Saturday nights for people who don't like rock shows.
The guest on March 9 is the writer, filmmaker, philosopher, and longtime Stranger staffer Charles Mudede (pictured above, floating ectoplasmically on Queen City's wall). Arrive at 9 pm (or earlier) to settle into the ambiance and find a seat. The ghost story begins when the clock strikes 10.
As for Queen City, it is the "the oldest bar in Seattle... maybe." It has existed as a watering hole on First Avenue for more than 100 years. Mudede wrote about Queen City when it reopened last September under the ownership of Linda Derschang.
During an interview, Mudede and Derschang got to talking about ghost sightings, and she mentioned that she has seen a few ghosts in other businesses of hers:
"I once saw the feet of a ghost in the Baltic Room," Linda offers at one point in our conversation. "I was sitting there at the end of the night with the manager. It was just the two of us. It was around 2:30 a.m. The manager had his back to the stairs. And as I was talking to him, I saw feet and legs, about to the knee, walking down the stairs."
Wait—what exactly did she see? "I saw the hem of a skirt around her calves, and some 1920s chunky heel shoes. I can still see it in my mind. And I was mesmerized. And then all of a sudden—poof!—gone. I said, 'I've finally seen the ghost!' Because many others who'd worked at the Baltic Room had seen them. It was a couple. And the way she was walking was toward the side of the stairs, it was as if someone else was walking down them with her. That place is haunted for sure. It was once a horse stable..."
Prompted to tell me about other ghosts, she says, "My employees also tell me there are ghosts in Oddfellows, or in its basement. They have seen and heard them there. I'm not kidding."
During that conversation back in September, Derschang told Mudede, "As far as I know, there are no ghosts in Queen City. But time will tell." Sure enough, when I recently asked Queen City's general manager Kerry Zettel, who spends more time late at night at the bar than Derschang, about this, he said it's "definitely haunted." Perhaps at some point in the future, I'll be able to persuade Kerry to fill us in about that.
The guest ghost storyteller on the second Saturday in April (which is April 13) will be Stranger staff writer Nathalie Graham, who recently wrote an essay about Ted Bundy.
Give Up the Ghost is free. You are encouraged to bring your own stories of unexplained phenomena or encounters with the dead to share with your friends, or with new acquaintances you may meet.