About Chautauqua Ghosts

The shadows created by the flickering flames become sinister images much like a frightening version of the game we play with fluffy white clouds in a summer sky. A claw here, glowing eyes there, the spirits are all around us. Relief comes at the close of the story but we embrace that fear we felt momentarily as the room closed in around us. We embrace that fear because we need it. It makes us feel alive.

I think the dead do walk among us. If not visiting us from another plane of existence they are surely visiting us through our love and remembrance of our lost loved ones. For anyone to be scared by these stories there has to be the slight glimmer of belief in the afterlife. Many people seek proof that life does exist after the body expires. And they seek it for many reasons. However, we do not have to prove it to be scared by the stories that circulate through all cultures in the world. And possibly we are scared because we know that it all might be true. Ghosts may exist, and they may not. When you come away from this site you will be supplied with a lot of information but only you can decide whether you believe.

When you think of Western New York you may conjure up images of Buffalo, the birthplace of the buffalo wing, or Jamestown, birthplace of Roger Tory Peterson, Lucille Ball, and the 10,000 Maniacs, or even of the Chautauqua Institution. These are what have put our little corner of the world on the map.  Every year thousands flock to visit, to eat, and to enjoy the lake and the scenery but do they really know what lies beneath the beauty.  We the denizens, the artisans, the people who reside here know the stories.  Stories passed from generation to generation gaining momentum over the years until finally reaching a folkloric status.  These are the stories of our history, of things long gone by but never forgotten.  These are the stories intertwined amongst the popular culture and often talked about under hushed breath and never in mixed company.  This is our home and it is beautiful.

But where there is beauty is also darkness.  In the darkness reside spectral figures moaning in the night. Strange occurrences with no explanations.  Rappings, screams, visions of long departed loved ones also populate our home.  As we sleep they roam through the hills and the cemeteries.  Our doors locked tight, are still no barrier to these figures.  They are unseen guests with unseen motivations.

Ever lay awake at night with nothing but the moonlight to keep you company?  Hearing the tick of your clock as the minutes pass you may also hear a faint voice calling your name.  Was that someone ascending the stair?  A shadow.  Maybe it was the tree swaying in the breeze outside my window. There is that voice again. Maybe, just maybe it is the hiss of the radiator in the room next door. Maybe we hope it is nothing but nestled deep within the fear center of our brains we know it is something else entirely. We know that any minute a pale solemn face will appear at the window with barely distinguishable features. We wait for the blood-curdling moan or scream to pierce the night.  We drive ourselves mad with the fear and anticipation. What if it is real? Sometimes it is the images we conjure up that are more ghastly than reality.

We DO not know the unseen world so we fear it.  Fear is irrational. It is the primal instinct of protection from threat.  Yet does that voice, that creak, that shadow threaten us?  Not really.  It only assaults the quiet confines of our lives. Invades us in the night when we sleep and rest.  For example your grandmother comes to visit. That sweet old woman you remember as quiet, strong willed, and loving. You would welcome her into your home with open arms and even make her a cup of that tea she always loved.  You would talk about old times and laugh or cry about them.  You would not fear her would you?  What if she had died twenty years before her visit?  Would you make her that cup of tea and talk or would you hide under the covers?