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August 3, 2007
A Ghost-Inspired SongRate this encounter: Jeff Knabel, Longmont, Colorado, April 15, 2006
This is the story of a song I wrote about an experience I had with the ghost of a woman actress from the 1800s. I was staying at a friend's place in Longmont, Colorado last April 2006. It used to be called The Times Call building years ago.
The upstairs where I stayed had been closed off since 1964. There is a calendar hanging on one of the doors in the apartment looking over Main Street. The page is still on April 1964. In the late 1800s they used to print one of the local newspapers, The Times Call, on the first floor. There was a big explosion from a gunpowder barrel in the basement next door in the 1870s, and the building and the adjacent buildings had to be rebuilt as a result of the fire that ripped through walls of half a city block. The Dickens Opera House at the end of the street was spared. A bystander, who was standing on top of the opera house at the time of the explosion, was blown off to the roof of a building below. He was spared with an injured leg. A business across the street had all its windows blown in from the shock wave. The woman inside was frantic, and ran out of her shop screaming with the blood streaming down from her cuts and bruises.
After the dust settled, and a couple of years went by, the block was rebuilt and ready for action. The Times Call building started printing again, but used the second floor as a boarding house instead of the owners living there. They rented out rooms, a hot bath, and a meal for people coming and going on the old locomotives and stage coaches. One of the patrons happened to be a semi-famous actress, who must have traveled across the country performing in various venues for the general public. I wish I knew her name.
These days the interior of the upstairs looks like something from an old western movie. There are old skylights on the ceiling, the wall paper is slowly peeling off, and the hard wooden floors are warped as if everything is sinking into the middle of the main living room. In fact the water in the fish tank, against one of the walls, leans toward the center of the room. Watch out for the staircase that leads down to the street level. One side leans higher than the other as well from old age.
Last spring while I was playing guitar and working on some new music, I thought I saw someone out of the corner of my eye. In fact, I'd been staying there for a few weeks by then, and thought I felt some sort of presence there. That night when I went to bed, I put on a video: The People Who Live Under the Stairs. I fell asleep and I felt a cold whisper in my ear. I woke up to find the movie still playing and the face of a woman on the TV screen. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. That was about 2 A.M. in the morning. I tried to go back to sleep, but my mind was on high alert.
A few hours later I made some coffee, and started to play my guitar. I felt a presence in the room again, but it felt friendly, as if it liked what I was playing. As I played, I came up with a nice chord progression, some lyrics, and a cool chorus line. An hour or so later I finished writing my song called "U Don't Know." The vibe in the place was electric.
My friend, Joe, the present owner of the building, came home around 10 A.M. I told him about my experience the night before, and the song that I wrote about it. He told me he knew about a presence in the building, but didn't want to scare me. He said he had had some friends over in the past that felt the same sort of energy that I did. He asked me what the ghost sounded like. I said, "A woman in her 30s maybe." He asked me what she looked like. I described her and his jaw dropped to the floor.
Joe asked me to wait in the room while he went to get something. He came back ten minutes later with an old photograph he had been keeping in storage with other old artifacts. These things where still upstairs when he first bought the building a year before. (Remember the upstairs had been locked up for years.) When he showed me the photo, it was a black and white picture of a lady in her late 20s, dressed in an old western theater outfit. She was the same lady I had seen the night before. I was shocked!
I stayed there for a few more weeks, and every time I played guitar and sang she would let her presence be known. It was a friendly presence as it turned out. So now when I go to visit my friend Joe, at The Times Call building, she lets me know she's still there.
Here's a link to the song I wrote about her: http://www.mp3.com.au/track.asp?id=135016
Anyone who likes can use the link to the song "U Don't Know" on their Web site.