Sunday, April 11, 2010

Haunted eats

I found out after we went to press that the woman who was playing cards at Thompson's was one of our ad sales people.

Julie Darrow went flush with fear the first time she encountered Franklin.

Darrow was busing tables in an upstairs room at the Thompson Brewery and Public House when she heard a pitter-pat on the table.

"The weird thing was I was cleaning up after a family whose child had asked me if the place was haunted," Darrow said.

The tapping was followed up with a loud bang that sent chills up her spine and drained the color from her face.

"I ran downstairs and paid someone else to finish busing the table," Darrow said.

Franklin is the entity that both employees and patrons believe is haunting Thompson Brewery. Franklin Thompson was a Civil War veteran and farmer who, along with his wife, were the first inhabitants of the home at 3575 Liberty Road S., in Salem. Franklin, staff believe, has taken to playing tricks on visitors since his death in 1923.

"I had one customer who was sitting upstairs all alone playing cards who swears she saw a child playing peekaboo with her," Darrow said. "Another woman brings her grandson in here every time he visits. He's completely convinced this place is haunted."

Franklin might be one of the busiest ghosts in the area, but he's far from the only ethereal inhabitant of local eateries.

Becky Wilkerson, head manager at Thompson Brewery, started as manager at Boon's Treasury.

"Every morning I would go into the bathroom to check the facilities and I would hear footsteps coming up the stairs," Wilkerson said.

The first time it happened she became more than a little concerned as she was supposed to be the only one in the building.

"It sounded like a little girl's dress shoes tapping up the stairs and then the bathroom door swished open. Eventually, it became such a regular thing I just started calling her my morning visitor," Wilkerson said.

Without question, the most famous poltergeist in the area is the namesake of Lenora's Ghost in Independence, although the woman thought to haunt the bar was named Lerona.

Lerona owned the three-story building which she ran as a hotel, brothel, and full bar, according to the investigators behind the Pacific Paranormal Research Society.

During the U.S. involvement in WWI, Lerona’s beloved fiancĂ©, a soldier who trained at Camp Adair in Corvallis, was deployed to the front lines. Shortly before the war ended, Lerona received the news that her fiancĂ© had been killed in battle. She decided to join him. She climbed the steps onto the roof of her building, and plunged headfirst through the glass skylight. Her body crashed through each floor until she landed on the hardwood floor in front of the bar.

Despite her tragic demise, the entity haunting Lenora's Ghost is more of a troublemaker than a malignant force.

"Mostly she just moves stuff around," Justin Walker, assistant manager at the bar, said. "But we always feel like she's around."

Walker knew about the supposed haunting when he took the job and wanted to see for himself what it was all about. His attitude is slightly changed, now.

"It kinda puts you in a hurry to get out if you're here all alone," he said.

In Lincoln City, two diners report regular haunting by former inhabitants. The Wildflower Grill boasts a ghost by the name of Matilda. Older reports emanate from The Spouting Horn, where an man in a cook's apron with his arms crossed in anger has been spotted in the dining room, hallway and even on the walk-up to the restaurant.

Wilkerson said ghost stories drives some but not a lot of business. The occasional ghost hunters stop in after hearing the tales, eager to check things out. Kids seem to show a keen awareness of the paranormal activity at Thompson Brewery.

"But then Franklin will ease up for a while. A couple of month ago I was talking about it with one of the servers, and at that exact moment the curtains lifted on a billow of air and knocked over a bunch of coffee," Wilkerson said.

The window, of course, was closed.

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