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One ghostly nightPosted Friday, October 30, 2009, at 1:02 PM
The banging from the ceiling in the T-G newsroom lent an eerie feel to the post-midnight Oct. 30 atmosphere as I ran in to grab the camera I'd left behind earlier.
Anyone who's ever worked in this newspaper on a cold, quiet night knows the sound. It's an old building with lots of used and formerly used pipes and chill just seems to set them off.
So I turned the newsroom lights on behind me as I entered, then headed for the breakroom for a drink of water before I left.
But something strange seemed to be happening...
I looked behind me and saw lights going off, one by one, with no human help. It reminded me of the days when longtime publisher Franklin Yates constantly reminded us to turn off the lights if not in use. But why were they turning off? Had someone else entered the building behind me?
Then I thought I saw movement and a cake-sized glow in the dark-- and a ghostly figure looking over a copy of the previous day's newspaper. It couldn't have been an intruder...could it?
It appeared for just a flicker of an eye to be a large, white-haired man with wire frame glasses.
Should I have been afraid?
Instead I ran back to see what was there.
But the newspaper looked...different. All the photos were in black and white...no color. And it was covered with handwritten comments in large, looping letters with red ink. I'd seen that handwriting before...somewhere back in my past. Along with it was a typewritten -- yes, on an old-style typewriter -- note:
"Turn the lights off... when not in use...they waste electricity. Big boy...don't waste our money."
I'd seen those dots...between phrases...before, too. From Franklin Yates.
He couldn't have been roaming his old newsroom after we all left for the night...could he?
And for some reason the telephones appeared to have transformed into the old Rotary dial phones. No touch-tone phones.
Somehow I felt like it might be time to get out...fast.
But as I left, I swear I saw a light suddenly come on in T-G business manager Becky McBee's office...the second home of Franklin Yates for many years.
And a sudden, brief image of what appeared to be a large man with gray hair and wire frame glasses reappeared for just an instant, as if he was peering out the window. It was just lights reflecting from across the street...that's all it could have been.
After the sun rose I returned, this time along with the rest of the T-G staff, and we feasted on Halloween treats while producing the day's paper.
Among them was a great-tasting lemon frosted cake, so bright it would have almost glowed in the...dark.
Weird, though...no one seemed to know who brought that special treat. It was almost as if it just...mysteriously...showed up.
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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