HIGHLIGHTS:

The Most Haunted Room in Hotel

Location in movie Zombie Dream

Ghost Face seen in mirror

Nun Statue turns up in several guest’s dreams

Ghost Research Instuitute Investigation

Squidlana Ghost!

Ouija experiment goes terribly wrong

Hair found in walls

Floating Ghost Head

Adam Blai Exorcism

Chip Coffey psychic celebrity visits

Warlock Christian Day from Salem, Mass stays night

Dead face photographed in closet

Single night rental on Ebay goes viral

Guest testimonials…

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Margaret Baashar and Mark Swindler crash in this room in a scene in Zombie Dream, when he has his big Math Square Dream… Later screaming “The future is such a big place!”

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POSSIBLE GHOSTS?

This room is considered the most haunted in the hotel.  Here are some of visitor’s stories…

THE MIRROR GHOSTS

Do you see a face in this mirror?  Because several people believed they did.  A few years ago I snapped this picture of the Canopy Room and posted it. Someone wrote us and asked if there was a face in the mirror? They thought that a woman was standing in the mirror, and wanted to know if we planted it there. We hadn’t. They had it enlarged and pointed out what looked to them like a woman, standing, with long black hair. They said it looked like the creepy woman from the movie The Ring.  We didn’t even know if we saw something in it or not. The photo has since been examined by many people. Some people saw it and some people didn’t. But it made a good story because not only was it the Canopy Room (yikes!) but it was also furniture donated from a supposedly other haunted location. So there was more than one possible source if there was any truth to a spirit face turning up in the mirror.  I don’t post most of these stories because I don’t want new people to have their experiences colored by earlier guests and paranormal investigators. So the face in the mirror story remained untold save for a few specific people. For a while I even removed the photo from the virtual tour.

Earlier this summer, Adam Blai and Rosemary Ellen Guiley, newcomers, did a fast sweep through the entire building. One of the things they found? “There are spirits in that mirror.” They turned it against the wall, and even suggested destroying it.  And again, another group, the Pennsylvania Ghost Hunters Society, just came through here last month. They said a lot of dramatic stuff about the Canopy Room. (I’ll save that story to post at another time.) But one of the consistent things their group believed they saw? “There are spirits in that mirror upstairs.”

Visiting Guest Dr. Brian Ipps writes:  “Seriously.  I’m a diehard skeptic, but i’m personally of the belief whatever one could quantify phenomena by, you’ve seriously got a battery of it in that old hotel, Blair.  I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing, though…”

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VISITING SOLDIER STORY

An American soldier coming back temporarily from Baghdad visited the Grand Midway Hotel for a tour.  It was his first time here.  He was about 28.  He told all kinds of crazy stories about what it is like being there in combat.  His best friend got hit in the neck with shrapnel and the medic got shot next in the neck a second later and this guy watched as the two of them died right in front of him, both their eyes bulging, as he tried to save them simultaneously, one palm on each neck trying to stop the gush of blood from both necks.  He said the movie that reminded him most of his experience there was Black Hawk Down.  So anyway, he said he’d like to do the tour of the hotel. So I took him around a bit. It was about 3 AM. On the second floor, when he stepped into the Canopy Room (#3) he said, “Whoa! Something about this room…” We went around the rest of the hotel. Then he returned to the Canopy Room, and said it again.

I asked, “All the crazy things you’ve seen in war, and you’re telling me this room is effecting you?”

He nodded.  “I’m just saying there’s something about that room.  I felt it the moment I stepped in there.  And I felt it again when I returned to it later. Instantly. It’s really strong, the energy. It was oppressive, like, I didn’t want to be in there.”

Of all the people that have toured the hotel, everyone seems to agree that if haunted locations are possible, this room -the Canopy Room- is the most haunted room in the hotel.  There is no question about it.  Woman are drawn to it. Some request to sleep in it.  But just about all come away with an ominous feeling about the room.  Here are a few stories from those entering the Canopy Room:

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-THE NUN STATUE

In the local Johnstown-area many of the older buildings are being torn down. This includes a few churches. This striking, life-size, antique nun statue was salvaged from a local Catholic Church. It now resides in the Canopy Room.

The other night a new guest -first time in the hotel- stayed the weekend. He was a younger man, about twenty-two years of age. I placed him in this room without telling him many details. He slept the night in here. In the morning he said he’d had a dream. In his dream from his bed he could see the room door kept opening and closing and there were people peeking in on him. And then the nun statue became animated, and she turned her head and looked at him.

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CREEPY CANOPY ROOM DREAM -by Deanna Dolges Kane

I was sitting on the floor alone with my computer.  I feel someone behind me start to brush my hair, I turn my head to the side and looking out of the corner of my eye to the left I notice the nun statue is not where she should be.  She came to life and was the one brushing my hair!  I’m scared, unable to speak, my heart is racing like mad.  Then, as if she could sense this anxiety, she half whispers to me “I won’t hurt you, only protect.”

My alarm goes off just then and I’m awake….weird thing is when I sat up, I felt incredibly anxious and my heart was beating super fast,  just like in the dream.

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MY DREAM -by Jason Bafile

The dream began with myself and a few other people having a conversation within the canopy room. We were drinking and chatting when Blair came into the mix and started telling us stories about the canopy room and how lately there had been a fair amount of activity going on. Well, me being the way I am I began to try to debunk anything and proclaiming that I do not believe in ghosts or anything supernatural.

Everyone proceeded to leave the room as Blair took the other guests on a tour of The Grand Midway while I stayed behind. Just as the guests left the room I noticed the flowing canopy start moving very very slowly, almost with a certain degree of elegance. I continued to watch it flow this way and that way as the canopy danced around the room. It was to uniform to be a draft blowing through the room or walls.

Just as I was about to get up to find the group, I noticed a face press through the flowing material and completely freaked out. The canopy took a life of itself on and began to try to wrap itself around me, almost like the arms of an intruder frantically trying to grab hold of their fleeing victim.

The canopy continued to chase me no matter where I went through The Grand Midway. Finally, I found Blair and the rest of the group on the third floor. Just as I was about to tell everyone about what happened, the canopy slithered right through the floor boards behind Blair — I noticed that Blair noticed but wasn’t taken back at all…like he was aware of the canopy and even greeted it with open arms…

That was the exact moment I woke up.

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MY DREAM -by Joebob Smith

I had a dream that I brought roses for the Canopy Room, jacks for the little girl, and I pumped The Best of Canned Heat into that fucked up 3rd floor back room!

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DREAM EXPERIMENTS HERE -by Blair

One month I was doing this experiment where I was sleeping in a different room of the hotel every night just to feel the various impressions and record any dreams. Finally when it came to sleeping in the Canopy Room I wasn’t looking forward to it, like someone daring you to eat fish-flavored ice cream or something. I remember waking under the canopy in the morning, and my first thought before even opening my eyes was, ‘Thank God it’s morning!  Yuck, I didn’t like my sleep in this room!’   And then I opened my eyes.  And it was pitch black!  It was still only deep in the night, and I was suddenly wide awake, and I had hours to go.

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New addition…

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FIRST INVESTIGATION OF THE GRAND MIDWAY HOTEL -by Charlie, Ghost Research Foundation, December 16, 2006

It was a cold winter evening when several members of the Ghost Research Foundation went to Windber to investigate the Grand Midway Hotel owned by Blair Murphy. Patty Wilson, the founder of our group, is the only person who knows the details of the site that we are going to investigate. She does this so that hearing the stories before we work the site does not taint us investigators.  I, as well as several others in the group, are sensitive and pick up feelings and impressions. Others work strictly with the equipment. Blair took us on a tour of the hotel. I began to feel that it was going to be an active night! I like to write down my impressions and feelings when working on site, and that is what I did that night.

As we left the basement and entered the back of the bar, I felt the presence of a man that haunts that area. Later in the evening, Blair asked Linda Imler and I to check Room #3 on the second floor– also referred to as the “Canopy Room.” As Linda, Blair and I entered the room, I felt an intense cold, and was very uncomfortable!

Throughout the hotel, Blair has several Halloween props in the rooms and hallways. In this room there is a Ouija board leaning against the wall on the floor near a table. I said to Blair, “The board is not just a prop, it has been used recently, hasn’t it?”

Blair replied, “Yes, several weeks ago two girls that were staying in the room used it.”

I told him that they should not have done that.  As I stood by the bed, the feelings of cold and an evil presence intensified! It became so cold that I had to leave the room. In the hallway Blair said that he could feel the cold radiating off of me. He asked how many spirits were in the room.  “Too many to count,” I replied.

Linda was still in the room telling them to leave when suddenly one of them spoke through me and said, “We are not leaving!”

I reentered the room as Linda continued telling them to go. I could feel them backing away, but they didn’t leave.  As we were getting ready to leave the room, I placed my right hand on the closet door. Blair said that the closet was empty. I agreed, but the spirits entered the room through it. I told him so.  Linda and I both strongly urged Blair to get rid of the Ouija board.

These are only a few of my impressions of the hotel. I feel that it is very active and requires further investigating.  At the end of the evening, Patty reviewed my notes, as well as Linda’s, and said that we hit on a lot of the things. As Blair concluded the evening by telling us some of the stories about the hotel, he confirmed what I felt and sensed was real!

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CANOPY ROOM NOTES -by Skot Jones

“Whatever the words “haunted” or “ghosts” actually mean, I do have considerable past experience with those phenomena. I believe that there is strange energy emanating from room no. 3 of the hotel. I have no sensitivity or aversion to any other room, but this one makes me quite uncomfortable. Michael stayed in no. 3 during Kerouacfest ’05, across the hall from where I stayed. Each time that I have entered the room I have felt light-headed and faint. There is a strong vampiric quality to the room that induces nervousness in me. The one occasion that I was in the room alone, something fell or jumped off of a small table.”

Adam Blai writes:  “Thank you for your reply Skot. When something jumped or fell from the table…what was it? Did it fall as you were walking, perhaps due to the bounce of the floor? Were you in the room a bit before something fell, or did it happen as you entered? Was this at a particular time you can remember? Thanks!

Skot Jones writes:  “For whatever reason I do not remember now what it was that fell. It may have been a book or even one of the coffee mugs. It didn’t fall because of any movement of mine. I was treading lightly and I remember pausing to look around for something I had left in the room and then thinking to myself something like, “I don’t belong here,” then it fell behind me.”

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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT -by Chad Hammitt

It was a dark and stormy night….. well… no actually it was quite cold and snowy and I find myself in the Grand Midway once again for a night of debauchery. This night was a bit different though… no party… no concerts…. no mass populous of artistic se-vaunts gracing the halls… sans the Bridge City Bombshells and a few close friends out to do a show at ‘that other hotel’ up the street. Blair was gracious enough to lend us some rooms for the night and in this he is eternally thanked. My only other option was to stay in one of the cars at the railroad graveyard, and given the 2 feet of snow outside… this option had me lamenting. (any other night.. bring it on!) I brought my friend Melanie with me so that she could see the grandeur that is the Grand Midway Hotel in all it’s spookiness and horror. Little did we know that we would find ourselves some real horror inside it’s walls. Being that we were special guests this time around we were given the rare opportunity to choose the room in which we stayed, and upon this news I immediately chose the Canopy Room for it’s super sexy visage and it’s renowned reputation for ghostly activity. Once we’d moved in the 1/2 ton of blankets and sweaters we brought with us, struck by the decor, Melanie decides to take some photographs to send to her sister. With her camera phone she snapped a picture of the Canopy bed to which the room’s name was derived and this is where we got our first shock of the night. In the photograph there seemed to be the shaking face of a skull or woman floating over our bed. We did not see this “head” in our room, but the camera does not lie. I, immediately excited at our find, proclaim that this place is not a joke or a hoax and this is one of many experiences that I have had here. Melanie was, I think, taken aback by the vividness of the photo and the clarity of a human form hovering over where we were to be sleeping. The rest of the night was spent enjoying the sultry performances by the girls of the Bridge City Bombshells, but it was said by passers-by and late night hooligans, that later in the evening, through the halls of the Grand Midway there were heard more ghastly and ghostly noises emanating from our place of slumber. My only regret was that none of these were caught on film. I highly look forward to my next trip to Windber Pa. and the Grand Midway and as well, the rare opportunity to sleep with the dead.

(Melanie Stone took this photo above her first night in the Canopy Room)

Melanie commented, “When Chad and I got to the hotel for the evening, it was decided that we would be staying in the Canopy Room (per his request). He gave me a quick tour of the place, then we went to our room to unpack and get settled in a bit…. The whole while, I was texting my younger sister details about the hotel (she is an artist and all-things-spooky enthusiast). She told me to “take lots of pictures!” So using my cell phone, I snapped this picture of the bed in our room.  It was the very first picture I took at the hotel, and… “uh, Chad… do you see a face in this photo?” haha…  I sent the picture to my sister and she told me that I would be crazy to sleep in that room that night… 🙂

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CHIP COFFEY, CELEBRITY PSYCHIC AND MEDIUM FROM PSYCHIC KIDS & PARANORMAL STATE, VISITS ROOM #3

“It was a suicide that happened in this room.  Absolutely.  That is what happened in this room and that is why the energy is like this.” -Chip Coffey

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HOTEL RESIDENT STEVE POSES IN ROOM #3 WITH OUIJA BOARD

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OUIJA BOARDS… BAD IDEA  -by Mike Petrunak 

So, Blair wanted me to tell the story of the night in the Canopy Room with the Ouija board. I learned some lessons that night I will never forget and I’m passing them on to you… Here it goes…

I.   Just because other people do it doesn’t make it a good idea…   Margaret and Crystal (of Typewriter Girls fame) decided that they wanted to use the Ouija Board in the Canopy Room, which for those of you that don’t know, one of the most haunted rooms in the hotel. I was curious about what might happen but didn’t really expect much. Adam said it was a very bad idea but that he would sit in if they were going to do it. Blair fetched the video camera and off we went to the Canopy Room.

II.  Just because it never happened to you before doesn’t mean it won’t…

Up to the night in quest I experienced nothing of a ghostly or supernatural nature in the hotel for myself other than a creepy vibe here or there. I heard stories from others that I consider reputable sources but it never happened to me… until that night.   Now for those of you that say “Its a Ouija Board! What do you think would happen?!” I was naive, I felt safe with Blair and Adam there, and hey… Parker Brothers used to put them right next to Monopoly and Risk… What’s the worst that could happen? Well in hindsight things could have been worse… But it was still pretty bad.

III.  Ouija Boards are BAD NEWS…

Blair started rolling the camera, Crystal and Margaret worked the board, Adam stood in the corner, and I sat in the rocking chair with my back to the window.  At first it looked like we made contact with something…  Crystal and Margaret thought they had reached a little girl…  eh I get the creeps just thinking about this…  as time went on I joined in and asked some questions… as did Adam.

IV.  Ouija boards are REALLY BAD NEWS! YOU CAN BE ATTACKED!

Margaret just started to cry uncontrollably, tears streaming down her face…  Crystal was acting strange, very focused on the board.  I was sitting there thinking, this is weird… but we kept on going.  Then the window started rattling… eh its just the wind. Knocking? No just my imagination…  My shoulder is starting to bother me… no big deal, gets a little achy from time to time… right? But my right should gets achy…. never the left one… and it wasn’t aching anymore. I hurt but maybe I was just being a wimp, right? But it got worse and from elbow to neck I felt like my arm was being pulled from the socket! I started tearing up, I couldn’t conceal the pain anymore and it was apparent that something was seriously wrong.  Adam ended the session immediately and threw holy water on my arm… it was surreal. The pain went away though and we headed outside…

V.  Don’t play with Ouija Boards or you’ll get more than just Casper…

Crystal and I were out on the porch first. Something kept tapping my shoulder like we were playing some sick game of tag. Crystal’s hands kept moving wildly like it wanted her to write something. I felt this intense pressure on my shoulders as if something were hanging on my back or pushing me down…  At this point Adam and the rest of the crew came out… he basically pulled me aside and helped me get rid of whatever it was that was bothering me.

VI.  Summary: This is why Ouija Boards are bad news…

It was explained to me later that night why what happened happened. And to lighten the mood because I’m really freaked out right now just reliving it… I will explain it with some pop culture references, not necessarily to make it more interesting, or to trivialize it, but because its very uncomfortable to talk about and hard to relate to… this will make it easier for both of us…  A Ouija board is not like using a phone line to talk to a friend. It is more like talking to a creepy stalker in a chat room, only he knows where you’re typing from without snooping for information. It will lie like crazy and it’s incredibly dangerous… It’s like the “To Catch a Predator” specials they used have/may still have on Dateline NBC.  Instead of being from the neighborhood, in this case the hotel, or your (insert haunted location here) it will travel a long way, at very high speed, from somewhere else to get into some trouble even if it knows that there is a good chance that Chris Hansen and some friendly police officers are waiting in the wings… in this case, Angels are waiting in the wings. They are there watching over us, and if we are really that naive, will come to our rescue when stuff goes bad… But they also want us to learn our lesson, which I did. But if we don’t learn our lesson… well I don’t want to know what happens then…  SO DON’T PLAY WITH OUIJA BOARDS! EVER! NO NOT EVEN THEN! NO! NEVER! IT’S REALLY REALLY BAD! SO DON’T DO IT!  Thanks for reading.

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THE SQUIDLANA -by Blair Murphy

Want to hear something creepy? It is a story about what we refer to in the hotel as ‘The Squidlana.’ This particular encounter happened one excessively spooky night. Remember the word ‘thumbs’.  I wasn’t going to talk about this, but I guess I will. I have been working on a movie project for a celebrity out there whom I will not name. The screenplay (not Wintergrave) takes place entirely in the hotel. For the sake of reference I’ll call it GHOST PROJECT. That may end up being the name. Maybe something will come of it. Maybe not. We’ll see. It is just a side project.

For the full moon one night, I had the night free to sit down and begin carving out the GHOST PROJECT screenplay. I was glad to have the time. I knew it would pound out fast. I am actually incorporating some of the stories and supernatural situations from here in the hotel.  It was afternoon, and I was typing and thinking the material I was writing was particulary creepy, when all of a sudden all the lights went out and the computer shut down. I ran out back and there was a Penelec guy who’d just turned off the electricity for the entire building. What are you doing? I demanded!  Apparently, even though I’d mailed in the electric bill, something had happened and they said they had to shut it off. This was crazy, I thought. I offered to pay him again, thus paying double, but he said it would take 24 hours to have someone else come back out and turn it back on. So, we would have to spend the night in the hotel with NO ELECTRICITY whatsoever.  In the past I’ve gone on record saying the hotel seemed to do things that affected people’s lives and projects. So I joked to myself that maybe the building was making itself creepy for an evening while I worked on a creepy screenplay.  We were using candles. I decided to work on GHOST PROJECT in the Monkey Room. I had all these candles burning and the door closed behind me. The energy this night was really creepy. Perfect, I thought, for writing a creepy screenplay. But, I have to stress, in the hotel this night it seemed extra creepy.  The Monkey Room is across from the Canopy Room. I closed up the Monkey Room so I was inside it alone with the door closed.  I have to say that the energy of the building was intense this night. It had a “deep” uneasiness about it. I was noting how extreme the air seemed and sharpness of visuals, shadows, prickly crawl along the skin, etc., before what I am about to tell you happened. The groundwork was laid for something to leap into this imaginative landscape. The creepy volume was being turned up.  If nothing else, this room sure served as a pocket of creepiness to summon an unsettling movie script. The Monkey Room felt electric. The air seemed to be perfectly lit by the candle-glow, as if in a movie set…or some quintessential private time in hotel history that one was getting to enjoy in the moment. Very full moon.  The Canopy Room, across the hall, was just a dark yawning mouth of “don’t come in here”.  I think this season we’d already been making jokes about a female “thing” in the Canopy Room we were calling “The Squidlana”.  If not, the phrase was surely in our hotel vocabulary after this night.  Here goes:

Around 1 AM I heard something awful! It sounded at first like cats howling in pain, and then I realized it was Renee waking up across the hall and screaming, running out into the hall on the second floor. I dashed out to meet her. She was trembling and crazed.

“I just saw something!” She screamed. “I was on the floor and something crawled over at me and grabbed me. It put a clammy cold hand on my arm and clutched me.”  She was shrieking about something in Room #4, the room next to the Canopy Room.  “There was someone on the floor next to me,” She was saying. “I saw her. And when I screamed it moved. It moved so fast, and then I saw her standing in the doorway. She was suddenly standing in the doorway. The overriding sensation I was aware of was that it was sinister.”

I asked her how she was sure it wasn’t just one of the cats.

“Because it had THUMBS!” She cried out, “Thumbs are the giveaway! Something just grabbed my arms. A clammy cold hand. It was just like when Steve described it grabbing him!” She went on to describe it further as its movement reminding her of that thing that climbed out of the well in the movie The Ring. She called it “cellar-dweller” like.

The building was still pitch black and silent and the energy was rocketing creepy. So we left to go for a car ride for an hour to just get away.

In the morning, I have to admit, the energy still felt oppressive and annoying, even in full daylight. It was the kind of sensation like when you are trying to read and someone is standing directly behind you and you can’t concentrate because of it. I was trying to sleep and found it overwhelming. Yes, I was sufficiently bothered myself by potential spirits, for once, so much so that I almost left the building to go outside and finish sleeping in peace in the car! I even questioned if I wanted to continue with this screenplay if it was going to “summon” and effect the energy of the hotel to this degree, as I pictured it happening until I was done with the screenplay. But then suddenly it changed, like a switch being thrown, and that energy lightened. The electricity eventually was turned back on too in the morning.

Dylan Fornoff, another person staying in the hotel, was completely creeped out as well.  He eventually left and spent the next two days at his parent’s house.

(I have to laugh because a visiting friend named Joe Bob was here about two weeks ago, and he tried sleeping in every room on the second floor, and then finally gave up, choosing to sleep two nights in his car so certain was he that something was around him and touching him. I made fun of him that weekend. Nothing ever bothers me here, I’m part of the place now and enjoy being the current host, and I always laugh when people run from the ghosts they believe they see here. But I have to admit the place even spooked me yesterday. I think it was the screenplay GHOST PROJECT that was summoning it. I do. And Renee, well, she got the full thumbs of it.)

LATER…   For anyone out there reading this, there is something genuinely creepy about rooms #3 and #4 in the hotel. People who have no idea about the place will step into these rooms, the Canopy Room #3 in particular, and just start saying things.  One psychic last month walked through the hotel and gave us wonderful details of her impressions.  Recently a ghost hunting group came and said some crazy creepy ideas about what they believed they saw in the Canopy Room.  Mainly, they said there was some female-like thing on the bed on all fours growling at them. (It was an interesting visual to claim, if nothing else, as they did not know about the above thumb-Squidlana story.  There are several details from many different visitors I could mention but I am trying to hold back on them so as not to influence future ghost hunters and guests who like to inspect the place with no prior images. But for anyone who has already hung out in the Canopy Room you probably already have a taste of what they mean. The Canopy Room, the Monkey Room, and The Micheal Dennison Suite, this trio of rooms on the second floor, have some kind of heightened energy thing going on in that across the boards everyone seems to have some similar experience…they say, “Something is creepy about this room.”  Now try spending the entire night here in this hotel in pitch black silence with no electricity and something ‘else’ in the building for some real fun…

-COMMENTS

” Wow… That is utterly creepy, Blair!  Nifty synchronicity at work with the power going out right at that moment, too.   Really looking forward to browsing through Wintergrave when next we meet up!  Good luck on the screenplay.” -Dr. Brian Ipps

-HOTEL RESIDENT RENEE’S REPLY

“New Spook! More super-creepy energy in the building last night. I think it’s safe to say a new haunt has somehow joined us.”

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GRAND MIDWAY HOTEL ROOM #3 EXORCISM, Sunday September 28,  2008, midnight -by Blair Murphy

Adam Blai works with the Catholic Church, he has a masters in psychology, as required to be present during official exoricisms. Adam felt a need for finally banishing certain potentially negative spirit-beings within the building. He never liked the “man in the hall” story or the story of the dark angry energies of room #12, which he felt were one and the same. And most immediate, he felt the story of the Squidlana was obviously anything but good. The other night, at his request, an exorcism rite was enacted here within the Grand Midway Hotel.

We began about midnight. He’d had Fransiscan monks chanting hauntingly for hours on reloop throughtout the hotel bar. He burnt church incense which wafted throughout the entire building. The brand was Three Kings. He had a bottle of holy water as well as his large open prayer book, both tools of which he’d used in earlier exorcisms. Adam had me accompany him as he walked from room to room and blessed the entire building.

After a longer ritual involving the entire building, the two of us went to the creepiest “chill spot” of the hotel. This would be room #3, the Canopy Room. These potential spirit forces, positive as well as negative, have never necessarilly bothered me to too much of any degree. But there have been some fascinating and even very alarming stories related to me by visiting hotel guests. I have found the Canopy Room area to be uncannily less-comforting than the energy of the rest of the building. And there has been many a night over the years walking past that open door in the dark halls glancing in to that dark room imagining someone inside standing there staring back out. The warning coming from the room toward men is always “Stay out!” And many women have reported being drawn into the room, with the warning being flipped into a “come into this room…stay here.” It was in this room that the Ouija night went very badly for some visiting guests. It is this room that housed the “haunted furniture” brought from other locations and thought to be a potential part of these energies. It was in this room that more than a few sensitive guests pointed out the belief that there were faces or spirits in the old mirror. It is this room we associate with the inhuman “squidlana” story that crept around on the floor and left people screaming running from the hotel. As entertaining as all of this was to me, I will put it this way, I was getting a little bored with feeling annoyed with this room.

So Adam had been requesting for a while to face the building’s negative energies and confront them, and this night the time just jelled to allow an exorcism to happen while a visiting exorcist just appened to be staying within the building. Have at it, I permitted him. Adam has been involved with this sort of energy shifting working with the Catholic Church for a few years now. It was an interesting evening.

At one point we entered a room on the third floor which struck me in the moment as having dim lighting. It is lit by two new, curly halogen bulbs. Adam felt this third floor room, like the Canopy Room, had attacking negative energies at work. He dotted the room with holy water and said certain prayers. He said how whatever was in the room, and he spoke in plural, were angry with him for what he was doing. He pulled out a chalk stick and began to write over the doorways and around the windows. I remember noting that the lighting in the room seemed suddenly a tad brighter, as if the two bulbs had somehow been turned up a notch. The room seemed brighter to me. But what was interesting, and confirming, was that without me mentioning my observations, Adam said aloud, “The room is brighter. That is one of the perks of working with these rituals. Its like there was a fog, that you don’t even realize, and then suddenly it is lifted.”

Some rooms seemed to have a slight breeze sifting through them. Other rooms had completely dead air. Once in a while I’d reach a pocket of energy that would send a chill up my shoulders and arms. Without me announcing this, Adam would concur experiencing the same encounters. He said angels were floating around everywhere doing work here. It was his experience that once commands were put into motion it would take about half an hour to fully notice the difference in spiritual environments.

We seemed to reach a kind of mutual experience. Adam and I, though both believing we are here in this lifetime working on missions for God, have had seemingly very different paradigms from which we operate. But lately there has been a great triumphant energy btween us. We are accomplishing a lot lately, with earlier projects rounding up and new projects beginning, and even both of us living here within the Grand Midway Hotel in the same season. So this night, there was something energizing and empowering about the two of us walking these halls, calling on angels, calling on our sensitivities to feel and share what we were each picking up on, and to focus and demand exactly how we would WILL the churning hotel energies to reconstitute.

So to climax this ritual, we found ourselves standing alone in the Canopy Room. In that final half-hour Adam called on every potential negative or innappropriate being anywhere in the building to manifest within this room with us. It was kind of a shocking, interesting moment. I wasn’t expecting to be asking everything negative of the thirty-two rooms, from the ground below, from any items within the building, from residue left behind by guests, all to show up before us within this one creepy room. Then from his past experience he prayed, called on angels, and commanded anything negative potentially within the room with us that its time had come, to move on and leave this place forever.

I will leave some of the details of the prayers spoken and angelic energies summoned as part of the exorcism for Adam to divulge.

Adam Blai noted, “Just a few clarifications… I’m not a licensed psychiatrist, I’m a masters level psychologist or therapist. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who is trained in prescribing psych meds and some therapy. I assist at exorcisms and do work like what Blair described. Clearing homes is not really an exorcism in the formal sense, but there is something called the minor exorcism that can be used for homes.  Instead of trying to explain it all please read my site if you want more background: www.religiousdemonology.com”

Coincidentally, university speaker and television personality and demonologist “Godfather of the Paranormal” John Zaffis just called… He was in PA for some business. So he drove over to the hotel and visited Adam. It was great to see him. As John walked around upstairs through halls he commented to me over and over how genuinely different the hotel energy now felt. It has been about a year since he was here last. A lot of work and changes have been put into the building. “A vast spiritual improvement,” was his final word on the place.

So while Adam and John were upstairs getting ready to go to dinner, I was down in the kitchen cutting a cat door into the wall. And what do I find in this little six inch section of wall? More bones! I just pulled out three old bones from the wall. In the past we’ve found bones in the walls of the Monkey Room as well as the basement. I wonder if the hotel walls are flooded with bones.

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HAIR FOUND IN THE WALL

A lot of things turn up here in the hotel.  but perhaps one of the more odder sights was passing a room and seeing a gob of human hair coming out through a crack in the wall.  What the hell was this?  One might ask.  Often guests leave little treats behind after visiting.  One guest left giant fake palm trees as a surprise in a room.  Another guest left a refrigerator full of food and beer.  A lot of notes are often discovered stuffed in beds and things after guests have gone.  Still, some guests have opted for the more unusual almost disturbing surprise to leave behind.  In the Centuries to come when anthropologists search out this entire building they will find certain plantings of ‘human remains’ that were placed within the building for potential mystical, creative, or even just down right wacky purposes.  For instance, the hair.  A group of type-writer carrying college girls from Carlow University in Pittsburgh visited a few times and left little pieces of themselves all over the place.  We discovered diary passages hidden in drawers, poems hidden stuffed beneath the mattresses, and large clumps of different girl’s hair stuffed and stashed with secret little key hiding places.

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WRITER/PARANORMAL INVESTIGATOR KATHERINE RAMSLAND STAYS THE NIGHT

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HAUNTINGS… -by Blair Murphy

 So, last night -Wednesday April 17, 2013- the hotel seemed very creepy. It was quiet, but sometimes the building gets that way vibe-wise. I was moving a lot of furniture around from room to room in the middle of the night, cleaning, and doing light construction, which guests have noted making changes seems to sometimes summon a strong haunted feeling here. If you believe in ghosts or residue or energy from the past or not you can still find a location at times creepy, and last night this hotel certainly was. The sensation got so strong about 3AM it was like there was an extra person in the building. While vacuuming I was ready for some lurking stranger to step out from the shadows. Now, having lived here as long as I have, I am completely acclimated to this and it doesn’t bother me at all, and guests just roll with it. But to top the night off, I opened the second floor bathroom door and a bird or a bat or something winged was flapping around in the dark. Flap flap flap flap flap! That did startle me. (About a week ago when Joe Bob slept over for the Writer’s Jail project we both heard loud cat growls in the third floor hall middle of the night, like an ongoing cat fight -different from the living hotel cats locked in the kitchen area. Several visiting guests over the years have noted seeing or hearing ‘cat ghosts’.) So just now, next day, I opened the bathroom door to deal with whatever animal was trapped inside and nothing was there. What did catch me off guard was turning and passing the Canopy Room. I instantly saw something was different in there. I stepped inside to find things moved around. This was one of the rooms I hadn’t even gone into last night. Antiques were re-arranged to new spots. The bed was cleared of the items that normally sit on it. Even Kelly’s lifesize beautiful but spooky antique Lillydoll was turned facing an entirely different direction. And the Spring cleaning continues…

Photo: HAUNTINGS... So, last night -Wednesday April 17, 2013- the hotel seemed very creepy. It was quiet, but sometimes the building gets that way vibe-wise. I was moving a lot of furniture around from room to room in the middle of the night, cleaning, and doing light construction, which guests have noted making changes seems to sometimes summon a strong haunted feeling here. If you believe in ghosts or residue or energy from the past or not you can still find a location at times creepy, and last night this hotel certainly was. The sensation got so strong about 3AM it was like there was an extra person in the building. While vacuuming I was ready for some lurking stranger to step out from the shadows. Now, having lived here as long as I have, I am completely acclimated to this and it doesn't bother me at all, and guests just roll with it. But to top the night off, I opened the second floor bathroom door and a bird or a bat or something winged was flapping around in the dark. Flap flap flap flap flap! That did startle me. (About a week ago when Joe Bob slept over for the Writer's Jail project we both heard loud cat growls in the third floor hall middle of the night, like an ongoing cat fight -different from the living hotel cats locked in the kitchen area. Several visiting guests over the years have noted seeing or hearing 'cat ghosts'.) So just now, next day, I opened the bathroom door to deal with whatever animal was trapped inside and nothing was there. What did catch me off guard was turning and passing the Canopy Room. I instantly saw something was different in there. I stepped inside to find things moved around. This was one of the rooms I hadn't even gone into last night. Antiques were re-arranged to new spots. The bed was cleared of the items that normally sit on it. Even Kelly's lifesize beautiful but spooky antique Lillydoll was turned facing an entirely different direction. And the Spring cleaning continues...

COMMENTS:

“Yikes!  -Becky Nagy Napotnik

“”They say dolls were once used as vessels for the souls of the deceased so that they could remain with loved ones….maybe someone found their vessel….”  -Macabre Noir

“I wonder if the life-size nun statue in that room (which has turned up moving or speaking in several guests dreams) and the life-size Lillydoll have conversations in that room.”  -Grand Midway Hotel

“They probably bitch about all of us, lol. i think that room harnesses so much energy, anything that inhabits that space develops a life of it’s own. i get vibes off of that room, that i don’t get in any other room of the hotel, up to and including the demon room.  And I’mnot a hyper sensitive person.”  -Macabre Noir

“Don’t blame it on the picture I gave you. Ha ha.”  -Jamie Adams Miller

“As I recall the 3 to 4 am time frame is when those things went down over there. The first time I was told the place was haunted I completely dismissed it. First encounter I had , I actually cried in fear. Took a few months to adjust to that stuff.”  -Steven Sane

“I remember night. Steve, you looked white as a corpse. Shaking. It was actually pretty funny.”  -Grand Midway Hotel

“Great, that is where i wanted to sleep sat. night.”  -Julie Hinerman Meechan

“Sounds great! I would love to stay in that room.”  -Francis Marie

“You’re correct, and yes it is kinda funny. Remember y’all leaving for a week and I had the place to myself. Got some good cardio that week lol.”  -Steven Sane

“That doll is very creepy!!”  -Deanna Mancuso

“No argument here.” -Grand Midway Hotel

“Got goosebumps…..”  -Sandra Wirfel

“Aww, she’s pretty! Hug the poor dolly.”  -Francis Marie

“It went from a cat to a laugh and then a growl while it scratched at our door. Later it acted like an ape then a dolphin with laughing and growling. The F’n thing was laughing at itself and then it growled at itself laughing. 8 o’clock in the morning. The sun was up and this thing was being a dickbag.”  -Thejoebob Smith

“Oh God I’d love to spend a night there. Don’t like that huge doll though, lol!”  -Freda Harper

“I miss it…all of it”  -Thom Pulliam

“Even when I got my leg carved in.”  -Thom Pulliam

“Sounds like fun times lol”  -Jennifer Hambley

“So last night Julie Hinerman Meechan did come out to the Midway from Pittsburgh. She and her husband Michael hosted a wonderful Lord Byron-ish dinner party for Margaret Bashaar’s birthday. And then Julie did actually retire to sleep in the Canopy Room. (Insert sneaky smile here…) As a favor to enhance Julie’s sleeping experience, not only did she have the company of the creepy nun statue and the lifesize Lillydoll, I brought every lifesize figurine and taxidermy in the building and surrounded her bed with them all looking down on her, from the Regan Exorcist doll to the Mr. Green dummy to the taxidermy wildcat with no face to Akabar the mummy to various heads floating in glassbowls -all making a ring around her bed in the Canopy Room to watch her sleep. I also wore a costume as I marched one new item after another to surround her. It was silly and yet kind of glorious. To see the already creepy Canopy Room now with so many additional standing figurines, and Julie on the bed in the middle of all this, I thought I bet I could sell tickets on Ebay for people to sleep in here on “the Creepiest Bed in America”.”  -Grand Midway Hotel

“Will the ebay people also get u dressed as frylock demanding that they write a blog? i slept pretty good all things considered. Riccardo…i slept in there…and Blair thinks he is HILARIOUS.”  -Julie Hinerman Meechan

“I slept in there “once” and only once. I am still fucked up from it.”  -Riccardo Boccanegra

“I did start having these fucked up dreams that I was being surrounded by spirits and i had to psychically fend them off…which in my dream i did, but just in the bed area.”  -Julie Hinerman Meechan

“The lily doll was the only thing truly creepy in there…nun statue thinks we are all insane. i came to like nun statute.”  -Julie Hinerman Meechan

“But then…your always fending off things in the bed area…just sayin.” -Riccardo Boccanegra

“And by truly creepy i mean it might have swallowed my soul.”  -Julie Hinerman Meechan

“Oh riccardo, you and blair are SO FUNNY…like a bunch of comedians even.”  -Julie Hinerman Meechan

“Margaret….u were so right, my fatal flaw, mentioning i was staying in here.”  -Julie Hinerman Meechan

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THE CREEPIEST BED IN AMERICA -by Julie Hinerman Meechan 

(Notes) on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 4:11pm

During a small gathering at the Grand Midway Hotel last Saturday for a dear friend’s birthday, I decided to stay in the infamous “Canopy Room,” for the first time. The room is considered the most haunted in the hotel. Stories abound, from seeing faces in the mirror, to floating heads, Ouija boards gone awry, and tales of suicide. Literally, the stories are quite endless surrounding this most famed of haunted rooms.

I went up to the room earlier in the evening to put my bags down. I stood in the room just to feel the vibe. The room has a way of making you feel light-headed. The air hangs heavy, as if you are swimming through instead of walking. I walked up to the nun statue in the corner and examined her closely. She exuded a peaceful demeanor to me, maybe personified by the calm expression painted on her face. I turned and looked at a life-size doll called the “lily doll,” sitting in a chair very close to the bed that had been gifted to the hotel by a friend of which the doll had been a family heirloom. I felt a sense of dizziness and sat down on the bed. I stared at the doll’s lifeless face and for the first time in the hotel felt a sense of fear crawl down my spine. I’m not sure if it was the combination of the doll and the room, or just that doll, which btw, should just be buried far, far away at an undisclosed location. I returned to our dinner party, and did not return to the canopy room until much later that night.

After dinner and well into the night, I made a friend return to the canopy room with me to feel it out. Of course, we made light of the overly creepy vibe I was feeling, but still the air in the room felt off per usual. Others started to filter into the creepy room to join us. Blair Murphy, the hotel’s owner, thought it funny to start to bring in some of the other most notoriously creepy things the hotel has to offer including a life-sized replica of Regan from the Exorcist and Mr. Green; a severed torso and head from an earlier film project, who sits and gets wheeled around the hotel in an old wheel chair. Also, included were the hotel’s legendary dead monkey and his chair and the remains of Akabar’s mummy…the greatest lover in the world. Every time I turned around Blair was running out of the room and back in with something more absurd than the time before. He kept carrying in various things, such as heads in glass jars, witches, skeletons, taxidermy animals, and life-sized cut-outs of star wars characters, whatever. At one point he returned wearing a Frylock costume. I realize now the only things really missing were the Billy Crystal cut-out they have come some fond of putting in my bed, and the giant banana. The room grew more and more absurd as the night progressed, at one point I remember sitting in between poet Margaret Bashaar and filmmaker Rachael Deacon on the bed, while Blair dressed as Frylock pointed and demanded I write something up about this evening, which is what prompted me to write this. I don’t dare disobey the mighty Frylock. Here Blair accounts his side of this, where he actually refers to this as a “favor” to me:

“So last night Julie Hinerman Meechan did come out to the Midway from Pittsburgh. She and her husband Michael hosted a wonderful Lord Byron-ish dinner party for Margaret Bashaar’s birthday. And then Julie did actually retire to sleep in the Canopy Room. (Insert sneaky smile here…) As a favor to enhance Julie’s sleeping experience, not only did she have the company of the creepy nun statue and the lifesize Lillydoll, I brought every lifesize figurine and taxidermy in the building and surrounded her bed with them all looking down on her, from the Regan Exorcist doll to the Mr. Green dummy to the taxidermy wildcat with no face to Akabar the mummy to various heads floating in glassbowls -all making a ring around her bed in the Canopy Room to watch her sleep. I also wore a costume as I marched one new item after another to surround her. It was silly and yet kind of glorious. To see the already creepy Canopy Room now with so many additional standing figurines, and Julie on the bed in the middle of all this, I thought I bet I could sell tickets on Ebay for people to sleep in here on “the Creepiest Bed in America”. “

Eventually, it was the wee hours of the night, we returned to the kitchen for a late night snack. Upon finishing, I returned to the canopy room, this time to go to sleep. I will say I am a bit desensitized to the macabre, in fact I prefer creepy and strange surroundings. I knew I would have no issue with the creepy eyes staring at me as I sleep, I was more interested in dreaming in this room having read about previous dream experiments in this room. I sat on the bed and stared at the abundance of creepy and bizarre that was staring back at me. The room had the vibe of a 3-ring creepy circus, but I was tired. I kicked back on the bed, still staring at this literal bombardment of absurdity, and began to sleep where I encountered some of the most vivid dreams.

The first consisted of Margaret and I running around the hotel, only it was completely different in dreamland, finding new hidden passageways, and getting our picture taken in all the rooms with various nameless guests. I had a sense of being sort of lost, and found myself fending off some rather unpleasant situations. I remember then finding my way back into the Midway I am familiar with, this time I was alone. I walked the hallways, where notably, a friend, who has never been there sat and painted a mural on a door. He was having a conversation with someone I could not see who seemed to be coaxing this vision out of him. The silent voice spoke telepathically to him, but I could hear it saying something about summoning the artist within. I continued walking down the corridors, but I couldn’t find where I was going, it was confusing, I felt lost, but oddly ok with that. I woke from that dream, looked again at my absurd surroundings, and then returned to sleep.

The second dream I encountered was far more visual and intense. I was on the bed in the canopy room, there were spirits surrounding me in every direction, much like the figures that were actually physically placed around me. It reminded me of information I had come across during my years of paranormal studies on how dolls and figures are often used as vessels for spirits, ya know, if you buy into all that. If all these things were being used as vessels, I surely was surrounded. I was also reminded of a poem that Margaret had written about me, where my spirit lives in a taxidermy bird of paradise in the hotel hallway. Back to the dream, my spirit was in the middle of the canopy bed where I used sheer force of will to hold these spirits at bay during what can only really be described as a spiritual attack. I sat in what felt like a vortex of energy using every bit of will I had to create a “safe” space in the middle of the canopy bed. It felt like there were a hundred people all yelling for my attention at once, and I just wanted to rest. I awoke from the dream drenched in sweat. It was a cold hotel night, the room was probably no more than 60 degrees, the sweating was a physical manifestation of the energy I was putting out in the dream. I sat up and gathered my composure, went to the bathroom and washed my face, then returned to bed, where I did not dream again, or did not remember any more dreams if they had happened.

I do not claim to assert any truth in regard to the paranormal, but if I had to categorize this room in one word, it would be portal. It feels very central and active to me. My constant internal skeptic believes that on a subconscious level we are projecting our realities and that my crazy surroundings played muse to my wild dreams and a shared collective unconscious is sharing its experiences within my own personal reality. Nonetheless, it was an interesting night. I drove home thinking, someone needs to paint a mural on a door, and Mr. Blair Murphy absolutely must dig up the infamous Ouija board footage from the canopy room for me to see.

Actually, Blair appeared to me in a later dream at home, again, dressed as Frylock, and demanding that real life Blair Murphy find this footage and we will have a private screening in June. Frylock is really, REALLY demanding.

THE END

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SO IT WAS A CRAZY NIGHT! I SOMEHOW CONVINCED LIKE 9 PEOPLE TO SLEEP IN THE CANOPY ROOM, #3. IN THE MORNING JOE BOB SMITH HAD A STORY ABOUT A DEAD WOMAN.  HE WRITES:

May, 16 2013

I had 2 pillows jammed into the corner of the Canopy Room just behind the door with my head wedged in between the lower hinges on the door and the pillows. As if the night weren’t strange enough with the costumes and Helium balloons, here we were capping off Diane’s birthday party with a good ol’ fashion slumber party with booze and creepy dolls. 3 bodies on the bed, 5 on the floor, Swindler went awol after being harassed for being a party-pooper and we laughed about what we were doing. We shared ghost stories for a couple of hours until eye lids started to close and the candles started to burn out. Around 5 o’clock everyone except for myself was out cold. I couldn’t sleep. I never get a good sleep in that building let alone in the Canopy Room. Just a couple of months prior, I slept in my truck, and comfortably too. But hey, Blair’s child-like wonder had lead us into this journey, so we’ll see what happens. Thank God I drank 13 cups of Cafe Du’ Monde coffee and a dozen pitchers of Yuengling beer.

The floor was hard. My belt kept biting into my back while I tried keep still and as I was rolling back and forth 3 white flashes popped to the left of the bed. One on top of the other. I said, “Well that was interesting,” hoping that someone would wake up and look around but no one did. They were out and snoring like it was a contest of who is the loudest. “Are you kidding me? Not one of you are awake for this?” I asked. Nope. Nothing.

And there I stayed, head pinned in the corner, waiting for the caffeine to wear off but it never did. Not now anyway. The 3 white flashes had me chewing the skin on my bottom lip wondering what was going to happen next, then there in the closet, where Blair had placed the Exorcist Regan Doll, there was gurgling. I said “Ah shit! Here we go!” hoping to wake someone up and yet again my voice failed to break the snoring. Since I couldn’t get to see what was in the closet without stepping on TomKat and Lady Di, I started to count who was in the room and who’s snore matched what person.
Then it got louder. More aggressive. It definitely sounded like someone’s throat was being forced shut to where you could hear the saliva gargle and gasping of air. It was impressive and lengthy. I kept my ground, head in the corner and just listened to this “whatever” waiting for it to either stop or for morning, but then there was more.

Outside the door, in a bag I had left my sandwich. Right about at this time I thought to myself, “Hey, this thing is choking, trying to scare the shit out of me but I’m kind of hungry.” Just as I was about to grab the door handle and get my goods, someone ran down the hall, stopped right outside our door, ran halfway down the steps towards the first floor, stopped, ran back up to our door, back down the steps halfway and then stopped again and was gone. I thought that it could be Adam Blai at first, but Adam doesn’t move that fast. Not this fast and Lucien was locked in his cage. What ever it was stopped on the steps too. Ok, I thought, maybe I’ll just wait a little bit to grab my sandwich.

The gurgling finally stopped, but only when a woman’s voice asked, “Help Me.”

I thought “Oh shit! Are we going to have a conversation now?!”

My inner dialog was replaced quickly. An image forced it’s way in my head. A Lady in her 20’s with Blondish hair and noose wrapped around her throat was asking me for help. She was bound with her hands behind her back and sat in a chair that looked like the closet with a man putting her in there.

I had heard this voice before weeks prior when I was on my way to the bathroom, only that time she had asked, “Honey?”

I said, “Ahhhhhhh no. Just a guy going to the bathroom.”

But this time there was panic in her voice. I could almost feel her pulse with her heart beat racing.

“Poor girl.” I thought. If she only knew that I knew that she was dead decades ago and how much I wanted that sandwich, maybe she would have asked someone else for help. What was I to do? I can’t help her. How? I joke around about it, but that was what was going on then. A dead girl was asking me for help I couldn’t give and my mind is on food.

I was hoping that was it and that people would wake up soon, but no. The popping sound was back with the 3 white flashes besides the bed. This time though, there was movement. Someone else was going to witness this weird shit with me. I got excited, but that was a waste because TomKat had only got up just enough to smash his face off of the dresser and then he went back to sleep. Oy Vey did he smash his face, but it wasn’t so bad for me. When he hit the dresser, the other people in the room quit snoring. It was awesome but frustrating. I couldn’t believe that not one person got up with the gurgling noises and the hall way track star but this calmed the room. The snoring had stopped cold. The gurgling had stopped cold. It was nice in that room now. The vibe was almost dancy. “Finally some peace and quiet,” I thought and yet again, more noise.

The dance vibe that filled the room was hit in the face with the Ramones. I’m not sure who had set their alarm with the Ramones but they did and it was awesome. Everyone sprung up this time. I guess no one really gives a shit about the dead unless the dead rocked. Everyone was up and happy, but me. I was tired and hungry. As soon as they got to their feet, I opened up the door and tore into that sandwich. I finally got to sleep though. Hours later. In my bed.

LATER JOE BOB BROUGHT THE GHOST OF THE ROOM FLOWERS

He also left a note:

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MAKE IT SCARY  July 15, 2013 -by Blair Murphy

(This hotel is sometimes very enchanting and beautiful. Other times it is pretty creepy and unusual, like this moment from last night…)

 4 AM. I’m ordering the Canopy Room as I walk around the second floor working. I’m speaking to the spirits of the Canopy Room, or to the poltergeist that I affect, as I walk around. It better be good, I order. It better be scary, I order. I’m moving a lot of furniture around and cleaning and doing some construction, which always seems to kick up seeming paranormal activity around here. So, when we are doing a lot of building work, I’ll sometimes speak to the building as I’m working. The other residents are also doing a lot of hotel work this week. So, the air is swirling. After a long hard day and night of work I finally take a long glorious shower. I dry off, and continue speaking to the spirits of the Canopy Room. It better be good. It better be scary. I am discussing the upcoming night stay for the eBay bid winners coming from out of town who will be visiting later this summer and staying a night in the Canopy Room. I’d like it to feel scary.

I’m not scared of you, I say, because you can’t hurt me.

But other people, with less faith, you can affect them. So don’t do anything bad, like follow them home or anything permanent. Just scare the shit out of them while they are here.

4:37 AM. I’m walking back down the second floor hall. As I pass the Canopy Room I look inside. In the darkness I see a faint flash of an image as it fades into shadow. It was kind of Captain Howdy’s face from the Exorcist movie, that extreme demonic human face, but instead of a close-up face flash it was a full body standing / floating spirit, with the face for the head. He was looking at me, from just a few feet in the doorway. It was very fast and then he was gone.

I think, okay, I did just see that.  Or, I just imagined that.  Or, my eyes are playing tricks on me.

There is so much going on in this giant old building and so many different rivers of energy from room to room, nothing much surprises me around here anymore. Even if I merely imagined this sudden image, pure wishful thinking or split-second delusion, that image is what I just saw. That particular image fading into the shadows. (Note: This didn’t bother me at all. This was just merely as if noticing another person in the shadows of the hotel, or one of the other familiar unusual things that sometimes seem to kick up around here. So, there was no fear of evil whatsoever from seeing it, nor feeling of evil coming off it either. It was just an image, like a light projection on vapor. It felt pretty neutral, actually, like just some of the furniture in the room. Or even like some simple familiar ghost wearing a costume to appear far worse. Man in the Hall? Playing trickster again? That old weird Midway hotel ghost guy creeper from Windber of maybe a hundred years ago or so, still lurking around the hotel halls as the lore goes? Being his creeper self?)

Anyway, that being said, it was one hell of a creepy man-size image to imagine noticing at 4 AM in the dark when you peer into the decidedly most haunted room of your haunted old hotel that is so creepy you just advertised the very spot on eBay as the Creepiest Room in America…and one sees that face?! Or even if one projects that, and sees their own imagination leap wild for a split second, it still is, of all the multi-billion billion zillion images one’s brain could summon in that particularly unusual moment, a particularly creepy image that one just saw.

The image felt like a verb. Something felt like it just wanted to show itself. Like a wink. Like it was saying, I got you covered.

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THE CANOPY ROOM EBAY BIDDERS…

This is Clair Mark Cordes (far right). He explores haunted locations. He was one of the winning bidders for the chance to spend a single night in the Canopy Room (the first of three). He came all the way from Chicago! We had a terrific evening of conversation out on the Juliet Balcony where he told great stories of many of the other famous locations he’s explored. He took a lot of cool pictures in the hotel. After investigating the entire building, he retired to sleep alone in the Canopy Room. (We placed the antique wicker removal casket from the Meek Funeral Home in there as well to add a bonus item to his dusk to dawn experience.) Of his overnight stay the next day he wrote, “I left at approximately 5:30 this morning. It’s a wonderful and unique place. I did manage to drift off for a couple of hours. And actually did have a dream. I dreamed that an older woman with long hair was reaching out towards my throat. I remember her face and two hands reaching out towards me. As I woke up and sat up in bed I remember saying ‘Jesus.’ Very strange.”

EBAY CANOPY ROOM WINNERS (#2)…

This is Galene Gould and Jesse Kelly. They came from the Pittsburgh, PA area to brave the night in the Canopy room after winning the bidding on eBay. They enjoyed the Windber bar tour, toured the entire hotel, watched horror movies late into the night, and then retired into the Canopy Room. In the morning, they reported… He: “In that room I slept like a baby.” She: “That doll scared the shit out of me. That nun statue scared the shit out of me. I woke up twice thinking it was two inches from my face. I slept with my head under the blankets. Then he literally scared the shit out of me.” He: “I had a blast. She was so scared. She whined and cried for two hours. I couldn’t even take pictures without having to hear about it. I moved my leg, and she screamed, ‘Oh my God something touched me! I want to go home!’ So I said (in low growl), ‘You are home.'”

EBAY CANOPY ROOM WINNERS (#3)

The third Ebay winners were a Pennsylvania couple.  They came and toured the entire hotel.  They watched Exorcist movies in the hotel Screening Room late into the night.   They decided NOT to sleep in the Canopy Room but instead camped out in the Screening Room.

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THE RETURN OF THE BED AND SQUIDLANA GHOST

There are several items of furniture in this room that has been collected, bought, or donated over the years.   When we first bought the hotel a woman who seemed kind of creepy to us donated the bed which sat in this room for a decade.  Ten years later she suddenly demanded it back.  So, we removed it from the building and drove it back to her.

Several people have noted a change in the energy of the Canopy Room since that bed was removed.  The change was instant.  The very next day regulars were noting the ‘extreme negative vibe’ was gone.

“It still feels creepy in here,” they were saying, “You can still feel something is going on in here, but it is not nearly as dark and mean as it was.”

Perhaps that bed was this room’s key haunted source and home of the Squidlana.  Goodbye Squidlana!

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NEW GUESTS

LATEST CANOPY ROOM GUESTS! This is Amanda Burke and Ava Trexler, visiting from the South. They stayed across from the Canopy Room, not in it. They were visiting for a wedding and left alone with their door locked. Ava who is sensitive recalls, “The first night I heard someone open our door. I honestly thought two people came in to our room. I thought you were giving a tour. I was messing with Amanda’s glasses. She’s blind as hell. Her glasses are really thick. So I put them on and looked up! I saw someone in the doorway! I couldn’t see if it was a man or a woman. Later, when we visited the Canopy Room the energy changed immediately. Everything sunk. I heard someone in there sobbing uncontrollably. And I saw this really fucked up chick in there. I mean, she was really fucked up. All bloody. I didn’t want Amanda to see. I kept Amanda away from the room. I didn’t see the woman again, but it was like I could feel someone. All weekend I could feel her breathing on me.”

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Coffin and Orb

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WRITER ELAINE BERGSTROM SLEEPS IN THE CANOPY ROOM -by Blair Murphy

When I first moved to New Orleans, living next to the Westgate Gallery, I set up shop, stepped out onto my second floor balcony, put my feet up, sat hidden from the glorious downpour of romantic Louisiana rain, and read my new friend’s new book Leanna: Possession of a Woman, a New Orleans story.  What a great night.  Elaine also writes under the name Marie Kiraly, her book Mina, about the continuation of Dracula’s wife, for instance.  She contacted me requesting to sleep a night in the most haunted room in the hotel.  I told her it was probably the Canopy Room.  At least that’s what people say…

(Elaine Bergstrom’s bio reads:  Elaine Bergstrom admits that she has always had a love for exotic and historic locales, creepy houses, twisted characters and doomed romance–all of which grew out of her youthful habits of excessive reading of gothic novels and short stories by Lovecraft and Poe, and a near-compulsive attendance at her local theater’s Saturday matinee double creature features.  Like many writers, Elaine began composing her first fiction while still in grade school. But in her case, she started with a novel. “It was a hybrid mystery/suspense piece, a Bobsey Twins meet Norman Bates type of story.” That early enthusiasm was put on hold through high school and college, and the only writing she did for years was in advertising and newspaper reporting.  Elaine returned to creative writing in the early 1980’s while working as a copywriter. “I had an office, a typewriter, and often a lot of time on my hands,” she explains. “I could read a book, or I could write one. I opted for writing.” The result was Shattered Glass, the first in a series of vampire novels for Berkley/Jove (followed by Blood Alone, Blood Rites and Daughter of the Night). These were followed by two fantasy novels for TSR– Tapestry of Dark Souls (1993) and Baroness of Blood (1995)–and an additional four novels for Berkley written under her grandmother’s name, Marie Kiraly. The first of these, Mina was a featured alternate of the Doubleday and Science Fiction book clubs. Another work, Madeline… After the Fall of Usher (Berkley, 1996), is told from the point of view of Edgar Allen Poe. Her most recent work, Nocturne, is the fourth volume in the series begun in Shattered Glass. Her novels–part horror/part romance/part historical–defy categorization, moving her from genre fiction into mainstream. “With so many of my novels dealing with historical figures, I’ve become a stickler for facts. I love taking people who once lived and helping them to live again, to walk through their minds and their time and their psyches. And since I’m borrowing their lives, I owe it to them and to my readers to get the details right.”  When asked what motivates her writing Elaine responds, “My primary motivation is fear–fear that if I do not write the to best of my abilities and in a manner which my editor and fans have come to expect, I will have to go out and find a job not half as interesting, as surprising, or as stunning as being a novelist. When I start a novel, every day’s work seems terrible to me. I hand in the finished product with hundreds of misgivings. By the time I get the copy-edited manuscript, it looks pretty good. By the time the galley proofs come my way, I find the work marvelous, but if you ask me where all of it came from, in truth, I can only say that my characters wrote it.”  With a little help from the friend who conjured them up in the first place.)

So, Elaine made the long journey to the Grand Midway Hotel.  We had a great night.  She eventually wrote a story about it.

THE HAUNTS OF WINDBER -by Elaine Bergstrom

Over the years, I’ve developed a fondness for the supernatural. Maybe it comes from early exposure to the double matinees at an old Lowes theater, or from wandering the halls at St. Joseph’s Academy where it seems one can hear the whisper of nuns long gone who still have the urge to teach. Or maybe it’s from being born on Friday the 13th. No matter. My life has been dominated by the macabre.

As an author of 12 novels dealing with the supernatural, I’ve been on intimate terms with werewolves, goblins, time-travelers and, of course, vampires. But ghosts, well, ghosts are special because, like so many people, I believe in them.

But though I have spent more than a few nights in some allegedly haunted places, I never felt the cold draft from beyond the grave, the sense of something unseen watching me or the phantom tap on the shoulder. So when I learned that my friend Blair Murphy, a film producer from LA, had pooled his resources with a pair of equally creative partners and bought the haunted Grand Midway Hotel in Windber, Pennsylvania, only three hours away from my parents’ home in Fairview Park, I knew that a visit was inevitable and Blair had plenty of rooms for guests.

So, on my next trip to Fairview, I snagged my cousin, Kathy Walsh, a filmwriter and fellow “believer”, and the two of us headed to Pennsylvania to spend the night in The Grand Midway Hotel. What we discovered in Windber was a town that for its size is as rich with ghost stories as that ghostly mecca, New Orleans. Though Murphy is new to Windber, residents have already consulted with him about their own home’s ghosts. A second old hotel, still in use, is also rumored to be haunted. Residents also told me the police station is as well, particularly the third floor where noises have prompted police to head up the stairs with guns drawn to flush out incorporeal intruders.

Windber is in the heart of Somerset County mining country and is the site of the mining museum (the cage used to rescue the Pennsylvania miners some months ago will be displayed there). It also sits atop an abandoned mine and people occasionally discover fissures in their yards (shades of H. P. Lovecraft) that need to be filled by local “fissure-men” lest they claim a small child or family pet. A spooky thought, though my practical side makes me wonder if Prudential sells mine insurance for homeowners.

Small children in the 1800’s were hired as miners because they could squeeze into places where burly adults could not. Many died from accidents and some of their bodies were never recovered. Miners working in place far from their family homes stayed in small hotels like the Grand Midway and older miners sometimes died in their beds from heart attacks brought on the by the grueling work. Then there were those who died in the mines, their names etched in marble on a plaque near the hotel.

The Grand Midway Hotel has been part of the history of Windber since the1890’s. It was purchased by the Timko family in about 1914 and managed by them until sometime in the 1970’s. Agnes Timko continued to live there until the late 1980’s. Though in a nursing home, she refused to sell the building and it was only after her death that the place was put up for sale. The hotel was listed on eBay where Murphy discovered it.

Murphy’s bedroom is at the front of the hotel, a place where in 1910 a young woman standing on the balcony watching a 4th of July fireworks display was killed when one of the aerials misfired and hit her in the neck. She is rumored to still be a hotel resident. Andrew Timko, the last owner’s family member, died in one of the upstairs rooms as well. His heir, the last Timko to own the hotel, joked he would not be surprised if he was still in residence and maybe Agnes as well, especially after she had to be forcefully taken from the hotel when she could no longer care for herself.

“A while after we closed on the place someone in real estate told us that it was believed that a body had been buried in the basement,” Murphy said. He added that he’d also been told that there was likely some hooch buried in its dirt floor as well, hidden when the hotel was run as a speakeasy during prohibition. The Kaleidoscope Bar in the building became a hangout for local hippies in the 1960’s and 70’s and it’s possible that ghostly sitings increased then. Psychedelics sometimes have that effect on people.

Agnes Timko was what is affectionately termed a “collector” and as rooms were clear and dumpsters filled, the new owners discovered artifacts of the past. A picture of Agnes and another of the young woman killed by the fireworks were among their finds. Blair added his own touches –special effects creatures from movies he’s worked on. Besides being the writer and producer for the nationally distributed film Jugular Wine, he had a small uncredited role in Phantoms.

“When the sets were being cleaned up and it was time to get rid of all the creepy things, they always thought of me,” Murphy said, explaining that his own fascination with the macabre likely came from growing up in a funeral home.

Murphy said that since he arrived at the hotel a number of odd occurrences have happened, most notably the TV suddenly going on in the middle of the night and lights flickering off and on. He’s also heard voices and footsteps when he was alone and the occasional classic bump in the night.

After a wonderful evening of Italian food, wine and ghostly tales told by candlelight, I found myself alone in what was rumored to be the most haunted room in the hotel. In an old mahogany bed draped in mosquito netting, with a stuffed coyote for company and the loose plaster on the ceiling above me far more of a worry than any spectral presence, I turned off my light and waited.

And waited.

Maybe the ghosts just knew that I would welcome their appearance. And so, unthreatened, they blessed me.

It was the one of the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had.