We were walking by the old Waterville High School in falling snow, growing darkness and a high wind.

My walking partner, an ancient graduate, sniffed, pulled his wool hat down over his ears and grumbled, “They can call it Gilman Apartments, Gilman Plaza, Gilman Tropical Gardens — It’s still the old Waterville High. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Why would anyone want to go back?”

I listed the virtues of living in town and how people loved the splendid accommodations and fabulous views. He would have none of it. “I heard that it’s haunted,” he said.

Most would scoff at this idea, but then most don’t believe in ghosts and haunted buildings. I do. He said a passerby had seen a crying boy in a basketball uniform looking out of one of the top windows.

Most would scoff at this idea, but then most don’t believe in ghosts and haunted buildings. I do. He said a passerby had seen a crying boy in a basketball uniform looking out of one of the top windows.

“Probably that kid in my class who blew the tying basket shot and lost the championship.”

She, who is a practiced and I suspect, licensed, “scoffer,” leaves the room when I try to tell her about this. I pointed out to her that I read somewhere online that there is an old haunted high school in Austin, Texas, where a Spanish teacher roams the halls late at night.

I thought this would be of interest to her as she is a Spanish teacher. She informed me that if it’s late at night, “She’s not a teacher, unless she didn’t get her papers done before she died.” She went back to correcting her papers and refused to consider it further. I knew she was going to say that. Before she fell asleep last night, I asked her if she would like to have one of those swell apartments down there.

“Not if it’s haunted.” I knew then that I had made a dent in her “scofferness.”

My sister in St. Louis emailed me that they’re talking about doing the same thing with my old school there. She said that if I decided to really retire instead of playing at it, and if I got tired of the cold, I could come home and get a swell loft there.

“It’s up where you used to sneak out with Rosemary DeBranco,” she said.

I wrote and asked if she had heard anything about the school being haunted. I got an out-of-office reply.

Curious, I researched on line, and it’s a fact that paranormal occurrences happen all the time in “re-fitted” buildings, like former schools, convents and churches.

This leads me to worry about Waterville’s plan to tear down the old French St. Francis Church and build low-cost housing for seniors. Urban planners, not always a paranormal-sensitive bunch, don’t realize that just because the building is gone doesn’t change anything. The ghosts are still hanging around.

To those in my clan, we know it’s because they now have nowhere to go, no rooms to haunt or dishes to rattle. The ghosts are now homeless and in all the world of the supernatural, there’s nothing worse than a homeless ghost. They’re going to float around and make trouble.

In New York, many years ago, while waiting for a personal reading in a fortune teller’s shop, I came upon an article about this small town in Mississippi that had “floating” ghosts. Urban renewal had torn down some old “haunted” mansions. The “homeless” ghosts went about extinguishing street lights, “flickering” marquees and disrupting traffic lights.

Homeless ghosts. I’m just saying.

I wouldn’t be surprised that before long tenants of the Gilman apartments begin hearing basketballs being bounced in the middle of the night, seeing chalk dust on the floor and hearing running in the halls.

They may even hear sobbing in those areas where the locker bays once stood. Many hearts were broken in those halls in days gone by.

No matter how swell those apartments are, they will lose their charm when tenants begin smelling that awful lunch time cooking. Those lunch room ladies die hard.

 


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