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The Tale of the Elementary School Ghost

The former Mechanicville High, Middle, and Elementary School on North Main Street. (Photo Courtesy: The Library of John Rinaldi)

 

Whether you’re a seeker of the super natural, a finder of fright, or simply gaga for ghouls, this is the time of year where tales of horror fill the air. The Mechanicville Mile wants to help you get your fright fix by highlighting some of the area’s most haunted spots. We’ll give you the profiles of purportedly poltergeist-filled locations close to the area and ready for a visit, perhaps during the day for the less courageous.

 

It was a mildly cool, partly cloudy night. Your humble narrator, a mild-mannered third-grader at the time, was gearing up for a Cub Scout meeting. Not the fun “How to build a fire”, “How to punch a bear”, or some amazing outdoor adventure but simply informational, and, worst of all- it was at school. After a day of classes, the last thing a child wants to do is go back AT NIGHT to hear more grown-ups drone about the rules and regulations. I had levels to beat and piles of leaves to destroy. Anyway, looking more dorky than usual, my father and I set off to the Elementary School for the meeting.

Little did wee Eric know that events would transpire that night that would be burned into memory, something that remains a mystery. I am not one to believe in supernatural superstitions but I cannot explain with any sort of reasoning what appeared in the hallway. Surely, though, it was impossible. The elementary school couldn’t be haunted?

Looking back on it, the school has always had a strange quality about it. Children, like most weird things, paid no mind to how oddly the place is structured. Standing five stories tall, which was a killer to climb after a very regimental gym class and a considerable amount of homemade Italian food, the school was filled with unusual nooks, crannies, and all sorts of odd ends.

Sometimes, I would wander, do some exploring just to investigate various offices and staircases that lead to seemingly nowhere, hallways and rooms built as if they were sets on a crazy Tim Burton movie. There was the bomb shelteresque Gym C where we usually had recess when it rained. I don’t think anyone had any real fun there. It felt more oppressive than anything. The library, which lacked the sterilized appearance of most libraries, giving it an almost magical quality, where any book could be found. Once I did find a thick handbook on robotics filled with page-long equations and schematics. The first-grade me couldn’t really get a handle on things. The dream of having my own singing, dancing, and homework-completing, cybernetic friend were dashed.

I was far from any of the more unusual places, though. While in the cafeteria, listening to a man talk about what’s expected from us, what we need to do, and other boring stuff, a few of us decided that now was a perfect time to goof off in an unsupervised school, I guess we were not that intelligent yet. Thankfully for our parents, teachers, and taxpayers of Mechanicville, the doors to the rest of the school were locked. Instead of going back and behaving ourselves, we just decided to run up and down the hallway until the meeting was over.

A game was developed. We would run from the cafeteria to a set of locked doors that led to the gym. Aside from sports games, that section of the school always seemed eerily desolated. Whenever leaving the gym to use the rest room felt like going to a brand new location, one that had been long been abandon and forgotten. We would stare into the windows and pretend that we saw monsters, vampires, what have you. Like seeing shapes with clouds but with shadows. We then ran back in faux fear at  the images we had concocted.

One instance, before anyone could say they saw a Dracula, a shape ripped through the shadows. It definitely took the shape of a person but it lacked definition and was pure white. It shouted out a terrifying wail and slammed against the door. Then as quickly it appeared, it was gone. Our giggling was gone, we stood there frozen, then broke out for an all-out frenzy for the cafeteria. Before I could tell my father what had happened, he quickly quieted me and told me to pay attention. I didn’t. I couldn’t shake what just happened. It couldn’t be real. The others and I found a group of older kids. Of course when we were little we thought that our grade or two higher seniors were keepers of infinite wisdom. We implored them for help to put this ghostly manner to rest. They investigated. What was strange was the fact that the once-locked door was no longer locked. We walked around the area, went into the bathrooms and checked all the other doors. No one could have gotten in or left without anyone noticing.

That night there was a fight between me and my parents. I wouldn’t shut off the light and they had no idea why. I didn’t even bother mentioning it. They would think it was me being hysterical or some sort of overactive imagination.

The school is an odd, old place. There are times while walking the halls that any second I thought I was going to turn the corner and just be lost for hours. That there was always some sort of presence following me. After that moment I was always uncomfortable by myself in that place.

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