‘It’s as if someone sits in the audience, watching the stage.’
Nick Smith, Louisiana Tech University, class of 2018
According to legend, a theater professor at my university died in the auditorium that houses the school’s main stage. Apparently, if you stand onstage and look out at the empty seats, you will often find one chair that is open — as if someone is sitting in it, watching the stage. These are chairs that automatically spring closed, but it isn’t a matter of a broken chair or two. The opened chair is almost always a different one.
My thespian friends claim they once saw a seat opened in the front row, but when they climbed the stairs to the sound booth, the chair had closed. On the balcony, a previously closed chair had opened.
‘What could I do? I kept walking.’
Ryan Bash, Kenyon College, class of 2010
Ghost stories are legion at Kenyon College. My own haunting took place after I left the library around 2 a.m. on an unremarkable night during my freshman year.
Kenyon’s campus is arranged on a north-to-south axis along a central walkway called Middle Path. The walkway is gravel and used only by pedestrians, but old photographs confirm the path was a main artery for horses and carriages in the 19th century.
The library is in South Campus, which is demarcated from North Campus (where I lived) by an old stone gate that students lovingly refer to as the Gates of Hell — a nod to a 1980s TV psychic who once claimed on “The Phil Donahue Show” that the actual, literal entrance to the underworld was in central Ohio.
It was a frosty, silent night in March 2007, and I had a 10-minute walk from the library to my warm, extra-long twin bed. As I walked north along Middle Path, I heard the sound of wheels crunching the gravel. I turned around expecting a bicycle but nothing was there. A few seconds later the sound of a horse exhaling pierced the silence, not more than 30 feet behind me.
My knees went weak and I felt lightheaded. But what could I do? I kept walking. The crunching wheels moved in step with me, and every few seconds the horse exhaled. My legs carried me to the Gates of Hell, and as I crossed the threshold, the sounds of the carriage vanished. Now it’s a fond memory: That evening, something from the past walked me home.