Haunted Happenings & Ghost Tours"/>
PRIVATE EYE ON SEATTLE TOURS: HAUNTED HAPPENINGS
$25; 365-3739 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
GHOST TOURS OF THE PIKE PLACE MARKET
$10 donation to Market Foundation; e-mail Sheila@speakeasy.org
You're probably thinking . . .
It's silly to pay good money to hear variations of the same spooky stories you heard on camping trips—especially if you have to be cooped up for two and a half hours in a van or troop around the Pike Place Market like a chump.
Here's what you get
The ghosts of these two tours remind us of the misery and murder that Seattle has paved over; some are supposedly still slamming doors, hurling bottles, and playing other weird tricks to this day. Granted, touring by car limits you to stories told secondhand (and in some cases thousands of times), which have had their truly freakish details rubbed off in the traveling. Still, the Private Eye on Seattle Tour provides a lot of time to unspool history, and that's what the Irish woman called (somehow fittingly) Jake does generously as we roll through Queen Anne and the Pike Place Market, then drive a loop through Georgetown and Capitol Hill. Some of Jake's material is of the warmed-over urban legend variety (the ghost of Market founder Arthur Goodwin smiling down at his creation from an office window), but she's dug out her own stuff that's far better.
She takes us by the site of a Georgetown cemetery, forgotten for much of the 20th century, that houses were eventually built over. "For rent" signs line their windows. Jake says the residents have told her about toys that seem to have a life of their own (and what's scarier than scary toys?). Then it's on to the Georgetown castle, a turreted mansion that's freaked so many people out—one tenant committed suicide—that the landlord requires people to sign a liability waiver when they put down their deposits. Jake tracked down the owners who restored the house in the 1970s; they claimed to have met a female ghost who said she'd been raped by a man who later killed her baby and buried it under the front porch. Yikes.
We learn that the headquarters of Amazon.com, formerly a military hospital, is haunted by a nurse whose perfume still lingers. Capitol Hill, of course, has lots of fitful oddities: A former manager at the Harvard Exit once played tug-of-war with an unseen opponent trying to enter a fire escape door. Pictures taken in the lobby sometimes reveal unseen patrons sitting in chairs, Jake says. (I've got a camera—but damn, we're in a van.) Finally, we pull up beneath the window of serial killer Ted Bundy's room on the University of Washington campus; the building is painted battleship gray. Bundy kept the heads of some of his victims in that room, says Jake. I wait for a story about talking heads, but there aren't any—yet.
Jake coaxes a personal story out of one of our party: invisible footsteps on the porch, like clicking high heels, that terrorized his family home for years.
That's all well and good, but true ghost aficionados will probably want a tour with more chills and less carpooling.
Sheila Lyons' Ghost Tour of the Pike Place Market lets you feel like you're the investigator—albeit one who's perhaps being had—by introducing you to shop owners who say they've experienced ghosts, or at least their pranksterish stunts, firsthand. We stand on the gloomy ramp where several claim they've seen Chief Seattle's daughter, Princess Angeline (the name given her by the Denny family), come swooshing through. We feel the cold spot that hovers around one of the support pillars.
Sheila, who owns a magic shop in the Market, knows everybody along the way—and the access she enjoys pays off at Avenue One restaurant, housed in the building that was once the Butterworth Funeral Home. There, bartender Claire tells of hearing burbling voices late one night, as if a radio dial were being twisted across frequencies. Waiter Paul has the best tale, though: the night a burly customer broke into tears and frantically rushed out of the restaurant when he saw a woman clutching a shawl staring at him from the hallway. She glided away and blinked out. Paul imitates the spirit. "It was zoop! like this," he says, feinting sideways. "She wasn't using her legs!" the customer bawled, according to Paul. Funky ghost.
Meat sculptor Dimitri, who owns Mr. D's Greek Deli, is himself an oddity, and a trip into his downstairs cooler to see the busts of Bill, Hillary, and Monica Lewinsky is quite unsettling in itself. But Mr. D, who isn't around today, says the ears and noses of his meat heads get pinched off and whizzed around by unseen spirits. He claims one nearly beaned him. That doesn't sound nearly as scary as seeing Monica's smirk painted on a slab of rump roast.
Do you dare . . .
Talk to people who believe in this stuff? I think it's good to believe. If ghosts exist, best to live your life in such a way that you'll never become one.