Ghost stories . . . who doesn’t love them?
It’s never been easier to find ghost stories about your neighborhood. There are dozens of websites with stories linked to schools, fast-foot restaurants, hotels and prominent buildings.
There’s one from my neighborhood in Rockrimmon. It claims a fast-food restaurant is haunted by the screams of children and employees have reported the lights going out among other poltergeists.
The websites list hauntings by city and seem to have stories about every high school: Palmer High is haunted by a student who allegedly commit suicide 40 years ago after being denied a role in Macbeth; Coronado is haunted by a child who allegedly drowned in its pool 30 years ago; Harrison’s auditorium is the haunt of a ghost “Malcolm” who walks around, nudges students and more.
But I prefer some of the stories passed down for decades in books.
In fact, there are a couple classics in one of my favorite history books of all time: El Paso County Heritage, printed in 1985, by Juanita and John Breckenridge.
I’ve worn that book out looking up minutia on families, farms and towns across the region.
My favorite chapter is “Legends” which is a series of cowboy and ghost stories, several by Jim Easterbrook. who wrote books on western history.
One story tells of Beth O’Neil, known in the 1880s as the “waffle lady” of Colorado City.
O’Neil carried a large wooden box and sold hot waffles to miners, railroad passengers and barflies along Colorado Avenue, between 24th and 28th streets. The price was a nickel apiece.
“Waffles . . . hot waffles” was her simple cry as she walked up and down the avenue.
In the decades since, especially on fall evenings, there have been reported sightings of a mysterious woman vendor in the neighborhood. And some folks report smelling the aroma of hot waffles. Hmmm.
Another Easterbrook legend told of a young woman, Melinda Brolin, who, in 1900, worked in a cafe at 2625 W. Colorado Ave. — today the site of Gertrude’s Restaurant.
When she learned an old boyfriend was hunting for her, customers reported Melinda ducked into a tunnel under the cafe and disappeared. A short time later, the cafe burned and the tunnel collapsed. She was never seen again. Except for reports as late as 1985 that her footsteps could be heard in the hallway.
Gertrude’s owner, Tom Lazaron, said he’s never encountered Melinda.
“But after I bought the place four years ago, I noticed the doors in the hallway seemed to move on their own,” Lazaron said. “I think it happens when somebody opens the back door. Some employees swear I’m wrong.”
Maybe Melinda’s checking to see if her ex is gone!
Here are some of the websites I found: