Remembering the Ghost of Chicago's Red Lion Pub Oct 22, 2013 0:52:59 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Oct 22, 2013 0:52:59 GMT -5
Remembering the Ghost of the Red Lion Pub
CHICAGO – She lives on the second floor. In the women’s restroom. In the last stall. Not, perhaps, my personal choice of digs, but I truly don’t know anything about how afterlife real estate works.
That’s where she lives, but you can feel her almost as soon as you enter the building. There’s just ... something ... off. The eerie sensation really picks up as you start to ascend the red carpeted stairs. It’s like walking into a different climate. A reeeally spooky one. You may even feel a slight choking pressure on your throat as you pass through a pocket of unnaturally cool, still air. You are definitely never alone. And it might be (most probably will be) her.
Or it might be one of the several other spirits that call the Red Lion Pub home. There are many. Because this place is absolutely famously haunted! As in ghost tours and published books and the like. Maybe that’s why so many ghosts have taken up residency here – they still want their 15 minutes of fame.
There’s talk of a cowboy. A blond man. A man in a black hat. A little girl. And others. And then there’s the woman in second-floor bathroom. Having spent a summer working almost every night at the second-story bar, I got up close and personal with this particular ghost and the many stories surrounding her. She was like an invisible, slightly pesky and totally creepy co-worker who just really wanted some attention.
And she had countless ways of trying to get that attention. The hair-prickly, goose-bumpy cooler-than-they-should-be spots were frighteningly frequent and sometimes accompanied by a very strong scent of lavender. Which is absolutely disconcerting in a place that usually smelled like British tap beer and deep-fried foods and, in those days, cigarette smoke. I guess she was feeling a little fancier on those particular occasions and wore a little extra perfume.
She also, famously, had a habit of dumping plates out of servers’ hands as they attempted to place them on the table in front of hungry customers. And it wasn’t simply a butterfingered waiter sort of thing. I can attest to the force of the plates being snatched from my hands, propelling fish and chips half way across the room. It happened. A lot!
She also didn’t seem to want people to leave for the night. When you closed the upstairs at the end of a shift, one of your side-work tasks was to put the bar stools up on the bar itself and the chairs up on the table so the floor could be mopped the next morning. Many times as I sat downstairs having a drink and doing my checkout, I would hear the sounds of furniture being moved. The scraping across the floor was unmistakable. The first time, I went back upstairs, thinking maybe another server was rearranging things. And I discovered the chairs and stools helter-skelter into the middle of the floor. But of course, it was closing time and I was the only one there.
And then there is her special domain – er bathroom stall. She likes to lock the door when someone is inside. I personally have never been locked in, but there were many times that a woman would be surprisingly locked in a bathroom stall for an unreasonably long time if no one heard her calling for help. And in every case, at some point, the door just popped open ... with supernatural force. When the poor trapped woman wasn’t even touching it. Maybe the ghost in the second-floor bathroom was just really enjoying her house guest.
There was one occasion when a bartender was doing some office business out at the bar when he heard loud hysterical shrieking coming from the bathroom. Thinking that someone had gotten locked in again, he went to see if he could help. The cries just got louder as he tried to calm the woman and force open the door. The door remained solidly shut and just wouldn’t budge. And the screaming inside was growing more hysterical. And then suddenly, on one of his full-weight pushes, the door swung open easily and he hit the floor. The screaming stopped abruptly and, well, you guessed it – there was no one inside.
The building that was the Red Lion Pub on Lincoln is now shuttered and closed. And like I said, I don’t know much about the housing habits of ghosts. But the examples I gave are simply a handful of the run-ins with the woman in the second-floor bathroom. She is a very prolific and committed haunter. And it makes me wonder if ghosts get bored or lonely. Do they miss having living humans to interact with or are they content with keeping each other company? Or do they just, for the most part, fly solo? Are they forever trapped in a particular building for the rest of their time? Or are they able to choose a new haunt? And where do they go if the building gets torn down or burnt down or destroyed?
I worry about the woman in the second-floor bathroom – I spent a lot of time on her turf. And, truthfully, she cemented my belief in ghosts. We navigated a particular living and dead communication. I feel like we had an actual relationship. And even though I was a little frightened most of the time, I actually kind of miss her.
Source: Kim Z. Dale, ChicagoNow, October 21, 2013.