Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Haunted at Work

I don't remember if I ever wrote about this, but I was listening to the podcast Deeper End with Donna Rose and Diana Fronterhouse, and the topic of ghosts came up.  Then, the other day we were talking about ghosts at work.  I mentioned that I used to work for a place that was Haunted.  Yes, really.

And yes, I saw the Ghost.

Back in 1994 I was working at the Royal Scot.  It was the last bartending job I ever had.  The Royal Scot was in the Hotel Chester, Phoenixville, Pa, where Sips is now located.  It's an old building- built in 1894.

Hotel Chester

I was on opening one day- I think it was a Saturday.  One of the owners had just died the week before.  I don't remember his name, but he was a Marine and he was a fine gentleman.  One of the duties when opening was to go into the basement to turn on the carbon dioxide for the taps and soda system.  The basement was accessed by a trap door behind the bar, which you would then hook to the back bar, and then go down the steep wooden steps.  It was unfinished, and lit by a single hanging bulb.

That morning, I went downstairs, and was turning on the gas when the single bulb started to swing wildly back and forth.  It wasn't an earthquake, because I would have felt that.  I wasn't scared-not at all.  I felt oddly calm.  I turned, looked, and said "okay [Dead owner's name] I'm just trying to do my job here." The light bulb stopped swinging.  It didn't slow down and stop-  it just stopped dead.

I went back upstairs and started working starting up the sound system behind the bar. This bar is a national landmark, and as such cannot be altered.  That's because the wood is of an extinct type native to the area.  In any case, there are mirrors behind the bar- old ones.  I looked up into the mirror and I saw an old man standing on the other side of the bar. He had white hair, and wore a brown suit that looked extremely outdated- like a costume.  He had a handlebar mustache and mutton chops.  I was surprised to see him, and I wondered if I'd forgotten to lock the door when I in to prep the bar for opening.

I turned to say "May I help you, sir?"...there was no one there.

I then looked back in the mirror, and there he was, still standing there looking at me! I turned again to face him, and he was not there.  When I turned back to the mirror, he was gone there as well, but I thought I heard a sound: like an echo of someone spitting into a spittoon.

When the surviving owner, a wonderful Scotsman named Doug Brown, came in a couple of hours later I told him the story of what I saw, but I did not say what I heard.  He didn't seem surprised at all, and he showed me a book which contained the history of the building.  In this book was an old picture of a man, which pointed at, and asked "was this the person?"  

It was!  It turns out that the person was the guy who built the place.  Doug said that people don't normally see him; they only hear him.  They hear him spitting into a ghost spittoon.  I told him that I had also heard that!  He laughed.  He called the ghost "the Colonel."

Birthday at Royal Scot.  1993 or 94

The Royal Scot is long gone now, as Doug moved to Michigan.  He passed away a some years ago, far before his time. There have been two bars in that place since then.  

As I noted above, currently the place is called Sips. I went in there a year ago to have a drink.  The bar looks exactly the same.  I mentioned to the bartender that I used to work there back when it was the Royal Scot.

I asked the bartender if anything strange has happened in the place.

He laughed, rolled his eyes, and said "oh yeah!"  I told him this story, and he told me some of his.  He even called the owner over and the three of us swapped stories.  So the ghost is "alive" and well, so to speak, and it wasn't just me who saw him.

As a side note, I was going to buy this place when it was up for sale back around 2007.  But I couldn't get the money together.  I was going to call the bar The Spirit and advertise the fact that it is haunted.  Alas it never came to pass

So, that's one of my ghost stories.  Maybe I'll tell one of the others someday.

Be well.


  1. One year in college my son lived in a 100+ year old house with a bunch of friends. There was an old attic which was inhabited by a ghost of a 12-14 year old girl named Beatrice. He and several others had sightings of the young girl, mostly dressed in a white sleeping gown. There were also multiple occasions when something would move on or fall off a counter. They had a standing offer that they would pay $100 to anyone who would spend/sleep the entire night in the attic. Several tried but no one collected the money.

  2. Great story!
    The mirror thing is rare.