In the spirit world

Clarence, 'the friendly ghost,' keeps Pa. antique shop owner on her toes

Clarence, 'the friendly ghost,' keeps Pa. antique shop owner on her toes

October 30, 2005|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, PA. - Something or somebody is ringing bells, climbing stairs, dropping boxes and opening and closing doors in Marilyn Newcomer's antique shop, and she thinks it might be the ghost of a man named Clarence who worked in the building in the last century.

If what she says about a ghost living in her shop isn't true, said Newcomer, owner of The Farmer's Wife antique shop at 103 S. Carlisle St., "then God can strike me dead."

Newcomer, 58, bought the building and business in February 2004, and right away began hearing and seeing evidence that things weren't normal.


"The first day I walked through the front door, I had this feeling of belonging, that I was supposed to be here," Newcomer said

Newcomer's first indication that she had company of the spiritual ilk came one afternoon when the front door opened and closed by itself. The door incident, plus some unexplained ringing of bells in the shop, convinced her she wasn't alone.

Newcomer called some friends who were experienced in matters of the supernatural to check out the store.

"They told me that I needn't be afraid," she said. "They sensed there was no hostility in the ghost, that he was friendly and that he liked me."

For lack of imagination or a better name, Newcomer decided to call him "Mr. Ghostie."

The only time he really scared Newcomer was once when she was sitting in a chair and occupied with some task, she said. He came up behind her and let out a throaty, gargling sound, she said.

"I screamed and scared two women customers in the shop," Newcomer said. "I think he was trying to communicate with me."

The ghost seems to be particularly active around the time of Greencastle's Heritage Christmas, Newcomer said.

"Once during Heritage Christmas, some sleigh bells sounded in the back corner, and we don't have any sleigh bells there," she said.

The last time Newcomer heard the sleigh bells when she was alone in the store was about two weeks ago, she said.

The two-story frame building dates to 1900. For much of the 20th century, it was Leiter's Hardware & Implement. It later housed a used furniture store, then Hometown Antiques, before Newcomer bought the business and building.

Eleven antique vendors rent space in the store.

Newcomer said she has learned that a man who was hard of hearing named "Clarence" worked in the hardware store for years.

"One night, he came home from work and found that his wife had committed suicide" by hanging herself from a rafter, Newcomer said.

Newcomer won't go so far as to say that the man called Clarence is her ghost, but she won't say he isn't, either.

Tom Vinson, a vendor in Newcomer's shop, comes in for a few hours every week. He said he has never heard bells ring.

All the same, Vinson said he believes in spiritual beings.

"This building is old and it seems to have a presence in it," Vinson said. "You can't come in here and ... feel like you're alone."

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