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'Veiled Lady' pays visit, shares tales of darkness

October 31, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

WILLIAMSPORT

karenh@herald-mail.com

Every time Marion James' daughters threw a slumber party, ghosts threw furniture and boxes around in an empty attic.

At least that's what she says.

James and about 40 others - believers and skeptics alike - enjoyed a few ghost stories Sunday during broad daylight at Williamsport Town Museum. The Halloween celebration even summoned a return of one of the town's most mysterious visages - the "Veiled Lady."

Under a cloak of black lace, James' daughter, 45-year-old loan officer Johnna Maravelis, read tales from "The Littlest Ghosts," a compilation of stories from beyond the grave by Susan Crites.

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Children and adults sat snacking on popcorn as Maravelis recounted the claims of a Williamsport woman who reported she saw her daughter playing in her room with a rabbit and two boys - weeks after the girl died. Maravelis told them about another area couple who saw a boy crash a sled on a grassy hill - even though the surrounding terrain was blanketed with snow, and the boy had died decades earlier.

Whether Maravelis' audience believed the encounters depended on their own visions of the spirit world.

"Hmmmm ..." said Emily Bryan, a 12-year-old Springfield Middle School student, pausing as she pronounced her verdict on the existence of the ghosts in Maravelis' stories. "I wasn't scared by them, so I can't really tell if I believe."

Neither can Maravelis.

She donned black to recall the "Veiled Lady," a mysterious woman who lives on in legends and in the minds of aging pranksters. According to myth, Williamsport's "Veiled Lady" might have been a ghost, or a scorned wife looking for her husband. Boys also played the part - years ago, they dressed up to haunt adult residents of the town, museum volunteers said.

For Maravelis and James, saying with certainty whether ghosts are real can't be done.

That's because strange things always have happened in the Honeyfield Road house where James grew up.

"We built the house. I don't believe in ghosts, but we have one, anyway," James said after her daughter's readings.

According to James, family members heard a piano playing even before the house was built about 40 years ago. Her children, who are now adults, reported hearing crying or seeing phantom people in the house at different times, James said.

Maravelis said the ghost does not seem mean-spirited. In fact, after her brother fell asleep in bed while smoking once, he spent the next weeks on the floor because the ghost or ghosts shook every piece of furniture where he laid, Maravelis said.

And, when they had overnight parties, the girls got used to knowing the ghost would interrupt their sleep, Maravelis said.

"Every single slumber party, there'd be some ruckus. We always joked about the ghost coming to the slumber party," Maravelis said.

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