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Arts on view
Ghosts of Skidmore past
- West Hall, 1966: a freshman enters her room and finds a woman seated at her dressing table; the woman stands up quickly and vanishes. Later, a dormmate learns of an old unsolved murder in that building.
- South Hall, 1968: four students preparing for finals see something appear on the walla human face?and hear a baby cry.
- A Saratoga apartment, 1982: a student awakes to discover a woman standing by her bed; the face is a blank, and the body, glowing pale white, evaporates when touched.
These and other Skidmore ghost stories are featured in a college section of Ghosts of the Northeast, published this summer by Salem, N.Y., author David Pitkin. He collected some leads in preparing his earlier Ghosts of Saratoga County, and he learned of an additional Skidmore encounter in response to a query in Scope.
Perhaps the best-known story tells of a hanged Skidmore co-edbut it may stem from a death that involved neither a hanging nor a co-ed. Heres the account told to Pitkin: After a freshman in 1966 told her West Hall dormmate of an apparition at her dressing table, some friends brought a Ouija board to her room, and its pointer spelled out a chilling message: I was killed in this room.
He strangled me and pulled my body into the closet, where he bricked it up behind the wall. Spooked, the students put the Ouija board away and turned to their classes and social lives. Then in 1969 the dormmate conducted research that took her to the chief of police of Saratoga Springs, whom she asked if there were any unsolved murders in the city. The chief found records of a mysterious death at 75 Spring Street, the address of West Hall: bones had been discovered behind a closet wall.
A retired schoolteacher who speaks widely on topics from hauntings to numerology, Pitkin has guided Halloween ghost tours complete with actors depicting unfortunate departed souls. Its usually more humorous than scary, he says, although a few of the scenes can really get your blood pressure up.
While Pitkin is still collecting stories (for example, hed like to learn more about a possible ghost in the former Foley House, on Skidmores old campus), hes taking a break from writing. Its an education in itself, he says, running Aurora Publications, the label under which he publishes his books.
Ghosts of the Northeast is carried by area bookstores and amazon.com. SR
Editor's Note: This article is partly based on a feature by Bruce G. Hallenbeck in the Saratogian of October 27, 2001.