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Published: Sunday, 10/31/2004

Haunting tales: Northwest Ohio has its share of spooky stories

By RYAN E. SMITH

BLADE STAFF WRITER

Not all ghosts are out to get you. Sometimes, they need a little coaxing.

For these more timid ghouls, legends tell of rituals that must be done, lights that must be flashed, rooms that must be shut in order for a certain spirit to appear. Believe in them or not, these rituals are alive and well in northwest Ohio.

Don t think so? Maybe you should take in a show at Bowling Green State University or hang out along the country roads east of Elmore.

At BGSU, theater is more than a magical place of make-believe; some think it is home to a ghost named Alice. Generations of students putting on plays at the Joe. E. Brown or Eva Marie Saint theaters in University Hall not only have recognized the apparition, but have gone out of their way to appease her.

It s a big superstition. It s passed on from stage manager to stage manager, said Roseanna Sharrow, a senior BGSU theater major.

Miss Sharrow said she s called upon the spirit for good luck before each one of her shows since she was a freshman. Here s how it works: You have to lock yourself in the theater with only the ghost light [a bulb left burning on the stage whenever the theater is dark and empty] on, she said. You basically invite her to the show.

To not extend this courtesy to the ghost is to invite disaster, she said.

I have worked with a stage manager in the past that didn t believe in it, Miss Sharrow said. From what I ve heard from others, things have gone weird with her shows. The lights just blacked out during the middle of a show.

The college student from Youngstown wouldn t say anything more about her interactions with Alice.

I m not allowed to talk about what happens when you re inside, she said.

The origin of the story is unknown. Some say that Alice was an actress who was killed when one of the lights fell on her during a performance. Others have heard that she jumped from the balcony. Yet another story is that she was a former theater student killed in a car crash while returning to the university to collect her award as actress of the year.

Steve Boone, assistant professor in the department of theater and film, has heard the stories. He said the urban legend has been kept alive by students, though he hears less of it now than he did 17 years ago when he first came to BGSU.

Mr. Boone has never taken part in the ghostly student rites. Still, he said, when you leave the theater in the wee hours of the morning after putting on a show, it feels right to say something. He hasn t done it in years, but what better way to bid adieu than to say: Goodbye Alice."

Further to the east near Elmore, so many people are interested in a local, decapitated spirit rumored to ride his motorcycle along a country road that it has become an occasional nuisance to law enforcement officials.

Rick Claar, an Elmore city councilman and owner of Elmore 5 & 10 Antiques, said he's been asked to stop sending people out there because it was causing a traffic hazard.

But people keep coming and asking for directions to see the ghost rider. Some nights you'll find six cars parked on the stretch of road near the border of Sandusky and Ottawa counties, Mr. Claar said.

"This legend's been going on my whole life. I'm 49," he said.

One version of the story involves a young soldier returning from World War I who was in love with a local girl. When he went to her house, he found her in the arms of another man. Upset, he took off on his motorcycle and crashed on a bridge. Some say his bike and body were found, but not his head.

In order to summon his spirit, or at least the light from his phantom motorcycle, modern ghost hunters drive to the area on Slemmer-Portage Road just south of Elmore Eastern Road and flash their lights three times and honk their horn three times.

Local historian Grace Luebke, 84, has combed the obituaries from that time period and has found nothing to support the story. There are newspaper reports as early as 1922, however, of young men from Port Clinton hopping in their cars to check out the "ghost light," she said.

"I have heard a lot about it," she said. "I wouldn't go there for lovin' or money. But I do know that there's something that goes on."

Contact Ryan E. Smith at:ryansmith@theblade.com

or 419-724-6103.



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