Whoooooo’s in the VFW?

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
This shadowy presence may be lurking on the second floor of the Greencastle VFW at 408 S. Washington St. The image has created quite a stir on the internet circuit.

Is it real or is it fake? An email photo circulating in Greencastle and beyond has people wondering. The shadowy image  of a man at the end of an upstairs hallway at VFW Post 6319 might be a ghost, the being responsible for strange noises and eerie sensations through the years. Or it might not.

Local lore has it that the second floor of the VFW is haunted. VFW members and employees have long heard footsteps and banging, or seen shadows and lights flickering. They have felt the presence of someone in the old meeting room when no one is there.

Legend says a man hung himself in the original house decades ago, or that a little girl was murdered there.

So it shouldn't be impossible that when assistant manager Jay Morgan and a friend decided to go up after closing, they might find something.

While some VFW members were under the impression the particular photo was taken Friday night, Morgan, 31, said they took it about two weeks ago on a cell phone.

"You always hear rumors of stuff," he said. "Sometimes me and my friends get the urge to investigate." He and a pal, who he would not identify, spent about 10 minutes on the second floor, snapping five photographs in the different rooms. Neither saw anything unusual. "If I did, I would have been down the stairs faster than lightning."

Later, when they looked back at the pictures, he was surprised to see the man. "I was taken by the whole thing," said Morgan.

A few days later they shared the image and "it's spread like wildfire."

Ty Harbaugh, who cleans the facility, is convinced the photo is real, and he's not afraid. "They don't bother me and I don't bother them. I'm where they were at before me."

Melissa Johnson, who was hired as manager in December, said she was told right off the bat not to be afraid if she ever heard something strange. She has not witnessed anything out of the ordinary.

Upstairs

Johnson took a visitor to the second floor. She picked up a fallen frame and hung it back on the wall. "I don't know how that happened."

The former family home has been adapted to VFW needs, with a large meeting room no longer used due to accessibility issues. The second level also has a storage room, closets, a bathroom, and locked office area.

As Johnson rounded a corner to the attic stairs, she noted, "Oh, that's too weird."

The attic door was open. She locked it to keep out the cold draft. The stairs led to nowhere, since a ceiling capped the stairwell.

History

The Harry D. Zeigler Post 6319 was established in February 1946, meeting first at Citizens National Bank. On Jan. 1, 1948 it purchased the residence of Lewis Kemp at 408 S. Washington St. Eventually the third floor of the stately house was taken off, and three additions enclosed the original home.

Max Izer, 90, a charter and life member of the VFW, was in on the negotiations of the purchase from Kemp. He has never heard about any ghost. "As far as I'm concerned, it's a hoax," he said.

Local historian Bonnie Shockey was not aware of any ghost tales either. Athena Varounis, author of Franklin County Ghosts, which records the presence of otherworldly spirits at the Allison-Antrim Museum and The Farmer's Wife in Greencastle, declared the photo a fake.

"Is it digital or film?" she asked in an email. "It's just a bad photo that someone is trying to pass off as paranormal. It is quite clearly and obviously staged."

A paranormal organization has been contacted to consider running a check on what is upstairs at the VFW.

And does Morgan believe the ghost is genuine? "To be honest, I'm not real sure."

VFW manager Melissa Johnson stands in the same location as the ghostly image portrayed in an electronic photograph.