I’ve been playing with Ouija boards since I was a senior in high school. A random encounter with one at Spencer Gifts and a feeling of curiosity led to my purchase. In my hometown of Troy, weekends are hit or miss. And when they’re miss, my friends and I take the board and take a trip to Pinewoods Cemetery, one of Life magazine’s top 10 most haunted places in the United States. We’re fearless.
This is the first semester I decided to bring up my board to school. Being a resident assistant in Macdonough Hall, this was an opportunity I could not pass up, seeing as the residence hall has supposedly been haunted ever since it was transformed from an old morgue.
An uneventful night during the Columbus Day weekend called for a séance. My suspicions needed to be confirmed.
The board lay between me and Rachel Penders, Cardinal Points’ associate photo editor. Two fingers were gently rested on the planchette as we asked our first question: “Are there any spirits in the room?” The planchette remained over the letter “G” for quite some time until we impatiently asked once more. It slowly started to move as our eyes moved from the board to each other’s face.
The planchette ended up over the word “yes.”
I never mess with this sort of mysticism. I would never intentionally move the cursor, and I trusted Rachel enough for her not to either.
Whenever there is a spirit in the room, it can be a positive or negative one. The instruction booklet normally advises players to not communicate with negative spirits, but who reads the instructions anyway? We consulted to each other and agreed that would be our next question. It turned out it was, in fact, a malicious spirit. I was willing to take my chances, though.
So who was this spirit? Well, we later found out that it knew me but was not related to me. Anybody who had died in my life had never done anything detrimental during their time spent on Earth. How did this spirit know me? Was it because this spirit is familiar with Macdonough and has been following me around on my duty rounds?
I’ve always had that feeling somebody is following me on my rounds. It’s a rather uneasy feeling I get and makes my stride that much quicker. The midnight rounds are the worst — especially during the week when everybody goes to bed early.
Our spirit friend also suggested that Macdonough was once used as a hospital, but after researching that information, I did not find anything about it. However, Champlain Valley Hall is rumored to have been a Tuberculosis hospital during the early 1900s, which explains the need for a city morgue.
Even before this supposed morgue, the land that Macdonough now lies on was used as a resting place for two pre-Revolutionary War bodies unearthed during its construction. Half a century later, the Memorial Hall field was used as a hanging grounds for the Plattsburgh Arsenal a year after the War of 1812.
This spirit could have come from anywhere, but it definitely came from Macdonough. During our séance, another RA from Macdonough joined us in my pitch-dark room.
“Spirit, do you know Jess?” No answer. “Spirit,” I started again after a moment of no movement, “do you know Jess?” The planchette made its way toward “yes” and my suspicions were reaffirmed: The spirit had been following us on our duty rounds.
Communicating with the dead seems terrifying to most people, but in a way, it’s an interesting experience being able to speak with a person from another dimension. Don’t let a Hollywood movie convince you that you should never touch a Ouija board. Not everything you see is factual. But who knows, maybe you’re in for a surprise. You won’t know until you try it.
Email Chris Burek at firstname.lastname@example.org.