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Gig at the Haunted Hotel

In the fall of 1980 I had joined a top 40 cover band called The Sky Willow Band. Our agent sent us out on the road for two months, first to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; then to a small town in central Michigan called Owosso.

It was there in Owosso that we were booked at an old hotel called The Presidential Arms. The staff had told us stories of ghosts that haunted the inn, supposedly as a result of a tragic fire in the Hotel's past. The band found the yarns amusing and took the stories lightly.

We had Thanksgiving weekend off, but had to clear our gear off of the stage, as the hotel had booked a solo performer on our regular Monday night off. My drummer, Jeff, and I helped each other load the keyboards and drum gear into the old manually operated elevator so that it could be stowed temporarily in a basement storage area. 

The main hallways of the basement were bright, well lit areas with conference and meeting rooms. We were making multiple trips moving the gear from the elevator to one of the smaller meeting rooms.  Off of the main hallway was a long, dark corridor with old tables and chairs stacked up. 

On a subsequent trip back to the elevator, Jeff asked me if I had seen his trap case (a large black fiber case on four wheels that holds the drum hardware). It typically weighs well over 100 pounds and takes two people to lift. I told Jeff that I had not seen it. Each of us thought that one was playing a practical joke on the other. But in reality, one person couldn’t lift the case. There was definitely no one else in the basement besides us, and if there was and if the case had been wheeled, we would've heard it, as the floor was made of brick tile and the wheels would've made plenty of noise rolling over the bumpy surface.

After searching every inch of space in the main hallway, we reluctantly started down the previously mentioned dark corridor. When we got near the end, we discovered that the corridor then turned ninety degrees to the right and was even longer and darker than the first section.

Jeff and I could both feel chills down our spines as we proceeded slowly, waiting for our eyes to adjust to the dark. After about fifty feet, we could just barely make out the silhouette of the trap case. There it was, sitting perfectly centered at the end of the long corridor, as if taunting us. We each grabbed a side of the case and wheeled it out as fast as we possibly could, the wheels making loud clacking sounds from speeding over the brick tile! 

I have no explanation for what happened that night and I still get chills even thinking about it. The Presidential Arms Hotel is long gone, but the memory of its haunting remains.

Added on Halloween October 31, 2011

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