By Noreen Wise, author of The Secret Tortoise of Sleep Hollow SAGA I
Ghosts are real. And this story is just another very tangible example. I often wonder if ghosts feel frustrated that so many people don’t believe they’re real. Maybe they want to prove their existence just as much as we do.
A spooky ghost struck the Sunday between Christmas and New Years in a charming, historic North Carolina Inn, in the heart of the campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Any of you basketball fans out there will know that Michael Jordan was a Tar Heel and was a key player in Carolina’s 1982 NCAA Championship victory which became the springboard for Michael Jordan’s fame and fortune in Chicago.
The Tar Heels have won a staggering six NCAA championships. Basketball is a very, very BIG DEAL in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The Carolina Inn was built by a wealthy graduate named John Sprunt Hill and opened its doors in 1924. The location of this renown Inn is the very land where the original Episcopalian Chapel had stood since the late 1700s, at a crossroads at the top of a hill, the location for which Chapel Hill is named.
So as you can imagine, this Inn has been frequented by many famous Americans including the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Rose Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Margaret Truman, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Yogi Berra, etcetera. Additionally, its elaborate ballrooms have been a popular venue choice for reunions, weddings, conferences, special ceremonies, and many different types of large gatherings, which have entertained millions of people across the decades. The list of famous UNC Chapel Hill alumni is so long that Wikipedia has it categorized by occupation. I hope you’ll check out this astonishing list on wikipedia.
Anyway, as I was saying. The ghost struck the Sunday between Christmas and New Years at the Carolina Inn where my cousin, a UNC Chapel Hill Alumni, was getting married.
She wanted a large wedding, at this top venue, during the holiday season, which is top dollar, so decided on a Sunday wedding when the price would be substantially reduced.
I arrived late morning on Saturday the day before the wedding. My immediate family members checked in at different times. Some of us early arrivers met for lunch with cousins, and then we all gathered as one large extended family for the rehearsal dinner that night. After an evening of boisterous celebration, we retired to our rooms and at that point I noticed for the first time, that my room was off by itself in an entirely different wing from everyone else. I decided not to take it personally and instead enjoyed the me-time. To be honest, I was really tired since my flight departed early that morning. I’d been going strong since 4:30 AM and now it was close to midnight.
It only took a few minutes for me to be fast asleep. However, at approximately 3 AM, I was suddenly awakened by intense shivers that were causing my teeth to chatter. The room was pitch black, although a tiny sliver of street light had slipped through a thin separation in the curtains, so I was able to get my bearings. I was painfully cold, chilled to the bones. I yanked the blankets tightly around myself, but this was no help. I jumped out of bed and turned up the heat five degrees. But when the air came on, the room became even colder, rather than warmer. It was freaky. I bolted out of bed again and turned up the heat further. But the room temperature soon sunk that much lower. I leaped out of bed a third time and grabbed my heavy sweatshirt, pulling it on quickly. I also nabbed an extra blanket, and jumped back into bed. Nothing. The room was still bitter cold. I was wrapped tightly in five layers of thick insulation. There was nothing more I could do, except call downstairs and ask to change rooms. But actually, I really couldn’t do that either.
I lay there, trying to figure out another solution, eventually feeling a bit warmer thanks to my sweatshirt, although the air temperature still felt cold enough to inflict hypothermia. But more than that, I had weird bone shivers, the kind associated with ghosts. I began to focus on this, finally acknowledging that there had to be a ghost in the room. That would explain everything. As soon as this became my dominant thought, that there was indeed a ghost in the room with me, the ghost appeared to answer my question, by floating away and leaving me be. Within seconds, the room began heating up, and after a few more minutes, I was roasting hot.
It took me forever to fall back asleep, my mind was so preoccupied with the ghost.
The next morning was a burst of activity, and the ghost haunting was soon shelved. My cousin was having a noon wedding and an afternoon reception. I must admit that throughout the beautiful wedding ceremony, I couldn’t help but debate back and forth… “was it a ghost or wasn’t it? Am I imagining things?”
My very conservative and Catholic family was pretty sick and tired of my ghost stories, as well as my tales of other paranormal events, and they always tried to silence me with their condescending disdain. So when we were back at the Inn, following the ceremony down the street, and I was quickly reminded about the ghost as I admired the fabulous decor and all the richly scented North Carolina long needle pine holiday trimming, I tried to hold my tongue and not say a word as we began spilling into the reception ballroom. The champaign was flowing, and the conversations became a little more animated with much exuberant laughter.
After an hour of everyone drinking the bubbly, and by this time my curiosity was getting the best of me, I decided to be bold and daring and seize the moment. Carpe Diem. The wife of my cousin who I feel closest to, who’s the brother of my cousin who’d just gotten married, has a wonderful dry sense of humor and I determined she was the one most likely not to admonish me for believing in ghosts. She was probably the only one in the room with a more open mind about paranormal experiences and she just happened to be standing right next to me when I made this daring decision.
I tapped her on the shoulder and whispered, “I think there was a ghost in my room last night. Does that sound crazy?”
She quickly spun around and burst out laughing. “Why would that sound crazy? The Carolina Inn is haunted.”
“Seriously? It’s officially haunted?” I asked.
“Yep. Didn’t you know that?” She replied.
I shook my head. “No, I had absolutely no idea.”
My cousin’s wife smiled, knowingly. “Well, you better go tell the front desk. I’m sure they keep a record.”
I was obviously spooked by her confirmation and if not for the champaign I might have felt too intimated to actually report the haunting to the front desk. What if they said, “Yes, indeed. That was our ghost.” What does someone do with that type of affirmation, making something that was invisible an absolute?
But at this point I was still feeling fearless, so I dashed off to the front desk and spilled my spooky story.
“What room are you staying in?” She asked with her eyes wide open.
I eagerly answered.
The color immediately drained form her face and her long silence was deafening. She finally muttered, “Would you please go sit over there at the concierge desk. Someone will be with you in a moment.” She then picked up the phone and turned her back to me as I traipsed off across the beautiful lobby to the desk and chairs near by.
The concierge arrived with a notebook and pen and asked me for details. He vigorously jotted notes, and at the end said. “Thank you.”
After years of being ridiculed for believing in ghosts, and forever being treated by my family and friends like I was an alien, this type of normalcy was blowing my mind. I’d never experienced this before. And I was so curious about why this was his reaction.
“Is my story similar to other stories about the ghost?” I asked.
He calmly nodded and explained that all the ghostly activity had come from the two rooms that had once been a suite of rooms where a notable resident of the Inn, Mr. William Jacocks, who was quite the prankster, had stayed from 1948-1965. Mr. Jacocks liked to have fun with guests who stayed in those two rooms, by doing things like he did to me. Opposites. When someone turned on the hot water tap, cold water came out. And vice versa. My turning up the heat, made the air get colder. “Yep, I can totally picture him doing that, “ said the concierge.
We both sat there in silence for a few more moments, processing everything. I thought back to the haunted house in Connecticut where I’d lived with my 5 year old son for three months, and the police who’d provided a few clues that they too believed something spooky was going on in that house, most likely by the consistency of similar accountings. If this concierge could give me an absolute confirmation based on my experience being so similar to others, then this seemed to be what was most likely the case back in Connecticut. The police definitely acted like they believed what I was saying, and now I speculated it was because of how similar my spooky story must have been to the others they’d heard, which must have also been the same situation with the landlord and why she decided to level the house.
Who doesn’t appreciate a confirmation that ghosts are real? This was very helpful. I finally exhaled and sat back, enjoying this powerful moment of proof about something I always believed would be unprovable.
Good Luck out there! 👻
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