|Detroit Free Press, February 5, 1924 (enlarge)|
Shade of Janitor Appears Before Colored Chore Lady in Dead of Night
Restless Spirit Even 'Phones Employee Telling Him His Time Is Near.
A federal ghost in white, the color to which apparitions are so partial, and with the leering timbre to his voice without which any revenant lays himself open to suspicion as being a sort of proletarian phantom, has taken up his home in the basement of the postoffice.
There among the empty sacks and other heterogenous stuff stored in the cellar he moans his mail-bag blues. The postoffice is half sick about it. Johnny Smith himself had a green G. O. P. pallor yesterday, and everybody walked warily.
Some weeks ago there was a similar scare, when a terrible crunching sound was heard that fairly rocked the foundations of the federal building. This was satisfactorily explained, however, after some hunt, searchers came upon one of the night forces eating celery in an obscure corner.
Meets Dead Janitor.
The newest shock involves most of the colored federal help, which has had two frightened defections to date.
Mrs. Margaret Lee, Negress, was about her chores in the basement last Wednesday and had turned a corner when whom did come upon? You never could guess.
Directly in her path and gussied up in the latest supernatural gim-cracks was a janitor who died several months ago.
"Ha, ha!" Margaret said the ghost remarked to her in the dismal way ghosts have.
You could have knocked Mrs. Lee over with anything. If her legs had responded, she would now be in the vicinity of Beluchistan. They didn't, though. There was no feeling in them.
She reported sick abed the next day.
The nerve-racking story was told to Ben Horn, of the internal revenue department. He ridiculed it in his callous manner, but he took conference with John Day, Negro, in the same department.
"You'd better stay down there tonight and see what this is all about," he suggested.
"Me?' said John. "I wouldn't be any help to any one. The minute I saw the ghost I wouldn't be there any more."
So Horn recommended to another colored employee that "we had better stay down there tonight."
"Where do you get that 'we', Mister Horn. I got no interest in that cellar."
Spreads Below Decks.
Fear spread below decks and each morning fresh stories of eerie visitations floated up.
The former janitor had been a thrifty official, ever going about the building turning off some light a wasteful employe had left burning or a water tap left running.
"Ah saw him reach up and turn off the light." said a male assistant of the specter.
Then came the strangest happening. A colored worker answered the telephone Saturday. A great facial change occurred. When he turned away from the phone he was black no longer, it is said, but a greenish white.
"What on earth is the matter?" some one asked.
"It was Mister Ed," he quaked, "and he said, 'Ah know where you are going to be soon.' " Monday he reported sick abed.
Tuesday Postmaster Smith sat at his desk with drawn face. He pretended to be undisturbed, but his sang froid was transparent. He was wondering--if the Clyde Kelly congressional bill providing higher salaries for postoffice employes would pass.
"Ghosts is apple sauce," said his secretary. He'd better stay out of the basement.