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Group to scare up spooky stories

MIDDLEBURY — Ilsley Public Library Youth Services Librarian Tricia Allen wants to hear about Middlebury residents’ favorite haunts — and she’s not talking about their preferred bars or night spots.
Allen is a member of a local youth educators’ group that is seeking to compile a series of ghost stories linked to Middlebury people, places and things. Plans call for those stories to be recorded and made accessible by mobile phone for people looking to take a spooky tour of Middlebury around Halloween.
Allen explained the idea came up during a recent gathering of the youth educators’ group, which includes representatives of the Ilsley Library, Middlebury Community Television (MCTV), the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History and Town Hall Theater. In discussing future programming for young people, the group came up with a “Middlebury masquerade” theme for the fall that would incorporate masks and costumes in various events.
From this discussion, Allen noted, came the idea of doing something to showcase “the creepy side of Middlebury.”
Kurt Broderson, technical coordinator for the library and MCTV, has offered to assist those willing to record their ghost stories. To that end, the Vermont Folklife Center has offered its recording facilities.
“There’s got to be some ghost stories tied to the downtown,” Broderson said.
There certainly are, and some of them are floating mysteriously through cyberspace.
One such story, posted on ghostsofamerica.com, speaks of a family of four apparitions inhabiting an Elm Street home.
“We sometimes see a man in the basement when we do laundry and a little boy, we all know him by Michael,” reads the post, which also refers to a “lady who is all on fire” who is sometimes trying to pass a baby to anyone who will take it.
“We know something weird is going on here,” the post concludes.
A story recounted in the Middlebury Campus alludes to the late Timothy Clark Smith who died in the Middlebury Inn in 1856. Smith had expressed a fear of being buried alive, so his family had his remains placed in a special tomb at New Haven’s Evergreen Cemetery, equipped with a window and a bell for him to contact the living if he were to awaken.
Broderson and Allen hope Middlebury residents come forward with stories like these, which will be recorded. Organizers will then map out the haunting landmarks, with codes to allow phone access to the stories while visitors are viewing the sites.
“We think the stories are there; it’s just a matter of finding out who knows them,” Broderson said.
Organizers would like the recordings to be completed by the end of this month, so they can be available through October and into November. Anyone wanting to participate should contact Allen at the Ilsley Library at 388-4095, or at [email protected].
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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