TRUFANT — Arthur C. Clarke, author of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” among other books, once noted, “Behind every man now alive stand 30 ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.”
At least three of these restless spirits — if one is to believe in such things — currently reside at the Maple Valley Inn in Trufant. A typical small town tavern, the Inn has stood in the same location for over 100 years. In that time, according to current owner Janet Wood, the business has picked up a few stray spirits of a type other than those sold in bottles.
Wood describes herself as a skeptic and nonbeliever when it comes to the supernatural. At the same time, she’s having a hard time denying — or explaining — some recent events at the Inn. News of paranormal “activity” there recently drew the attention of Scott Sheldon, owner of Ghost Paranormal Investigation in Mount Pleasant.
The first person to notice anything out of the ordinary at the Inn was Cliff Niles, who serves as the establishment’s handyman, part-time cook and jack of all trades. In most movies dealing with paranormal activity, Niles would be the character likely to meet with an untimely demise before the end of Act 1.
“It was odd, that’s all,” Niles relates. “I was here at 2:30 in the morning, getting things ready for breakfast. I had the satellite radio going, my old ’50s music; but I guess they didn’t like it.”
As Niles prepped the kitchen, the voices of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper suddenly fell silent. A quick examination of the radio showed the antenna had been pulled partway out; Niles plugged it back in.
A few minutes later the music stopped again. This time the power cord had been pulled.
The problem persisted for months, Niles says, but only when he was alone in the restaurant and only in the early morning hours. Stranger still, only when he was listening to the oldies station.
“If the radio was on the country station, nothing would happen,” Niles says. “They would leave it alone. They did not like my ’50s music. It went on like that for over a year, but now they’ve gotten used to it.”
Of course, applying Ockham’s razor — the notion that the simplest answer is probably the correct one — it’s easy to come up with explanations for the stopped music, explanations that contain no supernatural component. But then you’d also have to explain the rattling pots and pans in the empty kitchen, the footsteps coming from the empty attic, the lights that switch on and off of their own volition, the spectral apparitions appearing in old photographs of the place … and the voices recently recorded there by Sheldon and his Ghost Paranormal Investigation crew.
“Most of the evidence was captured on voice recorders,” Sheldon explains. “We caught a voice on tape, either a child or a female, it’s hard to determine.”
About three weeks ago, the crew stayed at the restaurant late into the night, armed with infrared cameras and video equipment, voice recorders and EMF (electro-magnetic frequency) analyzers. Monitors and sensors set up throughout the restaurant kept constant tabs on anything and everything that might be classified as paranormal.
In the time the ghost hunters were there, they were treated to all manner of unexplained bumps, bangs, voices and EMF fluctuations. The team’s conclusion? Oh, yeah, the joint is definitely haunted.
That being the diagnosis, is Wood afraid to be alone in her own establishment?
“It’s not too creepy to me,” Wood says. “We’ve always joked about the ‘naughty little boy’ rattling the pots and pans around in the kitchen. When (we) took a picture of the place when we first opened, there was the shadow of a little boy looking in the window. But it’s not creepy. This bar is at least 100 years old; it’s been here a very, very, very long time and it’s been a bar for years. The ghosts don’t hurt you.”
Wood has decided, in fact, to embrace the ghosts — metaphorically, at least. She’s planning a special dinner party featuring Sheldon and the crew, who will explain their ghost hunting techniques and share the results of their recent investigation at the Inn.
“We’re so excited,” Wood says.
The Maple Valley Inn is located at 116 W. Second St. in downtown Trufant.
Ghost Paranormal Investigation is a self-financed group and charges nothing for its paranormal investigations.
“We’re always up for doing investigations,” Sheldon says. “We go all over the state.”