On a warm weekend in the middle of last September and in the middle of Sutton Avenue, the theater department of St. Louis University presented their Maplewood/Shakespeare adaptation play, “Remember Me”.
The very large audience (I heard 1700 on just Saturday night) was charmed by an all Maplewood cast and the many ghosts of Maplewood portrayed by giant puppets and conjured by the playwright, Nancy Bell. A couple of my favorite ethereal personalities, the Maplewood Spectre (she of the variable height of whom I have written several times) and the ghost of Charles Rannells, the builder of our most historic piece of property, Woodside, were among the spirits roaming the stage those nights.
Nancy also borrowed details from a tragic story concerning a very old St. Louis family, the Clamorgans. Some of them including a young woman named Clara once lived just beyond our border in the City of St. Louis. The Clara in Nancy’s play was a metaphorical ghost represented by a ten foot tall puppet. It was the story of Clara’s that set off the events I am about to relate.
That Saturday night following the performance my wife was home alone when she was a bit startled by a pounding on the front door. Not expecting anyone she went upstairs and walked out on our front porch so she could call down to the person below. There she saw an old friend and fellow Maplewoodian who we had not talked to for several years. He was excited by the play and came by wanting to know if I had information on Clara Clamorgan. Why? He was trying to solve another of Maplewood’s mysteries.
Sometime later when I visited him at his home he told me that numerous times he had seen a strange apparition while headed to his work around midnight. The vision he saw was of a young woman dressed in a white robe or gown who seemed to be waiting for someone by the steps that once led to the now vanished Maplewood Depot at Arbor and Maple. He remembered thinking that it was odd to see a young woman out that late and that she was lightly dressed on a cold night. As he drove away he began to realize that something very unusual had just occurred.
Time passed and then there she was again, dressed the same and in the same location. He said on one occasion something happened and suddenly she was on the other side of the street at Marshall and Maple. It happened in an eye blink much too fast for a real woman to cross the street right in front of him. The time was five minutes before midnight same as before.
Since that first sighting he has seen her eight to ten times in ten years he estimates. During one sighting he determined not to take his eyes off of her. Didn’t matter. She disappeared while he was staring at her. Will he see her again? It is less likely because he now works the day shift and doesn’t leave his home shortly before midnight any longer.
He thought perhaps it could be the ghost of Clara but I told him the story of the Maplewood Spectre. How she appeared to be waiting for someone by the train tracks at Sutton and Greenwood in 1910. I told him how his description of this apparition sounded like she was dressed in a similar manner to our spectre. Only this apparition was of a normal size and not the heroic stature of the ten foot tall Spectre. He had not heard or read of the story of the Spectre and had no knowledge of her whatsoever before I filled him in.
In his own words this is what he saw. “She is a young white girl maybe 15 to 18 years old, with long dark hair that is always pulled back and somehow tied. She looks downward almost all the time, but I’ve seen her face a few times. It is strikingly petite and thin. She wears a white night gown or house robe that reaches almost to the ground and a light colored shawl over her shoulders. It seems like she carries some kind of package or small bag in her right hand.”
He has read this post and approved its correctness. This is a man that I have known for quite a while. He is a sober and responsible individual. If he says he saw this vision, I believe he did. Had I been there with him would I have seen her too? Who can say?