Don’t Forget Your Crayolas…

By Liesl E.

Depending on whether you are a “The Sixth Sense” person or prefer “The Shining,” you probably recognize child ghosts as either terrified or terrifying. Either way, the mainstream media loves to extort the images of children for their spooky potential. But what if child ghosts just wanted to play like normal children do? In order to investigate this question further, we need not look past the boundaries of our own campus: for the Kirby Theatre toutes Reggie, a child ghost who may or may not enjoy Shakespeare. I have yet to investigate his theatrical preferences.

As I have gathered over my years at Drew, Reggie was a child who drowned in the Kirby’s swimming pool while the building was still a gymnasium. The current theatre’s former use can be witnessed by investigating the stone lettering on the side of the building which still reads “Bowne Gymnasium.” The creepy sepia toned image that appears when you google “Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey gymnasium” does little in the way of comfort.

But is there any validity to these rumors? Or are they just a fun story? Current Theatre Department Chair, Lisa Brenner, was able to shine some light on the matter:

“When we were rehearsing the show TOO BIG in the Kirby Theatre, the students told me there was a ghost in the building and that on opening night you needed to provide it with crayons and a coloring book or things would go wrong. I thought that sounded absurd. But then it was opening night, and all of a sudden, our sound and lighting boards didn't work. We tried everything. Then someone recalled the ghost. A student went out and got crayons and a coloring book. Soon after, it was fixed and we were able to start the show!”

After hearing this story from one of my most skeptical and critically thinking professors, I have decided that if I’m ever working on a show at The Kirby again, I will make sure to bring my crayola’s...

Maria R.
“I have taken plenty of naps while at Drew, but in 2019 I had my first creepy ghost experience. I was dead asleep one afternoon and I knew I was taking a nap, but in my sleep, I knew I wanted to wake up, but I couldn’t. I knew what my surroundings were, and I knew that I was alone like I visually saw the empty room. I would try then to physically get up repeatedly, but every time it felt like I was being pushed back down. I couldn’t even keep my head up or sit straight up. The part that freaked me out the most was that as I tried to sit up, I could see a black figure moving every time that feeling of being held back down again would happen, and I stayed where I was. I felt myself getting more and more nervous with each time this happened and I felt paralyzed. What makes it scarier was that I could hear it talking as if it were my boyfriend’s voice, but in my head, I knew it was not really him, that it was something imitating his voice. And when I woke up finally, the knot on my shirt had been untied, but I went to sleep with it tied... Scariest moment ever.

One night, a group of students headed down into the basement of Tolley to see if the rumors of its haunted hallway were true. See the results for yourself:

Victoria V.
“I lived on the 4th floor in Hoyt and I would always hear footsteps in the hallway, but when I go to open my door to see who it was, I would never find anyone there. Sometimes when the floor was super silent, I would hear the floor creaking loudly, but there was no one in the hallway!! And then one time, when I was walking back from the bathroom, I heard a loud crash coming from one of the rooms on my floor. The girl who lived there just entered the floor and walked to that door where the sound came from. When she unlocked it, I went inside with her and we found nothing broken or on the floor, it was practically an empty room. Totally weirded me out.”

Kathia O.
I lived in Riker my sophomore year and one night I was getting ready for bed and I turned off my lamp and browsed my phone for a bit. I kept seeing a little flash of light in the corner of my eye but I chalked it up to being so tired and probably a reflection of light from my phone glaring onto my glasses. As soon as I put my phone down to fall asleep, my drawers all opened. I immediately turned my flashlight on and as soon as I did that, my drawers slammed shut. Needless to say, I could not sleep for the rest of the night!

One night when I lived in Hoyt, my boyfriend was sleeping over and I had to leave around 4 a.m to drive my mom to the airport. As I’m heading out I make sure I have my ID and my key as to not wake him when I get back. I head out on that rainy night and when I’m driving back into campus, I notice I do not have my ID which is weird because I definitely know that I had it when I left. I assumed I dropped it somewhere so I look for it in the Hoyt lot and then resort to calling public safety so they can let me in because again, I didn’t want to wake my boyfriend up. P-safety lets me in and I open my door to find that my ID was exactly where it was when I picked it up to leave so I move it into my purse and get back to bed. As if that’s not weird enough, I get back into bed and as I’m falling asleep, I feel my boyfriend jolt and hear him groan in fear really
loudly so I awake and he wakes up scared telling me there was a white shadow standing over him, looming right where my ID was and as I look over the ID is right back there and not in my purse where I had just put it a mere 20 minutes before. I requested a room change in Hoyt my junior year because I kept waking up with what seemed to be bug bites and scratches  so I called maintenance and they moved me into a different room as they searched for bed bugs or any bugs, but surprisingly they found nothing. I still requested a room change because those whole 3 months I lived in that room consisted of sleeping with the lights on because I couldn’t sleep and I got creepy vibes at night and when I would wake up, I’d have bites and scratches.

From S. Miller:
In fall of 2018, I was working by myself in the art vault of the archives recording information about the artworks stored there.  At one point, I walked over to the front of the vault area, where the floor is made up of metal bar grating like a catwalk.  This allows you to see through to the space underneath the vault.  I glanced down for a moment, and I very clearly saw something that had not been there before.  There was a disembodied foot in a ballet flat with a bow on it.  When I looked back down one more time, the foot and shoe were gone.  Now this is an area that people could potentially walk underneath, but it is not often that people are moving under the art vault.  Additionally, the lights in that space were not turned on.  However, I saw very clearly that the foot was not connected to a body, making it apparent that it was some nonhuman form.

From Liesl E.
As a freshman in the theatre department, it was not long before I heard tales of Joe Patenaude, the former theatre professor who supposedly haunts the theatre wing of the DOYO. As most of these stories were coming from very dramatic sources, I was skeptical. Until one night I heard inexplicable voices calling from an “empty” room after a late rehearsal. But I wanted to know more about these voices. So I enlisted the help of Annalisa Manabat, a fellow senior, who was able to shed some light on the matter. A student with not only one but two ghost stories regarding the theatre wing, Manabat was able to provide some chilling insight: “It was a dark and stormy night and I was in the DOYO…” she began and proceeded to describe something inexplicable.

After attending a performance, Manabat went to use the lady’s room and recalled hearing what sounded like a woman on the phone. After a moment though, Manabat realized that all the stalls were open and empty. She was, in fact, alone in the bathroom. The voice without a source continued speaking. The lights flickered and Manabat ran out of the bathroom.

If you can believe it, Manabat’s second story is even more chilling than the first. Late one evening, Manabat ventured to the costume shop in the basement of the DOYO to help her friend and customer, Kelsey Kessler. On her way to the basement, Manabat was informed by a fellow student that Kessler was the last one left in the theatre wing as it was the end of the night. Manabat described her walk down into the basement as “terrifying” and noted that one of the lights was broken. As anyone who has been to the basement of the DOYO will tell you, it is exceedingly dusty and creepy. Mannequins are left in odd places, and a miniature of the globe theatre sits untouched, in the same corner where it has been sitting for years.

After finishing up their work in the costume shop, Manabat agreed to leave first. They planned to meet back up once Kessler had finished locking up. But on her way back to the main floor, Manabat heard something rather unsettling. She described what she heard as: “someone calling me, someone laughing. And I was like: ‘Kelsey?’” Manabat heard the disturbing laugh a second time: “...I was like ‘That’s not Kelsey.’” Once reunited, Manabat asked Kessler if she had been calling her name. After discovering that Kessler had in fact not been calling her, the terrifying reality of the situation sunk in.

Manabat has avoided unnecessary solo visits to the theatre wing ever since. And how could she not? Especially after being where the ghosts know your name...

From Rita:
It's 1999, and I'm working in the Registrar's Office, which was then located on the first floor in Tilghman House.  Prior to becoming what is now the INTO building, Tilghman then housed the Registrar and Student Account offices on the first floor, Financial Assistance on the 2nd and The Shakespeare Theater offices on the 3rd.  You can't miss Tilghman House if you enter Drew from the Lancaster Road entrance, it's the large yellowish building to the right, and pretty much towers over the visitors lot.  I find that even now as I enter campus from that direction that I always glance at Tilghman windows, perhaps looking to see if there is any sign of any passed away inhabitants.

The first floor of Tilghman was split by the two offices, Registrar and Student Accounts.  I came in on a Saturday morning to catch up on some work and realized shortly afterwards that I was the only occupant in the building.  The backdoor was actually used as the main entrance, while the beautiful large looming double wood doors in the front of the building were seldom opened except in the warmer months.  My desk, was slightly off to the right of the double doors, which gave me a beautiful view of the elegant staircase, stained glass windows and the large fireplace.  The beautiful architecture paneled in mahogany made the rooms dark and somewhat creepy even with all the lights on.  To the right of my desk was the entrance to the Student Accounts office.

Student Accounts consisted of four rooms with the cashiers counter being the first point of contact with the SA staff.  The counter served as work space and also kept anyone from wandering around into their other work areas. The swing door attached to the counter made a very distinct click each time it was opened and closed.  After hearing that door open and close so many times you just became noise blind to it.  So on this particular day when I came into work I said hello a few times thinking I would get a hello back if anyone else was in the building, there was no response.  I settled in, and got my computer up and running and about an hour into working I hear the swing door slam shut.  It startled me and caught me off guard since I was working in complete quiet.  I jumped up to see who was there.  Who got by me, and why didn't they say hello?  Although close by, that swing door was out of my line of vision from my desk.  I looked around, and saw no one.  I called out and no one answered.  I knew I was still alone in that building, or was I?
I quickly logged off of my computer, and very loudly said "Ok, I'm going...."

At the Health Service....
Approximately 3-4 summers ago when the offices are functioning but it tends to be quiet with most students off campus for the summer. I remember very clearly opening up the Health Service one day and not sure why, but I uttered out loudly to Jim Brown and said, "Jimmy, if you're here let me know. I'm not afraid"  Jim Brown was very well known on campus since he'd been the Master locksmith at Drew for 30+ years. If you knew Jim he was very likable and quite the presence on campus, with his impish grin, wit, and yes, he was a bit of a rascal. He was extremely reliable and a master at his job. He'd stop by every Monday morning like clockwork to say hello and to see how you were and if you needed anything. He'd know you needed a key even before you broke it! lol   But sadly, Jim passed away one short month before his retirement from Drew.  It was a very sad time for all of us. Jim worked so hard and loved to travel, and here he was cut short of his golden years. It was heartbreaking, for months afterwards I'd see his golf cart and remember him always in it or parked nearby, or he'd stop if he saw me to give me a ride across campus. He is still sorely missed.

In any case, shortly after I made that statement odd things began to occur, but I shrugged them off and frankly at that time I'd even forgotten about my invitation to Jim Brown.  As time passed there were more occurrences that just didn't make sense, such as items falling from shelves when no one was near to disturb them, a dream catcher in the window that moved when no window was open and no one nearby to disturb it.   Little incidents happening more frequently, so I confided in a co-worker and began to tell stories of what I'd been witnessing for the last few months.  She admitted that she was relieved to hear this as she too, was experiencing strange occurrences.  We both agreed that we said nothing prior, so as not to be looked at as batty.  We swapped stories and decided to keep the stories between us, so as not to spook the other staff. 

It seemed as if every couple of weeks we would have another story to share, as there were times when each of us worked alone in the building. Something would occur and we would immediately text the other stating what had just happened. It became amusing, yet a bit unnerving. Then one day something occurred while there were three of us in the building and that's when all of us started sharing our stories with one another, and also announced the feeling of being watched. There was the time when one of us heard the patter of little bare feet running in our back hallway, or the time the doors would shut and no one was around, items dropping to the floor when the room was unoccupied, our names being called out, cabinets that were locked were now wide open, just to name a few.  I think the most embarrassing and frightening thing that happened to me was one day after everyone had left the office and I stayed a bit later, I was in the restroom and the door handle began to jiggle. I knew no one was left in the building,  my heart jumped into my throat.  A few weeks later my co-worker experienced the same thing in a different bathroom!

We started to share our stories with the other staff as they returned to work from their summer breaks.  They would listen and hear us out and nod, but it was pretty apparent from their facial expressions that they weren't buying into it, until they started to experience it too.  The odd noises from unoccupied rooms, items moving, but the one thing that I believe convinced everyone that we had some ethereal being was when a computer fell from a desk when the desk was unoccupied.  It wasn't close to the edge and so we could not explain why it fell.

The Health Service used to occupy the entire annex, and all of the back offices were set up like hospital rooms, with two beds in each room, a privacy curtain that separated the beds, along with the typical kinds of furniture that you would find in a hospital room.  The beds are long gone, and we have no knowledge of anyone passing over, but there is definitely a presence in our building, but is it Jim Brown accepting my invitation or another dearly departed?

They Listen in McClendon...
By Liesl E.:

Ghosts only haunt old buildings, right? Not at Drew University. The most ghostly year that I have ever spent at Drew was not, in fact, when I lived in an old dorm. It was instead when I lived in McClendon – one of the most coveted living situations on campus. Lauded for its air conditioning and modern conveniences, McClendon seems like a paradise from the outside. But what lurks behind it’s walls is not for the faint of heart.

Upon moving into McClendon, my roommate and I felt that there was something weird about our room. Apart from the fact that the layout was odd, the lighting fixtures looked more like they belonged in a hospital ward than a dorm room. And while we did our best to make the room feel cosy (buying rugs and knick-knacks) we couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something creepy afoot. Our posters and photos developed a habit of falling off of the wall and our curtain rod just did not want to stay in place. As time crept from summer to fall, the disquiet in the room continued to grow. The thermostat for only our room broke. So, despite the fact that the rest of our suite stayed nice and warm, our room was as cold as the grave. We resorted to taking hot showers as our only means with which to thaw out our frozen limbs. We contacted facilities three times – each time receiving an email that the problem had been fixed while we were at class. However, we never saw any actual resolution to our heating problem.

As we rounded the corner fully into autumn the ghosts started showing themselves. My roommate saw a man in a dark coat standing at the foot of my bed. Another night she saw a figure in a red coat standing in the window as she walked home. We quickly realized that this must have been another apparition, as I had been sitting on my bed without going to the window for at least forty five minutes. But our most consistent visitor was a half-human-half-wolf whom my roommate first saw standing in my closet.

We named him Wolf Man and whenever anything strange happened we would blame it on him, as he was the only realistic explanation most of the time. We discerned that he must have liked it cold in the room and loved pulling things off the walls at odd times. We took to talking to him just to see what would happen, but he wasn’t very chatty. At least not until the incident with the curtain rod.

I had come back to our room one day to find that our curtain rod had fallen, yet again. No matter how hard I tried though, this time I couldn’t get the rod to stay up. After ten minutes of struggle, in a last ditch effort to get the curtain to stay up I asked Wolf Man aloud to stop messing with it. No sooner had the words left my mouth than the curtain stayed exactly where it was. With genuine tears brimming in my eyes I wordlessly turned to my roommate and we stared at each other in shock. We were much more careful to watch what we said about Wolf Man after that, and learned to coexist peacefully with our unanticipated extra roommate.

So whether you believe my story or not, I offer you one piece of advice: be careful what you say in the suites, because they listen in McClendon...

Truth Behind the Hoyt Ghost?
By Liesl E.

One of the first ghost stories that any young, unsuspecting Freshmen of Drew University will hear is that of the Hoyt ghost. Haunting the fourth floor, rumour has it that the all-girl’s floor remains that way because the ghost hates men. Tales of supernatural incidents during visits from boyfriends abound, and the ghost who supposedly hung herself in the attic roams free. Is there a logical explanation for these mysterious happenings? Having never lived in Hoyt myself, it is hard to say. However, there is one specific situation that can be explained. Erin Gruodis-Gimbel, a former resident of the fourth floor of Hoyt, was kind enough to share her story with us.

During the summer of 2019, she was visiting her boyfriend, who was living in Hoyt at the time as an acting apprentice with the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. “I went up to visit him a couple of times, and the first time that I was there, some of his friends told me that they knew about the Hoyt 4 ghost, and they hoped that when I lived on the 4th floor in the coming school year, I wouldn’t get haunted.” During another visit to Hoyt over the summer, the event in question occurred. Gruodis-Gimbel described the story as follows:

“About a month later, I was visiting him again, when I had a mental problem to solve. Whenever I start to think really hard, I pace, and because my boyfriend was living in a Hoyt single, there wasn’t a lot of pacing room…Then I realized that no one was living on the fourth floor, and no one went up there because it was creepy. So I put in my headphones, and I went upstairs to pace.

While I was up there, the podcast I was listening to ended, and as I was searching for a new one, I realized that my pacing was making the floor creak. My initial thought was ‘Oh, that’s going to be really annoying in the fall,’ and I kept pacing. It wasn’t until I had done maybe 4 or 5 more laps that I realized that the people on the floor below me could probably also hear the creaking. Not only did they hear rhythmic creaking as I paced back and forth, they all knew no one lived on the 4th floor…and that there was a ghost.

I quickly abandoned my pacing, and have felt guilty ever since that I may have seriously freaked out some innocent acting apprentices.”

While this creepy happenstance may be easily explained, what about all of the previous events involving the ghost? The truth of the Hoyt four ghost (as with most ghost stories) depends entirely upon who you ask. But one thing is for certain – if you don’t watch your step in Hoyt, you may inadvertently terrify a group of actors.

Watch Your Mouth in Welch...
By Liesl E.

While you have probably heard of the famously haunted areas of our historic university – Hoyt, The DOYO, and Mead Hall to name a few – you may not have realized that the ghosts of Drew University are not limited to these locations alone. In fact the most terrifying event that has been recounted to me in my time at school happened in the seemingly peaceful freshman dorm of Welch. Granted, I was not there while the event took place. Nevertheless, the story remains etched in my memory.

It was a cool autumn night before Halloween when my friends described to me what had happened just the evening before. We were gathered in the very room where the haunting had occurred as they recounted the following events. They had been sitting together, talking. When asked what they had been talking about they would not say for fear that the event would repeat itself; because it was precisely while they were discussing the unspeakable subject that the ghost had appeared to them.

The window had blown open and the room shook. But the details of the apparition itself they swore to take to their graves. After the unspeakable haunting they called in the help of a mutual friend who touted knowledge of the spirit world and an ability to rid spaces of poltergeists. Using sandalwood to mark the entrances and exits and respectfully asking the spirit to leave, the mutual friend cleansed the room and exorcised the spirit; putting an end to the terrifying affair.

Now I realize that this is a rather vague story and that an intelligent, skeptical reader such as yourself is probably doubting it’s authenticity and I cannot blame you. If I were reading this and had not heard the story first hand I would also tend to doubt it. But the fear and genuine terror in my friends eyes haunts me to this day. And I would argue that their stubborn refusal to repeat the specifics of the summoning and appearance of the phantom speaks more to it’s authenticity than anything they could have said. So, believe what you will; but if you know what’s good for you watch what you say in Welch during the month of October...

I was a student at Drew University. My friends and I recall with slight horror and laughter some of the strange things that happened to us. I’m going to try to list the most poignant and “provable” ones based on witnesses and my personal traumatizing experience. I’ll go in order from least horrifying to most.

Story 1- I’ve been in the arboretum more times than I can count- mostly hiding from public safety or getting into shenanigans most of the students would get into out there. My friend came running back from the lake out there to our group of friends yelling something about jade. Apparently a womanly figure who hovered over the lake told my friend I needed this stone- for what, I’d inquire over and over again. We’ll get to that…

Story 2- I lived in Hoyt my senior year- the story goes the attic is haunted. Let me tell you- there is way more going on in that building than just the top floor. When I first moved in, I placed my stereo on my desk. I did not plug it in. Suddenly that evening as I was entertaining some friends and unpacking boxes, an old radio station started playing do-whop music. It stopped after a few seconds. I called the electrician on campus the next morning to see if he could figure out how this happened. He told me that it was possible that there were some currents still in the wire from when it was plugged in last (3 months prior??) and when I contested especially since he seemed unconvinced by his own words, he just shrugged, smirked and left. Months later, I heard the same music coming from the hallway. It was 2, maybe 3 in the morning. I cracked open my door, and saw a blue shadowy figure, which seemed like a older nurse pushing a cart with a radio on the bottom row. I obviously slammed my door and hid under the covers the rest of the night.

Story 3: it was mid-afternoon. I had about five people hanging out in my room making music and drinking (I was a senior, so we could drink fellas). My bed served as a couch, as many do- it’s a college dorm. All the sudden, a red ball of energy floated down beside me between me and the person sitting next to me. It was clear as day- a red ball the size of maybe a tennis ball, glowing and floating as if sitting between us. Pressure filled the room. We all looked at it, and then each other, and we ran from the room and stood outside for a while before moving along with our day dismissing it as maybe we were crazy.

Story 4- the attic. We all heard the stories of men who slept on the top floor with their girlfriends waking up bruised… I had a friend who lived up there so occasionally I’d climb the stairwell at night to visit her or head back to my place after a night of handing out. It was pouring rain one night, I want to say it was 1am. Lighting/thunder/ the whole bit- a serious storm. I was walking up the stairs, and suddenly my feet froze. I actually felt like I couldn’t climb the stairs between the third and fourth floors. Instinct made me look up, and all I saw were feet dangling from the ceiling- I couldn’t look anymore- I ran back down the stairs faster than I could think.

Story 5- the basement. This is the most horrifying moment of my life to this day. I went to the basement about a month before winter break. One had to do laundry down there. Usually there was someone else switching laundry but I was particularly lazy on this day so I believe it was after midnight at some point. I was by myself, and walking down those stairs makes someone feel woozy during the daytime, let alone late at night. Kids would often pull pranks, too. I start switching my laundry from the washer to the dryer, and I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I quickly turned my head over to the gated-off area where the “underground tunnel” leads to town (where people often pulled pranks) and saw someone in a white T-shirt and jeans turn around away from me. I yelled, “knock it off,” at this figure. It Turned back around and I saw it’s face- gray, sunken, wrinkled. It was dressed like the 1950s greasers we have seen in movies like “Grease.” For months I saw this face- it was in every reflection. It was following me. I taunted it. It finally left me alone when I stayed with my friend in his guest room- his mother was a minister, so the guest room was covered in crosses and photos of priests. I am embarrassed to tell this portion of the story, but I was pinned on the air mattress, each limb like an “x.” I couldn’t move. I felt something climbing on top of me, I felt breath on my face. The little candle in the window above my head grew so bright and all the crosses on the wall started shaking. I screamed for help, hoping someone could wake me- I thought I was having a nightmare and just couldn’t wake up. The crosses started shaking so hard one fell to the ground, and that’s when I heard the footsteps racing down the stairs. The light returned to normal and the family flipped on the lights. I was still stuck to the bed, but I finally felt like it was gone. This was a week before returning to school. I moved forward like it was a nightmare and it couldn’t have happened. It was impossible. I’m a rational person, and everything about this experience was irrational. I did laundry in Spirituality house across the grass from Hoyt for a few months until it became a distant memory. The day I was too lazy to tote my laundry over there, I decided to be brave and do laundry downstairs again, but only during the day. The day I made this decision, I heard someone downstairs doing their own laundry. I pushed the door open. The door immediately slammed and I felt an abrupt cold rush of air coming straight at me. It was almost like a ghost planted itself in my head and it was yelling at me, “you let it out! Get the fuck out!” It was a man dressed like a priest. I stopped doing laundry in Hoyt.

The above stories are my personal experiences. I can’t explain them. There are more but I don’t remember them vividly enough to write them down. Drew university is haunted, but by more than what stories claim. Whenever you ask a student about their experiences, you’ll get at least one story. Oh, I left you hanging about the Jade. It was said to me, a few years after I graduated that jade protects against evil. It always helps you in your dreams to understand. If I had this stone when my friend told me I needed it- I may have (and this is skepticism) been able to avoid the terrifying experience I had in the basement. I wear one around my neck most of the time a decade later.