GAC trifled with the affections of Jerusha Howe, the ghost of a heartbroken innkeeper’s daughter as they investigated Longfellow’s Wayside Inn. Located in Sudsbury, Massachusetts the inn was built in 1716 and originally named after founder David Howe. Howe’s operated the tavern until 1861.
The following October Henry Wadsworth Longfellow stayed in the sadly reduced boardinghouse for farmers and itinerant laborers. Longfellow spun a tale of characters anchored at Howe Tavern, renamed Wayside Inn. Longfellow’s book, “Tales of a Wayside Inn” was published in 1862. His vast popularity attracted droves of people to the door of the unassuming Howe Tavern.
It took three decades for an official name change, but with daily tourists and a cottage industry of items bearing the image and Longfellow’s fictional name, the lucrative potential was finally realized by new owner Edward Rivers Lemon. Lemon bought the place in 1896 and changed the name in 1897. Eventually he sold it to Henry Ford in 1923.
Jerusha Howe, the sister of the last Howe innkeeper was born in 1797. She was the alleged origin of the most famous ghost at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn. Known as the “Belle of Sudsbury” she was described as beautiful and musically talented as she entertained guests by playing the pianoforte. One special guest was an English sailor who captured Jersusha’s heart. They were lovers until he was called back to England. He sailed with a promise to return, but never did. Legend claimed Jerusha waited and waited but finally died of a broken heart in 1842 at the age of 45.
At first Zak wasn’t comfortable as he, Nick and Aaron sat in the candle lit dining room of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn. Three guys sitting around a table on Valentine’s Day in a room full of canoodling couples wasn’t Zak’s idea of a good time. He complained, “I’m used to being locked in demonic prisons.”
GAC reminisced about amorous or aggressive spirits from past investigations with clips from the Birdcage Theatre, Old Fort Erie, La Palazza, Mansfield, Hill View Manor and the memorable Ancient Ram Inn where Zak completely confused the terms incubus (male demon wanted sex with living women) and succubus (female demon that wanted sex with living men and deposited their sperm in places it had no right to be.)
A few mocking clips from “Chelsea Lately” and Joel McHale’s “The Soup” shows were thrown into the mix. Joel quipped that Zak had to resort to ghosts because he “couldn’t get a live one” (woman) in his bed. Good zinger Joel, but I sincerely doubt Zak lacks for willing, breathing female companionship.
Most of the episode Zak razzed Nick about being married and consequently unfit for attempts at ghostly hook ups. He told Nick, “You’re married, you don’t get a Valentine’s gift.” (Oh I don’t know, I imagine Nick’s newborn daughter was a significant gift between him and his wife.)
Zak proved he would say anything to both the dead and the living when he announced to the dining room at large that he planned to hook up with the ghost of Jerusha Howe that night. He swept out of the room which left Aaron and Nick in a stare filled silence. Aaron bolted and Nick told the observers, “What? I don’t know those guys!”
Historian Lee Swanson didn’t quite know how to take GAC and Zak’s sophomoric humor. Lee first described Jerusha’s lover as a seaman instead of a sailor. Zak beat that joke to death. Bewildered, Lee asked, “Where are you guys from?”
Lee told Zak that numerous past male guests at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn had personal encounters with Jerusha’s ghost. Most of these took place in rooms nine and 10. Room nine had been Jerusha’s bedroom and room 10 her sewing room.
Next Zak interviewed Dan Grillo, a former married guest who had encountered Jerusha’s ghost around 2 am one morning. He was sleeping and felt an arm curve around his back. Startled, he woke, jumped to the side of the bed and was astonished to see the imprint of a woman’s body in the empty mattress. Dan shared that sometimes Jerusha’s ghost was reported standing in a corner of the room up to half an hour before she faded from sight.
When asked by Zak if his ghostly cuddle session was sexual in nature, Dan replied, “Not sexual. More like comforting.”
As he chatted with a front desk clerk Zak mused that every living man who encountered Jerusha’s ghost was married. He speculated that perhaps Jerusha was jealous. The clerk who had encountered a number of the men in question agreed with Zak and said she thought Jerusha wanted a man to focus on her alone. If Jerusha liked married men, why didn’t GAC put Nick in room nine?
I had no trouble talking to Jerusha’s ghost. I asked her what happened with her lover. I heard his name as Edward, a common English name. Edward and Jerusha fell in love but when Edward went back home to England he forgot about her and married another.
Jerusha waited for Edward, but told me she also made inquires to try to figure out if he had perished on his journey home. Her questions made life uncomfortable for Edward who had sired a child with his legitimate wife. He sent Jerusha a letter explaining his new life. Jerusha’s ghost said her health started to decline after she received the letter.
I asked my guides about Jerusha’s faithless sailor’s fate. It wasn’t long in coming. Many English seamen of his era left the Royal Navy DD, (discharged dead). When Edward’s child was still a toddler he drowned when his ship went down.
I asked Jerusha’s ghost if she and Edward had a child. She said, “No. I had hoped for a child.” Then I asked her if she was aware of the wives of the living men she touched in her old room. Jerusha remained so lonely and hopeful that to her the living women next to their husbands in bed were the ones who looked like ghosts.
A brief glimpse through Jerusha’s eyes showed the wives as almost misty or translucent. For Jerusha these women were not quite present. All of her attention was on the men. I think she had been seen standing in the corner of her old bedroom watching the occupants of the bed because when she and Edward were lovers she often watched him sleep.
The term “graveyard love” seemed to apply in Jerusha’s case. She was head over heels for Edward and eventually couldn’t bear to live without him. Not sure if that made her a romantic or a fool, but her pain over his loss was and continues to be all too real to her.
Meanwhile Zak asked Lee for tips on how to attract Jerusha’s attention. Lee suggested Zak play the pianoforte. It quickly became clear as Zak plunked keys and sang off-key, that approach wouldn’t work.
Zak asked Dan what he thought Zak’s chances with Jerusha’s ghost were. Dan, who was middle-aged, graying and stout pointed out she had gone for him.
Next Lee suggested Zak read poetry to Jerusha’s ghost. Consequently Nick found Zak wandering around the inn reciting from Longfellow’s book. Nick apparently startled Zak who promptly slipped and fell on the icy snow-streaked grass. Sometimes I think GAC missed their calling. They were truly gifted at slapstick humor.
Undeterred Zak hit on current female guests in the inn. Young, old, middle-aged, he spouted poetry and bits of Shakespeare with equal abandon. One lady was a fan of the show, one a coffee shop clerk and the third looked alarmed and walked away.
Once lockdown arrived GAC reviewed the variety of tools used. They had the highly successful PX Spirit Box, an EMF detector, Mel meter, infrared digital still camera, thermal camera, a full spectrum camera and of course a handful of DVR’s.
Two X cameras were set up in the downstairs hallways. Two more were positioned in rooms nine and 10 along with DVR’s suspended from the ceilings. GAC EVP and tech specialist Billy Tolley monitored the action from a central command van outside.
Zak started with a thermal camera sweep on the first floor. He told Jerusha, “I want you to sing for me.” This prompted a response. Zak said he saw a bit of flowing white dress out of the corner of his eye. He followed it up the first half of the stairwell where the air temperature abruptly dropped seven degrees in a few moments.
The Mel meter showed a spike of electromagnetic energy in the area and the readings repeatedly seesawed between 72 and 62 when Zak asked Jerusha’s ghost if she had tried to get his attention. Shortly thereafter Zak said he couldn’t move and that he felt someone holding his hands. I saw Jerusha’s ghost on the stairwell with him.
Encouraged, Zak asked Jerusha, “Did you hear me play music with you?” An EVP response said, “…they look strong…” in a feminine voice. Zak decided he and Aaron would vie for the attentions of Jerusha’s shade. What happened next was not cool.
When Zak told Jerusha’s ghost he was her long-lost love she believed him at first even though I heard her tell him, “You changed your hair.” I think Edward was either a redhead or blond. It was wrenching to see her eyes light up for the moment she thought Zak was Edward. It didn’t take her long to realize he wasn’t. Anger was quick to follow.
GAC didn’t hear it, but Jerusha’s ghost took Zak to task for his deception. She told him, “This isn’t funny. My pain isn’t funny.” She then asked me, “Why would he (Zak) do this?” I bluntly told her his actions made him look good. She swore vehemently and turned away. After that I figured Zak needed to watch his family jewels carefully.
As Zak explained his PX tactics with Aaron he managed to further anger Jerusha’s ghost when he said, “…almost train that spirit to use this device…” Jerusha protested, “Nobody trains me!”
Right before Zak and Aaron entered Jerusha’s room, out in the van Billy recorded a misty figure standing near the bed. The image was captured by a full spectrum camera. The figure had a discernible head, full body and flowing outlines of a white dress. (I mostly saw Jerusha in a full length, neck to toe nightgown similar to the figure used to dramatize her story in the episode.) (GAC writer Jeff Belanger does history right.)
Unaware of the misty figure, Zak sat on the side of the bed and placed the PX in the middle of the mattress. At first things were quiet but the advent of a sudden chill coincided with the PX when it said, “gentle…lay….” Zak was delighted and asked, “If I lay down, what are you going to do to me?” The PX response was, “tickle”. Next Zak asked what would happen if Nick lay down on the bed, what would happen to him? The answer was, “affair”. That seemed to make sense as Nick was the only married GAC member. However the diction was odd. To me it sounded more like “a fair” or “a far”.
Aaron headed solo into room 10 while Zak took the hot spot in room nine. As Nick had been banished to the first floor with the infrared camera the contest between Zak and Aaron was on. Zak played up his reputation as a sex symbol to the hilt.
Once the door closed and it was just him and the cameras Zak said, “Hello Jerusha. I’m all alone now.” He followed up with, “Jerusha are you here? What do you want to do with me?” A number of times during this episode I couldn’t tell if Zak intended to speak to Jerusha’s ghost or to fuel the fantasy lives of his female fan base. I think he managed both at once.
Aaron used a nice guy approach when the told Jerusha that he had had his heart broken many times. He could relate to her. That seemed to work as Aaron then heard shuffling footsteps nearby.
In room nine Zak tried more standard provoking questions, among them, “What’s my name?” The PX chirped back, “Zak’s here.” Zak reverted back to sexy mode as he asked Jerusha’s ghost if she wanted to do something (to him). The PX interrupted that thought when a deep male voice said, “behind you”. The same raspy voice commented, “Got yer thing there….” followed by an indistinct female cry.
Zak seemed to be listening in on a conversation between a male and female ghosts. I saw the male ghost as Jerusha’s father. They relived an awkward moment when Adam Howe caught his daughter in bed with a male guest, presumably Edward the sailor. (Anyone who had ever been caught in such a compromising situation by a parent would sympathize. Yes, don’t ask.)
As he got bored Aaron recited horrible poetry. His recital ended when he abruptly asked thin air “Wait…are you touching me?”
Zak caught an EVP when the same raspy male voice he had encountered earlier asked, “What do you want?” This was followed by additional indistinct recorded but unexplained female voices.
Jerusha may have been up to her customary haunts as Zak reacted to something he saw in the room. Then he felt his legs start to tingle for a moment. The sensation vanished but then Zak felt two hands press down on his knees as he lay on the bed. He later described it as if a woman had leaned over the end of the bed and placed both hands on his knees. His experience matched what I saw when he felt pressure on his knees.
Aaron picked up another EVP after he asked Jerusha’s ghost what she wanted. He reminded her that he had offered to hold her, to kiss her, had even brought her chocolates. This bit of universal male puzzlement of what do you want from me anyway, was interrupted by a ghostly voice that said, “…let me just tell you something…” Aaron felt a cold chill travel up both legs and stop at his upper thighs.
Ever persistent, Zak looked for more action when he asked Jerusha’s ghost, “Do me a favor and touch a part of my body right now.” He got his wish when he felt two taps on the calf of his leg. He softened his tone as he explained to Jerusha’s shade that he wanted to be as close to the paranormal as possible. That was definitely creative pillow talk.
The evening after lockdown GAC relaxed at the inn and reviewed their experiences with Jerusha’s ghostly touches. Zak wasn’t satisfied. He protested, “I felt I was being teased. I wanted more.” Considering how furious Jerusha’s ghost was with him for his false claim of being her lost lover, he was lucky there wasn’t more. It may not have been the kind of close encounter he had in mind.
The episode wrapped up as Zak spent a second night in room nine. He entered with roses and banned the cameras. The final tease was if fans wanted to know what transpired the second night they would have to visit Longfellow’s Wayside Inn and find Zak’s letter in the room, along with hundreds of other encounter letters. Longfellow’s Wayside Inn may soon enjoy a significant boom in business.
Lynne Olson can be contacted for private readings via email at: email@example.com
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