By C. Michael Forsyth
NORTHHAMPTON, Mass. — Students at the nation’s most prestigious women’s college complain that the restless spirit of a Peeping Tom who kicked the bucket in 1902 is up to his old tricks — and has been spying on them in the locker room!
Frazzled female athletes at Smith College claim that the ghost of school janitor Barney Feckham lurks around the shower stalls of the gymnasium, getting an eyeful of the bathing beauties and fondling them every chance he gets.
“The ghost won’t keep his hands to himself. Girls have their bottoms smacked and their nipples tweaked — it’s an unacceptable situation,” revealed a school administrator who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
A student who asked to be identified only by her first name, Lisa, claims she had a bone-chilling encounter with the perverted poltergeist.
“I was toweling off after a shower and the whole time I had the eerie feeling I was being watched,” she said. “When I bent over to dry off my leg, I felt an ice-cold finger goose me. When I turned around, there was no one there. It totally freaked me out.”
Renowned psychic investigator Dan Greavesby of the New Jersey Institute for Paranormal Research, based in Edison N.J., has been called in by school officials to probe the case. His research has uncovered a tragic history surrounding the disembodied spirit of the maintenance man.
“Barney Feckham was a longtime employee of the college, respected for his dedication to his duty,” Greavesby reveals. “He was especially attentive when it came to the locker room, lingering there long after hours to clean up and make repairs.
“One day it became apparent just why he was so concerned about that particular area of the school. He’d drilled a hole through which he spied on the students as they undressed and showered.”
When the scandal came to light, Barney was sacked. But he was so humiliated that instead of returning home to his wife, he hanged himself in the very locker room that was the scene of his shame.
Barney’s ghost first appeared in the spring of 1903, six months after his untimely death.
“Girls would be chatting gaily in the communal shower and suddenly see a spectral figure drifting through the steam around them,” Greavesby says. “Or they would be dressing and turn to see Barney’s leering face in the mirror. Other times, he was unseen but they would hear him whistling his favorite tune, Danny Boy, just before they were groped by an icy hand.”
In the course of his research, Greavesby came across a rare photograph of what appears to be the entity in action, snapped in 1906 by pioneering ghost photographer Horace Wakeford. It shows what Wakeford described in notes as “ectoplasmic material” in the shape of a man reaching toward a showering student.
Over the decades, the strange apparition has cycled through periods of activity and dormancy. After a flurry of sightings in the 1980s, Barney went on a 26-year hiatus. But this fall, the girl-crazy ghost is back with a vengeance.
“At least 14 students claim to have seen or been sexually harassed by Barney’s ghost so far this term,” reveals Greavesby. “Dozens of others report experiencing an odd sense of being watched.”
School administrators are playing down the haunting and officially deny having brought in the psychic investigator.
“Every old new England college has its share of ghost rumors,” said a spokesperson. “Smith has no more paranormal activity than any other Ivy League institution.”
The expert came with an arsenal of 21st century ghost-hunting gear, including electromagnetic field detectors, infrared scanners, super-sensitive microphones and a dozen full-spectrum video cameras capable of picking up light frequencies invisible to the human eye.
“Students can be confident that the locker room is under 24-hour surveillance,” says Greavesby.
Several worried parents who’ve heard the ghost reports are demanding that school officials summon an exorcist to expel the lecherous entity from college grounds. But Greavesby believes that if he can communicate with Barney, he can convince the weirdo wraith to knock of his antics voluntarily. And even if he can’t, the manifestations will eventually run their course.
“Barney’s spirit is fulfilling desires he had as a living human on the earthly plane,” the scientist explains.
“In time, he will have had his fill of eyeing nude young women and will be ready to move on to the other side. It may take 10 years, 50 years or even 200 years. No one can be sure. But one day he will be ready to march down that tunnel toward the bright light.”
Copyright C. Michael Forsyth
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