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Myers Hall legends continue
I thoroughly enjoyed “Legends of the Hall,” a speculation about ghosts in Myers Hall in the Fall 1999 Wittenberg Magazine.
However, I must amplify the quote attributed to me. During World War I, Myers Hall provided minimal “hospital” services for a very short time for soldiers sick with influenza. All of them survived.
The influenza pandemic in 1917-1918 that killed between 20 and 30 million people worldwide struck hard at the Wittenberg campus.
On Oct. 1, 1918, 42 days before the war-ending Armistice, Myers Hall became a barrack for the Wittenberg company of the newly formed Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.). As a barrack it had limited space set aside to treat soldiers answering “sick call.”
The yearbook of the time states: “Many of the men (S.A.T.C.) were ill ... the space given over to the hospital (in Myers Hall) threatened to become inadequate ... a dwelling house on the campus was secured for hospital purposes ... The labors of the (medical officer) together with those of the good women who gave so much to the boys were responsible for the recovery of every man stricken with the malady. ...”
Unfortunately, one of those “good women,” Mrs. W.C. Hewitt, one of the first to volunteer, became a flu victim “... while nursing patients of the Wittenberg S.A.T.C. ...” The Wittenberg company attended her funeral, and taps was sounded in respect.
The specter of ghosts in Myers Hall is no doubt sparked by facts. In the early days of Wittenberg, adequate sanitation and pure water sources were tenuous and medical treatment primitive by modern standards. It was an unusual year when one or more students didn’t die.
One example is David Berger, Class of 1856. His sophomore year a fellow student died, and “Davie” excavated the grave for the burial. The body was, instead, sent to the student’s home for interment. The grave remained empty until the next year when “Davie” fell ill, succumbed and was buried in the grave he had dug.
As to ghosts in Myers Hall, I’m sure that in a building housing active, healthy, and sometimes rebellious young men, spirits have been present in one form or another.
Ken Dickerson ’51
In a previous quarterly, we alums were invited to send in “Legends of the Hall.” No one had contributed by Winter 2000, Vol. 2, No. 2. The ghost riders of Myers Hall will feel slighted if one of their comrades of the last half century doesn't give them some respect — “Pounding hooves of the Hollow — My Mythical Memory.”
During World War II, and even the Civil War, Myers Hall was used as a hospital. Some spirits of the soldiers who died there tried to experience campus life, which they had missed. Their horses have been heard galloping through the Hollow or grunting and clacking through the halls of the dorm.
During the Civil War, an extremely ill Confederate officer wanted his horse beside him when he died, even though he chose the fifth floor’s cupola. Students dragged the horse up all those steps where it comforted the officer. The fate of that horse is unknown, but I think it was there still comforting young maidens like me.
I was on campus from 1946-1950. We girls helped hug and kiss the veterans who rushed to campuses to get their benefits. There were five men for every girl. What a year ... brand new on campus, and we lucked out.
Not everyone was happy. The earth-bound spirits who haunted the halls since World War I were angry because World War II ghosts wanted to bunk in Witt World, too. Every time a spring storm came, we could hear the rumbling and the wailing. Only the good ghosts got to stay.
When we sat in the basement canteen of Myers Hall, we could hear the pounding hooves of the first floor above us. Some of the guys would tap the ceiling of the Union (timely named) with a broom stick, and their pounding made the pounding of the hooves decrease to shuffling, then suddenly quiet.
The incident that made me a believer happened on a lovely fall evening. After freshmen registration in September, a fine young vet named Steward offered to carry my books from the Phys. Ed. Building to Ferncliff Hall’s cafeteria. After dinner, we walked to Snyder Park on the side of the road passed the Kissing Bridge on the right as dusk turned to the darkness.
Besides, there was a playground a short distance to the next road with swings and things. I was still 17.
Freshmen girls had to be signed in the dorm by 10 p.m. We were rushing back up the road when I noticed I had lost my wristwatch. Nothing to do but go back for it. We found it by the see-saw at 10 p.m. What a fast run we would have to make back to the dorm.
Late on my first night out, and I'm a good girl, I am. I wished out loud for one of the swift steeds that haunted the Hollow. In the moonlight, as I hobbled up the road, someone lifted me to the back of a beautiful horse. It sped to the door of Ferncliff Hall in an instant. It would have taken more than 10 minutes for me.
Steward, fast as lightning himself, lifted me down, and I ran to the parlor where the girls were having our first dorm meeting. Of course, I was reprimanded harshly as I signed in at 10:04 with the girls giggling at my expense. I was completely confused as to how I got back with such speed. I often think my strong, handsome Steward carried me, but he said “No.” The gracious ghost-rider horse had done it again.
Kay Marshall Burrall ’50
Wittenberg Magazine P.O. Box 720 Springfield, Ohio 45501-0720
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