This week’s newspaper on microfilm picked at random is the Centralia Daily Chronicle for Feb. 9, 1909. The reporter who covered this ghost story must have been something of a Wise Guy.
Dealy McCracken, the main subject of this piece, was born De Laparis McCracken in North Carolina in 1838. He served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and at some point was held as a POW. By 1887 he had moved his family to Lewis County, according the Territorial Census. He died in Winlock in 1925.
The Maplewood Rink still exists today in Centralia as the Rollerdrome.
The Centralia Daily Chronicle, which ran from 1908-1913, can be counted as an early ancestor of Centralia’s current newspaper, The Chronicle.
WINLOCK MAN HAS GHOSTLY EXPERIENCE
Strikes a Match in the Dark to Light His Cigar and Flare Reveals Reproachful Face of a Woman – Tried to “Chuck” Her Under the Chin, But Was Restrained by Invisible Substance.
“‘I tell you there is a woman haunting me and I am going to leave this town. Do I believe in spooks?– Never saw one in my life before, but I tell you I saw Her. You can call her a spook or whatever you please, but I tell you I saw her and there is no doubt about it. I came here to visit relatives and I intended to remain several days, but there is one spot in this town where I see her everytime I pass at night. I have not looked for her in the daytime, but I know I have seen her face there in the dark.’”
“‘Dealy’ McCracken, of Winlock, stood on the platform of the Northern Pacific depot in Centralia a few days ago and wasrelating his experience in Centralia to a friend. ‘Dealy’ is a southerner. He rolled his r’s and ‘reckoned’ this and could not account for the harrowing experience which he stated he had undergone. He appeared as one fleeing from some impending, mysterious, and unaccountable danger. He denied he was superstitious, but added, ‘there are some things we all don’t know about.’ Then he told what had so badly upset him.”
“He was going by the Maplewood rink. It was a very dark night and it was late. Not a soul was astir excepting himself. The darkness and silence, he says, got a little on his nerves. He noticed that his footsteps sounded on the board sidewalk with a hollow, rumbling sound. The noise of his footfalls seemed to steal out away from him and then be thrown back at him in a thousand distributing echoes. It affected him so that he tried to walk on tip-toe to get away from the sound. No sooner had he done than the thought was suggested to him that he was stealing away from something– he knew not what. He had a sneaky feeling and on the heels of that came the sensation that he was being pursued. He searched his conscience as to why he should feel that way, but found nothing in the reflection upon which to base such an apprehension. But the sensation that he was being pursued by something uncanny remained. It made him feel cowardly and ashamed of himself. It occured to him that it was foolish for him to let himself feel that way and that by an effort of the will he would calm himself. He would act unconcerned. Instead of tip-toeing as though attempting to avoid detection, he would walk in the ordinary manner. But even walking had a suggestion of flight, so he decided to stop in his track and light a cigar.”
“All those thoughts flashed through his mind in much less time then it takes to tell it. The mind under excitement thinks with more than lightning rapidity. When he stopped to light his cigar he was standing in front of one of the windows in the skating rink. He struck his match on the sill of the window. Then it was that the great shock came. The flare of the match revealed the face of a woman. Just the bare face and nothing more. It was a pallid face, very pale with the exception of the cheeks, which were earmine colored. There was a suggestion of rouge and powder about the countenance and the eyes were the eyes of a woman in which the light had nearly burned itself out by its own intensity and was flickering low. It was the face of a woman who might have lived much in a short time. A face that knew and knew sorrowfully and its expression was reproachful.”
“All that ‘Dealy’ saw by the flare of the match. The match went out and left ‘Dealy’ in darkness and horror. He forgot to light his cigar. He was held to the spot as one fascinated. His feet weighed a ton each and seemed to be pulling him down. He stood there until the darkness seemed to bear in and down on him as though it would smother him. It became unbearable and he fumbled for another match. With a trembling hand he struck it and there again was the face before him. It was close enough for him to reach with his hand.”
“It is a peculiar fact that often in moments of most intense excitement a sense of humor developes. ‘Dealy’ says that for some unaccountable reason he resolved to ‘jolly the old girl.’ He extended his hand in a spirit of bravado with the intention of ‘chucking’ her under the chin. His hand was put forward to carry out his intention, but some invisible substance was encountered which seemed to restrain him from a violate act. Although his hand almost touched the reproachful face there was not a change of expression, not a quiver of the eye. The face seemed to know it could not be violated. Then ‘Dealy’ discovered that his hand was against the window pane and that the face was on the other side was pressed against the pane. But that did not impress him half as much as the fact that the face was really there. He lost all resolution to quiet his nerves. He no longer felt that his imagination was playing him false. He knew the face was there. What did he do?”
“He did not tell his friend what he did for just then the train for Aberdeen began moving out and he boarded it.”
“Unless superstitious persons be too deeply impressed by Mr. McCracken’s experience it is to the point to state that a reporter for the Daily Chronicle inspected the window in the skating rink in which the face was reported to have appeared. He made his investigation in broad daylight and the face was there. It is there now. But there is nothing unnatural about it. The inside of the window has been boarded up. Some thoughtless masquerader at some of the numerous masquerade balls that have been held there evidently removed her mask, a false face of a woman, and thrust it between the boards and the windowpane.”