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Happy Hauntings: Violet the Ghost

It’s 3 a.m. on Pocumtuck I. Half asleep, you pad down the hall to the bathroom. Red exit signs dimly light the corridor, but through the haze you see a girl nearing the Calhouns’ apartment.

You halt as a quick flash in your peripheral vision chills your blood. When you readjust your eyes, your stomach drops a thousand feet. Nobody is there. A chill runs down your spine.

Some Poc residents would say that you’ve just met Violet, Poc I’s ghost and the oldest of Poc’s inhabitants. Dani Pulgini ’12 and Custodian Pamela Raymond agree that Violet is a brunette who wears a white nightgown.

Violet opens stall doors in the bathroom, and she even turned on Dani Pulgini’s speakers—they weren’t plugged in.

Last year, residents of the Poc II double, Maggie Morse ’13 and Elizabeth Eastman ’13, and Emma DeCamp ’13, who lived in an adjoining single, reported that Violet raised their trashcan lid and dropped it, startling them with a piercing metallic sound.

Other students could connect their experiences to stories they had heard from girls who lived in Poc five or six years ago.

In late October, just in time for Halloween, Violet re-introduced herself to the hall after a few girls experimented with a Ouija board, a game in which “spirits” communicate with the living.

Hearing of the girls’ experiences with what some might consider the “spiritual world,” Dean of Spiritual Life Jan Flaska organized a “spiritual clearing” and contacted ordained interfaith ministers he met at a drumming circle.

Over Choate Weekend, Reverend Mary Ann Tourjee, also known as Raven Spirit, and Reverend Nancy Higgins, known as Grandmother Standing Bear, came to Poc to speak to the girls about the spiritual world and possibly help “clear [Violet] on to the next stage of being,” explained Mr. Flaska.

He noted, “My role is not to judge whether or not stuff like this is true or false. It is to try and support the students.” Mr. Flaska has never encountered a ghost, but he said, “I’ve definitely had experiences where I’ve felt as if I know that someone who has died is present.”

At the spiritual clearing, a historian preceded the ordained interfaith ministers and gave the girls a brief history of the Pocumtuck building.

What is now known as Pocumtuck dormitory used to be a hotel, and the girls learned that the hotel was filled with violet flowers and was known to have a “violet-tinted atmosphere.”

The girls learned this only after Pulgini chose the name “Violet” for the ghost, because it was a common 19th-century name.

As Mr. Flaska explained, “The spiritual healers would say that this ghost is in a ‘between,’ in a state of transition” from life on earth to her next stage of being.

The ministers sensed that there was more than one spirit in Poc, and as Mr. Flaska mentioned, Poc is a “fertile ground for spirits given the history of the hotel.”

At their meeting with the ministers, the girls learned how to deal with the ghost if they encountered her again, and were instructed to tell the spirit to leave them alone if they felt uncomfortable.

“They made me feel more comfortable after the cleansing, and they gave us insight into somebody else’s beliefs,” explained Gabby Gauthier ’13.

Several girls understandably doubted the ministers’ ability to clear the ghost, including Carly Reilly ’12, who mentioned that she was “a bit skeptical when they whipped out the big feather to sweep the spirits away.”

Nina Sola ’13 questioned the entire situation and stated, “There are a lot of girls in this dorm, so not recognizing someone at three in the morning isn’t surprising.”

The ministers initially planned to return over Thanksgiving break to clear what they believed to be a spirit, but that time didn’t end up working for them, and they have not returned. Violet remains a mystery for now.

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