Monday, October 8, 2012

The “Kathy” Dorm Haunting

I graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1979. I loved living on campus everyone was so friendly. At the time I attended NAU, it was still a relatively small school. 

There was still open land around the campus, especially to the west and south with zigzag snowdrift fences that surrounded the open spaces. I loved that we were covered in snow from October to early May, Flagstaff is at 7000 feet. 

I was fortunate to attend classes that had some of the best professors in the country since it was such a picturesque place to live. At the time I attended NAU the story went that the only time the school was ever closed for snow was when there was so much that the staff had to go home and shovel it off their roofs so they would not collapse.

My dorm roommate was from Eagle River, Alaska, and she taught me how to drive in snow. She took me out in her car in an open field near campus covered in snow and ice, I zoomed around in circles, and she showed me how to relax and turn the wheel into the skids, so I learned to control the car when it slid. I have been a confident driver in snowy weather ever since. 

All this snow never fazed the campus community. Parts of the campus even had heated sidewalks so that we walked through tunnels of snow that surrounded them. 

Snow on Campus
When students would enter the various buildings, it was inevitable someone would slip and fall on the entrance floor or on the side staircases, which were always wet from the melting snow from our shoes and boots, this was such a common occurrence that shouts of “are you alright?” would ring out.
In December the campus put out luminaries on various buildings at Christmas, which were small candles in white folded paper bags, in New Mexico, my home state, we put these small candles in brown folded paper bags. 

One of the prettiest parts of the university was North Campus. The first college was located on this land. In the beginning, NAU was a teaching college. Traditional old ivy- league buildings adorn this side of campus. Old Main was a male dorm at the time I attended NAU. Today it is used for offices, a museum, and an art gallery.

I actually didn’t hear the story about Kathy's ghost until I was a senior—that year I had more friends that lived in Morton Hall.

Morton Hall
Kathy’s Story

Kathy was a student at NAU in the 1950s when the university was an Arizona State College. 
In December of 1953, her parents informed her that they could not afford to pay for her trip home for Christmas because of a family bankruptcy. On top of this, her boyfriend, who she expected to become engaged to jilted her for another student. Kathy found herself disappointed and alone for the holidays. *
The weather ever gloomy did not help. Kathy overwhelmed with sadness-committed suicide. Her body was discovered hanging from a rope she had tied near the attic staircase. She wore a blue nightgown. 
The cleaning woman who found the body—worked at the school for the next thirty years, so this story is considered by many to be true.

The Haunting

Ever since this tragedy accounts of strange occurrences began to be told about Morton Hall. For decades students and visitors have reported similar experiences. 
Water turns on and off without reason. Lights turn on and off, fifties style music is heard when there are no radios on, etc. Women who reside in Morton report being locked in the restroom even though there is no lock on the door. Some state they have requested, "Kathy, please let me out" this always seems to work because the door then opens. 
Another occurrence involves a lock connected to a balcony that is no longer used at Morton because it has been condemned. The exit to this balcony is always kept locked, but several residents have reported that they find it unlocked with the door wide open.
Several people over the years have seen the apparition of Kathy as she glides down various hallways and goes through closed doors. It is reported that she wears a blue nightgown. 
Residents who live on the floor Kathy lived on have also reported that their blankets have been ripped off their beds while they slept. The scent of roses often is smelled—this was one of Kathy’s favorite fragrances. Toilets flush without reason, and footsteps are heard in the hallways when no one is around.

One of the most common incidents reported are pipes being tapped—this is heard on all three floors. Another prevalent story is about the color pink being Kathy’s favorite. One area of the dorm was painted pink while she lived there. Over the years this area has been painted over, but it seems this new paint never stays—it peels right off. 
Many of these stories I heard before I graduated, others I read afterward. 
One of these involved a student who lived in Morton in the late 1980s. She recalled one evening she was freaked out by an unusual incident. The laundry room in Morton is located in the basement, and she was down there studying and waiting for her clothes to dry. To her chagrin, the dryer door violently banged open. Terrified she ran upstairs to tell her roommate—she would not return to get her clothes until her roommate agreed to go with her.

My Encounter

I have one story that I can tell that happened to me while I was a senior at NAU. One evening I was visiting a friend who lived in Morton-- I went to use the restroom. The dorm restrooms at that time in the older buildings on North Campus had a character all their own. 
The shower stalls had old wooden doors that were painted white. These doors where short meaning they were several feet from the floor, and they didn’t go up high enough to cover the shower heads so you could see people’s feet and often the top of their heads as they showered. 
Another quirky aspect to these restrooms was the fact that you had to become aware as you entered the bathroom if someone was using one of the showers because when you flushed the toilet, you had to yell, “flushing.” The reason for this is when the toilets flushed all the cold water would be used so the people in the showers had to be warned so they could step away from the spray—otherwise, they would be scalded by hot water. 

So the first thing I did when I entered the bathroom was to take note that a shower was being used.

I yelled, “flushing,” and I heard a female voice say, "thanks." As I washed my hands, I listened to this same female humming. I noticed her red towel drop from the shower door to the outside floor, so I went over to pick it up and fling it back over the door—again I heard a female say, "thank you." 
As I turned to leave the lights in the room went off, so I tried the switch, but the lights didn’t turn back on. At this point, I heard the water in the shower being turned off, so I glanced back over and even in the dark I could see that the towel had fallen to the outside floor once more. I walked over to pick it up, but as I approached the shower door swung open—not wanting to embarrass the bather, I announced, “it's okay I am leaving.”
At this point, the lights came back on. As I turned, I noticed the towel was no longer on the floor, so I stayed a second to check my hair. I felt a cold chill run down my back as I turned to leave.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that the door on the shower stall that had been in use was wide open, and no one appeared to be in the restroom with me. I glanced around and then down at the floor in the stall, and it seemed to be completely dry. I do not scare easily—even back then—but believe me when I say I literally ran back to my friends’ room.
I didn’t talk about this incident for months after it happened—I was too embarrassed to admit it scared me.

NAU with the San Francisco Peaks
in background.
*  Another version of the Kathy story that has been told over the years states she lived in Morton Hall in the early 1940s during World War II. She became engaged to a sailor who joined the fight—he sadly died just before Christmas. After everyone else left for the holidays, she committed suicide.

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