If you’ve been following along with our #StoriesFromTheMiddleOfTheSupplyChain series on social media, our 2021 Halloween post was about the ghosts of Draper Knitting! Here’s an excerpt from writings by Caitrin Lynch and Adam Coppola that tell a Draper ghost story. Happy Halloween!
“This is the location of the first encounter. They call this the dye house. The first time I heard anything really weird. Right here. Walking down right here. I heard footsteps over my head. I’m just walking along like this,” Mikey says in a nonchalant voice. He takes some steps, to re-enact the scene and his keys jingle. “And somebody upstairs is walking with me.” He starts to walk, and I follow him silently. “And it was funny because the only one in the building at the time was the company president. And I thought it was her coming to use the bathroom over here. And then I said to myself, ‘Why would she use the bathroom all the way down here when she has one in the office?’ So, I thought that was odd. You know? Well, I don’t know. Well, at first I thought I was hearing things, then I thought ‘nah nah I heard it.’ But uh. I just let it go ’cause I didn’t think nothing of it. Then more things start happening, you know?”
We walk on, cutting through dark rooms. “So, here’s where I had my latest encounter. Right about here I just got a chill and I felt like there was somebody behind me. And I looked. Of course, the lights aren’t on. You can’t see anything. You know? But it was just weird because you could feel them walking behind me. There was,” Mikey looks at me, “nobody.”
I look around, my eyes adjusting to shadows and light. I wonder about the smell of the room. Dirt? Vines? Cats?
Mikey walks ahead and turns to address me. “I never used to believe in ghosts before I started working here. Never did. But I do now because there’s something going on. I’ll walk into a room. You can feel it. You get a chill. I felt like there was someone breathing behind me and I get a chill. Of, course I whoop around and nobody’s there. I’m like, ‘Wow what was that?’ Couple weeks I go home and tell my wife, ‘It happened again.’ Right down here. It felt like someone was right behind me, almost in my footsteps. You know, like wow. ‘Cause your hair stands up on your arms and your neck when you get a chill. It’s like…wow. You look around and there’s nobody there. But you can feel them like they’re right behind you. You know? I figure maybe they’re looking out on what we’re doing. On eternal patrol.”
Mikey slides a door open, and I hear an electric buzz coming from somewhere, maybe a fluorescent light. I ask, ”So what happened that time with the footsteps? It just went away?”
Mikey responds, “Yeah, just turn around, of course there’s nothing there. You know, I had my flashlight on. Didn’t hear no footsteps or nothing. You know? I could walk around and try to see something, but there wouldn’t be anything. I’ve done that. But there’s never anything. You can’t see ‘em, you can only hear ‘em. I’ve never seen a ghost-ghost. An actual visible ghost. Like something you see. I only feel them. But people say they have. Like the guy in the red shirt. I’ve never met him.” Mikey looks at me, “You heard about that guy?” I nod, “I have.”
As we walk away, poles that are positioned throughout the vast, empty weaving room cast a shadow from the one light source at the far end of the room. With the walls and ceilings beyond the reach of the one light, there’s no way of knowing how big any of these rooms are.
Photo by Zack Davenport.
We stop at the entrance to a dark room, and Mikey points in. “Okay, here’s the room that’s completely empty. This used to be full of files, while the space was rented out to a financial company, but it’s been empty for some time. Now, I was standing here. Well, it was all boxes here. And I was just walking by. In this same room. And I heard really low voices, someone talking, but it wasn’t English. I could hear it, but you couldn’t understand it because they were talking a different language. And I stop, and I’m like ‘What is that?’ And I just stood, and I listened, and of course, as soon as you try to hear it, they stop.” Mikey pauses and we listen. The room is quiet, except for the sound of our breathing.
“So, I’m just, I was just walking around and I’m, like, shining the light on everything and, like, that was the end of that, I never heard it again. It was like a couple voices, say like two people talking to each other.”
“Another security guard, Tommy, he smelled women’s perfume. I told him one night about the voices I heard, and he said, ‘Oh that’s strange, because I was walking in the same room, and I smelled perfume.’”
I recall conversations about the history of the mill with retired managers, and I tell Mikey, “There used to be rows of Portuguese women weaving in this room.”
Mikey responds, “Is that right? Well, that explains why I couldn’t understand them.”