Seeking ghosts in the Warwick Valley

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:00

    WARWICK-Donna Reis has always liked a good ghost story. “Ever since I was a child, I just loved ghost stories,” said Reis, a writer who lives here in Warwick. What started out as a child’s fascination has turned into an intriguing and entertaining book for Reis. She was having lunch about eight years ago and happened to read an article in Hudson Valley Magazine about ghost stories from the area. She thought there must be lots of ghost stories in the Warwick Valley, so she took out an ad in The Warwick Advertiser: “Seeking Ghosts in the Warwick Valley,” was how it read. Her goal was to collect enough stories to write an article for the following year’s Halloween edition of the magazine. What she got instead was more than 60 stories of ghosts in the Warwick Valley — enough to literally fill a book. “I only wanted to write an article for Halloween,” said Reis. “But people called and gave me their stories and told me I should call someone else because they had a story to tell, too.” She did publish the article the following year in the Times Herald-Record, along with her phone number for anyone else who wanted to reach her with their ghost story. She got lots of responses from that article and her book was well on its way. On Saturday (Oct. 29), Reis will continue what has become a Halloween tradition at The Bookstore on Main Street. She will read some of her favorite ghost stories from her book at 7:30 p.m. It took her six years to collect the 60 stories that are included in Seeking Ghosts in the Warwick Valley. Still, “every time I go downtown, someone comes up and says they have a story for me,” she said. One of Reis’s favorite stories, The Ring, happened in Sugar Loaf in 1978. Joy Sprake owned an antique shop in Sugar Loaf at the time. A man walked into her store and said he was there to pick up the ring they had spoken about. Sprake, who now lives in the state of Florida, told him she didn’t speak to anyone about buying a ring. As a matter of fact, Sprake said, she didn’t sell jewelry at all, just furniture. The man was persistent, opening drawers in several different pieces of furniture. In one he found a velvet ring box. Opening it he remarked that this was the ring. Sprake remembered the ring from when she bought the piece at an estate sale. She had always meant to take it out but never did. He said he’d pay for the ring and when she named the price he said it was worth much more than that. Sprake, who often suffered from migraine headaches, was beginning to get one. The man mentioned to Sprake that his fiancé’s father had built the building that now housed her shop. His buckboard, which he often rode there when he was courting his girlfriend, was buried out back under her garden, he added. As he walked out of the store he turned to her and said that she would never have another migraine headache again. Sprake hurried to the doorway and tried to catch the man, but he was no where to be found. The building built by his fiancé’s father had been built in 1750. Years later, at the urging of her husband, they dug up the garden and found a very old wagon wheel. And Sprake never did have another migraine. “All of the people I talked to about these stories all said ‘I never believed in ghost until I moved to his house or until I saw her’,” said Reis. “It’s amazing. And the stories do work for children.” Limited seating is available at The Bookstore for the reading and book signing.