Thursday, March 27, 2008

the cursèd silverware of the hotel windermere


It came from eBay, arriving on our doorstep in a innocent-looking box, the letters of my name running across the top diagonally, like a gash. The terse listing had claimed that the name of the silver pattern was Louis XVI, after the next-to-last of France's Bourbon kings, who died on the guillotine, betrayed by his own people. The seller had, however, seemed reluctant to reveal anything about the mysterious Hotel Windermere or to explain exactly how so much of its silverware had fallen into his hands. But the price was low -- curiously so -- and mine had been the only bid.

I slit the cardboard and eased a fork from its bubble wrap shroud. I held it up, and, turning it from side to side, watched it glint in the lamplight. Lightning flashed and from somewhere far off, I heard a muffled sound, like bat wings flapping.

Okay, so I'm kind of overstating it. But you must have or have once had something, an object, a possession, a piece of clothing or jewelry that seemed a little spooky or even haunted. What was it? What happened to it?

27 comments:

Tash said...

Interesting. Of course I'm off googling said hotel. We own a set of dishes, some silver, menus, and a hatrack (but alas, not the espresso machine or any of the big saucepots) from Mr. ABF's uncle's now defunct restaurant in Little Italy, NYC. Sometimes it is ghostly, I suppose, but in a good way. I keep thinking having this stuff around should improve my cooking, or at least inspire me.

I have a sweater that belonged to my late great grandmother that I think is kinda funky in a retro way she would never have understood. I think sometimes people get a bit creeped out that I'm wearing a dead woman's sweater. But I love it, for the funkiness, and her, of course.

The End of Motherhood? said...

I buy tons of stuff from the flea market and have never felt any of it was haunted. It is sadly possible that I lack imagination.

niobe said...

TEOM: Or maybe you just managed to get the non-haunted stuff.

ms. G said...

I don't know that I have felt something was haunted exactly, but being that I buy used stuff all the time, I have often wondered its history. One time, in a used paperback book, I found a receipt from Barnes and Noble in New York. The receipt had no date, but was very, very old, before every store had a computer register. It fascinated me and I hung on to it for a long time.

Julia said...

I can't recall anything stuff-wise, but I once shook hands with a person and immediately knew him to be a philandering SOB. It was close to another year later before information implicating him as such became public knowledge.
And before you ask, no, it was not a governor of NY. Or any other state.

Monica H said...

Julia that cracks me up!

Antigone said...

A He-Man lunchbox from the 1980's.

Magpie said...

Why'd you buy it? For the name?

I have many, many hatboxes, with my grandmother's hats. They are eerie and beautiful and so of another time. I also had a silverplate hair receiver that had come from their house. When I got it, it still had some of her white hair in it. One day, my cleaning lady threw it out. I miss it.

Angeline said...

mmmmm....Haunting stuff I once had. Because I am such a timid fellow, I would get rid of whatever that makes me feel that way IMMEDIATELY, but if I really think hard, ya, there was this red umbrella which was standing at my stall when I was about to start the day. I just saw a ghost story the night before about the female ghost hidden in a red umbrella. *goosebumps*

Anonymous said...

My mother is haunted. Really. She has been since I was a child.

As for a creepy possession, my mom has a set of silver candlestick holders that came from my great grandmother. They are not haunted, they are just incredible morbid. One has a dog chasing a rabbit and the other one has the dog standing over the dead rabbit. They are eerie and just kind of gross, especially for the dinner table.

Ahuva Batya said...

I love this post. Love it. I love spooky historic things that feel haunted. I can't think of a spooky haunted thing I've ever had, but my husband did get me a canceled stock certificate from the White Star Line (company that owned the Titanic) because I'ma bit of a Titanic freak.

niobe said...

ahuva batya: that's very, very cool.

c. said...

Nope. Got nothing. Just wanted to say, I rather like that silverware. Do you use it?

Rebecca said...

I often think things have a spirit to them, but then I'm weird like that. I have ghosts around me constantly.

The weirdest thing I've ever held was a third class ticket to the Titanic that never got used, because the woman discovered she was pregnant before she sailed. Her baby was an old lady at my church. That was creepy.

The Town Criers said...

Damn, mine is silverware too. I got it for my wedding. It was my great grandmother's formal settings. I still haven't brought the box to my house (it's at my mum's). It just feels...like opening the wooden box releases something.

Melissia said...

I feel compelled to collect photographs of children from the turn of the century. Those formal stiff compositions of child, statuary, animal or chair positioned against a painted background. I can imagine a mother just out of sight encouraging the child to be still or adjusting a sleeve. If I find these in an antique store or a flea market or on ebay, they need a home with me, a now motherless child matched with a childless mother. It is for me, some sort of cosmic balance.

meg said...

I KNOW I am cursed. At first I thought it was the 100 year old house we lived in. But then we moved here...and another baby died.

Every single time we take a photo here, we get some kind of freaky orb thing in the background. When I blow them up in photoshop, they look like some kind of female figures.

Do you think *I* am cursed, or maybe some of my belongings? Should I just throw everything out? Leave the country? What about getting someone in to bless the house? Has anyone ever done that?

Mad said...

Ooooo, how wonderfully evocative. I could see ghostly spectres eating their last meal with this sliverware before being whisked from purgatory to hell.

niobe said...

meg: Perhaps I could interest you in some silverware.

Becky said...

Okay, so I live in an ancient (for the midwest, anyway) river town that was once the home of a very, very famous medium named Carolyn Howard. She even put Mary Todd Lincoln (Lincoln's widow) in contact with her husband.

Then the home became the home of an undertaker who would work out of it (there was a medical school down the block who used to dig up bodies to dissect).

Then, in 1998, my stupid brother bought it (he's not really stupid). That house was so haunted that when he would have frequent house sitters (he travels with his job) no one lasted too long. Including yours truly, who went with her boyfriend for a bit of alone time and ran screaming away as quickly as possible.

It's not a "thing" I guess, but it's kind of a strange story.

Oh, and there were really strange chalk drawings on the basement walls. One was a creepy laughing Buddha and the other was a girl's face with "Just a Pure Girl" written in chalk underneath.

Weird juju.

Christine said...

i've never had anything (i think) that was haunted, but i have been in a genuine haunted house that an exorcism was performed in.

creepy.

Christine said...

ok--if you google:
hotel windermere haunted

your blog post comes up 2nd!

Wabi said...

After my mom passed away from cancer my oldest brother took her sofa. It always creeped me out to see it in his living room -- Both because I was home when she died on it and remembered the scene keenly, and because I was unsure of whether anyone ever shared that particular piece of furniture-related trivia with my brother when he nabbed it.

Anonymous said...

A fist-a-cuffs from my Great Aunt. It's in a box in storage. The siverware has a Edward Gorey type font. Maybe that's what makes it look spooky.
Allypally

Katie said...

No idea about the spooky past, however at a guess I'd say the cutlery came from a hotel in the Lake District in England by Lake Windermere. It was really popular in victorian times and still is.
So there you go, a possibly history for some beautiful silverware

happy gram said...

i have copper-plated lamps (no shades)whose bases are writhing serpents. got them from my grandmother (i am 58) who lived in baltimore maryland all her life.

passingwindows said...

It's weird but I feel that my grandmother is sometimes in a corner of our kitchen. It's a brand new flat (only 5 years old) but sometimes standing in that corner I can smell her perfume so strongly.

Ah Meg, I also wonder if this flat is haunted somehow or cursed with all the stuff that has happened while we have lived here. I am getting someone to look at the electromagnetic pollution. Maybe the next step will be an apartment blessing?

Loved the photo and the story, Niobe. I might just have to buy some silverware ...