My mother reads the obituaries every day. I'm not sure if it's just hold over from when my dad worked at St. Mary's Cemetery in South Glens Falls or what... Last week she took me by surprise when she told me about the death of author & local ghost expert David Pitkin.
David & I first met when I was Special Order Clerk and local interest buyer at Borders in Saratoga Springs, NY. Let me tell you, Saratoga County Ghosts was hard to keep on the shelves & when it went out of print for a couple of years, you'd have thought it was my fault. People were not happy. Eventually it was revised & reissued as Haunted Saratoga County in 2005. It was about that time that David contacted me in my capacity as Town Historian. He had heard a story from Blondie cartoonist Paul Fung about a ghost in the rectory of St. Paul's Episcopal Church right here on Main St. & wanted to see if I had anything on that & how it may relate to the suicide of banker Edwin Andrews. As far as I can tell, the two stories are not related other than they both have to do with the village of Greenwich.
I'll leave the Andrews story for another time, but I thought it fitting, in honor of David, to write about the rectory ghost. David's telling of the story can be found in New York State Ghosts, Volume 1 pages 215-219.
Apparently both Father William H. Harris and his predecessor Father Lowry had run-ins with the spectre (Harris' preferred term). Lowry's wife Anita heard running on the stairs even though her daughter and a friend were playing nearby. Cold draughts & objects being moved were other common occurrences.
Fung & his family visited the Harris' in July of 1972 when he saw the menacing ghost upstairs.Everyone in the Harris family had an encounter with the spectre until eventually Father Harris says he was able to exorcise the "evil face in a pointed shroud"*. Harris was lying in bed when the ghost began to apply unbearable pressure on him. Eventually he wrenched an arm free & said "Go! In the name of Jesus Christ, go!"* The apparition left & its presence was no longer detected by the family.
R.I.P David Pitkin (1939-2013)
* newspaper clippings in a file in my office. Undated & unattributed.