“I keep telling you, ghost sex is nothing! It’s worse than nothing!” “Then why were you moaning last time?”

To celebrate my friend Aisling’s birthday, we went on the Market Ghost Tour. The Pike Place Market has supposedly been voted the most haunted place in the Pacific Northwest, which seems somewhat convenient given that it’s a tourist destination, but I suppose that’s the way these things go. Almira could have Satan popping out of the ground on Main Street every fifteen minutes, and the people around here would hem and haw and conclude that if it isn’t within a fifteen minute drive of home, it isn’t worth seeing.

This was a ghost tour, unlike the Museum of the Mysteries’ ghost hunt, so there was no yelling at ghosts or recording EVP or running down dark hallways in an attempt to catch paranormal activity on a thermal camera. Instead, it focused on telling ghost stories located in the general area. And even then, it was a lot more general history than spooky stories involving encounters with the dead.

For instance, we were told about Dr. Linda Hazzard, a doctor who treated her patients by starving them to death. It was intimated that she practiced in or near the Pike Place Market, when a cursory internet search indicates that she did all of her practicing stateside in Olalla, Washington. Also, the story involved zero ghosts. In another story, we were told about a “fat lady barber” who used to steal from traveling sailors, but whose “fat caught up to her, she had a heart attack, and broke through the floor on account of being so fat.” Except we were told immediately afterward that wasn’t the case, they’d combined two stories into one–the “fat lady barber” was murdered by one of the sailors she’d stolen from, and another person had fallen and broken through the floor. We were told these stories were combined in order to have a better morality tale, so people will “eat their veg” and not steal. It’s really good of them to have done that; I don’t know if I could have made it a full seventy-five minutes without some form of fat-shaming. And really, who is going to believe that a fat lady died from her stab wounds? Please, like a knife could have even penetrated through all that fat. She was clearly double-teamed, but ultimately taken out by obesity: the silent killer. Once again, it’s good this story had a moral, because that made up for the lack of ghosts. There were stories about posing for pictures with dead relatives–no ghosts. A story about a raunchy old lady who used to hang out at the Pike Place Market–no ghosts. A tree blossomed after someone was buried at its roots–no ghosts. Hey, look at that tile on the market floor bought by the Heaven’s Gate Cult!–no ghosts.

Even when the stories did involve ghosts, they were nigh-universally lackluster. “There was ghost activity in the theater, but it stopped.” “There was a ghost haunting this building, but someone put cake on his grave and he stopped.” Even when the story should have had a little more punch, the guide rushed to the finish line and didn’t give any time for anything to register, hustling us to the next story area. “And the little boy had no eyes–and we’re walking, we’re walking!”

It’s not that I had a BAD time, I just expected a bit more. Maybe more ghost stories and fewer made up morality tales. After all, once someone has admitted to telling you a lie, how can you believe any of the other preposterous things they put forward as the truth? Ultimately, I think I could have had a ghostlier experience if I’d taken the $17 for my ticket and spent it on whiskey.

6 Comments “I keep telling you, ghost sex is nothing! It’s worse than nothing!” “Then why were you moaning last time?”

  1. Mercedes September 29, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Awesome photos! I am actually the owner of the tours. This is a wonderful write-up and I am going to share it with the guides. Not sure who you had, but your critique will be good to share with everyone. I am so glad I stumbled on it. Linda Hazzard’s ghosts are haunting the Butterworth Mortuary, did they miss that? That would be crazy to miss that – the restaurants all struggle to stay open there because of the activity. Her office was at Third and Pike, and her patients cared for at the Outlook Hotel in the Market. She got the property in Olalla from one of her patients that died there. She continued to do work in Seattle after building her own Sanitorium and contracted with the mortuary for all of her funerals, ferrying their emaciated bodies to the building. Hum.. those details and the ghost stories of the building should be included. I am definitely going to work with them on that. Great book about her: Starvation Heights. Also coming out as a horror film in the next two years.

    1. Mellzah September 30, 2011 at 4:07 am

      I would prefer not to say which tour guide we had, because I don’t want them to get in trouble or to feel badly–everyone in the group enjoyed themselves, so they didn’t do a bad job. The Butterworth Mortuary was discussed, but not in context with Linda Hazzard, moreso that money was paid for dead bodies during the Klondike Goldrush.
      I do intend to purchase a copy of your book to get a more complete picture of the area as far as hauntings go; I imagine it is difficult to get through all of the history in the area on one relatively short tour, and so it is easy for me to see how details can get missed. Thank you for stopping by and giving me the additional info, I hope you don’t think it was my intention to portray your tour negatively.

  2. CJ September 29, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    LOVE the photos! I’m one of the tour guides, and the Fat Woman Barber is not told as a morality tale… it is simply one of the most famous stories told in the Market, so people expect it. But after Mercedes investigated the story, she found out that it was actually TWO stories, which had been combined into one story.

    I’m not sure which guide you had, but I tell the Fat Woman Barber story for two reasons: First, because a lot of people expect it. (It is a famous story in the Market, after all!) But I mostly tell it to show how history is not something set in stone. Stories morph and change over time, and it is important to remember that. I think I honor both of those women by retelling their ACTUAL stories, rather than the fiction that has become the “popular version” of their stories.

    As for ghosts in the Market… there’s the man and the little girl in 94 Stewart, Princess Angeline (the daughter of Chief Sealth), two different Market employees who died and returned to work, all the crazy poltergeists in the Alibi Room, the Mortuary, Kells, and the Market Bead shop, etc.

    Each tour guide tells the stories that resonate with them personally, so each tour is a bit different. I encourage you to take the tour again with a different guide and post a followup blog!

    Again, thanks for the great photos, and taking the time to tell about your experience.

    1. Mellzah September 30, 2011 at 3:45 am

      On on the tour that I went on, the guide specifically told us that it was a morality tale; anything that I put in quotes is a direct quote to the best of my recollection, as I do my best not to put words into people’s mouths. I like your interpretation of it better–I’d rather know something closer to the actual history than the popularized fictional version.

      I’ll consider taking the tour again, as it sounds like there are a lot of ghost stories that simply were not told on the tour we attended. I received the email today about the Halloween tour, which sounds like it will be a lot of fun! Like I said, I didn’t have a bad time (none of the people who attended the tour in our group to the best of my knowledge didn’t enjoy themselves in one way or another) and it’s not my intention to discourage people from taking your tours with this post. The history we learned was interesting; we just maybe came on an off-night as far as ghosts were concerned.

  3. Mercedes September 30, 2011 at 3:49 am

    I personally thought your writing this and the photos were awesome. You have a great voice, humor and wit. I read through your posts and you are a creative force. I would love to have you down there again!

    1. Mellzah September 30, 2011 at 4:13 am

      That’s very kind of you to say, thank you. I definitely will consider making another visit. 🙂

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