By: Sydney Wade
While reading Beloved for class this past weekend, I was particularly struck by the connection between “stalking terror” and ghosts. Particularly, I began to think about how a majority of ghost stories I have heard always include a vengeful ghost that haunt people after suffering an unnatural death, similar to Beloved’s character. To expand on this concept, I wanted to share an experience from my own life that fits this stereotype about ghosts.
Two years ago I secured an internship in my hometown of Miami, Florida with a small company. I was especially excited because the office I would be working at was located in The Biltmore Hotel, one of the most iconic landmarks in Miami built in 1926 and frequented by both the rich and famous in its heyday.
The day before starting my internship my mom decided to tell me about an article she previously read that discussed the possibility of the Biltmore being haunted by several ghosts that died while they were guests of the hotel. The most famous Biltmore ghost is allegedly Thomas “Fatty” Walsh, a well-known mobster in the 1920s that was killed on the 13th floor of the Biltmore after an argument over gambling. Walsh’s ghost is said to haunt the Biltmore to this day and on one particular occasion scared an unsuspecting couple. While the couple intended to go the 4th floor of the hotel, the elevator took them to the 13th floor instead. After repeated attempts to make the elevator doors close, the wife stepped out to see what was wrong, however, the elevator doors swiftly closed leaving her husband in the elevator. The husband went to find help from the hotel staff and when they returned to the 13th floor, the wife said she smelled the heavy scent of cigar smoke, loud noises, and felt extremely cold. Presumably, Walsh’s ghost caused the incident.
For the entire summer, I was mildly traumatized from the story my mom told me and I was afraid I would experience my own ghost story first hand. It did not help that I had to walk down a long, creepy hallway every day to get my office (I usually ended up running down it). Now that I have been removed from spending time at the Biltmore on a regular basis, I am less afraid of what might be haunting the hotel. However, recalling the story of Thomas Walsh enhanced my idea that ghosts are vengeful and tend to haunt the space where they were wronged during their lifetime.