Monday, November 21, 2005

12 Gay Street

Manhattan > Greenwich Village > Gay Street

Ghost-busters are useless on Gay Street, especially at number 12. Author Kelley Roos fictionalized the real live -- or real dead -- incidents here in The Frightened Stiff [NY: Dodd, Mead & Co., 235 pgs, 1942].

The morning after Jeff and Haila Troy move into their garden apartment on Gay Street, someone looks out of an upper window and sees a dead man outside the back door. They recognize him as a man they have heard telephoning from a booth in Polly's restaurant [147 West 4th Street] around the corner. But when the other residents of the converted brownstone house are examined, they all identify him as a fellow tenant -- but a man whom not one of them knew. . . .
In fact, in 1917 Polly Holladay ran several establishments in Greenwich Village: The Useful Shop [3 Washington Square North], Polly's [135 MacDougal], etc. It's doubtful that a woman with a number of thriving businesses would have wanted to live on Gay Street during those years.
However, during the years right before and after World War I, 12 Gay Street was owned by Mary Ellen Strunsky, Frank Parris [creator of Howdy Doody], and Mayor Jimmy Walker who bought the rowhouse for his mistress, actress Betty Compton.

Apparitions and sightings include:
1.) Feeling the sensations of unseen beings; hearing footsteps on the stairs at night.
2.) A man clad in evening attire, wearing a top hat and tails, appeared at the door and smiled politely, and then evaporated into the air. (No one knows who he is.)
3.) Lost ghosts, perhaps from the old morgue, have been sighted in Frank Parris's former Puppet threatre in the basement.
4.) Frank Parris used to smell onions frying at odd hours.
5.) Hans Holzer, who thrice investigated the house, made contact with the restless entities here.

On December 16th, 1933, a 25-year-old former showgirl Edith Birney [stage name: Edith Babson] jumped or fell off the roof of 10 Gay Street.
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