June 23, 2011
Ode to Mrs. Godfrey
Thomas E. MacDonald
was finally embarking on my much-anticipated vacation to my favorite
destination and knew what to expect, or so I thought.
being on the road for eight-plus hours,
I would arrive at the Inn on Ocracoke Island after hours to find the
closed. The key to my room would be in an envelope with my name hand
and taped to the door. I would haul my luggage up the steep wooden
leading to a spacious second floor porch with slatted rocking chairs
myself in. I would then go to room #21 enter and settle in for the
the week I will reacquaint myself with friends, both islanders and
alike, that I have come to know over the last decade and a half. Maybe
during the week I will officially check in at the office with a
such, maybe not. Some folks down here are more than a tad laid back.
The Island Inn Today:
I mention that I specifically requested room #21
and why? No, I didn’t. The spirit of a past innkeeper
reportedly haunts the Inn
and room #21 is said to have the highest probability of paranormal
Objects have been known to be unexplainedly moved and sometimes even
only to be discovered later in other parts of the Inn. Bathroom spigots
been known to turn on by themselves. Pictures on the wall are
found to be askew in the morning. Sounds of an undetermined source have
heard and doors have been known to open and close unassisted. Rarely
been reports of a full-bodied apparition going around the beds tucking
guests in. I was hoping to at least get some photographs of hazy
Her name is Mrs. Godfrey and it is reported that she doesn’t
choose to interact
with men. What little I know about her history, I can understand why.
The Island Inn Before WWII:
Second World War the Inn’s owner, Robert Stanley Wahab hired
Mr. and Mrs.
Godfrey from the mainland to manage his hotel. The Godfreys lived in an
apartment in the hotel and reportedly had many public domestic spats
like cats and dogs.” The Islanders did not approve of such
public displays for
one should not air one’s dirty laundry. As my grandmother
used to say, “You
don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.” Some matters
are best kept behind closed
War, Mrs. Godfrey decided to visit with friends and family on the
a few days. Back then travel to and from the Island was a task in and
itself. There was not the luxury of hourly ferries and such. The daily
boat, the Aleta would leave from the docks with passengers shortly
sunrise and arrive in Atlantic in late morning. There the Aleta would
unloaded and then supplied for the return trip and would always return
Ocracoke by the late afternoon. Mr. Godfrey went down to the docks on
that the Mrs. was to return and she was not there. Mr. Godfrey thought
of her absence, assumed that Mrs. Godfrey had changed her plans and
on the mainland a bit longer to visit. He looked forward to the
respite from their squabbles. A week later Mrs. Godfrey’s
body was discovered
in an abandoned house on the mainland. Her throat had been slashed. Her
was never found.
soon returned to his duties at the Inn. It seems that no sooner than
Godfrey was interred, Mr. Godfrey would become haunted by her ghost. He
see her walking about the Inn and awaken in the midst of the night to
accusing stare. Doors would open and forcefully slam shut. Her
be found rearranged on the dresser. The alcohol could not dull Mr.
senses enough and he could take no more. He left. She stayed.
The sun was
rapidly closing in on the horizon beyond Silver Lake as I parked my car
front of the Inn on this comfortable early November evening. There was
lighting emitting from the Inn as dusk enshrouded the Island. The
entrance basked in the glow of external lanterns and on the second
lights were on in the hallway and the corner room (which was not mine).
the room key from the envelope taped to the door of the closed office,
expected. I hauled as much of my luggage as I could handle up the
wooden stairs past a sign that read “ Please use handrails.
Stairs are steep.”
How well I knew. I grasped at the handle to the porch door that would
entrance. It would not turn. I tried the knob again more forcefully,
not wish to break it. This
expected. I set my gear down on the wooden rocker and tried my room key
door. It would not fit. I called the provided number on my cell phone,
call was not forwarded. Instead the call went to the voicemail. This
expected. I gazed through the door window with its gossamer curtain as
I left a
message on the other end. “Hi Cee, this is Tom from
Wilmington, the one in
Delaware. I’m here at the Inn and the upstairs porch door is
locked and I can’t
get in.” My voice was taut with frustration as I said,
“I just don’t know what
to do.” As I spoke those words in despair, I heard a very
come from the doorknob. I hung up my phone and tried the door once
knob turned with ease and allowed my entrance to the Inn. The hall was
and if someone were on the other side of the door, I would have seen
saw no shadows or movements or anything that could be attributed to
illusions. Nobody was there.
entered and made my way to the rear of the Inn where room #21 awaited,
that the doors to all the rooms were closed and secured, with the
mine. The door was slightly ajar and the inside lights were on as if
were awaiting my arrival. I then said aloud, “Thank you Mrs.
once during my stay did I feel as if I
was being watched or someone else was present. The room was furnished
antique furniture, figurines, and eye pleasing prints adorned the
walls. I felt
as if I was staying in someone’s home and settled in for a
A Typical Room in the Island Inn:
following morning I encountered Rusty who assists with the daily
the Inn. He inquired if was comfortable and if I needed anything. I
experience of the previous night. He asked if I had tried to call the
provided and said that it would have forwarded the call. I related that
not and went to voicemail. Rusty then mentioned that he has locked that
only about three times in the last five years and admitted that he did
leave it locked the day before. He then asked how I got in. I ventured
that Mrs. Godfrey’s duties as the past innkeeper superseded
her reluctance to
interact with men. Rusty replied that that was the only explanation for
the only living being in the building last night. Nobody was there.
author would like to gratefully
acknowledge Philip Howard of Ocracoke, NC and the proprietors of the
for the historical information used in this writing.
Information about the Island Inn is available here: http://www.ocracokeislandinn.com.