This is the time of year when we are obligated to do scary stuff. So I ratcheted up my courage, climbed into my car and drove to — eeek! — Doylestown.
Scariest place in Northeast Ohio.
If you’re not up to speed on your spooky locations, Doylestown has more scary stories per capita than Springwood, Ohio (home of Nightmare on Elm Street).
Just to the south of this scenic village of 3,054, we find Rogues’ Hollow, a coal-mining settlement during the mid-1800s that was inhabited by a bunch of rowdy hammerheads who let off steam by fighting each other and patronizing the brothels.
That area is responsible for an amazing number of ghostly legends: Cry Baby Bridge ... the Ghost Train ... the Ghost Oak Tree ... the Haunted Mill ... and the Headless Horse.
Now, at this point, you might believe you are fully up to speed on Doylestown’s many terrors. You are not.
I’ll bet you a tube of fake blood that you’ve never heard about ... [insert creepy music here] ... Becky’s Cottage Tea Room!
[Flash of lightning! Blood-curdling screams!]
Becky’s Cottage Tea Room is my worst nightmare come to life.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Becky herself — last name Bishop — is pleasant enough. But when I think of the things inside her tea room, I want to throw myself over Cry Baby Bridge and get hit by the Ghost Train.
Inside Becky’s Cottage Tea Room ... are ... 250 teapots.
And dozens of antique women’s hankies.
And an ornate wedding dress from 1941.
The teapots rest on a high shelf that rings the entire 36-seat facility. The hankies are arrayed in a single display on a wall. The whole place is frillier than Scarlett O’Hara.
As I sat there on a sunny, late-afternoon fall day, I was transported back to my teenage years, when I watched a terrifying episode of Rod Serling’s TV series, Night Gallery.
A young person dies in a crash and is transported to what appears to be a sitting room with flowered wallpaper and bland furniture.
There’s an old farmer in a rocking chair who keeps saying things like, “Nice weather for this time of year.”
There’s a huge stack of records, but they all contain Big Band music.
There’s a middle-age couple showing 8,500 slides of their vacation to Mexico.
All of this repeats nonstop.
The man is in hell.
I struggled to pull myself back to 2013 and concentrate on Becky’s story.
Her tiny brick building, erected in 1950, was originally a private residence. She says a cave once existed in the backyard that housed Chippewa Indians who ventured down from what is now Michigan; the village sealed the cave years ago.
In 1988, Bishop converted the house to a florist shop. When the business tanked about four years ago, she opened the tea room.
“Not the kind of place I’d generally hang out,” I told her.
“We have a few men who come in here,” she said with a smile, “but 99 percent are women.” She often hosts church groups and the Red Hat Society.
But enough about my personal nightmares.
What I have done here is what journalists call “burying the lead.” Journalists aren’t supposed to do that.
Well, too bad. Halloween is the time for burying stuff.
Anyway ... the purpose of my visit was to discuss Becky’s claim that she witnessed a spooky series of events.
When she first contacted me, she didn’t have Halloween in mind. She emailed in July, and only because I had written a column about spoons. (Namely, the decision by Bob Evans restaurants — since rescinded — to discontinue routinely delivering spoons to customers.)
Gather ’round the campfire and listen as Becky Bishop sets the scene.
About 2½ years ago, when we had another table in that back room, the spoons would keep disappearing. We put them on the table with the forks and knives, and the next day when we came to open the tea room, the spoons were gone.
Later we had a tea-leaf-reading event and a woman I did not know came dressed really strange. She said she was a gypsy psychic.
I was telling the ladies about the missing spoons. The woman spoke up and told us where the spoons went. She said, “The Lady Anne, or Anna, paid you for the spoons.”
I had not told anyone that someone had left me two $20 bills in my cash register. They were laying across the front of the drawer, where the coins go.
The psychic said Anne or Anna was an indentured servant and had paid for the spoons she took.
Metal spoons were rare in the olden days. Most were wood.
That was the last time any spoons were taken.
Bishop says she doesn’t know whether the spoon-grab had anything to do with the now-sealed Indian cave. But she genuinely seems to believe the elusive customer was a woman from the past named Anne or Anna.
At this time of year, that’s all that counts.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or email@example.com.