Dead walk

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

Draped in Spanish Moss and filled with 100-year-old antebellum homes, the Queen City of The Black Belt is the perfect place to find ghosts.

And, according to local lore, the city is filled with the spirits of the undead, bumping and banging around all over the place.

Buildings of all manner and uses are filled with spiritual essence, according to workers and owners.

In fact, the city is becoming famous for its paranormal activity.

Selma’s been featured several times on the Rick and Bubba Show, on the Turner South Network.

Recently, the show sent a film crew, along with the Alabama Paranormal Institute, to investigate and film several sites within the city for its &8220;13 Days of Horror&8221; special.

Unfortunately, and eerily according to some, none of the film survived the trip.

Jones is one of the cheerleaders of the undead in Selma.

She believes the legends and appearance of spirits in Selma homes can draw some positive attention to the city.

Luckily, despite the pesky tricks the dearly departed play on celluloid strips, experts say the living have nothing to fear from the dead.

Selma’s resident queen of ghost stories, Kathryn Tucker Windham, said in all her years of collecting ghost stories, only two were about evil spirits.

She unequivocally stated that no one should ever be afraid of the undead.

It’s a belief that Tina Price, an employee with the Centre for Commerce, agrees with.

Working at the Centre, Price has experienced a lot of &8220;spiritual&8221; activity, including hearing steps going up the stairs and watching doors open and close by themselves.

She said the movements of spirits doesn’t bother her at all.

And, in the event that a body feels threatened by the unbodied, Windham has a simple solution.

She said everyone should know about this simple trick to keep mischievous poltergeists from attacking.

And, considering the list of haunted places in Selma, a little protection might go a long way in making a visitor feel better, if nothing else.

The following is a brief list of some of the haunted sites in the Selma area. Make sure you keep your toes pointed in the right directions visiting any of them.

The St. James Hotel:

This historic hotel, over 100 years old, is reportedly the site of a lot of paranormal activity. Some people say photos exist showing the spirits moving around.

Brad Kendrick, former public relations officer for the hotel, said he’s experienced ectoplasmic activity while working in the building.

Other photos exist depicting &8220;orbs&8221; of light, a phenomenon that the Alabama Paranormal Institute says could suggest the presence of spirits.

The Centre for Commerce:

The Centre for Commerce building on Selma Avenue is a hotbed of activity, according to researchers.

The Alabama Paranormal Institute filmed one of the lost segments of the Rick and Bubba show there, and recorded numerous &8220;cold spots.&8221; Price said the building has been occupied by spirits since she’s worked there.

Price doesn’t like the term ghost either.

She’s heard noises and witnessed objects move themselves while in the building.

Old Cahawba

Linda Derry is not quite sure she believes in ghosts, but she did experience something strange a few months ago.

The director of Old Cahawba Archaeological Park gave a guided tour to members of an Alabama paranormal society through the &8220;New&8221; Cemetery at the park. The group used all sorts of equipment to detect unusual activity, including a tape recorder.

Sturdivant Hall

Birmingham resident Kevin Cane was using his digital camera to take pictures outside the antebellum mansion in early August when he thought he caught a glimpse of a little girl passing through an upstairs window.

In a letter to the Sturdivant Hall staff, Cane wrote that he thought it was his imagination and continued on with his tour.

In the photograph of Sturdivant Hall, three strange, distorted images are clearly visible from the first floor, right-side window next to the front door.

Selma’s Ghost Tour

Lauri Cothran, executive vice president of tourism for the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce, said the city’s ghost tour was created several years ago after so many out-of-towners began requesting to see some of Selma’s haunted places.

The tour takes visitors to several Selma sites where strange things have been known to occur.

Fact box:

The chamber’s ghost tour is available online at www.selmaalabama.com or by calling the Chamber at 875-7241.