November 24, 2010

On this night, the ghosts laid low at a Maine restaurant

Creepy, yes, but the hours spent looking for paranormal activity at a Standish restaurant were mostly quiet, and produced no startling encounters.

By Shannon Bryan
Staff Writer

STANDISH — Meredith Goad didn't chicken out on writing the ghost hunting follow-up to her Oct. 27 haunted restaurants story.

click image to enlarge

Mandy James reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas” in an attempt to get a response from a ghost, believed to be a young girl, at the Maine Street Grill. James runs Paranormal Researchers and Investigators of Maine with her husband, Louis Logsdon, and was looking into reports of unusual activity at the Standish restaurant.

Gregory Rec/ Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Jennifer Elliott, center, and James Logsdon, left, watch an electromagnetic frequency meter and a ball on the floor as they search for paranormal activity at the Maine Street Grill.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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It just so happened that her trip south to visit family for the Thanksgiving holiday conflicted with the scheduled investigation.

Coincidence? I'll let you be the judge.

Instead, I tagged along with the Paranormal Researchers and Investigators of Maine (PRI-ME) on Saturday at Maine Street Grill in Standish, the same restaurant whose reported visions, audible growls and wayward flatware Goad described in an Oct. 27 Portland Press Herald story.

The group, co-founded by Mandy James and husband Louis Logsdon a year and a half ago, investigates claims of the paranormal to uncover alternate answers to those strange sensations, unearthly sounds and seemingly inexplicable apparitions some people say they experience.

And as Goad noted, Maine Street Grill has no shortage of ghost stories.

In truth, there are spirits at the Main Street Grill. I saw them with my own eyes, huddled together on the shelves behind the bar. But in regards to the human apparitions PRI-ME had come to investigate, well, they were a little less obvious.

The six-member team arrived with electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors, closed-circuit television and infrared cameras, audio recorders, temperature gauges, walkie talkies, digital cameras and ample amounts of coffee.

"It's the main piece of equipment," joked James, who added that staying awake at 3 a.m. is sometimes the hardest part of the job.

After the restaurant closed at 11 p.m. and the last of the diners and bargoers had cleared out of the second floor "Man Cave" (where "Dead Guy Ale" just happened to be one of the night's featured beer specials), Maine Street Grill owner Dan Roberts led the team through the building. He pointed out where specific experiences had occurred, including the basement where one employee heard a "growl," and the staircase to the third floor where some have reported a sensation of being pushed.

As if the late hour, emptied rooms and creaky floorboards weren't enough to set the eerie mood, the restaurant's walls are decked with scythes, saws and ice picks. Those implements of a rural past might be quaintly historic in the daylight, but they're downright ominous when it's close to midnight in a potentially haunted building.

Then three of the investigators noticed their audio recorders had stopped working while walking through the third-floor function room -- the one with the floating dance floor and reported cold spot. James said there's a theory that spirits steal energy from electronic devices; batteries in cameras and recorders can go from full to dead in a matter of seconds when spirits are lurking.


Following the walk-through, the group divided into two teams to investigate separate floors simultaneously. Logsdon also set up three infrared cameras, which would record nonstop throughout the evening.

James led Deb Rossi, Carol Warren and me to the second floor while Logsdon, Jennifer Elliott and first-time investigator Melissa Connell tackled the basement.

Our flashlights threw shadows onto the walls as we walked, and I startled at the silhouettes and our reflections in the windows.

Rossi and Warren swept the small rooms and hallway with EMF detectors, holding the devices up to walls, outlets and electronic equipment. The restaurant's speakers caused the lights on Rossi's detector to shoot from yellow to orange to red.

The sweep gives investigators a baseline for what might set the detectors off later. Things like clock radios and microwaves were big culprits. Close proximity to those fields, Warren explained, can give susceptible people those "weird" feelings like they're being watched.

After the sweep, the team gathered for an EVP session. Electronic voice phenomena describes sounds an audio recorder might pick up, but that might not be easily heard by the people present.

(Continued on page 2)

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