|View of the upper facade with architectural sculptures — of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House — from an adjacent building, in Manhattan. Photo by Mimar 77. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.|
The Alexander Hamilton Custom House is haunted. In the National Museum of the American Indian, which occupies the bottom two floors, Yupik masks trembled on the walls where they hung. The first-floor women's room was full of singing, whooshing noises. And now I've learned that the third floor, the National Archives, has its own ghost.
I put my belongings into bin #40 when I visited last week and locked the door. I put the key into my pocket and carried my papers and pencil over to the microfilm reader. I didn't stay long that morning. On my way back to get my belongings, I heard a loud crackling sound, like the wind rattling through a deserted can on the street.
There were three people in the Archives: the desk attendant, a volunteer, and I. And there was a spirit in bin #40 desperate to communicate. It turned on my cell phone -- set to "Outside" -- from inside the bin.
I opened the bin, took out my shoulder bag and checked inside for the phone. There it was, glowing at me, ready to go. Laughing. What did you want to say, spirit?
It hasn't happened since. But I am going back on Thursday.