Ghost Story – Rhode Island

“At school there is this story that has been circulating through my school about this ghost that is on our campus.  Apparently, there is a chef that used to work at the Salve Regina but died mysteriously a few decades ago.  Ever since then many students and teachers have claimed to see the chef at many different times.  Usually they see him around the kitchen or cafeteria.  In most cases it is after the cafeteria is closed that people will hear things coming from the kitchen.  Then someone will see a tall chef’s hat and a fat man in an apron often holding a meat cleaver.  The chefs that work on campus nowadays don’t wear chef’s hats.  My teacher claimed to see the chef one time.  He said one night he was walking past this hall near the cafeteria where there are absolutely no windows or doors and at the very end of it there is a payphone.  As he was walking past the hall the payphone rang, so he walked all the way down to the other end of the hall to answer it.  When he picked the phone up, there was nothing but static, so he hung up.  Then the phone rang again so he picked it up and there was static again.  He was wondering what was happening and when he turned around and looked down the hall he saw the chef standing at the other end holding a meat cleaver in hand.  He immediately hung up the phone and when he turned around again the chef was gone.”

My friend Andrew told me this story when he first got to school last year.  Salve Regina University is located in Newport, Rhode Island and all of the dorms and classrooms, including the cafeteria, are in old 18th and 19th century mansions that were owned by immensely wealthy individuals.  The school itself houses an immense amount of ghost stories, with this one being only one of hundreds.  Andrew grew up in Connecticut and then chose to go to school in Newport, RI two years ago.  He said that he heard this story from his teacher his first semester he was at school which was the fall of 2006.  According to Andrew, it is a part of the culture at Salve Regina to ask about the history of the school and to ask older students and teachers about the ghost stories that they have either experienced or heard.

Andrew told me that his teacher strongly believed that he saw the chef’s ghost and that there have been a number of other sightings of the chef although Andrew has yet to see a ghost.  I don’t think that this takes away from the credibility of the story however.  Ghost stories have long been part of a rich tradition in New England, and there are some schools more than others that often have such lore associated with them.  The appearances of ghosts and the general notion of ghosts allude to the fact that a person must believe in some form of life after death.  Therefore, this questions a person’s beliefs.  Also because this story takes place in the real world and could be true, I would classify this ghost story as a legend.

Ghosts have been popularized in cultures for hundreds of years.  Examples can be taken from Mexico with the day of the dead festival and from Shakespeare’s plays that date back to the late 1500s.  In modern times, movies such as “Casper” have portrayed ghosts as friendly creatures while other movies such as “Ghostbusters” where the main characters are fighting off evil ghosts.  I do not believe that what this teacher saw was influenced at all by these modern concepts of ghosts, however I do believe that the culture of the school makes people keener to be on the lookout for such appearances.