Background: The informant explained that this is a first hand experience. It happened when he moved to a new city as a young boy, decades ago. Prior to this experience, he had never heard of the legend associated with the appearance of the ghost of a soldier that appears in the spot that he was killed, haunting and torturing the ones that enter his territory. It affected the informant in his daily life all his childhood as he was always scared to walk through alleys. However, over time, it became a fainted memory and had forgotten about it until he was asked to share his experience.
KV: I can’t remember the year, uh, I think it was maybe 1957 or 1958. We lived in Florina and that year we moved to Thessaloniki. Because my parents wanted to live in a big city for work and there was no school for me, only elementary, had to move to a big city to go to high school. So we moved to Egnatia Road , I think , yes, I remember it was 386 Egnatia Street.
I liked it, first time I saw it, because it, there was an ice cream place and we where above it. The first night I fought with my sisters. I wanted the bedroom that looked at the alley. It was bigger and quieter. Then, my mother got mad and I , I always got mad at my sisters. I didn’t , I couldn’t sleep and went back to the kitchen and asked my mother about the room again. And everyone was upset and my sisters screaming. And suddenly we saw the door , the kitchen door opening, and a man with torn clothes, he was dressed like fandaros (soldier) and bleeding, I think the bleeding was coming from a head wound, I think, appeared, and he, his eyes were, I don’t know how to describe them. He was like a wild animal. And my mother asked us to make our cross, and pray and we saw him moving but couldn’t hear his footsteps. And we didn’t hear the door opening before either, just saw it. I froze and couldn’t move. And I couldn’t talk and my heart was beating fast.
I felt a sudden wind and the lamp , you know we had an oil lamp in the kitchen table at night those days, and there was no flame anymore. I don’t know , maybe it was the wind. I couldn’t see anything but I could hear music, drums, like a drums’ band playing in the alley. But my mother was brave and she grabbed the lamp and lit it again. And the man was not there any more. But when we got to the balcony to see if someone was there , the kitchen had a balcony that faced the alley, we saw a young boy laying on the floor, in the alley and foam was coming out of this mouth and the wind was still blowing. And we saw the fandaro leading the drums’ band and stepping over the young boy. We closed the windows and we left the house at night. We walked for hours, we had no car and that late there was no bus. We stayed in a friend’s home and when our father picked us up the next day, he was still in Florina the night before, we told him everything.
Me:Did you ever find out if something had happened before in that alley?
KV: Later we found from, that on that alley many soldiers had lost their lives during the war, World War II, I think in 1940. And legend has it that whoever passes , the ghost of the soldier who was playing the drums, the leader of the drums band, killed on that alley, attacks whoever passes after midnight and paralyses the right side of their face, that’s were the enemy bullet first hit him.
Me: Why do you think that the soldier entered your home:
KV: The fighting. Maybe the fighting, the loud voices. And these apartments, our apartment was build , I mean it was new. It was build on the battlefield grounds. The voices, because we were fighting , maybe it was reminiscent of the aggressive sounds of the enemy.
Me: Do you know what happened to the young boy you saw that night?
The boy we saw that night passing the alley, he was paralyzed and still lives today, and the doctors couldn’t do anything to fix it. Because they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. And his parents tried and took him to many doctors. And the boy was fine and healthy till be entered the alley that night. Couldn’t find what caused it, I mean. And the boy couldn’t talk. He is mute but no one can explain it.
Me: Do you think many people believe in the existence of the deceased soldier and his malevolent attacks in the alley?
KV: Older people do. Because many things have happened. And many people who lived there saw things too and many accidents in that alley. And the rumors spread and many mouths opened , and spoke of unheard things. Things that cannot be explained. And the people that saw and heard these things are not delusional. Especially the drummer band, many people have seen the drummer band and fainted images of soldiers. Yes, they believe. But the young ones, they don’t now. They are skeptical. They say they don’t believe but avoid the alley. And they laugh sometimes and I think because the alley, the alley is not the same any more. Many stores, street lights and drugs . They don’t think it’s a ghost, they say but they are not sure. And the lights have , aren’t really ghost friendly. And deaths , sudden, it can be, I mean you can not be sure when there are drugs involved. But older people , they do believe.
Context: This piece was collected via an in person meeting
Thoughts: It is interesting that many sites that where in the past the ground of battlefields have developed their own legends. The informant having a personal experience, confirm that the legend of the drummer soldier and the haunted alley is not perpetuated just by the people who lived there in the past, possibly used by locals in modern times trying to create a story to attract more business to local restaurants and hotels. Since the informant stated that there have been many older witnesses that have attested to the presence of the soldier on the haunted alley and the sounds of music (drums) in the past, their similar personal experiences support the idea that the legend could be true and not fabricated or made up by people. The medically unexplainable paralysis of the right side of the boy’s face that night when entering the alley , also makes the narration of this experience more powerful and validate to some extent the informant’s statements. Even up to this day with medical advances, there is no physical indication as to why it happened. And his comment about the city lights on the alley makes me think if in their absence, the appearance of the deceased soldier and his band and the activity in the alley would had continued to be as evident to more people now as it did decades ago. Maybe darkness is where they belong and thus, they prefer appearing in a world more similar to theirs, where they remain invisible, intangible and ephemeral. Perhaps during a power outage, one could investigate any activity related to the legend. The only question that still remains in my mind however is “ who will dare to cross the alley after midnight?”