Bourke Accounting’s Bookkeeper Christina was giving me assignments the other day. After glancing at the clock, which read “11:11,” I knocked wood three times, made a wish and thanked the universe. As my Bourke Accounting co-workers know that I’m superstitious, Christina simply ignored my ritual and carried on.
I never fold sheets indoors. I have never “played” with a Ouija board and I have certainly never repeated “Bloody Mary” in a darkened room. Do I truly believe that Mary is going to reach out and touch me? No, not truly, but why risk it? While I don’t know if I believe in ghosts, I do believe in dignity and respect.
As any newcomer to Kentucky can attest, one of the first things locals like to share is the history of Waverly Hills Sanatorium. According to friends and hokey ghost hunting shows, the former tuberculous hospital is one of the most haunted places on earth. Adding to the already sad history, after being a TB hospital, the space was reincarnated as the Woodhaven Geriatric Center, a nursing home that was closed amid allegations of patient abuse (En.Wikipedia.org). It’s no wonder that with such a storied past, visitors swear that they’ve played ball with a little ghost kid and have seen the specter of a nurse who committed suicide. One friend told me that, after investigating “The Death Tunnel” (an underground walkway employees used to transport supplies and deceased patients), his apartment became so haunted that he was forced to move.
Call it self-preservation or superstition, but humans naturally fear locations where people have died. Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, there is something sobering about standing in the spot where others have breathed their last (of course, it doesn’t hurt that we also enjoy gruesome narratives). However, one of the saddest stories of Waverly is the way it is currently being used.
When Charlie and Tina Mattingly bought the Waverly, they had a notion to turn the space into a hotel and convention center. However, unable to get a loan, the Mattinglys came up with the idea of raising money by opening the space to the public (WDRB.com). For example, for $25, Waverly offers a two-hour paranormal guided tour (TheWaverlyHills.com). But wait, there’s more! For $1,000, visitors can roam freely and even spend the night (Eventbrite.com). And let’s not forget the annual Halloween haunted house! For a nominal fee, peanut-munching, mouth breathers can stomp unceremoniously through a space that should be shown reverence. After demonstrating nothing but disdain for lost lives, don’t forget to stop at the gift shop for a tee-shirt.
It’s not charming when a place of immeasurable heartbreak is used for nothing more than cheap entertainment. What’s next? A Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast…oh, never mind, that already exists (and, for $250, you can sleep where a woman was murdered). I’m not suggesting that we should wander in perpetual mourning, but tragic locations shouldn’t be treated as low-rent freak shows, either. We ought to honor our lost with dignity, not insult their memories with fake blood and spectacle.
Showing respect is free; perpetrating the disregard of our fellows actually costs money. The next time you’re touring a “haunted” location, spare a thought for our fallen brothers and sisters. They’re not just fictional characters designed to give us a thrill, they were people.
The Bourke Accounting office is not haunted. Bourke Accounting bookkeepers and tax preparers are so level-headed and focused that it wouldn’t matter if it were. Regardless of what is going on, when you sit down with Bourke Accounting pros, the only thing they care about is giving you the best service in Louisville.
Written by Sue H.