Soon, that time of year will be upon us when little ghosts and goblins take to the streets chanting their familiar greeting: "Trick or Treat." To get us in the proper "spirit," I would like to take the opportunity to present some brief -- but interesting -- Halloween stories. As you know, Jersey City is an old municipality with a rich and fascinating history. As such, there are some pretty good ghost yarns associated with some of the buildings in Jersey City. St. Joseph's Church on Pavonia Avenue is the first stop on this supernatural tour. There is something rather unusual in the steeple.
Since the early part of the 20th Century, people have reported seeing a pair of strange, oval "eyes" in the church's bell tower. These "Eyes of St. Joseph" appear during the evening hours at irregular intervals. They usually have a florescent, yellowish glow to them. However, they have occasionally been observed with "red streaks." No one is quite sure what these "eyes" really are. In the past, the priests have sprinkled flour in the belfry, hoping that the footprints of a prankster would be discovered. However, no footprints were ever found. Some claim that phosphorous gases cause the "eyes.
" Others prefer a more paranormal explanation -- Ghosts. According to one tale, a former sexton supposedly uttered the words "I'm going to the tower with the others" right before he died. Hepburn Hall, New Jersey City University (formerly Jersey City State College), is said to house the ghost of Margaret Williams. Allegedly, bizarre, unexplainable noises are heard in the Margaret Williams Auditorium and in one of the classrooms adjacent to the assembly hall. It has been suggested that the ghost of Margaret Williams can be seen on certain nights walking along the top of the tower. Of course, the campus security could have fabricated this story to keep curious students from ascending to the top of the tower. The first Jersey City "ghost story" that I have ever heard had to do with a "haunting" at St. Boniface Church on First Street during the late 1960s.
Purportedly, a malevolent entity wreaked havoc inside the church by shredding the clerical vestments and angrily tossing sacramental items in the ready room. Naturally, when we heard the story, it caused quite a commotion in the neighborhood. Looking back on it, I firmly believe that the pastor told us this "ghost story" to keep us from going into the church at night. Needless to say, it worked! There are other buildings and private residences throughout Hudson County that supposedly entertain "spectral visitors." Why not find out more about some of these local legends and folk tales surrounding Jersey City and Hudson County? Who knows what weird items of interest you may find. May you have a safe and enjoyable Halloween!
John Di Genio