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The Collinwood Ghosts

We called them "The Ghosts", us neighborhood kids knew they weren't really ghosts, we just didn't know what to do around them. The few times a year when we would see them, there would be two couples, two old men, two old ladies, not talking, only walking. Going to or from the Collinwood School Memorial, where in 1908 one hundred and seventy-two children and three adults died in the smoke and fire. Now it was 1954 and the ghosts must have been in their mid-seventies.

They were dressed in black, even their hats and gloves. Except one lady, oh, she wore black, but no hat, and white gloves and a white corsage. We called her White Gloves and she walked slightly ahead, strong and straight with her head tilted back a little, chin thrust forward. She was daring whatever the future held, it could not break her. The word was that these couples had lost all of their children in that tragedy.

One Saturday morning at Humphrey Field two little league games were ready to begin when someone called out, "The Ghosts" were coming. We all lined up and stood with our heads bowed and our caps off. As they passed by, White Gloves stopped and turned to us, with a smile and a wave, she called out, "Play Ball, Boys, Play Ball".

Some of us didn't call them ghosts anymore and even walked with them to the Memorial Lily-Pond. They would tell us about the children.

Story by:

Bruce Haase

14 January 2014