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Bryan Rocks

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By Richard (Dick) Uthmann, BAMus. Ed 1960, MAMus. Ed 1971

Bryan Hall 1 KenWise.jpg
From the fall of 1957, I was stage manager of Bryan Hall for the music and drama department, since both departments shared the stage of Bryan Hall. The auditorium was very heavily used for music rehearsals, drama productions, dance programs, lectures, organ practice, etc. I finally realized that the best time to aim and focus the stage lights was after the building was locked at night; as manager I had a master key to the building.

The big stage lights were located in the ceiling of the auditorium and accessed by going up the bell tower to the third floor and through a heavy steel fire door to the loft over the auditorium. Both levels of the bell tower were used for stage property storage, as was the area over the classroom section. One of the first times I went up was with an instructor and I noticed a rocking chair sitting out in the middle of the floor, so I picked it up and was going to stack it with the rest of the chairs. The instructor told me to leave it there, it belonged to E. A. Bryan and he liked to have it there. “Right” I thought, but left it there.

The next time I went up into the loft alone, the chair was out in the open, so I put it over with the other chairs and went on the fix the lights. It was late at night and I was sure no one else was in the building since the janitor left as I came and reminded me to lock the doors when I left. As I worked on the lights (they were carbon arc and very hot) I heard the fire door open and close, but saw no one there. I figured it was just the janitor checking on me and ignored it. A moment later I got really cold, even shivering, even though I was standing right over the hot light. Then the cold sensation passed and I finished the rest of the lights quickly. When I went back through the fire door, the chair was sitting in the middle of the floor, rocking. I watched for a minute, but it didn’t stop. The air around it was cold, but I wasn’t brave enough to touch the chair. I’m not sure I believe in ghosts, but I never moved that chair unless it was necessary to move props, and then it went right back in the right spot. Many times later when I went up there, no matter if it was night or day, the chair was moving slightly, but I never felt the cold again. Some things you just don’t mess with.

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