If you visit Lily Dale, the largest spiritualist community in North America, one of the places to stay is The Maplewood Hotel, a rebuilt barn that was opened a century ago. People swear that the place is haunted; Stories abound with horse moans in the middle of the night and a lady in Victorian clothes floating up the stairs on the second floor. When booking accommodation, people often request a haunted room, but the booking agent politely tells him that the rooms are as clear as the sky on a summer day.
Lily Dale can get quite crowded on the weekends, and it is almost impossible to find accommodation for the time being at Maplewood. But luck was on our side last year, when circumstances dictated that we had to get to Dale one day before our expected arrival. We had been on the road for several hours and every motel we stayed in was booked or had only smoking rooms. At 10 o’clock in the evening we cross our fingers and my husband telephoned to see if there was perhaps an opening at Maplewood. “We’ll even take a broom closet!” pleaded the night manager.
Our luck has come. There was a last minute vacancy.
“We will be there in 15 minutes!” she cried, and we made the 25-minute record in record time. I don’t know how fast we were going because I kept my eyes closed for most of the trip.
When the night manager saw us arrive with our bags, he smiled embarrassed. “The room only has a double bed,” he said, and took us to the top floor. Room 42 was a small square space with a wooden floor, a bed, a wooden chair and a chest of drawers with two drawers.
Exhausted from our journey, we collapsed in bed and fell asleep.
Sometimes during the night, we woke up to the sound of a creaking rocking chair, and thundering footsteps walking around the bed. What was my husband doing out of bed, rummaging in the room? Maybe he was struggling to doze and rocking asleep. In my dog-tired state, I was too uneducated to talk to him. The rhythmic sound of the rocking chair was like a metronome that quickly put me back to sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, he was looking at the chair that certainly had four wooden feet on the floor. When he saw me, he said, “I could have sworn I heard a rocking chair last night.”
“Me too,” I said.
Later that morning, we were able to move to the room we had initially booked: number 6. A few days later, we happened to listen to a conversation between two women on the veranda of Maplewood. One said he had had a very interesting experience in his room last night, involving a rocking chair and stepping on the steps around the bed.
“Were you by chance in Room 42?” I asked.
The woman nodded. “I understand what happens to many people,” he said. “The first night of a person in Room 42, they will receive a sort of visit, as if someone checked them and made sure they were fine.”
I smiled, happy to know that we had evidently passed the Room 42 test and that we had been approved by the spirit.