GLOCESTER – Not only does Thomas D’Agostino seek out ghosts, but, apparently, they seek him out too, especially during the Halloween season.
“I’ve been hit in the face, had things thrown at me, had items move…” he recalled.
D’Agostino, a former Burrillville resident, has published 17 books over the years on various paranormal events and sightings, including his latest, New England’s Haunted Route 44, which arrived on bookshelves this year. Among its pages are references to a number of local spots along that highway, which he says have been occupied by a variety of ghosts over the years. Those include Glocester’s Cady’s Tavern, Brown and Hopkins General Store, the Town Trader and, most notably, Tavern on Main, where he and his wife Arlene Nicholson have hosted dinners for paranormal enthusiasts over the years.
“We’ve had a lot of stuff happen, especially at the Tavern on Main,” said D’Agostino. “One night Arlene was asking a question: Money can be replaced? And everybody hears this voice say, ‘No.’ Then, while we were filming, something literally kicked one of the cameras we were using. The camera, on a tripod, was surrounded by chairs so no one would accidentally walk into it. Something actually moved it.”
Several ghosts have been seen by customers and/or employees over the years, including a girl who reportedly hangs out in one of the rear corner booths on occasion. According to D’Agostino’s book, the ghost of the girl is called, “Alice.” In the book Gene Waterman, who owned the tavern from 1982 to 2004 said he had seen the ghost a number of times, describing her as “wearing colonial attire, as if she were dressed for a picnic or party, apparently waiting for someone to join her.”
At one of D’Agostino’s paranormal dinners, she made herself known.
“We asked the question: what is your name, regarding the girl in the back booth, and a voice from that booth said, ‘Alice. My name is Alice,'” he recalled. “Everybody heard that.”
Other times at the tavern a flat iron, part of the decorations, simply fell off a corner table, along with other unexplained phenomena.
“We had a tablecloth just lift straight up in front of everybody, and everything fall on the floor in front of everybody,” he added.
Debra Marks, a longtime employee, said in the book that she has heard her name called when no one was there and other unexplained phenomena, including having a TV lifted off a shelf and almost dropped on a disbelieving customer who made the point that there were no such things as ghosts. Her sister Chris, also an employee, witnessed the event, as described in the book:
“One evening, a regular was standing below the television, stating in front of a full bar that he did not believe the tavern was haunted and the stories were all bunk. Suddenly, everyone began shouting at him to move as the television lifted off its perch,” she’s quoted as saying. “Luckily, he was quick enough to avoid being hit as it crashed to the floor.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, D’Agostino and his wife were married in the Tavern on Main on Halloween, 2002. Was the event attended by other worldly guests? Not that he was aware, he laughed. They were too busy having a good time.
He added that the stories about Glocester ghosts are not surprising, given its history.
“The antiquity of it,” he said. “It has a lot of old buildings and a lot of stuff has happened there over the years. Things have transpired, people have come and gone. It is really an interesting place. That center of Chepachet is one of those places that holds a great deal of energy.”
Other Glocester locations mentioned in the book included similar hauntings.
That energy is supplied, D’Agostino says, by the amount of quartz and underground streams located there. Quartz has been described as a type of rock that holds energy and is used for healing and health as well. Other properties have been attributed to the rock over the years, as well. Some ghost hunters believe that the presence of ghosts can be attributed to energy left behind by the deceased.
D’Agostino first entered the world of publishing stories about the paranormal in 2006, but has been researching haunted locations for more than 42 years.
“I just decided to write a book about places people can visit that are haunted,” he recalled. “The mystique, the stories of ghosts, things unexplained. You are not guaranteed that something is going to happen at a haunted site, but when it does, you don’t have any explanation for it really, so then it’s – ‘wow.'”
D’Agostino’s latest book about Route 44 was a natural choice, he said, given the history of the route, one of the oldest pikes in New England. It begins in Plymouth, Mass., and extends 237 miles, before ending in New York State. Along the way there are numerous ancient buildings and sites, including historic homes once occupied by early colonists, asylums, ancient cemeteries, and various inns and taverns.
“It’s like a haunted road trip,” said D’Agostino.
That also includes the famous “phantom hitchhiker of Route 44 in Rehoboth.”
“One of the most celebrated haunts along Route 44 is the Redheaded Hitchhiker seen along the Rehoboth/Seekonk line,” states the book. “Yes, he is real, and there are plenty of accounts of his appearance along that lonely stretch of road. The thumbing apparition has prompted more legend trips than almost any other ghost along the highway.”
D’Agostino and his wife live on Route 44 themselves in an ancient Victorian home in Putnam, Conn., naturally – or perhaps unnaturally – occupied by spirits, as confirmed by neighbors over the years.
“We look over and there is this black shadow walking across the living room,” he said. “Our dog saw it too. He jumped up and ran after it, barking. The neighbors even see stuff.”
He added they chose the house simply because it was a beautiful old house.
“Almost my entire life, I have lived on Route 44,” he said. “My parents still live on Route 44 in Smithfield, where I grew up.”
As one might expect, D’Agostino’s schedule is booked solid once autumn arrives and particularly in the weeks surrounding Halloween. During a talk last week, he explained that he had 21 events in the last 21 days, all of which were sold out, and was on his way to another after the interview. Those included appearances in Sturbridge, Concord and other history-laden sites.
It is still not too late to catch one of his and Arlene’s presentations, however. On Sunday, Nov. 5, at 2 p.m., at Greenville Library, the pair will be talking about his latest book and some of their experiences along Route 44. For more information on that event call (401) 949-3630.
They will also be hosting a special paranormal dinner at Tavern on Main on Monday, Nov. 6, when they will be holding an investigation looking for paranormal activity using their latest technology. To learn more about the dinner or reserve a seat call (401) 710-9788.