All She Wrote: Of mice and men


Me: It looks like they ate the poison.

David: Who? The mice or the guests?

Me: Well it does look a lot like aged, white cheddar. Let’s just hope the mice don’t haunt us. We’ve had enough of that for one evening.

It’s dappling daylight sunny side up on the sidewalks of Salisbury. Nonetheless, it’s the bewitching hour for the town’s heralded Ghost Walk.

Home to 10 National Historic Register Districts and more than 1,200 historical properties, this burg that resides 10 minutes from my Rowan County lake house is also home to surprising numbers of paranormal activity.

From the Girl in the Window to the Lynching Tree, from the Confederate Prison to the Empire Hotel, from the Sessions House Graves to Thyatira “Pirates,” it’s straight up Ghostbusters around these parts but in this case you won’t be calling Melissa McCarthy. You’ll be calling Karen C. Lilly-Bowyer — the woman who literally wrote the book on the subject, the “Wettest & Wickedest” Town, the Legends & Ghosts of Salisbury. Or at least the folks that operate her website

It’s also been dubbed the Town that Whiskey Built and I’ve got a flask in tow in honor of this tradition. The Rev. John B. Tucker conducting the tour is not amused.

A petition by the people helped establish Rowan County and its courthouse in 1753 giving area farmers and laypeople a place to do their business closer to home. Salisbury was established as a township in 1755 and the first act of the Rowan Courthouse was to grant Jacob Lettle a license to operate a tavern.

In colonial days Rowan County boasted 142 taverns — important establishments providing travelers places to sleep, eat and drink. After the Ghost Walk we are desperately in need of the latter two.

We hit La Cava — all 14 of us — and massacre a haute Italian meal before seeking out one of Rowan’s infamous taverns. You see it’s karaoke night at Tamarac Marina and we are loaded for bear. Skynyrd is at full wail when our overdressed crew rolls onto the chicken-wing strewn deck. There’s more black leather than Madonna’s closet and enough beer to float a Canadian Goose across the border.

We laugh. We dance. We sing. We dance some more. It comes to my attention out of the corner of my eye that my honor is being defended by Dapper David. Apparently a hulking mass of sweaty T-shirt had been surreptitiously grinding behind me and a confrontation was afoot. Clad in a handmade Italian shirt and a clear dozen inches shorter the hulking mass, David stood tall and the mass stood down. The two hugged it out and the only casualty of the evening was said Italian shirt. No dead bodies. No ghosts. Just a whiskey-fueled night out in the place that whiskey built.