Haunted in Tampa: local lore in time Halloween

On the eve of Samhain, the Celts believed the veil between the two realms was the most transparent at the end of October, allowing the spirits of those who have died to return to visit earth. Halloween has also been associated with dressing up in costumes, a high level of candy consumption, and the telling of ghost stories like Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (the classic short story not the Fox TV show).

If you enjoy local history, are looking for tales to recite around a warm fire, then pick up a copy of Haunted Tampa by Deborah Frethem at Inkwood Books, this Thu., Oct., 17 at 7 p.m. Historian John Cinchett, Fringe Florida chronicler Lynn Waddell, and poet Ginna Wilkerson join writer/historian Frethem for a night of old Tampa lore and spooky rhymes.

"The Hotel Floridanis" one of my favorite stories that she covers. In its golden years The Floridanwas the main attraction for the rich and famous including Rock and Roll legend Elvis Presley. In 1966 the hotel closed to travelers but instead took on long term renters. In the mid ’70s one of the residents turned on her radio to an Elvis Presley song while she was preparing her breakfast. Not that unusual, however, once the song was over her radio dial began to spin without her touching it. Another Presley song began to blare, then another and then another. She tried turning off the radio and even unplugging it but it just kept coming back on. She was so afraid that she left her apartment; when she arrived in the lobby she ran into a friend who said, “Did you hear the bad news? Elvis Presley died last night.”

There is also the tale of Foster "Fink" Finley, who worked as a theater projectionist for 35 years at the Tampa Theatre before his death in 1965. It’s told that he loved his job so much that he haunts the theatre till this very day making sure things are in order.

Also crime boss, Charlie Wall, who was known for his testimonies in the Kefauver hearing was brutally murdered at his home here in Tampa. People have said they have seen him wandering around with a thin red line going from ear to ear where his throat was slashed.

Frethem’s Haunted Tampa Spirits of the Bay does a good job of not only describing the history of the Bay area, but revealing secrets that have been long forgotten and kept hidden.

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