Jan 092015

Jenny Porter Tilley wrote this post as part of our Glassmen alumni blog series. She was a member of the brass section in 2001 and 2002. 

It’s not unusual to hear odd sounds in an old, crumbling building in the middle of nowhere. Those of us burdened with an overwhelming sense of logic can always attribute it to something our teeny human brains can comprehend: Plumbing. Wind. Settling. Animals. The person sleeping nearby.

I should have started out by saying that I don’t believe in ghosts. If anything, I believe it may be possible that the human spirit can leave an imprint in our world — something completely normal and logical — that science is thousands of years away from explaining. My logic tells me there’s a perfectly rational explanation.

Then, when it’s dark and cold, I change my mind.

One night about 15 years ago, I woke up in the dark on the floor of the stage in a building we call “G-West.” Since the old school was purchased by the Glassmen Drum & Bugle Corps in 1988, thousands of horn players, percussionists and color guard members have inhabited the space off and on, leaving behind their own ghosts.

This was at a camp during my first season, so I was just adjusting to the drum corps lifestyle. The first few times I slept in a large room with several other people instead of my usual cramped dorm room, I woke up very confused. I had to spend a few minutes reminding myself where I was.

The next step (which is not specific to sleeping on the floor at G-West) was to debate whether I had to pee enough that I should get up. In this case, the heat wasn’t working well (it was soon to be repaired), and I was shivering in my sleeping bag. Eventually, the need to pee eclipsed the need to stay warm.

I got up and walked across the stage (narrowly avoiding the warped spot in the wood floor, which could have sent me sprawling), down the steps, and quietly, carefully, across the gym and down to the girls’ bathroom.

In the restroom was a low sink, a few stalls and a shower area with crumbling, broken tiles and a few shower heads that dribbled what seemed to be 50% water and 50% rust. After I relieved myself and went to wash my hands, I heard a shuffling noise coming from the shower, followed by the “clink” of a tile.

I don’t know what possessed me to go back and look for the source of the sound, because it sounds like a scene from a horror movie. But there was, of course, nothing there. It was probably just the pipes. Or mice. Insects. My imagination.

A color guard veteran overheard me talking about it the next day, as we all crammed into the bathroom and scrambled for a spot in the shower before rehearsal. She said, as if she couldn’t believe I didn’t know, “It was just Sarah.” Duh.

The more time I spent at G-West, the more often I heard phrases like “Don’t make Sarah mad!” and stories of mysterious sights and sounds. Whether these “Sarah experiences” were truly paranormal is, to me, irrelevant. More importantly, they’re woven into the fabric of the Glassmen story. There’s at least one kind of ghost that I know is real — the kind that leaves its mark on an old building, buried deep in the crumbling brick long after its inhabitants move on with their lives. We all leave our own ghosts behind.

If there were a ghost on the grounds of G-West all that time, she’d have some amazing stories. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to get in touch with Sarah. Instead, we have to rely on fellow alumni to share their stories of our time there.

In future posts, I hope to look into the history of our building, both before and during the time it was occupied by the Glassmen. Before it was our home, the school was an important part of the local community. My goal is to paint a picture of this special place, and to help preserve its place in our legacy. Stay tuned!

This post is part of our alumni blog series. If you’re interested in contributing, please e-mail glassmenexperience@gmail.com for more information.

 Posted by at 10:45 AM