BY SKYLER, DEB & TIM SMITH
Last week I began my endeavor to instill the spirit of Halloween in all my readers. I began a series of articles I call “The Hauntings of Mendon”. I closed by promising I’d save the best for last. Buckle up and prepare yourself for a harrowing ride.

Without a doubt the most haunted building in the hamlet is Ye Mendon Tavern. When we walked into the Tavern to speak with proprietor, Pat Freeman, she was armed and dangerous. The woman had fifty pages of materials about the tavern and boy, was she ready to talk. When I say “dangerous” I mean that figuratively, because I know her personally and she doesn’t scare me a bit.

Pat Freeman and I know each other because she works at HF-L and we have a special relationship. We always try to help each other and she lets me address her as just “Freeman”. We have no need to get all formal with that “Mrs.” stuff, she’s just Freeman to me.

The bad news is, the tavern is haunted! The good news is, we know by whom! The spirit in question is one Harold Folts, Freeman’s grandfather. Harold spent the WWII years serving as proprietor of the Mendon Hotel, the three-story building that was the closest thing to a skyscraper Mendon ever had. It stood on the northwest of the hamlet’s four corners where Crosby’s mini-mart now resides. Here’s the story . . .as the country and economy stabilize with the end of the war in 1945, Harold decides it is time to strike out on his own.

He buys the current Mendon Tavern which, after having functioned as an apple-drying facility in the early 1900’s, was then just being used for storage by the turkey farm up the road. Apple history notwithstanding, Harold decides the only fruit he wants in the place is what his bartender would use to make an “Old Fashioned” cocktail.

Decades before the Beatles popularize the title “With a Little Help from My Friends,” Harold rallies the troops to sally forth into the city, remove the mahogany bar from the Rochester Elks Club and transport it back to the tavern where it remains to this day. Shortly thereafter, the opening of Harold’s Place is celebrated and the bar flourishes for the next decade, as evidenced by the original ledger sheets which are among the props which Freeman shares with us.

Harold passes away in the upstairs of the building in the spring of 1956 at the age of just 51. Obviously feeling that God didn’t give him his fair share of living years on Earth, he decides to stick around after his death and everyone is pretty sure that the plethora of supernatural shenanigans occurring at the tavern ever since his death are his doing. Feeling an obligation to honor Harold’s legacy, as well as a justifiable fear of angering the dead, Freeman has extensive documentation of the tavern’s ghostly goings on. Some people say that one can only haunt a building in which he has died. If you go by that criteria, Harold is clearly qualified for his current ghostly gig.

There are so many tales in this tapestry that if we told them all I would have to continue my Halloween article until Thanksgiving, so right now, and over the next few weeks, I am about to share with you the “greatest hits” version.

The most frequently occurring event is the sound of footsteps walking upstairs when nobody’s there. Originally Freeman says the steps go back and forth but she immediately corrects herself to explain that actually, they always go in the same direction.

“So really, they only go forth,” she says, “walking diagonally from the southeast corner of the building toward the northwest.

It’s almost as if he’s walking from above the entrance of the tavern to the spot where he died.” Maybe that’s why the footsteps never come back, I theorize.

I’ll send you into Halloween on that note, but stay scared . . . I’ll be back next week with more haunted tales from the Tavern.

©2022 Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel

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