Q&A: Lucy Marrow

Lucy Marrow, Tallahassee’s kookiest and spookiest ghost, makes an appearance for her first candid interviewDon’t Boo the SpooksTallahassee’s Ghostly Past Comes Back to Haunt Us

Lucy Marrow” cackles wildly as she introduces herself to a large group of parents and children assembled outside the Tallahassee Visitors Center. It’s a comfortable October evening, not chilly yet but pleasant, and Lucy – real name Tamara McShane – is about to take us on a ghostly tour of Tallahassee’s haunted places.

Lucy is dressed in a simple ruffled gown, has wild long hair and the complexion of a cadaver. It doesn’t take her too long to explain this – it’s part of the scripted narrative.

“If it doesn’t look like I’m feeling too well, like I’m really not on top of my game, there’s a good reason for that – I’m dead,” Lucy tells the crowd. Children clutch their mothers.

Parents giggle.

Lucy points out that she has friends inside the tall flashy things on the street corner, and they’ll guide the group safely along this Historic Ghost Tour, which is put on by Historic Florida Consulting.

The Downtown Tallahassee Ghost Tour is held every year during the Halloween season and is billed as a “hilarious, educational and healthy” event for all ages. Tour guides – appropriately dressed as ghosts and ghouls – take groups on a 45-minute hike through the downtown’s history.

Tallahassee Magazine writer Jason Dehart walked along with one tour group and spoke with Lucy – and another spectral character – to get a feel for the tour program and to see if he could make contact, even briefly, with spirits on the other side.

TM: What’s the proper etiquette when encountering a ghost?

LM: While I don’t think we’ll be seeing any actual ghosts this evening other than me, if we do happen to see one, please do not feed, abuse or molest the ghost in any way. Remember, stay with me. Otherwise, we don’t stand a ghost of a chance.

TM: I see our first stop is the Old Capitol. What happened there?

LM: It is there that the ghosts of former governors are said to haunt. For example, when Gov. John Milton, the governor of Florida during the final weeks of the Civil War, realized that the Southern cause was lost, he shot himself. It is said he has been wandering the Capitol for over 140 years, keeping an eye on state government, making sure that no mistakes are ever made.

TM: We’re now at the corner of Monroe and College. What’s haunted on this busy corner?

LM: The historic Exchange Bank Building. When it was first constructed in 1929, it was considered a skyscraper. It was the beginning of the Great Depression, and it was not a good time to open a bank. Bank President C.L. Mizell shot himself in the basement. He left behind a note that said, “For God’s sake, let my wife keep the house.”

TM: Here we are at the corner of Monroe and Park Avenue. What’s the story here?

LM: In 1843, a man by the name of Leigh Read …

Read (appearing suddenly): Did somebody say my name?

LM: Glad you could make it. Why don’t you tell the group what happened to you here on this street corner?

Read: Back in the 1830s, I was part of a powerful family. We were feudin’ and fightin’ with another family, the Alstons. I fought a duel with one of the Alston boys and beat him. Afterwards, I heard the Alstons were after me in downtown Tallahassee. I was going to the courthouse, passing by that corner, when one of the Alstons jumped out with a shotgun and shot me right over here. I’ve been lookin’ for ’em ever since.

Guided ghost tours are offered the evenings of Oct. 17-19 and Oct. 24-26. The tours, which cost $12 per person and $4 for children ages 4 and under, start each half hour beginning at 6:30 p.m. and last about 45 minutes; the final tour departs at 9:30 p.m. The route is just under 1 mile long with a slight hill, so walking shoes are suggested.

Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (850) 561-0317 or (850) 212-2063, or sending an e-mail to ghosttour@historicfloridaconsulting.com.

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