Three Haunted Holladay stories for Halloween seasonSep 30, 2019 01:50PM ● By Sona Schmidt-Harris
Into the Woods – There have been reported hauntings and creepy happenings in “the Cottonwoods” area of Holladay. (Sona Schmidt-Harris/City Journals)
By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]
When I searched “haunted Holladay” on the internet, there really wasn’t much to see. Most of what I saw were hauntings at the Old Mill located in Cottonwood Heights. Either deceased Holladay residents are more contented than most, or for the most part we keep our hauntings to ourselves. I spoke to someone who said that indeed her house is haunted. However, she does not want to publicly discuss it because she is afraid that when it comes time to sell her house, no one will want to buy it. Can’t say I blame her.
During my search, I came upon two good ghost stories from former Holladay resident Lori Thompson Sheranian. Here is the first.
The Little Girl in the Blue Dress
“When I was about 7 years old, I was spending the night with my grandmother (the late Viola Wayman Thompson). Viola T. had a friend whose name was also Viola. Viola lived in a big, white mansion with big, tall pillars. The home was one or two lanes south of where the Carmelites are (a group of nuns in Holladay).”
They drove down a long lane and it opened up to a mansion. “It looked like it belonged on a southern plantation. It was very beautiful, and the lawns were cared for,” Sheranian said.
“I said, ‘Grandma, why does their swimming pool have a tall, chain-link fence around it?” The pool was old and decrepit-looking.
Viola T. replied, “Because they had a terrible experience there.”
She said her friend Viola was a socialite and belonged to what was then the Knife and Fork Club. In the Knife and Fork Club, they would dress in fancy clothes and go different places for dinner.
One day, Viola was holding a party at her home — a poolside summer party.
“She had plenty of people that worked for her setting up tables with flowers and fine china and silverware,” said Sheranian.
“Viola walked out to see that everything was just so before her guests arrived, and she looked down at the bottom of the pool, and she saw a body of a little girl in a blue dress. She screamed and was hysterical and called for her people that worked for her. Her employees came running to see what was wrong. One of the men there — her groundskeeper — said, ‘What, what?’ And she said, ‘There’s a little girl in the pool! There’s a little girl in the pool!’
“He went down into the pool, and the people from above were looking, and he said, ‘There’s no one in this pool.’ So, Viola looked back in the pool, and there was nothing.
“She was very, very upset.
“She would not deny what she saw.”
Viola T. was also at the party, but she never saw anything in the pool.
Viola then researched the history of the house. About three owners previous to her, they lost their little girl, who was wearing a blue dress, at a pool party. Shortly after that, they moved out of the house.
Sheranian said that even 15 years ago when they went to visit the house, that pool was still surrounded with a high chain-link fence. She would pass by it for years, and plants had grown up and surrounded the pool.
“On a moonlit night, you could still see where water had gathered from a rainstorm. You could still see the bottom a very dark, very decrepit pool,” she said.
The Cat Lady
While some Holladay lore can not be classified as hauntings, other stories are just plain creepy. When speaking to some old high school chums, “The Cat Lady” came up frequently. Apparently, she had many cats and people found this creepy. She lived deep in the wooded Cottonwoods, which only added to the mystery.
Spencer Aste, a former Holladay resident, said, “My brother took me and my friends in the back of his pickup truck when we were about 9-10 years old and drove us into the Cottonwoods, and we circled Cat Lady’s home where we believed she had a cat cemetery. Maybe not a haunting but we were haunted nonetheless.”
The Empty Wheelchair
Sheranian told her second story, which falls under the creepy side of things.
“When my dad (the late Gary C. Thompson) was about 11 or 12 years old, he had a paper route that he would do every single day. And he did it on horseback — bareback. He would go deep into the Cottonwoods, and down to 6200 South.
“Back then, it was the paper boy’s job to collect money before the end of the month. And if they didn’t collect it, it would come out of their pay. So, he would start about six days before the month would end to collect.
“He would always go down Cottonwood Lane first, and Holladay Boulevard was the last place. Just off Holladay Boulevard, there was a street next to where the Carmelite Monastery is.
“Off the street, there is a little white house that sat way down in a valley over by itself.
“In that house lived a man who was in a wheelchair. He could not walk at all. They had four children, and they were quite poor so never went anywhere. They never went on vacation, but they would always be at church and always be at school, and they were a nice family.” Though they somewhat kept to themselves.
Gary rode down to collect his paper route money, and he didn’t see anyone around the house at all.
“He used to always see the kids or someone around, so he just threw the paper on the porch and rode up the hill.
“Well, the second day, he did the same thing. It was now two days before Halloween.” He then threw the paper, but the paper he had delivered the day before was still there.
The night before Halloween, Gary rode down to the hill to the little white house while it was getting dark. He noticed all the previous nights’ papers there.
Gary began to think that maybe the family had moved. “So, he knocked on the door, and they didn’t answer, so he leaned in to look into the window. And in a house that was normally quite neat, there were things strewn about, and there was something that looked like blood all over the floors and walls. So, he jumped on his horse and rode out of there.”
As he rode, Gary grew nauseous. “He dug his hands into the horse’s mane, and he rode all the way home, and didn’t finish delivering his papers.”
He then got his father (the late Clyde Fleming Thompson) and he said, “Dad, something terrible has happened.”
Clyde grabbed the sheriff, and Gary stayed behind.
“They found quite a bit of blood in the house. They never found any of the people, and the man’s wheelchair was there. They never found them dead. They never found out what happened to them. They just simply disappeared. It’s an unsolved mystery in Holladay.
“The wheelchair sat at the back door for many, many years.”
Deepening the mystery was the fact that the family did not have a car.