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GOSHEN -- A theater doesn't have to be a historic structure to be a ghostly home.
In fact, the Goshen College Umble Center, built in 1978, is less than 30 years old years old and its ghost is -- not alive but definitely well.
According to Doug Liechty Caskey, chairman of the theater department, the ghost is a female and her name is Alice. She is the grandmother of longtime GC professor Roy Umble. The center is named for Alice's husband, John S. Umble, and both their photos hang in the building.
"Alice is a benevolent spirit," Caskey said. "I don't know anyone who has actually seen her, but she makes herself known by sounds -- up high in the fly loft or in the catwalk."
The director recalls one evening after a dress rehearsal of a large cast show. Students were spread around the theater, up high and down low, listening to him give notes on the performance.
"We all heard a noise in the catwalk area," Caskey said. "Then the lights took a funny dip. I asked who was in the light booth. There was nobody."
He recalled with a laugh that those sitting up high in the auditorium quickly scrambled to lower seats when he said it was Alice.
"Our tech director, Jerry Peters, is a skeptic," Caskey said. "So he'll find a logical answer for the light flickers, but he has no answer for the sound."
Like Elkhart Civic Theatre artistic director John Jay Shoup, who also attended GC in the early days of the Umble Center, Caskey believes no theater is built without a ghost to go with it.
And, even though safety standards require a light to be left burning on stage when no one is in the building, it is not a coincidence that it is commonly called a "ghost light."
"Students can take the scientific approach," he said. 'Or, like me, believe that there is another spirit dimension around us which I do not associate with things that are evil or 'out to get us.'"