Made famous by Bruce Springsteen, the town of Asbury Park has a history beyond that of Palace Amusements and the Jersey shore.
November 15, 1910, marks the discovery of the mutilated body of 9-year-old Marie Smith. A student at Bradley School, she was on her way home that afternoon, but never made it. Eventually, 27-year-old Frank Heidemann, a German immigrant, confessed to her murder and was convicted and sentenced to death by electrocution. While this reads as a triumph for investigator Raymond C. Schindler, one finds many disconcerting discrepancies in the confession of Heidemann, leaving one to wonder if an innocent man was, in fact, put to death.
In July 2003, the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society (NJGHS) was contacted by the public relations and event coordinator of Harry’s Road House to investigate due to her own as well as the chef’s experiences, and the manager’s encounter, and patrons’ reports.
She reported leaving her office in the basement one evening and while pushing the door closed, she felt it push back at her. She also experienced the feeling of dread overwhelming her one night with the thought repeating in her head of, “I shouldn’t have been here.”
One night in June 2003, the manager was closing up when he witnessed a white glow or aura coming up the stairs from the basement to the kitchen. On another occasion, he and two of the chefs went down to the basement to finish up and leave for the night. They witnessed an old woman at the end of the basement. The manager called out to her and advised her that the restaurant was closed and she needed to leave. She did not respond. He moved closer to her and said again, “We’re closed, you cannot be down here.” With that, she evaporated right in front of all of them.
A garbage collector had an encounter with the old woman ghost while making his pickup early one morning. The ghost even called him by name.
Several times, patrons have reported a female crying in one of the stalls of the ladies’ room. Upon investigation, no one is ever found. A local police officer believes the ghost of the woman to be “Sara,” the daughter of the shoe-store owner from when the building housed their store and a children’s clothing store. Or could it be the ghost of Marie’s distraught mother still searching for her little girl?
NJGHS historian, Stephen Goldner, researched tax records, sewer records, and interviewed a local historian. It’s interesting to note that the maps of the area at that time indicate that Marie Smith should not have been in the Cookman Avenue area, as her walk home from school is on the other side of town. It’s possible the public relations and event coordinator of Harry’s Road House was actually picking up the ghost’s thoughts and emotions.
Written by — L’Aura Hladik Co-Founder, New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society
HARRY’S ROAD HOUSE
662 COOKMAN AVENUE
ASBURY PARK, NEW JERSEY 07712
TEL: 1 (732) 897-1444
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