Hays the Music Store: Guitars, Gear and Ghosts?

PHOTO: Early photo of building now housing Hays The Music Store

Most folks would agree that music can be spiritually uplifting.

But one musical instrument store in downtown Poplar Bluff might be the haunted home of spirits that lift and toss objects around for fun, longtime employees and owner said.

The Beigley Building that houses Hays the Music Store at 401 Vine Street was spared from destruction in 1927 when a formidable tornado ran roughshod over the area.

The building was utilized to serve the many traumatized people who found themselves injured – or worse – as a result of the cataclysmic event.

“It really was nearly beyond belief,” said Allen Gallamore, longtime employee at Hays. “There were 102 people killed.

“They stored the bodies here in this building,” he continued. “I can imagine that being a very emotional, traumatizing thing.”

Which might explain bizarre aural outbursts that hail and howl from seemingly nowhere. Folks at Hays hear guttural growls and the spooky sound of footsteps “all the time,” Gallamore said.

But the existential weirdness doesn’t end for the musically-gifted crew with the history of dead body storage or present-day howls and groans. Some claim they’ve witnessed guitar tuning pegs wind and unwind themselves. Folks report feeling as though they’ve been “touched” but no one is around them. Just plain uproarious calamity and chaos, some of it even caught on tape, is proof that spooks from the dark side plague the store, Gallamore noted.

And perhaps one dead little woman, with a King Kong-sized monkey on her back, still swings by occasionally, Gallamore explained.

“Nora Edwards,” he said.

Sometime between 1927 and 1930, Edwards, a heroin-addicted lady of the evening, was tried for her offenses inside the haunted building, which served then as a courthouse and jail of sorts, Gallamore said.

“I’ve heard she was suffering from withdrawals,” he said. “That comes with the depression and anxiety we all know about now.

“She probably was pretty sick,” Gallamore continued. “Probably tired of living enough to hang herself here with her scarf.”

That particular space within the building is currently host to rehearsal and instruction studios, and an office used by metal guitar wizard Danny Williams.

“Danny came hustling out of there,” Gallamore said. “Pale; scared out of his mind.

“A chandelier that’s been up there for a long time was swinging hard, back and forth,” Gallamore added, crossing his arms and fidgeting just a little as he recounted the terrifying event. “So hard it hit the ceiling. I saw it. Greg Hays saw it. Obviously Danny saw it. So yeah, this place can be described as haunted. No doubt.”

Ghost hunters from near and far have inspected and investigated; poked and prodded around. That doesn’t minimize the effect other-worldly phenomena has on Gallamore, who seems to have accepted the inevitability of apparitional anarchy ghosting up the joint.

“We all enjoy working here, and being here,” he said. “Just not alone.”

 

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Journalist Steve Hankins is the latest addition to the SEMO Times family. Steve is an award-winning writer and a 1999 graduate of Missouri State University at Springfield.He wrote professionally for a number of publications, including The Mississippi Rag, the Nation's Voice for Jazz and Ragtime Music; The Branson Tri-Lakes Daily News; The Jonesboro Arkansas Sun; and the Daily Dunklin Democrat at Kennett, Mo. As a Sun staff writer, Steve was awarded first place by Arkansas Associated Press Managing Editors for a community service series that explored the state's methamphetamine issue. While at Missouri State, Steve earned The Quill and Scroll Award, the sole honor bestowed by the university annually for excellence in journalism. As a student, he served as music editor for The Free Press of the Ozarks, a tabloid newspaper published at Springfield, Mo. Steve earned a bachelor of science in communication with an emphasis in journalism and minored in creative writing while at Missouri State. He is the son of Malden's Lloyd Elmer and Alice Mae Hankins and lives at Malden with wife Angela; nine-year-old twin daughters Emmalee Jane and Alice Ray; and six-year-old daughter Ella Camille.