Oh, Booo!

Where ghosts are, Linda Spitzer usually follows. Neither parapsychologist nor a ghostbuster, Spitzer is a storyteller of long standing who has entertained South Floridians all over town. The self-described "ghost maven of Miami" founded the Miami Storytellers Guild in 1990. But she is best-known locally for her nearly eight-year stint sharing spirited stories each Thursday at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

In honor of Halloween, which Spitzer claims is her least-favorite holiday ("I don't care for the stories!" she declares), she will travel south to the Coral Castle, where more ghosts supposedly roam. This Saturday she and fellow yarn-spinner Kathi Gathercole will offer Chilling Tales at Coral Castle. An apt location for a tale-telling session, the castle boasts origins that are a story in themselves. It was built between 1920 to 1940 from thousands of tons of coral rock quarried by a 100-pound Latvian man named Edward Leedskalnin. His motivation: Apparently he was dumped at the altar by his sixteen-year-old fiancée, so he focused all his energies into constructing a monument to her. Enormous carved chairs, tables, and half-moon sculptures lie in the open air behind a huge coral-rock gate. A curiosity for years, the place has blossomed into a popular tourist attraction, offering an audio tour in English, Spanish, French, and German.

The language Spitzer and Gathercole will employ is that of suspense, promising a mix of all types of tales, some even funny. The best program of anecdotes, she reveals, always contain the four A's: a ha, amen, ahhh, and aha! The creepiest yarn in her repertoire? The Southern folk story starring a witch known as the boo hag. "It's really grisly," Spitzer laughs nervously. "Every night she peels off her skin and goes flying around to meet her boo daddy."

While the Spitzer admits that little can be scarier than what's going on in the world right now, a few unnerving yarns told in the great outdoors never hurt anyone. In fact they can be a great escape. "Ghosts and witches are not scary," she says. "You're just hearing a story. Scary is the unexpected."


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