The Coastside’s Other Ghost

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The Blue Lady has been moving chairs and tables late at night in Moss Beach for decades earning her the reputation as the Coastside’s top ghost.

But there is another ghost, the one we don’t hear anything about, the one who also, in the end, raises many perplexing questions.

I’m talking about the ghost at Miramar.

No sightings of this lesser known ghost had ever been reported until Albert and wife Eva Schmidt moved their restaurant business from Burlingame to Miramar.

It was after WWII, and the building they bought was the old Palace Miramar Hotel. During the war, U.S. soldiers used the Palace Miramar as a headquarters and they were pretty lax on maintenance. Albert had a lot of clean-up and restoration on his hands.

First, he renamed the place “Albert’s”. Then, he found the ornate bar, gleaming chandeliers and other heavy dark furniture at the Spreckels estate sale.

Not only was the hotel worn out, but the historic wooden pier that once jutted 200 feet into the sea, had been left to rot. When Albert arrived, the pier had been reduced to stumps. While sipping at the bar, the Miramar locals guessed when the pilings would vanish forever.

I don’t know what Albert was like in Burlingame, but he was a quirky figure in Miramar, an eclectic cook who whipped up chateaubriand for breakfast and ham and eggs at midnight. Albert and Eva Schmidt also built up a loyal following ranging from the locals to important politicos who loved their crab cioppino.

It was about this time that the “Second Level Apparition” that haunted Albert’s made its presence known. With an eerie shiver, the help reported sightings.

The chandeliers swung and tinkled as if agitated by a strong wind– but the windows were closed. Far more unsettling was the hooded, caped transparent face that peered through windows, there one second, gone the next.

And finally, what was going on in rooms six and seven?

When the pair of connecting rooms was unoccupied, lights could be seen beneath the doors. And when the doors were opened to see what the source of the light was, candles were found burning brightly.

Who lit the candles in rooms six and seven? Nobody knew.

Who lit the candles? Who swung the chandeliers? What was the hooded, caped thing at the windows?

Who was this “Second Level Apparition”? Man or woman? What is its story and why was it haunting Albert’s?

The only explanations seemed otherworldly. Remember, it is said that a ghost is a tortured soul searching for peace.

There are many theories: Was it one of the soldiers, a guest at the hotel, a fisherman on the pier, a passenger on the train, or someone who suffered an agonizing death during prohibition?

Most perplexing of al, what happened to the “Second Level Apparition” ghost when Albert’s burned in the 1960s?

Did the ghost find peace when the Albert’s hotel was destroyed by fire or did it move elsewhere?

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Attention folks in Miramar: If you have any unexplained, strange activities in your home or business, please let me know.

Top photo: Albert’s, courtesy Joe Clement

Blue Lady: The (In) Famous Moss Beach Ghost

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In 1980 Dave Andrews (above, left), one of the owners of the Moss Beach Distillery, stood behind the bar of his restaurant overlooking the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and told me about the roadhouse’s past. The interview with Andrews was for “The Mystery of Half Moon Bay”.

The Distillery was built in 1928 by Frank Torres, built originally, we think, as a residence, eventually a booming restaurant and bar.

There was a garage underneath that was used during Prohibition. Officials came from San Francisco and people who didn’t want to be seen in a bootleg restaurant. They would drive into the restaurant and then come up the back stairs.

We supposed it was used as a bordello. Of course, who knows what was going on.

This bay called Seal Cove was used quite actively during Prohibition. Boats from Canada would arrive outside and drop the booze off the side and float into the channel. There was a lookout on the hill to signal the boats. The signal warned whether there were any federal people here.

The Distillery was used as a hangout for a lot of movie stars, silent film stars that would come down from the City, such as Fatty Arbuckle. A lot of city officials from San Francisco would come down.

(David mentions that there were houses overlooking the ocean, houses that were part of the bordello and burned in the 1930s and 40s).

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Story goes there was a triangle going on between the piano player and the jealous husband and so-called Lady in Blue was here in the evenings. Somehow a fight started between them. We think the murder [of the Lady in Blue] was a stabbing on the beach.

The Lady in Blue returned to the restaurant and she’s been here ever since, quite active late at night, moving chairs and walking around the place, slamming doors whenever she feels like she needs attention.

There’s a second story that the so-called “Blue Lady” was involved with silent film star Fatty Arbuckle.

I, myself, have heard her but never seen her.

Our maintenance man [who lives on the property] wakes up feeling somebody in the room, gets the feeling somebody’s always looking, staring at you and so when you wake up and there’s nobody there.

You hear noise and the chairs moving, tables moving and somebody in high heels walking across the floor.

I had people stay here that have heard the piano playing but there’s nobody here. And the piano’s been gone for several years.

One of our cocktail waitresses had her five-year-old daughter in the building. We were closing and the waitress and the bartender were talking to a couple of other people. The child came wandering in here, into the dining room and then she came running out screaming and saying, “There’s somebody in there. There’s a lady in blue.

Everybody walked back into the dining room and nobody was there. But the child obviously saw her.