September 25, 2016

Pete And His Ghosts

Pete Marshall Ghosts Utah

You won’t see Pete Marshall dressed up for Halloween this year. Ghosts and communication with the underworld are nothing new for this veteran book dealer.

Pete has ghosts. This fact has been proven by Troy Wood, Utah’s premier ghost hunter.

Pete describes his ghosts in detail, and just like Pete, his ghosts aren’t shy. They performed on video and dazzle Pete and guests on a daily basis. “Does that sound nuts to you?” This rhetorical question asked by Utah Book and Magazine owner Pete Marshall acknowledges that he knows the stories he’s recounting cross the boundary of what conventionally is agreed upon as real. But does Pete care? Not really.

Take the bookstore’s interior which looks like it has organically trans•formed over time by what could be called a “placement design” aesthetic; the merchandise was at some point brought into the store, put down in a convenient spot and, unless a patron has bought the item, has remained in the same place ever since. The décor lacks even a tip of the hat to modern interior design. Instead it has its own quirky charm.

Pete started working weekends in the family antique business when he was eight. He finished his formal schooling two weeks into 8th grade, pursuing instead an experiential business education. At 58, Pete not only has spent a lifetime running the bookstore, but he also has learned to live with spirit entities that haunt the space.

For years, the turn-of-the-century building located at 327 Main housed men’s clubs, cigar stores with a restaurant in the back, the most well-known of which was the Italian family operated Rotisserie Inn. While the building doesn’t have such a sordid history, Pete’s list of strange happenings is long and varied. Lights burn intermittently with intensity beyond their wattage. Books fall in groups off the shelves. Troy Wood captured light orbs and human figures using infrared filming technique.

“I came to work one morning and thought my place was on fire ’cause of all the light bouncing around inside. It was like a damn light show in here.” Another time Pete says, “My friend was sitting here at the counter on a Monday night at 20 minutes to 7 and we heard a noise that sounded like a gun shot through the door. I looked outside and the sign I put out every day was hitting the ground back and forth. That lasted about 5 minutes and there was no wind or anything else to explain why it was doing that. I get freaked out sometimes, but I’ve never been hurt.” However, he is very accepting of his otherworldly tenants, “Cause they’re people; they were somebody. Plus I figure everybody needs a place to live.”

The old Rotisserie Inn in Salt Lake

The Old Rotisserie Inn

There is the woman in white who moves down the store aisle and exits the door in the back. She’s also the ghost who pesters patrons in the rest room. “Several people have used the bathroom,” Pete mentions, “and have said someone was pounding on the door when I’m the only one in the store.”

Then there’s Pete’s brother. “His name was Earl Marshall III,” Pete shares, “but everyone called him Skip.”

About a week after Skip’s death in November of 2008, Pete said he was opening shop at his usual unconventional pre-dawn hour and a potentially unsavory character near the store caused Pete to heighten his guard. The man, sensing Pete’s protective posturing, put up his hands, backed away and said, “Hey, I don’t want trouble with either one of you guys.” That was the first time Pete experienced Skip’s presence. Next was the overpowering smell of Skip’s favorite Irish Spring soap permeating the store. “Now how does that happen?” Pete asks. “Is that just nuts or what?”

Lights burn intermittently with intensity beyond their wattage; books fall in groups off the shelves.

Pete is not alone in having experienced the extraordinary, and apparently ghost Skip has a bit of mischief in him. One day, a woman customer who had been browsing the classics in the back approached the counter and said, “Sir, you have been up here the whole time and you know there’s no one here. I know this is going to sound crazy, but when I was up on the blue ladder looking at titles, someone grabbed my ass!” This doesn’t sound crazy to Pete. When confused customers share their bewilderment, Pete says, “Just tell him, ‘Skip. I’m here to look at books,’ so he’ll know to leave you alone.”

Pete also knows it is Skip from the ghost images that have been taken in the bookstore. “It’s the beard. You can see it a lot of the time.” You can also see in the images the copper bracelet Skip wore that is now on Pete’s wrist.

Overall, Pete finds Skip’s presence comforting. “He worked with me here 17, maybe 18 years. We were brothers, but we were also really good friends.”