The Old Man’s Ghost

A Strange-But-True Story

90b6205c5aae145b88c4a86ea679e665As a theatre student, I once chose a charming but obscure play to direct. Loosely based on Gogol’s “The Overcoat,” the play concerned a Tailor in the Jewish garment district of pre-WWII London. In it, the ghost of an Old Man who’d ordered an overcoat before he died, comes to the Tailor complaining about how cold the afterlife is and asking if his overcoat is ready yet.

I wanted everything perfectly authentic, so I researched the era and London’s Eastside district. I even located the actual street address (mentioned in the play) where the Tailor’s shop would have been had the story been true.

But what about their accents? My stage dialects teacher knew a Cockney couple who’d moved from London to Los Angeles, and they said they’d be happy to talk with us.

So my actors and I, with tape recorders in hand, went to visit them. They were a lovely old couple who’d retired to L.A.’s Fairfax district near the famous Farmer’s Market. Over tea, Alf and Ginnie Singer confirmed that they were indeed Cockneys, and Jewish. And their unique accents further confirmed it.

“Perfect!” we proclaimed as we recorded their speech patterns. Then Alf informed us that he had, in fact, been a London tailor during the time of our story. I was amazed. Then he told us his shop’s address, and my mouth fell open. It was literally the shop next to the one in our play! “Only,” Alf replied, “I was the only Tailor on the block, mate. And your address? It was…do you remember, Ginnie? Ah, right, I think there was an old man who lived there. But he died.”

I’ll never know for certain, but I’ve always suspected our London playwright got his idea after visiting Alf’s shop. Or then again, maybe our playwright…

Was the Old Man’s ghost.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir, Story Power and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Old Man’s Ghost

  1. Kathleen Ellerman says:

    I got goosebumps reading this. I love stories like this. I believe in serendipity and fate.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Chocoviv says:

    Spooky…… wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. tidalscribe says:

    That sounds familiar, I am sure I saw that play by an amateur group in Australia many years ago. Yes I reckon Alf’s shop inspired the writer, why not?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This reminds me of a song.

    “Rene and Georgette Magritte
    With their dog after the war
    Were strolling down Christopher Street
    When they stopped in a men’s store
    With all of the mannequins dressed in the style
    That brought tears to their immigrant eyes
    Just like The Penguins, the Moonglows
    The Orioles, and The Five Satins
    The easy stream of laughter
    Flowing through the air
    Rene and Georgette Magritte
    With their dog apres la guerre”

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Nancy Ruegg says:

    What are the chances?! Amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. landl30 says:

    Love this.
    Len Freeman

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Whoa, that’s a cool coincidence/ghost story! Good post.:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! This gave me chills!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That sounds like a play in itself. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pam Webb says:

    Mitch, you continue to amaze me with your interesting vignettes—this one was sew amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I just love stories of such encounters.I find it hard to believe in coincidences anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

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