ALTON – The ghost of Miles Davis has been credited in no less than three life-saving incidents across the City of Alton over the weekend.
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Steve French, a professional glass-blower and self-described amateur rescuer of cats, said his glass-blowing furnace exploded in the night after a clumsy cat allegedly knocked a container of paint thinner into its top. Coals still smoldering ignited and the entire container combusted. While the cat, named Steve French Jr., was not harmed, French said both he and his cat as well as the house would be vanquished had it not been for Davis's ghost.
“He slapped me awake with the visceral sound of his phantom trumpet,” French said. “It was so smooth and elegant I could dare not sleep through its beauty.”
Once stirred from his slumber, French said the ghost of Davis winked at him. French then smelled smoke and rushed to his furnace – effectively saving the day.
The second incident occurred Friday evening in the 4200 block of Alby when a small child was chasing a ball into the street. The boy's mother, Bertha Alfreda Baines, said a 1988 Camaro IROC was about to “smoke her child right in the dome” when a ghostly hand grabbed her son and pulled him to the safety of the other side of the street. She said she saw a second ghostly hand holding a just-as-ghostly trumpet.
“I knew it was Miles Davis's ghost, because Chuck Mangione isn't dead yet,” she said, checking Wikipedia on her phone. “Yep, see? Says right here: Chuck Mangione is still alive. Do you think Chuck Mangione would have saved my son?”
The third incident occurred in the garage of Billy Pilgrim. Pilgrim was working on his truck when his lift failed him. He was pinned between the truck and the floor of his garage when he heard the overwhelming melody of some sort of heavenly brass instrument, or possibly a woodwind, Pilgrim said he was too delirious with pain to tell.
“All I know is I looked up and saw Miles Davis,” Pilgrim said. “He looked just like the statue downtown. He lifted up my truck with ease and I was able to roll out from under it to safety. Luckily for me, it only crushed my hip. I'm pretty sure he was thanking me for that time I put the knitted cap my wife made me on that statue the last time it snowed. He looked pretty cold.”
Davis was born on Milnor Street in Alton, but did not stay in the city long. In fact, his family moved to nearby East St. Louis when he was just an infant. As to why Davis's ghost is making its rounds in Alton is anybody's guess, but that does not stop folks from guessing.
Local ghost expert, Gary Gengar said Alton's designation as a hot-spot for ghostly activities may have stirred Davis to give the river town another shot from the spirit realm.
“Alton's on the come-up lately,” Gengar said. “We had that reality show on Hulu with Ty Pennington. That was pretty cool. The mall keeps talking about a movie theater. That could be something. Also, it seems every time you blink, a new Dollar General pops up. Plus, all their old haunts are getting remodels. Have you been to Mineral Springs lately? That place is great. I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing Wadlow's ghost there soon with that new sculpture in the lobby. Another trend lately is Jim Morrison's ghost randomly appearing in crystal and hippy shops to give people a good ol' 'Come on, Baby, Light My Fire.' That place seems like the place to see him if he were to pop up, assuming that torture museum doesn't spook him. Some people are really into that kind of stuff.”
When asked if he expected more famous ghosts to appear in Alton to do seemingly miraculous feats, Gengar said he had no doubt in his mind that would be the case.
“With the dawn of social media and selfie culture, even the dead are getting hip with the times,” he said. “Being dead can get pretty boring – especially when your town starts popping off like Alton is. These entertainers commanded a lot of attention in life, so why would that change in death? Alton is supposedly the most haunted town in the United States. I wouldn't be surprised if people start reporting seeing Kurt Vonnegut cleaning up litter or Eazy-E rescuing cats out of trees.”
To keep these famous ghosts coming and to get even bigger names, Gengar suggested to bring some living stars to the amphitheater over the summer.
“Y'all need to get some fresh talent in this joint,” Gengar, who is native to Lavender Town, a hip, upstart community in Southern California, said. “With that river as the backdrop and the bars being open till three in the morning on weekends, this place could be like a Midwest Woodstock all the time.”
Riverbender.com will keep our readership updated with any more possible famous ghosts appearing throughout the Riverbend area. We have received unsubstantiated reports of Mark Twain's ghost giving drivers lewd hand gestures from various parts of the sidewalk near the intersection of Ridge and Broadway, but reporters on the scene believe him to be the same guy it always is.