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THESE PARTS THE GHOSTS OF CATFISH PAST

By Brad Bailey |

This is the sort of thing that movie producers dream about: there’s a haunted catfish restaurant. In Waxahachie. Can’t you just see it? Ectoplasm in the tartar sauce. The restless wraiths of farm-raised catfish rising up. up, up from the dumpster.

The place is The Plantation Restaurant, located in an old gingerbready house in Waxahachie, built in 1895 at 814 Water Street. It was the birthplace of the late Paul Richards, former manager of the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox, but nobody actually lives there now.

Or make that: everybody who actually lives there these days seems to be quite dead-the shades of alleged former residents.

Tom and Melissa Baker bought the house and opened the restaurant in 1984. At first, it was just little things, Melissa Baker says. Unexplained cold spots, some of them free-floating, moving about the rooms. Water faucets turning off and on. Refrigerator doors opening of their own accord. Radio station tuners moving from one end of the dial to the other. Whatever it is likes to trip security alarms, unlock doors, saw through pipes in the attic, turn on ceiling fans, and unplug appliances.

The Bakers decided they needed to do something before things got really weird. Melissa Baker heard two amateur ghost-busters, Dwanna Paul and Carol Williams, on an edition of Kevin McCarthy’s KLIF yackfest devoted to the supernatural, and invited them to come out.

The minute Williams walked onto the premises, she was hit with powerful vibes. “It was like touching an electrical socket,” she says. During several seances, Paul says, the two spiritualists and their associate Brian Shear made contact with at least three spirits.

According to the vibes coming from the Other Side during the seances, the strongest spirit, Carrie, is-or was-an elderly lady who bakes a lot. Says Melissa Baker, “The waitress area is where the original kitchen was. And that’s where a lot of things go sailing across the room. Coffee cups, cans of chives, what have you.”

To dis-possess the premises, the exorcists must convince the spook to turn around and walk toward The White Light, said Carol Williams, “just like in Poltergeist. But the old woman [Carrie] said no.”

The spiritualists want to try again, but Williams confides, “I don’t think Melissa Baker wants rid of them.” And, says Baker, “why would I want rid of them if I can get all this publicity off of ’em?”

It seems that customers-and critics-are suckers for the supernatural too, and have stood in line to rave about the fare in return for a shot at getting a dish that brings itself to the table, or a glimpse of a post-mortem patron or two mingled among the livelier guests. And as gravy, there’s that 15 percent senior citizens discount for former persons over sixty-five.