1934, October 17th,
this time in the „Coral Gables Courier”:
“The White Lady is Back!” spotted by a couple from Germany, Else and
Erich Siehstenix from Heiligendamm.
1935, March 12th,
the „Miami Sundowner”, the „Orlando Observer” and the „Coral Gables Courier”
report the next sighting of the phantom, this time by a group of nine navy
officers from Paraguay.
And so on and so on.
Time and again reports about the Lady in White, strolling smoking through the
aisles of the hotel. Even international media took the Biltmore’s house-phantom
on their pages. „Florida Ghost” was the heading of the „Wiener Kronen Zeitung”;
“Miami Spook” the „Ostsee Anzeiger” wrote; even the „Nassau Guardian” on the
Bahamas had a headline left: „Crazy Floridians host Ghost at Coral Gables.”
Reason enough, to have a closer look into the phantom’s story. For this I went
some years ago to Erie, where Chuck Checker lived. Who is Chuck Checker, you
might ask now and you are right to ask. Chuck Checker was bellboy in the newly
opened Biltmore Hotel in 1926, then 16 years of age. When I visited him, he
just had celebrated his 100st birthday on March 4th, 2010.
At a table with coffee and cake – covered apple pie with cherries in this case,
what I basically don’t like at all, but well, what do you not do for a good
story – Chuck Checker told me about an event in the hotel’s first year 1926.
Despite his biblical age, the tall, skinny gentleman with the white hair
remembered very well on his training then in the hotel in Coral Gables.
He then was responsible for the guests in the tower part of the newly built
Mediterranean styled hotel. Among them was a wealthy German couple, who owned a
brewery in south Germany’s city of Sigmaringen. The director „of the Zollersche
Hofbrauhaus”, Gernot Zoller and his wife Sieglinde – twenty years younger than
her spouse – spent their holidays in fall 1926 in Miami.
What Chuck Checker
remembers still today as if it would have happened yesterday: The never ending
arguments of the couple, always because of the wife smoking her tobacco. One
cigarette after the other she put in her golden cigarette holder, always
accompanied by the more or less pronounced expressions of displeasure.
Again and again during
their stay, which was planned for three weeks, there were hard fights of the
couple, which became tougher and tougher. It escalated on a Saturday evening,
when originally a ball should bring pleasure to the people. While most of the
people went to the ballroom for this purpose, some guests outside witnessed
Sieglinde Zoller falling from the tower of the hotel. Wearing her white ball-dress,
the cigarette holder in her left hand.
First there was nothing to see of her husband, until he was found some minutes
later in the staircases of the tower, while his wife’s blood already had soaked
not just her ball dress, but also the tiles on the floor outside of the tower
in dark red color.
Was Chuck Checker
telling a fairy tale? Obviously not, proven by a view in the local edition for
Sigmaringen of the „Suebian Newspaper” from October 6th 1926: „Sieglinde
Zoller, wife of the owner of the Hofbrauhaus, Gernot Zoller, died two days ago
due to a tragic accident while vacationing in Florida.”
The state attorney in Miami started investigations targeting the husband, but
due to the lack of evidence these were cancelled soon. But until today the
rumors stay alive, that Gernot Zoller in an argument because of the cigarettes
pushed his wife down from their room’s balcony – and she is haunting the tower
of the hotel since.
But now back to recent
events. Until now the phantom was always seen in the aisles of the house – but
never again since 2006. No more sightings in the aisles. But therefore outside
of the house! Since January 2006 there have been at least seventeen encounters
with the Lady in White at the entrance of the main building.
And another change to the appearances before: While she before always walked
smoking, but saying nothing, through the aisles, now she just stands outside,
silently murmuring curses about some of the directors of the hotel. Nobody
knows about the meaning of this scaring change of behavior. Mockers blame it on
the prohibiting of smoking inside of the house from 2006 on…
At least, many of you surely remember the story. You don’t remember? Well, may
be everything is just completely made up...