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The International Writers Magazine: Dining Out with Ghosts

The Mother-in-law house
C Andrew Beck
We were ushered to our table in the exquisitely furnished dining room of the Mother-in-Law House. This delightful St. Charles restaurant, on the bank of the Missouri River is a short distance from the departure point of the Lewis and Clark expedition.


During our dinner I directed my wife’s attention to the symmetry of the room. The fireplace and windows on the one wall were exact mirror images of the fireplace and windows on the opposite wall. I found that rather unusual and mentioned this observation to our waitress as we ordered after dinner coffee. Susan Blake, our coffee server introduced herself as the restaurant’s owner. She joined our table and soon narrated the story of the Mother-in-Law House.

“This original building was erected in 1897 by Joseph Bartholomew. It was originally a duplex residence. One residence was a mirror image of the second, the two were divided by a solid wall. One dwelling was for Joseph’s family, the other for his mother-in-law. Several years later the mother-in-law passed away. The building changed owners over the years. My husband and I purchased the building five years ago.” Susan paused to sip her coffee. “We removed the center wall and created this restaurant.”
“So why the unusual name?” My wife asked.
“The name came after the mother-in-law left the building.”

Susan was silent for some time awaiting our reaction.
Curiosity prompted me to ask that she continue.

“The first few months were plagued with strange occurrences. Diners on the one side of this room complained of cold drafts, odd sounds and they frequently argued. Diners on the opposite side laughed, smiled and offered many compliments. The contrast was quite disturbing.”
“Is this table located on the good side?” I asked.
“Don’t worry, the problem no longer exists.” Our hostess replied with a short chuckle. “We were completely baffled and were loosing customers. In desperation we contacted Rebecca Reiningham in St. Louis. She has the distinction of being a medium. We arranged to meet and discuss our problem.” Susan again paused, enjoying the moment of suspense, then continued. “Rebecca requested that she be alone in the building for three hours. We agreed and waited patiently in the patio. We entered the building at the agreed time. Rebecca explained the foundation of our problem. The mother-in-law believed that she had been rejected by the family that she so deeply loved. She felt that the dividing wall, separating the two dwellings was intended to isolate and reject her.”
“So what exactly did Rebecca do?” Asked my wife.
“She said that she had convinced the mother-in-law that her family actually loved her deeply and that the wall was only intended for her privacy. Our problem no longer exists. The mother-in-law is finally at rest and we renamed the building in her memory.”

© C. Andrew Beck Feb 2010
chuckandruthie at

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