Don't rush to the New York Times' Web page. The article in question was published on December 21st in 1871. And it's written with such colorfully bizarre language, it make us wish we lived when most people still firmly believed that the dead walked amongst us. This particular account details the antics of a pair of ghouls who resided in North Beach.
Did you know that San Francisco ghosts do not fear the light of day? Me neither. The ghost turned out to be the deceased husband of the woman who owned the house, and she turned out to be a shrewd entrepenuer. She put the spectre up for sale (which doesn't speak highly of the marriage that preceeded her husband's departure) for $10,000 -- perhaps the man was worth more dead than alive. While she seemed to have "found a purchaser," the ghost failed to appear a second time. The Times speculated that "the astute shade would not permit itself to be made a matter of bargain and sale in this way." This was a ghost with dignity. But the story doesn't end there.
The onlookers who had gathered in vain waiting for the affronted ghost to appear would not be disappointed for long, as an "electric thrill" ran through the crowd when it was announced that a second spirit had materialized just around the corner.
This ghost was a hottie. The women said so, and they are most competent to judge. The final paragraph of the article descends into such whimsy, it's hard to believe that it wasn't cooked up by an employee of Parker Brothers
or a script writer.
The "ingenious" Mr.Mumler? Finger in the pie? Prof.Pepper? If only news were still reported in this manner: "It was plausibly suggested that the ingenious Mr. Madoff had his finger in the pie."