But it wasn’t the temperature that made the blue lady blue. Ghosts are little affected by the cold, or so I’ve heard. She was blue because she was dressed in blue. Her blue dress, long hair, and flimsy white scarf were the only descriptors that come down through the pages of the Idaho Statesman from 1916.
Four Chinese men walked from Idaho to Main along Seventh Street shortly after midnight on January 2. They saw a woman in blue emerge from the alley and walk to the corner in front of a saloon. When the men reached the corner, she vanished.
And here’s where the dog enters the story. Joe Peterson’s dog lived in the neighborhood. Peterson was the Idaho attorney general at the time. The dog, a St. Bernard named Rover (can I get a rimshot?), howled whenever the blue lady appeared.
Whether his howling brought the blue lady or simply announced her presence was of some conjecture. In either case, the howling was mournful, disturbing, and a little frightening. As one does with dogs who won’t shut up, someone fed him something. This was Chinatown, so a steaming bowl of pork fried rice was handy. Rover wolfed it down.
Over the next few nights, the howling of the dog, the appearance of the blue lady, the feeding of the dog, and the disappearance of the blue lady all got rolled into a cause and effect tale that was very much to Rover’s advantage.
If the pork fried rice failed to satiate the dog, someone would add a side of noodles.
Office Day, who walked the beat in that area, investigated. He quickly found the dog and heard it howl but never saw the lady.
The Statesman sent an intrepid report to investigate the ghost sighting. Some of the men who lived in the neighborhood claimed they’d followed her nearly around the block before she vanished just as they caught up with her. Someone had apparently fed the dog.
As reported in the Statesman, the writer did not have long to wait when the midnight hour struck.
“Suddenly, old Rover, from the middle of the street, commenced a most uncanny howling.
“The reporter’s blood commenced to congeal. The wind whistled round the corner and, catching up a bit of the snow, whirled it into a ghostly figure. The reporter strained his eye for the blue skirt; he could see, he imagined, the flowing hair, the white about the neck, and—yes, the blue skirt was beginning to materialize, when—the entire ghostly form vanished as old Rover gave his lingering wail, and the Chinaman rushed from the restaurant door and hastily threw onto the sidewalk a full sized meal, even for Rover, and rushed back to the restaurant, glancing furtively over his shoulder.”
There was speculation, of course, about who the blue lady was. Some thought she might have been an apparition of one of two Chinese women who had attempted suicide in the local jail. The operative word there was “attempted.” The general consensus was that ghosts came from the dead, not those who wished to be.
The blue lady quit appearing when Peterson moved Rover to a farm out in the country where he probably never ate pork fried rice again. Was the dog in cahoots with the specter? Humm. Maybe the blue lady could have made a nice… living(?) as a dog trainer.