I attended Ramapo State College in Mahwah, New Jersey.
For those unacquainted with far northern New Jersey, Mahwah is far north-east, right at the New York state border, near Route 17.
The land on which the school now rests was left to the state to be used as a college, by the former land owner, who owned a very Collinwood type mansion.
The mansion, simply called that, houses the registrar and higher level offices
(dean's offices, etc).
The mansion also houses a few of the former tenants, though their corporeal bodies are long since gone.
(It is said that)
none of the maintenance men will go into the cellar after dark, and rarely alone.
No one goes into the attic.
Also in the somewhat tudor-style mansion is a lush room called the Lancaster Room.
Apart from occasionally having meetings and even school orientation meetings, one thing is glaringly obvious.
On the eastern wall is a magnificent fireplace, the old-world style wood paneling above and the walls in general.
On the north side of the fireplace, where the fireplace side heads to meet the main wall, there is a button.
It's a very common button... white plastic; similar to a doorbell.
There is no signage as to What It Is, not even a Do Not Touch warning.
I never dared touch it myself, for years earlier when I was a pre-teen I'd come across such an unmarked button at a family friends' home, and without asking as to its purpose, I pressed it to discover not only was it set off a very loud alarm, it was also connected to the police.
The family had to call the cops Not To Bother, that it was a false alarm.
So with that in mind, I chose never to check out this particular button myself.
Now the Lancaster Room was often used for small recitals (piano or chamber music type), and small acting scenes, and was used when we held the memorial service for one of my acting teachers, Stuart Craig Wood.
During my time at Ramapo, I made many friends, one of whom is Micah (who was involved in the
Also in my circle of fellow-acting friends were
(who a few years later I came across seeing as a contestant on Jeapardy!, and eventually we found each other
Back in our college days Will conveyed a story that still impresses me.
One Sunday Will and a few other actors were in the Lancaster Room, as they'd had permission to do, as they were rehearsing for a small scene they would eventually perform there.
During a break, as they were talking, someone wondered about the Button.
They wondered what it could be, and eventually someone had the courage to press it.
No sound, no alarm.
So after a minute or so, they figured the button was nothing, and they got set to rehearse.
Suddenly, the large oak double doors opened.
These doors are each slightly wider than a regular door, and the rounded top gave the doors the look of an ancient castle set of doors, as though Aragorn was entering the double-doors at Helm's Deep.
They looked to the opening doors to see an slender old man, his white beard long and below his shirt's neckline.
He paused, looked about the room without entering, and backed up, pulling closed the doors behind him.
My friends immediately figured he was a custodian, unaware the students had permission to be in there, who now was off to summon security.
They rushed to the door instantly, but the hallway was empty.
The small room to the right was closed and locked; one went to the main corridor and another up the backstairs... but there was no one there.
The man at the door was old enough that clearly he could not have run, as one would have had to have done to evade the running students.
They were the only ones there.
The front door to the mansion is such no one would have made it out without my friends seeing them.
No security came.
They finished up their rehearsal, and a day or so later, inquired after the old man, either via security or the regular custodians.
On hearing the description of the old man, and learning of the Pressed Button, it was concluded that the old man was the original mansion owner's chauffeur.
The button, no longer connected to anything... used to summon the chauffeur from his quarters in the attic.
My friends, having pressed the button, had called him down, but as they recalled how he looked through the room, it was as though he hadn't been able to see them.
The button must have called through time and space, and he went down at a time the two realities intersected and while he could not see them, they could see him.