DOWNTOWN BINGHAMTON— No, ladies and gents, despite the much speculated rumor, Rasa Von Werder did not die last year. In fact, she died several hundred years ago.
The truth has finally been revealed about our State Street sex-icon this past week when a group of BU students visited the Roberson Museum’s Halloween exhibit. According to museum staff, Ms. Von Werder’s occupation of Downtown Binghamton isn’t a recent event; in fact, State Street has been her haunting grounds for several hundred years.
The Museum’s exhibit explains:
Ms. Von Werder moved to the small isolated town of Endicottage in the early 1700’s from Salem, MA after an unfortunate fire ravaged her old house. She settled in fairly well to the new town by doing various odd-jobs to make ends meet, but perhaps most notably by providing well-water to young construction workers during the building of “Thomas & Martins,” Endicottage’s first Irish pub. Eventually, the townspeople became suspicious of Von Werder’s promiscuous and seemingly miraculous actions, like “bench-pressing four boulders” and “bedding five virgins at once,” leading the town into the lesser-known Susquehanna Witch Trials. Von Werder was first to be burned at the stake in the Gorgeous Washington Town Square, where “Binghamton Hots” now stands in poor taste.
Her body was buried in the Floral Park cemetery. Due to her penchant for witchcraft, the townspeople decided to leave her grave unmarked. A black cat has stood guard since her burial. Cemetery employees and visitors have written this off as a “casual litterbox situation.”
The town of Endicottage was partitioned in two in May of 1743, a year following the trials. According to the exhibit, Endicottage residents wanted to remove themselves from their unfortunate past by relocating, thus leaving the horrors of the witch trials behind in what they named the town of Binghamton.
The exhibit continues with Rasa’s rich history, which doesn’t end with her life. Von Werder’s ghost has supposedly worked for centuries attempting to avenge her death, most notably as a 1930’s weightlifter, a 1950’s male shoe shine, and a 1980’s playboy model. For a brief span she posed as “Kelly Everts,” an identity she stole from the soul of a virgin playboy model she possessed for several years in the 80’s. She currently serves as a religious demagogue, spreading her witchcraft in the name of her new religion, “Woman, Thou Art God.”
The establishment of Harpur College in 1946, however, sparked what appears to be the biggest surge of Rasa sightings since her burial. There have been innumerable claims of Von Werder’s haunting her favorite street, the very one which provided her with shirtless young construction workers in life, now renamed State Street.
Sources say Von Werder hooks up with virgins (mostly freshmen) every weekend in order to maintain her corporeal form and avoid aging. “She stores their souls in her breasts,” says historian Eugene Jones, “but she always plays them off as annual enlargement surgeries.” Jones speculates that Rasa’s ghostly form is the reason why she doesn’t always show up in photographs. “Students always walk around saying they finally got a picture with Rasa,” says Jones, “but when it comes time to share the picture, she’s no where to be found.”
Students continue to speculate Rasa’s existence despite continuous downtown sightings.
“Isn’t it supposedly that if you say Rasa’s name into a mirror three times, she will appear downtown or something?” asks sophomore engineering major Bryan Trank. “At least that’s what I’ve been told by my senior friends.”
Even BU alumni have reported sightings of the ghoul back in the day. “No way she’s still around!” exclaims Larry Fishbein, class of ‘62. “My freshman roommate brought her back to our dorm back in ‘59, but when he woke up the next morning, she wasn’t there! Never saw her again!”
Though the Roberson has been enjoying their newfound publicity, staff remain confused as to why students are taking an interest as of late. “We’ve had this exhibit up every year since its discovery in 1952,” says Paul Grindle, chief manager of the museum. “People just don’t seem to come in very often, I suppose.”
-Gilad G., with contributions from BUTT staff. 10/31/2013.