His name is Howdy. At least, that’s the name that was given to him by some fraternity brothers decades ago. In the year that I was in school at Tennessee Technological University, I never had the opportunity to meet Howdy, though many of my friends claimed to have met him.
The legend varies, but the one I heard was that one night some fraternity brothers were in the basement playing cards when they heard the front door open. You could hear everything that happened in that old house, so after the door shut they could clearly hear footsteps making their way across the roving room, then into the hallway, and ever closer until they stopped in the kitchen above their head.
“Howdy!”, a voice said from the top of the stairs.
“Howdy! Come on down,” said the brothers.
And that was it. No one came downstairs and no more noises we heard. The back door didn’t open and shut, No footsteps were heard as the voice made its way out, and there was no sign of anyone having been up there.
Since then stories have been told of cold spots in the house. Brothers have reported being held down on their bed and having their blankets ripped off of them. Inanimate objects are said to move on their own.
It’s hard to say what is true and what isn’t when it comes to legends; maybe those boys did hear something, or maybe Phi Delta Theta was not yet a dry house and their imaginations were over-saturated.
Regardless, that’s part of the fun of legends; ghost stories don’t have to be true to be interesting. They tell more about the storyteller than the story. They show us how information is shared from one generation to the next.
The ghost stories we tell demonstrate what scares us and what we believe in. And this one tells you why nearly twenty years after having first heard this story standing on the staircase at the Phi Delta Theta house I’m prone to greet folks with a hearty, “Howdy!”