SALEM, Ala. (WRBL) – The Ghost of Tandy Key is a local Lee County legend that’s been delighting and frightening east Alabama residents for years. You can visit Key’s grave at the Salem Cemetery at the Methodist Church along Highway 280 and maybe even play a hand of cards with his ghost.
According to local paranormal researcher Faith Serafin, Salem began as a frontier town, and moonshine was a reactively familiar spirit. Legend has it Tandy Key liked his moonshine and cards. In 2853 when Tandy Key was just twenty-four years old, he passed away. Serafin says the actual cause of death is unknown, but its legend has it he may have been killed over a poker game or drank himself to death.
“So we are out here at the Salem Methodist Church, and this is a local legend associated with the church about a man named Tandy Keys. Apparently, he was a local who lived here, and when he died, he wanted a card table to be put over his grave. We know in life he was a real avid hard player and a local hell-raiser. He drank a lot and partied a lot, so even in death, he is still playing cards,” shared Serafin.
Serafin has been visiting the Salem Cemetery for years, investigating the legend of Tandy Key, and says it’s not uncommon to feel Key sitting with them, enjoying a game of cards and overindulging. Visitors have even said they can hear the shuffling of cards, clanking drink bottles, or ragtime piano music.
“We have been out here investigating the legend, and we have collected evidence of him. We asked him what is your favorite card game and got a recording back that he said hearts. We have been out here investigating and have actually smelled really strange phantom smells like tobacco smoke, and we have even smelled vomit on occasion. So we think he may still be playing cards at the Methodist cemetery,” shared Serafin.
Keys died leaving behind a widow and no children, so the legend can’t be verified as actual fact. Still, the poker table in front of Keys’ grave is a popular attraction for local ghost hunters and history buffs alike who hope to play a hand of cards with a supernatural player.