TOGHS Founders Harold St John & Butch Leon had an opportunity to instruct a Ghost Hunting 101 course this spring at Owen’s Community College in Perrysburg, Ohio. On our last day of class past Thursday evening, March 9th we scheduled a fieldtrip to the Flying Rhino Coffee. This building had been previously investigated by another local paranormal team. I was given this location by the same team.
Becky and I set up an interview time and the opportunity to meet the owner of the building a week before the investigation time, we arrived in the late morning and was greeted by the owner Gini Behrendt. We were both welcomed in as if we have been lifelong friends, Gini was very friendly and full of life, and she glows with positive energy. We spent an hour touring her building and listening to her stories from the past as well as the present. I was saddened to hear of the passing of her husband Ralph. He was as energetic as Gini and helped keep the building full of life. I was particularly interested in his glass blowing profession and the hundreds of people that came to watch him work his skills. By the time we finished our interview and visit, this was the perfect place for our class investigation. Chris Tillman from Haunted Toledo worked with TOGHS on this investigation as one of our lead investigators, we had twenty students that needed to be paired up into three groups. With Michelle, Butch and Chris taking the leads. The students were able to hone the skills that they had learned in the classroom and experience an investigation first hand. The evening was huge success and Gini could not have been a better host. We will post any evidence that was documented in our evidence page once the analyzing process is complete. I wanted to share the story written by our friend Chris Tillman from Haunted Toledo. Nobody could have summed up the story better than he did.
FLYING RHINO COFFEE
In the annals of Ohio legend and folklore, it’s a rare thing to come across a place like Flying Rhino Coffee in downtown Toledo. It’s a non-descript building sitting in the shadow of the bright Toledo skyline. The cold, industrial feel of its exterior, and of the urban neighborhood it rests in, contradicts the warmth you feel when you walk through the front door. Once inside, you find yourself in an inviting, modern space and greeted by the cheerful, welcoming face of Gini Behrendt, owner of Flying Rhino Coffee.
Longtime followers of Haunted Toledo are used to hearing tales of headless phantoms, hanging corpses, murder, mayhem, and all sorts of horrific acts so this entry is sure to be a different change of pace. Flying Rhino Coffee, you see, isn’t haunted by fear and terror. Instead, what we have here is a love story that just didn’t want to end.
Ralph Behrendt was a life-long Toledoan. When he retired from middle management at Champion Sparkplug, and with the help of his wife, Gini, Ralph started Flying Rhino. In December 1999, the couple started down the path of becoming one of Toledo’s more popular coffee-roasters and chocolate-makers.
Ralph and Gini brought a positive energy to everything and everyone they touched. Customers became friends and friends became family. The optimism and joy surrounding the Behrendts was contagious. No matter what mood you were in when you stepped into the Flying Rhino, you were leaving with a feeling of positivity, and you had the Behrendts to thank for it.
So, when news of Ralph’s sudden death spread throughout the community, it felt as if you had lost a member of your own family. It happened on a Sunday in June of 2014 as Ralph was outside getting dinner going on the grill. He remarked about feeling a sharp pain in his back passing through to his chest, and then, without warning, he collapsed. Ralph Joseph Behrendt, age 65, died of a massive heart attack on the patio area outside of Flying Rhino Coffee.
Gini kept on with the business, still bringing her special brand of happiness and positive energy to each customer. In fact, over the last couple of years, customers began coming forward to share with Gini how energizing it was just to be inside the building, especially in a room that Gini now refers to as “the Happy Room.” They couldn’t help but feel completely relaxed and at ease while there. Gini’s curiosity eventually got the best of her and she began to question what was going on. What were her customers experiencing? Was this the influence of her late husband?
Over the past few weeks, Harold St John of the Toledo Ohio Ghost Hunters Society had been teaching a class on paranormal investigation, titled “Ghost Hunting 101,” at Owens Community College. When the time came for a class field trip to an allegedly haunted location to give his students a taste of an actual investigation, Harold approached Gini for permission to investigate her business. Gini, of course, welcomed Harold and his students with open arms.
The investigation took place this past Thursday evening, March 9th. I arrived to find Harold and his crew setting up for the evening’s investigation as his class filtered in to the Happy Room, each one cheerfully greeted by Gini as they passed through the front door. After a brief bit of classroom business, Harold offered the floor to Gini who told us about the history of the building, her business, and her husband, Ralph. We heard about the kind of man he was in life. And, we learned the mystery surrounding this location was not about phantoms and mysterious noises in the dark. It was about the influence of a man whose very energy, his love and joyfulness, had never left the building.
When it was time to go dark, a variety of ghost hunting gear was passed out and the students divided up into groups. Haunted Toledo led a group down into the building’s basement while other groups focused on the Happy Room and a woodworking room near the front of the building.
In the basement, we encountered some unusually high EMF readings. Attempts were made to determine what was causing such high measurements, but no man-made source could be found.
I ended the evening holding an EVP session in the Happy Room with a different group of students. A REM Pod had been placed on the table in front of us. A few minutes into the session, the Pod began to trigger. First one light, then two. It triggered for a few seconds and then when silent. When I asked if Ralph was responsible, and if he could do it again, the REM Pod triggered again. Was this really Ralph, or was it something else entirely?
I don’t know. But, the people who knew Ralph, especially his wife, Gini, don’t seem to need blinking lights and beeping buzzers to know he is still there inside Flying Rhino from time to time, continuing to spread his good cheer and positive energy from beyond the grave.
Is Flying Rhino Coffee haunted? I don’t know. But, if it is, it’s the kind of haunting anyone would be happy to live with.