FISHERS LANDING — Rose Claudia watched Meat Loaf walk out to the docks at Fishers Landing, and the first thing he said was “Would you do something for love?”
Ms. Claudia and her family, owners of the Isle of Pines at Fishers Landing, raised a glass Friday night thinking of the late rocker, who once traveled to their island to film an episode of “Ghost Hunters.”
Meat Loaf, born in Dallas as Marvin Lee Aday, died Thursday. He was 74 years old.
“He was Meat Loaf, but we knew him personally,” said Ms Claudia’s daughter Danielle. “We could see what he really looked like. He was very open about a lot of things. His passing was truly sad.
Meat Loaf performed at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds Baseball Field in Watertown in 2007, but he also toured upstate as a guest on a show he watched as fan.
Isle of Pines, a small island on the St. Lawrence River between Clayton and Alexandria Bay, is only a few hundred yards from the shore of Fishers Landing. It is large enough to contain a main house and an equally grand boathouse with a turn-of-the-century ballroom on the second floor. The island is thought to be haunted, but that’s relative – the Claudia family will tell you that any ghosts or spirits they’ve seen on the property are harmless.
Mrs. Claudia’s grandfather, Nicholas R. Cobisello – a leader in building roads to the Thousand Islands Bridge, across Wellesley Island, along Route 12 and Highway 81 – bought the island in the early 1940s. The family now spends their summers there. They say they heard footsteps and smelled cigar smoke even though they weren’t participating. Danielle said she saw a little girl running across her bed, a woman in a white dress and a man in a vest. And of course, objects inexplicably move around the house. Their guests also woke up to what appears to be a person standing next to their bed. Some guests do not return.
In 2008, the hit A&E show “Ghost Hunters,” which originally ran for 11 seasons and was later revived, held the Great American Ghost Hunt to find the most haunted house in the nation. The contest took the show to the winner’s property to film a ghost hunting episode.
Danielle thought she would subdue the Isle of Pines for fun. She didn’t think about it until she got the phone call. Their island was among the top three finalists. The show’s crew toured the island for a week straight. The crew followed the Claudias around the island and interviewed them, essentially profiling the family and the island before America votes on the final three haunted locations.
Danielle traveled to Colorado and then to Delaware, meeting with the show’s hosts and filming the episodes that decided the finalists. The shows aired, America voted, and Isle of Pines won.
A year later, the show contacted the Claudias and said a ghost hunt would be filmed on the island.
“They said, ‘We’re going out and we just want to let you know that a celebrity guest is coming to ghost hunt, but we can’t tell you who it is,'” Danielle said.
The Claudia family waited nervously for the crew to head north, wondering which celebrity would join them.
The day finally came and the crew reached the docks of Fishers Landing.
“That’s when they said ‘Do you want to meet the celebrity?'” Ms Claudia said. “And that’s when Meat Loaf came out onto the dock.”
Ms Claudia and Danielle said Meat Loaf was down to earth, kind and grateful that they allowed him on their island.
“I said, ‘What would you like me to call you? And he said, ‘Call me Meat,’ Ms. Claudia said. “We asked why he came by Meat Loaf, and he said his mother coined the nickname because when he was born he was so pink, like meat.”
On the island, they all went to the boathouse ballroom and Meat Loaf saw the piano. He immediately began serenading the Claudias.
“We’ve got this beautiful turn-of-the-century Steinway sitting there that you could never move because it’s so heavy, and here’s Meat Loaf sitting at that piano playing in the ballroom,” Ms. Claudia said. “It was just fantastic.”
Meat Loaf spent over 24 hours filming the episode with the crew and animators. A water bottle moved inexplicably and a ghostly woman sat next to Meat Loaf on the third floor of the main house. But what Mrs. Claudia and Danielle seem to remember most, all these years later, is how much they enjoyed being around Meat Loaf.
“We sat in our kitchen with him and his wife and we had dinner together and we talked,” Danielle said. “It was like having a friend. He was just the nicest person ever.
Season 5, Episode 15, titled “A Bat Out of Hell” starring Meat Loaf and the Thousand Islands can be streamed on Discovery Plus.
“He wasn’t just a pop star by far,” Ms Claudia said. “He was very kind. It was like we were doing him a favor. It was very surreal.