Haunted

So, let’s move on to something lighter, shall we?

We’re does everyone stand on hauntings? There was a conversation on Twitter a few days ago, but there was no real consensus.

As for me … I’m a big chicken. I HATE “haunted houses” with a passion. Just ask my friends Joel and Jamie … both have (multiple times) had the unfortunate pleasure of accompanying me through haunted houses. Both have (multiple times) emerged with little rivers of blood running down their arms, from my nails digging in. Really, it serves them right … they’re the ones that make me go.

Now, “ghost hunting” I get a kick out of. Make of that what you will. Skye and I have been known to dig around anywhere we can get to, with our cameras a-flashing.

 

She’s in San Diego, and luckily for us, Old Town San Diego has their very own haunting.

The Whaley House is first and foremost a historical museum. During business hours they do tours where the share the house’s history, and then let you free to roam about. It’s a modest (for its time) manor house … with 2 stories. It also includes courtroom, and public meeting space – complete with stage and podium.

 

But, every October, they change-up the tour. Instead of the innocuous historical facts, they start telling  you the tales of the reported hauntings. Of the little dog kids tend to see running around, the small child in a pinafore, the woman’s face that appears on a wall and of Yankee Jim … a man executed on the property who was just flat-out too tall for the gallows and slowly strangled, instead of breaking his neck.

Lovely bedtime stories, right?

 

Well, several years back, it just so happened that I was dating the docent. And with that came some perks … including being allowed in the house after business hours (while they were closing up). And over the course of many visits, we had some fun.

Now, I will be the first to admit that most reports of hauntings are people’s imaginations running away with them. In this house, in particular, each room is sealed off with plexiglass. 99% of the time people claiming to have a photo with a figure in the room actually have a photo of their reflection in the plexiglass.

That being said … let’s share some stories:

** It should be known, most experiences we’ve had in the house are common ones. Having never seen the Halloween tour, neither of us were aware of anything specific having been reported previously. Imagine our surprise when the response to our report was “Oh yah, that happens all the time.” **

 

1. Let’s start vaguely creepy, but not all out. The stairs are apparently built on the spot where Yankee Jim was hanged (before the house was built). One night, after I’d been standing on the stairs taking photos,  I had someone ask me what I’d done to my neck. I looked in a mirror, and had a thin red welt going all the way around … as if there’d been a cord around my neck. It didn’t hurt at all, I hadn’t felt it happen, and it lasted for about 2 hours.

 

Apparently, this is something that happens to several tourists each day. The workers look for it, but don’t mention it often, as it generally freaks people out. But they do keep a tally. ::winks::

 

2. Same night, while outside, waiting for the boy to grab his jacket from the office, I was wandering around, shooting the outside of the house (the creepy misty shot of the back was from that night … the mist was a low hanging cloud … being not far from the ocean, it’s ALWAYS foggy.) The house was locked, and all the lights were out. In one of the upper windows, I noticed movement … like something moving back and forth across the bottom of the window repeatedly. The longer I watched, I realized it looked like a rocking chair. So I quickly shot 3 photos.

In one photo, the window is dark … as it should be. In one photo, the window is very bright, as if a light is on just inside. And one picture looked like this:

 

I have to tell you … we blew that picture up as big as it would go. (I was using a film camera, so that’s pretty damn big.) Behind all the color, you can vaguely see the outline of the building … and the window, faintly lit. And we checked to see if it was just something with the film … nowhere else on that roll were there even similar anomalies. Or that bright of colors, for that matter.

As for what I’d seen … the boy later told me that a rocking chair had been next to the window for many years … but had recently been relocated to the other side of the room. There was only a table there, now.

 

3. This one wasn’t my experience, but I witnessed it. During normal tours, they take everyone into the meeting room and tell you about things (historical events) that happened during the time it was in use. One afternoon, the guy (a stranger) sitting next to me was taking pictures of the tour guide, up on stage. At one point he started to review them, and yelped. Most of his photos were of the tour guide, podium, and 3 chairs. But one photo (in the middle of others) was of four chairs, a different podium (in a different place on stage) and no tour guide. The poor tourist was shaking. I was super intrigued.

 

4. This one was creepy. You’re forwarned.

The night the photo of Skye (all the way up top) was taken we’d been out at dinner in Old Town. Knowing they’d be closing up as we were finishing, we went in to say hi and see if we could poke around. That day they’d unveiled the restoration of the kitchen … back to the original from the time the house was built. Previously it had been preserved as it was left, still old, but not original. As we were about to leave, we decided to take one last swing through the kitchen (the lights were now off). As Skye stepped inside after me, she started hyperventilating and just generally freaking out. So we left, and went to the courtroom (still lit) to sit down and make sure she was ok. She said she had been hit with a wave of severe anxiety and confusion. (Not typical for her.) But, being Skye, she wanted to go back. So we did. She barely got in the door before collapsing to the floor sobbing. (ALSO not typical.) I dragged her out into the hallway and then ran back to snap a couple of photos … to see if I could catch anything.

 

So, some things to be noted about this photo. It was one of 5 or 6 I shot … the 3rd or 4th in, I believe. The only source of light in that area of the house was my flash. There was no light behind me. NOTHING that could cast a shadow. And again, it only showed up in one of the photos (notice a trend?) … the rest were completely normal.

The thing that creeps me out the most about this photo are the little things. Like the fact that in the middle of the darkness you see my flash reflecting off the stovepipe, and the wall paper. And that while there is a sharp edge on the left side of the shadow, the right side curves around a bit.

We’ve tried over and over again to try to recreate this photo, with no luck. The only thing that comes even close was by having me crouch down, and have a piece of cardboard blocking the entrance … the shadow was about right, then, but you also couldn’t see the whole room, as I was too low to shoot over the cardboard. That night there had been nothing between me and the room … at least nothing that could be seen. Someone mentioned (about a year later) that it looked like a door was being shut in my face. Any other opinions?

Skye later said that when she started crying she’d been flooded with overwhelming sorrow and a sense of “Why did you do this?” She speculates this all had to do with the renovation of the kitchen … but who knows.

 

5. So now that everyone’s thoroughly creeped out, I’ll end with a less-intense story. One afternoon, about a month after the night in number 4, I stopped by to take the boy to lunch. He was in the middle of a tour, so I wandered around waiting. Upstairs was a mother with several small children who were running around. I stopped to talk to her, and felt one of the kids tug on my long skirt. Looking down, I saw that one of the little girls was smiling at me. She took my hand, and started to swing it back and forth … as small children tend to do. I went back to talking to the mother, and the little one kept swinging my hand.

After about a minute of this I looked down to smile at her … and there was no little girl. But I could still feel the little hand, and my arm was still swinging back and forth. I looked at the woman I was talking to in shock, and felt the little hand give mine a squeeze and slip away. Sounds terrifying, but really, all I felt was fascination.

A couple of days later, the boy showed me a picture the workers had taken at closing, the same day I’d been there. (Before cleaning any of the plexiglassed rooms they take pictures, to make sure everything is put back in the same spots.) In the nursery there is a cradle holding a baby doll. In the photo, there was a little girl peeking over the edge of the cradle, smiling at doll.

It was the little girl I’d seen, and played with.

Of course, I told the boy what’d happened to me (for some reason I hadn’t when it happened … go figure). He told me that visitors wearing long skirts regularly report having them tugged on … like a small child would. But to his knowledge, no one else had ever reported having the child actually touch them.

And all I could think was COOL.

 

So … those are my stories. Anyone else have any?

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7 Comments to “Haunted”

  1. I LOVE haunted houses and I LOVE ghost stories. What can I say I like to be scared in that perfectly safe manor that haunted houses offer. Ive had more than my fair share of freaky ghost experiences, probably too many to list, but a few highlights.

    – When my mom first got married to my step dad I was 12. We moved to a new house in a new city. One morning around 6 am I had woken up early and was sitting on my bed reading a book with the door open. Suddenly my brother came bursting into my room looking both sleepy and annoyed. He wanted to know what the hell I was thinking, and I just looked at him confused. He said I had woken him up. I insisted I had not, and our parents were still asleep. He told me a woman with nails had grabbed his arm and shaken him telling him it was time to get up. Looking at his arm we could see the impression the nails had left. When he attempted to line his own fingers up to the marks the nail impressions were facing the wrong way.

    – I lived in an apartment in college that was haunted. You could hear Donna Summers coming from my roomates room when no one was in there, and smell what was almost like rancid Italian food coming from under her door. She didn’t have a radio or a TV in the room, and the smell went away as soon as you opened the door.

    – I had another college apartment that I took over from a couple I knew. They did ghost hunting. About a week after I moved in I came home to find the sliding glass door shattered (well it was safety glass so there was a hole the size of a baseball halfway up and the rest was spider webbed). Inside my apartment was freezing cold, but nothing had been disturbed. It looked like the maintenance guy had thrown up a rock while mowing. As I started cleaning up while waiting for the complex to send someone to cover my door, I realized that there was no glass inside my apartment. In fact I looked around and the glass was all outside. I found glass shards up to 8 feet away from the door on the outside sidewalk. When the maintenance guy showed up he agreed that the door had been shattered from the inside. The only problem was the living room area was too narrow for someone to have been able to get up enough power by throwing something. He said it almost looked like it had been shot. He also said he had been the one mowing and the glass wasn’t broken when he had come by. When I had walked up he was just finishing the grass in front of my row of apartments. The time that passed couldn’t have been more than two minutes.

    – My most disturbing ghost experience is when my stepmothers house tried to eat me. My bioligical fathers second wife lived in an old house in Old Lyme Ct. The first time we went to visit them was over the Thanksgiving holiday when I was 10 or so. I was staying in my baby sisters room, which was like a second master bedroom, with its own bathroom. In the middle of the night I woke up to use the restroom, and when I exited I realized I was out in the main hall instead of my room. I figured I had been confused since it was the first night in the house and gone to the wrong bathroom. Being awake I decided to go downstairs to check the time and get some water, but when I made it to the stairs I chickened out because I had not met the family dog and did not want it to attack me thinking I was a stranger.
    Before I could go back to my room I heard footsteps coming down the hallway. They had this nanny who I was creeped out by, so I pressed my back to the wall and hid hoping she wouldn’t see me. After a moment the footsteps stopped. I peered down the hallway and was shocked to see that there was a wall about halfway down the hall blocking my way. At this point I thought I was asleep so I pinched myself. The wall was still there. I approached the wall and pressed on it and found it to be very solid. Then the footsteps started again on the other side of the wall. I ran back and hid around the corner again. Once they stopped I went back to check again. The wall was still there and still very solid.
    Now the wall had appeared just outside of my brothers room, and their door was standing open. I looked in and could see them sleeping. I decided that waking them up was the best solution. Of course I didn’t want to be mocked if I was hallucinating so I went and pushed on the wall one more time to make sure it was real. Still solid. So I turned back to my brothers room, only I was now looking into my own room. I looked around me shocked and found that the wall was still there but I was now walled in on three sides, and my only choice was to go back into my room.
    I sprinted to my bed and sat there staring at the door for the next several hours until the nanny came in for the baby. I never fell back asleep. My step mother said that weird stuff happened in that room all the time.

    I have a lot of other ghost encounters. I worked in theater since I was 12 and I have a good dozen or so experiences from that. I have a rather disturbing one about an old Indian woman crawling into bed with me, and I have seen crying women in graveyards on more than one occasion. I also had a friend in high school whos bathroom was a constant source of ghost sightings. You would see a black haired girl staring at you in the mirror like she had just walked into the room behind you, but turning around there was no one there.

    I could go on, but I will stop.

    • Ok, that mirror thing I’m not touching. Creepy as EFF.

      As for your stepmother’s house … jeesh. Also, if she KNEW weird stuff was going on in that room WHY would they make that the baby’s room?!

      As for theaters … I’ve got one for ya: We were teching Christmas Carol with a set that was 2 levels … there were big (we’re talking as tall as the flyspace) doors that swung open and shut, and on top of the platform in the center was Scrooge’s bedroom. One night after rehearsal a bunch of us went to lock everything up. One of the cast members had twisted her ankle, so she stayed out in the seats. We came back and she said “who was up on the platform?” I replied that it was me … I’d even waived to her. And she said “No, after you. Someone came up and shut the doors.” Now … the doors were so large that to shut them you had to be standing on the stage … there was no way you could reach them from the platform. After I’d waived to her I’d gone to the sound lock up … where everyone else in the crew was … and we’d all come back together.

      So, that was unsettling. As we were absorbing what she said, we heard a buzzing … as if a color (gel) scroller had been left on. Our SM rolled her eyes and said “I’m going to KILL Donald. I ALWAYS have to remind him to turn off the board.” She walked over to turn it off, and started freaking out … not only was the board off, but it was unplugged. As she told us this, all the color scrollers went off … all at once … without power.

      We flipped out and ran out of the theater. The SM even locked her keys inside because she didn’t want to go backstage to grab them. It was a creepy night.

  2. I love this kind of shit. Not the someone’s-gonna-pop-out-from-around-a-corner-and-go up to check it out . . . if nothing else, I find the stories to usually be pretty interesting.

    My mom told me a story from when she was a little girl . . . when she was young, she went with my grandparents to look at a house that they were interested in buying. Apparently, the man who had owned the house was a staunch racist. His son wasn’t, however, and after his father’s death, he just wanted to unload the house. They were walking through the house and ended up in the (completed) basement, in the family room area. To get to the basement, you had to walk down a kind of tall flight of stairs coming down from the kitchen. My mom said that for some reason, she turned and looked back up the stairs, and there was a skeleton standing at the top. She said that it didn’t feel malevolent, she wasn’t scared or anything, and she just kept staring at it until eventually, it faded away.

    They ended up buying the house. 🙂

    (I should mention that I lived there for 12 years and noticed nothing!)

    • It makes me wonder if it was attached to a piece of furniture, and not the house itself.

      A few years back, I lived in a 3 story townhome … and my bedroom was on the 3rd floor. A new roomate moved in, and it suddenly began to feel like something was hanging out in the stairwell from the 2nd to 3rd floor. A friend’s dog wouldn’t even come near the stairs. I ran them every time I had to go up or down … the feeling was so intense. About 6 months later, we kicked said roommate out (he was an asshole), and the feeling went away.

      Turns out, he’d had a lot of really old furniture. My landlord had someone (seriously, she contacted a medium … it was surreal) come check out the house, and without telling them the issues we’d been having, she pointed to the staircase and said “There’s nothing here now, but there was. It was here, for maybe 6 months.”

      Let me just say … I was floored.

  3. I LOVE THIS! And I will come back and tell my story but now I have to run. 🙂 eeeeeeeeeeee!!!

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