Haunting Tales and Tails
May 23 2005, 04:23
Were you to ask me if I believe in ghosts, I'd say “No”. Were you to ask me whether there's a ghost in this house, I'd have to say “Every tenant in this house since I've owned it has told me there's a ghost. Not only have I heard him but, over time, three dogs and a cat have said they've seen him.” But I don't believe in ghosts.
The first night I slept here, the ghost in which I don't believe made his presence known to me. Without getting out of bed, I pleasantly shouted “Yes, I know you're here. Now please be quiet.” I lived in the other place on this property for nine years. Both dogs told me they'd seen a ghost and, many times, I heard him walking in the attic. The one time he moved a door (the only time that door ever moved by itself) both dogs were asleep two rooms away. The current tenants have told me of him, too.
I have also felt inexplicable chills but I don't believe in ghosts.
How'd the dogs and cat tell me that they'd seen him? Two by staring, together, where there was nothing to see, hair standing on end, the smartest of them sotto voce asking “Whoof you?”
The cat on my lap assumed the classic Hallowe'en stance while staring over my shoulder where there was nothing to see. Sensing something unusual, the dog came over to share the raised-hair stare.
In each instance, I looked but saw nothing. But I don't believe in ghosts.
YEARS AFTER all that's related below, another cat was sitting upon my lap in the living room. Suddenly she raised her head, and her hair stood on end, and her eyes widened in an expression of incredulousness, as she stared at a point about two feet above the banister. I turned to look but saw nothing. This lasted a long time, perhaps a minute.
And years after the above, not long ago, in fact, m'girlfriend was in the kitchen and reported feeling a chill and “a presence”.
. . .The Dog Knows . . .
November 19, 1991, 02:52
From: ICONO CLAST To: ALL
I bought this property about 20 years ago. There are three buildings on a double lot: The Big House (eight rooms plus full basement), The Little House (three rooms, about 660 square feet), and a two-car garage.
I was the first buyer of the property. The original owner built, with his own hands, the three buildings. It was built for his family and the sellers were a couple, one of which was the builder's daughter. [She died of cancer a few years ago. Her husband is now in his eighties. They raised their children here.]
I moved in to The Little House and lived there for nine years. During that time, I became comfortable with the presence of a ghost, one I frequently heard walking overhead. The attic height is about four feet, allowing me to walk in a doubled over position. Rats occasionally lived up there, but the pitter-patter of their feet was completely different from the human-sounding rhythm and weight of the ghost's slow paces.
One afternoon I was lying on the bed, reading. The bedroom door moved from the full open position to the half-closed position. There was no wind. There were no drafts and no door had ever before, or since, moved on its own. I got up and went to the living room to see the two dogs lying asleep.
On another occasion, both dogs saw something in the corner away from the windows. They started off with gentle growls of curiosity that evolved into barks not quite of warning. I saw nothing. Their attention was focused on a point approximately five feet above the floor and a foot or two away from the wall.
The first tenant in The Big House discovered a “secret” room. How? One morning he found the door to it open. The door is now no mystery, but neither of us knew it was there. The friction latch is so tight that normal vibration could not possibly move it.
Inside that room he found a still, apparently a left-over from Prohibition.
He told me neither of the room nor the still. He did tell the little boy next door who, years later, told me. Since, I've not told new tenants of the secret room, but each has told me that, one morning, they found the door open.
I've been living in The Big House since October 29. The ghost hasn't yet opened the door for me, but it knows that I know about it as I make use of it for storage. A few days ago, my not-so-smart dog demanded that I open the bathroom door. I found it a most curious request, but accommodated her.
She didn't go in but stood on the foyer side of the threshold, sniffing and looking all about. She did this for several minutes and then, most trepidaciously, moved one foot across the threshold. More sniffing and looking before the second foot hesitantly crossed the threshold. And the same for the other two feet.
Once inside the bathroom, she looked behind the door, behind the toilet, around the dresser and then asked me to open the glass door to the tub/shower which I did. She stuck her head in and thoroughly examined the tub and its shelf.
Her examination was very slow, very thorough, very hesitant.
During the approximately 15 minutes that this procedure took, I stood silently at the door until she asked me to open the glass door. Only then did I enter the room to grant her request. I know that she saw or felt something and that her reaction was a combination of fear and curiosity. I saw and felt nothing.
The first night we slept here, the air was completely calm. A downstairs door that, when latched, is loose, was loudly, and rapidly (about four times a second) shaken back and forth. The dog was with me. I was reading while this was going on and impatiently shouted out, “Will you please be quiet!” The noise stopped. I still close that door but, since, the noise it makes has been infrequent and normal, making occasional noises as one would expect.
I would be lying were I to say that “I believe in ghosts” but I would also be lying were I to say that “I'm not certain” a ghost inhabits this property.
November 20, 1991, 01:33 From: ICONO CLAST To: DEE LAMZAKI
DL> You better hope it's not a Christian ghost or you're in big trouble Icono...:-)
This particular ghost had nine years to read what I was writing, examine the papers lying around the house, and to hear hundreds of in-house and telephonic conversations. It knows plenty about me and my views, how I live, what I eat, what I enjoy in bed, what I read, etc. It's never done me, or my property, any harm. In fact, we got along just fine and I see no reason why we shouldn't continue to do so. It's made its presence known; I've acknowledged my awareness, and my life goes on.
November 20, 1991, 13:50 From: DAN GULLEY To: ICONO CLAST
IC> It knows plenty about me and my views, how I live, what I
IC>eat, what I enjoy in bed, what I read, etc.
Now you're REALLY in trouble!
. . . and so does the cat. . .
December 16, 1991, 01:03
From: ICONO CLAST To: ALL
A few weeks ago, I told you about the dog's long and hesitant examination of the bathroom.
Twice in the past few days, the cat has very trepidaciously stepped in to the bathroom while I was there. She, too, looked everywhere although not as thoroughly nor as slowly as did the dog. She, too, asked me to open the shower door, which I did, and she stood on the edge of the tub and looked the enclosure over very carefully.
December 17, 1991, 12:29 From: DAN GULLEY To: ICONO CLAST
As I might have mentioned earlier, I got my then 2-year old cat from the shelter, and, from all indications, she had been neglected by her previous owners.
Soon after she learned to accept my existence, I noted that she would raise hell at the shower door, especially after I had just taken a shower. I slid open the door to pacify her, and she immediately jumped in and started to drink the residual water, even tho she had access to fresh water in her bowl.
This practice has continued, and, I can only assume, that in her previous ownership, this was her only access to water, and the habit stuck.
December 18, 1991, 01:24 From: ICONO CLAST To: DAN GULLEY
December 19, 1991, 09:27 From: JOHN ERICKSON To: DAN GULLEY
Could be. My extroverted cat will sit in the bathtub and howl at the faucet. Why? Good question. He knows where the water dish is. But then he thinks that flashlights are toys. We adopted him from Animal Control shortly after the earthquake. There are times that he almost convinces me that he thinks he's really a dog. Skitzoid.
. . . and so do I. . .
December 9, 1991, 02:32
A little while ago, I got something out of a closet. I was in that closet for about a minute.
I then went to the kitchen, where the cat was and remained with me, to do a little project. I then returned to the closet: Something was ticking, obviously a clock mechanism. I couldn't imagine what it was so climbed up to the top shelf, looked behind the chess set to find the chess clock ticking away.
That chess clock had been sitting there for, at the very least, a month – untouched, in fact, forgotten.
The shelves are very strong and stable. The house had suffered no noticeable vibrations. Even though I have no logical explanation, I do have an explanation:
The resident ghost! I hope it's not becoming a poltergeist.
December 10, 1991 09:54 From: PAUL MOOR To: ICONO CLAST
Strongly recommended reading:
Gardner Murphy (a brilliant psychoanalyst who spent years as a Menninger Foundation faculty member, and also served more than one term as President of The American Society for Psychic Research): The Challenge of Psychical Research - A Primer of Parapsychology (Harper & Row, New York, 1961).
William Oliver Stevens: Unbidden Guests - a Book of Real Ghosts (George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1949).
Finding the Stevens book may require you to go the the San Francisco Public Library and fill out an Inter-Library Loan form (in fact, both may); that may take a bit of time, but it'll cost only something like 50›. I don't think you even have to go to the main branch. Absolutely airtight research and documentation characterize both books.
Dylan Thomas, in his radio-play masterpiece Under Milk Wood, has No-Good Bhoyo lying on his back, looking up at the sky, and saying indolently, “I don't know what's up there, and I don't care.” I believe you and I see more or less eye to eye on the specific subject of religion, Icono, but the exquisitely documented Murphy book, in combination with a single personal experience at the age of fifteen or so, convinced me that some kind of life after physical death does indeed exist – but confronts even our most seriously intended investigation with an apparently impenetrable barrier.
If you get those two books behind you and want to get into heavier, more specialized material, I'd also recommend Psychoanalysis and the Occult (George Devereux, editor; International Universities Press, New York, 1953), a 432-page anthology. You may or may not know that one of Germany's greatest universities (Freiburg) years ago broke a worldwide tabu by establishing a chair in parapsychology. I know a leading Berlin psychoanalyst who, on the one hand, told me two personal paranormal experiences out of his own practice for which he could find no rational explanation but, on the other hand, obstinately rejected parapsychology in toto on the inexorable grounds that nothing you can't replicate classifies as serious science.
You might yourself want to look into The American Society for Psychic Research. You can find them in the Manhattan phonebook.
December 11, 1991, 01:59 From: ICONO CLAST To: PAUL MOOR
PM> I believe you and I see more or less eye to eye on the
PM> specific subject of religion, Icono, but the exquisitely
PM> documented Murphy book, in combination with a single
PM> personal experience at the age of fifteen or so, convinced
PM> me that some kind of life after physical death does indeed exist
Thank you for believing that I have, indeed, made the observations that I claim. Since I know to a certainty that my observations are accurate and correctly related to you, I can only repeat the contradiction that I previously stated:
Were I to say that I believe in ghosts, I'd be lying. Were I to say that I don't believe that a ghost resides here, I'd be lying.
PM> If you get those two books behind you
Despite my own mysterious experiences, the subject does not interest me sufficiently to pursue. Nevertheless, I've made note of your recommendations and may, some day, look into them.
I would, however, be interested in anything you care to relate about what's in those books.
PM> You may or may not know that one of Germany's greatest
PM> universities (Freiburg) years ago broke a worldwide tabu
PM> by establishing a chair in parapsychology.
I didn't know. But doesn't Duke University still do work in that field?
PM> … look into The American Society for Psychic Research.
This ghost has been acquainted with me more for a bit more than twenty years. It's never done any harm, never caused any sort of trouble or unpleasant disturbance. I occasionally say something to it, always in a pleasant and friendly manner except for my sharp outburst the morning of October 30 when it was rattling a door. Were I to have any sort of “expert” visit here, our relationship might change. As long as it is as it is, it's OK with me.
Now, Paul, do you intend to continue to withhold from us your “single personal experience at the age of fifteen or so” that “convinced [you] that some kind of life after physical death does indeed exist"?
December 11, 1991, 08:04 From: PAUL MOOR To: ICONO CLAST
IC> Thank you for believing that I have, indeed,
IC> made the observations that I claim.
But of course. To do otherwise would be to insult.
Apparently your original exposition somehow slipped past me.
I'll do a scan and see whether I can still download it. If it's already too late, I'd appreciate it if you could post it to me.
IC> PM If you get those two books behind you
IC> In spite of my own mysterious experiences, the subject does
IC> not interest mesufficiently to persue … I would, however,
IC> be interested in anything you care to relate about what's
IC> in those books.
You lazy devil – if you have so little interest in their very extensive scientific documentation, to hell with it.
IC> Now, Paul, do you intend to continue to withhold from us your
IC>“single personal experience at the age of fifteen or so”
IC> that convinced [you] that some kind of life after physical
IC> death does indeed exist"?
Sit at me feet. Under the circumstances, I'll give you the no-frills version of the facts, just the facts, sir. As a 14- or 15-year-old high-school student, I got more or less shanghaied into a radio job (and the A. F. or M.) as staff pianist for KTSM, El Paso. The station had as its music director John R. (Jack) Lewis, one of a dying species: he had had quite a career as conductor of the pit orchestra in a number of larger movie houses during the silent days, but after sound took over the movies (and his wife left him) he never fully adjusted to the new order. In El Paso, which I later realized he must have regarded as truly the end of the line for him, he lived a lonely existence alleviated almost exclusively by his samoyede Wing and a rather showy airflow Chrysler.
The day arrived when Silver Strings no longer attracted sponsors from El Paso's business people, KTSM let Jack's contract expire, and he and Wing left in the Chrysler for Los Angeles, where his former wife lived. I'd enjoyed closer ties to him than the other station musicians, but, as I recall, I never received any mail from him.
Time passed – I'd estimate at least more than a year. Coming home one afternoon from the bus stop, still about a block and a half from our house, I suddenly knew, inside my head – literally from one instant to the next – that Jack was dead. No theatrical fillip of any kind accompanied that epiphany, nothing the least sensational – I simply knew it, factually.
As I approached our front door, my mother saw me through the screen, and came to meet me. “You'll never believe what I just heard on the radio. Jack Lewis is dead.” He'd driven the Chrysler into one of those Los Angeles canyons and used a rubber hose to connect the exhaust pipe to the interior. They found him and Wing, enfolded in his arms, both dead.
Something inside my head had somehow picked up the contents of that radio announcement, apparently at the instant of its transmission. That experience merely bemused me, for many years. Not until I read the books I recommended to you did I come to my present firm convictions and opinions.
December 12, 1991, 01:51 From: ICONO CLAST To: PAUL MOOR
PM> I suddenly knew, inside my head – literally from
PM> one instant to the next – that Jack was dead.
I'm sure you're aware that this is among the most common of (oh, please forgive me for using the up-coming phrase) psychic phenomena.
Thank you for relating that to us.
December 14, 1991, 12:43 From: TERRY PRESTON To: ICONO CLAST
IC> The resident ghost! I hope it's not becoming a poltergeist.
Some say that poltergeists are the spirits of those who left this earth with unfinished business.
Break any hearts over your lifetime, Icono? Your playboy past may be coming back to haunt you. So to speak.
December 15, 1991, 01:55 From: ICONO CLAST To: TERRY PRESTON
TP> Break any hearts over your lifetime, Icono?
I doubt it. I've been called many things but I can't recall “lovable” being among them.
TP> Your playboy past may be coming back to haunt you.
I doubt that my “playboy past” (if any), can compare to yours, if any.
I doubt that the ghost's presence has anything to do with me.
I suspect it's related to the property. Methinks if it had something to do with me, I'd somehow know it.
December 17, 1991 12:15 From: DAN GULLEY To: ICONO CLAST
IC> I've been called many things but I can't recall “lovable” being among them.
Why, Mr. Clast, aren't you being a little hard on yourself here?
Anyone who searches out 4 winsome lasses to rent his property to, without benefit of references, certainly falls into the catagory of “kind,” if not lovable.
Please, do not attempt to equal the hard-heartedness of this writer, who, without pang, turns widows and orphans onto the street.
You're out of your element.
December 17, 1991, 15:16 From: TERRY PRESTON To: ICONO CLAST
IC> .... I can't recall “lovable"…
Stop talking to your ex-tenants. You'll probably find a broader range of opinion.
IC> I doubt that my “playboy past” … can compare to yours …
I've never been anything less than the epitome of moral rectitude in my life.
Despite what that 12-year girl's mother says.
IC> I doubt that the ghost's presence has anything to do with me.
IC> I suspect it's related to the property.
Maybe ghosts are more like some cats, in that they can't stand to move away.
At least it's willing to live and let live.
Golden Gate Park's Stow Lake Ghost
“Have you seen my baby?” and an Account of an Investigation
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