Archive for 2012

PLAYMATES Part Two

Posted in Afterlife, Entities, Ghosts, Hauntings, Kids, Paranormal, Saturdays, St. Augustine, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2012 by Dave Lapham

For Alice Sue’s part she enjoyed every minute with Rose Marie. In addition to coming and going through the closet, she asked some funny questions, like “What is that thing on the table next to your bed?”

“You mean the lamp?”

“Lamp?”

“Yes. Here, I’ll turn it on.” Alice Sue pulled the lamp chain and the light came on.

“Oh,” Rose Marie exclaimed and jumped back.

And there were the shoes. Rose Marie wore what seemed to Alice Sue old-fashioned handmade slippers. And Rose Marie was astounded by Alice Sue’s Skecher Twinkle Toes with pink laces and leopard spots and which lit up with every step. Alice Sue let her try them on, and the girl was so enthralled with them, Alice Sue gave them to Rose Marie.

But the admiration wasn’t one-sided. Alice Sue loved Rose Marie’s clothes, which were so well-made and so different. One day she came out of the closet wearing what to Alice Sue was a beautiful pink dress, with ruffles all the way down to the hem, a wide pink ribbon at the waist, and little pink bows all around the scoop neck. She had to have a dress just like it.

Weeks later as Alice Sue’s birthday neared, Betsy asked her daughter what she wanted. Immediately, she said, “A dress, a pink, full-length dress.” And she described Rose Marie’s dress in minute detail. Betsy thought it odd, but she told her that’s what she’d get, and she wrote down the description Alice Sue had given her.

Finally, the day came. Alice Sue and her mother knew no one in St. Augustine, so the “birthday party” consisted of just the two of them. First, Alice Sue opened her gifts at home—and immediately put on her new dress. Then they walked up the street for lunch at the Casa Monica Hotel. At the end of the meal, a waitress came out with a piece of cake, a candle burning on it, and all the wait staff sang “Happy Birthday” to Alice Sue. She laughed as she blew out the candle and ate the cake but soon was anxious to rush home.

She ran down the street ahead of her mother and was waiting at the door when Betsy arrived. Then she bounded up to her room and closed the door. Shortly after, Betsy heard squeals and giggles coming from upstairs.

When Alice Sue turned toward the closet she saw Rose Marie standing there—in her pink dress. Rose Marie’s jaw dropped and she broke into a big smile. The two little girls stood looking at each other, eyes glistening. Rose Marie reached out her hand and took Alice Sue’s. She led her to the closet, and the two walked in, closing the door.

Alice Sue was never seen again, but to this day one can hear two little girls giggling and laughing in the bedroom upstairs at the end of the hall in the old coquina house on Marine Street.

MARY HASTINGS Part Three

Posted in Afterlife, Entities, Ghosts, Hauntings, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2012 by Dave Lapham

“Probably a case of nerves, Sis. Don’t worry. Besides, I can get over here in a couple of minutes.” He smiled.

“Yes, I suppose you’re right. Living out here in the country isn’t like the city. I guess I’ll have to get used to it all again. Want to stay for breakfast?”

“Naw, I’ve got to get busy. Betsy said she’d be over after a while, though.” Waving his hand he stepped out the door and walked to his truck.

The following days were filled with putting the house in order, spending time with family, and renewing old friendships. Mary had no more disturbances and slept like a stone for several nights running.

One night, however, a slamming door awakened her. She didn’t know whether the sound came from downstairs or the second floor. She only knew it wasn’t a dream—she had definitely heard it. She turned on her light, grabbed her pistol, and headed out the door. Turning lights on as she went, she walked through the whole house and found nothing. All the doors and windows were closed and locked. She could not explain the slamming door. Finally, she went back upstairs to bed, leaving all the lights on.

The noises continued on later nights and increased, doors opening and closing, footsteps on the stairs, and in the hall a man’s laughter. Mary began to think she was having mental problems—or was the house haunted? The first few times noises occurred, she’d phoned Travis, but he never found anyone or any evidence that someone had been there. So she stopped calling him.

One night as she slept soundly, something grabbed her big toe. Mary bolted upright. There at the foot of her bed stood Will, big grin, cow lick, and all. She couldn’t believe it. Will, her big brother. Of course, she knew it wasn’t actually him but his ghost. She wasn’t afraid. She was filled with peace. Will. Will. His image faded, and she flopped back to sleep, smiling.

Periodically over the next few weeks, she heard the usual noises, but they didn’t disturb her anymore. She knew Will was there, and most nights she slept straight through. Once she tried to tell Travis about Will, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to explain that their older brother’s ghost resided in the house. Travis seemed to be happy that she wasn’t bothered by inexplicable noises anymore.

Then one evening she awoke to the sound of breaking glass. She flicked on the light just as the bedroom door opened. There stood two men, one with a scraggly beard. They sneered and reeked of alcohol. Mary gasped and fumbled for her pistol in the night stand. Rushing forward, the bearded man yanked her out of bed and slammed her to the floor while the other grabbed the pistol out of the drawer. He knelt beside her and jammed the muzzle against her temple. She froze, her pulse pounding. Both men laughed.

At that moment a glowing apparition with a big grin and a cow lick appeared out of the wall and came toward the intruders. Screaming, the bearded intruder jumped up and raced out the door. The other man followed close behind, dropping the gun as he ran. The first man tripped and crashed through the banister. He landed on the floor below, his neck broken. Then the second slipped, his leg snapping as he tumbled down the stairwell. He lay whimpering at the foot of the steps as the smiling ghost stood over him.

Seconds later Mary ran into the hall, gun and phone in hand. The ghost evaporated. Travis arrived within minutes and took charge. The injured intruder kept babbling about being attacked by a ghost. No one took him seriously.

Nothing ever disturbed Mary’s sleep again. She lived for many years in the house and died of old age in her own bed overlooking the lake. She was buried next to her brother, Will, in the family cemetery.

Don’t forget 12-21-12. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.

PORTALS & DIMENSIONS

Posted in Afterlife, Entities, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Hauntings, Investigating, Paranormal, Psychic, Updates, Wednesdays with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2012 by Dave Lapham

A friend the other day read “Gateway to Hell” in my book Ghosts of St. Augustine and asked me about portals, if they really existed. I have witnessed a portal. My wife,Sue, and I visited Ireland a few years ago and went to Clonmacnoise, a religious center established around 545 A.D. at the crossroads of the River Shannon and the glacial ridge running across Ireland. We were standing in a cold rain amid the ruins of an old chapel, praying for a friend suffering from a brain tumor. As we stood there something opened in front of us and enveloped us. It was hard to describe. It wasn’t so much that we walked through a doorway, but rather that the doorway surrounded us as we stood. We were not frightened but overwhelmed with a peaceful, joyful sensation. This cocoon-like feeling lasted for several minutes, then dissipated, leaving both of us exhilarated, overjoyed, and energized. The experience was the most astounding thing that’s ever happened to me. I know many others who have also experienced portals, among them my friend, Melba Goodwyn. She devotes an entire chapter to the subject in her book, Ghost Worlds. “The Spanish Washer Woman” in my Ancient City Hauntings is another dramatic story about a portal.

We know that many dimensions exist other than the one we live in. Some believe there are in infinite number floating around the universe. We also know that not all of these dimensions are parallel, and where they intersect you will find a portal. The Irish call them “thin places.” Melba defines them as …inter-dimensional doorways opening into other realms of existence. As dimensions are not always fixed, so portals aren’t either, although some can last a very long time.

Portals can appear almost anywhere, inside structures or outside. They are often found in cemeteries, I guess, because consciously or subconsciously, we choose burial grounds for their otherworldly characteristics, spiritual vibrations, or auras. Cemeteries often innately exhibit sacredness and peace and where portals are often found. But portals may also appear under more negative circumstances and can be anything but peaceful.

In her book, Melba explains that we can discern energy patterns which might indicate the presence of a portal. These energy patterns, especially noticeable to sensitives, can be either harmonious or discordant. One can experience peace, euphoria, increased energy, elation, calmness. Or the energies cause weakness, nausea, headaches, cold chills, confusion.

There are other common signs. You may hear barely audible humming or buzzing, may feel static electricity, may see orb-like forms streaking around. The light around a portal may also seem either unnaturally bright or shaded, inconsistent with its surroundings. And there may be mist or fog concentrated in the area.

In any case, if you ever experience or think you are experiencing a portal, be careful. It may be a calming, peaceful place, or it may be something evil—as in my “Gateway to Hell” story. Either way, experiencing a portal is going to change your thinking about time and space.

And I’d like to put in another shameless plug for 12-21-12, which you can find on Amazon’s Kindle books. It’s written by my alter ego, Parker Lee. Remember that if you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon will give you a free app so you can download the book. Come on, guys, it’s cheap and December 21st is just around the corner. Also, Christmas is coming, and wouldn’t my other paperback books make wonderful gifts?

Happy Thanksgiving! See ya Saturday for the conclusion of “Mary Hastings.”

PROTECTING YOURSELVES

Posted in Afterlife, Demons, Entities, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Hauntings, Investigating, Paranormal, Safety, Updates, Wednesdays with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2012 by Dave Lapham

I’m a little late posting this morning. Just had a lot to do.

I was shuffling through some old pictures the other day and found one of some of my Marines in Vietnam. Before they went on a patrol, they conducted an elaborate ritual of putting on headbands, “cleansing” themselves with incense, praying, and Lord knows what else. It must have worked, because they got into a lot of scrapes and never lost a man.

Thinking of that made me think of protecting myself and the folks I’m with when ghost hunting. First, what are we protecting ourselves against? Let’s face it. Most ghosts are benign. They are friends, relatives, neighbors who’ve passed away, and when they go, they take their personalities with them. Most people, when alive, are not violent or even mean, although I’ll grant you that there are some grumps. The vast majority of paranormal entities, even the grumps, are not violent. Usually, they don’t have the energy. So, we seldom see objects thrown or experience getting pushed or hit. Most often, we get touched—and not in a harmful way. Female tour guides in St. Augustine have reported getting their bottoms pinched along Tolomato Lane just around the corner from the Old Wooden Schoolhouse. (See the story of this school house in my Ancient City Hauntings.) And Susan Harrell, the Ghost Tours Director at Ripley’s in St. Augustine at the time, was in a room alone when someone ran their fingers through her hair. (You can read that story in Ghosthunting Florida.)

There are occasionally malevolent spirits and demons out there who attack people who aren’t prepared, however. If we aren’t psychologically and emotionally ready, we can have problems. We have to understand that we have the mental strength to ward off attacks simply by ordering the attacking entity to leave in a stern and persistent manner. And remember that it is never wise to provoke an entity. In fact, it’s disrespectful.

To prepare ourselves we need to accept that we might encounter a ghost or other paranormal entity and to realize that we have the upper hand. We also have to use some common sense about going into areas which are known to be hazardous, and it is a rule in all of the teams I know that people work in pairs for safety and to validate any experiences. Common sense also means that we also carry flashlights, extra batteries, cell phones and walkie talkies if we have them, and first aid kits.

In the beginning of this blog I mentioned rituals. I think everyone has his or her own. Personally, I wear a small cross on a chain around my neck, and I always ask quietly for permission to enter. Others might carry small amulets. I also know that most teams have their own rituals, saying prayers beforehand, asking permission of any entities on a site to visit the area. I’ve even heard of some groups who, like my Marines, “cleanse” themselves, most often with sage. I’m sure there are many other rituals and preparations people use. Let me know if you do something special. I’d like to hear about it. However you prepare, do whatever makes you comfortable, and always use common sense.

If you’re interested in this subject, get a copy of How To Hunt GHOSTS by Joshua P. Warren. Shawn at the GhostStop recommended it to me. And finally, 12-21-12 is fast approaching, so if you haven’t bought your copy of 12-21-12 by Parker Lee, a fast-paced little e-book from Amazon, better do it quick. If you don’t read it by 12-21-12, you’ll spoil the fun.

Happy Thanksgiving, and don’t forget to check out Part Two of “Mary Hastings” on Saturday.

MARY HASTINGS Part One

Posted in Afterlife, Entities, Ghosts, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Mary Hastings pulled off the highway and stopped to check her dad’s mailbox before heading up the drive to the house. He’d been dead two weeks, but he was still getting mail. Even her mother, who’d died two years before, received an occasional piece of junk mail. Sure enough the mailbox was full, and none of it was for Mary. Laying the stack of mostly advertisements on the passenger’s seat, she closed her door and drove on.

As she continued up the orange tree-lined road to the house, now hers, she felt a warmth which made her smile, even after thirty years. She had grown up among these groves, swum in the lake, learned to drive dodging around citrus trees, received her first kiss by the water tower, enjoyed birthdays and holidays with her friends and a loving family. But she also felt a sadness. Her parents, her grandparents, her brother, Will, killed in Vietnam, were all gone, all now buried along with her great grandparents in the little family cemetery on the north side of the lake. Only she and her younger brother, Travis, remained.

She was thankful that the place had remained in the Hastings family. Mary had chosen to go off to college up north. At the time she wanted to get away from this place, this backward way of life, this boring little town of Lake Wales where nothing ever happened. The big excitement was a Friday night high school football game or a Saturday night movie. So she had elected to attend the University of Virginia, one of the biggest party schools in the country, and the home, more or less, of Edgar Allen Poe. She wasn’t a big party girl, but UVA did sound exciting, and academic standards there were high.

But that was a long time ago. She had majored in English Literature and had gone on to get her PhD. A series of teaching jobs at several universities followed, and suddenly it was thirty years later. Mary retired when her dad died, and now she was coming home for good.

In the meantime Travis had remained in Lake Wales and had taken over managing the groves just as his father, his grandfather, and his great grandfather had done. And he had harbored no ill feelings toward his sister because she’d chosen to do other things. As far as Travis was concerned, he’d always said, “No problem, Sis. When you get ready to retire, come on back. There’ll always be a place for you.”

In fact, there was. Travis and their father made sure that Mary was taken care of. At Travis’s request, their dad had willed her the family house and the adjacent five acres on the lake. The property was beautiful, covered with old live oaks, a well-maintained beach, and a large pavilion for family gatherings and parties. And the house. The two-story house was too large for Mary, five bedrooms, an expansive kitchen and adjoining dining room, and a wide, screened porch surrounding all four sides, but she loved it.

Approaching the house and seeing no cars there, she drove on to the family cemetery above the lake. It was a pristine spot. Her dad and grandfather had wisely kept the trees around the shoreline, so that anywhere a person might sit, he would feel the tranquility that only a forest and a lake can provide. The cemetery sat back several yards off the water on high ground. Enclosed by a filigreed wrought-iron fence, it was spacious, large enough to hold many more graves. Mary walked to her parents’ resting places and bent down to pat the fresh mound of earth covering her father.

Will was buried on the other side of her mother. Mary smiled down at Will’s grave and sighed. Even after forty-five years, she pictured him in minute detail, his brown eyes, strong jaw, his big grin, even the cow lick on the crown of his head. She had idolized her big brother. He’d taught her how to drive, how to smoke, how to drink, how to fend off unwanted attentions from the boys. When she was a girl he was always there to protect her. She loved her little brother, Travis, but Will was her hero. He’d been such a terrific young man. What a waste.

Does anyone like my stories or am I whistling in the wind? Let me know what you think. I’d appreciate it.

GHOST HUNTERS FACE NEW PHENOMENA

Posted in Afterlife, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Hauntings, Investigating, Paranormal, St. Augustine, Updates, Wednesdays with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Got out of Dodge this week. I’m holed up in the Best Western in New Smyrna, writing. Let me know who won the election. I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal recently. (I take the Journal because it actually has news and not tons of advertisements, and I pay less for it than the Orlando Sentinel.) Anyway, the article. It was written by Matthew Dalton, who wrote about Steve Parsons, a ghost hunter in Wales.

Mr. Parsons has 35 years experience and uses high-tech equipment with a big “dose of skepticism.” His problem is that he feels we’ve been taken over by “TV cameras and tabloid headlines.” There are so many “ghost shows” on TV that paranormal investigating has become entertainment and, according to Mr. Parsons, the “trend has spawned hundreds of amateur ‘ghost clubs’ whose members head out on weekends to scare up a few spirits.”

He points out that as a result of the television exposure there are now about 500 ghost “clubs” in Britain. Ten years ago only some 15 existed. And although many of these groups use the latest technology, many also use worthless gadgets that have flooded the market.

The sad thing is that often TV “investigations” are nothing more than show. I’ve talked to several very competent ghost hunters who’ve been involved with some of them in the U.S., and they agree that in many cases the presentations have nothing to do with reality. Events are often staged for entertainment value and have little to do with serious research.

And due to the popularity of ghost hunting, sites in Britain as well as in the United States that used to allow groups access now either charge or don’t let anyone in at all. Mr. Parsons gave an example of the Carew Castle in Wales, which purportedly houses the non-human ghost of a Barbary ape. The Castle used to charge paranormal groups $240 for investigations; it now charges $560.

We see that here in Florida. The Spanish Military Hospital in St. Augustine, which is listed in my Ghosthunting Florida, became overwhelmed with requests from paranormal groups. It now doesn’t let in any groups. Instead, they conduct in-house investigations and allow individuals to tag along for a price.

The reason I bring this up is because when I read the article, I began thinking about our situation in Florida. How many groups do we now have in the state? Forty? Fifty? I don’t know. I do know that I can count at least 20 I’ve come in contact with. I believe that the majority of the groups I’ve encountered are serious ghost hunters who either desire to help people understand unexplained activity in their homes and businesses or who want to further paranormal science. But how many groups are out there with their flashlights, digital cameras, audio recorders, and K2s banging around cemeteries, historical sites, and abandoned buildings just trying to scare up a little excitement? I would venture quite a few.

And then there are sites to investigate. Mr. Parsons reports that requests for investigations of both homes and businesses in Britain have significantly dropped off because people would rather have “Most Haunted” or “Ghost Adventures” in to do a TV show. I don’t think we have that problem here, but I do think we’re running out of places to investigate. How many times has the Italian Club in Ybor City been investigated? How about Ripley’s in St. Augustine or the Lake Worth Playhouse?

So why am I rambling on about this? I guess I want to emphasize how important it is to be as professional as possible during investigations. And how vital it is to do them for the right reasons, not because it’s more fun to hunt ghosts than to bar hop on Saturday night. We are interested in the paranormal because we believe in an afterlife and that the veil between our life and the next is very thin. So, think about it the next time you’re out on an investigation. Why are you there?