Archive for historical sites

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.

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PLAYMATES Part One

Posted in Afterlife, Entities, Ghosts, Hauntings, Kids, Paranormal, Saturdays, St. Augustine, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2012 by Dave Lapham

Betsy Slavin knew the house was haunted when she bought it. The previous owners were candid about it. They’d told her about the little girl, Rose Marie Slater, who had died in the back bedroom upstairs in 1837, during a typhoid epidemic. They’d told her she was still there, not menacing, but present. Betsy didn’t care. She didn’t believe in ghosts anyway. She wanted to live in St. Augustine.

As a single mom Betsy had struggled for several years, until a long-lost uncle left her with millions. Tired of living out in the sticks in Hastings, she turned her eye toward St. Augustine and quickly found this fine, old coquina house on Marine Street. The asking price was $950,000, a little steep perhaps, but Betsy had the money. Why not? She could afford it. The house had been built in 1794 by Don Hector Vitorio Montalvo de Sevilla, during Spain’s last possession of Florida. It was one of the oldest structures in the city. The history of St. Augustine fascinated Betsy, and she snapped up the house as soon as she saw it.

Seven-year old Alice Sue loved the house, too. She ran through all the rooms, laughing, inquisitive, and instantly was drawn to the back bedroom. “This is my room, Mommy,” she shouted to her mother out in the hall. Betsy, knowing the room had once supposedly belonged to Rose Marie Slater, smiled and said, “Of course, sweetie. You can have the room.”

The property was narrow but ran from Marine Street all the way over to Avenida Menendez with a wall surrounding it. The previous owners had done a wonderful job of landscaping the back garden with little nooks and crannies, vine-covered pergolas, and hideaways. Betsy thought her daughter would be enthralled by it all, but from the very first Alice Sue preferred her own room overlooking the beautiful garden.

Alice Sue loved her room, because she had found a playmate there, another little girl about her age who arrived and left through the closet. Alice Sue thought that a bit odd, but the little girl was otherwise a wonderful friend. Her name was Rose Marie. She said her father was an American and her mother Spanish. Her black hair and dark complexion contrasted nicely with Alice Sue’s light skin and blond hair. And she didn’t come just to play. Sometimes she came at night and slept with Alice Sue, because she missed her parents.

Betsy often passed by her daughter’s door to hear giggling and laughing. She might have been concerned at least enough to look in on Alice Sue, but the child had always had imaginary playmates. Betsy thought this was the case again, just an imaginary playmate. She did think about Rose Marie Slater but quickly dismissed the thought. Besides, if Rose Marie was the “imaginary” playmate, what harm was there.

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.”

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?

BUCK WARREN Part 2

Posted in Afterlife, Demons, Entities, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Hauntings, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2012 by Dave Lapham

No one would go with him, and we couldn’t actually see Crazy Crickbaum’s grave from the gateway. I wanted to make sure Buck didn’t cheat, so I rode around to the other side of the cemetery where I had a perfect view. Sure enough, just after I got off my bike and settled in to watch, there was Buck Warren marching boldly up to the grave of Henry Crickbaum.

Buck stood at the foot of the grave, arms crossed, feet spread apart. I was actually impressed. We hadn’t made any arrangements for him to pick up something from the area to prove he’d been there, but he bent down and grasped an old vase of dead flowers. Then he straightened and stood staring at the headstone.

He had been standing there motionless for about three minutes when a luminescent, chartreuse mist oozed out of the grave and formed a funnel, like a small tornado. As the mass rose, the top of it changed into a human-like torso with an indescribable, fiendish-looking head. Piercing eyes, shark-like teeth, the most evil-looking thing I’d ever seen. I was terrified. I almost vomited.

But Buck. Buck was magnificent. He dropped the flower vase, picked up a fallen tree branch, and swiped at the monster, who darted out of the way. As the beast closed in on him, Buck realized that his defense was useless and backed up, then turned and ran. The demon came after him. Buck looked back, tripped, and fell. The awful creature now hovered over him. I screamed, and the demon looked towards me with his fiery eyes, even though I was a hundred yards away. In that instant Buck leaped up and raced toward the entrance, faster than I’d ever seen him run on the football field. The demon turned to follow him for several yards, stopped, and then vanished from sight.

I jumped on my bike and raced back to the entrance. Panting, I slid to a stop and dropped my bike. Buck was sitting on the ground leaning against one of the arches. His hair was snow white—and he was crying. Everyone else stood there in petrified silence, not knowing exactly what had happened to him or what to say. I looked at Buck and related exactly what I had seen. Well, Buck became a hero, a true legend of Washington Junior High School.

But he was forever changed. He no longer bullied anyone, and even though he was as aggressive on the football field as ever, he treated everyone kindly. He’d hit a runner with a jarring, teeth-rattling tackle—and then help the guy up. Buck and I became good friends and remained so, even though I moved to Cedar Rapids, a hundred miles away.

Several years later, Buck and I joined the Marines and went to Vietnam in the same unit. On Halloween, 1966, our company was overrun by a North Vietnamese battalion. Buck Warren died that night saving our company and me.

Buck was buried in the Ottumwa Cemetery not far from Henry Crickbaum’s grave. The demon there has never been seen again to this day.

BUCK WARREN

Posted in Afterlife, Demons, Entities, Ghost Hunting, Ghosts, Hauntings, Paranormal, Saturdays, Stories, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2012 by Dave Lapham

I grew up in Ottumwa, Iowa, a small town in the southeastern part of the state. We had only fifty kids in our ninth grade class at Washington Junior High School, and we were a tight, companionable group—all except for Buck Warren and his three or four lackeys. Buck was a big guy, a tackle on the football team, and he was really good. In later years he played high school football and went on to play in college. But he wasn’t real smart. I suppose because of his lack of intelligence, he had low self-esteem, and in ninth grade at Washington Junior High School Buck didn’t think much of himself. He made up for it by being a bully.

Because I was a wise acre, I taunted him every chance I got. At five feet two inches and 115 pounds I was quick, and Buck could never catch me, although a couple of times his henchmen did. I paid the price, but it was worth it.

Halloween in 1953 fell on a Saturday. Saturdays were when we played our football games, which usually started around nine in the morning. After the games, we’d all congregate down the hill at the drugstore soda fountain. Buck had played extremely well on that day both on offense and defense, and he was all puffed up and lording it over us lesser human beings. So I decided to rattle his chain.

All of us kids knew the legend of Henry Crickbaum, a Civil War veteran, who’d served in the Iowa Sixth Cavalry Regiment and was a hero. But after the War he’d gone berserk and killed a dozen people. The local sheriff reluctantly shot him when the ex-soldier attacked him with a pick ax. Crickbaum died on Halloween and was buried in the center of the Ottumwa Cemetery up on North Court Street.

That part of the legend was probably true, but there was a companion story that every Halloween Mr. Crickbaum came out of his grave and went after anyone who was nearby. I guess he took his insanity to the grave with him. Anyway, that was the story, which I dismissed as a myth.

Well, you know how kids are, especially about ghosts and most especially about cemeteries. And it was Halloween, so that Henry Crickbaum was a topic of discussion at the soda fountain. Buck popped me on the back of my head and strutted around. “I’m not afraid of Henry Crickbaum,” he said with a sneer.

I grinned and replied, “Buck, if you’re so tough, why don’t you go visit old Crazy Crickbaum at the cemetery tonight. You could really show us how tough you are.”

He smacked me on the back of my head again and replied, “Why don’t you shut up, you little dirt ball, before I crush you?”

That started it. Everyone chimed in. “Yeah, Buck. Show us how brave you are, how tough you are.”

Buck got red in the face, but finally agreed. “Okay, you kooks, I’ll show you. Midnight, I’ll be at the cemetery, if you’re brave enough to come watch.”

And I retorted, “Yeah, and right in the middle next to Crazy Crickbaum’s grave.”

We trick-or-treated just after dark. Then almost everyone jumped on their bikes and headed uphill to the cemetery. We all gathered around the big limestone arches at the entrance and waited for Buck, who showed up five minutes before midnight with his three goons. He got off his bike and looked around, a sneer on his face.

He hitched up his jeans and said, “Okay, you melon heads. Watch this.” And he sauntered off into the darkness.

(TO BE CONTINUED)