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It Runs in the Family

Ghost Story #1

“My grandmother died, my father’s mother, and her name was Emma Davenport. She lived in Cashmere, Washington, near Wenatchee. This was before Aya (her daughter) was born. It was about a month after she died and I can’t remember why but I was in a fight with my dad, and I was in bed. My grandmother’s house smelled like Downey Fabric Softener and Chester Filled Cigarettes, a bizarre mix of the two. I was laying in bed, I had fallen asleep early for some reason, and all of a sudden my room smelled like Downy Fabric Softener and Chester Filled Cigarettes and it was dark and I looked up and there was this dark shadowy figure on the ceiling and I heard her voice and I smelled her smell and she said “be nice to your dad” and then it was over and I got really, really sick and started throwing up.

How old were you when this happened?

I was about 32-years-old.

What time of the year did she die?

She died around November and I heard her voice around Christmas time a month later. Somebody told me that in Native American culture, it’s about 1 to 2 months that spirits return to talk to people after they died.

Were you frightened even though you knew your grandmother?

Yes, I was very scared, I think that’s why I got sick. She was always very intense […] she was very direct with me. She showed very little emotion. When she smoke it was a command more than anything. The strong smell and the intensity was very frightening. I have not had any other encounters with her since.

Were you nice to your dad after?

Yes, of course!

Ghost Story #2

My grandfather died, my mom’s dad, and I was talking to my grandma, they had been married for 70 years, I asked my grandmother if my grandad had come to see her and she said that it was about a week or two after he died and she was laying on the couch in the living room because she slept out there a lot. It was 3 or 4 in the morning and she woke up and saw him standing in the opposite corning of the room. I asked her if he said anything to her, and she said no and that he just wanted her to know that he was there, and that was it.

Did she have any other sensory sort of experiences besides just seeing him?

No, he was just standing there. She never had any other encounters with him.

Ghost Story #3

The same grandmother (as in story #2) died last summer, this is my maternal grandmother. After she died, I was super excited that she was going to come and visit me, the same way that grandad had visited her and the way that my other grandmother had visited me. I was really bummed because I was lighting sage, putting her things in the living room and I was pissed because my Grammy wouldn’t come and visit me! I would hear her voice in my head, and you have to imagine a kind of old lady voice, and whenever I would call her, she would say “hello, love”. That was always her greeting to me when she was alive, too. And I kept hearing Grammy’s voice saying “hello, love”. I kept hearing it all the time, and that’s all she would say and I was pissed that she hadn’t come to visit me! So I started googling what I would have to do to get someone to come and visit you after they died. I read something about ‘Clairaudience’ which is when you just hear their voices in your mind, and that’s how they can visit you and I realized that’s how Grammy was visiting me, that’s how she was talking to me and it went on for months after she died, “hello love”. I kept on trying to get her to talk to me but that is all I would hear, and it was completely involuntary, I wouldn’t be thinking of her coming to visit me, I would just hear it. So then, she was quiet for a few months until Christmas Eve this year, we went to my aunt’s house and we were all together and I heard her. It was like she was screaming “Hello love! Hello love! Hello love!” really loudly all night! I realized that she was upset that she wasn’t there. I haven’t heard her since.

Have you always believed in ghosts, ever since you were younger?

I didn’t believe or not believe, I had never experienced it before so I didn’t know. I just find it super interesting that both of my grandmothers visited me in such different ways and I wasn’t expecting either of them. Both of them were completely out of my control, it wasn’t anything that I had conjured up.

After having experiences with ghosts, did you find that your religion or belief in the afterlife changed at all?

It didn’t really change anything as much is it solidified the fact that I am spiritual and open minded that I don’t really know what happens, but we’ve got this energy in our bodies, in our mind and our thoughts and our feelings, and that has to go somewhere. I guess I have always believed in the concept of the soul being made up of all of the intangible parts of us. That has to go somewhere. I think that’s what was still around when they visited me.

 

Analysis

Lisa, the mother of my best friend, stated before the interview how excited she was to tell me all about her ghost story. As I asked her more about her spiritual views, it seemed as though she was very intact with her beliefs and that she has thought about how important her beliefs are to her. She stated also that she was not very religious, but I think that the way she spoke about her beliefs and how passionate she was about the soul and the energy in humans made her sound that she had constructed her own religion. Lisa was very open to talking about her experiences and was very comfortable asking all of my questions. It is fascinating that she had encounters with 3 different grandparents. Both of her grandmother’s seemed to have come to her in a very personalized manner, she could smell one of them, the other greeted her like how she did when she was younger. Her grandfather did not portray any characteristics of his life besides his appearance to her grandmother. All three of the encounters sounded very important to Lisa, and she sounded very comforted to know that her last memories with her loved ones may not always actually be her last. The sensory experiences that she had, between sight, smell, and auditory, all seemed to affect her in a different way. The lingering smell of her grandmother Emma made her very unsettled, while the soft voice of her Grammy comforted her a lot.

A key detail that came up was Emma’s appearance around Christmas time, as well as Grammy’s voice at Christmas Eve. I told Lisa about how Christmas is the Germanic Winter Solstice and about how it is a very liminal time period, similar to the liminal lives of ghosts in between the living and the dead. She immediately got excited about the information, hoping that next Christmas she may have another experience.

Folk Beliefs
general

Artificial Intelligence or a Spirit of the Deceased?

As soon as one passes over the Cascade mountains in Washington heading East, the land becomes very barren and rural. Wenatchee is a small town in Eastern Washington known as ‘The Apple Capital of the World’, and my mom grew up on a large orchard in the heart of the town. She was the youngest of three children, following 12 years from her older sister, so she practically grew up an only child and thought of herself as the most spoiled. Her parents were Betty Anne Recchia and Germano Recchia; her mom was Norwegian; her father was 100% Italian. Her father, a veteran of World War II, worked in Alcoa, an Aluminum factory as my mom was growing up, while also tending to their orchard and horses. My mom loved riding her horses and on sunny days in the summers, her fondest memories were of her and her dad riding through the orchard and afterwards sitting in lawn chairs, drinking iced tea that her mom would make, and listening to Jorge Negrete’s record. Her favorite song was ‘El Rancho Grande’. Her father was hardworking and often times very stern with her, so they butted heads a lot as she grew up. They were close, but he was also a stoic and had issues showing his emotions. She claimed that how they found common ground while she was growing older was by listening to ‘El Rancho Grande’ together.

My mom went to college at the University of Washington in Seattle and left the small town of Wenatchee behind. She visited her parents when she could, but their relationship grew very distant once she had kids and settled down in the city. Germano passed away in 2004 from a heart attack. My mom thinks it was because of how much Kentucky Fried Chicken he would eat. This past year, her mom passed away from Alzheimer’s. Having the death of another parent, my mom decided to look through their memorabilia box in our kitchen. She pulled out old photo albums filled with black and white polaroid pictures of her parents on road trips all over the country, her dad’s metals from the war, and all of her mom’s old china. As she was reminiscing, she heard a noise coming from the living room. She was startled and started walking into the other room to find that Alexa, a speaker and personal assistant device created by Amazon, had started playing ‘El Rancho Grande’ quietly. My mom was taken back to sitting with her dad in the orchard, and drinking her mom’s iced tea. She was convinced that it was her parents telling her they were still with her.

Analysis

My mom is still very sensitive talking about her parents, her mom especially as she died this past summer. When she originally told me this story, she was beyond excited and would not stop talking about how her mom and dad were still with her. She had never believed in ghosts before, but she is incredibly religious. She always would remind my sisters and I after our grandma died that she would always be looking over us. Having this experience, my mom seemed even more convinced that the dead are always watching down over the living.

general

Text from the Grave

Ben grew up in a crowded suburb to the East of Seattle where three rival high schools sat within a mile of each other. In a small, conservative, and happy town, even a small high school party would get reported and shut down in a matter of minutes. In the summer of 2015, the three high schools decided to join together to have some of the biggest parties the Eastside had ever heard of. They were thrown at a secluded, rocky beach on the Snoqualmie River. The beach was difficult to navigate, with plenty of steep hills, rocks, and trees to climb through before arriving. The kids organized a DJ, booze, and even a professional photographer on top of that.

The parties happened on the first Saturday of every month and were the most highly anticipated events for most high school kids. Ben and two of his best friends, Joey and Brandon, had never been to any of the parties before, but Ben claimed that “the parties were said to be the best way to meet up with the hottest girls on the Eastside”, so naturally the three boys planned on going. The beach was about thirty minutes from Beaver Lake, the neighborhood where the boys all lived. The trip to the party consisted of windy roads on dark, back road streets. Joey drove them all to the party and Ben said it was the most fun he had all of high school. Ben and Brandon were juniors going into their senior year, while Joey had just graduated high school and was planning on going to the Arizona State University. The night was going well when all of a sudden Joey realized that he was going to miss his curfew, so he found Ben and Brandon and asked if they were going to come home with him. Both of them were talking to a group of girls and decided they would stay at the party and just spend the night in one of their friend’s car parked on the street. Despite having a few drinks, Joey decided that he was going to drive home so he wouldn’t get in trouble with his parents.

That was the last Ben and Brandon would ever see Joey. He died after speeding on a back road, only 10 minutes away from his house, and crashing into the tree. He died on impact and the car was practically  wrapped around the trunk of the tree.

The following week, all three high schools joined together for a vigil for Joey. Ben had been racking his brain all week about what he could have done to save his friend. On the day of the vigil, he received a text message from Joey’s phone saying ‘don’t forget to shoot’, a funny saying he and Joey had from their middle school basketball team, and Ben had an eerie but comforting feeling that Joey was standing with him on the football field that day. All of the students released white balloons into the sky for Joey, and that was the last time Ben had ever heard from him.

Analysis

Ben and I went to middle school and high school together, and although I did not know the victim of the incident personally, it still had a huge impact on my community and many of my friends. Ben sounded still very traumatized by the experience, and as soon as he started speaking about the story, his voice had a hint of guilt in it. When he started talking about the text message itself, he got very restless and seemed very nervous about it. From he body language, it was unclear whether or not he was comforted by the fact that his friend had come back to reassure him, or if it only made Ben more upset. Another thing I found interesting is that Ben had told very few people from our high school about this experience. I remember he had told me this story right after it happened and he was very secretive about the experience, as if expecting that people would think he was crazy if they knew that he was getting texts from dead people.

general

The Box

Ghost Story:

I was about 2 -years-old and we were living in Long Beach, California, in a little one-story story house. It had 3 bedrooms and was in kind of a sketchy neighborhood, it was a few streets over from the Compton area. We were having the house inspected and appraised because we were selling it to move. They put this huge device in the guest bedroom. It measured something in the house, I really wish I could remember what is was but I’m not sure. It was basically just a massive, heavy box. The people told us that it had to stay in the room untouched for the next 48-hours and not to touch it or go into the guest room. My mom told them that neither of them were strong enough to move it anyways. My dad was out of town, and it was just my mom and I. A few days later, they came back and asked if we had touched the box or done anything to it. My mom responded that they hadn’t disturbed the box or had anyone over that might have accidently gone into the room. The workers said that on record, the device showed that the box had been lifted up and flipped over 148 times. Like completely picked up and rotated 148 times. I’m not really sure what ended up happening, but I know that that room was known to be haunted. Alarms would go off, the lights would flicker at random hours of the night.

Did you know anything about previous residents of the house?

No I had no idea, I don’t remember much because I was also really young. I know that there was just a lot of crime in our area.

Did your mom ever feel scared in the house?

Yea, she just felt unsafe, mainly because of the neighborhood. She felt especially scared when my dad was gone.

 

Analysis

Sarah and I grew up in the same neighborhood in North Bend, Washington and continued to go to high school together. She has always been superstitious and easily frightened. When she was telling me her ghost story, she spoke of the events very nonchalantly, as though she had accepted what had happened despite having very few answers. The fact that she was so young when it happened could play a role, but she sounded like she was not affected by her experience at all. Although I know that she is very religious, I asked her how her experiences affected her religious beliefs and she couldn’t really explain it. It seemed as though she hadn’t even though that her belief in ghosts would influence her opinion of the afterlife. She seemed to not find a connection between the two at all. Once I asked her the question, she was very surprised and caught off guard that I would ask her a religious question, then she proceeded to brush it off. Sarah seemed to be scared when she said that her and her mom were alone in the house, and she made it very evident that her mom felt scared when her dad was out of town or at work. The fact that the box was placed in the ‘haunted’ guest room but her a lot on edge as well. Perhaps the fact that the room was for guests and did not really belong to anyone made it a prime location for a ghost to appear.

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