Author Archives: Jordan Feinerman

Abandoned Insane Asylum

When I first asked my friend Vance to tell me a ghost story he said he didn’t have one assuming that he needed to tell me a scary story that would freak me out. When I told him that it didn’t need to freak me out and he could just tell me any story that involves any type of ghost or something haunted, he immediately remembered the abandoned insane asylum in his town that served as such a significant high school memory. He warned me that it was not really a story but just an abandoned place that many people have gone into and experienced some weird paranormal activity. Vance told me about this place while we were eating dinner on a small table in the corner of Parkside where we could not be interrupted. And so his story begins…


Okay so um there’s an insane asylum behind my school and the kids from the school would go there just to like see if everything was real I guess. And there’s like this old lobotomy room and holding rooms for the insane people and it’s all blocked off because your not allowed to be in there because its technically trespassing. And so I’ve been there once with a few of my friends and we heard a door slam twice coming from upstairs which was weird because it was only me and my two friends there. We also heard noises that sounded like footsteps and it was just a weird feeling because we could sense and feel like someone was present other than us. I heard stories from a lot of other people who have been there that they heard doors open as well and just weird paranormal things happening. One of the stories I heard was that a group of kids went into the asylum and a few of them entered this lobotomy room and before the rest of the kids could enter the door randomly closed and locked and the kids were trapped inside for a good amount of time banging on the doors. After a few minutes the door just randomly unlocked and when the kids got out of the room they told the other kids that were outside the room that when they were trapped in the room they kept hearing sounds like knocks coming from the walls and footsteps coming from the ceiling. Not everyone who has been in this asylum has said that they heard these sounds but every single person who has gone in there has said that they felt some weird presence as if they were not the only ones in there. Basically it is said that when this asylum closed down a few patients were forgotten about in this place and that they died in there. I don’t know if that is necessarily true or not but that’s what it is known in my town and well people who go into this asylum say that they can either hear these people making noises like slamming doors and walking or just feel these peoples’ presence.


When I asked Vance about this asylum’s role and impact in his town he told me that it is basically just a rundown place that was built in the 50s and happens to be a common, well known “haunted place” that most of the town knows about and shares stories about if they have dared to go in there. He told me that it is a common activity to do on Halloween and that after people have gone in there on Halloween there are always cool stories about what these people have experienced. Visiting this insane asylum is also an activity that a lot of high school kids do because not only is the asylum located right behind the high school, but it serves as a sort of a tradition for kids (mostly guys) to do once they enter high school. Vance said that it’s a tradition because it’s a pretty scary experience that serves as a sort of “initiation” into high school. This haunted place is significant in Vance’s life because he experienced this place when going into freshman year of high school so he had a feeling of acceptance in high school knowing that he was among the rest of the guys being able to share and bond over this scary experience.


Vance’s ghost story is a typical ghost story that involves an abandoned place with a mysterious past. Since this place is an insane asylum its past must involve a lot of crazy and paranormal activity, which results in its association with being “haunted”. That alone sets the tone for a ghost story because people are more likely to have weird, out of the ordinary experiences being in an abandoned place that feels haunted. People are more likely to change their beliefs based on condition and I think the condition of this place causes people to belief in these “ghosts” and therefore experience this paranormal activity. Since this insane asylum was abandoned, there is a lot of mystery about what took place there as well as the outcome of the inmates. This idea of the inmates having “unfinished business” acts as the main motif of this ghost story, causing the presence of these spirits to haunt this insane asylum and spook out visitors, such as Vance and his friends. Also, Vance’s story is a key example of a memorate, in which each high school kid who went into this asylum and had these weird experiences was then reassured by the story of this abandoned asylum and its history of the unfinished business of its inmates.  In result, this reassurance helped carry on the insane asylum’s legend as well as justify each high school kids’ experience.

Gravity Hill

I initially asked my friend Andrew to tell me a ghost story because he has always been telling me that in high school him and his friends would always do such crazy, rebellious activities that would freak him and his friends out, so I assumed he must have partaken in some haunted, scary experience. When I asked him he initially thought of the spookiest area in his town, which is this gravity hill on Loma Alta Drive in Pasadena. We sat in my room and decided to close the lights and put one lamp on in order to set the mood for him to scare me out with this ghost story. Although this ghost story is pretty spooky, it did not scare me! And so the story begins…


Okay so there’s this hill by my house in Pasadena, California, called Altadena Gravity Hill…and umm its supposed to be haunted because supposedly there was a bus full of children there a long time ago and it broke down on the hill so I think like the children got out to help push the bus but instead of going forward the bus rolled back down the hill and ran over all the children. There’s this myth that if you like put baby powder on the back of your car window you can see the children’s hands. I don’t know, I heard from one of my brother’s friends that they did that and they saw the hands but I don’t know because I never tried it. But basically the way you like experience that it’s haunted is you drive your car up this hill…umm…and then when you get to a certain spot you stop or you take your car out of gear and you stop pressing on the gas and then umm…like it’s a really steep hill so you should roll back down the hill but for some reason…like what it feels like is someone is behind the car pushing you up. That is said to be the children pushing you up the hill. I know that when I went I felt like there was some presence behind the car pushing you and at one point I felt a tap on the back of the window and I could have sworn that I saw a hand outline on the window. My friend went once and said that like he saw a ghost behind his car and it looked like a small child but he might have just been freaking out because he knows that place is haunted. However, I heard from many people who visited the site that they have either seen a handprint, an outline of a ghost, or at least felt some sort of presence behind the car pushing it so it wont roll back down.


Andrew said that this haunted place is a well-known spot in his town because supposedly it is said that the bus full of children came from the main elementary school of his town, and so this story has always been told on Halloween starting in elementary school. Andrew also said that it’s a popular activity for high school kids to do especially on Halloween because it freaks everyone out and it’s just a fun, bonding experience to have with your friends. Most of the high school kids do it once they get their license although most kids’ parents tell them not to do it. So it’s a sort of rebellious activity. Andrew told me that he experienced this once he got his own car and his friends dared him to go there. He went with two of his friends and although he had fun, he was freaked out and said that he would never do it again.


Since there are a lot of gravity hills in different locations I was wondering if there were any other versions of the story that Andrew has heard. He told me that he once heard that there was this high school girl who took her parents’ car out for a joy ride with some friends and that something happened with the car where it spun out of control on the hill. The car rolled back down, crashed, and now the girl and her friends’ spirits haunt the spot on the hill. Andrew told me that he only heard this story once from one of his dads’ friends but that the story with the bus filled with children was more common in his town.


This story that Andrew told me has many elements of a ghost story such as the liminal location of the hill as well as a back-story of killed children that involves unfinished business and improper burial, which act as main motifs of this ghost story. Because there is a history of unfinished business taking place on this hill it makes sense that ghosts would haunt this place, and that Andrew and his friends would sense this presence and experience these paranormal activities. Because some sort of spirit is supporting the car from rolling down the hill, it brings up the idea of a guardian angel, which could also act as a significant motif in this story. This ghost story is interesting because no matter what the main reason is for these spirits to haunt this hill, the spirits act in accordance with the living, preventing them from rolling back down the hill and eventually dying.