Author Archives: Nimisha Patil

Sunnyvale Ghost: A Story Behind It

This story is told by a girl who grew up in Sunnyvale, California.


“Ok, so like in Sunnyvale, there’s this “Toys R Us,” and it’s haunted. Like, you can look it up, it’s haunted. Anyways, this is the story I know behind it. So, Sunnyvale is known for its cherry orchards, and there was this, like, big cherry orchard. And um, something happened…the daughter of the owner of the orchard was killed. I think it was because she wanted to marry someone, and the father was like ‘No, you can’t do that,’  because the guy was an Indian or something – Native American – and so she killed herself by hanging herself in the orchard. Then later, the cherry orchard was torn down because the father was full of grief or something. And then, um, the “Toys R Us” was built right on top of it, like right where the cherry orchard used to be. So there are all these accounts of ghost stuff in the “Toys R Us” now, cuz the girl…she lives in the bathroom, in one of the bathrooms. So like, the faucets turn on and off without anyone there, and like it’s always so weird because when you drive by it [the store], the lights are always on – like, all the time…even at night, when it’s closed, because of the ghost. And one time, my mom was walking by one of the aisles and she walked by this toy that wasn’t automated or censored or anything, and the toy just turned on. Like it turned on and started moving all by itself. It was so weird. So we think it was the ghost, but I don’t know.”


This narrative seems very typical of a ghost story. It has the motif of tragic lovers, two people who were separated due to racial differences. The suicide at the now-haunted site is also very typical. The spirit of the forlorn girl now haunts the toy store built on the site of the orchard.

I collected this story one sunny afternoon, so the atmosphere was not what you would typically expect during a ghost story. This probably partially contributed to the girl’s casual and nonchalant attitude while telling this story. She seemed to take it very lightly and just told the story in a matter-of-fact sort of tone. However, when telling the part about how her mom walked by a toy that turned on by itself, she got more animated and into the story. She claims that she “believes in ghosts as a joke.”

It is also interesting to note that she explains, “This is the story I know behind it,” meaning that she acknowledges the fact that may be other stories behind the same haunting.

The Organ Ghost

This story is told by a girl who used to go to Holy Names Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school in Seattle, Washington.


“They [the school teachers] told us this story once. There was a girl that used to go to Holy Names – all-girls school, right? – and then she wanted to um…she, like, found a guy. She was gonna go get married. And they were gonna go get married at the chapel that was in the school, right? But her husband left her at the altar. And so, she became a nun, because she couldn’t get married to her first love, so she became a nun, and she was working at the school. And she would play the organ – cuz she could play the organ, right? – so she would play it for the different weddings and things like that. And, you know, when you’re playing the organ, you’re not facing anybody, you’re just facing the wall and the organ, right? And one day, she looked back during one of the weddings, and she sees the guy that she was supposed to marry marrying someone else. And she got really upset, and so she committed suicide. But now it’s like rumor that sometimes you can hear the organ being played throughout the school – like in the chapel, when there’s no one in there. I’ve heard it before when no one was supposed to be in the chapel and wasn’t sure what to make of it, but turns out the janitor was just messing around with us.”


I was surprised to collect this story from this girl. She claims that she “does not believe in ghosts, but is still scared of them”. She told me this story on the evening of Halloween, so the atmosphere was apt for the story. When telling the story, she seemed fascinated by it and expected me to share her fascination (as is indicated by the various times she asks “right?”). It seems interesting that although she claims to not believe in ghosts, she still is scared of them (especially during 3am, which she believes is the ghost hour), and is somehow still fascinated by this story. She even for a second wondered whether a ghost had actually been playing the organ instead of the janitor. This indicates that perhaps she is too scared to admit that she believes in ghosts, perhaps for fear of being made fun of or for fear that then the ghosts will be more apparent to her.

The narrative itself seems like a very typical ghost story, with the motif of a forlorn lover and a bride left at the altar who now haunts the place where her lover betrayed her. Furthermore, the fact that the teachers of the school tell this story and pass it on suggests that this story and this ghost are a part of that school and its community, which can bring the students together.