Date of Performance/Collection: November 2, 2011
Primary Language: English
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.