Tag Archives: ghost

Fort Ord Suicide Ghost Story

Main Piece:

Here is a transcription of my (CB) interview with my informant (HH).

CB: “Can you tell me about Fort Ord?”

HH: “Okay so i heard this story about the old Fort Ord barracks and how they got abandoned because there was this soldier who… um… was apparently was like ignored and really unhappy for a long time and he would like talk about seeing ghosts and a couple people thought that he was like maybe schizophrenic. But he…uh… he ended up hanging himself in the barracks in front of a bunch of his fellow soldiers. And then, after he died, a bunch of people would say that they could like still hear his warnings and like his stories of seeing things. And hear his footsteps. Its really simple and kinda stupid, but that’s what I heard about the old Fort Ord barraks. And thats why they had to shut everything down because it was like affecting their life and the government was getting backlash for it”

CB: “So, where did you hear this story?”

HH: “Um, it was from someone I knew in high school.”

CB: “What do you think is the meaning behind the story?”

HH: “Um, I think it was that um… the government doesn’t really care about our soldiers and their mental health”

CB: “Why do you think people tell the story”

HH: “I think that it’s still very much a problem. Like for soldiers who come back from active duty and they suffer from PTSD, they just don’t really have a lot of resources or outreach. Like they do now a little more that mental health is on the front line of peoples worries, but even now i still think soldiers are kinda shamed for having it.”

Background:

My informat grew up in Salinas, California, which is just minutes from Fort Ord. The fort was abandoned in the 90’s, and there have been all sorts of mysterious stories about the abandonment. The community had a very close relationship with the The old barracks of the fort are a known hangout spot for teens, and with that comes all sorts of ghost stories.

Context:

I had actually called my informant’s mother to interview her about folklore, but my informant overheard the conversation and told me this story. My informant and her mom were in the car, and they told me this story while driving around Salinas. The conversation was fun and casual.

Thoughts: 

I think that ghost stories naturally present themselves whenever there is an abandoned structure. I think that ghost stories are particularly common when dealing with american teen culture.  However, I think that it’s really interesting what the stories reveal about what that culture values at that time. Most of the ghost stories that I’ve heard place little emphasis on who the ghost used to be, just on the death and the haunting. But this story explains a history of untreated mental illness as the reason for the death, and possibly even the haunting. It places a clear blame on the US government for neglecting their soldiers. A lot of the more recent movements for mental health awareness and help have been led by young people, and so it makes sense that the folklore that young people tell would begin to incorporate their values.

Old Stage Road Hanging Tree

Main Piece:

Here is a transcription of my (CB) interview with my informant (CH).

CH: “So Old Stage Road runs along back behind, you remember my grandma’s house? It runs out there, but connects you now to what’s called Salinas Road, but it used to be called Old Stagecoach Road and it would get you all the way to San Juan Bautista and to Hollister, and it’s now a historic road in San Juan Bautista, but its blocked off to a certain point here in Salinas. And so on the road there’s this hangman tree that was apparently used quite a bit, there were quite a few unfortunate events. And I’m assuming that it probably goes back pretty far. And supposedly if you were driving by this tree at night and you would flash your lights, then a body would fall, like you could see him fall on a noose. And it was an apparition so of course you’d drive right through it.”

CB: “Why do you think that people tell that sort of story?”

CH: “I think there must be more history with that tree, you know actual history. Because like there was a cross that was under that tree. And so you have kids who want to go and desecrate it because like, they’d go oh it was just a tale. And then you have other kids who’d be like oh no you don’t mess with that because my aunt or my grandma or whoever told me that there were actual murders there and you need to be respectful. Honestly when I was younger I thought that it was just lore people made up to be afraid of.”

CB: “Do you know where you heard the story?”

CH: “Oh gosh. It’s a story that’s been told by many people, you know classmates, or people older than me, there’s no one particular story everyone in the community just knows about it and has a different take on it. I think that some people tell it for reverence, you know. Whatever ever happened in that tree was a terrible thing. But I think that other people tell it because they just want to have something cool to talk about to kinda creep you out.”

Background:

My informant grew up in Salinas, and was raised by her mother and grandmother who grew up in the area as well. As a kid and teenager she spent a large amount of her time at or around Old Stage Road. The ghost stories surrounding the road are so notorious that I’ve heard many of them without having lived in Salinas, or ever even been to the road. Old Stage Road was a very popular teenage hangout spot, particularly in the 80’s for cruising. 

Context:

I interviewed my informant over the phone, and we had a light and casual conversation. I had heard of the road and that it was haunted many times before, but this was the first time I heard the details of some of the stories associated with the road.

Thoughts:

I think that it’s most interesting that the stories surrounding Old Stage Road are often associated with a car. This story in particular discusses how you would only see the ghost after flashing your car’s headlights. I think this association reflects the importance of teenage car culture as my informant was growing up. My informant also discusses how she believes that the ghost stories reflect a reverence for the history of the tree. I personally know that the tree is associated with past hate crimes, and do the ghost stories act as a reminder of the injustices of the past. In this way, the ghost stories are a warning against repeating past mistakes, and reflect a large social intolerance for similar behaviors.

For another variation of Old Stage Road haunting see Reddit post “Old Stage Road” posted by u/moonriver7811. https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/2op9ed/old_stage_road/

Korean Sink Ghost

Text:

Informant: There’s this nice ghost who lives under the sink and if you leave leftover food in your bowl it will go down the drain and it will choke the ghost. The ghost will be miserable. It’s a happy ghost that brings joy and luck to the household, but if you leave food on your plate and it goes down in the sink then the ghost, it’s a very tiny spirit, will be choked. The spirit will die and it won’t bring any happiness to the home. I think it’s told to keep kids tidy because it’s very clean in Korea. Like we don’t even put food in the sink. That’s not something we do. We dispose of food separately, and I think parents tell their kids this to help them to learn to throw things away right. 

Context: I asked a group of friends to share any superstitions they were raised with. This was one of their replies. The informant is of Korean descent and was raised in both Korea and China.

Thoughts:

This is clearly a very modern superstition, but it feels old. It seems cleat to me that it was made by a parent to keep their child from clogging the drain.

Disneyland’s Haunted Haunted Mansion

An interview with a Disney Cast Member, KS, about the Haunted Mansion Attraction at Disneyland.

Text:

KS: The Haunted Mansion is the second most Haunted Attraction, the first is Winnie the Pooh. In the Haunted Mansion there is a legend of some old lady. Some dead grandma. These people brought Dead Grandma’s ashes and chucked them on the ride, and we just sweep them up and get them out of there. It’s not our problem. But, anyway, apparently Old Lady decided to stick around in the building ‘cause you’ll see some lady who’ll walk through the queue. You won’t see her in the elevators, but she’ll appear in the hallways. She’s like this old lady in old tiny clothing. I don’t know what era, but old clothing. She’ll go on the ride, wait in the queue, she’ll get on the buggy, she’ll go all the way around and then that buggy will come back empty. We can tell when a buggy was left empty both on accident and on purpose, it’s never either when it comes to the old lady. She’s picked up on the cameras as getting in the buggy, but at some point during the ride she’ll disappear. 

Me: Do you have any experience with the Old Lady?

KS: I work in the loading bay. It’s this little hallway where we store wheelchairs and it feels super haunted. I was standing right in front of that hallway and I felt this cold wind push me back even though there’s no way wind could be there. I started to feel super nauseous. Then the winds came from behind me again, then suddenly the wind stopped and I felt fine. I’m not saying it was the old lady messing with me, but it makes sense to me. Old lady dies, we sweep her up, and throw her away. She see me and is like “oh you got rid of my dust. I’m gonna mess with you now. 

Me: Were you the one, specifically, to get rid of her? 

K: Oh, no. This happened in like the eighties before I was born. We all just look the same. The costumes haven’t changed much.

Context:

I asked a friend who currently works at Disneyland if the Haunted Mansion was actually haunted, and this is what they had to say.

Thoughts:

I find it very interesting that the “Haunted” Mansion, despite having a well known ghost attached to, is not regarded as the most haunted attraction. I’ve heard of the Haunted Mansion ghost, but never of the Winnie the Pooh haunting.

Davy Crockett Hotel Haunting

Context:

The informant–ZG– is an 18 year old male born and raised in San Antonio Texas. The hotel he references, the Crockett Hotel, is located in downtown San Antonio and was founded in 1836. David “Davy” Crockett (1786-1836) was an American frontiersman.

Piece:

So I’m born in San Antonio Texas and I’ve been raised here most my life and I love this city. An interesting aspect is that we have a lot of ghost stories and hauntings in our city. We’re famously known for the Alamo, but we have this Davy Crockett conspiracy that he haunts the Crockett Hotel. Personally, I’ve never stayed a night there but it’s in the midst of downtown and has this giant green neon sign. And rumor has it that the night at 3:14 am if I remember correctly he will knock on your door. I would really like to think that they hire someone to stay up at 3:14 in the morning and go around knocking on people’s doors. I think that would be hilarious. But maybe it is the infamous Davy Crockett and his soul. 

Analysis:

The ghost stories of San Antonio seem to a point of pride, at least through the informant’s telling of the ghost story, for the city. Despite being born in Tennessee, San Antonio tries Davy Crockett’s ghost due to his part in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836.

The Return of a Dead Friend?

Main Piece

The following is transcribed from a story told by the informant, DH.

DH – So when I was 16, I lost one of my best friends in car crash. And every time my friend and I would drive by the place of crash we would say “we love you (*name*)” and look up to sky. So a year had passed and it was the anniversary of his death. We were driving on that same road, and I had a cassette tape playing. It just so happened to be playing his favorite song. Right when we approached the exact spot of the crash, the favorite line of the song was playing. My friend and I said, “we love you (*name*)” and all of a sudden the tape made a static sound and the cassette popped out of the player.  We pulled over and looked at each other and started to cry. We also looked at the cassette tape, and there was no crease or anything that would have caused it to pop out of the cassette deck.  We put the tape back in and rewound it, and it played just fine.  We think this was definitely a sign from him, as everything had lined up perfectly.  The location, the song, the line from the song, and then the tape popping out.

Background: The informant of the story says to have experienced this first hand when she was 17 years old. She often tells it because it was the craziest occurrence in her life and often thinks about it when she returns to her hometown in northern California. She is also reminded of it when that song happens to play on the radio. 

Context: The informant had told me this story when we drove past the exact spot on our way home from the Bay Area. 

My Thoughts: Personally, this piece of lore creeps me out. I’m not sure wether I believe it or not, but yet again I don’t see why her or her friend would make it up. If anything, this story really makes me believe in ghosts, because there is no way this happened by coincidence. It also makes me wonder if only certain people are able to experience ghosts. This same informant has had many different occurrences like this, and I have another friend who has as well. I, however, have never experienced a paranormal activity like this before. It is also interesting to think about why ghosts would come back and show signs like that. Are they trying to pass a message? Why can’t they just talk? It is an interesting topic to think about for sure.

Lavinia Fisher- Southern Legend

Main Piece:

Subject: There was a traveller coming into downtown Charleston everyday to do business during the year… I’m gonna say 1850. He was coming from the North, from around Georgetown, and back in the olden’ days unless you wanted to add like, a couple days to your trip to go up the Cooper River and find a crossing, you’d have to stop… in somewhere that is now Mt. Pleasant and spend the night to cash a boat to get to Downtown Charleston the next day. So sure enough this is what he had to do. He stopped in an inn run by husband and wife John and Lavinia Fisher. And there were always rumors that circled around this couple, but it was mostly just gossip, not much of any real substance. They had a really crazy reputation… The wife- Lavinia- was supposedly one of the most beautiful women anyone had ever seen. Whereas John was this big, quiet, intimidating, imposing presence. No one paid him any attention when Lavinia was at his side. So… this traveller stops in this inn, hitches his horse, comes inside, and is greeted by Lavinia. She takes his coat, John takes his stuff up to his room…um… and the traveller is intrigued at first. He’s like “I’ve heard so many things about this couple, I’m just gonna observe and play along and see if I can tell any gossip to people I’m doing business with tomorrow in Charleston.”

Everything goes smoothly until they sit down for dinner with a few other boarders. And the traveller realizes John and Lavinia are angling their questions mostly at him. Um… and the questions are never innocent questions. They were like… “Do you have a family?” “What is your business in Charleston?” Things like “Is anyone expecting you home and how much money are you carrying?” He started to get weirded out. The boarders all go to bed, John and Lavinia stay up with the traveller. Lavinia then offers him a cup of tea! Not wanting to be rude, he accepts it. And the traveller, so as not to raise any suspicion, pretends to drink it. At this point, he’s unsettled but he also already paid for his room. And he’s thinking, “I could just be freaking myself out because yeah I’ve heard things about these people… about their guests going missing. But like… no one does that! They’re just being nice and I’m being paranoid.” But he goes to bed that night and finds that he cannot sleep. Then he hears footsteps like, outside his room, and he recognizes them as John’s. So he hops out of bed and hides behind the chair in his room. The footsteps go away and he stands up. Then he looks out the window to make sure his horse is still hitched. Then he hears this like, giant clatter, and the whole room shakes. When he looks back to his bed, there’s just an empty void in the floor. So he’s like, “I’m out.” So he hops out his window, jumps on his horse, and just books it to the dock, where he is the first person on the boat a couple hours later.

When he gets to Charleston, he tells the authorities there’s some shady stuff going down in the room. So they authorities go to the Inn, and they find… that all of the beds… are equipped with this mechanism that like… drops their guests into this murder dungeon! And they find like twelve bodies! Like this is real. John was executed, Lavinia had to watch. John’s neck didn’t break immediately, and he struggled for like… minutes. And Lavinia watched. And when it was her turn- by the way as the first woman executed in America- she looked to the crowd of curious onlookers and said… this is crazy… So Lavinia looks to the crowd of curious, morbid onlookers and she says, “If any of you have a message for the devil, tell it to me now, for I will be seeing him soon.” And then that bitch was hanged. And… she apparently still haunts the jail. 

Interviewer: Holy shit.

Subject: I know I know! I loved this legend as a little girl. I think my grandma first told it to me. My grandma is like super southern. And like yeah… Lavinia is terrifying but that last line always hit so hard. I think that’s why I remember it so well.

Context: The subject is a 23-year-old white woman born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. She is of French Huguenot descent and her ancestors settled in Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana. She is currently quarantining at her home in Charleston with her family. She is a close family friend, and knowing she and the rest of her family have deep ties with Southern history and folklore, I called her up over FaceTime and asked if she would mind sharing any legends she knew.

Interpretation: I too was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, and am all too familiar with the legend of Lavinia Fisher. This particular legend seems to be heavily commercialized in the Charleston tourism industry. I first heard it when I went on a walking ghost tour with three other tourists. Though much of this legend seems to have a factual historical basis, I know that certain elements are dramatized. Lavinia and John actually ran an inn, actually murdered people, and were actually executed. But I have heard differing iterations of the legend from the subject’s version. For example, rather than the subject’s account of Lavinia’s final words, I have heard the version, “I you have a message you want to send to Hell- give it to me. I’ll carry it.” Additionally, the concept of the beds opening up to a deadly dungeon is not necessarily based in fact, and was likely added into the legend through the years for dramatic effect. While the subject mentions only twelve bodies, other accounts mention hundreds. There is also the well known claim that Lavinia wore her wedding dress to her execution. And so on and so forth, the variations go.

Regardless, the most fascinating aspect of the legend is how much of it is based on fact, which is quite a lot of it.

For more on Lavinia, see:

Weiser, Kathy. “Lavinia Fisher.” Legends of America, 19 Dec. 2019, www.legendsofamerica.com/sc-laviniafisher/.

Annabel Lee

Main Piece:

Charleston is known to be like one of the most haunted cities in America, because there have been lots of tragedies like fire, earthquake, and more crazy stuff. So there are ghost tours all around the city, and a lot of places are supposedly haunted. One spot that’s pretty famous is the Unitarian Church graveyard. People claim to have seen a young woman there at night, and that woman is supposedly the ghost of Annabel Lee. There’s an old Charleston story, like Antebellum era, where a Virginian sailor falls in love with Annabel Lee, a sweet Charleston girl, while he was stationed in this city. But her father disapproved, and while separated she died of syphilis. Where it gets interesting is that Edgar Allan Poe wrote a poem about Annabel Lee. Poe was actually enlisted in the navy and was actually stationed in Charleston, and he met his wife Virginia there. His wife also died young from tuberculosis, and people speculate how Poe wrote the poem based on the local Charleston legend and combining it with his own story. The poem is also the last thing Poe ever wrote, he died two days after finishing that poem. So when people say they see the ghost of Annabel Lee, it’s more likely that it’s actually the ghost of Virginia, because Annabel Lee was a fictional character.

Background:

My informant currently resides in Los Angeles, but was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. Sullivan’s Island, a region in Charleston, is where the historic forts used during the colonial era. This region has rich history and lore about spirits and ghosts, and it’s also where my informant is from. Ghost stories of Charleston, from what my informant has described to me, are very common and are tossed around especially amongst younger children. While not all of the residents of Charleston may believe these stories, the city still attracts plenty of tourists enticed by these spirits.

Context:

The conversation took place at my apartment in Los Angeles, and no other person was present during our conversation. It was a comfortable setting with no notable distractions.

My thoughts:

I found this piece particularly interesting, more so than other ghost stories, because it’s a mixture of actual folklore and literature. The myth of Annabel Lee predated Poe, but it was his poem that made this story mainstream to the rest of the world. And because his poem was so heavily based on his own life, it resulted in an interesting amalgamation of an author inserting himself into a folklore to enrich the myth even further.

The Black Dog

Main Piece:

My grandma would tell me these stories about black dogs, or the black dog I guess. Basically, she said that when you see the black dog, it’s a sign of bad luck or death. It’s not just any black dogs, but you would know if you see one because this dog has red eyes and would just randomly appear and disappear without you noticing. The Black Dog apparently is a ghost who works for the Devil himself, and seeing the Dog basically means that the Devil will eventually get to you. She told me this story of when she was little, she visited her dead grandparents at a graveyard. She supposedly saw the Black Dog there, and apparently she lost her aunt from a cancer a few months after. I haven’t bothered to check up on how true the story was, but it did scare me when I was little. My family even avoided getting a black colored dog when we first got our puppy. My dog is beige.

Background:

My informant is of Irish and Scottish descent, his parents being immigrants from those respective countries. He grew up heavily influenced by both cultures, and he’s told me that he relates more with Irish and Scottish cultures more so than Irish American or Scottish American identities. The Black Dog is a popular motif and a mythical creature in European countries, especially in Britain, Scotland, and Wales. While the details of the story varies per region, but in general the Black Dog is believed to bring terrible news. It’s also the motif behind the famous Sherlock Holmes story “the Hound of the Baskervilles”.

Context:

The informant relayed this piece of information during our lunch at my apartment, near USC campus. There no other people present during our talk, and we were dining as we talked. It was a comfortable setting.

My thoughts:

Because there’s so much cultural positive rep for dogs in western viewpoint, I found it fascinating that there’s a very old and famous European belief that a dog could ever be this sinister and evil. The color black being associated with Satan and the Devil seemed appropriate for Europeans to do so. From my understanding, to say “I have a black dog” nowadays means that someone suffers from depression, and it was helpful to understand where the phrase originated from.

For more information on the Black Dog, please see:

Quaile, Sheilagh. “The black dog that worries you at home: The Black Dog Motif in Modern English Folklore and Literary Culture.” The Great Lakes Journal of Undergraduate History, vol.1 article 3, 2013.

The Ghosts of Cheesman Park: Haunting in Colorado

Background: CW Originally heard the story from their father and once from their grandmother, positioning the story as fairly old within the history of Cheesman. CW Then looked it up on google to confirm it. CW Finds the story interesting and “Kind of messed up, to be honest” it matters to them because they lived in a haunted place and had a friend who was extremely interested in ghost hunting.
——————————————————————————————————————–
Context CW, with a mug of hot tea sits, on my couch after an afternoon of doing homework and recounts stories from their childhood. The atmosphere is calm, the air is calm and the room is mostly quiet in between stories. CW has known the collector for some time and thus is excited to share their stories.

Performance:
CW:The park that I used to live by is supposedly super haunted because it used to be a cemetery
MW: Aw Hell yeah!
CW: CHEESMAN PARK
MW: Cheesman Park?
CW Cheesman Park.
CW: OK Cheesman park used to be a cemetery I don’t remember when but the …..the city was like “Hey why don’t we not make this a cemetery”
CW: Cause ok it was a cemetery for un unn, like you know like people who weren’t paying for a burial
MW: A potters field?
CW Yeah, and also Asian Americans in Little Cheesman which is a part of Cheesman but it’s like a strip on the other side of the road. That’s where the Asian Americans people were. I think, if I’m remembering correctly Idunno.
CW:And so the city was like “Yeah we don’t want this to be a graveyard anymore so lets like”….I’m starting to doubt what I remember
MW: Just tell me what you remember
CW: So they hired someone to, like basically dig up all the graves. Buuut he was super sketchy and he would like mix the remains and pack them into child coffins to make more money off of it….[CW trails off, and laughs at my bewildered expression inn response to the exhuming ]
CW: But now supposedly Cheesman park is like super haunted because of all the graves that were disrupted.
CW: My friends told me if you lay down in Cheesman park you’ll feel like you can’t get back up because the spirits are trying to keep you there with them and definitely like a lot of weird noises
CW: Because I lived right on the park, I was pretty convinced they were some whack noises for the middle of ….Denver….the Gay Neighborhood of Denver, but yeah…spoooky.
——————————————————————————————————————–
Analysis:
The story plays on two key fears that might represent the anxieties in the Cheesman community, notably two different local marginalized groups at the time of the story’s conception, the poor and Asian Americans. These groups likely felt uncomfortable in the city anyway and made some of the majority uncomfortable with their presence thus the city’s desire to remove the cemetery can be seen as a drive to remove these people from the environment. The desecration of their graves, the stuffing of bones into childrens’ coffins serves to mimic the disrespect these communities received in life and why they’d be angry enough to trap someone in the park and force their victims to join their community. Likewise that Cheesmann is now “the gay neighborhood of Denver” the feeling of unrest and danger felt by the LGBT community there might to be an impetus for the survival of the story.