As I have mentioned for the last eleven months that I have lived in my home here on what I call Victory Lane, I have been experiencing what I would consider to be paranormal activity in the form of disembodied footsteps, whistling, voices, objects falling, unexplained smells, and perhaps the most notable of all, a window that opens all on its own.
We utilize the latest and most advanced digital cameras, audio recorders, video recorders, electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors, infrared thermometers, and other technological devices to capture physical evidence of the elusive paranormal. We also apply a healthy skepticism (not dismissive close-mindedness) and the scientific method to truly discern what is happening and determine whether or not something genuinely mysterious is happening or if it can be explained better by more natural and simpler means.
The history of the house, as told by legend from this tiny quiet street backed up into the hills is that it was built in 1954 by "Old Mr. Shoemaker" (name changed on my blog to protect exact location.) Shoemaker lived in the house that he built with his wife, and is reported to have built the first house on the street, soon followed by the rest. The land its self was known to be frequented by Serrano Indians and was a part of the trail blazed by the Mormon Settlers who were on their way to San Bernardino.
My neighbor, who has lived here for I don't know how many years, claims to have known Shoemaker. According to her, Shoemaker used to sit in the room I am in now, what would be the great room I suppose as it is off from a dining room area and contains a fireplace, and he would smoke his cigars over in the farthest corner of the room along the front wall, which is a wall of the original windows--the kind you'd find in the 50's that slide up rather than over. My neighbor claims that Mrs. Shoemaker would yell at her husband to open the window while he was smoking his cigars because of the smell. He also died in that very corner, in his cigar smoking chair.
After the Shoemakers (who I'm told had no children) no longer lived here, an old woman moved in. When she died, her children were quick to get rid of it to the current owners, who are my landlords.
I have known the current owners and this house since 1999 when I was dating their son Victor. I dated him for three years, and tragically he passed away a few years ago. Somehow in all the ways that life changes, Victor's family moved and allowed me to move in to their beloved house as a renter and caretaker. But while I was a guest of Victor's, he would tell me about "the ghost." He referred to him as Old Mr. Shoemaker (name changed, as I said before.) I don't recall everything Victor had told me back then, other than the smell of cigar and something about the wine cellar being "haunted."
All these years later, Victor's family will talk about Mr. Shoemaker as if he is very much a part of this household. He takes things and hides them. Can't find your keys? Ask Mr. Shoemaker to give them back. Oh and those footsteps in the other room? Shoemaker. Broken pipes, electrical problems, and probably tens of hundreds of things that are not the work of anything paranormal are blamed on our favorite scapegoat, Mr. Shoemaker.
I love this house. Love. This. House. I still will never understand why I am living here, what wonderful thing I would have done in life to deserve to wake up every morning to the sound of jays, woodpeckers, and the screech of the biggest red tailed hawks I've ever seen in my life. The view of the valley is breathtaking and twinkly at night, and you can see every single star. And the house its self is huge and gorgeous. 75% of it is the original hardwood flooring, and it has all these fantastic little 1950's quirks like the ironing board that comes out of the wall in my bedroom, or the skeleton key door in what is now the basement apartment but was once a wine cellar.
I get an overwhelming sense sometimes that I was always destined to be a caretaker of this house. Whether I had married Victor and was given the house that way, or this sort of bittersweet way that I ended up with it, I feel very much like this house--not so much was meant to be mine, but that I was meant to belong to it.
What I don't love: Being woken up in the middle of the night by footsteps. Being creeped out just being here alone because I feel like I'm not. Accusing my housemates of smoking cigars when none of them actually do, but I swear I smell it. Hearing children that are not mine.
And the thing is? I'm not the only one who hears it. My niece lived here for a time when I first moved in. She and I would be sitting in the kids' living room, which used to be a breezeway before Victor's family did some neat construction and turned this old place into a palace with a master suite. Well, what I consider a palace anyway. It's huge and old and my favorite place to be. Anyway, my niece and I would both hear footsteps coming from the great room. She even reported some large shadowy animal type thing in the back yard one night.
The first night we ever slept here, we had no beds yet and crashed on the kid's living room couches. The first words out of Willie's mouth upon waking up were "Okay. So there's more than one of them here, but they're all good." I'm starting to believe that Willie may be some kind of medium, but is at the very least he is very sensitive.
Oh Willie. When Willie talks about the house, the street, or Shoemaker or "whatever is here," he tears up. He gets emotional and can't seem to contain himself. On the other hand, the first night when an investigator came to interview me, Willie got an overwhelming sense that she needed to leave. Regardless of the fact that he of course was fully okay with this investigation, he was picking up on strong feelings of annoyance by her presence. Not to mention, the night of the actual investigation he decided to leave the room and go to bed because he again was feeling the strong sense that "these people need to get their equipment out of here and go," even though he was still very much on board 100% with this investigation.
Daryl and Raya, my basement dwellers, they saw things happening here before they ever moved in. There was one very specific incident where Daryl actually clearly saw a very tall shadow of a man (who was not Willie--come to think of it just now, Willie had ducked out to go to bed that night instead of staying up and visiting because Daryl, Raya, my niece and I and Willie were experiencing an incredible amount of odd paranormal things, including shadows and the footsteps. Weird.) Anyway, Daryl has also come up from his basement to investigate noises in the night--namely footsteps and laughing children--and one night there was an odd game of shuffle-around-the-disembodied-footsteps that led over to the window, to which Daryl replied "I'm game" in hopes that the window would open but instead got a puff of cigar smoke in his face.
Needless to say, we're all in agreement with what's going on here.
I have some audio recorded interviews of all of us talking about our experiences which I have under lock and key on a different password protected website. I do give out this link but not without some kind of merit as to your identity and that you don't mean to do me or my cohorts or Victor's family any harm or disrespect, as this is deeply, deeply personal for all of us. We live here.
But I do not mind sharing a few of the experiences off the top of my head, and going in to speak about my experience with having a paranormal investigation crew in my house talking to the "ghost" that "haunts" us. I believe in learning and experiencing and this was certainly a more notable experience than say, going to Disneyland or taking hallucinogenic mushrooms. I have been to Disneyland, but I have never taken mushrooms. But imagine if you did both of those things at the same time. That's the same kind of suspense and exhilaration I experienced last night when XParanormal came to confirm or deny our fears and doubts.
It is with great confusion, frustration, lethargy and a tinge of self doubt that I present to you: Investigation Part I.
Immediately one of the investigators had trouble. A light she pulled out of her bag that had been packed with fresh batteries now had dead batteries. The light flickered off and on a few times. But that was the end of the failing equipment to my knowledge.
They proceeded to take photos of my walls for insurance purposes, and Daryl told of his experience this past week.
Oh, the experience from this past week.
I guess it's normal for "things to get stirred up" when an investigator drops by. Well one night Daryl and Raya were in their room right below my boys' room and let me explain to you guys, the walls and floors here are thin and echoy. Daryl and Raya have learned to pinpoint which cat is walking around, my footsteps from Willie's, which boy just turned in his bed, which boy just farted. They're the ones who honestly honest to god hear 90% of the shit, including children playing with toys when my boys are clearly fast asleep.
So earlier this week when suddenly there was a sort of air like percussion of pressure in the center of their ceiling/the boys' floor that made a large cracking popping sound as if the ceiling was about to fall on them, they came upstairs. I didn't hear that part, but I did hear the door to the great room SLAM HARD while Raya was in the bathroom. Keep in mind that it's been cold at night so no windows were open to cause suction. Furthermore, Daryl went outside and he and I both heard what sounded like something running up and down the hall.
I'm telling you, if I am crazy, so is everyone else.
Except Willie, who slept through all of it.
Then again, Willie has been doing very weird things in his sleep lately, including but not limited to sleepwalking and getting ready for work in the middle of the night. He could just be stressed though.
Let me explain for a second about the EMF fields. I mean you can go read about what they are because technically I don't know what I'm talking about, but these are electromagnetic fields that are produced by things like appliances, electrical outlets, and Mr. Shoemaker. The crew uses these handy dandy devices to measure these fields, which aside from being caused by something (electrical or paranormal) can cause feelings of paranoia and headaches and hair loss, and maybe even more detrimental trouble to your health. It's nothing to joke about. And, after the first walkthrough we found out that there are a few spots in my house that have high EMF fields.
Most were explainable. My older son does not like to do his homework in the kitchen. Funny that, because right next to where he sits there is a fuse box that is putting out a 7.0. No wonder he can't concentrate. Oh, and my shower? The investigator asked "Do you ever feel paranoid in the shower?" Oh my god yes. I constantly think people are coming home or my phone is ringing, and truth be told I was afraid to use that shower at first. It's eerie. Victor's family rarely used it when they lived here. That shower is also putting off like a 7.0.
She said something about water magnifying things too. So that might or might not be explained away as just old house with EMF showers. I'm cool with it though. It's probably not good for me but, you know, neither is Dr. Pepper. I'm not going to stop showering in my private bathroom because it might give me cancer. Though I do lose enormous amounts of hair when I shower, so there is that. Then again, I'm very stressed right now in my life. It could be the Dr. Pepper as well.
They were very fair about checking out what shit could be. If there was a high EMF reading, was it because of something electrical? Is there something logical that is causing it?
The initial interview turned up three odd things to my knowledge. There may be stuff she didn't tell me, but I walked around with her and we talked about what was going on and what her readings were. Odd reading number three: My half sister's grandmother's wheat china scored a 4.0. This china was placed in my care around the time I got married, along with the china hutch, and a few years later the silver service. It is the china we eat our Thanksgiving meals on. Why it lit up with an EMF, I don't know for certain. And we didn't investigate it further because it was in the room where I had my gang of cats sequestered. Though the team is certainly welcome to come back.
Odd reading number two: My walk in closet. I don't know what the reading was, but this is one of the places that an infrared camera was set up.
Odd reading number one: Shoemaker's window. One of the two windows in this house that I have physically seen with my own eyes open on its own, and the window that many many visitors to the house including a family friend of Victor's reports as "opening on its own." The cigar window. That's the one. It was getting an unexplained 4.0 and the room its self was getting temperature drops by several degrees. Rapid fluctuations in temperature can only mean one thing: we need new windows. Or, you know, ghostly activity.
Bottom left is the basement. Camera is in the living room area looking into Daryl's son's room. You see through that doorway a black thing. That's the drumset that had the base drum that was mysteriously rhythmically vibrating the other night. They thought it was significant enough to put a camera on it. And bottom right is of course the great room. At the farthest end of the couch from the camera is the window (look close and you'll see the table) and that's Raya and Willie tripping out over some piece of equipment they'd brought in.
So the investigator whose light went out due to random battery drain, she immediately started getting EMF fluctuations and temperature changes by the window. The first thing she said when she went over to the area was that she smelled "pipe or cigar tobacco." If you know anything about anything it's that you can't pass off regular cigarettes as "pipe or cigar tobacco" smell. It's sweet, kind of woody, kind of rosie. It smells like a man, whereas cigarettes kind of smell like a thousand bitter Denny's waitresses. It's stinky. It's not what you smell and think "dad." Cigar or pipe makes you smell and think "dad." Even if your dad didn't smoke. You just want a guy who smokes cigars or pipes to be your dad.
I was told a story of one time when they were in a cemetery and it started prattling off words like "stabbed," "anniversary," "left," and that when they looked up the headstone they were standing by it turns out that it was the anniversary of the person's death, that it was a kid who was stabbed and left in the gutter, and the cops just thought he was drunk. People all night had driven by him and didn't realize he was dead. So, it's kind of give or take. The other thing is that these iPhones and such are designed by engineers, and the EMF readers and stuff are made by dudes in garages, so they figure if nothing else someone professional at least put thought and effort into it. It sort of is what it is.
So then the one who kept smelling the cigar and was most interested in the window busted out the dowsing rods. They were spinning around and I took a picture. But look close at the picture.
I don't know what you see, but I see...something. And it goes behind the plaque on the wall. I have not yet debunked this picture as maybe something weird with the lamps that are nearby but stay tuned for that.
So now I'll switch to just reposting everything that I had put on Facebook as it was happening and elaborate when necessary.
okay the EVP app they set up just said "louise."
- it just said "short."
- it said "follow" and it said "beard." we think it wants us to follow (daryl.) also just said "agree."
- "victoria." "pay"
- i'm creeped out by "victoria." the reference to victor.
- "singing" "beast"
(Shoemaker's) window smells like "cigar or pipe tobacco" according to one investigator and the EMF reader set in that corner is going nuts. two degree temperature drop and it's going back up.
while outside, (the investigators) heard what sounded like a screen door opening in the kid's room. we are no longer allowed to talk. and they took away the ipad running the app. i hear them doing an EVP session in my bedroom.
okay, she just came out and asked me if i feel pranked a lot. i said yes. we heard them asking about 2010 in there. that was my bedroom. and they just sent two into the basement. oh, she said the metal rod things were spinning like helicopters in my room.
just did an EVP session in the great room.
- (my friend Deb asked if anyone was there.) dont know, we have recording devices evertwhere. trying to get him to play with the lights on the devices. oh man. this is weird shit. meter fluctuations, temperature drops, metal rods going nuts and spinning.
- (Deb asks if the boys are ever frightened.) we have a prankster in my bedroom. the boys have never been frightened of anything here, ever. (daryl) and willie are the sensitive ones.
So the EVP session in the greatroom was also a flashlight session. Daryl and I were encouraged to ask questions. I really don't want to share what the questions were as of yet because they're kind of personal, and to be completely honest I don't want to be wrong and have to backtrack on the internet. But we took turns asking questions, and the investigator asked if the person was on the land before there were houses, if the person spoke Spanish, had kids, etc. No reaction from the flashlights or the light meter they set up that could also be manipulated.
- (Etheline) is coming down. the lady is taunting (Shoemaker) and calling him a chicken.
- (friends ask why.) because he stopped doing anything. OH MAN SHIT IS GETTING REAL. lights flickering, words on the app, hang on man. this is some shit. (Etheline) is making shit happen. okay, it's back to normalish
okay, candle time. whatever that means. i dont know. we have a taper candle going by the window. its dark in here except for that.okay, they're going to the kids room.
two of them have a "spirit box" in the kid's room.
they're in there laughing and clapping with the spirit box.
Okay now let me explain about the spirit box. From what I understand it's an AM radio scanner that just continually scans, and the idea is to give white noise that the ghost can manipulate and use his voice through. Someone in the group reported that they've heard the spirit box say "fuck off" and other nasty words that wouldn't be on the radio if it was just that.
I did not hear all of it, like I did not hear all of the EVP session they did in my bedroom. The only thing I heard from my bedroom was "so you like to play pranks a lot?" and "2010?....2009?" At one point one of the investigators came out to get a different set of dowsing rods because the ones they were using were "helicoptering." I do not know if the second set did, but I do know what I was told later on, which I'll get to.
But the spirit box session in the kid's room was overheard as follows: "Adam? Is your name Adam? Are we boring?" (The group laughs after the spirit box must have given an answer.) They were trying to ask questions and then I heard a bed creek/settle LOUD so I went in there because you see, my nine year old since birth has systematically removed the screws from all the furniture with his fingers. We used to have coffee tables fall due to this baby. This bed he has is less than a year old and it's already missing so many screws that I'm just like "whatever kid, you've got a rickety bed, I don't care." So I went in to warn them not to sit on it or they might die.
I guess after I went in the room all the spirit box was doing was heavy breathing.
After that, they tore down.
I asked "What is going on? Did you get something?" All the questions that they can't really answer off the bat. She said that for every hour of video and audio, there's two hours to study it at home. And there was four of them, they were here for four hours, each had two devices, so basically it'll be a few weeks before they determine what if anything is here.
But she did say that there were cold spots in the basement, and that there is what is classified as "poltergeist activity" in my bedroom.
So again I really don't know anything about anything, but a poltergeist is kind of a malevolent spirit that likes to pull pranks, and apparently it's more attached to a person rather than a place. And it's in my bedroom.
She asked if I ever feel pranked in my bedroom. "Every single day of my life, absolutely." I'm always waking Willie up thinking I hear something, or hearing random noises. I've seen shadows and to be honest, I really don't like spending time in my bedroom even though one part of the room is set up as my second office. I just don't like being in there in general.
I could also just be paranoid.
I do know two things that have happened, that I now have to record in a journal. Last night I had dreams all night that the investigators were still here and when I woke up in the night there was popping and banging in my closet. And then this morning we went out to get produce and returned to the house smelling so strongly of cigar that I had to open the front door and just close the screen.
So, you know. It could just be the wiring.
On the other hand, poltergeist activity without the presence of an agent is attributed to the remnants of intense emotions in a particular locale, a phenomenon similar to how a place gives one "the creeps" without any apparent reason. In this case, poltergeist activity is simply an outward manifestation of human emotion. It is perfectly controllable as long as the agent expresses pent-up feelings, hence, lessening chances of subconscious "poltergeist" activity.
It could also be a manifestation of all the stress over the last year, and maybe what I really need to do is rethink how I spend some of my mental energy.
Part II coming soon.