Ghosthunting Tips from John Kachuba

Ghosthunting Tips
John Kachuba

1. Conduct all your investigations with an open mind, but 
don’t let yourself be fooled by the “evidence.” No one has yet been able to scientifically prove or disprove the existence of ghosts, and it’s unlikely you will be the one to earn that fame. Better to simply be nonjudgmental and open to whatever you experience and observe for yourself. Be hard-nosed about the “evidence” you uncover. Make certain that you exhaust all possible explanations before you claim a brush with the supernatural.

2. Interview witnesses separately. Take a page from standard police procedurals and always talk to witnesses of paranormal phenomena separately so that one witness’s testimony does not influence that of another.

3. Document your activities. I always carry a notebook and pen, tape recorder, and camera with me when investigating a site. The tape recorder is used to interview witnesses, but some people have also used it to record background sound over a period of time to try and catch unidentifiable sounds or voices in a particular location. 
A note about photography is important here. Many people, using either traditional or digital cameras, have reported various anomalies on the photos once they are developed or downloaded into a computer. These anomalies—usually whitish orbs, but also misty smears—are invisible to the naked eye when the photo is taken. There are many reasonable explanations for these objects. They may be dust particles or water droplets on the camera lens. They may be reflections caused by the flash of other cameras or by common objects—even some insects—that the photographer simply did not notice at the time. Your finger, or the camera strap covering part of the camera lens, may also be possible explanations for your photogenic ghost. Enlarging the photo will often help you identify the anomaly accurately. Despite all these reasonable explanations, there are hundreds of “ghost photos” that defy explanation—much to my surprise, I have taken some myself while writing this book.

4. Respect the site. It is important to remember that any haunted site carries with it a history of both the people who inhabited the site and of the site itself. That history is worthy of your respect. You should observe whatever rules and regulations might be in effect for the site and work within them. In other words, you should not be breaking into buildings or removing anything from them as souvenirs. Nor should you be prowling around cemeteries after posted hours. You will find that people are more receptive to helping you with your explorations if you follow the rules.

5. Respect the privacy of your contacts. Some people may tell you their own ghost stories, but for a variety of reasons, may not want other people to know their identity. You must respect their right to privacy.

6. Be a knowledgeable ghosthunter. This last point is perhaps the most important one. No one really knows the rules and laws of the spirit world. Ghosthunters are always exploring terra incognita and finding their way by learning from others, but it is important to learn from those who are serious about their work, rather than from people who are merely looking for kicks. Serious ghosthunters, such as Ed and Lorraine Warren, emphasize that knowledge about ghosts and the spirit world will increase your chances of obtaining your goals but, more important, will keep you safe. The Warrens and other top psychic investigators never resort to dubious psychic “tools,” such as the Ouija board, which can, in inexperienced hands, summon unwanted and uncontrollable spirits. I urge you to read and learn from the experts before venturing forth on your own ghosthunting expedition.

John Kachuba is the author of Ghosthunting Ohio, Ghosthunting Ohio On The Road Again and Ghosthunting Illinois.

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    Hollywood Theatre Portland

    Opened on July 17, 1926 the Hollywood has not changed much outwardly since 1926, but its heart has continued to advance with the times and, as the film industry changed, so did the technical capabilities of the theater. More changes came in the 1970s when the theater was divided into three separate auditoriums.

    Hollywood Theatre Portland
    Hollywood Theatre Portland

    Despite the attention the Hollywood  received when it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, the theater became a victim to the newer and more modern theaters in Portland, and its business all but disappeared. But in the 21st century, the theater came back to life. It now not only shows movies but also focuses on independent and local filmmakers and educational programs. No one can accuse the Hollywood of not being able to adjust with the times, and because of that, its legacy lives on. And so do the ghosts that reside there.

    Walking into the theater for the first time was an almost dreamlike experience for me. I am fascinated by history and architecture, so I found the best of both worlds in the lobby of the Hollywood. While parts of the theater have been updated with modern amenities, I could still envision vaudeville acts and silent movies and Model T Fords parked outside.

    Hollywood Theatre lobby
    Lobby Hollywood Theatre Portland

    The ghosts of the Hollywood have never been given obligatory names or identified as other than male and female, but the reports of their existence are many. Past theater managers recall seeing a well-dressed, middle-aged man floating or hovering in the upstairs lobby. Some people have reported seeing a young, blonde female in high heels in the upstairs theater. She has also been seen nervously pacing the halls while smoking a cigarette. The sightings are brief but detailed, and each witness recalls a similar experience. People also report a feeling of uneasiness on the stairs leading to the upper theaters. A male ghost enjoys tapping people on the shoulder or back and whispering unintelligible words into their ears. Yet another ghost, a female, has been seen sitting quietly in the back row of the theater. While many are startled by a physical touch, most feel that it is done in jest. In all of the accounts that have been relayed to me, no one has felt threatened or fearful.

    A woman I spoke with after my visit that claimed to be a medium said that the nervously pacing female ghost waits eternally for her husband to pick her up from work, not knowing he had been killed in an automobile accident on the way to meet her. I do not have an opinion either way on mediums or psychics, and this explanation certainly seems plausible when I consider the reports and the repetitive actions of this particular ghost, but we will never know if this is indeed true.

    There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to the floating man or the woman seen in the back rows. Perhaps they simply enjoyed their time at the Hollywood and thought it would be a nice place to retire after they expired. But turning from a conversation there, I caught a glimpse of a misty, transparent figure that passed before me and dissolved into the wall. It was not as detailed as many other reports, but I do not doubt what I saw with my own eyes. I replay it over and over in my mind in an attempt to come up with a rational, natural explanation, but am left without one.

    As the sun began to set, the mood of the  theater seemed to change, and at one point I was actually eager to leave. Two people in my party heard a voice whisper “Hey, you!” and felt unexplained cold spots that had not been there before. It seemed as though when the darkness set in, people we were not able to see were arriving to watch their favorite movies. And perhaps that was the case, nothing more and nothing less.

    If you liked this excerpt from Donna Stewart’s book check out Ghosthunting Oregon for more spookiest haunts across the state.

    Photo Credits
    Hollywood Theatre by Visitor7 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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      Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

      Ghost stories of Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

      According to the ghost stories associated with Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, it is haunted by a seaman named Evan MacClure, who was the captain of the whaling ship Monkton. In 1874, a powerful storm is reported to have struck the area and swept the hapless vessel into the Devil’s Punchbowl, a large, natural bowl partially open to the Pacific Ocean that is carved into the rocky headland near the lighthouse. The ship wrecked. For more than a century, visitors, employees, and townsfolk have reported seeing an old captain standing at the base of the lighthouse and looking up, as though he were still trying to see the light that would guide him to safety. Those who have witnessed this say  he appears as an older man and is as clear as any living person, until he suddenly vanishes before their eyes. Many residents say that MacClure continued to follow the light of the lighthouse and that his spirit occupied it, becoming a part of the beam and structure that led many a sailor to safe harbors.

      Yaquina Bay Lighthouse
      Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

      Also in 1874, a ship sailed into the Newport harbor carrying a man who called himself Trevenard and who had brought his teenaged daughter Zina—or Muriel, depending on the teller of the tale—to visit with friends after her mother had passed away. Trevenard spent a few days in the little town with his daughter and then left her in a small hotel to continue her visit. We can assume that in 1874 life was simpler and that teenagers were better behaved when left unattended than they are today. So it should not be too surprising that Zina/Muriel and her friends opted for a picnic lunch on the grass of Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. But teenagers being teenagers, they decided to investigate the interior of the lighthouse.

      According to the stories, they discovered a hidden room on the third floor and spent quite some time investigating it before leaving the lighthouse. When they once again reached the yard, Zina/Muriel realized she had left her handkerchief inside the building, so she left to retrieve it as her friends waited outside. After a few minutes, however, a scream pierced the air, and her friends hurried inside and followed a trail of blood drops that led them back to the third floor. As they looked for Zina/Muriel, they found only her bloodied handkerchief, and the unfortunate girl was never seen again—at least not alive. But there are those who claim her restless spirit still wanders the halls of Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, seeking a way out.

      Even today, visitors to the Yaquina Bay lighthouse report eerie sensations and the feeling of being watched as they tour the building. Others have reported hearing whispering voices, both male and female, and seeing a flickering light on the second floor after dark. While most of the workers and volunteers in the lighthouse say they have not experienced any type of paranormal activity, there are those who have seen, heard, and felt an unseen presence.

      My experiences at Yaquina Bay Lighthouse were not definitive, and I came away neither believing nor disbelieving the legends. But I will return there to attempt to shed some light on the truth of the ghost stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.

      You may judge for yourself, however, any time you pass through Newport, Oregon, and decide to visit Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. Perhaps you will catch a glimpse of a young girl with a bloodstained handkerchief looking for a way out, or a sailor seeking the light. And even if you do not, you will be standing in a part of Oregon history.

      You can read the complete story of Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in Donna Stewart’s book Ghosthunting Oregon.

      Photo credit: By Little Mountain 5 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

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        Radio City Music Hall

        Is Roxy the ghost in residence at Radio City Music Hall?

        Radio City Music Hall opened in 1932 as the largest theater in New York City. It occupied a full city block. What better way to use the piece of property, valued at $91 million, on which John D. Rockefeller had a twenty-four-year lease? Rockefeller sought the help of Samuel Lionel Rothafel to bring this theater to a profitable life in spite of the Great Depression. “Roxy,” as Rothafel was nicknamed, possessed “theatrical genius by employing an innovative combination of vaudeville, movies and razzle-dazzle decor to revive struggling theatres across America,” according to Radio City’s Web site. The rainbow-arched backdrop behind the stage provides the look of sunrise and sunset as seen from the deck of a ship. The balcony represents the ship’s deck. There are no support columns, so every seat is a good seat in this theater.

        Complementing Roxy’s showmanship was the interior design talent of then-unknown Donald Deskey, who created the Grand Foyer, along with all the other smoking rooms, the lounges, and the Diamond Lobby. He used basic materials like cork, Bakelite, and aluminum to stunning effect.

        Take a tour of Radio City Music Hall

        Radio City Music Hall
        Radio City Music Hall

        My mother and I took the tour of Radio City Music Hall, which is well worth the time and money. You may take pictures, but no recording of any kind is allowed, so you won’t be able to collect EVPs. I managed to capture an orb in the Grand Foyer. It might be genuine, as none of my other photos contained orbs. The tour lasts about an hour; plan to wear comfy walking shoes or sneakers, because the tour goes from the backstage hydraulics up to Roxy’s suite, which includes climbing stairs and plenty of walking. At the conclusion of the tour, I decided to follow up on the ghost of Roxy story I had read about in other ghost-related books. I asked the guide if he had ever encountered the ghost of Roxy. His answer was simply, “No.” In fact, he remarked that I was the first person who had ever asked him about Roxy as a ghost.

        I spoke with Diane Jaust, archivist for Radio City, and she was intrigued by the story, but she said she had no information on Roxy’s ghost. She went into research mode and tracked down former Rockettes and ballet dancers from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Everyone she spoke with said they never encountered his ghost, nor had they ever felt the theater was haunted. I heard from one of the former ballerinas, Janice Herbert. She said, “I called all the dancers I know who performed at Radio City, and the answer to Roxy’s ghost being there was ‘No,’ with a lot of laughter.” My inquiries had yielded nothing, but I’m glad they at least provided some entertainment.

        Yet, according to Dr. Philip Schoenberg, founder and head tour guide for Ghosts of New York Walking Tours, Roxy has been seen at 1260 Sixth Avenue in Rockefeller Center “on opening nights . . . accompanied by a glamorous female companion.” Other reports say that Roxy’s ghost, along with a beautiful lady on his arm, has been seen walking down the aisle toward their seats, vanishing before reaching them. Places as old and as rich in history as Radio City Music Hall typically yield some sort of residual haunting or ghost. This is one of those spots that requires the paranormal investigator to take a closer look. Raise the great curtain on the paranormal and decide for yourself.

        About the author

        L’Aura Hladik, author of Ghosthunting New York City also investigated the Cherry Lane Theater which we invite you to read.   L’Aura Hladik is also the author of Ghosthunting New Jersey and the founder of the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society.

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          Cherry Lane Theater

          Ghosts perform at Cherry Lane Theater

          Cherry Lane Theater
          Cherry Lane Theater

          This intimate theater, located at 38 Commerce Street, was the brainchild of Edna St. Vincent Millay in 1924. She formed an experimental theater group of local artists in the former brewery and box factory building, which dates back to 1836. Although there have never been any cherry trees along Commerce Street, the theater’s name fosters that notion. The reality is that Millay had named her group “The Cheery Lane Theater” to play on “Dreary Lane,” the nickname of the Drury Lane Theater in London. But a reporter misstated the name as “Cherry Lane,” and that’s what stuck.

          Over the years there have been reports of ghosts “performing” at the theater. Sightings include a white mist that forms on the top step of the lobby staircase and a shadowy manifestation that hovers around the hallway outside the dressing rooms. Three former residents of the neighborhood—Aaron Burr, Washington Irving, and Thomas Paine have been suspected as the identity of these phantoms.

          Possible ghostly addition to Cherry Lane Theater

          Of course, a possible recent addition to the ghostly cast may be the spirit of Kim Hunter, the Oscar-winning actress best known for playing Stella in the stage and screen versions of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. In 1954, Hunter moved into an apartment above the Cherry Lane Theater with her husband, Robert Emmett. Kim’s career was derailed for a short time in the 1950s when she was blacklisted by McCarthy as a communist sympathizer. Hunter was no such thing. She was, however, according to her obituary in the New York Times, “feisty” and “occasionally profane,” with “no use for the trappings of Hollywood stardom that had always eluded her.” Hunter was quoted as saying: “The work itself has been my life. I was never in this for jazzy stardom, and as far as that’s concerned, I’ve never had it. Doesn’t matter to me.” Hunter’s husband died in 2000, and Kim Hunter died September 12, 2002. Maybe she was just too feisty for a final bow and stays active near the other love of her life, the stage at the Cherry Lane.

          I spoke with Alex, the theater manager at the Cherry Lane, who has worked there for three and a half years. He said he has not experienced anything paranormal there even though he has been in the theater very late at night. He did say, though: “We like to think that the spirit of Edna (Millay) keeps an eye on the place.  I always say, ‘God morning, Edna,’ or ‘Good night, Edna.’ when coming or going.

          Why not visit the Cherry Lane Theater? You can make a ghostly night out of it and have dinner and a show; the One If By Land, Two If By Sea restaurant (subject of another ghostly tale by L’Aura Hladik) is within walking distance.

          About the author

          L’Aura Hladik, author of Ghosthunting New York City also investigated Radio City Music Hall.  She is also the author of Ghosthunting New Jersey and the founder of the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society.

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            Princess Angeline

            Princess Angeline symbol linking the past with the present

            This blue-eyed Native American princess was born in 1820 to Chief Seattle, his oldest daughter. She lived out her live in a ten-by-ten shack on the waterfront on Western Avenue just across the street from the Pike Place Market. There Princess Angeline would do carvings and weave baskets for the Ye Old Curiosity Shop on the pier.

            Princess Angeline born Kikisoblu Seattle

            Princess Angeline
            Princess Angeline on street corner in Seattle

            She was name Princess due to her father’s status, and Angeline was given to her by Catherine Broshears Maynard, the second wife of Seattle pioneer Doc Maynard. Her birth name was Kikisoblu Seattle or Sealth. Princess Angeline married Dokub Cud, who died before the arrival of Euro-American settlers. Princess Angeline gained fame all over the world, for if you ventured to Seattle, you’d be sure to see her frail figure on the streets of Seattle selling her goods.

            One of the most popular tourist souvenirs was that of a Native American doll resembling Princess Angeline. She became the symbol that linked the past with the present. Although she died May 31, 1896 at the age of seventy-six, some say she has refused to leave even after he physical death. Yet, as with the forced removal of her people to reservations, she was spiritually bound to her homeland and the she would stay. Treaty or not treaty!

            The story of Princess Angeline and many more are found in Ross Allison’s book Spooked in Seattle. Also read our blog on Dutch Ned by the same author.

            About the author

            Ross Allison is the president and founder of AGHOST (Advanced Ghost Gunters of Seattle-Tacoma) with over twenty years of experience investigating the paranormal. Ross is also owner of Spooked in Seattle Tours. The tours are given by bys, horse-drawn carriage, or on foot. Very popular with tourists, the tours also are attracting locals who want to find out more about the hauntings in the Emerald City.

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              Dutch Ned

              Dutch Ned is still looking for his little house

              Dutch Ned
              The Mausoleum of Dutch Ned

              Born Nils Jacob Ohm in 1828, this Dutchman arrived in Seattle in 1854. Nicknamed “Dutch Ned” by the locals, he was a funny old man who was a bit slow due to a childhood injury. He made his living in the potholes throughout Pioneer Square’s streets with sawdust from Yesler’s sawmill.

              Dutch Ned didn’t make much money and lived in a small shack on the corner of Bellevue Avenue and Republican Street. His biggest fear was to be forgotten and left to die in his pitiful shack. So he spent most of his hard-earned money on a beautiful stone-and-marble mausoleum at Lake View Cemetery.

              Being so proud of his lavish landmark, Dutch Ned would spend most of his spare time reading and hosting picnics from what he called his “little house.” In his later years many of the locals would tease him by stating that when his time had come, they’d just toss his old bones in Potters Fields. Fearing this to be true, the poor old man would spend every spare moment in the parlor of the Bonney-Watson Funeral home, sitting and waiting for God’s angels to carry him away.

              The ghost of Dutch Ned roams Lake View Cemetery

              In death, he was indeed laid to rest in his mausoleum. But his life-long dream would come to a sad end. In the 1970s his “Little House” had to be torn down as it was falling apart. All that remains is a portion of the marble door where his body lays at rest. Or is he at rest?

              Some say that Dutch Ned’s spirit roams the streets of Pioneer Square. Dutch Ned can be seen standing on the corner in his overalls with his shovel in hand. But most of all, he is seen wandering the grounds of Lake View Cemetery as well. It is believed that his spirit won’t rest until he finds his favorite little spot in the world, his “little house.”

              The story of Dutch Ned is found in Ross Alisson’s book Spooked in Seattle.

              About the author:

              Ross Allison is the president and founder of AGHOST (Advanced Ghost Gunters of Seattle-Tacoma) with over twenty years of experience investigating the paranormal. Ross is also owner of Spooked in Seattle Tours. The tours are given by bys, horse-drawn carriage, or on foot. Very popular with tourists, the tours also are attracting locals who want to find out more about the hauntings in the Emerald City.

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                Azalia Bridge

                Haunted Azalia Bridge scene of crime

                Azalia Bridge
                Haunted Azalia Bridge

                The village of Azalia, platted in 1931 and believed to be named for the flower, is a short distance south of Columbus on US31. According to local lore the founders had hoped the community would be pure and undefiled, a model of temperance in all aspects.

                Unfortunately a young unmarried girl in the community did not live up to the dreams of the founders. She became pregnant, but was able to conceal her sin until spring when the baby was born.  Shunned by both her family and the community, she and the baby left the village.

                No one knows where she and the baby stayed. Some farmers said they saw them around decaying, abandoned barns. Afraid to enter the town or seek aid from her family, she would scavenge and even steal food to survive.

                She must have gone insane. What else could explain what she did with her tiny baby? Not too far from town is the Azalia bridge spanning Sand Creek. Normally, the water should be little more than ankle deep. However, with the melting snow and spring freshets, the creek was running fast and deep with icy cold water. The crazed young mother, holding her baby wrapped in a thin white blanket, stood on the bridge watching the wild currents rushing past. Leaning over the edge, she opened her arms and let the baby fall; she watched as the current carried the bundle away until it was out of sight.

                Sometime later a fisherman found the remains of the baby still wrapped securely in its blanket. The haggard mother, wild-eyed, ranting, moaning and crying, was left alone, as was the custom of early-nineteenth-century villages, to wander the countryside and repent.  She continue to forage and steal food and found shelter wherever she could, This was a far worse sentence than any court of law could have given.

                For many years she lurked around the creek bed and sat at the foot of the Azalia bridge, rocking and wailing. Those who saw her, though frightened, believed she was truly sorry and mourned for the child she had killed.

                One day she was seen sitting on the bank, but unlike other times she was not rocking and was silent. She was dead. No one knows who buried her or where.  There are those who say if you go to the Azalia Bridge and dare to look over you  might see the baby, wrapped tightly in a white blanket, lying at the edge of the water crying for its mother.  Wait long enough and you’ll get a glimpse of the desperate, insane mother and her her mournful crying.

                Also in Southern Indiana is Story (on State Road 135), read all about the Haunting of Story by Wanda Lou Willis, author of Haunted Hoosier Trails.

                 

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                  Blue Lady haunts the Story Inn

                  Spectral Blue Lady haunts Story Inn

                  Blue Lady
                  Blue Lady Inn in Story, Southern Indiana

                  Employees and several guests at the Story Inn on State Road 135 know the room at the top of the stairs as the “Blue Lady” room, so named for a spectral visitor who evidently has made it her permanent residence.  She’s been seen standing at the edge of the bed, reflected in the window or in the mirror.

                  One worker who has been employed by the inn for more than ten years saw a metal coffeepot fall off of a cabinet with no one near. She has also seen another ghost in the inn. On her way downstairs to take a call she saw a cream-colored skirt swoosh around a corner. When she reached the bottom of the stairs no one was in sight. There was no other way out.

                  A picture of an old lady dressed in dark, nineteenth-century clothing hangs on the wall behind the service desk.  It seems to have a “life” of it’s own. One of the owners commented to an employee, “She sure wasn’t very pretty.” Suddenly the picture crashed to the floor.  The nail was firmly in the wall and the wire was intact!

                  Encounters of the Blue Lady continue to be reported

                  The aroma of cherry tobacco often accompanies sightings of the Blue Lady dressed in a floor length gown.  Though no one know who the Blue Lady is, the employees have decided she must be one of Dr. Story’s wives, though there is no reason to believe this.

                  The inn isn’t the only haunted building in Story. Dr. George Story, the town’s founder, built his home on the highest point in the town. Visitors and employees believe his house is haunted. On more than one occasion the housekeeper has been pinched as she cleans the house. She’s also reported lights in the rooms after she’s turned them off and doors opening and closing without anyone being bear them.

                  This is one of the many stories Wanda Lou Willis shares in her book Haunted Hoosier Trails. If you enjoyed this story visit us again next week as Wanda tells us about the haunting going on at The Azalia Bridge in Southern Indiana.

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                    Ghosts at Woodlawn Cemetery

                    Are there Ghosts at Woodlawn Cemetery?
                    Join Ghosthunting New York City author L’Aura Hladik on a tour

                    Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx was founded in 1863. Its 400 acres are easily accessible from Manhattan via trains from Grand Central Station, as well as by car using the Major Deegan (I-87) or I-95. The intention behind the location was to have a peaceful place away from the downtown noise, but not too far away. The original design of the cemetery was based on the “rural cemetery movement” that originated in 1831 with Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston. However, five years after the cemetery opened, its design was changed to a “landscape lawn plan,” which prohibited fences and encouraged central monuments with footstones. The cleaner, more spacious grounds made cemetery maintenance much easier. A few of the 300,000 people interred at Woodlawn are mentioned in this book—people such as the Van Cortlandts, Herman Melville, and Olive Thomas Pickford. Other famous people buried there include George M. Cohan, Fiorello Henry LaGuardia, Nellie Bly, Joseph Pulitzer, and Thomas Nast. For those of you who appreciate retail shopping, F.W. Woolworth, Roland H. Macy, and James Cash Penney are buried there, too.

                    Woodlawn offers many free events, such as concerts, walking and bus tours, theater performances, and a tree lighting during the holidays. It’s more than a cemetery; it’s a cultural resource for the Bronx. Photography is allowed in the cemetery as long as you stop by the office upon arrival, present a photo ID, and complete a simple form. I recommend you follow the formal steps in case you capture some amazing paranormal evidence and want to share it on your Web site or in a newspaper article. The cemetery grounds are open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the office, where photography permission is secured, is closed on Sundays.

                    Ghosts at Woodlawn Cemetery
                    Herman Melville Tomb

                    When I first visited Woodlawn, the ground was snow-covered and it was difficult to walk around; some of the drifts were more than three feet high. So I went back in early March of 2010 with Dina Chirico, my team leader at the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society. Dina is a great navigator, which helped tremendously; she read the map and directed me while I drove. The first grave I was determined to find was that of Herman Melville. What writer could refuse the chance to pay respects to one of the greats? I certainly couldn’t. According to the map, Melville’s grave was located in the Catalpa section of the cemetery. We drove over to it and parked.

                    Dina and I employed a “divide and conquer” strategy to find the grave: she started at one end of the section, and I went to the other. I had my digital audio recorder running the whole time I was searching. I noted on the recording the date, time, and weather; I also took some photos while searching. As I started up a small incline, I saw what appeared to be a baby’s grave. I said into my recorder, “a little . . . it looks like a little baby grave. Born January 2, 1871, died . . . I can’t make out the month . . . seventeenth of 1872.” When I reviewed the recording, right after I said, “looks like a little baby grave,” I heard the voice of a woman whisper, “Yeah.” I know it’s not my voice because I was speaking at a normal conversational volume, and the EVP interjects so closely after my previous word, it’s impossible that I could have said it. I know it’s not Dina’s voice, either; she was so far away from me at the time that she had to yell to ask if I had found Melville’s grave yet. I shut the recorder off so I could yell back to her that I hadn’t. I didn’t know I had captured an EVP until I got home and reviewed the recording.

                    Dina and I reconvened at my car and reviewed the map once more. She knew we were close to Melville’s grave, and she became even more determined to find it. We started out again, and Dina found it. Honestly, I was expecting a huge monument for someone like him, but it was a simple, modest headstone. Little rocks and trinkets left by previous visitors sat atop the headstone. There was also a handwritten note that said, “Thanks. You changed my life.” Dina and I waited quietly around Melville’s grave for a bit, recording for EVPs. Then we left to find LaGuardia’s grave.

                    Ghosts at Woodlawn Cemetery
                    Fiorello La Guardia Tomb

                    Fiorello LaGuardia was mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945. He was a short, rotund man with a high-pitched voice, but full of fire and conviction. He did not like the shame and negative stereotypes the mob had brought to Italian culture. LaGuardia put it best when he said, “Let’s drive the bums out of town.” He had Lucky Luciano arrested, and he went after Frank Costello’s slot machines with a sledgehammer. It was a media event when the slot machines were dumped onto a barge to be taken away from New York City. Dina and I found LaGuardia’s grave much more easily than Melville’s. By then it was getting late, and we couldn’t hang around to conduct an EVP session. Dina took some pictures of the grave before we left the cemetery. Judging by how effortlessly I captured an EVP while walking around Woodlawn Cemetery, I am sure there are more to be found on a return trip. I wonder what Joseph Pulitzer, “father of journalism,” has to say these days.

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