March 17, 2013
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, celebrated in Murphys yesterday. Since my mail is by the pound, I read a notice the parade would be on Sunday. I stumbled onto the corrected date in a later notice. Went late, missed the parade, had a good beer, enjoyed the green hair, the bands, and best of all, I got a ghost story.
Not everyone wears green hair, of course, but everyone has fun. I know this guy is bald, so he enjoyed his hair and later let everyone try it on.
Others take their costumes seriously, as this young man very authentically dressed.
At 3:30 in the afternoon, the pony rides were starting to pack up and leave.
The main band stand on the street was still pumping out tunes.
There were a lot of places to sit, and Jan and I enjoyed a huge pretzel at Cactus Jacks. I had my first dark beer since getting home. The woman on the right is holding the tallest green margarita I’ve ever seen. They were all over town.
Jack’s rock band was so loud and the dance floor so crowded, we sat outside and still had to shout at each other to be heard.
Jan doesn’t drink but a sip of wine now and then. She is Italian so I had to take her picture by this barrel. Every time I come home, there is a new tasting room in Murphys.
Newsome-Harlow’s courtyard had a good band.
Their courtyard is a pleasant place to sip and chat. The fire was going in the pits, even though the weather was perfect.
Jan found a dragonfly to put in her pond.
I found some cute bird houses, but didn’t buy. I liked the idea of a waterproof roof.
We got to the end of the street, Tom Scheller, the owner of the IDEA store, pointed out some fun stuff he added to his building, which is the old International Order of Oddfellows building from the Gold Rush days. A woman standing nearby said, Have you heard about the ghost?” Me: “What ghost?”
Tom was getting his stuff moved back inside, ready to close up for the day. Tom and I were in Murphys Merchants Association together many years ago. He bought the building 37 years ago and I’ve been in Murphys 35 years. I regard Tom as a down-to-earth credible guy. Hey, Tom?
This is the story he told me. “I’ve always heard creakings and what sounded like footsteps in this old building, mostly when I went upstairs. He took Jan and I to his side door where the stairs can be reached from the outside, and a second door leads to his main display downstairs. “I had just locked my outside door. The door to my showroom was closed. I started up the stairs and I heard heavy footsteps coming downstairs. I backed off and decided to turn around when a whoosh of cold air hit me, the footsteps passed me and I heard a click of my showroom door as though something passed through it. I’ve had people get spooked when visiting the upstairs showroom over the years, they described it as a feeling of someone watching them. I’ve always ignored it. But, we’ve had some activity downstairs too. I or my employees have been sitting behind the counter, working on the computer or whatever, and papers will be picked up off the top of a file cabinet and dropped to the floor. Things have moved off the shelf and been dropped on the floor. We always joked about a ghost. We have a non-smoking environment here, but I’ll open up some mornings and find a wisp of cigarette smoke hanging in the far left corner of my shop. Then one day, a physic, who was touring with some people, looked up and said, you have a ghost, his name is Joe, he is sitting right there. She pointed to where I see the smoke periodically. I was still a bit skeptical but one day, I was doing some remodeling upstairs and I opened up the floor boards and found three bricks, one imprinted with the name Joe. I’m convinced now that I have a ghost.” (Me too.)
September 29, 2012
The setting was anything but ghostly and I’m a major skeptic, anyway. Calaveras County’s old courthouse and jail in San Andreas was a temporary home to wild and dangerous characters during the gold fevered 1800′s. Here, members of the historical society gathered sociably for wine and beer before dinner in what was once the jail yard.
The walled yard is made of native stone, mortarless, and is called dry wall; now over-grown with vines, and beautiful. I spent a lot of time here when I wrote historical features in the 1980′s. Black Bart, the infamous poet bandit was kept in the jail. And judge Gotttschalk committed suicide inside the courthouse. Tour guides point to blood spattered books in the law library from his suicide. The building has been declared haunted by people who have worked here over the years.
Records indicate several inmates were buried “behind” the jail. No one knows whether there was a body under a broken headstone left from 1882. The top of the stone was missing and then rebuilt from pictures. The first court house was a tent. The second one, made of wood, burned. The fine old brick building is too small for a modern court and has been turned into a showplace museum by the Calaveras County Historical Society.
The Historical Society removed an unused public oven from the gold rush town of Calaveritas in 1994 and rebuilt it in the courtyard. Community ovens were made from native stone and held together with mud from heavy clay soil. Ovens like this one hold up well if covered over by a roof. The oven has drawn members to meet in warm months outdoors for pizza, home-baked bread with a salad pot luck, or chicken bargeques. It takes about three minutes to cook a pizza in this oven and they are delicious.
I sat with Sylvia and Cliff Edson, a local restaurant owner who just bought an old Victorian and is restoring it while living in it. They are dealing with ghosts, or several spirits in their house. Sylvia gets frightened by them. Cliff has had the house blessed several times, and is a believer. They don’t upset him. They were stunned to find out the subject of the meeting was The Paranormal. They hadn’t read the notice about who the speaker would be.
I have no idea how many pizzas Clyde Weddell made that night. He made three types, sausage, pepperoni and pesto with sun-dried tomato. Absolutely delcious.
When Clyde makes pizza, he tosses it into the air. I was never quite able to catch the pizza in the air, but it was fascinating to watch him work. As it got dark, he donned a headlight.
After dinner, we listened to Rick Panzarina talk about debunking and validating ghosts, or paranormal presences in old buildings, businesses and private homes. He turns most of the seekers away, after determining they are only interested in sensationalizing their claims. He says, a good ghostbuster doesn’t ask for money to investigate your ghost because then, they would always find a ghost. He uses lasers, 11 cameras, video equipment, and high tech sound equipment. He gave results of having investigated the ghosts in the Court House and other places where he has found evidence of paranormal activity. The blood on the books, if it is blood, did not belong to Judge Gottschalk. All he had to do was look at the date Gottschalk killed himself, and the date the books were published to know the “spatters” couldn’t have been from his death. He could find no para-normal activity in the Courthouse. He explained in detail how wooden floors make popping sounds that closely resemble footsteps. He and his team of seven people do not allow whispering. They address any presence in a loud voice and ask it to declare itself. They got one very clear “Hi!” Once, out of about 50 buildings. They do not play to sensationalism. Some people would rather have their “fun” reputation than have a ghostbuster disprove any paranormal activity. And, for tourism in the Motherlode, that is quite all right with the locals. Almost every old hotel in the area claims to have a ghost. It is soooo fun! I’d love to have a ghost in my house. Wouldn’t you?
March 6, 2012
After visiting the Slaughter Ranch, Jim wanted to visit the small town of Douglas for several reasons. First, because when he returned from Panama in 2004 with his friend Bud Kuball, they exited Mexico with their motor homes at this portal. Back in the United States after 343 days.
It was late in the day when we crossed into the town of Agua Prienta. It was closing down and not very exciting compared to the others I’ve visited, but I enjoyed the idea of a sixth border crossing, especially this one that had meaning to Jim. Each crossing has something unique.
In enjoyed the series of ten tile mosaic figures decorating the walls of the portal.
It was a brief stop and back to Douglas a town that never had a major fire and now has 335 buildings on the Historic Register.
One of the old grand hotels still in use is The Gadsden with its sweeping staircase, dark wood, marble columns and mirrored dining room.
We had lunch and wandered around admiring the hotel and later the town.
The beautiful ceiling and chandelier.
Huge stained glass windows.
It’s kind of fun to step back into yesteryear and think the Slaughters must have come here for dinners with friends.
Douglas also has four churches on one block, each taking a corner. This is supposedly the only place in the world where that happens. First there is the Episcopalian Church above.
The Baptist Church.
And the Methodist.
The Catholic Church of The Immaculate Conception dated 1907 is on the next block over and visible from the Presbyterian Church. One can conclude that Douglas is a very devout community.
We walked around the older part of town and saw some of the historic old buildings with their fancy facades and charm.
The VFW we visited a couple of days ago was haunted. Tombstone Cemetery had several wrongful deaths. Many people were hanged in this part of the country.
The Gadsden Hotel is haunted. Hmmm! We must be getting close to meeting a ghost.
October 31, 2010
What gets my attention are stories from children who have no idea what sensationalism is all about. Like the 9 year old boy who told his mother, as they drove by a certain spot, on a street in their new neighborhood. “That’s where the car hit me!” She ignored it the first time. Then, when he described being on his bike, and dying. She objected, but he was so chillingly serious she became intent on debunking and defusing his constant attention to that place. She talked to people in the neighborhood, and discovered newspaper articles about a boy who was killed in that exact manner, at that exact spot, many years earlier.
If I knew the mother? But I don’t. Still, I’ve heard a number of them and they give me pause. I have to ask myself, why would a mother put her reputation and that of her child at risk to ridicule? And what benefit does such a tale serve them? Unless it happens to me, I guess I’ll never know.
August 19, 2010
Smethport was a nice town, friendly and pretty with a good sized lake and park.
A huge flock of Canadian Geese make this lake their home. Above is a small portion of the lake and a small portion of the flock.
I walked around the lake on Goose Chasing Trail, appropriately enough. I saw along this wall of greenery on the trail many berry bushes and a huge plop of bear scat. Not a place to walk at night. The park had ball fields, several childrens playgrounds, tennis courts, a skate board area; You can fish and kayak, and sail boats and swim here. A huge barbeque area for group affairs plus many strategically located more private picnic areas with benches. I crossed two bridges over the water. For a small population of about 19,000 people, it was commendable. If I were to chose a place to live in Pennsylvania, this might be it.
Down the road apiece was this figure attached to a hunt and bait shop. Methinks the area is a great hunting, fishing and skiing area, judging from the mountainous terrain of the Allegheny Mountains. And, the main grocery here had better prices compared to what we were paying for items in Ivoryton and Dartmouth.
Yesterday, I attempted to get a picture of a snowmobile crossing sign and missed several of them. But, I finally succeeded after three tries on this stretch of road headed for Ashtabula.
Our journey was somewhat eventful in that a truck turning right pulled within inches of us at a stop light, then backed up and made the narrow turn. I was so transfixed I didn’t get his picture. Likewise when we came to a very narrow underpass. This one, pictured below, was lower than normal, but not so narrow. The transportation department gave plenty of warning that it was coming up. Twelve feet seven inches. The motor home is Eleven feet two inches.
Then, we stopped for lunch and a stretch at Union City and wondered what all the yellow ribbons were for? Maybe vets? Maybe cancer awareness? Its a local thing.
Signs we saw, but not in time to get a picture:
HOME OF FLAMETHROWER BURGERS
(That was Conneaut)
BLIND PERSON AREA
(On cape cod, we saw a DEAF CHILD sign.)
BUCKLE UP ITS YOUR LIFE ITS OUR LAW
SOULSHINES BETTER THAN A SHOESHINE
WORLDS STRONGEST REDNECK
That last one really has me curious. We saw it in three places in two small towns???
Life on the road is fun even whizzing by. We made it to Ashtabula.