Wednesday, November 19, 2008

(City Hotel in Columbia, California, 1928)

Ghost Busters Hunt For Hotels' Haunts

Oh man oh man oh man. My father, my sister, and I all used to work at these two hotels -- often alone -- and holy smokes are they HAUNTED! I'm glad someone is spending some time checking out the paranormal phenomenon there. I don't know why a whole television show hasn't been dedicated to these twin sisters in my hometown, the Gem of the Southern Mines.

My father was head of maintenance for both hotels, and he was there all the time when the hotels were closed for the winter. Over the years during these closures, he would repaint the dining room ceiling below the parlor in the City Hotel numerous times, and each time he would hear someone run across the parlor repeatedly, causing the dining room chandeliers to shake.

On Sunday at the City Hotel, the team placed cameras and held sessions throughout the hotel, including the wine cellar, the banquet room, kitchen and a room upstairs, rumored to be haunted by Elizabeth, a woman who died in childbirth either in the room or in the bed.

People have reported hearing a woman crying, Greer said. It is the most common report at the hotel...

Once dad was carrying a case of wine upstairs to the parlor and found a woman dressed in period clothes, crying on the settee and saying over and over, "my baby, my baby." He turned around to set the wine down so he could sit down and comfort her, and when he turned back around she was gone.

The parlors are the most active areas in both hotels.

Saturday night in the Fallon Hotel in room 2, the team detected heat spots in places where there was no reasonable explanation for them and spiked electromagnetic readings, showing when the electromagnetic field is disrupted.

Rooms 2 and 3 at the Fallon are parlor rooms, and they both have their share of the creepy "someone's watching you" vibe. The heat spots thing is interesting and strange. It wasn't room 2 or 3, but room 1 -- connected to the parlor but separated by a dim landing and flanking a rarely used staircase that always smelled of burning -- that most everyone I worked with felt was the creepiest, because it was always freezing cold, even in 105 degree weather.

Down the hall, in room 5, rumored to be haunted by a young boy, things got interesting.

Shaw, in a soft, calm, reassuring voice, asked what the boy's name was. "Is your name Jimmy? ... Or is your name Daniel?" Shaw asked. "We brought these toys for you."

"Jimmy," as the lore goes, is the grandson of the hotel's founder, and died in a fire that gutted the hotel in the mid 1800s. He had a penchant for stealing kids' toys (which we would find months later in the middle of the bed of a just vacated room) and for running up and down the halls, sometimes late at night when guests were trying to sleep.

My dad, after retiring from maintenance, began caretaking for the Columbia Cemetery, where the boy is buried. He would leave toys on the boy's grave to try to keep him from stealing the guests' toys.

Besides toilets flushing themselves, the feeling of being watched or followed, icy cold spots (even in the most extreme heat waves), and items disappearing and reappearing, most of my stories are second-hand. But I did have one experience I'll never forget.

According to Shaw, there are many types of hauntings, the most common being residual and intelligent hauntings. A residual haunting is a moment in time, like a film clip stuck on repeat. For example, sightings of women walking down staircases. The residual does not know we are here, versus an intelligent haunting which knows we are here, Shaw said.

Intelligent hauntings are either trying to scare or "mess with" people or are trying to communicate something, Shaw said.

I was cleaning room 1 by myself at the City, which is a parlor room -- cold as ice 24-7, and rumored to be haunted by the aforementioned "Elizabeth" or by the only woman hanged in California (her portrait hangs below the room in the saloon).

It was summertime, and the weather outside was hot, dry, and still. To buck the ever-present chill in the room (and to bolster my courage) I decided to open a balcony door to let in some sunlight, heat, and banjo music. I began cleaning the room, when suddenly the balcony door slammed shut. I was startled, but then perplexed, because there was no breeze or draft to speak of. So I opened the door again and kept my eye on it, dusting and sweeping for a good 15 minutes. The door stayed open the entire time.

I decided at that point to test my burgeoning theory as to why the door really shut. I turned my back on the door, only to spin around again quickly. The door was quickly closing on its own.

I said aloud, "okay, I'll keep it closed," gathered up my cleaning supplies, and hustled out of there! I never cleaned a room by myself again -- even going as far to beg my mom to go with me one stormy morning to the Fallon so I could clean one lousy room. It was in the parlor.

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Blogger stardust savant said...

Holy crap, your dad was a caretaker for a haunted hotel?! You are a lot braver than I am to venture in to such a place. I would have had thoughts of The Shining running through my head and not been able to set foot over the threshold. Eek!

November 23, 2008 at 5:50:00 PM PST  

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