Halloween is always a fun time to tell stories about the unexplained. Here are three tales from my mysterious past:
The old homestead: For over a century, my family had a small ranch in Groveland, Calif. With later generations, it was used as a vacation home. But for my early Italian relatives, it was a full-time residence, dating back to the last half of the 1800s.
The old white ranch house stood on top of a hill and was occupied for many years by an eccentric great uncle. He was quirky enough to have saved every newspaper since 1918 and used a shotgun to knock woodpeckers off the eaves. As you can imagine, the house needed a lot of work when my grandmother took possession in the 1960s.
Over the years, I hadn’t noticed anything unusual. But on one October night in 1994, my wife and I were sleeping in the master bedroom. A nightlight was lit, so images were relatively clear.
I awakened about 3 a.m. and noticed a man standing over my wife. First reaction was not to believe what I was seeing. Since there was no sound, it had to be an illusion.
I took a swing at the figure, but my hand went right through it. Backhanding brought the same result. The image slowly disappeared.
On the next day, I mentioned the experience to our caretaker, who lived in a mobile home near the house. James was not surprised at my account and revealed he avoids going to the second story.
He said a light in the south side bedroom comes on spontaneously from time to time and he has seen an image of a man’s silhouette in the window.
A paranormal investigator, who knows more about this stuff than I, suggested it was not Uncle Fred. Based on the description I had provided, he deduced it was probably someone from an earlier time, who had become a guardian of the old place. Perhaps it was one of the original occupants?
Today, the property has another owner, and the house on a hill stands empty. But that October night still remains a memorable mystery.
San Francisco spooks: In the 1970s, my folks lived in a flat on Chestnut Street. Our family had just finished Thanksgiving dinner when we heard furniture moving in the upstairs apartment. Over the years, it had been a home to a number of different people, including actor Sidney Poitier.
The noise was unexpected, as the current occupants were on vacation. Of course, as with most people who can’t explain an out-of-the-ordinary event, our first reaction was it must be an illusion. But listening intently verified our initial perception. There was definitely someone upstairs.
My mother called the police and two officers arrived with a dog. Mom provided a key, and they opened the apartment door. Both cops heard the noise and sent in the canine to investigate.
Things went silent when “Bear” came back unaffected. The look on his face seemed to say, “ What’s with you guys? I didn’t see or smell anything.” Guns drawn, the officers initiated their own search but found nothing as well. The case was closed.
Last week’s faux pas: Around 4 a.m. in the morning, I had a vivid dream. At my age, I don’t remember what I did two minutes ago, let alone recall a series of nighttime sleep adventures. But for some reason, this one stuck.
In the dream, someone was reviewing my newspaper column, which was scheduled to be published the following week. An error was revealed. I had mentioned a book titled, Drain the Swamp, but the “reviewer” showed me I had mistakenly called it, “Draining” the Swamp.
The next morning, I checked my column. Sure enough. Much to my surprise, there on the computer screen was the error mentioned staring me in the face. Needless to say, a change was made, but apparently too late for the newspaper’s correction.
Some people ask how I have been able to come up with well over 600 columns during the last decade or so? I tell them the ideas just come to me. I’m never left without a topic or with so-called “writer’s block.”
But does that mean there’s a newspaper ace from the past who has “crossed over” and is now doing some judicious editing for me? Could it be my former newspaper reporter mother? Who knows?
Now you have just read three of my spooky stories that elude conventional explanation. So how about you? Care to share your personal experiences from a different dimension? No doubt many of us are now ready to listen with unfiltered ears.
Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.