"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ooooooooooohhhhhhhhh (that's my ghost sound)

OK so I'm bringing out the old "haunts" this Halloween for this week's Heads or Tails. It's an article I wrote for the AP a few years ago about some local hauntings in Salt Lake City, however, the funny part was that I apparently "attracted" a ghost during one of my interviews. The tape really is scary sounding, I played it for everyone in my office and they agree. It is on one of those teensy tiny interview-recorder tapes so I haven't dubbed it over. I did, however, call a priest who told me that I need to get over it. That helped. Anyway, my advice is the advice I got from the psychic in the piece: don't put up your ghost antenna.

Ghosts lend spookiness, spice to Utah sites
by Christie L. Hill Associated Press

Halloween 2003 is a memory, but the ghosts of Utah past -- some happy, some tortured, some who just can't let go -- continue to haunt, psychics say.

If you believe in such things (recent polls indicate Americans are split on the topic of ghosts), it only makes sense that Utah's rich history is brimming with spirits.

A high-haunt area is This Is the Place Heritage Park, a Mormon pioneer village replica near the mouth of Emigration Canyon in east Salt Lake City, where storyteller Michael Bennett recounts tales about the sounds of "children's voices laughing when there were no children around."

Bennett's never seen any ghosts, but he's heard enough stories to make him a believer. "I think that there's been enough legitimate reporting of things seen and heard," Bennett said.

He's talking about the strange occurrences at Brigham Young's old forest farmhouse, reputed to be one of the most haunted houses in Utah. It's hard to miss this pink, two-story, stucco house with a wraparound porch when you drive into the park. The 140-year old home was moved from its original site along I-80 back in 1975.

The Mormon pioneer's ghost apparently wasn't too keen on the move and stayed behind. The ghost of Anne Eliza Webb Young, Brigham Young's 19th wife, is said to haunt the house now.
"Some of the things happened before it was moved that have not happened since it was moved," Bennett said. "There's been a change in personnel."

That's typical, according to Salt Lake City psychic Margaret Ruth, whose morning radio show frequently muses on the otherworldly.

"If I remodeled, I might get rid of a lot of residual energy," Ruth says. "All I'll have left is those who are very attached to the site."

But whatever lurks in the eaves of Brigham Young's old home these days has frayed the nerves of at least one of the park's guides. She won't set foot back in the home, at least not alone.
"In October, in the evenings, it starts to get dark a little early, so if you went up there to close the blinds by yourself, you had this feeling that somebody else was in the room with you," said Pamela Schiess. She was a guide at the farmhouse for two years but has since moved to another job within the park. She's much happier.

Schiess says it's commonplace for park guides to have ghost stories. Even some of the park's visitors have left the park with chilling tales of their own. A student on a field trip says he once saw a pioneer woman, dressed in pioneer clothing late at night at the park, and when he turned back around she was gone. The area is locked up at night, so there's no way someone could've gotten in, says Schiess.

Is the story little more than the overactive imagination of youth?
Consider the supposed sightings of an angry Mary Fielding Smith, widow of martyred Mormon leader Hyrum Smith, who's been seen standing outside her home up on a hill in the park, wagging her finger, annoyed that her house was put there, facing the wrong way.

The ghouls aren't confined to This Is the Place.

Workers at the old Capitol Theatre, another infamous haunt spot, have named a live-in ghost "George." And the owner of Cassidy's Bar in Salt Lake City lets an old, attention-starved, emaciated, smoking and drinking cowboy stay there rent-free, as long as he doesn't hurt anyone. The owner said the supernatural bar-dweller once wanted attention so badly, he pushed a piece of equipment onto her son's head, requiring four stitches.

Skeptical? You're not alone. A recent Harris Interactive poll conducted online shows that Americans are split when it comes to believing in ghosts. The poll also showed those 65 and over are the least likely to believe in ghosts.

The doubters don't faze Margaret Ruth. "I didn't have to be crowned by the Spiritual Society. Psychic awareness belongs to everybody," she says, "and some people choose to do more with it than others."

Anyone can attract ghosts if they want to, Ruth says before adding a warning: "Most ghosts are really, really boring."

But on one recent day at this reporter's apartment, where Ruth insisted on conducting an interview after sensing a spirit over the phone, Ruth felt the presence of something that was anything but boring.

With deep breaths and eyelids flitting, Ruth tuned in to the spiritual world and quickly sensed the energy of a woman who died too young, who didn't know she was dead. The young woman just wanted some attention, Ruth said. "I think she was quite attracted to us."

A playback of the interview tape revealed an inexplicable, bloodcurdling scream that drowns out Ruth's voice as she and the reporter are talking. Neither heard a scream during the interview, and it only turned up on the tape.

A true believer might say the tape picked up an EVP, or electronic voice phenomenon. "It raised the hair on the back of my neck," said Ruth, after hearing the tape played back, "and that doesn't usually happen."

Anyone who's heard the tape agrees it's bizarre, a little creepy. Then again, it is Utah, where ghosts wander freely.

Or do they?


tegdirb92 said...

We live in Arizona and it is said that there are tons of spiritual activity around here. Have a wonderful Halloween--great post.

Hootin'Anni said...

Ghosts are all OVER the world....but, this--this is a great read. Love your writing style. [thanks for sharing that!!!]

I'm doing the Heads or Tails for the first time ever. Come over and join me in my Halloween tail if you have some time.

ChupieandJ'smama said...

VERY SCARY! Thanks for sharing your "Halloween" story :) Have a happy and ghost free Halloween.

Misty Dawn said...

I'm got major goosebumps now!

Mom not Mum said...

Cool - I've never heard those stories. I have loads of friends in Utah - I'll have to ask around and see if any of them have. Great article as well!

jenn said...

Happy Halloween!