Monday, November 19, 2012

The Whaley House, San Diego, Ca

"There are some human beings who are dimly aware of their own deaths, yet have chosen to stay on in what used to be their homes, to be close to surroundings they once held dear." --Hans Holzer

"Few houses in San Diego are as historically important as the Whaley House. In addition to being the Whaley Family home, it housed a granary, the County Court House, San Diego's first commercial theater, various businesses including Thomas Whaley's own general store, a ballroom, a billiard hall, school, and polling place. Significant events, such as the seizure of the court documents and records in 1871, and the suicide of Violet Whaley in 1885 profoundly affected Thomas and Anna Whaley. These events, as well as the hangings which occurred on the property before the house was constructed, have suffused the Whaley House with an air of mystery and added to its reputation as something more than just California State Historic Landmark #65.

According to the Travel Channel's America's Most Haunted, the house is the number one most haunted house in the United States. The alleged haunting of the Whaley House have been reported on numerous other television programs and been written up in countless publications and books since the house first opened as a museum in 1960. Although we cannot state positively that the Whaley House is really haunted, the voluminous documentation of paranormal occurrences at the site makes a compelling case. But, if there are ghosts at the Whaley House, who are they and why are they here?

The earliest documented ghost at the Whaley House is "Yankee Jim." James (aka Santiago) Robinson was convicted of attempted grand larceny in San Diego in 1852, and hanged on a gallows off the back of a wagon on the site where the house now stands. The local newspaper reported that he "kept his feet in the wagon as long as possible, but was finally pulled off. He swung back and forth like a pendulum until he strangled to death." Although Thomas Whaley had been a spectator at the execution, he did not let it dissuade him from buying the property a few years later and building a home for his family there. According to the San Diego Union, "soon after the couple and their children moved in, heavy footsteps were heard moving about the house. Whaley described them as sounding as though they were made by the boots of a large man. Finally he came to the conclusion that these unexplained footfalls were made by Yankee Jim Robinson." Another source states that Lillian Whaley, the Whaleys' youngest daughter who lived in the house until 1953, "had been convinced the ghost of "Yankee Jim" haunted the Old House." A visitor to the museum in 1962 mentioned that "the ghost had driven her family from their visit there more than 60 years [earlier], her mother was unnerved by the phantom walking noise and the strange way the windows unlatched and flew up."

Many visitors to the house have reported encountering Thomas Whaley himself. The late June Reading, former curator of the museum, said, "We had a little girl perhaps 5 or 6 years old who waved to a man she said was standing in the parlor. We couldn't see him. But often children's sensitivity is greater than an adult's." However, many adults have reported seeing the apparition of Mr. Whaley, usually on the upper landing. One said he was "clad in frock coat and pantaloons, the face turned away from her, so she could not make it out. Suddenly it faded away."

The specter of Anna Whaley has also been reported, usually in the downstairs rooms or in the garden. In 1964, Mrs. Whaley's floating, drifting spirit appeared to [television personality Regis Philbin. "All of a sudden I noticed something on the wall," Philbin reported. "There was something filmy white, it looked like an apparition of some kind, I got so excited I couldn't restrain myself! I flipped on the [flash]light and nothing was there but a portrait of Anna Whaley, the long-dead mistress of the house."

Other visitors have described seeing or sensing the presence of a woman in the courtroom. "I see a small figure of a woman," one visitor said, "who has a swarthy complexion. She is wearing a long full skirt, reaching to the floor. The skirt appears to be a calico or gingham, small print. She has a kind of cap on her head, dark hair and eyes and she is wearing gold hoops in her pierced ears. She seems to stay in this room, lives here, I gather." None of the Whaleys fit this description, but the house was rented out to numerous tenants over the years. Perhaps the mysterious woman in the courtroom was one of these.

Another presence reported by visitors and docents is that of a young girl, who is usually found in the dining room. Psychic Sybil Leek encountered this spirit during a visit in the 1960s. "It was a long-haired girl," Sybil said. "She was very quick, you know, in a longish dress. She went to the table in this room and I went to the chair." Urban legend has it that this is the ghost of a playmate of the Whaley children who accidentally broke her neck on a low-hanging clothesline in the backyard, and whose name was either Annabel or Carrie Washburn. There are no historic records of any child dying this way at the Whaley House; nor is there record of any family named Washburn residing in San Diego at the time. It is believed that the legend was started by a one-time employee of the Whaley House, in an effort to add to the house's mystique.

Even animals aren't left out of the singular occurrences. A parapsychologist reported he saw a spotted dog, like a fox terrier, that ran down the hall with his ears flapping and into the dining room. The dog, he said, was an apparition. When they lived in the house, the Whaley's owned a terrier named Dolly Varden.

The Whaley House stands silently watching over San Diego Avenue as it has done for a century and a half. Every day visitors come from around the world to tour the historic museum. It contains so much history within its walls, that even the non-believer will enjoy the tour. For believers and skeptics alike, the house draws them back time and again, in search of those elusive ghosts. As Regis Philbin once said, "You know a lot of people pooh-pooh it because they can't see it. But there was something going on in that house." - Haunted Whaley House /

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood,Ca Part 2

This time I returned to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery outfitted with some of my ghost hunting equipment. Armed with a K2 Meter, Sony Digital Voice Recorder, Nikon D7000 for video/audio still photos featured here, and now using the M2 Ghost Hunting Software on my iPhone. During my stay here I received quite a bit of EVP or electronic voice phenomena.

Some of the recordings that I made were "tongue, present,prove, look, stick, really, express, income, flush, chubby, sensor, invite, hamburger, Ezell, darkness, and heavy.. Some were in direct connection to the mausoleums graves I was sitting next to. I had a good time, and met a very nice caretaker that showed me around. Unfortunately Rudolf Vanlentino's Mausoleum was closed for cleaning. Also there was a lot of noisy stuff going on due to it being Day of the Dead. Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, and all banks are closed. The celebration takes place on November 1 and 2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery was founded in 1899 and was originally named Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery. The original site occupied 100 acres but 40 acres were sold off to Paramount and RKO Studios in 1920. Part of the land was set aside for the Beth Olam Cemetery where people from Hollywood’s Jewish community are buried. By the end of the 20th century, the owners ran into financial difficulties and the cemetery became run down. In 1989, Tyler Cassity of Forever Enterprises bought the property and restored it and re-named it Hollywood Forever. The grounds are dotted with many statues, monuments and unusual headstones along with two large indoor mausoleums. Famous Graves at Hollywood Forever Cemetery Many stars from the Old Days of Hollywood are interred at Hollywood Forever. Some of the famous people who are buried at the cemetery are: Fay Wray, Darla Hood, Janet Gaynor, Darren McGavin, Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Nelson Eddy, Peter Lorre, Tyrone Power, Mel Blanc, Peter Finch, Edward G. Robinson, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, and Charlie Chaplin Jr. Clifton starred as Mr. Belvedere in three movies; Sitting Pretty, Mr. Belvedere Goes to College and Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell. He also played in the films Laura, Cheaper by the Dozen and Nearer My God to Thee. He starred in many other films during his long career. His ghost haunts the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum where visitors hear whispering voices, see strange lights, feel cold drafts and smell cologne. Witnesses have seen a semi-transparent figure of Clifton Webb dressed in a suit and an aura in the shape of his body. People have reported the sound of whistling or his voice yelling out to get attention. Virginia Rappe Virginia was a silent film actress who was rushed to hospital when attending a party for actor Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. She died a few days later of a ruptured bladder but Fatty Arbuckle was charged with rape and murder because other party attendees said he dragged her into a room. Although he was acquitted of the crime, his acting career was ruined and her reputation was tarnished. At her grave at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, witnesses feel cold air and hear the sounds of sobbing. Some people say the sobbing sounds are coming up through the ground from her coffin. It is believed that Virginia is crying because she didn’t have the opportunity to defend her reputation. Rudolph Valentino and the Lady in Black Rudolph, known as “The Sheik” was the heartthrob of silent pictures and died after having surgery for a gastric ulcer. Thousands of people attended his funeral and his body was transported back to Hollywood Forever Cemetery from New York City. On the anniversary of his death, a lady dressed in black (including a veil) brought roses to Valentino’s crypt. She continued her annual visit for several years but soon the media found out and everybody wanted to identify the mysterious lady. Several women came forward to say they were the lady in black. Ditra Flame, who is believed to be the real lady in black, passed away in 1984. Some visitors now see the ghost of a lady in black kneeling in front of Valentino’s tomb. Others have seen roses suddenly appear in the empty vases on the tomb wall. People have reported the sounds of footsteps or the feeling of being watched. The annual memorial service for Rudolph Valentino continues to this day where throngs of people dress as the lady in black. William Randolph Hearst Although he is not buried at Hollywood Forever Memorial Cemetery, the ghost of Hearst has been seen visiting the grave of his mistress Marion Davies. Apparently, it’s to see if everything is going well for her. Horror movies are shown every summer at Hollywood Forever Cemetery where the public is invited to picnic while watching films projected on the side of a building. Visitors are welcome to stroll around the grounds and can purchase a map where the graves of famous people are identified.