Statistics vary, but up to about half the American population believes in ghosts – or at the very least, the possibility that they exist.
- A CBS poll in 2005 found that 48% of those asked said that they believe in ghosts and 45% said they didn’t. The same query revealed that 56% of women did believe in them. Surprisingly, 22% of those polled (not just of the set that believe) said that they had personally seen or felt a ghost. That’s huge!
- A Pew Research poll in 2009 found smaller numbers but that 18% felt that they had had some sort of experience with a deceased person.
- Scientific American calls these “grief hallucinations” and states that 80% of the elderly have them within a month of the passing of a close loved one. This is, of course, a surprising conclusion that the otherwise very respectable magazine failed to prove, but instead merely asserted.
Whether real experiences of the dead or, as Scientific American unscientifically claims, why is it that so few people ever talk about it?
No one wants to be labeled as crazy, nuts or disturbed. In casual conversation, friends and relatives (even if they believe and have experienced something themselves) are never going to ask, “so have you seen a ghost or felt the presence of a deceased loved one recently?” So it’s a self-imposed “don’t ask, don’t tell”.
How do you get past that so that people will share with you?
But, if for some reason they are made to feel safe in discussing it – say, if you verbally open that door – you might be surprised at the outpouring of stories. I get them all the time, often weekly. People I don’t know will call or email me about their experience because with this blog they know that they will gain a receptive ear.
You can also find a MeetUp group in your area for ghost hunters. Most of them will have a very good, personal, compelling reason for being there. And they won’t be nervous about sharing their experiences with you, either.
So if in this Halloween season you want to hear some “real ghost stories”, be daring and bring the subject up or put. Don’t make a verbal avalanche of it, but warm up to the topic a little. “This is a really interesting old house. Are there any stories associated with it?” Or volunteer something true in your own life, like “after my pet died, I really felt her presence for awhile afterward…” Or even, “my relative said that after his wife died…” The more closely it’s connected to you, personally, the safer it will be for others to share their stories and experiences with you in turn.
Yes, some people will think you are a little off but most likely you will find someone out there with a story that he or she is just dying to tell. So to speak.
How can you find out who lived – or died – on the property before you owned it or lived in it? It helps to know a friendly real estate agent or title company employee if you want to get the distant past history of your haunted land.
A title company can run a title search and get what is called the “chain of title” for you. That will tell you much more than a property profile or the county records, which often go back only about 10 years. A chain of title can go way, way back – as far as Mexican or Spanish land grants in our area.
Sometimes the chain of title will also include death certificates, so you’ll know if anyone died on the land or in the house. But don’t expect this to be absolutely perfect – no guarantees here!
The title records won’t include everyone who lived at the property address, only those who were on title, so at best it can give you a particular window. But with the owners’ names you may be able to expand your research and learn more about what took place there in days gone by. Google and other search engines can be a huge help, but so can archives from the paper (San Jose Mercury News and others). Don’t forget to just ask the neighbors – you’d be surprises at how much they might know!
I received the email, below, and have permission to share it here (edited slightly for brevity and clarity). I suggested that she talk to the neighbors as they often have input. Got any ideas for her? Please leave a comment!
We have three daughters and out youngest was 13 yrs when we moved into a two story rental home. Her room was a large room over the garage with steps down into it. During our time there the room was always cold (even in the summer). Ali (my daughter) had trouble sleeping and I would go lay in bed with her and I would become uncomfortable in the room and somewhat anxious and inevitably take her to my room.
Ali finally talked to me after we had been there two or three years that there were two children – a girl in a blue smock dress and a boy in older style clothes) that were in her room. She described them as angry at times and they would pick on her. Ali would sleep walk (hasn’t since we moved out). She said they pushed her down in the bed-she said she knew they were mad at her because, she had been gone two days. They would get mad at her when she got migraines (they thought she was ignoring them). The radio would turn on in her bathroom when she showered. One day Ali was very upset about something and went into her room and a music box in the window that needed wound up turned on, on its own, and they whispered “it’s okay”.
As we got closer to moving I would verbally tell them to leave her alone and Ali told me they didn’t like me. After we moved out – they literally broke things – it was winter and the land lord blamed us for leaving the house a mess….It was spotless when we left. I saw pictures of what the landlord claims we did. The toilet in Ali’s bathroom had black water in it that had frozen and cracked the bowl. The oven had been turned on by the landlord to warm the house and all the grease on the exterior turned black. There was a huge water stain on the wood floor that could not be removed. We ended up owing $2000.00 to the landlord for repairs of things we did not do.
I did leave a necklace of Ali’s behind hoping they would not follow her. So far so good. It has been over two years. I wondered how to find out about the land the house is on but I don’t know where to start.
Normally I do not go in front of a video camera, but…due to popular demand, here’s a little commentary on why I discuss haunted real estate. Enjoy!
Right now in San Francisco is the annual “Game Developers Conference“. I’m aware of this event mostly because my son, Brian Handy, plans on a future in video game design once he finishes college (majoring in computer science, of course). But today I got an email telling me about a mobile game that the readers of this blog might like and which is getting a special debut at the GDC this week.
What’s it all about? Ogmento, an “augmented gaming developer”, is showcasing at GDC their new mobile game, Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary. It’s an app that’s location based. Since the conference is in San Francisco, they’re playing with it. Here’s what I was told:
“…players in SF will be able to participate in an actual good versus evil battle. Running around San Francisco, players will stop at several locations to investigate paranormal activity.
“A list of locations include the Mansions Hotel, Queen Anne Hotel, Trinity Episcopal Church, San Remo Hotel, Curran Theatre, Alcatraz, the W Hotel, and of course Moscone Center itself.”
Now,forgive me for being a purist, but the only problem with this whole concept is that there is a little mixup between hauntings and demons or evil. (As well as a confusion with casting spells and other such stuff.) It’s not really the case that “alive” people are good, and dead people, or ghosts, are evil. And ghosts may or may not give a care if you try throwing a “spell” their way. (You know, the odds are against them believing in witchcraft.) As the readers of this blog likely know, ghosts are not necessarily or predominantly evil. Ever visited the Queen Anne Hotel? The ghost there is NOT bad in the least. She is, in fact, benevolent and is as likely to tuck you in, cover you if your blankets fall away or fold your clothes should they slip on the floor as anything else.
But hey, it’s a common mistake. A lot of folks get confused and think if it’s a ghost, it’s gotta be bad. If I had my druthers, they wouldn’t mix up all these unrelated things which might only find each other in a horror film, but apps sell if consumers respond.
Even so, it sounds like fun to see the mock up of San Francisco and its most haunted spots. As for me, I’m no video game addict, but I’ve got my people at GDC, and am expecting a full report on this game…as soon as the train pulls in to Silicon Valley….
Many thanks to my friend, Adrienne Foster, who sent me this link a week or so ago regarding a house that sounds very haunted in the Hollywood Hills!
A couple of months back, I saw something on television about a home in the Hollywood Hills that’s haunted. It was similarly situated clutching the hill, but it was occupied so should not be the same home as this one in the article, since it does not yet have an occupancy certificate. If you know anything about that house, please let me know. I can’t find it anywhere!
Also in Hollywood, according to seeingstars.com, the ghost of Harry Houdini is said to haunt his old digs on Laurel Canyon Road. Click on the link or Google haunted Hollywood and you’ll find many more spots!
A friend sent me a link to this online slideshow of haunted places in the US. Hope you like it!
Forgive the rumor-mongering, but emails about a ghost in the prime Golden Triangle neighborhood of Saratoga, California, are finding their way to my inbox.
The word is that an owner passed away many months ago and the home is being fixed up (or remodeled) for sale. (When done it will be worth somewhere between 1.4 and 2 million dollars is my best guess.)
According to a neighbor:
“Contractors have been in there and report unanimously that a ghost lives upstairs. It looks exactly like the elderly person who lived and died there.”
No, I won’t give you the address. And no, the house is not yet on the market. But buyers beware, the owner of this home died quite awhile ago, and if it goes past 3 years, the sellers will not have to volunteer that a death occured on the property. But if you ask, they’ll have to answer truthfully.
It wouldn’t hurt to knock on the neighbors’ doors and ask about the home before deciding to purchase it. A lot of buyers do that for any home.
“I’m writing to you in the hope that my family’s experience with spirits/lost souls may help some of your clients regain a peaceful home or be able to purchase a home that has unwanted paranormal activity. We moved into a home in 2010 that was haunted (noisily and nightly) by several spirits. Through the use of a painting, we were able to quieten their activity and, we believe, provide a ‘path’ for those spirits to move on. We wish to freely help others who may have similar disturbances in their homes. Any comment or feedback would be greatly appreciated. Our story is on the following website www.peteroosia.webs.com“