2/20/20: GRAVEHEART W/ STEVE SHIPPY

MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS

As I was going through the internet I stumbled on to an article that was about an interesting Chapman University survey about what scares most Americans.  While many Americans said that they feared the end of the world, what was most surprising is that many Americans are no longer afraid of organized terrorism

The other fear that afflicted small-town America was paranormal activity.

According to sociologists at Chapman University, a sizable 75.9% of America now actually believes in paranormal occurrences, like ghost appearances, alien contact, and demonic possessions.

More Americans now believe in various spooky concepts, from ghosts to extra-terrestrial creatures. More than 41% of respondents said they believe in ghosts, and 26.5% said they believe the living and the dead can communicate with each other through inventions like ghost boxes, electronic voice phenomena or the less sophisticated Ouija board.

There was a small amount of those surveyed that have called upon a member of the clergy or a paranormal investigator to rid their homes of demons or ghosts and another small percentage that believe that their homes even their neighborhoods are haunted by tragic histories and urban legends.

These results are part of the second annual Chapman Survey of American Fears, collected from a representative sample of 1,541 Americans over the age of 18. The broader goal of the survey which explores how much the country fears everything from natural disasters to vaccinations to the paranormal—is to determine both the causes and consequences of these fears.

People are rationalizing that the world around us is changing rapidly and previously held truths are actually not as factual as we once thought, so why wouldn’t it be possible for the supernatural to be real, too?

Interest in Witchcraft has waxed and waned throughout history but in small-town America and in many of the big cities Witchcraft is thriving.

The latest witch renaissance coincides with a growing fascination with astrology, crystals, and tarot, which, like magic, practitioners consider ways to tap into unseen, unconventional sources of power and which can be especially appealing for people who feel disenfranchised or who have grown weary of trying to enact change by working within the system.

The small town of Salem, Massachusetts is well known for its “witchiness.“

Salem’s entire identity is based on the infamous 1692 witch trials. Which every kid in America learns about. The local school is called Witchcraft Heights Elementary School, police cars have witch logos on them, and there’s the Salem Witch Museum, among other occult-related sights and stores.

In New Orleans, you may find a few voodoo practitioners and believe it or not you may even meet up with a vampire.

According to a study now out, after five years of research done by a doctoral candidate at Louisiana State University, New Orleans is home to at least 50 real vampires. The study was done by John Edgar Browning, who told The Washington Post that despite having a reputation for blood-sucking and being fashion victims, they are pretty much just regular folks.

There is even an official New Orleans Vampire Association.

Even though the term ‘vampire’ has a negative connotation, these individuals are really just people who claim to have a medical condition that requires them to drink blood, whether its human or animal, to sustain themselves.

Even more surprising, a survey conducted by the Atlanta Vampire Alliance estimates that there are around 5,000 real vampires in the United States.

In small-town America, rumors fly like bats at twilight.

When I was young and lived in a small town called Midvale Utah, many of the neighborhood kids would hang out in a wooded area in our neighborhood.  There was an old house in there that had an old wooden gate that had a pentagram carved into it.

We were warned never to go near the house but we never listened to our parents and so a couple of us kids would walk up to the gate and try to look in on the yard.

It was ornate with weird statuary.

Back then we did not know the statues were but there were a few that looked like gargoyles and demons.

One day, a very young and pale woman with long hair saw us near the gate. We were startled.

She invited us in and fed us egg sandwiches and punch. We also would color pictures with chalk and pastel pencils and trace our bodies on butcher paper. There were two men that lived with her and their house smelled heavy with incense.

I thought they were hippies—later we were asked to meet with our church leaders and they warned us to stay away from the house because we were told that the woman was a witch.

Thinking back it all made sense—we had no idea what the star on the gate was and looking back the statues were of the fawn and gnomes.

She had a number of cats on the property that I was told were her familiars.

Of course, we were warned that the witches practiced Satanism. I think it was the first time I learned that men could be witches too.

Eventually, the woman died – she was found drowned in the pool she had in her back yard. The rumor was that she asked a Oujia board when she was going to die.  When it told her, she took acid and then killed herself.

Many of the men in the neighborhood had to lift her out of the pool and my father said that she had a terrified look on her face when he and the rest of the men got her cold and bloated body out of the water.

Thinking about that story still gives me the creeps because from what I knew of her, she was kind and made great egg sandwiches.

I am sure there are plenty of stories that circulate in small towns where people know of a haunted area or a place that you are forbidden to go to because of some horrible tragedy

I remember that just after the 9/11 attacks I needed some time off from doing my radio show. Of course with the name Ground Zero, you can imagine the heat I was getting not only from my superiors but from others who were telling me that I was insensitive for keeping the name of my show after the smoldering pit that was once the Twin Towers. Of course, I was not about to change anything but I needed an escape — I had just broken up with my girlfriend and I was producing a new radio show and the pressure was too much.

I decided I needed a change of scenery so I decided to hit the road with some friends. I thought a great place to escape to would be Lake Tahoe. I had been to Reno and Carson City Nevada but I never really got into the lush green forest that was beyond there.

I figured Tahoe would be an excellent escape. I ended up in Truckee California which of course is the small town that is in the area.  It was an amazing town of small shops and American flags flying in front of houses with white picket fences.  It was like I was living in a John Cougar Mellencamp song.

If there’s one thing we know from listening to John Cougar Mellencamp, it’s that small-town pride runs deep. Also, those rural kids weirdly suck on chili dogs behind the Tasty freeze. But mostly, people are really proud of their small towns.

I stopped in Truckee where I had an amazing cheeseburger at a place that was similar to a Tasty Freeze and watched a little league game – it was, of course, a simple thing, but it was enough to take my mind off of what was happening in the world.

It was great, there was no TV– we avoided the radio and we even avoided gambling in the area.

I realized though there is one thing you cannot avoid and that is with the all American veneer of small-town camaraderie there are stories that people like to tell and many of them are spoken in hushed tones.

I realized that small towns have histories and while there are a lot of historical markers to take in – the people in town are more than happy to tell you that small towns have darker histories.

Lake Tahoe I was told has been the subject of legend with tales of a monster swimming in the water, to an underwater pyramid, but the most bizarre legend of all is that if you were to take a submarine down 900 feet just off South Shore, you would see hundreds of bodies suspended in the water, preserved perfectly like an underwater wax museum, most wearing clothes from the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s.

The legend is this is where the Mafia killers dumped bodies after executions. Some fishermen even call the spot The Grave At Tahoe, many locals talk as if everybody knows about this, that there are lots of gangsters down there, wearing pinstriped suits, with sneers on their faces and bullet holes in their foreheads.

What, or whom, Lake Tahoe holds in its average depth of 1,000 feet is a mystery, except for those who have lost family or friends to drowning, boating accidents or other fatal mishaps. But the conditions within the second-deepest lake in the United States keep the mystery unanswerable.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported a number of factors contributed to the phenomenon, according to Dr. Anton Sohn, chairman of the pathology department at the University of Nevada in Reno.

When people drown, for instance, their lungs fill with water, dropping them into the depths of the lake.

Death brings decomposition where bacteria consumes bodily flesh at some pace. During that process gases such as methane, nitrogen and oxygen are produced but the type of gases formed depend on the type of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, Sohn said. The gases would allow a body to rise “like a balloon. The body buoys up to the top,” Sohn said.

Since the lake has frigid temperatures bodies don’t decompose, thus gases don’t form, prompting them to stay submerged.

Lake Tahoe has a constant temperature of 39 degrees between the depths of 600 to 700 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It’s surface temperature varies with the type of season. In months such as August and September, the surface temperature runs between 65 to 70 degrees. During this time of year, the surface temperature is as cold as 40 degrees and as warm as 50 degrees.

Of course, it is said that South Lake Tahoe is haunted.

Moreover, rooms on the fourth floor of the Mont Bleu Casino are haunted; especially, Room 416.

According to hotel staff, a ghostly specter walks the 4th-floor hallways late at night wailing for help in finding “Jerry” or possibly “Larry”. No one knows who any of these people are, but the hotel staff has taken to calling the spirit “Jessica” due to her alleged resemblance to movie star Jessica Alba. The ghost seems very distraught and seems nearly hysterical and runs back and forth through the corridors often for several minutes in a semi-transparent state.

Now would you spend the night there?

On my way back from Tahoe, I wound up in another weird place – at least a place that I got a weird vibe from.

As I was returning to my home in Portland, Oregon, my friends and I made a stop in the small town of Dunsmuir, California.

Dunsmuir is a small town near the Sacramento River whose claim to fame is the railroad yard where trains pass through there all the time. I was intrigued by the small town only because there was something about it that gave me a weird vibe.

It was as if an alien landing happened there or that it was like “Salem’s Lot” – a small town that was made popular by Stephen King where the people there all acted peculiar and the big secret was a Vampire lived there.

It was the first time I ever got a bad vibe from a place and I really wasn’t sure as to why.

I was so overwhelmed with a chilling feeling about the place that I asked the manager of a gas station there is something terrible had happened there that I was unaware of.

She shared with me a number of stories about the town including a chemical spill that, in 30 minutes, literally destroyed the ecosystem. A train derailed there and a tanker carrying a pesticide overturned and started draining a noxious substance into the water killing fish and wildlife for 40 miles.

The chemical was called metam-sodium. By-products of the breakdown of metam-sodium included deadly hydrogen sulfide.

Almost every living organism within 40 miles of the river was dead in 30 minutes.

Many people in the town were rushed to the hospital with breathing problems many had nausea and headaches.

Everybody had the same symptoms: a metallic taste in the mouth, an inability to concentrate.

But what gave me the creeps was the story of how a number of pregnant women had miscarriages after the incident and how a number of animals, frogs, and fish never returned to the area because of the spill.

“A newborn baby born in Dunsmuir days after the spill was found to be dropping weight rapidly, and the family’s doctor told the parents they needed to move the baby out of the area.”

The railroad installed a monument as an eternal reminder of what happened there 20 years ago, and a symbol of how nature can recover given the time. Most people agree that another spill is inevitable because so many roadways and railroad tracks cross waterways.

It was the first time I ever had a bad feeling about being in a town. It was a frightening feeling that the place was haunted.

I often wondered if anyone else has had this ordeal.

When was the last time you passed through a town that seemed unfamiliar and for some reason just being there made you feel anxious, irritated or even chilled to the point of being uncomfortable?

I suppose that it can be stated that by some quantum joke science can bait us with dimensional theories that point to the possibility that there are areas of the planet where the veil is thinner or that there is some extra-dimensional vortex where a second d genesis occurred parallel to our own.

There are locations throughout the planet that are suggested to be the most powerful due to their position on the globe or maybe because some unknown event that created a small-town horror.

Roswell, New Mexico has that vibe as well probably because of the story of aliens that allegedly crashed there in 1947. The old-timers there have many stories and as you look into their eyes you realize that something traumatic happened—something that they do not understand.

I have always wanted to do an investigation into the small town of Stull Kansas as one of my old producers from Lawrence Kansas told me that Stull was a portal to hell.

There was once an old stone church wall that crumbled in 2002 in the small town’s cemetery.

It is located in a part of Kansas where the first three numbers of the zip code beginning with “666,” and the road leading to the cemetery was called “Devil’s Lane” until it was changed in 1905.

Many of the gravestones have the name “Wittich,” engraved on them and one is said to be occupied by a “Child of Satan” born of a witch and the Devil. The child was said to have been severely deformed and lived only a short time.

Not only was the cemetery on land where witches were hanged – there is an area where the church crumbled that has a staircase that goes deep under the cemetery where people have disappeared, rumored to have gone into hell.

Martinez California has sort of a special place in my heart where I was terrified for my life, it was there that I had a run-in with an angry ghost that claimed to be the Zodiac Killer.

For the first time in my life as a paranormal investigator, I have never been involved in a case that left me more terrified. While I was broadcasting on the air during a live remote, I was interviewing Crystal Willett was with a paranormal group investigating the Haunting of the Martinez Gazette. I was asking her some very direct questions about her relationship with this ghost that claimed to be the Zodiac. She answered many of my questions. However, halfway through my interview with her she broke down and cried. I could see the terror in her face and I felt helpless and needed to somehow gain control of my show while still trying to help her.

Whatever triggered the tears decided to come after me. I felt my throat close up and I began to choke. My body began to freeze up, there was a cold sensation that moved down my back into my legs and my muscles felt like they were going to burst.

I couldn’t continue the show, and lost all control of my emotions. I felt like I was going to die, and all I could do was cry out and leave the table where I was broadcasting.

VIDEO CREDIT: Wes Skotko

I wound up outside with my shoes off standing in the mud near a tree, puking my guts out—whatever was in me was a black, oily substance.

That night the paranormal investigators were able to get clear EVP of the investigation. The ghost that was in the newspaper office was  Richard Gaikowski who was once an editor for the Martinez Gazette.

Even though investigators have said that Gaikowski was in New York during the time of the murders, the conversation we had with him from beyond the grave said otherwise.

I spent the whole night throwing up after that attack and it took me a few days to recover.

America is a country rich in folklore, a place where cautionary tales have always been mixed into the pot and sprinkled into our collective nightmares.

These stories were able to travel faster than most internet stories and now that the internet exists they can remain in our collective memories for a long time.

Stories that will freak you out no matter where you live.

 

 

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