The Spy House Museum
It was the summer of 1991. My Aunt Rose and Uncle Mike had moved to New Jersey several years before, and my family would go to spend a few days there every month during summer break. I got to hang out with my cousins, Kathleen and Bridget, along with their siblings. I had some amazing times hanging out with them, along with some of the other neighborhood kids, such as Charlie and Eddie. They seemed tough at first, but were pretty okay guys once you got to know them.
One weekend in August 1991, the group of us finished breakfast and were uncharacteristically bored. Usually we'd go to the nearby park, or just explore the neighborhood. Being from the Bronx, I'd had little experience with suburbia, and quite frankly, it intrigued me. That day, though, it had rained early in the morning, and left an oddly dense, chilly fog in its wake. Inspired by the gloom, we decided to take advantage of the chilly day and go for a long walk. Where to go, though?
Standing outside my Aunt and Uncle's house, Charlie suggested the Spy House museum. Most of us had never heard of it, not being from the area. Kathleen and Bridget both agreed, thereby convincing my sister Trish. She was the eldest and therefore unfortunately the shepherd of this most unruly flock.
Charlie knew where it was, so he headed the group up and we all followed. Our spirits were high, since Charlie had told us how awesome the place was. It was supposedly filled with oddities and knick-knacks from as far back as the Revolutionary War.
It took us the better part of an hour to walk the distance to the Spy House. In attendance were myself, my brothers Matthew and Andrew, my sister Trish, my cousins Kathleen and Bridget, and their two neighbors, Charlie and Eddie. I recall lots of horsing around during that walk, with Trish futilely trying to restrain us and doing her very best to be the "good big sister". Her failure wasn't really her fault, as managing five teenage boys is neither an easy nor enviable task for anyone.
I remember my first sight of the Spy House. It was a large, stark white house set near a beach. The breeze coming in off the water, which would have been welcome on any normal day in August, felt oddly cold, like Autumn couldn't wait to swallow us whole a month early.
Upon entry, I noticed that they had their air conditioners on high. As if they didn't realize the temperature outside. It was almost too cold in there, and I shivered. I felt the hairs on my neck prickle, almost like I was standing right underneath one of the vents. I looked around, but didn't see any. I shrugged and chalked it up to an errant air current.
The clerk in charge of collecting admission fees seemed like the kind of woman who would brook no nonsense from anyone, much less a group of adolescents and a twenty-something woman. She seemed the kind that chewed iron nails for fun.
From there we split up, Charlie and Eddie, the spiritual predecessors to Beavis and Butthead, went one way. Kathleen, Bridget, Trish and Matthew went another. Andrew and I went upstairs and entered a room full of what to this day has become one of my least favorite objects; mannequins.
What is it about mannequins that freak me out so much? There are many stories in cultures all around the world about how figures like dolls and mannequins can house spirits. Spirits of dead people, animals, demigods, gods, angels, demons and elementals, to name but a few. The larger the figure, and/or the more accurately they are represented, the more likely it is that they can be inhabited. There was even a movie made in the 80's that took a comical look at this concept (along with a far worse sequel). There's also the famous case of Annabelle as investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren, the details of which have now been made into a major motion picture.
Here is a good article about the place of dolls in history.
To summarize, mannequins seem like receptacles. And so when Andrew and I walked into one of the rooms to peruse the tableau of 18th century life that it was meant to represent, that the chill on the back of my neck from earlier returned. I remember pausing at the door to the room while Andrew walked in. After a couple of steps, he too froze. He slowly turned to me. He didn't say a word. He didn't have to. The look on his face said it all.
There was an oppressiveness to the room that I still can't fully describe to this day. The best I can do is to say is that it was as if we were interlopers, that we had disturbed some scene of intense sorrow. I took a deep breath and stepped into the room. Nothing changed. I walked further in, past Andrew. I looked at several of the mannequins, waiting for one to jump up or grab me or move its head. None of them did, but I could have sworn that one of their eyes followed me all across its field of view. After a few more moments, I hastily departed the room with Andrew in tow. I couldn't shake the feeling that we were being scrutinized, instead of the other way around.
Once in the hallway, I let out a breath that I didn't realize that I was holding. I looked at my brother, and he was paler than normal. Still, for some reason, I grinned excitedly at him, and he kind of smirked back.
"Wanna go back in?" I asked.
"Nah, let's check out another room", he replied.
Slightly disappointed, I agreed, and after checking out a couple more rooms, and crossing paths with Charlie and Eddie, we came to the last room. It depicted a seamstress' chamber, and had a mannequin looking out the window, representing a woman watching for a spy boat to arrive so that she could see to its disposition. It wasn't that interesting to me, and I didn't feel the chill anymore, so I left Andrew in the room and walked into the hallway.
To the right were the rooms that we had already checked out. To the left was the end of the hallway, and a barricaded door that had a barely legible "under renovation" sign hanging on it. Being the curious lad that I was, I approached the door. It was made of old, grey wood and there were large cracks between some of the planks. The chill returned. The closer I got to the door, the stronger that feeling became. I was near panic by the time I arrived in front of the door. Something in my mind was telling me to run away as fast as I could. Something else in my mind told me to ignore that and to see if I could determine what it was that was making me so afraid. So I did the only logical thing that I could think of.
I leaned forward, pressing my eye to a large space between two door boards. For a moment, I only saw sunlight filtering through a boarded-up window. Then I felt... something. A force, a pressure, as if something rushed toward the door but was brought up short at the last instant. And with that pressure came a malevolence that I had never felt before. Well, maybe I had once. Either way, I got the message loud and clear:
And so I did. Andrew had just come out of that last room, and looked at me standing several feet away from the abandoned door. I must have looked quite scared, because he asked what was wrong. I told him, and he went to have a look for himself. We McMillans are either quite brave or very dumb. After having an almost identical experience, he backed off very quickly. Naturally, instead of leaving the building like sane people, we went looking for the rest of our group to tell them what had happened.
Trish and Matthew were eager to go have a look. Matthew reported the same feeling of foreboding, but by the time Trish took a look, it seemed as if whatever it was had worn itself out. She only reported feeling a minor sense of dread.
After these experiences, I had the idea of talking to the clerk downstairs, to see if she could corroborate any of our stories. Remember what I said earlier about brooking no nonsense? Well, she didn't. Apparently, Monmouth county was not happy about the fact that the ghost stories were being given more attention than the actual history of the place. As such, she was furious as soon as I mentioned what had happened. She ejected us from the premises forthwith, and threatened that if we ever returned, there would be hell to pay.
I always thought that the threat seemed rather ironic, given where she worked.
In 2011, my brothers Andrew and Kenny, along with my sister Sue and a woman that I was dating, Jennifer, attempted to go back to the Spy House. However, at that time, they were closed for renovations. We wound up going to historic Philipsburg Manor and Sleepy Hollow instead.
Several other paranormal groups have checked the place out, including New Jersey Paranormal, and it sits comfortably on many "top haunted places in America" lists.
The Ouija Board. Copyright Parker Brothers.
The infamous Ouija Board. Few other objects are so closely associated with evil, mystical, or forbidden things. In my life, I've heard several tales of how when you try to throw one away, it will come back. A friend claimed that he experienced exactly that situation, where he tossed the board out after it made some unsettling predictions. Several days later, he claimed, he was looking under his bed for something. He found the board in the same place that he used to keep it. He took it across the street to a park and burned it. It never came back.
The year was 1988. My family had moved for what seemed the thousandth time, this time to a nice apartment on Westchester Avenue in the Bronx. My brother Andrew had a friend from school that lived on Westchester Square, a hub of commerce and very near to Lehman High School, where he was a sophomore at the time. He had a friend named Susan, and she had a Nintendo Entertainment System and a big-screen TV. Thus, when myself and my little brother Matthew were asked if we wanted to go with him to hang out at her place, we leaped at the opportunity!
Upon arrival, Matt and I descended upon the video game with fervor. Andrew, Susan and Andrew's best friend, Eileen, AKA Buffy, (long before Joss Whedon or Sara Michelle Gellar had even heard of each other) were hanging out in the kitchen. After an hour or so of playing various NES classics, Matt and I grew intrigued by the commotion coming from the kitchen. Upon inspection, we saw that Andrew and friends were hunched over a board on the kitchen table. Their hands were resting upon a plastic device with a small window in it. They were utterly focused on this object to the point where they didn't even notice our entrance.
At first I was confused. Andrew knew the stories very well. Why would he voluntarily place himself in danger by messing with something he knew to be so dangerous. I hung by the doorway into the kitchen, feeling an odd, icy sensation in my stomach. Fear had set in. Matthew advanced to join the group, his curiosity overcoming whatever trepidation he may have felt. After a couple of minutes of risk assessment, I figured that no harm would come to me if I just walked over and observed. I wouldn't touch this thing.
I watched with a ball of ice sitting in my stomach as my brother and his friends asked questions. Some received answers, some didn't. Some of the answers could be interpreted to make sense, some were gibberish. One question received an answer which I will never forget.
"What is your name?" Andrew asked.
Silence. No one moved. A strange, oppressive feeling came over us all. Their smiles of excitement faded.
The planchette started to move. Their joyful, excited faces had transformed to grim visages.
The first letter was "A".
The cursor took on a life of its own, speeding across the board with it's own will. "S", "M", "O" "D" followed in quick succession.
The cursor started to slow down, like its energy was being drained.
It stopped. Our hearts almost did too, when a moment later it continued.
It dragged slowly across the board this time. It took several moments for it to arrive on what would be the final letter.
The silence in the room was tangible. No one looked up from the board, expecting something terrible to happen. Andrew and Susan's faces were red. Buffy had a small trickle of sweat running down the side of her face. I turned to look at Matt's face, and saw that his eyes were wide and his mouth was slightly agape. The ball of ice in my stomach had turned into a boulder. I felt cold.
Just as suddenly as the feeling enveloped us, it disappeared. Like a soap bubble, it popped. The heaviness left the room, and we all started to breathe again. Looking at each other for support, we each tried to make sure that it wasn't just them.
Buffy was the first to laugh. It was only natural, I suppose. Young people believe they're invincible, and what better way to show that than to literally laugh at a situation that you not only don't understand, but that terrified you for no discernible reason at all? The ball of ice in my stomach had partially melted, but I knew that something was still not right.
Shortly after we had all laughed much of our fear away, it was time to go. My father was very strict about what time we got home, and the last thing that we wanted to do was incur his ire.
Before we did leave, though, Andrew had a suspicion that he had heard this name before. Every Ouija board comes with a spirit, according to the instructions. We looked at the name of the one that this particular board was said to come with. Its' name was Edward. Susan's mother was a bit on the religious side, and therefore had a compendium of various angels and demons. When Andrew mentioned to Susan his suspicion that an evil presence had come onto the board, she handed him the book and they looked it up.
It turns out that Asmodeus was a major demon in the ranks of hell. Now, as I've written before, I was raised Roman Catholic, and that was no laughing matter. But laugh we did, as the notion that a being so powerful and malevolent would manifest itself to a small group of teenagers was preposterous! Ludicrous! Ridiculous! Of course it was! ...Right?
And so it was that as I was walking back to my home with Andrew and Matthew, and accompanied by Buffy, that I, being a young and foolish child, melodramatically raised my arms to the iron-gray sky and proclaimed, "Asmodeus! Come and get me!", laughing all the while.
Pain. As soon as the last syllable left my mouth, I felt sudden, excruciating, searing, stabbing, white-hot pain in my stomach.
I doubled over, clutching my abdomen. My brothers and Buffy gathered around me, asking what was wrong. When I told them what I was feeling, Buffy suggested that I should say 14 "Hail Mary"s. I wasn't in any kind of state to question her. Being a good Catholic boy, I began uttering the prayer with fervor. I didn't keep count of how many I said, but after a short while, the pain ebbed and I was able to stand up straight again. I have no idea whether it was the prayer that helped, or the passage of time. At that moment, though, I couldn't have cared less. The pain stopped.
Thoroughly shaken by what just happened, we completed the walk to my apartment building. Buffy took her leave, her eyes still wide, and we proceeded back upstairs. We wouldn't talk about what happened for years to come.
One thing was for sure, though. I never spoke that name aloud again for two and a half decades. This was just the beginning of a series of events which would put my sanity and self-reliance to the test.
Those are stories for another time, though.
Thanks again for reading, and as always, feel free to leave a like and/or a comment below. Let me know if you've ever experienced anything like this, or write whatever other story you'd like to share. Until next time!
"I want to go home." I said, confused.
"You are home." my sister Sue said with concern.
"No, I'm not. I want to go home." I said, feeling more confused.
"What are you talking about?" Sue asked gently. "Your bedroom is upstairs."
"This isn't home. I wanna go home."
"Do you know who I am?" Sue asked, the bile rising in her throat, starting to panic.
"You're Susie." I said.
"Douglas, if you know who I am, then you know you're home." she said.
"I'm not home, and why are you calling me Douglas?" I asked, bewildered.
"...what do you mean? What's your name?" Sue asked, growing more freaked out by the word.
"Stephen, and I want to go home!" I cried.
Sue brought me back upstairs to my bed, tucked me in and assured me that she would take me home in the morning, after I got some sleep. When I awoke the next morning, I didn't recall anything of the event.
This was one of several instances of somnambulism that I exhibited between the ages of three and eighteen years old. In itself, it's a fairly rare occurrence, only happening to between 1-15% of the general population. What really gets me whenever I think of those occurrences is the whole identity crisis that I would experience every single time. Why did I insist that my name was Stephen? Who was/is this person? This insistence was a hallmark of my somal schisms from the very first reported incident when I was 3, as illustrated above.
Somnambulism is a term derived from two Latin root words -- soma, which means to sleep, and ambulare, which means to walk. Sleepwalking.
Sleepwalking is a phenomenon where a person can do anything from simply sitting up and looking around - to walking around performing complex tasks, all while in a deep state of sleep. Here is the National Sleep Foundation page with more information.
The subject of my nocturnal meanderings was one of some awkwardness while I was growing up. Sometimes my family would tell me about them, other times they wouldn't. They only happened maybe half a dozen times in fifteen years that I've been made aware of, and they are are all only slight variations of the scene depicted above. My level of cognition would vary, so certain times I would be easier to interact with than others.
So who was Stephen? My persistent identification with this name caused my family to joke that it must be the spirit of one of our ancestors. After some some research, I found that I actually do have a *deep breath* great, great, great, great, great, great, great, grandfather named Stephen A. Smith, born on May 6 1771, and who died in 1841. The joke seemed more realistic now. Could I possibly be some kind of reincarnation of a man that died 177 years ago?
Let's explore other options.
There's a theory called soul clusters. According to the website Spiral Backwards, "One theory about reincarnation is that there are groups of souls that travel together through multiple lifetimes. Called a soul pod, group, cluster or family, this group of beings are felt to be deeply interconnected and working toward some larger purpose set forth by the universe, to solve a problem or address common objectives that can span eternity. The belief is that these souls are drawn together in each life and manifest as family or friends, often with instant connection or recognition (such as soulmates or kindred spirits)."
Could I be in a soul cluster that once manifested my spirit as Stephen so long ago? Am I still in that cluster? I think so, because most of my family registered as family to me when I was in those dream states. Was it because I seemed to be riding the line between this other person's memories and my own that I had a hybridized notion of who my family was? Or was I recognizing them on a much higher, more spiritual level? Or was it something else?
It could have been psychological in nature. According to the website Psychology Today, we learn about Dissociative Identity Disorder. It can manifest at any age, and is most commonly the result of abuse and/or psycho-social stress. According to that article, however, it doesn't seem to manifest during sleep. It happened to me only a handful of times in fifteen years, and stopped when I was still a teen. I have never had cause to suspect abuse of any kind. These issues seem to preclude DID from being the root cause of my sleepwalking episodes.
Another possibility is what's called a "spiritual possession", which, according to wikipedia, is "a term for the belief that animas, aliens, demons, extraterrestrials, gods, or spirits can take control of a human body." I'm of the mind that it was a spirit that caused my episodes. The notion that it was the same spirit with the same name and persona on multiple occasions over a decade and a half make me question this possibility, though. Could I be haunted by this Stephen person?
So let's talk about reincarnation in its' myriad forms.
Throughout history, and in nearly every major holy book and religious text known to man, there are certain themes that remain constant. Among them is that of reincarnation. A person dies, and their spirit then either immediately or eventually enters and suffuses another being. The manner of being varies by the religion in question.
For Hindus, it can be any living being from a gnat to a tree. Practitioners of Hinduism also believe that spiritual energy isn't bound by conventional standards of time and space, so if you step on a bug or chop down a tree, that it could house the spirit of your great-grand uncle, or your future nephew.
For Christians, however, there is no second chance, as stated here. Christian souls come from the Guff, which apparently only has a finite number of souls.
Shintoism and other animistic religions believe that everything from rocks to rivers to weather systems to people is imbued with energy, sort of like the Force from Star Wars lore. In Shintoism, these spirits are called "kami". Instead of reincarnation per se, Shintoists believe that when a living being dies, that their kami is released and recycled.
Did I actually have flash-backs to my life as Stephen when I sleepwalked as a kid? Could the possible memories of a past life have been mixing with my persona as it existed then? Could that have created an odd state of being where I was both Douglas and Stephen at the same time?
Where was home?
One thing that could possibly help me find out is a technique called past-life regression. That is a technique is when one is put into a deep hypnotic state and asked a series of questions meant to cause memories of a past life to resurface. Whenever I think of this procedure, I can't help but think of the scene from the X-Files episode, "The Field Where I Died" (Here is the opening/closing scene, which still gives me chills to this day).
Is it possible to perceive future events too? I have had one episode of sleepwalking that gave me a glimpse of what I can only construe as a future life. I was on a long, straight road. It had two lanes with a yellow dashed line in the center. The road lead straight to what seemed to be a high-walled city, with stark, sharp, high spires and towering skyscrapers. The entrance to the city that the road lead to was at the point of what seemed like an enormous V, with the walls spreading for what seemed like miles to either side. It was dusk, and the bright blue and purple lights of this unknown city were just coming on.
If reincarnation is real, what is the purpose of it? Theologians and scholars and many people much smarter than me have been trying to figure it out for thousands of years. Is it as some people say, that we come back each time to learn something new? Are our spirits evolving with each new life, moving a step closer to some ultimate spiritual goal or level of preparedness? Or is it random, our spirits being shifted back and forth in time and space in a chaotic soup of demi-consciousness and eternal forgetfulness? What universal system is in place to govern either of these options, or ones that I'm unfamiliar with? These are the thoughts that have kept me up at night.
I haven't had any episodes or flashes of that nature since I was 18. When I did, though, they felt utterly and completely real. So did what little I've ever been able to recall of my somnabulistic episodes. Were they, though?
Who knows? Maybe I'll sleepwalk about it some day.
Let me know if you've ever had any experiences with past/future lives below! Feel free to weigh in on what you think happened to me!
Seeing a ghost when I was on the farm affected me in ways that I still don't fully understand. Did it kick open the door in my brain (large grains of salt to be taken with this) to let other things in? It certainly seems that way, since seeing that spectral Granny was far from the only experience that I've had in my life.
All good things must come to an end, they say. And so it was that after my father lost his job in 1982, we sadly had to move out of the farm house and back down to the Bronx, to Mulford Ave. The new house was located across the street from my aunt and uncle, who lived in Hazel Towers. This was great, because I got to play regularly with my some of my first cousins who were very close to my age.
I had two first-hand encounters here, along with a few other stories told to me by my older siblings and cousins.
Encounter one: Meathead
The first was a subtle one, to the point where I didn't realize how odd it was until after it was over.
Staircases. Why do so many of my strange experiences begin and end with them?
It was the spring of 1982, and I was in the first grade. I came home from school and went upstairs to the bedroom that I shared with my brother Matthew. After a little while, I came back downstairs and into the kitchen to grab something to snack on. I have memories of the floral-print on a background of yellow wallpaper which sometimes gave me a headache. As I entered the kitchen, I saw a man who reminded me very much of "Meathead" from Archie Bunker. He wore a red, green and black plaid shirt with 70's-style brown hair and a mustache. He had blue jeans on with suspenders. Something seemed wrong to me about him, but I couldn't put my finger on it.
This person didn't register my arrival. I was startled at a stranger's presence in my kitchen, so I asked who he was, thinking that he was perhaps a friend of one of my older brothers'. He seemed to be around his mid to late 20's. After I asked his name, he simply got up and stepped out into the hallway towards the front exit, ignoring me.
I hesitated to follow this stranger. The hair stood up on my arms and my scalp tingled. I stood in the other doorway from the rear of the house. Both doors in and out of the house were closed and locked. Then something odd occurred to me; I had seen flowers from the wallpaper pattern through this man's shirt. He was very slightly transparent. I cautiously stepped out through the door from which this being exited, and found no one. I hadn't heard any doors anywhere in the house open or close. No footsteps. Nothing.
I went upstairs to my older siblings' rooms, and no one was in them. I called out their names. Nothing. The house was dead quiet.
Finally, I went to the back yard, where my parents and my brothers Kenny and Michael were chit-chatting, and, still clinging to the hope that I was imagining things, asked them if they had a guest in the house that could have been who I'd seen. When they said no, I turned pale and reluctantly told them about what happened, and about the fact that I could see the wallpaper through this being. My brothers exchanged knowing looks, my mother looked only mildly concerned, and my father snorted and admonished me for watching spooky movies.
I have no idea who or what that entity was, or what it wanted. I only ever saw it once. I didn't feel scared, apart from the surprise of seeing a stranger in my kitchen. It just was.
Had my brothers witnessed something/someone similar?
Encounter two: Angel Eyes
Having been baptized and raised as a Roman Catholic, I was instilled with notions of grand choirs of angels, and foul, twisted devils. Catholic mythology contains some very powerful imagery, etched into the murals and stained glass in virtually every church built since antiquity. I'll be the first to admit that I have a very strong and particularly visual imagination. All that being said, none of the stories or church services would have prepared me for what happened one night when I was eight.
I had a nightmare. It was some weird amalgam of several movies that I'd seen recently, and it culminated with me waking in a cold sweat with the impression of a monster waiting for me just under my bed. I was terrified, and though fear of its clutching, razor sharp claws nearly overpowered my need to run to my parents' bedroom, I managed to do just that. I went around to my mother's side of the bed, weeping a little from the memory of the nightmare. She cracked one eye, saw the state that I was in, pulled my head close to her and gave me a kiss on the forehead. She reassured me that I was ok, and told me to lay down across the foot of their massive bed. I did so, and after a short while, the comforting presence of my parents slowly started to lull me to sleep.
I turned over, looking up towards my parents' heads. My eyes glazed as sleep reached out for me in the same way that the imagined monster did. As I was sliding into the dark abyss of sleep, something slowly appeared over their heads. Something pale white. Something comforting. As I lay there, nearly asleep, I saw two pairs of glowing white eyes over each of my parents' heads. In retrospect, I imagine that I should have roused myself and freaked out, crying for them to wake up because there were freaking glowing white eyes over their heads! I didn't, though. As I said, their presence was such a comfort to me that I fell fast into a deep and dreamless sleep.
I woke up for school the next morning in my own bed, so I suppose that my father carried me there. I felt fantastic, but was reluctant to share what had happened. Finally, sitting at the dining room table in front of my morning bowl of cereal, I told my mother. I was fearful that she'd tell me that I was just having a twilight dream as I was falling asleep, but instead she smiled and called my father over. She asked me kindly to repeat my story to him. I knew he wasn't overly fond of the strange things that most of my family had experienced in their lives, so I told him my story with the expectation of another admonition. Instead, he quirked a small smile, nodded slightly, and came and gave me a hug.
At times when things seemed darkest, I recalled those eyes, and I drew comfort from that memory. I have long since divested myself of Roman Catholic teachings. I am a happy agnostic. As such, I initially had a hard time reconciling this and other instances that smack of the divine or devilish. I've come to believe, though, that entities like those I saw that night and others of more negative bent, are simply entities that have existed since long before mankind gave them names and classified them as "angels" or "demons" or "faeries". We have only limited abilities to perceive and/or interact with them. Specific emotional states seem to enable one to do so, though the exact causes for those occurrences are next to impossible to replicate at will.
Did the after-effects of my nightmare enable me to perceive those beings? Or did they show themselves to me in an act of kindness - to soothe a frightened, vulnerable child? I'll never know, but I'm glad that nothing much more negative showed itself to me that night.
That wouldn't happen for many more years.
What could those eyes have been? Have you ever had a similar experience? Comment below!
Hi there. My name is Douglas McMillan, and over the course of over 40 years on this spinning blue marble, some very odd things have happened to me, and I'd like to share them with you.
I was born in the "New" Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, New York, on August 23rd, 1976 at around 6:00 PM. I was the first male born there. I was, at that moment, the 6th child born to my mother and father, and the only survivor of the three children that were supposed to be born into my extended family that year. Two of my aunts miscarried, and as everyone knows, deaths come in threes. When my mother went to the hospital, pretty much every member of my extended family, as well as a good portion of the neighborhood, were in attendance, offering prayers and positive energy. Luckily, I was born healthy and screaming, and I wasn't the only one to take a huge breath that evening.
My family stayed in the South Bronx until 1980, when my father got a promotion at his job in corporate America, and packed up the family to move into 66 Cricket Hill Road, a large house on a 30+ acre patch of land in Dover Plains, NY, around 70 miles north of NYC. It was used primarily as pasture land for race horses. I'll never forget the sight of the foothills of Bear Mountain laid out in front of me when I stepped out onto the back porch in the morning. It was simply majestic.
On occasion my parents would let us young'ns feed the horses an apple. The fear that the animal would accidentally bite my hand, the sensation of the horse's lips brushing against my palm, tickling me, the delight as I watched it munch contentedly on the apple - it was an amazing feeling. I still feel a certain bond with horses to this day, though I've only ridden two of them in my adult life.
There were stories of strange goings-on at the farm. Old Jerry Law from the property next door would tell us spooky stories. (He gave me my first dollar bill, which seemed like a fortune!) He told us of a ghostly old lady reputed to roam our home. I never really paid the story any mind, since I was just 5 years old and barely understood the concept of what a ghost really was.
My cousins Peter, Danny and Joey would come up from NYC to visit from time to time, and on a warm summer night, we built a camp fire in the back yard and the older kids would play frisbee. I've been told by several family members that while they were tossing that plastic disc around, a strange blur came from the field adjacent to the back yard and ran behind Danny, and disappeared around the side of the barn. They cautiously searched for the source of the blur, fearing the possibility of a mountain lion or other medium-sized predator. The only thing that they found, though, was a grave that was completely obscured by brush and bushes. The name had been scrubbed clean by time and weather, but the fact that it was a grave marker was unmistakable.
A few weeks later, as I recall, came the event that would shape many aspects of my life, yet it happened so fast that at times I wonder if it was really just a dream. My mother corroborates everything, though, so I'm forced to accept that it did, in fact, happen.
If you've attended my lectures or presentations, you have likely heard this story before. If you haven't, enjoy! If you have, enjoy it again!
It was around 2:30 in the morning. A time that I've since learned is called the Witching Hour. I woke up from a sound sleep, feeling very thirsty. I clambered out of bed and went down the back staircase, which led directly to the kitchen. You see, the farm house was an old styled home, with 6 bedrooms, a large kitchen, 2 bathrooms, a living room, a formal dining room and both a front and back staircase. I arrived in the kitchen, got myself a glass of water from the tap, and headed back to the darkened staircase. I was young and my senses were quite keen, so I didn't need the lights on, obviously! I mounted the first step and started the climb back to my warm, comfy bed in my sky blue bedroom.
By the third step, my sleep-muddled senses picked up on the fact that someone was standing on the top step, watching my ascent. I thought it was my mother, that she may scold me for being up so late. I put my head back down and continued my climb, eager to pass her and scurry back to my room. My scalp tingled; the hairs on the back of my neck and on my arms stood straight up; my cheeks flushed. Confused, I took another step. I glanced back up, this time to search the face of the woman who bore me into this world, to try to understand where this feeling was coming from.
It wasn't my mother's face. It wasn't a face at all. I was looking at a blotch of grey where this figure's face should have been.
In my shock, I somehow recorded every detail of this figure, from her iron grey hair up in a bun on top of her head, to her long black nightgown with white lace at the neck and cuffs; the Susan B. Anthony brooch that she wore at her neck; the fact that around the knee area, her legs faded away to nothingness.
Looking back through the filter of time, I've come to realize that Granny from Sylvester and Tweety was haunting my family's home!
Lacking this comical revelation, though, I did what any sane, reasonable 5 year old boy would do in my situation, I think: I screamed, dropped my glass of water, ran back down the back staircase, up the front staircase, and dove into my parents' bed, crying uncontrollably.
After a few moments of shock and fear for my safety and sanity, followed by several minutes of calm, reassuring words and gestures, my mother coaxed what had happened out of me. After I blurted out as many details as I could, my mother calmly looked me in the eyes, laughed softly, and said, "Oh, her? She's nothing to worry about. I already spoke to her. She just wants to be sure that a good family is living in her house."
And that, folks, is how the paranormal was normalized for me at the tender age of 5.
Thanks for reading! I'll be making posts about my continuing experiences with the supernatural every other week. Feel free to share your paranormal experiences and/or stories below!
Hi all. It's been some time since I've posted, so I figured I'd fill you all in with some of the odder goings-on in my life as a professional paranormal investigator.
Several months ago, a woman named Gabriella reached out to me regarding paranormal activity on Roosevelt Island, whether or not I, or anyone I knew, had ever experienced anything there. Having only been to the island twice for the last two Fourth of July celebrations, I had an unfortunate dearth of information for her, but I offered to independently investigate any claims of activity that she encountered on her forays into the claims of paranormal activity in pursuit of writing a book about that little strip of land between Manhattan and Queens. I offered to have her along on whichever investigations my team and I perform on the island. She agreed, and thus I now have a professional writer on my paranormal investigation team.
Gabriella learned of me during my first-ever lecture at Colonnade Row, and contacted me as the only paranormal investigator that she knows. She has written about the editing side of the film industry for 20+ years and has written many books on the subject.
We met for coffee to further discuss plans, ways and methods of investigation shortly after we exchanged a few emails, and she was gracious enough to offer to chronicle my and my team's adventures in this most unusual pursuit of ours, with the aim of cobbling them together into a book eventually, and I enthusiastically agreed.
The investigation of the Octagon on Roosevelt Island is now in the works, and I will of course keep the site updated as more information comes in.
If anyone has any comments, complaints or criticisms, I'm always open. Send me an email any time.
Finally, we've joined the 21st century and have created Instagram and Twitter accounts, in addition to our facebook page.
If anyone is interested in becoming part of my team and delving into the unknown, drop me a line. Also, kick me a few bucks towards new and better investigation gear if you feel like it at my gofundme page.
Hello all. I've just started a GoFundMe campaign to get some paranormal investigation gear for the group. The link can be found here:
Any contributions would be appreciated. Thank you!
Hi, all. This is my first blog entry since creating this website, and I'm almost not sure how to go about it. Since I started investigating professionally in August, my life has been an amazing whirlwind of unexpected publicity and creating opportunities to ply my trade.
First and foremost, I just wanna say that meeting Corey Schneider of New York Adventure Club has seriously changed my life. Through him, I've been able to give lectures on the paranormal to fascinating and receptive audiences, which has in turn also allowed me to make contacts with people who are both like-minded to me and those of a more skeptical bent, both of which are crucial to the furtherance of this field of study. I can't thank him enough!
In recent weeks, I've been cited as a paranormal expert on NYC by Reader's Digest, have been a guest on a quirky yet cool podcast called Pod Awful for their Halloween special, and have been privileged enough to perform investigations on some of NYC's me famed haunts, with several more in the pipeline. I'm pretty much living my dream life right now. Thank you to all who have been part of this incredible journey. There's so much more to come!
Pod Awful Awfulween podcast. NSFW!!!
Reader's Digest top 6 haunted places in America