As seen on bad sitcoms

It all happened one day about a week before my father-in-law returned with Covid and a new girlfriend to give it to. I’m sitting in my office pretending to work before I need to head out to an event. As I’m reading god knows what, I hear a loud crash in the living room and immediately know what I’m about to walk into.

The loud crash was our very large clock. A large clock that hung above our mantle. The mantle that held my mother-in-law’s ashes. Or use to hold her ashes.

That’s right: use to. As in no longer was. As in, the cute glass Hobby Lobby canister that we placed her ashes in was now laying half broken, still in its decorative holder that contained the canister, on my dog’s food bowls.

Me, my lab, and my two min-pins stood there, staring at my MIL’s ashes piled up in their bowls and on their food mat.

I was supposed to be leaving my house in an hour. Typical.

After a few minutes of debating if this happened because my house is haunted or because my husband didn’t anchor the clock like he was supposed to, I grabbed a mask, some gloves, and began the process of picking glass and dog food out of my MIL’s ashes.

Oddly enough, this is something my MIL would’ve thought was hilarious.

I did not.

I stood there for an hour sifting through human remains like I was gold mining. I actually considered using our spaghetti strainer to expedite the process however, I had already racked up a good amount of items to throw out so I just kept digging. Also, I didn’t have anything to strain her into which led to my next conundrum: where would I put her until the next day when I could buy a new urn?

I’m a bad hostess so I don’t have random glass jars that can double as urns just lying around. And I couldn’t just leave her out, that would’ve been a little too B-movie for my liking. So I put her in the only place I could think of where she’d be safe and would prevent any sort of poltergeist activity:

A zip-lock bag.

The next day I squeezed in an extra errand into my schedule and purchased a new canister/urn to put her in – a plastic, shatter-proof one. I also placed her in an area that, if she were to fall again, would let me know our house is FOR SURE haunted.

But before I placed her in her new spot, there was the matter of pouring her ashes in the new canister. When I did, I noticed that some of them were clumped together, making them look like actual kitty litter. My OCD and conscience wouldn’t let me just leave them like that so I grabbed a butter knife (another casualty of this incident) and broke up the clumps.

I sealed the canister, gave it one more look-over, and that’s when I noticed it.

There was still a piece of dog food in the ashes.

I left it there.

I’d done all I could do and had thrown away all of the kitchen utensils I cared to throw away.

And so it remains because my husband won’t get it out either.

I’m pretty sure part 2 of this story will happen just in time for Halloween season.

Ghost Stories: Part 3

In the winter of 2011, my husband and I moved into our very first grown-up house: a duplex. It doesn’t sound grown-up but our rent payment nearly doubled so that was pretty mature for us. The duplex was fairly new so the thought of it being haunted never crossed my mind. Also, I don’t believe “being haunted” is something someone thinks about when moving into a new place.

Our dogs were the first to let us know something was up. Our bed faced the bedroom door so you could see straight down the hallway. On several occasions our dogs would stand in the doorway and bark at the hallway, but would never leave our bedroom. One time, when my husband was out of town, I was in bed watching TV, about to dose off when I noticed both of our dogs turn their heads to face the hallway. They just sat there and stared. It creeped me the fuck out.

Then there was the time me and the dogs were home alone watching Celebrity Ghost Stories (side note: I’m pretty sure a couple of those celebrities were liars). While sitting on the couch with my oldest MinPin, I felt someone walk in back of the couch, and I wasn’t alone. My dog sat up, stared behind me, and began growling while turning his head toward the door, as though he was growling at someone until they left.

The occurrences were non-stop. Every single day I could hear someone walking in our attic. At first I thought it was woodpeckers, then I thought a tree branch was low and hitting our roof. It was neither of those. The duplex had 3 bedrooms, 2 of which we used for storage. The one my husband used was the creepiest. Like my cousin’s old room (in the house we used to share), I could never walk in there by myself.

But the worst was when I got locked out of the house. I had just returned home from dropping off my husband at the airport. I stuck my key in the lock, turned it, went to open the door, and then heard another click. It was the deadbolt, which meant someone was in the house. I immediately called the cops, then my boss who sent someone to wait with me while the cops searched the duplex. They were able to get in easy and of course, they found nothing.

I never found out what or who was in the house. My mom thought it was a little kid but who knows. I also don’t know if the tenants after us experienced anything. What I do know is, the day we moved out a couple of college guys moved in next door and as I was leaving, asked me if the landlord was “cool with people having parties.” So I’m pretty sure if the ghost didn’t get to them, that shit probably did.

Photo by: vox.com

Ghost Stories: Part 2

Ever since the incident at our grandma’s house, my cousin and I have been obsessed with ghosts and all things horror. Fun fact: for one of our regular horror movie nights we watched the B-rated movie Doctor Giggles and from that day forward, my cousin wanted to work in the medical field. She was 5. Today, she’s an emergency room trauma center nurse for a major hospital. The point is: no one would be lost if they watched horror movies.

The night we heard those footsteps would be just one of many occurrences for my cousin and I, both together and separately.

When I was 12, I saw my first apparition. I was with my parents and we were headed out of town to visit my great grandmother as she wasn’t doing very well. I was lying down in the back seat of my dad’s truck; I looked up from messing with my portable CD player to see my great grandmother sitting on the other side of the seat. I froze. It was only a silhouetted outline of her but it was her. I sat up and let my parents know what I had seen. Sure enough, when we arrived at our destination we were told she had passed away about an hour prior to our arrival.

Other times it would just be feelings. My mom and I used to spend Christmas Eve night at my godmother’s mom’s house and I was always terrified of her stairs. I would have to brace myself every time I walked passed them. It was like there was someone up there that wanted to make sure I had zero desire to go up those stairs – and I never did.

There are many more stories I have that are like that but the one I’m going to tell you today includes my cousin.

While in college, my cousin and I lived with her then-boyfriend (now-husband) in an older home. We didn’t know the history of it but in our early twenties, it’s not like we really cared. We had a house and it wasn’t a frat house; nothing else mattered.

The first time I discovered something was off about the house, I was in the process of switching bedrooms and needed to buy some new curtains to match the wall paint. I’d been watching Kathy Griffin comedy specials on my laptop and as I made my way out, I shut my laptop because I was too lazy to simply pause it. When I returned, I could hear something playing in my bedroom. At first I thought I was hearing things. As I slowly walked up the stairs I could hear that it was Kathy Griffin’s comedy. “What the fuck?” I thought. I ran up the remaining steps and right when I reached the top, it stopped. I walked into my room and there was my laptop: open and at the end of the special.

I told my friend Joe who lived in the house before I moved in and my story didn’t surprise him. He went on to tell me about a time when he had a friend over who also had a strange encounter. His friend had been upstairs using the bathroom when Joe heard his friend calling for him, asking if Joe needed something. Joe didn’t know what he was talking about. His friend came downstairs and told him that he heard someone running upstairs and then slam the bathroom door, but it happened so fast that he just thought it was Joe because he didn’t see who shut the door.

Joe’s first questions was, “why were you using the bathroom with the door open?” Then it was, “what the fuck shut the door?” They’d been the only 2 in the house at the time.

Not long after the laptop incident, my cousin’s boyfriend left for AirForce bootcamp, so for the next 6 weeks, she and I had the house to ourselves…. or so we thought.

One night we were watching TV in the living room when the light just turned off. We thought the lightbulb had gone out but when I went to hit the switch, it turned back on. It might not sound weird, but we used to have lights that were controlled by a remote so the only way the downstairs lights could’ve turned off was if someone turned the lights on upstairs (they were supposed to be energy savers). Not surprisingly, the lights upstairs were on but nobody else was home with us.

My cousin’s room used to scare me. Every time I walked in there I always felt like there was someone in there watching me. One night we had a slumber party in her room and while reminiscing, her bedroom door began to open. Not all the way, but enough to scare the shit out of both of us.

We never did find out who was in that house, and the occurrences never quit. Eventually I would move out, only to find myself in another an even more active home just a few years later.

Ghost Stories: Part 3 to be published next week.

Photo: Caltech.edu

Ghost Stories: Part 1

I used to be a fan of the show Ghost Hunters. Then it turned into America’s Got Talent: The Dead Do Tricks. Every episode you’d see footage of spirits dancing and moving things on cue, as though they knew they were being recorded. It was all a bit too strings on a skeleton for me.

Also, I personally happen to know that it doesn’t work like that. You don’t just say “show yourself!” and then they launch a glass at you or knock a bookshelf over. No. They do things when you don’t think they will or before you even know ghosts are a thing.

As a kid, my favorite thing to do was have sleepovers at my cousin’s house. She lived next door with my aunt, uncle, 2 brothers and our grandmother and no matter how much time I spent over there, it was never enough. Birthdays and Christmastime were particular favorites as we would combine our new toys and stay up until all hours playing with them.

The first time we realized our grandma’s house was haunted, we were in bed playing the obnoxious board game Don’t Wake Daddy. At some point during the night, we thought we’d failed the game and real life when we heard footsteps walking down the hallway. Like any little kid, we laid down as quick as we could and pretended to be asleep. The footsteps made it all the way to our grandma’s room (right across from us) and stopped.

Naturally, we assumed it was our grandma so as soon as we no longer heard the footsteps, we put the game up and decided to go to bed. When you’re Mexican, waking grandma is WAY scarier than waking dad.

The next morning, we joined my aunt and grandma for breakfast and because little kids can’t keep their mouth shut, we told them both about the footsteps we heard.

My grandma laughed. “That wasn’t me, that was your great, great grandmother.”

She then went on to tell us that her grandmother had passed away in the home but never really left. Apparently, when my cousin was younger (like infantile), she used to sit in the corner of her room, looking up and just talk for hours. My cousin’s room was the room our great, great grandma had passed away in.

Then my aunt chimed in. A couple of years prior to our encounter, my aunt had had her own. She’d been in the bathroom (the house only had one and it was in the hallway) getting ready for work when, in the mirror, she could see someone walk from my cousin’s room into her room (which was right next to my cousins).

It happened very quick and based on the frame of the person she assumed it was our grandma just looking for something. She finished getting dressed and left as she was running late, but when she got home she checked-in with our grandma to see if she needed anything.

Of course, our grandma didn’t know what she was talking about.

My aunt: “yes, I saw you walk into my room so I thought you needed something.”

Grandma: “was the person you saw wearing a blue sweater?”

Yeah, it was great, great grandma.

Our grandma said it was nothing to be scared of.

You know what doesn’t help little kids quit being scared? Telling them there’s nothing to be scared of.

We’d seen enough horror movies to know how ghosts works. It would be a while before we’d have another encounter except the next time, we were grown ups living in a house that we, unfortunately, didn’t know who was haunting it.

Ghost Stories: Part 2 coming next week.

Photo: falconrest.com

Are All Insane Asylum’s That Were Built in the 1800s Haunted?

What better day than Friday the 13th to talk about insane asylum’s? I’ve spent the last week researching a local state hospital that was built in 1892, a hospital originally known as the Southwestern Insane Asylum, with a goal of delivering on the assumption that places like this are haunted. Here’s what I discovered:

First, the back story. The rumored haunted asylum was established in 1892 and in 1925 the word “asylum” was dropped from the title and the facility became the San Antonio State Hospital. The hospital accepts patients with mental illnesses regardless of the severity or the patients ability to pay. So, as you can imagine, with any state-funded facility come the usual problems. They are severely understaffed and because of this had to turn away patients in 2014, causing some of these individuals to be jailed. Former and current employees complain of poor working conditions, a lack of training, and low pay, according to comments I found on Indeed.com and Glassdoor.com. Patient deaths are not rare and in some cases have led to lawsuits, two of which I found transcripts for. Additionally, the facility itself isn’t in the best condition. While it’s had its share of expansions and renovations, some of the buildings are the original buildings from 1892 and are in total disrepair. The fence surrounding the facility is falling apart as well, aiding in the escape of patients, with the most recent being a paranoid schizophrenic who dismembered his wife back in the 90s and was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

I first found out about this place about 8 years ago and began researching it immediately. I did a really shitty job because I didn’t even know it was still open and at the time, found documents stating that it had been abandoned in the early 90s, with equipment and patient files being left behind. There are even pictures and YouTube videos of the facility that people claim to be haunted. Here’s one of them from onlyinyourstate.com.

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Here’s the problem: this isn’t the insane asylum turned state hospital. It’s close to the state hospital but this is actually the old Bexar County Juvenile Facility for Boys and from what I could find it was abandoned because of all of the asbestos it housed. How true that is I don’t know, that was a comment from someone on a forum and I couldn’t find any evidence to substantiate it.

I searched all over the Internet and it’s important to note that some of what I may be looking for may be documented at the county library or something other than an online database. I wanted so bad to scare the shit out of everyone with stories but here’s what I was able to find.

First, if you look this place up there are a lot of false reports about this being the original insane asylum. I found one girl on a forum who said she actually did some amateur ghost hunting and that’s how she discovered it wasn’t it. Unfortunately I can’t tell you if this building is haunted because I could not find A THING on the place. Again, I’m sure I need to dig deeper than online but I was surprised that nothing came up. Also, it’s owned by the county so if you trespass and get caught you will get ticketed and also this is Texas so you’ll probably get murdered by snakes. You never know.

I found a website that talks about the state hospital, it’s origins, and stories about some of its patients. I researched the stories but couldn’t find anything to substantiate them either. I’m not saying they’re not true, I just couldn’t find anything on the ol’ interweb and would probably need to do some offline research. The website also features a few comments from an employee and people who have children at the hospital. Two of the comments I found and are paraphrased, and one I couldn’t find. I read every employee review I could find but unfortunately none of them mentioned the place was haunted. One day I’ll interview some of them because I’m sure Indeed.com isn’t trying to scare potential employee away by letting other people terrify them with ghost stories. Here is the link to that website. https://ghostcitytours.com/san-antonio/haunted-places/san-antonio-state-hospital/

Now, here’s what I did find that creeped me out a little. The actual state hospital has two cemeteries around it; one is called East Mount Calm Cemetery and the other is South Mount Calm Cemetery. South Mount Calm Cemetery has over 1000 individuals who were abandoned and passed away between 1892 and 1924. The majority of the graves are marked with only a block and no information. A few have numeric ID’s and fewer than that have actual headstones with their information. I actually found an event that took place on the 5th of this month that was a re-dedication for the cemetery. However, I couldn’t find any information on who was hosting the event and there was no way to contact anybody. And yeah, I wasn’t going to try because that was a little creepy. East Mount Calm Cemetery has individuals who passed away after 1924. Apparently it’s incredibly hard to get on the grounds, even if you believe you have a relative buried there. Out of all the research I did, finding out about these cemeteries was one of the most unsettling pieces of information I found. If it’s haunted I don’t know. In all of the sites I found about the hospital not one person mentions the cemeteries. But with its back story, what do you think?

I’m bummed that I couldn’t deliver more. What I found justifies calling this place scary but I’m not sure it’s for the paranormal. However, if, god forbids, it were to ever close down, I would like to request the Ghost Hunters investigate. And I will probably decline their offer to join them.

A Ghost Story

I have been wanting to tell this story since I first unofficially started my Typical Jenn’s 31 Days of Halloween – I say unofficial because I meant to do this a long time ago but this is the first year I’ve actually gone through with my Typical Jenn’s 31 Days of Halloween. Now, I’ve had my own paranormal experiences but this one belongs to my dad and happened during my senior year of high school.

Every small town has that one house that’s rumored to be haunted and my home town is no different. This house, however, doesn’t come with a “this is why it’s haunted” story. It was built in the ’40s but the house didn’t start earning its reputation up until about 20 years ago. I could go on for days about this house but I’m saving all of it for the book I’m writing. My dad’s story, however, is one I’m incredibly eager to share now.

My dad was a police officer and at the time of this encounter he was working the night shift with his partner and a rookie cop who was out patrolling with them. That night at around 2AM they responded to a breaking and entering call. They arrived to find a couple and their baby standing outside of the house; the wife holding the baby and the husband with a gun in his hand pacing back and forth. My dad and his partner go inside the house while the rookie tries to calm the man down and question them.

After doing their search my dad and his partner emerge from the house – they’ve seen no signs of forced entry, all of the windows and the back door are locked from the inside, and there’s absolutely no one in the house or, as far they can tell, near the area. My dad walks over to the man, who has calmed down a little, and begins talking to him. He tells my dad that him and his wife were asleep, when he woke up and saw a man standing over the foot of the bed staring at them. The man grabbed his gun on the nightstand and thought the intruder ran out of the room because he was gone by the time he aimed. He got his wife and kid out of the house and while she called the police he went back in to look for the intruder. He repeatedly told my dad “I know what I saw, I wasn’t dreaming, I don’t sleep walk. He was standing there.”

Because this is a small town all of the neighbors were standing outside watching the whole scene unfold. My dad and his partner began questioning the neighbors, just in case the intruder was able to escape, maybe somebody had seen something. My dad makes it over to a man he knows well, as this man used to be one of his teachers when my dad was in high school. My dad explains what happened and then asks “did you see anything? Did you see anyone run from the house or anyone out of place walking around the neighborhood?” It was the middle of the night so of course he hadn’t, but his response wasn’t one of shock or even fear that a possible burglar was in the neighborhood. He looked at my dad and with a smirk said “I didn’t see anything, but you should ask them if they’ve seen the little girl too.”

It was a strange response to a intruder question so my dad asked him what he meant, and that’s when my dad learned that this wasn’t the first time an owner of the home had witnessed something like this, however most of what others saw was usually by the well that was located in the backyard. My dad and his partner continued questioning possible witnesses and double-checked the house and its surroundings but never found any sign that there was anyone other than the family in the house.

My dad was incredibly curious and, right before they left, asked the family if they’d seen a little girl around their house. That’s when the wife said “a few weeks ago I woke up because I could hear noises in the backyard, and when I looked out the window I saw a little girl playing by the well. I got up and was going to take her back home but by the time I got outside she was gone. I figured she saw me looking at her and ran off.” She then told my dad that she did ask a few of the neighbors if they had a little girl, just so she could explain to them what happened but when they all told her they didn’t she dropped it. Her husband had never seen a little girl in or around their house and at the time of that particular incident he was working out of town.

My dad has since retired but has said that during his 25 years on the force that was one of the eeriest calls he’d ever responded to. One thing my dad makes sure to clarify about that night is that he can’t say for sure that something paranormal happened because he didn’t see anything, but he 100% believes that the owner of the house did – he’s never forgotten his demeanor or the look of frustration and fear on his face. The couple moved out of that house a few months later and since then the house has had over 10 owners (I don’t know the exact number), each lasting only a couple of years. My dad still keeps in touch with some of his officer buddies and said that to this day they still get calls to that house, with the most recent being last December when and a member of the family of the current owners was found deceased.