Saturday, October 4, 2008

And the Paranormal Journey Continues...

As promised, here is the beginning of my paranormal story. My previous post was a prologue of sorts, so I will go directly into my first trip to the Crescent Hotel!

It was Saturday, October 4, 2002. The weather was beautiful, much like it is today. Kel and I decided to arrive at the hotel early, so we could get our ticket to the ghost tour and have time to look around. At this point, I didn’t know much about the history, but boy was that going to change!

Walking into the hotel was like walking into a past era. The furnishings are gorgeous and a huge fireplace sits in the center of the lobby. Double doors at the back of the lobby lead to a sweeping veranda over-looking manicured gardens and a beautiful catholic church. The hotel sits on a mountain top, so the view goes on for miles. I had never been anywhere so picture book perfect before. The place was like a fairy tale, unfortunately it was a bit too much like a Grimm’s fairy tale, but I just didn’t know it yet!

I was entranced. The atmosphere, the surroundings, the antique furnishings all lent to the surreal feeling that had over-taken me. I couldn’t wait for the tour to start. We had gone to the second floor and purchased our tickets before we ventured out to the veranda. A small TV sat on a table, and a group of young men stood around watching a college football game (it wasn’t OU, so I can’t remember who was playing). Kel struck up a conversation about football with the men, so I wandered over to the steps leading into the darkened garden. I remember standing there, feeling the pull to go down and explore, even in the dark, but the ghost tour would be starting soon, so I resisted.

We made our way back up the stairs to meet on the second floor. The group was large, so they split us up into two groups. We were in the group led by tour guide Carrol Heath (pictured below). We made our way up to the third floor. Seated along the hall, we settled in for the “history” part of the tour.

The Crescent Hotel was built in 1886. I’ll leave out the specifics of who built it, but I do know, and even have pictures of the original owners (OCD is helpful when you are a writer, but when you just OCD about a hotel, you get called obsessive like it’s a BAD thing). It was opened to cater to the rich, advertising the “healing springs”.
After that fad had passed, it became a women’s college, and then closed its doors following the depression.

Here’s where it gets REAL interesting. Around 1937, the hotel was bought by Norman Baker, formerly of Muscatine, Iowa. Baker opened the Baker Cancer Cure Hospital. He sent out flyers in the mail (I actually have an original…Ebay is so cool), advertising his 100% cure rate for cancer. Having guaranteed his cure, when patients started dropping like flies, he couldn’t very well cart them out in broad daylight, now could he? OF COURSE NOT!

In the cover of night, the bodies were taken down into the basement. Autopsies were preformed (the original autopsy table is still down there). Then the bodies were incinerated. Ashes were spread here and there (underground tunnels, scattered amongst the trees next to the hotel, etc). Baker would have the patients write a series of letters to their loved ones upon arrival. He would continue to send these out long after their death, so he could still receive the checks from their families.

Baker was eventually arrested for mail fraud (remember those flyers he sent out?), and spent a few years in Leavenworth. He retired quietly to Florida after his release, where he died in the 1950’s.

Now, this is but a small bit of info on Baker, but believe me when I tell you I have books on the man and mountains of research. He was interesting to say the least. From his days in vaudeville, to inventing a compressed air organ, the Tangley Calliope, to owning his own radio station, he was an entrepreneur, but one with a God-complex.

Okay, I digress, not all of that came from the ghost tour, in fact, very little. As we sat in the hall, our tour guide, Mr. Carroll Heath, regaled us with stories of the many reports of hauntings over the last few decades. The playful spirit of Michael, a brick layer who fell to his death while building the Crescent, to a little old lady that likes to move your suitcases against the door in the middle of the night, the Crescent seemed to have any number of Victorian aged gentlemen and ladies, along with Baker’s unfortunate patients.

While sitting and listening to these stories, I was engrossed. I never took my eyes off of our guide. The heat in the hallway seemed to become overwhelming, and I found myself using a pamphlet to fan my face, which felt flushed and on fire. I started feeling a bit lightheaded when we stood to take the actual tour of the hotel, beginning in the basement where the autopsies were done. I went to our guide and asked where the closest restroom was, simply to splash water on my face. He directed me to the fourth floor. I told him that I would catch up, but he insisted on waiting with the group right there on the third floor.

Here’s where things get a bit blurry. I made it up to the restroom, which was thankfully right off of the stairwell. I splashed water on my face. I do remember that, but not much else. Time seemed to stand still. I would have sworn I was only in there for a few minutes…Kel said it was closer to TWENTY! I climbed down the stairs, clutching the rail for dear life. When I made it down to the group, we proceeded to the lobby area. I told Kel that I needed to leave. He agreed, since he had developed a stomach ache. He went to go find a restroom, and I located the tour guide (No, we actually hadn’t eaten anything yet, so it wasn’t something we ate, and I didn’t have an upset stomach…yet).

Mr. Heath was by the stairs, and as I approached him, he said “You can’t stay.” I was a bit taken aback. “No, I was just going to tell you that my husband and I were leaving.”
He placed his hand on my arm. “You are too sensitive. Go.”

Okay, on my weirdness scale, that was off the charts. Too sensitive? WTF did that mean? So thinking about that, I went to sit in the lobby. When I reached the fireplace, I was overwhelmed by dizziness again, and practically rushed outside, knowing I was either going to pass out on the way, or before I reached the bottom of the steps leading to the parking lot. I have never in my life passed out, and I didn’t care for this feeling. I sat on the bottom step, with my head resting on my knees, hoping that Kel would find me there.

Here’s where things got really messed up. I remember him coming out and I felt like I needed to RUN to the truck. I had tunnel vision, another new concept for me. I felt like I was dragging him to the truck, I couldn’t get away from that place fast enough. Only problem is, that’s NOT what happened.

After conferring with Kel, his version is quite a bit different. He found me at the bottom of the steps and helped me up. We walked about fifteen feet to small bricked in flower garden, where I sat (no recollection of this). He asked if I wanted him to go get the truck, since it was about 35-40 yards out. I told him no, and he helped me stand, putting my arm over his neck. He had to support my weight all the way to the truck. He helped me in.

Next thing you know, I am bailing out of the truck, and violently vomiting (Kel’s description). He came around, really not knowing what to do. I sat on the floor of the front seat, refusing to get all the way back into the truck. I do remember most of this, although I have holes in the actual order of events that Kel has had to fill in. He finally got me back into the truck.

I tried to get Kel to write out his version, because he is such a great story teller. He told me that I was the writer, so I should tell it. I have had to go ask him for verification several times. Now here’s his wording about the rest.

I looked zoned out – looking straight ahead like I was hypnotized. He backed the truck out and asked if I was alright. “I’m burning up.” I replied, which shocked him, since the temperature had dropped into the 50’s. About ten seconds later, my teeth are chattering and I say, “I’m freezing”. I was still staring straight ahead and hadn’t looked at him, which he said scared the hell out of him. He turned to me as we were in front of the hotel and said “Terri”. No response. He raised his voice and once again said “Terri!” This time I turned and looked at him. He said it looked like I had swallowed a light bulb and it was stuck in my throat. An eerie pale white glow came from the inside making me look like you would imagine a ghost would - glowing. He said it was freaky. He is the logical type, and he was completely baffled as to what could cause that and it alarmed him to say the least.
“Just go. We must leave.” Was all I said in response.

After turning onto a residential street away from the Crescent Hotel, I said “Honey, I’m hungry, let’s get something to eat.” Like nothing had happened. He said it was freakin weird. That was the first sign that he had seen that I was “myself” since the ghost tour had started.

We drove through McDonald’s, went back to the cabin, ate, and I never felt ill, or abnormal again. I would like to say that nothing else happened, but I’d be lying. That I will save for the next post!


Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

What a fantastic (though totally believable) story! Very well-told, too. I think you may be in the wrong genre, Terri! That's an amazing story; I'm glad you and Kel took the time to tell it! Wow.

H. L. Dyer said...

Great story, Terri!

I'm anxiously awaiting the next installment.

david mcmahon said...

Thanks for the visit and the comment, Terri. Really enjoyed this post.

There is a ghostly passage in my forthcoming novel too .....

Rhea said...

Exciting recount! What a creepy place. I'd be tempted to go back to see if I had the same reaction. That's just wild.

I found you through your comments on Heavily Caffinated's blog. Nice to meet you!

Skeeter said...

A strange and intesting tale dear. Am anxiously awaiting the next installment also.

Best wishes,


Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

l'm over from Davids, well done you read your post, l'm now in no fit state to go to l saw the pic on the left of my current bigtime crush.and its all your fault.. .MMmmmmm..sigh

Daryl said...

OOOOOOOOOH ... scary .. I was interested in visiting this hotel til I got to what happened to you ... I am sensitive as well so I think I will stick to reading your posts ...

Over from David's .. nice to meet you!


Christy said...

That is crazy! I've never had anything like that happen to me--I'm a little jealous (not of the puking part.) I can't wait to hear ALL of your stories! I've always been into all that stuff too.

That place is amazing too! So beautiful. There's a hotel like that in NH (where I'm from) called The Mount Washington Hotel. Have you heard of it? It's old & grand like that; similar style & furnishings. I think they have a ghost tour too. Fun!

Monkey Toe Momma said...

Love it! Can't wait till the next post!

Abi said...

Terri, wow! That is one spooky story. Can't wait to read the next post.