Something Told Me

Posted: August 31, 2015 in General, Ghost Tour

Acting as a tour guide on a ghost tour can be and has been enlightening, even for a seasoned guide who is well acquainted with the paranormal. We as guides already know the history…the ghost stories. It’s what our guests bring to the moment that gets our attention. Sometimes it’s their own stories, which they are often eager to share once they become comfortable. But sometimes it’s something that happens ON the tour that becomes the highlight…something that happens FOR THEM. This ‘moment’ can be exciting, even exhilarating. Sometimes this experience is even shared later. But however it may come to us…it is something that makes much of what we do worthwhile. Consider this photo and the exciting narrative shared here by Bill Barr:

“Hey I took the tour twice now..as the last one leaving the theatre at the Cuban Club at the end of the tour. I went back and opened the theatre door quickly and snapped about 8 or 9 pics real fast…looked at the pics after getting home and what I caught was absolutely incredible. About 5 rows in I caught a picture of what appears to be a lady in a white dress, holding something cradled in her arms?…a baby?..carrying something?…I can’t tell..and dozens of orbs…and one with a defined face of a man with either a dark beard or no bottom half of his face visible but you can literally see both eyes looking a different direction and can even see the pupils of his eyes…freaky stuff. I have pics and told the host…Greg? After our second tour..didn’t have any luck my second time around except my camera kept taking pics on its own in the basement. Oh I forgot…in the theatre on my first visit when I caught the lady in dress…I left the crowd and went into dark corner by myself with my emf thing (ghost meter) and heard a soft voice (female)? whisper something but didn’t understand what it (she) said and even felt the wind almost on my neck and ear…startled me. First initial thought was someone came up next to me and said something…I looked and no one was anywhere near me..so I got scared and “ran” back to where the rest of the people were…lol but kind of road it off as mind playing tricks… And as I was leaving and decided to turn back open the theatre door and snap pics. It was like something told me to?…strange.”

Bill’s excitement is palatable, almost visceral in his words. He had an experience and he captured it in photo. He has captured something. Do you see…

...what he sees?

…what he sees?

As a ghost tour guide in Ybor City, I stroll the old village’s streets, entering haunted sites with my guests, telling the ‘creme de la creme’ ghost stories of the town’s immigrant history. I describe with senate passion the events that led to an entities’ attachment…I conjure the characters involved. Derelict surgeons, nurses who can’t let go, mad doctors, murderers and victims…even children. Sometimes their presence is almost palpable. Will they reveal themselves tonight? Will they make an EMF meter go ballistic…or show themselves as a blur in a photograph? It is these entities that I hope will come out to play. Part of my job is to introduce them to my guests, both in story as a narrative but also in some real way that participants can walk away feeling like just maybe…a disembodied spirit was present. Of course, it is THEIR choice to come out…and make themselves known.
On occasion though, a guest will introduce me to ‘their ghost’. No matter how many times this happens, I never cease to be amazed, slightly taken aback by this introduction. They will stop me somewhere along the way, usually while we are investigating in a haunted building. Often very casual in their remarks, they will say something like, “My house is haunted” or “I had this strange experience”…and off we go, into a personal wormhole of paranormal experiences. These very personalized accounts are often, at least for me, just as intriguing as the formal historic ghost stories I tell on the tour.
Recently a man visiting from the Chicago area was on the tour along with his wife. A tall, younger man, he seemed on the surface of it to be like any other guest…interested and engaged. As though he was relating the experience of something commonplace, he turned to me and said, “I’ve been seeing them since I was eight years old”. After all this time, I am still paralyzed in amazement when someone says something like this to me. I said, “Really?”
He said, “Each house me and my wife have lived in, ‘they’ have been around. We lived in a house along with my two young daughters and this ‘third’ little girl started showing up. We call her ‘Amy’.”
All I could say was “Oh really.”
He said “Sometimes, she would get rambunctious. She would tease my daughters…’pick’ at them. I would simply enter the bedroom and, using my parental voice, say loudly ‘AMY! Stop that! Behave!’…and she would comply.” I said, “This worked?” He said “Of course. After all, she is just a little girl!”
Amazing. You can learn a lot about ghosts from guests.

Lincoln’s 150th

Posted: April 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

Since we commemmorate the 150th anniversary of the assassination od Abraham Lincoln yesterday, let’s look at some of the famous White House residents who still come to call at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”

Abigail Adams

When Abigail Adams and her husband, John (the second president, 1797-1801), moved to the newly built White House, Washington D.C. was just a swampy little town. Abigail used to hang the wet laundry to dry in the East Room because it was the warmest and driest part of the White House.

Her ghost, still clad in a cap and a lace shawl, has been seen, arms outstretched as though carrying a laundry basket, heading toward the East Room.

These are not fly-by-night accounts; it was President William Taft who first saw the first lady’s ghost floating through doors on the second floor, as though taking the laundry to hang up to dry.

There were quite a few sightings during the Taft years, but some tourists reportedly saw her as recently as 2002. (Lincoln has also been seen in the East Room; it’s where his body lay in state after he was assassinated

Andrew Jackson

The Rose Bedroom was President Andrew Jackson’s bedroom, and many White House employees claim to have seen or heard the former president in this room; they say he is either laughing heartily or swearing heavily. First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln is among those who heard him cursing in the room
The first person to report seeing Lincoln’s ghost was First Lady Grace Coolidge, who lived in the White House in the 1920s. She reportedly saw him standing at a window in the Oval Office, looking across the Potomac to what had once been Civil War battlefields.

Abraham Lincoln

A well-known Lincoln ghost story was reported by 20th-century British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was a guest at the White House. After a long bath, and naked except for a cigar, he walked into the adjoining bedroom — and there was Lincoln at the fireplace. Churchill said, “Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage.” He reported that Lincoln smiled softly and then disappeared. Churchill refused to sleep in that bedroom after that encounter.

The first person to report seeing Lincoln’s ghost was First Lady Grace Coolidge, who lived in the White House in the 1920s. She reportedly saw him standing at a window in the Oval Office, looking across the Potomac to what had once been Civil War battlefields.

We have had sightings of past presidents on the OFFICIAL Ybor Ghost Tour…past presidents of the Cuban Club, that is.

YBOR HAUNTED SITE DISAPPEARS!

Posted: March 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

The local paper says Ybor City is set to BOOM! New hotels, new apartments, all sorts of things going on. But change cuts both ways and we are saddened to inform you that The Don Vicente Ybor Inn has been sold.

You know the building – the magnificent restored INN on 9th Ave, just across the street from Mr. Ybor’s Cigar Factory. And if you know it, you also know it is one of the most haunted sites in Ybor City. For over four years The OFFICIAL Ybor Ghost Tour has been introducing seekers to the hidden secrets of the building – the morgue downstairs, which a prominent psychic said was “overflowing with spirits” and the story of Dr. Avellanal, whose frightful experiments changed the course of Ybor City Paranormal life. These and many other stories make the Don Vicente Ybor Inn  a special place for ghost hunters.

But after May 31, the building will no longer be accessible. The new owners currently have plans to convert the basement morgu to office space. Imagine the unsuspecting accountant who sets up shop there.

So this is a call to action. If you have visited the Inn on one of our tours and have been meaning to go again, do not hesitate. If you never have visited but want to – do not delay! Our calendar already shows many evenings between now and May 31 when access to the Inn is not available. Seekers of the paranormal are not the only ones trying to squeeze in last minute visits!

Go to our calendar at http://www.yborghosttour.com and book your visit to the Inn, while there is still time. Once it is gone, regrettably, it will be gone forever.

The Haunted City

Posted: February 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

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Ybor City is haunted. Specific buildings are haunted. But I think there is evidence that many…if not all the buildings of the old ‘Latin Quarter’ are sites rich in paranormal activity. As a resident of nearly twenty-five years and as a ‘paranormal enthusiast’, often in those early days I would walk into small shops owned by Cuban or Spanish or Italian families and introduce myself. “Hi…I live here in the neighborhood. By the way, does anything ‘weird’ ever happen in your shop?” Usually the wife would say, “We have a guy who roams around late at night and…”…then the husband would say “NO! Don’t talk about that!” Why? Because they thought it was bad ‘juju’…bad luck…because they thought something bad might happen…or, you may not come into their establishment. But today, many years later, one has to be concerned that ‘hauntedness’ is being used as a marketing tool…”Oh yes, we have a ghost. Come on in!” (see the blog “Everyone Wants To Get Into The Act”).
I know of a many haunted sites in Ybor City. Along 7th Avenue, the central promenade of our old historic district, there is building after building which carries with them ghost stories. Restaurants, clothing stores and bars, many of which have multiple accounts of ghostly encounters. There are owners or employees, past and present, who have seen or felt the remnants of the dead. Why would there be so many hauntings? History? Certainly many have died here.
But…here’s one theory for you to consider. When I came here one of the first residents I met was an elder cubano named Raphael. His family was rooted in the craft of cigar making. His grandfather had come to Ybor City not long after Vicente Martinez Ybor founded his cigar manufacturing city. I often found Raphael parked on a wrought iron bench, resting in the warm Florida sunshine. I would sit with him and we would talk. Mostly, I would listen. He spoke of the city in magical ways. He was an observer of the ‘unseen’ and was the first person that made me aware of the old village’s ghostly stories.
One day he said to me…” You know, in the old days communities and cities often formed in an area for reasons that not even it’s inhabitants understood. Oh yes, it might seem obvious…a river or a railroad. But it might be that they were attracted to something they ‘felt’. It was such with Ybor City!” He had my curiosity now. “How?” I asked.
“This area is ‘special’. There is a ‘vortex’ here. A place where energy collects in a very unusual way. There were two separate natural aquifers here, where drinkable water just flowed out of the ground. It’s part of the reason that Ybor settled here. The vortex is in the center, and it fans outward like a small but powerful hurricane.”
He then said something that I cannot forget. “And these kinds of vortexes ‘attract’ energy…and people to them. And when they die…some of them…cannot resist it’s pull…and they REMAIN!”
And so I wonder sometimes, could Raphael…now long gone himself…be correct? Could it be that the level of paranormal activity here in Ybor City is, in part, because this is a special place with a mysterious influence on the surface of our planet?
Could it be that ‘where’ an entity attaches is as important as ‘why’? It’s something to consider.

Stories of a ghostly President Lincoln wandering the corridors and rooms of the White House persist, but are not officially acknowledged. The gangly prairie lawyer with the black stovepipe hat and the long, sad face was the kind of man around whom legends naturally collect. If one were to believe in ghosts, one would have to believe that the benevolent spirit of Abraham Lincoln, our greatest president, still watches over the nation he fought so gallantly to preserve.

Liz Carpenter, press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson, told author John Alexander that Mrs. Johnson believed she’d felt Lincoln’s presence one spring evening while watching a television program about his death. She noticed a plaque she’d never seen before hanging over the fireplace. It mentioned Lincoln’s importance in that room in some way. Mrs Johnson admitted feeling a strange coldness and a decided sense of unease. This disquieting apprehension has been felt by others. Grace Coolidge, wife of Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president, was the first person to report having actually seen the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. She said he stood at a window of the Oval Office, hands clasped behind his back, gazing out over the Potomac, perhaps still seeing the bloody battlefields beyond.

The ghost of Lincoln was seen frequently during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, when the country went through a devastating depression then a world war. When Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was a guest at the White House during that period she was awakened one night by a knock on her bedroom door. Thinking it might be an important message, she got up and opened the door. The top-hatted figure of President Lincoln stood in the hallway. The queen fainted. When she came to she was lying on the floor. The apparition had vanished.

On one occasion, Mrs. Roosevelt’s secretary, Mary Eben, encountered Lincoln’s ghost sitting on the bed in the northwest bedroom. He was pulling on his boots, as if in a hurry to go somewhere. The startled young woman screamed and ran from the second floor. Other staffers of that era said they’d seen Lincoln lying quietly on his bed of an afternoon.

Tales of ghosts are not new, and in fact date back into the shadowy beginnings of history, as we know it.

A ghost story survives from 1200 BC ancient Egypt, translated from hieroglyphics found on shards of pottery.

There is also the legend of Tu-Po, who served as a minister to Chinese Emperor Hsuan (lived 827-783 B.C.). After a disagreement with the emperor, Tu-Po was put to death, but he did much more than just haunt his former boss. It is said that Hsuan was killed by an arrow, fired by a shadowy figure that resembled his former minister.

And then there is this, from Ancient Rome:

Roman senator Pliny the Younger, who died in A.D. 113, told a ghost tale so haunting that it survives to this day. “There was at Athens a large and roomy house, which had a bad name, so that no one could live there. In the dead of the night, a noise — resembling the clashing of iron — was frequently heard, which, if you listened more attentively, sounded like the rattling of chains,” disturbances that led to the appearance of a specter “form of an old man, of extremely emaciated and squalid appearance, with a long beard and dishevelled, hair, rattling the chains on his feet and hands.”

Needless to say, the house was abandoned and had to be rented out for a cheap price. When a philosopher named Athenodorus heard the story, he reportedly rented the house and confronted the ghost. The ghost appeared, and rattled around before vanishing. Athenodorus calmly marked the spot where the ghost vanished and, in the morning, ordered that the spot be dug up, the story goes.

“This was accordingly done, and the skeleton of a man in chains was found there, for the body, having lain a considerable time in the ground was putrefied and mouldered away from the (chains). ” After being given a proper burial, the ghost departed, and the house was haunted no more, according to Pliny’s tale. (Translation from Pliny the Younger, The Harvard Classics, 1909-1914.)

So as shocking as it is to encounter a spirit, don’t think you are the first – or only one – to do so. You are just the latest.