Town Crier: Ghosts are everywhere this time of year

MONTCLARION: October 28, 2011

The ratio of humans to ghosts in this world is unknown.

That’s probably a good thing, knowing how spirits can violate one’s personal space.

“Most of them are friendly,” a ghost hunter once told me, “but they do like to make mischief.”

In some cases, a gaggle of ghosts can team up like they do on the USS Hornet in Alameda. Having roamed the ship with two ghost experts, I’ve heard all the stories and seen how specters suck the heat out of that drafty old ship with their presence.

The women’s bathroom is a hot spot on the Hornet — known for its naughty nautical ghost who clearly likes the ladies. On the dance floor during big band concerts, spirits swing and sway just as people do, and they’ve been known to disrupt more than one Boy Scout overnighter on the aircraft carrier.

So, in the spirit of Halloween, here are four more of my favorite haunts:

1. Long Beach. Three words here: the Queen Mary. This legendary lady saw many an untimely death in her days on the high seas. A few of those guests have refused to leave, like the specter whose moans can be heard in the echoing chambers of the ship’s old swimming pool — long since dry. This is the 75th anniversary of the Queen Mary’s maiden transatlantic voyage and through October its apparitions are being honored with an over-the-top scare fest called Dark Harbor that boasts 160 monsters and 20-foot-tall flames.

2. San Diego. Old Town is ripe with paranormal activity,some of which I’ve witnessed personally. On a night when the moon cast dark shadows on the crumbling headstones, a photographer showed us photos of ghostly images not visible to the naked eye. Many a man was hanged in that cemetery, and their spirits are still restless. My daughter couldn’t sleep after our visit — which tells me this tour is for adults, not boys and ghouls.

3. Savannah, Ga. Haunted tours go out day and night in this sensual Southern city, where ghosts inhabit dozens of inns. Most celebrated is the Marshall House, where, during restoration, bones were unearthed dating back to its days as a hospital in the Civil War. It’s just a short walk to Savannah’s old gated cemetery, where Spanish moss drapes the oaks like the cobwebs in the Munster Family parlor.

4. Chattanooga, Tenn. Anything with bats and barnacles, spiders and slime is scary by nature. Caves fit this category perfectly. After all, who would hear you scream 26 floors underground? Only the ghouls trapped deep in the bowels of Lookout Mountain, where a mysterious 145-foot waterfall awaits anyone who dares make the trek to the end of the main passage.

Every town in America has its own spirit — or spirits in this case. They hide things, like our car keys, when we aren’t looking. They make funny noises, which we blame on the wind. And this time of year is their Mardi Gras, where they party en mass with the masses. Don’t be afraid. If you spot a specter remember, it’s a spectacular spectacle indeed.

You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-723-2525, by email at or on the web at



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