We'll See You On The Other Side…

Ghosts

Respecting History?

It was recently brought to my attention that a historical location that is very near and dear to our organization is once again being mishandled by its management group.

The Queen Mary which is docked in Long Beach as a “floating” hotel/ museum and is registered as both a historical site and a historical hotel:

National Historical Registry

RMS QUEEN MARY *** (added 1993 – – #92001714)

Also known as HMT QUEEN MARY

Pier J, 1126 Queensway Hwy. , Long Beach

Historic Significance: Event

Area of Significance: Military, Entertainment/Recreation, Social History

Period of Significance: 1925-1949

Owner: Local

Historic Function: Defense, Transportation

Historic Sub-function: Naval Facility, Water-Related

Current Function: Domestic, Recreation And Culture

Current Sub-function: Hotel, Museum

Here is the purpose of the National Historical Registry noted from their website:

The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The Queen Mary is also listed on the website of  Historic Hotels of America. This is what they have to say about the Queen Mary:

The Queen Mary

Los Angeles, California

Rich in history, The Queen Mary® is renowned as the grandest ocean liner ever built since her maiden voyage in 1936. These early years distinguished the majestic steamship as the only civilized way to travel for high society’s elite, and instantly drew the attention of celebrities like Fred Astaire, political figures like Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan, and dignitaries such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

It is quite clear that our country on a whole recognizes the historical importance and significance of this grand ship.

So why is it so difficult for the ship’s current management to get with the program?

Time after time we’ve heard complaints that there is no money to restore her to her former glory. We’ve been told that making changes like including iPod docks in all of the staterooms is a valid way to stimulate the ship’s revenue. Some improvements have been made in the last fifteen years. A huge section of promenade decking was re-finished and replaced a few years ago by a former management company.

This ship is a virtual roller coaster of  management companies. Each one swears that it’s bigger, better, and more knowledgeable than it’s predecessor.

It’s ultimately assumed that everything the previous company did is wrong and that the new team must start over from scratch. The management companies they hire are only experienced in managing a hotel. The Queen Mary is much more than a hotel. It’s an experience. And the experience that the customer is getting leaves much to be desired.

If you come to the Queen Mary for the first time today, you will be disappointed. If you are planning to stay in a stateroom reminiscent of the opulent 30’s & 40’s you can lay that dream to rest. What you will find is  late 80’s decor covering up what’s left of the 1930’s interior: cheap carpet, ugly bedspreads, chintzy window treatments, along-side beautiful 1930’s fans that no longer work.

English: Cabin on the RMS Queen Mary.

English: Cabin on the RMS Queen Mary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you roam the decks you’ll find sad displays haphazardly assembled with no regards for the integrity of the historical documents and artifacts inside. They are dusty, and often littered with rat fecal matter.

You will also find poor patch jobs in the ceiling where water damage occurs. The beautiful wood paneling which Winston Churchill himself told the soldiers during WWII mustn’t be touched is now showing the wear of its 76+ years at sea, and still awaiting restoration.

The Spa which inhabits some of the ship’s former suites has a decrepit & lackluster sign pointing the way to your “luxury” services.

If you overlook the staterooms and hallways and look instead towards the ship’s restaurants, I have some good news and some bad news. Sir Winston’s is the premiere restaurant on the ship…and for good reason. The restaurant manager J.B. is amazing. He’s been with the ship for over 10 years and truly understands how to accommodate his guests, giving them the grand reception that they would expect from a luxury liner. You will however, pay well for this privilege.

The other restaurants on the ship are poorly managed with mediocre food at best. Imagine a Denny’s ….in Compton…at midnight and you’ll begin to get a grasp for what they offer: over priced, over cooked, under whelming food. The service is slow and surly. The prices average  $15 per plate.  Oh, and by the way, if you thought you could just sit by the window while you sip your morning English Tea and pretend you’re in South Hampton, think again. The only tea you’ll find on this English ship is Lipton’s. The Duchess of Windsor is turning in her grave at this very moment.

The Queen Mary is also touted as a museum. It’s true. There are scattered exhibits (which are poorly maintained). But the guides really understand her history, architecture and art. They keep her spirit alive and are some of the nicest people I’ve met aboard the ship. They stay, not because of the great pay, nor do they stay to support her ever-changing management. They stay out of loyalty and love for this Grand Lady.

Now, so far this might just sound like another bitter yelp review(of which there are plenty). But, it was a recent find from a fellow investigator  that prompted this blog post.

In an attempt to draw in a bigger, more diverse audience and make some cold,hard cash the management has decided to let a team of motocross performers loose on the ship.

Yes , you heard me, ON THE SHIP.

This is wear I had posted a link to the YouTube video. It has since been made private.

This video demonstrates just how much these management companies understand about the property they are running.

After the video started receiving some unfavorable press there was a comment posted by one of the riders:

“All this was taken into consideration prior to filming. We worked long and hard with the Queen Mary to preserve the integrity of the ship. The locations that were used were places that had already been remodeled or altered. No historic or original locations were used. The idea was to make something cool to bring attention to such an awesome ship. There was no more harm than the average foot traffic from tourists”.

This is a still from the promo video showing the rider on the staircase of the first-class pool which is historical, original and is in serious need of repair.

If you know the ship at all, you understand that areas like the First Class Pool, the engine room, and boiler rooms are indeed original and historical areas. While they weren’t doing burn-outs on board, the weight and pressure of the bike is damaging and disrespectful. This isn’t the type of attention or the type of event that the ship needs . I don’t blame the riders. I blame the management for, once again, sending the wrong message to the public.

They need to restore the ship and teach the public how to appreciate her rich history. Instead, they throw money away on poorly thought out, poorly planned events which further her destruction. We should treat her as we would the White House, not treat her like a convention center filled with carnival acts. We should continue to view her as she was intended. She might not sail any longer but she could still offer people the experience of a lifetime.

It’s time for the company who manages her to show that they understand the difference between RENOVATION and RESTORATION.  She is an important part of history and instead of updating her, she needs to be brought back to life.

A friend recently posted this information for those of us who like to become more active in helping The Queen Mary:

If you want to voice your concerns and speak out about the horrible mistreatment of the Queen Mary, send an email or call the following:

Long Beach’s Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal – The Queen Mary is in her district (she is also counsel person for district 2), so she should be watching out for the damage being done to historic landmarks on 2 levels. She can be reached at district2@longbeach.gov,   Suja.Lowenthal@longbeach.gov,   ph:562-570-6684.

Mr. Milford Wayne Donaldson – Head of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).  They can take a more active role in trying to stop the management where we can’t. You can read more about the SHPO and get further contact information here:http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=21755,  mwdonaldson@parks.ca.gov,   ph: 916-445-7050.

If enough of us speak out and demand they do something, there is a good chance they will. Please spread this information to as many people you know and get them to write or call in too.


A Ton of Bricks

Recently, the team did a local investigation in Pasadena, California. Beneath the historical National Bank building which dates back to the 1800’s, is an annual commercial haunted house (www.oldtownhaunt.com). Built within the original catacombs where the bank placed their vaults, this is one Halloween attraction that is truly haunted. Our chaperone, Gary, was a great guy; enthusiastic about the night’s activities, ready to listen and learn, he proved an awesome guide and ensured our time beneath the city was problem-free.

After a quick tour, the investigation began, and activity started right away. We started in the old vault where we experienced cold spots, captured EVPs, and felt the tickle of spider webs (though there was nothing tangible to create the tickle). But after about an hour and a half, things got really interesting.

We moved from the vault to the southwest corner of the maze which was not ideal. From the top-notch horn player farting out tunes on the sidewalk above to the traffic, proximity to the busy street outside threatened to provide some serious audio contamination. Regardless, we settled there, noting the noise  and marking our audio well, especially for any conversations that drifted in.

Little did we know, audio phenomena would not be our best shot at compelling evidence. We were in our new spot about ten minutes before something hard hit the concrete floor nearby.

We were not expecting things to start flying through the air. This particular piece of brick landed behind us. It came from the empty and unwatched end of the corridor in which we were standing. We walked toward the sound immediately, trying to figure out if there was anything in the area that could have made the sound we heard.

There were three “rocks” on the floor where the noise had come from. As you can hear, all three were examined. The first piece of debris turned out to be foam.  Though it is only open for part of the year, the haunt remains in tact year round, so we were literally wandering through a maze full of hanging corpses and false walls, many of which were made of foam. We were not sure where the other pieces of stone came from because there were no real exposed walls in the area. Perhaps it fell from the ceiling? Or, perhaps Chaperone Gary was having some fun with us? Because the location is set up for maximum scare potential, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think that Gary, a guy who works the haunt every year, would have some tricks we might not know about.

Our question would be answered during evidence review. If you listen closely to the end of the first clip, you will hear the voice of a little girl we call Sarah. (Not to be confused with the Sarah we regularly talk to aboard the Queen Mary) I isolated the EVP out of the longer clip so it would be easier to hear.

Having trouble hearing it? Here’s some advice: Make sure you have ear buds or headphones on and, instead of turning the sound up, try turning it down. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it really works!

Though faint, the answer is there. “It was me.” She was trying to get our attention, and it worked.

Sarah wasn’t the only one speaking to us. Apparently we had an audience while trying to figure out what had occurred. At the end of the clip where we are examining the pieces of stone on the floor, we captured this faint EVP.

Though it is quick, there is a whisper there that says “we know” and it seems to be in response to us figuring out which piece of brick was the one that actually made the sound we heard.

It’s funny. When you start getting crazy activity, the skeptic in you wants to dismiss it. There is a part of you that would prefer the culprit was living, because it would be easier for your brain to make sense out of it. But, as important as it was for us to dismiss that first noise, or, at the very least, set it aside for later analysis, it was just as important for Sarah to make herself known. Just five minutes later, it happened again. And, this time, it was louder.

That piece of debris was actually hurled parallel to the floor along the corridor adjoining ours. As you can probably tell, it hit a wood wall at the end and then skidded along the floor. Again, we did not actually see the rock fly through the air. And we did not have eyes on the end of the darkened corridor from which it came. But, as you can hear on the audio, the rock was thrown with a great deal of force. And our tosser wasn’t finished.

Less than five minutes later, it happened again. And this time, we knew it had to be paranormal. Once again, we missed the throw. But while there wasn’t enough light in the tunnels to catch the piece of brick in mid-air, there was certainly enough light by which to see a human figure. However, there were no human figures to see.

As you can hear on the audio, it hit a foam hook that was hanging in front of a metal gate. Like most ghost hunters, I had that annoying habit of pointing the camera in the wrong direction every time another piece of brick took flight. I know. I know. It’s annoying as hell. But while I didn’t catch the brick in flight, I did manage to capture the swinging hook and the piece of brick that caused it to swing. You can check out the video on our YouTube channel.

Now, so far, I have to say, this is a pretty epic display. I mean, it’s up there with what we call our “Party In The Mirror” picture. It took us months of theorizing and debunking before we finally gave in to the fact that there is no natural explanation for the image. But the activity wasn’t finished. Another piece of brick was tossed about fifteen minutes later. This fourth and final piece was the largest piece thrown.

As you can probably tell, that one freaked me out. It was a big piece of brick! And it hit really close to where I was. (And I STILL didn’t capture it on video.) We immediately started looking for a place where the brick could have come from, and it seemed like the most likely point of origin was an exposed brick wall about five or six feet away. This particular wall was originally an entrance to more tunnels that had been blocked off years before.

While we were trying to figure out the point of origin of the latest piece of brick, we captured an EVP. I’m not sure if it should be classified as an EVP or a disembodied voice because, as you can hear in this next clip, I heard “someone” at the time. I know that what I heard made me uncomfortable even though I couldn’t tell what had been said.  It felt like whoever spoke was right by me, in my personal space. CREEPER.

Did you catch that? Just after I say “It has to be ~covered~” there is an EVP of someone saying my name…which was in my ear…and all up in my business. Here it is isolated.

So not right. I theorize that the ghosts know me by name because I have a big mouth and never shut up. That’s just how I roll.

Now, you would think that our playful ghostly friend would be worn out by now. That’s four pieces of brick she just sent flying through the air in less than an hour. About twenty minutes passed, and we were fairly sure the ghost who, at the time, I nicknamed “Gus,” was exhausted. Out of boredom, I began to playfully taunt the spirit just to see if we could squeeze some more activity out of it. And it worked. A little more than twenty minutes later, we heard this:

Our recorder, which had been sitting safely on a ledge, suddenly fell to the floor and started playback. Brian had just walked away from the device before it fell. Immediately, we put it back where it was and started jumping around the base of the set-piece on which it was resting, wondering if the vibration from traffic outside could have made it suddenly jump to its doom. Nothing happened. We then shook the pillar trying to get it to fall. It didn’t budge.

Later, while going through evidence, I discovered something that boggled my mind. The previous audio clip was captured on the recorder I was holding. The following clip is what it sounded like from the perspective of the recorder that was knocked down.

     It took listening to it a few times before I was able to comprehend what I was hearing. I had fully expected to hear the recorder move followed by a loud bang. Instead, my ears were met with the sound of someone touching the recorder and turning it off. The device stopped recording before it ever left the ledge. WHO? WHAT? HOW? Are you kidding?
     I took a few minutes to process what I had just heard, then I tried to recreate it using the same recorder. The only way I could match what I heard was to press the stop button. If I picked up the recorder, the sound of my fingers was too loud to match what was captured on the device at the time. This means the spirit pressed “stop,” then knocked it to the ground.
     Shortly after this last effort by our paranormal friend, Chaperone Gary came to collect our team and move us to the next location. By this time we were exhausted and apparently, so was our company. Activity died, no pun intended. We could feel the change in energy as we settled into our new location. Though we hung out for a while longer, our quest for evidence had been more than fulfilled. Eager to get some sleep so that we could dive into the evidence, we ended up leaving the location early.
     A couple of months have passed since this investigation and we are still amazed by what we experienced. Accompanied by a soundtrack of top-notch tunes like “Tequila” and “My Country Tis of Thee” farted into the basement by the horn outside, the location delivered some stellar activity that we can’t deny. Thanks to a very persistent ghost, Chaperone Gary’s name has been cleared, and our team, after an investigation that turned out to be as subtle as a ton of bricks, feels quite comfortable in labeling the old bank: haunted.

A Few Days With Friends

Super special night-time investigations are not the only times evidence of our friends aboard the Queen Mary can be captured. Some of our most recent visits occurred during the day and early evening. There have been many times when we have gone to the ship just to hang out. Generally, we settle in the lobby just outside the First Class Pool. The Pool is the heart of the ship. Traffic, both living and dead, converges there. We have heard the girls playing behind closed doors, and we have met other paranormal investigators who have gotten lost while looking for different areas. Recent renovations have caused us to change our usual routine. This has afforded us some very valuable information: our ghostly friends will follow us wherever we go.

The following clips are EVPs we picked up on our casual trips to the ship.

September 19, 2011 was the first time we ventured into the lobby of the First Class Pool only to find an event taking place in the ballroom, and the bathrooms around the corner under renovation. (That renovation has since been completed and they did a beautiful job by the way.) Given all of the noise and living energy, we decided it was useless to try to record even casual conversation. So we decided to head to the area just outside the Third Class Playroom. We hung out there for about twenty minutes before activity started. During our stay (about two and a half hours) we saw unexplainable shadows and reflections, heard knocking from inside an elevator shaft that has long been closed, and we captured EVP’s and disembodied voices on our audio recorders. The activity was especially high that evening. But, as always, those we could feel but could not see just wanted to chat and find out how we were.

Last year during an evening investigation, I asked Jackie if she could tell me what her favorite color was. And though I did receive a response to my question, it was Sarah that answered. I’ve tried several times to double-check the answer we got, but had been unable to do so until this night.

As I mentioned before, we were hearing knocking coming from inside the elevator shaft. Jamie and I were sitting on either side of it, and the knocking sounded as if it were on the other side of the door. Of course, that’s impossible…or…is it?

Sarah is no longer shy around us. In fact, she answers many of our questions. If you listen closely, you can hear her response. “Me pounding?” (One of the ways we can always tell Sarah’s voice is that she tends to make statements into questions.)  In this next clip, Jamie asks “Who’s knocking?” And Sarah responds.

If you had a hard time hearing it, you might want to try lowering the volume a bit. I often find that listening to the clips at a softer volume helps my ears pick up changes in tone which, in turn, helps me focus on the EVP.

Our next visit to the ship was on September 30,2011. We were there to introduce our new friend Brittany to the ship before she joined us for a night investigation. We began our tour in the lobby of the First Class Swimming Pool. Sarah and Stark picked us up right away. After a short EVP session in the newly finished bathroom, we took a moment to discuss what parts of the ship we should show Brittany.  While we were talking, Jamie mentioned feeling as if someone had grabbed hold of her heart and squeezed. She likened the feeling to one she had experienced when we investigated Linda Vista Hospital in Boyle Heights. She equated it to something she would feel from a heart-attack patient. I told her it was Sarah. But Jamie couldn’t reconcile herself to that explanation because Sarah was too young to have died of a heart-attack. Having felt that before, I knew it was Sarah saying “Hi.” About thirty seconds later we captured this EVP.

Sarah’s voice came in beneath us talking. I mentioned wanting to give Brittany a sweeping overview of the ship. Then Jamie said she wanted to turn off her recorder because the battery was low. In fact, the battery on her recorder was low from the moment she turned it on. While we didn’t equate it to anything paranormal at the time, listening to the audio later revealed a burst of EMF interference the moment she turned it on.  It sounded like Morse Code. I now suspect the battery in Jamie’s recorder was drained. This seems to happen mostly when Sarah is around. You could hear a small amount of that same interference as Sarah said “That was me?”

Our tour that day took us to the upper decks towards the bow of the ship where we spent some time studying the exhibits. We looked at the uniforms that William Stark would have worn, mock-ups of officers quarters, and spent some time hanging out in the bridge. It seemed that our friends were taking a tour with us. In this next clip, Sarah and Stark both chime in while Jamie tries to read an old and sun-bleached document in one of the displays.

As Jamie says “I can’t see the date on it,” two voices overlap each other in agreement. Sarah says “uh-huh,” and Stark sort of growls out a “Yeah.” Then I chime in with “I know, right?” It feels as if they were looking over our shoulders while we studied the display. We were the only ones there at the time.

Now, fast forward past our night-time investigation, to our final visit. On October 22, 2011, we went to hang out for the last time before Halloween. Though we had been there three times in a month, we couldn’t resist going back again to see if we could experience more heightened activity. Unfortunately, the energy had changed. Our friends seemed distant and the energy on the ship was chaotic. This was no surprise as it was time for the Dark Harbor haunted maze event. Most of the EVPs we captured were soft and very difficult to hear. One answer to a direct question kind of summed up the trip:

Jamie asks if Stark is around and we get a very soft, very low, “No?”

Distant or not, the carnival of gratuitous fake ghosts didn’t keep one phenomena from occurring.

You can hear Brittany say “I’m feelin’ a little somethin’,” And Jamie agreeing. But towards the end of the clip, there is a “who.” This one is tough to hear, but the smooth, low, tone is definitely there.

This next one is a bit easier to hear. Though soft, the tone is higher, and it is the only thing in the clip.

So our little game of “Who” continues!  That is the fourth visit in a row where we came up with those kinds of EVPs.

Recently, I went over recordings from a few investigations we did on the ship at the end of last year and, while there were no “who’s” in them, there were a lot of other interesting EVP’s. Keep checking back at our website! http://www.EastValleyParanormal.com  I just posted some interesting photographic evidence, and EVP updates are coming! In the meantime, feel free to direct comments or questions to us here or on Facebook, and we’ll see you on the other side!