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Nearly a year after my visit to Waverly Hills, I am still haunted by the experience.  Not haunted in the ghostly sense, but in the thoughtful, questioning sense.  Much like one might be haunted by an experience of any sort.  You keep coming back to it and asking yourself, “What happened, really?”

Let me just tell the story and you judge for yourself.

My sister, her daughter, and I planned this adventure months in advance.  We paid our money and waited with much anticipation and excitement for “our day” to arrive.  We took the long drive out there and finally ended up on a winding dirt road that took us past the back a decrepit-looking golf course of some sort and through a wooded, spooky area behind a sparsely populated housing development.  A forbidding gate with a “NO TRESPASSING” sign nailed to it greeted us.

We, and many of our fellow ghost hunters, got out of our cars and mingled around until a very pleasant young man came along with a clip board, opened the gate and began checking our names off on a list on his clip board.  He was 20-something and had a very friendly smile and directed us to the gravel parking lot next to the building.

The parking lot was decorated with some junk: a broken down school bus, an unseaworthy boat, some 50-gallon drums that were mostly rust, piles of lumber and other detritus.  Our cars kicked up much dust and we all lumbered out in awe of our surroundings.

The former TB hospital was about as eerie as a building can get.  It was huge beyond belief.  It is several stories tall with tons of windows (no glass, of course) and formed a huge “C” around the parking lot.  It’s Gothic look was enhanced by enormous gargoyles on the edge of the roof and standing on the ground near the entrance.  We were excited.  We took photos and giggled and talked about how scary this was going to be and how much we hoped to see “something.”

Our trusty guide still with his clip board, herded us toward a doorway in what appeared to be a basement.  We were very orderly and respectful as we entered the hallowed, albeit haunted, premises.  Once through the door, we discovered long library tables with chairs arranged to face a portable movie screen.  On the right side of the room, was a small gift shop where we all bought baseball hats, canvas bags, t-shirts, key chains, and all the other artifacts that you expect to find in a museum gift shop.  The rest of the room was decorated with antiques of unspecified age.  There was a player piano...don’t ask me why that was there.  I guess the ghosts used it to entertain themselves when no one was around.  There were lots of pictures on the walls of the hospital when it was operating.

After about 15 minutes, we were asked to sit in the chairs and watch a movie.  The movie was a documentary about the hospital.  It told of how important and innovative it was while in operation, how many people died there, and the sorts of treatments people would receive.  It then went on to tell us the life of the building since it closed its doors to patients.  It was very informative and fun.  We even got to see part of the episodes of the ghost TV programs that had been filmed there.

When the movie was over, we were divided into two groups and led away.  My group was lead by our previously described smiling young man.  He warned us not to wander off from the group because the floor in some places was not stable and there were construction items around that could be dangerous.  He also told us anecdotes about other visitors who had wandered off from the group and had scary experiences.  I think he was just setting the mood for the tour.

As the sun set, and we set off on our adventure, we were hyped.  We walked and we walked and we heard story after story about ghosts appearing, speaking, lurking, and just generally being around.  We even heard one story about our guide, personally, being thrown to the ground by one of the ghosts.  Believe me, it was spooky.   Our guide pointed out marks on the walls where ghosts has thrown things and other eerie markings.  It was completely dark by this point and we had to use our flashlights to see our way up narrow staircases and along wide and winding hallways.

When we reached the infamous room 203 (or whatever number it was), we did see some strange lights that seemed to be wavering much like lights reflecting on a swimming pool, but there was no water around.  We oohed and aahed over that.  We took pictures and lingered a while there.

When we finally reached the top floor, we went out onto the roof to admire the view and heard more stories about people who sneaked into the building at unauthorized times and how they encountered scary things.

Back down we went to the 4th floor where our guide expressed disappointment that we had not seen any ghostly activity.  So he was prepared to “help it along” with an experiment.  He needed a volunteer.  Well, hoping for an “experience,” I volunteered having no clue what was expected of me, I stepped forward and said, “I’ll do it.”

Our cute, young guide put his hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes.  “Are you sure?”  He asked me earnestly.  I smiled and said I was sure.  “If at any time you change your mind, just say so and we’ll stop.”  “OK,” I said.  At this point I wondered what was going to actually be done to me.  Was he going to hang me up by my ankles?  Was he going to blind fold me?  Was he going to leave me alone on that floor while everyone else went to lower floors and waited to hear me scream?  I was nervous, excited, and somewhat apprehensive.  But, I was also very brave.

Our guide, (Have I mentioned how muscular and good looking he was?) Instructed me to walk about 50 feet down the hall away from the group.  I did.  He then told me to turn and face the group, but I did not hear him because everyone was whispering and shuffling their feet, and just generally excited. So, I did not turn around.  It was completely dark except for the faint moonlight that we could barely see outside the windows.

He then asked me to place my feet about two or three feet apart so the group could see the faint light from the window behind me.  (Well, it was actually in front of me because I did not hear him tell me to turn around.)  So I bravely planted my feet apart.  Then he asked me to lift my arms to shoulder height.  I did that.  Then we waited.

After a few very tense moments, I began to gently sway toward the window in front of me.  I was not doing this on purpose, it was just happening.  It was as though someone, or something, was moving past me behind my back, but not touching me.  Our guide asked me if I was moving and I said that I was gently swaying. He asked me if I was doing it on purpose and I said that I was not, that it was just happening.  Everyone oohed and aahed some more.

After a few minutes, our guide thanked the ghosts for showing themselves to us and told me to rejoin the group.   He asked me if I was ok, which I was.  He asked me if they had hurt me in any way, which they had not.  By this time, we were totally excited and thrilled with our haunted hospital experience.  We certainly got our money’s worth out of that adventure.

Since that time, as I said, I’ve been puzzled, haunted if you will, by the experience.  And on several occasions I have stood with my feet about two feet or so apart and my arms held out at shoulder height.  Sure enough, if I stand that way for a few minutes, I begin to sway.  Almost as if someone or something were passing behind me without touching me.

So, I am haunted by the thoughts that these people have taken this old dilapidated building, gathered some stories, and opened up a cash cow.  I am also haunted by the fact that I did not think of it first.


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October 2012

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