Facing the Ghosts Together

It’s past midnight as I sit in the infamously haunted Gribble House warehouse. Our tour guide Ted has long since packed up, locked the doors, and returned to the safety of his own home. I can faintly hear the cars passing outside on Martin Luther King Boulevard, unaware that I am now second guessing my journalistic endeavors staying in one of Savannah’s top paranormal sites. As I quietly chat with my boyfriend to remain distracted, he whips his head around to inspect the far left corner of the warehouse.

“What is it babe?” I ask not entirely wanting to know the answer.

“I could’ve sworn….someone said… John.”

We both begin nervously talking again, but once more John’s head turns to face the former 401 West Perry Street address.

“There’s something in there. It sounds like someone’s walking around on leaves.”

While John has never been dismissive of the supernatural, he has also never shown total belief in it. He always remained respectful when I detailed my first-hand accounts growing up in a haunted revolutionary house in Pennsylvania, but not having an encounter himself, it was exceedingly hard for him to believe in the invisible presences. However, the tour only a few hours ago, seemed to have made the theory irrefutable for both of us now.

Although the actual house is no longer standing, today’s warehouse stands exactly where the triple homicide took place one afternoon in 1909. When the police arrived on site, Eliza Gribble was found dead after her skull had been repeatedly hacked by an axe and daughter Carrie Ohlander was also discovered lifeless with her throat slashed open. The third woman, Maggie Hunter, rested in a pool of blood by the front door and even though she suffered from both a cranial beating and throat laceration, she was miraculously still alive. Maggie would only live three more days in the hospital, but during that time she identified her husband JC Hunter as the culprit.

JC was found guilty and sentenced to hang after bloody rags were found in his house. Continuously pleading his innocence, JC was given a reduced sentence for life in prison. After only serving a few years, he was surprisingly released.

The house was eventually torn down to build a warehouse for building World War II ship components, then serving trucks, and most recently, storing trolleys. When the trolleys moved to a more spacious location, the current owners investigated the supernatural elements for six months before opening it to the public with a safe conscience.

The first “hot spot” our tour visited was the exact spot Maggie Hunter was located when police arrived. Ted began asking who was with us. To our disappointment, our equipment showed no sign of paranormal activity. John decided to hand me the spirit box.

This tool continuously scrolls through radio stations and is the easiest way for the spirits to communicate with the living. I in turn handed John the EMF detector. Electricians typically use this gadget to locate concealed electrical components, but the tools can also identify the electromagnetic field spirits typically possess. EMF detectors hidden within dolls or stuffed animals specifically target children that have passed on. Although paranormal investigative phone apps do exist, the agency prefers to use instruments that have had a long history of credible interaction.

Again, Ted asked who was with us. No response. Trying a new tactic, he suggested we introduce ourselves. Then, interrupting the rapid station scanning, a male voice said “John.”

Did you hear that? He just said your name,” I whispered to my boyfriend.

Again, “John” was spoken so clearly on the speaker, it was as if someone were standing right next to me.

“He just said it again,” I stated in disbelief.

“Again.” The same male’s voice said repeating me. I could feel goosebumps spread over my body.

Even if I wasn’t a believer, it was too remarkable to not consider someone else was in the room. While I had supplied the owner and tour guide my name for the reservation, I had not provided my boyfriend’s since I wasn’t certain of his availability. The spirit appeared to be practicing his speech by repeating select words we used! Perhaps the man had been deceased for so long he had forgotten the linguistics to communicate full sentences?

Ted mentioned how much energy it demands for spirits to contact. We sat there for a bit longer, receiving more names including “David” (JC Hunter’s real name). We began to get quiet before a spirit requested us to “speak”. When we inquired what they wanted to talk about, the spirit simply said “speak” again before going quiet.

Walking into the former slave quarters, I could feel the mood significantly darken. Without any windows, I was grateful for the two small electric candles flickering against the brick wall. Ted again began asking who was with us. Suddenly a deep male’s voice crackled through the speaker “Get out!” and a different male saying, “Run!” My body tensed up and I no longer wanted to remain in this cold, unsettling room.

griffith house 2

Following Ted around as he packed up for the night, I listened to his chilling encounters from working at the warehouse. Finishing up his last hair-raising story, he pulled a hat box out from one of the storage rooms.

“We don’t usually show people this, but I feel for your story it might help.” It was JC Hunter’s weathered, black top hat. The warehouse also stores the century old carriage that was found in the Gribble House. Typically, the guides will not pull these items out since the owners would like to preserve them.

When we left the warehouse, we decided to go to a bar for a beer. We thought it best not to bring anything directly home with us and it made a good excuse to stop for an IPA. This wasn’t exactly what John probably had in mind for date night, but by now he knows this isn’t going to be the typical relationship.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Georgia on my Mind

This past August I began my Writing M.F.A studies. When I applied, I was living in South Africa and completely unaware that I could take the classes online. Moving to Savannah, Georgia gave John and me the opportunity to finally live together somewhere new and exciting. But the move proved more difficult than we expected. It quickly became a story we like to tell friends over a few beers.


The weekend we planned to move to our new apartment, everyone else seemed to have the same idea. All of the Uhaul minivans were unavailable for weeks. I had procrastinated in reserving our own vehicle and now we (and by ‘we’ I mean John) were stuck driving a bulky 10′ truck down 95.

If you have ever seen a Uhaul truck, you know that the sides feature random facts with a corresponding image. When we went to claim ours, I was embarrassed to discover it was about slavery. It seemed like a cruel joke; a young, white couple moving their belongings to the Deep South with an image of a slave slapped on the truck. I worried what this would say about us.

Uhaul image

Uhaul’s prank on us

To save money, we completed the 11-hour journey (not including gas and bathroom stops) in one day. It seemed the trip would never end, but then we crossed the Talmadge Memorial Bridge just as the sun began to set.

Our landlady met us to give us the keys and then despite how tired we were from driving all day, we unloaded the truck. We wanted to turn the Uhaul in as soon as possible the next day so they didn’t tack on another day’s charge. Although we didn’t have much, we were exhausted and not thrilled about our next task.

The apartment was located in Midtown Savannah and that night there was a drunk who sensed an opportunity. He loitered around, slurring his offer to grab stuff for us. While I wanted to believe in his good-will to help, I just didn’t like how he kept eyeing up the boxes. Taking turns so as not to leave what little we had for the taking, we loaded as much as we could in our arms and schlepped up the two flights of stairs to apartment 206. After two hours of this workout, only the couch and John’s weights remained for the next morning. As long as we dropped the keys in the key box before the Uhaul dealer opened, we wouldn’t have to pay an extra day’s charge.

We were completely spent and famished. Of course, this was the perfect time to learn that not many restaurants in Savannah deliver. Our mattress also had not yet arrived, so we slept on the floor.

Then came the fun part. We got to explore Savannah. We went to Tybee Island’s beaches (such an upgrade from the dirty, overcrowded Jersey beaches we were used to).

tybee

Enjoying our first time to Tybee’s beach

We went to Charleston, SC for a day exploring art museums, wandering down neighborhoods lined with historic homes and eating grits for the first time. While John didn’t care for the texture, I loved the cheesy, thick goo.

Charleston

Out back at Gibbes Museum of Art

We visited Savannah’s modest Botanical Gardens and pretended to be butterflies.

We spent sunny days in Forsyth Park and visited the farmer’s market early Saturday mornings for local produce and the best home-made curry.

forsyth park

Our first time in Forsyth Park

And boy did we eat! Unlike the chain restaurants that litter the north, Savannah offered so many delicious and unique places that made us want expandable waist pants and stretch out on the couch after.

Olde Pink House

Thanksgiving at the infamous Olde Pink House with my visiting mom and sister

Besides the oppressive heat in August, John and I loved Savannah. We loved how we constantly stumbled on new restaurants, we fell in love with the romance the Spanish Moss exuded, and everyone seemed friendly.

Nine months later, our Savannah chapter seems to be closing. Being in our late twenties, most of our friends from home are getting married. Our siblings have young ones we don’t get to spend time with and holidays away from family are difficult. Having lived abroad for two years, quality time with loved ones seems really important right now.

The job market and pay rate has also been a deciding factor for our move. John made a sacrifice to blindly follow me as I furthered my education, but penetrating the tightly knit southern job market proved more difficult. With most of my core classes completed, I will be switching online and hopefully finishing my degree Spring ’18 quarter. John, on the other hand, has multiple job offers back home and has decided to move back tomorrow.

This of course means that I finish the last six weeks of this quarter here by myself.

It means I walk through Forsyth alone, past the restaurants we took our families and friends, and home to an empty apartment where we first slept on the carpet floor completely spent but happy. It means I have no one to throw dirty socks at from upstairs and no one to hug when a grad school critique feels harsh. After living on separate continents for close to two years, you would think it would be easy for me.

I am excited for him though. And I am also excited to start the next chapter, whatever and wherever that is.

matching