Ghosts abound on PeninsulaBy Mark Abramson
Specters that move chairs and make creepy noises teem throughout the Peninsula, one longtime ghost tracker says.
Gloria Young, the founder and director of Santa Clara-based Ghost Trackers, has been studying spirits since 1992. Her nonprofit organization, with about 30 members who help do investigations, has checked out hauntings from California to Alabama and as far north as Washington state.
Although she is serious about the work, Young has a sense of humor. The recording on her answering machine is the theme song for the movie "Ghostbusters."
Young said she got into the business in part because she was an emergency room nurse - a job that led her to believe something exists after death.
She was still skeptical when she started out, Young said, but over time, her skepticism turned into belief.
"I've been in many different buildings. ... I've had my hair pulled and I've been shoved" by something that could not be seen, Young said.
Young's local investigations have taken her to spots such as the South Bay's Joseph D. Grant County Park, formerly Grant Ranch.
The park teems with supernatural activity that could possibly be traced to the purported murderous ways of Edith Grant, the daughter of the ranch's namesake, in the 1940s, Young said. Grant is said to have killed several people, including trespassers on the ranch.
"When we take tours through there, usually something happens," Young said. "It's nicely haunted."
Visitors to the ranch have heard strange noises, and one even reported being shoved, she said.
Young said she remembers another haunting about 10 years ago on Channing Way in Palo Alto involving a pesky spirit that liked to play pranks. A little old lady who lived there at the time complained about chairs moving and her husband's medication being hidden, Young said.
"It wasn't harmful, it was just kind of annoying and she was just at her wits' end," Young said.
The ghost would also move the woman's wheelchair-bound husband around from room to room, Young said.
Young also remembers investigating a house in San Bruno in December 2006 where a girl's "imaginary friend" appeared to be something else. The child's grandmother called Ghost Trackers, who watched the child play with the so-called imaginary friend she called John.
"She was definitely talking to someone. And we thought we saw the rocking chair rock back and forth by itself," Young said.
Young also learned through her investigation that the former owner of the house was a man named John, but she was never able to find out if he was dead or alive.
In Burlingame, legend has it the Kohl Mansion that houses Mercy High School, a Catholic girls school run by the Sisters of Mercy, is haunted by the spirit of former mansion owner Freddie Kohl. After the Sisters of Mercy took over the mansion in the 1920s, they had it blessed several times in an effort to get rid of whatever lingered there, said Liz Dossa, a spokeswoman for the religious order.
"The folklore is that the ghost of Freddie Kohl is still in the mansion, and he appears every now and then," said Russ Cohen, president of the Burlingame Historical Society.
Dossa said after Kohl committed suicide in 1921 and the Sisters of Mercy took over the mansion a few years later, people reported finding a strange white powder on the tops of curtains and in other hard-to-reach places. People also have heard thumping from what some believe to be Kohl's wooden leg, she said.
"Some people were convinced that something was going on in the house, and this was enough for them to have it blessed," Dossa said.
Ghost Trackers has tried to get into the mansion several times to investigate, but their requests have been denied, Young said.
Copyright ©2007 San Mateo County Times. Published 10/31/2007.