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[whitespace] Drowning pool
courtesy of Glenn Sweet

The Drowning Pool, 1962: A young Glenn Sweet and his mother in front of Keith's House at the time of the haunting.

Tales of Three Ghosts

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor

The Ghost and The Child

Glenn Sweet is 48 years old and married, a hair stylist with a Campbell studio and a freelance business doing makeup for various film producers. Solid and stable, he seems hardly the type of person to be cast in a Hitchcock-style story of a lonely little ghost haunting an old hillside house.

WE MOVED TO our house in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the early '60s, maybe 1962 or 1963. I was about 9 or 10 years old. It was just me and my Mom and a woman who was boarding with us.

We called the house where we moved "Keith's House," because that was the name of the man who owned it. It was a big two-story house on a dirt road way up in the mountains. There were no close neighbors. I think the closest house was about a mile or so away. And there was no city electricity up there.

A creek runs right in front of the house, and the builder, I think, dammed it up and built a big pool out of it. One morning I was cleaning up near the side of the house when I heard splashing coming from the pool. Real loud splashing. I thought maybe somebody had fallen in. So I ran to the pool and looked over the edge, but I didn't see anything. The splashing had stopped and I couldn't figure out what had caused it, so I went back to work. Then the same thing happened again, but nobody was there in the pool.

After the first month or so we had been staying up there, I started hearing noises at night, creaks and things like that, just outside my room. It was real distinctive, like footfalls going up and down the stairs. Step, step, step. It wasn't just a house creaking. I'd always be lying in my bed facing away from the window. I'd never roll over and look. I just didn't want to know. I would hear these noises every night and would literally fall asleep to them.

One night I got up the nerve to roll over and look through the window. It was a four-paned window, and there was a kid's face in the lower left-hand pane, and he was just peering in with kind of a half-smile. Like, Oh, you finally turned around, huh? I just froze. And then the kid disappeared and I heard the footfalls going upstairs.

Well, I went screaming and yelling to my Mom's room, hollering about there's a kid looking in my window. And my mother, of course, tried to calm me down and said that I was just imagining things, that I must have had a dream, that everything was going to be OK. But I slept with her that night.

I must have been about 15 or 16 years old when my Mom and I went to visit Keith, the guy who had owned the house. This was a different place from the house up in the mountains, which we'd long since moved out of. I sat down by myself on the couch in the living room. There was a little coffee table in the corner, and on it there were a couple of pictures, one of a little girl and a little boy. And the boy was the same kid I had seen looking in the window in my room back in the old house.

Later on, my Mom told me that the boy in the photo was Keith's son. Keith had bought the house sometime in the late '50s, and after they had lived there only a few months, his son had fallen into the pool and drowned. So that's why he moved out.

Alviso mansion
George Sakkestad

The House of the Spirit: Did the ghost of Norbert Garrick walk the halls of this Alviso mansion?

Protective Spirit

The Raynors are the valley's Cheaper by the Dozen story, a nine-children family that lived for many years in a 19th-century sea captain's mansion on Catherine Street near the Alviso waterfront. Fred Raynor is the family patriarch, a 63-year-old native of Canada and retired construction specialist who now lives with his wife, Ethel, in Austin, Texas. Catharine Raynor Powers, the fourth-born child, is the mother of two and an executive secretary, also in Austin. Dan Raynor, the eighth child, is an actor and children's puppet theater producer living with his wife in Bristol, Indiana. All of them experienced what they believe was the ghost of Norbert Garrick, who died in the house several months before they moved in, and whom they never met alive. The Raynors owned the house for many years, selling it in the late '90s. The oldest son, Greg, still lives across the street from the house, which is still standing and occupied, both by tenants and by, well, who knows.

Fred, father of the Raynor family: No two ways about it. It very, very definitely was haunted. Absolutely. I never felt frightened by him. Never. You just didn't get frightened by him. He was a very, very good old man, the one that lived here. A very religious old man.

Daughter Catherine Raynor Powers: For the first couple years I don't even think we knew that Norbert had died in the house. And certainly if Mom and Dad had known about it at first they wouldn't have discussed it with us then, with us being as young as we were. At first we didn't know what it was. But I was never, ever frightened. Never. I have warm thoughts for Norbert Garrick. We always felt that he lived in the attic. Every now and then you'd be able to see a light up there through the tongue and groove wood in the ceiling. It was really cool.

Rosemary is the oldest child. She had my room before she moved out. On the north side of the room was a cubby on the wall where a single bed would fit right in. That's where Mom and Dad originally put the bed. Rosemary was sleeping in that bed--this was like in the first couple of weeks we were in the house--when the bed started as if another kid was jumping up and down on it. Like one of us was pushing up and down on the mattress. So Rosemary went into Mom and Dad's room, scared. They told her to go back to bed, everything was fine, so she went back to bed, and it happened again. That's when they moved the bed from the cubby over to the west wall. I don't think it was right then that they decided it was Norbert. It was years later when we realized that we had Norbert--and we weren't afraid to talk about it anymore--that was when they attributed that happening to Norbert. And it was years later that they found out that this was the room where Norbert had died. That was the room I ended up sleeping in.

Son Dan Raynor: I am a very skeptical person. However, I know that certain things that I saw when I was growing up were completely unacceptable. It wasn't a frightening experience when I was a kid. I just thought it was very cool. We even used to bring kids from the neighborhood into the house, tell them, "Oooooh, we're going to show you the ghost." But when I got to be a teenager then I really started to get spooked about it. And even now I can't really go into that house without getting spooked. I never, ever, ever liked being there by myself.

Swami Salami's Seance

Fred: My brother came down in the '80s to visit. This is after we had moved across the street and bought the place. There were a bunch of young kids in their early 20s living there, all friends of my daughters and my sons, and they were all hopped up about this ghost and they wanted to have a seance. My brother's very psychic and and he really didn't want to do it, but he finally agreed. "We'll call me Swami Salami," he told me, "and we'll make a joke out of it." He put his jacket on backwards and wrapped a towel around his head and put a piece of costume jewelry on it. And he went over there and said, "Now, we can't just do this. It's got to be at the stroke of midnight," and all this stuff. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing legitimate about this seance thing. This was just something that my brother thought up to do to make these kids happy.

Catherine: I was the one who was living at the house at the time. I had four boarders who lived there, all guys. They were all into it. They said like, "Yeah, this is going to be cool. This is going to be great." We sat around the dining room table. I also had a rocker in the corner of the dining room which my Mom and Dad had bought me when my first child was born. We put the chandelier in the dining room on a dimmer; we put the dimmer down. We had all the rest of the lights turned off in the house. We all held hands. Remember that character in the Johnny Carson sketch? That's how my uncle was dressed up. I mean, it was a joke. And he starts this little chant, "Norbert, we want you to come and show us a sign. We believe that you're here," and all this kind of stuff. Everybody was giggling. And just then the rocker in the corner started moving. And that--excuse my French--that scared the shit out of two of them. And they left the house. They wouldn't stay in the house. They wouldn't go upstairs to their rooms. They just left the house and never came back. There was an energy force in that room at that time. I really felt it. I can't explain what I felt. But I know Norbert was there.

Alviso mansion
George Sakkestad

Norbert's Warning

Catherine: We always took Sunday drives. We used to go up in the mountains on Sunday afternoon and Daddy would barbecue hamburgers and hot dogs. The one time in particular that was really unnerving was when we were up at Sandy Wool Lake near Milpitas and it was getting to be dusk and Daddy had pulled the station wagon around to finish eating. We were just sitting down to eat and the lights started to flicker on the station wagon. And Dad, of course, hollered for the boys to get out of the car and knock it off, get over here and eat. And there was no response. And they kept flickering and then Daddy finally got up, angry, and he went over to the car and nobody was in the car.

Dan: It was incredible. It was getting dusk, that would be my guess. I remember my father screaming at my brother Greg and then my brother Chris--he said, "Get out of the car and quit messing with those lights." And my brother Greg just looked over and said, "Dad, it's not me, I'm right here." And Chris was sitting on his other side. And we were all accounted for. We just stood there and watched the lights blink on and off. Oh, man, I get chills just thinking about it. My father ran over to the car and there was nobody there and nobody doing anything. And just all of a sudden it stopped. My father said, "I don't know what the deal is, but we're getting out of here." We packed up the tablecloth in four corners, bundled everything in the bottom, and tied it up like a hobo sack, and we just got out of there. All nine children packed in the car. Later we found out some escaped killer or child molester or something from some jail was lurking right up near that lake, and of course we all believed that this was Norbert Garrick who was telling us to get the hell out of there.

Victorian house
George Sakkestad

Intimate Incubus: Some believe the houses in this neighborhood are haunted by a ghostly rapist.

The Sex Ghost

Olivia Waters is a published book writer and professional photographer who lives in Santa Cruz. She asked that her real name and the names of her roommates not be used, nor the exact address of her old house, because of the rather strange nature of her ghostly encounters.

ABOUT FIVE, maybe six years ago, I rented a room in a Victorian on Walnut Street. At the time I moved in, there were four other women living there, students and single working women.

Within a week after I moved in, I started having very strange dreams. A really crazy sexual dream. Over and over and over again. I would wake up in the morning and I would feel like I had just had sex all night, and I was exhausted. It was just weird. I personally wasn't scared of the spirit because he wasn't attacking me. Well, I guess in a way it was like an assault. It was strange. I never said anything about it to anybody, because what are you going to say?

About a month passed while this was going on, and I noticed that something had been happening to Cynthia, one of my roommates. She seemed to be having experiences that always left her crying. And I noticed at the end of the month that she had rung up about a $300 bill on the Psychic Hotline. Finally one morning, I saw her in the kitchen and I asked her, "What's wrong with you? Why do you look upset all the time?" And she said, "I really can't talk about it." Then she broke down in tears and told me she had been having these experiences in her room. For about a year and a half she had been seeing this guy in her room who would sit on the window seat in the bay window and look at her. He was a young guy, probably in his early 20s. She was completely freaked out and terrified. Later on it got more volatile and violent, like he was attacking her.

While we were talking Anna came down into the kitchen. She lived upstairs in the bedroom in the back of the house just above mine. And I asked her, "Have you ever had any dreams or felt anything strange in the house?" Now this was a very tough girl. But the minute I asked her that, she turned and looked at me and burst into tears. She told me that she'd been having these experiences that when she went to sleep, it felt as if somebody were stroking her hair and touching her body. It felt to her that it was a gentle spirit, like someone was looking out for her or protecting her. At first she thought it was her cat, but the cat was not in the room. And then one time her boyfriend was over and he was up in her room and they were having a little teasing fight and something pushed her boyfriend against the wall. They were completely freaked out and had no idea what it was.

We burned some incense in the house and that got rid of him for a while. But then sometime after that Catherine and I were sitting in kitchen, and no one else was home and we heard this voice say, "I want you." It was crystal clear, but at the same time almost like a fading echo. I mean, the hair on our arms stood straight up, and Catherine said, "Do you think he's back?" We checked inside the house and outside, but nobody else was around. This poor girl, Catherine, was freaked out about it; I just thought it was kind of funny. At that moment, the dishes in the drainboard moved and rearranged themselves. That's the first time I saw the spirit do anything physical. Catherine got really scared. She wouldn't even stay in the house that night.

Victorian house
George Sakkestad

Haunted Haven? One of the Santa Cruz Victorians to which the rapist ghost may have fled.

About three nights later I had another dream. My bedroom looked out over the backyard. I had a dream that there were all these people out in the backyard dressed in farm clothes, turn-of-the-century clothes, knocking on the window of my bedroom. In my dream I sat up in bed and looked out the window, and they told me, "You have to wake up because Michael is back." I woke up instantaneously. Just then, I heard Catherine screaming. I ran through the living room and into her bedroom, and she was sitting in the bed just hysterical and in tears. She said that she had seen the ghost again. But now, at least, we knew his name.

Two weeks later I was down in New Orleans on a business trip. While I was there I met a psychologist named Larry Muntz who runs Hauntings Today. One of the psychics who worked there held my hand to tap into my energy--anyhow, that's what she said she was doing--and went into channeling trance. I hadn't told her any details, just that there was something in our house that was bothering us. After she came out of the trance she told me that what she sensed in my house was the spirit of a man there who was molesting the women of the house. She said that somebody was raped in a particular room in our house and that's where energy was gathered. She also said that he used to be the son of the master of the house and he thinks he can have his way with the servant girls. "You need to tell him you are the ladies of the house, not the servant girls, so he will leave you alone." That was her advice.

When I got back to Santa Cruz I got in touch with one of the remaining children of the family that had originally lived in the house. The woman was 85 years old. She remembered the house from when she lived there as a little girl and she said that, yes, somebody had been raped in the front room of the house. It was the bedroom where Cynthia slept. I also found out that my bedroom had originally been the servants' quarters, and Anna's bedroom upstairs had been the servants' quarters up there. So all of the women bothered had either been in the room where the rape took place, or in the rooms where the servant girls slept.

I walked around the house for two weeks talking to that spirit. I told him he either needed to treat us decently like ladies of the house or move out of there. I burned a ton of sage till the house stunk like crazy. My roommates thought I was nuts. After that, he went away and never came back.

I always wondered where he went. I talked to another psychic sometime, and she told me that spirits can move around very freely unless they committed suicide, and then their spirit is bound to that place where they killed themselves. That whole block on Walnut Avenue is made up of houses over 100 years old, so he must have known all of them. I figure he just went down the block somewhere and is bothering someone else.

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From the October 28-November 3, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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