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Home Archives Strange Happenings at the Whaley House

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Witness: Elizabeth Rees
Location: San Diego, California
Date of Encounter: Summer of 1970

I had just turned 8 years old in 1970 when my family moved to San Diego from the Los Angeles area. We did many of the typical things a newcomer would do. However, our trip to the Whaley House still stands out in my mind to this day. My mother, two sisters, and myself went on a guided tour in the middle of the day. At the end of the guided tour, everyone left except us and, of course, the docents. Most of the rooms were roped off so people tended to crowd the doorways, and we didn't get to see some things the first time around; that's why we stayed. I went back to look at the kitchen. There were several knives and utensils hanging from hooks on the wall to my left. I noticed a meat cleaver moving like a pendulum… just barely. The arc of the swing grew larger the longer I watched. Being a kid raised on Disneyland, I started looking for strings/fishing wire. I called my mom over and the docents came too. They tried to explain it away saying maybe someone was walking around upstairs and that was shaking the wall. Well, nobody else was in the house and none of the other objects were moving at all (as one would expect since they were on the same wall). The docents said they'd never seen that happen before.

After that, I went into the courtroom to look at the displays inside the glass cases and to see if I could see the "rope move." That is the heavy, velvet-covered rope that the docent guides said sometimes moved in a wave-like pattern as though being grasped by someone walking along. Well, I didn't see that. But as I was leaving the room, I felt something wet hit my hand. It was a brown sort of goo with what looked, to my 8 year old eyes, like wood chips in it. The "spot" was about the size of a penny. I showed it to my mom while asking for a tissue to wipe it off. Mom and the docents thought it looked like chewed tobacco. At that point, I really thought the place was rigged and wanted them to feel above the door frame. Nobody was tall enough to do that and I guess there was no point since it wasn't Disneyland. But I'd never heard of ghosts (at that point) being able to do such a thing. To this day, I wish I'd somehow kept a sample of that goo. Today, with so much about forensics being more or less common knowledge, we would all know to do so. But 1970 was a different time. I don't remember if my sisters had any experiences separate from mine. I do know my mom smelled cigar smoke and perfume. Also something about the staircase, but I don't remember any more specifics than that.

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