Friday, April 22, 2016
We recently stayed at the Ansonborough Inn in the historic district of Charleston, SC. The inn was originally a three-story warehouse built around the turn of the century (circa 1901) near the port. While I’ve not come across any tales of this particular location being haunted, we did experience some curious circumstances during our brief stay. First, Mary Ann was unpacking soon after arrival to find that the socks that she knows she packed were nowhere to be found. While she was adamant that she packed them, it occurred to me that perhaps, just maybe she may have left them sitting on the bed at home and I didn’t pay much heed beyond that, until…
The morning after our first night staying at the inn I went to put my contacts in only to discover that they were missing from the case in which I know I placed them the night before and have been doing since I began wearing contacts over 20 years ago. It’s a routine I can do literally with my eyes closed – at least once I take the contacts out! So I have no reason or evidence to suspect that I did anything different this time. At first I thought maybe I had made a mistake and opened the wrong storage case so I checked Mary Ann’s and as she had already put hers in, that case was empty as well. I went back to my case and what was really odd is that the wells contained the saline I had put in them the night before when I deposited the lenses, but the lenses themselves were gone. I triple and quadrupled checked even checking the lids to ensure they had not gotten stuck to the inside of the lids somehow, but no contact lenses. Luckily I had a spare pair, but the disappearance was troublesome and the disappearance of the socks carried more weight.
Now we have missing socks and missing contact lenses. But wait, there’s more. That evening Mary Ann went to retrieve a nail file from her bag and…you guessed it, it was gone. Once again she is certain that she packed it with her toiletries and given the other disappearances, I believe her.
I am not saying that these missing items had anything to do with paranormal activity, but I can’t help but wonder what happened to these items. Also note that there were three instances of missing items– three being the key number that tends to be prominent when paranormal activity occurs. But if this wasn’t enough I have one more oddity to cap it all off.
On our final night as we were preparing to go out to dinner I took out the digital recorder to see if perhaps we could capture any electronic voice phenomena. I turned on the recorder and asked whomever had taken our personal items to please return them to the room while we were gone. At the time of the brief recording, there was no ambient noise and both of us were standing completely still. When we reviewed the recording, just after I voiced my request, there is a shuffling sound heard on the recorder that lasts for a couple of seconds. It sounded as if someone was walking across the carpet perhaps. Again, I will reiterate that both of us were standing completely still and I was holding the recorder completely still at the time. There were no other sounds and no discernable voice that responded to my plea, just the unexplained shuffling noise that neither of us heard in real time, but could clearly hear on the recording.
So…plausible explanation? I don’t know. Maybe, but I can’t think of one right now. Just something to make us wonder even more.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Another spot that we visited while in Key West was the The Key West Cemetery, a 19 acre cemetery that is home to the graves of more than 100,000 people, including Robert Eugene Otto, owner of Robert the Doll. There are thousands or ornate tombstones and monuments throughout, many eerily decorated with mementos left on the gravestones. One area that we found of interest was a plot of land surrounded by an iron fence whose gates are decorated with spear points and battle axes. This particular spot houses graves of US servicemen and a memorial to the 260 US sailors who perished on the USS Maine after it was blown up in Havana Harbor in February of 1898, an act that led to the US declaring war on Spain.
Walking through the iron gates, I felt a strong emotion that I can only describe as eerie. I didn’t immediately say anything but the longer we walked and perused the monument and the graves, the stronger the feeling became, settling heavy in my chest. Once we exited through the gates to visit other parts of the cemetery, the feeling lifted, prompting me to mention it to my wife. Uncannily, she expressed the exact same feelings while inside the gates, and as with me, those feelings abated once we exited through the gates. We did not see anything that appeared supernatural and none of our photos turned up any strange anomalies, but the uneasy feeling was strong and simultaneous, and what’s more, neither knew the other was experiencing anything odd until we talked about it afterward. Were the soldiers buried there trying to get our attention or thank us for visiting them? Who knows, but the fact that we felt the same feelings at the same time and didn’t verbalize it to one another until after the fact is strong evidence that something extraordinary occurred.
While in Key West we took a ghost tour and one of the stops was at the Fort East Martello Museum, the home of Robert the Doll. Robert the Doll was a gift to Robert Eugene Otto given to him by his Jamaican nurse and said to be haunted. Whenever mischief occurred, young Eugene would always say, “Robert did it.” Stories tell of people passing the Otto’s house and seeing the doll move through the window. Eugene had an unnatural affinity for Robert that continued into his adult years as he seldom went anywhere without him. Eugen Otto grew up to become an artist and lived in Key West much of his life. Robert now splits time between the East Martello Museum and the Old Post Office and Custom House in Key West.
The evening of our visit, we encountered Robert behind his class encasement in a dimly lit area of the museum, in an area that also held a 19th century horse drawn hearse. The wall behind Robert is papered with letters addressed to Robert, seeking his forgiveness and asking that he lift the various curses he allegedly placed on the writers of the letters. Our tour guide explained that before taking his picture you must seek his permission, and if you did not, then Robert was known to put a curse on you, thus all the letters seeking his forgiveness.
My wife and I both had cameras and she did as instructed and asked Robert’s permission before snapping photos. I, on the other hand, either out of stupidity, or perhaps out of feeling strange for asking a doll behind a glass encasement permission to photograph it, did not ask permission. On a side note, when we entered the museum we were given EMF meters (ghost meters) that measures Electromagnetic energy, which spirits are said to generate. Just as I snapped one of my photos of Robert, a couple on the tour noticed that their EMF meter was going off. In fact, if you look closely at the photo of Robert, you can see the couple on the background looking down at their meter.
We were then escorted outside and told the story of a ghost of a soldier that was frequently seen in the courtyard emerging from behind a wall that surrounded the property. I again snapped a few photos, and while no soldier appeared, I did pick some unusual light anomalies or orbs that were not visible to the naked eye, but only discovered later while reviewing the photos.
The ghost tour ended and we returned back to our hotel later that night. I didn’t give any more thought to the curse of Robert the Doll until about mid-morning the next day when I became sick with a terrible cold that made me miserable for the duration of our visit in Key West and for several days afterward. I’d been fine the day before and had none of the tell-tale signs that normally proceeds a cold, rather it came upon me on the instant, fast and furious. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the doing of Robert the Doll, punishing me for taking his photo without permission. Readers beware. If you visit Key West and go to see Robert the Doll, do not take his photo without asking his permission first. While I merely caught a severe cold, others have reported much worse, so much so that they have written letters to an early 20th century doll begging for his forgiveness.