Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Ghost Hunting!

So Van's mom Sharon recently got me in touch with a lawyer that she may be doing some work for here in San Antonio. Phil is quite an interesting fella. He is a big time antiques collector, amongst other things and needed some help moving some stuff around so I volunteered. Over lunch one afternoon, he described to Sharon and me the newest purchase he made; The Yorktown Memorial Hospital. My first reaction, which I am sure you are all sharing, was “where the heck is Yorktown?” If you go southeast of San Antonio at 55mph for about 2 hours and don't blink, you'll see Yorktown. I suppose you could go faster but Phil doesn't like going over 55 and when traveling through that part of Texas, I'm not sure you could if you wanted to. Somewhere just southeast of LaVernia, there's a twilight zone that causes everything to slow down by about 25%. Even the speed at which you talk naturally becomes slower and you can't help but feel that the rest of the world is eons away. The town itself was once a major hub on the rail line as it was the only stop coming up from the coast back in the 20's. What took Phil there? Not a clue, but somehow, on someday, while he was passing through, which is all anyone really does in Yorktown, Phil found out that the ol' Memorial Hospital building was for sale. Now, as Phil is always in need of more space to fill with his “collection” he saw this as a great opportunity, and frankly, it was. He got a killer deal on the place. Now the building itself was built back in 1952 by a group of Polish Nuns called the Sisters of St. Phelix or the Philician Sisters and was a hospital up until 1980ish. Then, it was an Asylum till 1993 at which point, it closed for lack of business and no one has really touched it since then. So when Phil became the new owner it was “well aged.” The place should probably be torn down to be honest but not until Phil has had a chance to use it for what it is now perfectly suited for. On the weekends, Phil has been having groups of “Paranormal Investigators” come down and set up camp for a few nights to “investigate.” The place is just perfect for it. The building is straight out of a horror movie and with all the antiques that Phil has put into the building, it's got the perfect mix of “timepiece Alfred Hitchcock meets Silent Hill” ambiance that really gets your blood going. Phil had a big group coming into town a few weekends back and was a little short staffed so I offered to give a hand. We spent most of the day cleaning the place up and moving stuff around so that the “investigators” would have a few spots to set up equipment and get settled in. The first crew to arrive Friday night was relatively small. We had 10 in total including Todd the organizer. We had a great time. A while back, Phil made arrangements with a young couple named Scott and Keri who were to look after the place and keep it relatively clean. Scott gives the tours on the weekend, so he showed us around the Hospital and pointed out all the “high activity” spots and then turned us all loose to go “investigate” at will. Most of the Friday crew consisted of first timers but a few had obviously done an investigation or 2 in their time and were more professional about it. So what does a “professional” paranormal investigator do right? Well, if you've ever seen the show Ghosthunters, that's it. Basically, you walk around taking lots of pictures, listen for spooky noises, and hope you get something out of the ordinary on film. Now occasionally you get an investigator that is more into EDP which I have no idea what that stands for so google it but basically, you sit in a room with a recorder going and ask questions and sometimes try to elicit responses. If you're thinking, “you sit in the dark and talk to ghosts?” then you hit the nail on the head. Now, it would be very easy for me to crack some wise guy remarks and play the cynic role here and point out all the many ways in which this “investigating” rests somewhere between delusional and psychotic, but to be honest, I kind of enjoyed it. So far as I know, we didn't really “catch” anything but the whole process was fascinating to me and who doesn't like a good scare here and there? One couple in particular deserves mentioning. Steeve and Xan from Austin came down for their very first official investigation and we hit it off right from the start. They're both admittedly overweight Hog riders that exude a Dionysian love of life that I find incredibly contagious. They both believe pretty strongly in the paranormal but took the whole investigating thing with a much appreciated and respectful grain of salt.
We spent the better part of the night just walking around, talking, and spooking ourselves. Let me give you a little example:

Xan, Kyle and Steeve walk into Sanctuary and sit on pews.
Xan: So that's the room where the little boys would service the priest? I mean get the priest ready for service?
Steeve: Oh that's just wrong.
Kyle: I agree. But yes.
Xan: So I guess that's a hotspot then right?
Steeve: I'll go check...and scare myself.
Steeve gets up and proceeds behind the alter to the creepy back rooms. Kyle and Xan continue to crack jokes and talk about Steeve behind his back.
A few moments later a large gust of wind slams the door shut behind Steeve. A very girly scream follows and Steeve comes running out from the other door. Kyle and Xan double over laughing at Steeve.
Xan: Did ya scare yourself honey?
Steeve: Yup, got that need to poo feeling.
Kyle and Xan resume hysterical laughter.

So the rest of the night pretty much went the same. Good jokes, good company and good scares. What more can you ask for from a Paranormal Investigation right?
Saturday was quite different. Around 8:30 the Investigators began arriving. By 9:30 we had upwards of 30 people and they were almost entirely veterans. Infrared cameras, K2 electromagnetic meters, the whole shabang and Todd was quite the teamleader. Scott and I took 2 seperate groups and started at opposite ends of the hospital and worked our way through the 3 floors perfectly, not crossing groups even once. Then Todd split them up into teams so that each team would have a floor to themselves to investigate and thus, minimize the disturbances. I followed one group for about an hour and a half just to see how they did things and had a great time. Not as fun as Steeve and Xan but entertaining none the less. It was a weekend well spent and while it took me 2 days to recover from the late night adventuring, it was well worth it for an experience I will never forget.
Here's a more precise location for Yorktown and some pics


Veggie Mom said...

GREAT April Fool's Day post...I still have goose bumps on my arms!

Michelle said...

Funny, my first thought was... bought a *hospital*? :) Love it.

kay said...

I hope your next entry will be about your birthday weekend - kayakers and turtle saving.

Anonymous said...

Kyle! It's been a while since you've posted. Good to hear from you!! This is Leslie, btw.