7.14.2014

Ghost Hunters of Los Angeles

One of my issues with Los Angeles is a lack of known history. I'm sure all kinds of business went down between Mexicans, Native Americans and pioneers from the East Coast. Especially when Missions were being built and cultures clashed. But because of our rocky shorelines, we've never had ships sail in to invade us from other countries. And between this being the Wild West, and the fact that so many dialects were spoken, little was recorded and much was lost in translation. Unlike the East, we had no newspapers, historians, universities or libraries to document things. Less history means means less ghost stories.

To an East Coaster, it makes things a little boring. The Atlantic coastline is rife with sordid history dating back to the Revolutionary War, even Jamestown. In high school, a friend sold a rare Civil War coin to the Smithsonian Institution, after uncovering it in her neighborhood creek. I met a girl at a party who liked to camp overnight by an old Civil War trench in her backyard, which was still hollowed out.  And the most disturbing of all: one of my friends in Virginia was digging in his yard and uncovered bones from an unmarked slave cemetery! Authorities swooped in and the family ended up on the local news. Sometimes it felt like every home in Virginia was built over bodies. Haunted tours were advertised in every town, so it was common to see a person dressed in colonial garb speaking to a crowd of onlookers. The ghost stories that we'd inevitably hear and retell would absorb us until dawn during camping trips and slumber parties. 

So you can imagine the withdrawal. And I love sordid, as many here do.

It seems that the ghost stories of Los Angeles fall into two categories:
  • Spooky events and drama recorded by monks at various missions, as they were some of the only literate people in California at the time
  • Old Hollywood tales, like The Black Dahlia or Manson murders
If you're like me and love a good ghost story, you'd find L.A. a little lacking. The buildings are all new. We don't have thunderstorms. And as previously mentioned, the past is under-recorded. There aren't legitimate ghost tours, just tours of where horrific murders took place. Usually, historic hotels make up stories of Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe sightings, just to book more rooms with tourists. It seems the only things that go bump in the night are drunk celebrities on the PCH.

But you can't blame ghouLA for trying. These "ghost hunters" and enthusiasts gather for drinks, go on field trips and give speeches, all trying to drum up the excitement of supernatural activity. Though many of their claims of things being haunted are unsubstantiated, such as Maeve's Residuals being haunted, (they have no story, but overheard the bartender mention it) they do stir things up. They add excitement to this place. Like me, they are lovers of history that like getting a little spooked.

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