The paranormal is the norm for local author Kent Goodman who has authored eight books on topics such as crop circles and ghosts. His book, “Haunts of Western Oregon” has plenty of material on Eugene.
Goodman, 58, wasn’t always a believer in ghosts. Goodman said when he was 15 or 16 years old he was playing guitar at a friends house in Montana, which was haunted.
“I said, ‘I don’t believe in ghosts.’ My friend said, ‘The Captain (the ghost’s name) doesn’t like it when people say that,'” Goodman said. “Then a candelabra on the dining room table turned around and fell off the table and it started scooting towards me.”
Goodman said he has been a believer ever since, but his paranormal experiences are not limited to spirits, “I’ve been in the presence of ghosts. I’ve seen UFOs, and I’ve been chased out of a campground by a sasquatch. I consider myself to be pretty lucky.”
As for Halloween—Goodman loves the holiday because it is based off ancient traditions from the British Isles, whose inhabitants he believes were more in tune with the supernatural.
According to Goodman, the ancient inhabitants of Britain believed, “All Hallows Eve is when the curtain between the living and the dead is stretched the thinnest.” Goodman added that the Celtic people worshiped their ancestors on Samhain.
“I think they were more in tune with the earth and its vibrations and the energy and the spirit of the place,” Goodman said of the ancient inhabitants of the British Isles. “They worshiped their ancestors, they could feel if their was a presence a lot easier than we can. We’re so out of tune with the natural world.”
Goodman believes most ghosts are harmless, but there is some negative energy. He said many times ghosts will appear to loved ones or repeat a traumatic event from their life over and over without interacting with humans.
The best way to stir up specters from their haunts? Since ghosts don’t like change, according to Goodman, and remodeling and changing an old home can bring the ghosts out of the woodwork.
Goodman submitted to EDN the following information on local haunts:
“There are a fair number of ghosts present in Eugene, which makes sense. It’s the largest town between San Francisco and Portland and home of the University of Oregon. A large percentage of the area’s spirits are active in the schools with just a couple doing their bit “off campus”.
“The most famous local haunting is the one at South Eugene High School. It’s so well-known that we even know the name of the ghost – Robert Granke. Apparently Robert was high up in the catwalks above the stage in the school’s auditorium during the late Fifties when he fell to his death in the seats below. Ever since then, the auditorium has been haunted, and there’s even a Robert Granke chair that not many people feel like sitting in. Robert can be heard walking around and can sometimes be seen as a shadowy form in the balcony.
“Once, a theatre teacher chased what he thought was a student in a white shirt through the catwalk. It was stuffy, dangerous and very claustrophobic in the narrow confines, and try as he might, the teacher could never quite catch the student, who was always just out of reach. Finally, the instructor knew he had him cornered as they came to a brick wall. However, the “student” simply passed right through it. The teacher made it to the stage floor in record time after the encounter.
“The Fox Hollow Elementary School has its own ghost, that of a young person called Opal who has been seen many times. When the area gets dark at night, witnesses have heard a voice calling the name “Opal” again and again. Whoever the child is, its presence can be seen on the playground equipment as it shakes and bends even when there is no one there.
“Lane Community College also has a haunted area, in this case the elevator in the center building on campus. It was in this same elevator shaft that a janitor fell to his death in the Sixties. At sunset his pitiful cries for help can be heard, and he sometimes likes to take passengers for an unexpected ride into the spooky basement.
“The Pocket Theatre, in the basement of one of the oldest buildings on the University of Oregon campus is reputed to be haunted. The tiny space is already very small and cramped, and it doesn’t take much imagination to feel a presence there, as many theatre students do. Strange movements and voices have also been seen and heard in the nearby costume room.
“Room 101 in the Stafford Hall (a residence hall) holds an attraction for a dark male figure that can be seen peering into the windows or darting around corners. He can often be seen standing across from the Pioneer Cemetery that is situated a short distance away from the building. He only appears late at night when the campus is very quiet. A case of a spectral peeping Tom? The cemetery is also home to a ghostly bagpiper and a woman in a white, flowing dress who slowly walks the silent place…two feet off the ground.
“A few of the area’s grand homes are reputed to harbor spirits, including the Victorian Shelton-McMurphy-Johnson House and the Campbell House, now an inn. Both residences have had their share of ghostly footsteps, unseen presences and certain rooms that have an undeniable unwelcoming feeling.
“In one apartment building downtown, the renter often hears the radio turn on in the living room around three in the morning. He then gets up, walks into the room and sits down to listen to music for twenty minutes or so with the older gentleman sitting in the easy chair. He is the previous owner who, judging by his clothes worked on the railroad, and had died a few years ago. Another case of ghosts in the house concerns a possessed china cabinet that belonged in a Eugene home. According to family members, if you looked in the china cabinet you would not only feel a presence but could clearly see the reflection of the family’s deceased grandmother.
“Woodland Park is the location where a young boy who apparently was shot while on the playground. If you visit there after midnight, he might approach you and warn you to leave. The town’s art cinema The Bijou is also reported to have spiritual rumblings, perhaps because it served as a mortuary for many years. Making improvements and repairs is one way to scare up dormant ghosts, so with the recent refurbishment of the theater, who knows what once-sleeping spirit might awaken?
“The K-Mart store once featured an auto service center that is now closed. However, an unseen but clearly-felt presence is there. In addition, night workers tell of doors opening and closing by themselves, sign moving of the own accord and on one frightening night a 10-foot section of Talking Elmo dolls all started chattering away at once, even though they aren’t sound activated. The Toys R Us store has the same problem in the upstairs section of their warehouse. Boxes have been thrown, all the lights go out, walkie-talkies suddenly go silent…in fact, it’s said that workers will only go in using the buddy system because of the weird phantom activity.”