Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Telluride Historical Museum

Lex's Ghost Story

Wow, did I get a classic case of the wheebie-jeebies watching “Ghost Hunters.” They were at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium in my birthplace of Louisville, KY. They estimated that between 60,000 to 10,000 had died there of tuberculoses, but it turns out to be more like 8,000.

That is still a lot.

My first experience with my sixth sense capabilities was at Gettysburg. As a rambunctious seven-year-old, I could hardly wait to play war on the battlefield. Had a Confederate cap - my Mississippi Grandmother Rodgers gave it to me, she would have skinned me if I wore a Union cap - and holster and toy six-shooter.

When we got to Gettysburg, I remember being moved with what I can only describe as a sense of bone-chilling respect and awe. Just like when we would visit my grandfather’s grave in Louisville. Instinctively, without being told, I knew this was not a place to play pretend war, and I left the cap and pistol in the car and walked around the grounds solemnly with my parents.

During college, while home on summer vacation, I went for a run on a hot night on the road that surrounds the Indian Hills Country Club golf course of "Caddy Shack" fame. It was a hot, steamy night, and I remember thinking it was beautiful the way little patches of fog rose up from the fairways.

Until I got a chill*.

This was a slow, creeping chill and it was a chill not from the outside, as I said, it was hot. No, this chill came from somewhere deep inside of me. Distinctly had the thought that this was a chill of instinctive warning or danger. The deep recesses of my brain were trying to tell me something was wrong.

Suddenly I started seeing things, like shadows, running at me in the corner of my eyes. When I looked, they weren't there. This was the most spooked I had ever been in my life. Couldn't run out of there fast enough.

Now, I knew that there were a ton of Indian artifacts unearthed in the area. It was called Indian Hills for good historical reasons. What nobody had told me, or I hadn't remembered, until I related this story to them, that the golf course was actually built on an old Indian burial ground.

A few years later, when I worked in New York, we visited Gloucester, MA and our friend, John, took me and my buddies, Hondo and Wally, in a little fishing boat, on a tour of the area. We stopped at this spooky-looking island, lots of willow trees and tall grass. In the middle of the spooky-looking island was an even spookier looking abandoned one story Victorian/government brick hospital built in the early 1900’s. Our guide/buddy, Johnnie, wouldn’t tell us what it was, but told us to look in the windows.

Inside the long and narrow room were row after row of rusty iron lung machines. Most were six feet long. Some were tiny. This was a hospital for people with terminal polio. People of all ages.

Just then, one of my three idiot buddies, thinking they’re funny, lightly touched my shoulder. I jumped three feet off the ground, when I came down I swore at them like crazy. I was seriously spooked and pissed someone did that. The problem?

They were all standing at least twenty feet away looking in other windows. They couldn’t have touched me.

Years later, my lovely child-bride, Virginia, and I were shopping in Telluride, CO when we saw a cool looking old government Town Hall-looking red brick building that was now converted into the town museum.

The museum itself was interesting enough - and I strongly recommend a tour. The newspaper from when Butch and Sundance robbed the bank. (The Bank of Telluride is the opening black and white scene in the movie) Lots of pictures of hookers and miners and Native American artifacts.

An article about a doctor in Telluride in the 50‘s who claimed to have invented a great new pain killer. So great it enabled him to remove his own appendix. Upon doing so, he was stripped of his license and, as the story goes, he went mad. (But if you ask me, anyone who takes out their own perfectly good organ, that ship has already sailed)

It is the middle of July and it is hot outside and inside the museum. But I keep getting the chills off and on. Like walking into fog, but there is no fog. This starts to give me the wheebie-basheebie-geebies heebies. Skin crawling, hair sticking up and ehhh-eeeee-thang.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a guy in the other room - for the shortest of split seconds - who I first think is some douche-bag dressed up in period clothing: Derby hat, puffy white shirt with suspenders, baggy trousers and boots. In the next split second I turn to look at him, he’s not there.

That’s it, officially creeped out, I go straight up the woman behind a desk who appears to be in charge and ask if there is something going on and explain what has been happening to me.

She just smiles knowingly and says;

“Oh, you’re one of those people. This used to be the minor's hospital. We’ve had countless reports of paranormal activity.”

Fricking place was haunted and I had no idea going in it.

If you ask me, that ghost sh*t be real.

*The chill I had is the same chill reported by shark attack survivors just prior to being attacked.