True ghost stories that have been deeply investigated are the subject of this episode of The Paranormal Podcast. Our guest is best selling author Leslie Rule.
You can find her book, Haunted In America, at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3VBel6H
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LESLIE RULE: Ghosts are usually the spirits of people or animals who are deceased, but I do think, like you said, there’s some other odd things going on.
JIM HAROLD: That’s bestselling author Leslie Rule. We talk about ghosts and Haunted in America on this edition of the Paranormal Podcast.
This is the Paranormal Podcast with Jim Harold.
JIM HAROLD: Welcome to the Paranormal Podcast. I’m Jim Harold. So glad to be with you once again. We have a great guest, but we’ve got a great announcement first. We are once again doing our Holiday Ornament Contest. Always a lot of fun. You can get all the details at jimharold.com/holiday2022. That’s jimharold.com/holiday2022. We give away things like Amazon gift cards, Jim Harold’s Campfire t-shirts, Campfire books. It is a lot of fun. We try to do it every year, and people seem to enjoy it.
Now, we’re on a little shorter timeline; the deadline to receive everything is December 22nd by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. We got a little behind this year, so I apologize. But get to work, and hopefully you may win a great prize – and if not, still have a lot of fun.
Now I should say, don’t send any family heirlooms, nothing like that. All of the ornaments become the property of Jim Harold Media and we cannot send them back. But we’d love to hang your ornament on our tree. Jimharold.com/holiday2022. The address and all the information is there. And good luck!
We have an excellent, excellent guest today, and we’re going to have a lot of fun talking about the recent book Haunted in America: True Ghost Stories From the Best of Leslie Rule Collection, and our guest, appropriately enough, is Leslie Rule. We’re so glad to have her with us.
She is so accomplished; she’s a photographer, she’s an author, she’s written novels, she’s written true crime, and you may very well know her from her multiple very successful ghost-oriented books and stories of ghosts and so forth. And this book, as I understand it, is kind of a compilation of some of her favorite tales from some of her ghost story books, bestselling books of course. She’s the daughter of the legendary author Ann Rule, and we’re so glad to have her here today to talk about Haunted in America. Leslie Rule, welcome to the program.
LESLIE RULE: Thanks for having me.
JIM HAROLD: Thank you very much. I have to ask you – you have a fantastic background; what attracted you to the supernatural topic?
LESLIE RULE: I grew up in a haunted house. It was in the Seattle, Washington area, Des Moines, Washington, on a windy cliff overlooking Puget Sound, and it was actually built on a graveyard, a Native American burial ground.
JIM HAROLD: Oh my. That would be a good way to get off to that start. What I love about what you do with your stories and your books – a lot of ghost story books – and I’ll play guilty on this, the ones that I do for the Campfire show – they’re kind of like, “Here’s the story” and that’s it. What I like that you do is you say, “Here’s the story; let’s take it a little bit further, let’s take it a lot further, let’s delve into it, let’s investigate it, let’s look back at the history.” Can you tell me your philosophy of, when you hear about a ghost story and you want to write about it, how you go about it? Because I think it’s a great way to do it.
LESLIE RULE: First of all, I like to have credible witnesses, especially people who allow their real names to be used, because I think it’s more believable for the reader if somebody stands up and says, “Yes, this happened to me.” If I’m reading a book by another ghost author and the names are changed, I’m very skeptical. I want to know a real person had this experience. So I look for credible witnesses.
I especially like the cases where apparitions are seen because this makes it more fascinating when I try to validate the haunting by finding something historical that took place there. If I have a description of the ghosts – for instance, if a little girl with long blonde braids is appearing in a house, and then I dive into the archives and I find a case of a child who looked like that who died on or near the premises, then I can say quite possibly this is the source of the haunting.
So my favorite ones are stories from credible people and stories where I can actually validate and I can find something in the past that occurred, especially if it’s something forgotten, that people aren’t aware of. Just recently, it became much easier to search newspaper archives. When I started doing this 25 years ago, this was before stuff was online. I don’t even think I had an email address yet. I would have to fly across the country to the haunted place in question and go to a nearby library or newspaper office and look through their records, which were quite often not even cataloged. It was a really arduous process. Now I subscribe to a number of newspaper databases and ancestry sites, and I’m able to find information a lot easier.
JIM HAROLD: That’s got to be very convenient and very helpful in your work. Over the years, have you determined a theory of ghosts? Because I’ve got to say, I’ve been doing the shows for 17 years, and – we were talking off-air about our thoughts on this subject, and I totally believe there is something to all of this. I absolutely believe it. Doesn’t mean every case is a ghost, but I definitely think there’s something to the question of ghosts.
But in some ways I find myself more confused than ever because when I started out I thought, “Oh, they’re just dead people.” And that may be part of it, but now I wonder about things like time slips and these residual replays, they’re not actually sentient, or some of them aren’t. How has your perspective evolved over the last 25 years on what ghosts are? What are your thoughts?
LESLIE RULE: I still believe what paranormal investigators have said for decades, that ghosts are usually the spirits of people or animals who are deceased, but I do think, like you said, there’s some other odd things going on. For instance, what they call the place memory or the residual haunting, where an event can be inexplicably impressed upon an environment and played back at a later date where people can witness it. For instance, someone could fall down the stairs and it could be a really horrible experience for them, but they could survive and now they’ve moved on and they’re alive and living in another city. And then the next people moving into the house might witness that fall, but it doesn’t mean the person’s dead.
JIM HAROLD: That’s so perfect because Loyd Auerbach – I’m sure you’re familiar with Loyd Auerbach, who’s great.
LESLIE RULE: Yes.
JIM HAROLD: He told me a similar story. He had done a segment for the old TV show Sightings, and it was about a murder case. People would see this murder happening, and the person who was murdered, of course they were dead, but the killer was actually alive and in prison. That maps perfectly to what you said.
LESLIE RULE: Would they see the killer in the scenario?
JIM HAROLD: The murderee and the murderer, both.
LESLIE RULE: That’s interesting.
JIM HAROLD: It was kind of like both wrapped in one. They saw a ghost of a dead person and a ghost of an alive person too.
LESLIE RULE: Interesting. One thing I found that I thought was fascinating was validation of a sighting at Hotel Conneaut that witnesses have talked about for years. They say that they see this weird fight unfold in the kitchen, and it’s between two chefs who throw knives and pots and pans at each other.
That story was originally in my book Ghosts Among Us, published in 2004. For this new book, I included that story, but I searched archives to try to find validation, and I discovered a story in 1908 on the back page of a newspaper about an actual chef fight that occurred there. The chefs were throwing cleavers at each other, and a man stepped in and tried to stop it, and he ended up injured – but nobody died. I had always thought that that scenario sounded like a place memory or a residual haunting, and that maybe people were just seeing a reenactment, almost like watching a movie. So that was fascinating to be able to actually find validation that something like that occurred.
JIM HAROLD: One thing, Leslie, in doing these shows over the years, one thing that’s disturbed me is this idea of stuck souls. In other words, people who died quickly or in a very traumatic kind of way – maybe there was a heart attack or something, they weren’t expecting it. It isn’t somebody who was on their deathbed and knew they were going to do; it’s somebody who died suddenly and unexpectedly, and they don’t know that they’re dead. I like to think that we live, I hope, ultimately, in a just universe, and if you’re a decent sort and a good person, you try to treat people well, things work out nicely on the other side for you. I’d like to think that. I’d hate to think that good people are out there stuck as we speak. What do you think about this question of stuck souls?
LESLIE RULE: I actually think that there is no time on the other side, and it’s emotion, not the passage of time, that influences whether or not a spirit is witnessed at a particular location. So there could be a horrible murder in 1905 in a horrible little apartment, and 100 years later people may see the ghost of the victim. They may think, “Oh, what a terrible thing! She’s been here a century!” But if you subscribe to the idea that there is no time on the other side, it may be just the blink of an eye to the victim. That makes it a little easier to stomach.
And then also, I’ve had cases where ghosts seem to move – they’re not just from the past, but they can be from the future. So they may be able to move backward and forward in time.
JIM HAROLD: That’s what I say – I have always said the one thing that I believe through doing the shows all these years is that reality is not as cut and dried as we think it is, that it’s a lot more multifaceted, and the question of time is a lot more pliable and maybe not quite the straight line we think of it as. It really does make you think.
In your experience, do certain kinds of places tend to be more haunted?
LESLIE RULE: Absolutely. First of all, the older an area is, the more likely there are to be ghosts there because there’s more history, and that means there were more deaths. And almost every place has experienced some sort of terrible tragedy at some point, and that tends to be a ghost-maker.
But among the most haunted places are theaters – and that may be because of all the energy that’s put out there from the actors. Also hotels. When you think about the thousands and thousands of people who have checked in and out of an old hotel over the years, some of them dying in accidents or via suicide or murder, it makes sense that they would be haunted. Castles, of course, which we don’t have too many of those in America. Old prisons are another place that I find are very haunted, and I don’t even think I need to go into explanation about that. A lot of ugly things occurred in these places. Hospitals, that’s another one.
JIM HAROLD: Yeah. Before we get to the break, maybe we can get one ghost story out of you, and we’ll be back after the break. I’m looking at this, and you told a remarkable story – I don’t know if it’s one you have on the top of your mental note here, but it was about an imaginary friend, and it was about a young child who had an imaginary friend named Debi. Do you remember that one?
LESLIE RULE: Absolutely. The victim’s mother told me this story. It happened in 1988 in Modesto, California. There was a young woman by the name of Debi Whitlock, and she was married and had a child, about two years old. She was very ambitious; she loved life. She was slated to be the very first manager of a Sears store, which was unusual for females back then.
Everything was going well in her life until one horrible, tragic night, when she was asleep, there was a horrible killer by the name of Scott Fizzell who was creeping through backyards, trying to find a door or a window that was open. He came to Debi’s house, and unfortunately, her sliding glass door was unlocked. He went into the house and he found her purse in the kitchen. There was seven dollars inside. He took the money and he left. I wish he’d just stayed away, but he decided to come back, and he brutally attacked her as she slept. Her husband was not home. He was at a bachelor party that night.
Jacque MacDonald, the mother of Debi, told me that she believes her daughter deliberately did not scream out for help because she was afraid it would awaken her young toddler in the next room, and if that happened, her child could be a victim too. So she was murdered and the case went unsolved for years. Eventually, after Jacque MacDonald had put a lot of effort into billboards and going on TV and radio to talk about the case, finally a witness came forward, someone who was an acquaintance of Scott Fizzell’s, and told the police that on the night Debi Whitlock was murdered, Scott had come by his house and told him that he just killed a woman. They matched the DNA. He is currently still in prison, was denied parole last year, in the Mule Creek Prison in Ione, California, I believe. Justice was served, but it took a very long time.
Now, Jacque MacDonald, the mother of Deborah Whitlock, had a show called Victim’s Voice. It was a TV show, and it was designed to help victims and their families get justice. For one of her programs, she went back to the crime scene where her daughter was murdered. She did this with the permission of the current owners. At this point, Debi’s murder had already been solved. The homeowners were shocked to hear that a murder had occurred there and that the victim’s name was Debi, because their little grandson had what they thought was an imaginary friend by the name of Debi.
Immediately after these people bought the house, they noticed their little child, who was about the same age as Debi’s daughter at the time she last saw her – the little boy would talk about “Debi,” and he would point at the rocking chair and say, “Debi’s in the chair.” Then the grandmother would feel a chill because she would see it rocking. One day, the grandmother was at the grocery store with the little boy and she was lifting him up to put him in the grocery cart, and he started screaming, “No, no! I don’t want to sit on Debi!” It was one of the seats that Jacque had printed a flyer trying to solve her daughter’s case, and there was a picture of Debi. The little boy who refused to go in the seat couldn’t read.
The new owner of the house told all of this to Jacque, and Jacque told it to me. So apparently Debi was still around. There was nothing scary about her; she was a kindhearted person, and she befriended a child. Hopefully she’s moved on by now.
JIM HAROLD: And that one story you talked about where the child didn’t want to sit in the cart because there was a picture of Debi, “I don’t want to sit on Debi!” – I remember that was the quote from the book. That’s just one of those things I say on the shows – too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence. [laughs]
LESLIE RULE: Yes.
JIM HAROLD: We’re having a great time tonight. We are talking with Leslie Rule about her book, Haunted in America: True Ghost Stories From the Best of Leslie Rule Collection, and we will be back right after this on the Paranormal Podcast.
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Merry Christmas and happy holidays from the Spooky Studio! Now, back to the Paranormal Podcast.
JIM HAROLD: We’re back on the Paranormal Podcast. Our guest is Leslie Rule. We’re talking about her new book, Haunted in America: True Ghost Stories From the Best of Leslie Rule Collection. This is an unsolicited endorsement: this is going to be airing in December; if you have a family member who loves ghosty stuff or you love ghosty stuff yourself, this should be on your holiday shopping list, whether it’s a gift to yourself or to a loved one. It’s an excellent book. Haunted in America: True Ghost Stories From the Best of Leslie Rule Collection.
Leslie, what are your favorite kinds of ghost stories? Which ones do you say, “Ooh, that’s one that I can really sink my teeth into”?
LESLIE RULE: I’m always looking for something unique because so many of the ghost stories are similar. My favorite ones really are the ones where I can validate the sighting through historical research. There’s another example of a story that happened at the Hotel Conneaut in Lake Conneaut, Pennsylvania.
There’s an old hotel there that’s been there for years, and the park was over 100 years old. It was called Exposition Park when it first opened, and it was the destination place. People from all over the country went to stay there. In the beginning, there were a dozen hotels. Now there’s just one hotel, and the rollercoaster was recently dismantled and all the rides might be gone now. Maybe there’s one or two. But the hotel hung on for a long time, and as of now, people can still go and stay there.
There’s a woman by the name of Carrie Pavlik who was a front desk clerk there for years, and she also wrote a book about the hotel. I talked to her. I went to stay at the hotel a couple times; I think the first time was 2002. Carrie shared some of her stories with me, but I don’t like to take other authors’ stuff. I like to find my own. So I walked around the park and found all kinds of stories.
For the update, I called Carrie to see what was new, and she told me about a case that I had not included in the earlier book. It was a little boy who would appear in the lounge right off the front desk area. She had several different guests tell her about him, and they described him in the exact same way. This was before anything had been done to publicize the story of the little boy. Nothing had been written about it; Carrie had not mentioned it to anybody. But she found it validating when several people came to her and told her the same story. In all cases, the little boy was crying. He appeared to be five or six years old, and he was pale with dark circles underneath his eyes.
In one case, a couple who happened to be parents themselves were in the lounge, and they saw the little boy standing behind a couch and sobbing. On the couch was a woman who was ignoring the child, and they assumed that must be his mom, but they thought that was weird that she wasn’t comforting him. Then when the woman got up and left the room without a backward glance, they realized, “Oh, that must not be his mother,” but they still thought it was pretty cold that the woman was completely ignoring a crying child. They approached him and offered to help and asked him what was wrong, and he said, “I can’t find my mommy.” The man reached out his hand and said, “Come on, we’ll help you find your mother” – and at that moment, he vanished.
So for this new book, for the update, I included the story of the little boy, and I wanted to try to find a story of a child that matched that description, who died in or near the premises. I had two possible names that I was searching. In one case, the witness had told Carrie that the little boy said his name was Cody. I could find nothing about a Cody. But in another case, a psychic medium told Carrie that the little boy’s name was Michael. Well, I couldn’t find a Michael, but I did find a case where the missing mother’s maiden name was McMichael.
Her name was Mae McMichael Gibbs, and in 1938, she had a number of children, and one of them was a little boy by the name of Frank, Franklin Donald Gibbs. He had just turned five a few days before, and he and a group of children were playing outside the hotel. Just a few hundred feet away is a pier. The adults, of course, had told the kids, “Don’t go near the water,” but kids do what they do, and this group of kids went out onto the dock and Frank lost his cap. It fell into the water. So he knelt down and he was trying to get it, and he fell in, and he didn’t come back up. The children shouted for help. The fire department responded. It was too late by the time they found him. It took 40 minutes. A doctor injected adrenaline into his heart. Nothing helped. The little boy was gone.
So I think it’s quite possible that this little boy is the ghost being seen. I was trying to find out if Frank actually had dark hair, and I have not been able to find a photo of him, but I did find photos of his brothers, and they had dark hair, and a report for his father that said that he had dark hair. I think there’s a very good chance that was Frank. On top of that, I discovered that Mae – Census reports listed her; in one, it said that she was a servant, and in another, she was a housekeeper. I think it’s possible that she was a maid, maybe at the Hotel Conneaut, and that’s why the children were there. He may have been waiting for his mom to get off work. That would make sense that he would go to the hotel looking for her. She died in 1955. She’s not there anymore.
You and I were talking a minute ago about how sad that somebody is stuck for so many years, devastated, heartbroken, trying to figure out what’s going on with them, looking for their mother – but again, it may be the blink of an eye to the little boy. And he may not even be there. It might not be a constant thing. It may be that every so often…
JIM HAROLD: He pops in and out.
LESLIE RULE: Yes.
JIM HAROLD: I love the look at journalistic detail there. You said you were trying to find out his hair color. I think that’s so neat that you take it down to that kind of minutiae, in a good way, and really try to find those validating signals. Have you ever had an instance – I’m sure you have – where you found something that specific that really unlocked something for you?
LESLIE RULE: Yeah, there’ve been a number of stories. There’s the story of the haunting at the Remington Bar & Restaurant in Whitefish, Montana. It was one of the very first cases that I worked on. It was when I just started out the project. It was around 1999 that I went there. I spoke to the manager of the restaurant; she told me that they had had a Christmas party there in December, a few months before I was visiting, and she had seen an old man at the party. And she knew everybody in their family. It wasn’t open to the public. But she saw this old guy standing at the edge of the crowd. She said he didn’t have a drink; he just stood there, smiling and watching everybody. She thought, “I wonder who he belongs to.” She glanced away for a second, and when she looked back he was gone. She was very baffled, so she ran around looking for him. She asked the bartender, “Did you see him?”, and she said, “No, I didn’t.” So the two ladies ran all around the restaurant, and they even ran outside onto the street. There was absolutely no sign of this man.
I found a case that I think could very well be the root of the haunting. It turned out that in December 1922, 75 years before the sighting, a man by the name of Marcus Praus was celebrating his 76th birthday in the exact same spot. Back then it was called [inaudible 00:29:57] Café, and he had had a birthday dinner with family there. That night, he walked home along the railroad tracks and a train came chugging into town, and as it rounded the corner, Marcus Praus suddenly became aware of it. The engineer saw the startled look on his face as the light hit the guy’s eyes. There wasn’t even time for the engineer to blow the horn. He couldn’t even blow the whistle. Marcus started to turn, but he was instantly killed. He died instantly.
I think the fact that 75 years later, a figure that resembled him, a man about the same age, would show up in the place where there was a party where he had last celebrated with his family – I think that’s a good hint that the ghost might be Marcus Praus. Now, I can never say, and I will never say, I know exactly what a ghost is. I won’t say that I can say for certain that the haunting is caused by A, B, or C. I present the story, and then the readers can decide for themselves.
JIM HAROLD: I just read someone else said this the other day, so it’s not an original thought, but since I’ve started doing the shows – specifically the Campfire for the last 13 years – and talking to people about their experiences, I’ve always believed in an afterlife, and strangely enough, I find these kinds of stories comforting – that we don’t end. It seems almost like an oxymoron, like, “Oh, you’re glad you’re going to turn into a ghost?” But I’m glad that our consciousness appears to go on.
Do you have a similar thought in terms of existence beyond the physical plane? And do you actually find these stories comforting in some way?
LESLIE RULE: Yes, I do. In fact, I started out with this research because I wanted to prove to myself that ghosts exist and there is life after death. It was never scary for me. It was reassuring. I think it’s something we need to celebrate, not be afraid of. It really bothers me that so many screenwriters are working overtime to make ghosts scary. I think that’s why people become so frightened, because they’ve seen too many TV shows where hauntings are dangerous and scary.
JIM HAROLD: Good point. We try to do a mix on our shows. It’s so funny because we do have the scary stories, but then I’ll slip a nice one in and it’s kind of like, “See? It’s not all spooky and scary.” Some of it’s very heartwarming and very affirming and very, actually, pleasant – much like our conversation today. We’re talking about Haunted in America: True Ghost Stories From the Best of Leslie Rule Collection. We are talking, of course, with Leslie Rule, and we’ll be back right after this.
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Follow Jim on Twitter and Instagram @TheJimHarold and join our Virtual Campfire Facebook group at VirtualCampfireGroup.com. Now, back to the Paranormal Podcast.
JIM HAROLD: We are back on the Paranormal Podcast. Our guest is Leslie Rule. The book is Haunted in America: True Ghost Stories From the Best of Leslie Rule Collection. And again, I’d put it number one on the list with a bullet – you can’t go much higher than number one – but in terms of a book to get for the holidays, if you have somebody in your life who loves spooky stuff.
Leslie, one thing you talk in the book about are paranormal pets. I can’t tell you how many pet owners email me and want to know my thoughts on do their pets live on. I’ve been a dog owner most of my life and I love dogs – not that I dislike other things, but I seem to gravitate towards dogs. Other pets are great, cats are great, birds, fish, whatever, but I’m a dog person. But I feel like when you’re sitting there and you’re looking at them, many times they seem to know what you’re thinking, you know what they’re thinking. It seems to be, unless I’m pulling tricks on myself. What are your thoughts about pets and they surviving this side and going on to the other side? Maybe you can share a story with us, too.
LESLIE RULE: I absolutely believe that animals have spirits like we do. In the book, I mention my mom and I went to the vet – we had a cat named Siren, a really old cat that had lived with various members of the family. This was about 10 years ago. I guess she was in her twenties, but I’d taken her to the vet and I was trying to make her better and she was really sick. Then my mom told me when my brother had found her, and I thought, “Oh, well, if she’s 23, maybe there’s not a lot of hope.” The vet told me, “It’s the end. There’s nothing more you can do.”
Of course, you do what’s best for the animal; you don’t want them to suffer, so we agreed with the vet it was time to say goodbye. My mom and I were sitting in the veterinarian’s office, and the vet said, “Take a few minutes to say goodbye and then I’ll come back in.” There was a little oxygen mask, and she said, “Hold this up to her face,” because she was having a really hard time breathing. So I put that over Siren’s face, and she was barely moving. She could barely breathe. She was extremely still. It was very clear that it was the end.
And all of a sudden, she looked up and she got a very alert look on her face, and she turned her head and she looked over my shoulder. I said to my mom, “She sees something.” It was so clear that she was seeing something that we couldn’t see. I found that very comforting because I believe that animals have angels and spirits that come to greet them and help them into the light, over to the other side, just like human beings do. And I have many, many cases of cats and dogs and horses and hamsters that have showed up in spirit form after their deaths. There’s no doubt in my mind that animal spirits live on just as humans do.
JIM HAROLD: It reminds me – there was a story, and I don’t remember the entire story because it was a number of years ago, but I had somebody call in to the Campfire who said that they had a dog they had to put down because it was ill; there was just no getting around it. It was just, unfortunately, necessarily. When they came back home, they had the collar. Anybody that’s had a dog knows that almost every dog collar, because you have those little metal tags and things, they all have a very distinctive sound. If you have multiple dogs, you can tell one from the other, many times.
I think she put them somewhere in their garage, and I think it was later that night she distinctly heard the jangling of the collar, like her pet was coming to say goodbye, and I believe that’s a real thing.
LESLIE RULE: I agree. And it’s comforting.
JIM HAROLD: It is, it is. You brought up something there about kind of deathbed visions, and I want to ask you, in the human perspective – I don’t know if there’s anything like that in this book, but have you ever done any research on that? I think of famous people like Thomas Edison, who supposedly said, “It’s very beautiful over there” as he was passing. Steve Jobs, “Oh wow,” kind of like the Thomas Edison of his era – because Edison, as much as he was an inventor, was just as much, or more, a businessman. Steve Jobs, in his dying moment, supposedly looked up, “Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.”
There’s countless cases of people over the ages commenting on what they’re seeing that others aren’t seeing. I don’t know if there’s anything like this in this book, but is that anything you’ve looked into or run into interesting stories about that, deathbed visitations and so forth?
LESLIE RULE: Absolutely. In my book Where Angels Tread: Real Stories of Miracles and Angelic Intervention – it came out about 11 years ago – I have quite a few of those kinds of stories. I had a friend who is a doctor, and I’m pretty sure I mention this in this new book, but she worked in hospice, and she told me that people often waited until their relatives left the room. They waited to die. They didn’t want to do it in front of their relatives. So it would be up to her to tell the family about the last words. They would quite often call out names, and in many instances, the family would say, “Oh, that was the dog he had when he was 10 years old. That was 70 years ago.” I thought that’s another instance of where the animal spirits are there.
And I did mention in this book – and I thought about it, because it’s really personal, but I think my mom would like me to tell this story because she completely believed that somebody will be there to greet us, and she’d always believed that. When she was on her deathbed, a relative was visiting her and my mom wasn’t able to talk. She had a tube in her throat, and at this point she could only mouth words and nod her head. She mouthed the word “Mom” and indicated she had seen her, and my relative said, “Your mom?” My mom was so happy, and she just nodded her head. I knew that she had seen my grandma. I decided to include that story because my mom really cared about people, and I knew that she would think if that brought comfort to someone, we should mention it.
JIM HAROLD: Yeah, I think it’s great. Again, that’s one of the greatest things I’ve gotten through doing these shows, I believe: more of an assurance that there’s an afterlife. I think it would be kind of sad to think this is it, you know?
LESLIE RULE: I know what you’re saying. But there’s no doubt in my mind because I have seen so much validation. Especially when you get more than one witness. Maybe someone who sees a ghost at a hotel tells me the exact same story that someone else they don’t know told me. They’ve seen the identical apparition. When these two people have never met, never talked to each other, but describe something in the exact same way, that’s validating.
JIM HAROLD: If you look at places, it’s interesting how they look at this – for example, hotels. Some hotels embrace it and they even work it into their marketing and those kinds of things, and other places are like, “Oh, we don’t talk about that.” I remember there was a very historic, beautiful hotel I was staying in, let’s just say in the West. I’m not going to say the name of it. I’ll tell you offline, because maybe you have some experience with it. It’s a beautiful old hotel, and it literally looks like something out of one of these murder mysteries, all the wood paneling and the ornate glass. Just beautiful. I said, “This place has got to be haunted.”
I looked it up, I googled it – it was for a business trip – and sure enough, there were stories of it. I tried to ask someone at the hotel and it was like, “We really don’t go into that a lot.” That’s a positioning thing, and I respect that, but it was kind of like – they didn’t say it wasn’t haunted. They said they didn’t talk about it. Very interesting indeed.
Now, I’m a big music fan; you talk about songs in this book. You talk about songs for the dead. What are songs for the dead?
LESLIE RULE: I discovered there’s a connection between music and ghosts. You’ve probably noticed this, too. A number of haunted places have instances where people hear music playing.
JIM HAROLD: Phantom music.
LESLIE RULE: There’s either no instrument or no person there to play the instrument. It seems to be extremely common. I think that music stirs our passion while we’re alive, and it would make sense that that would carry over into death.
The armonica, invented by Benjamin Franklin, was a really unusual instrument. It was made up of two crystal balls that spun in unison, and when they were touched delicately on the edges, eerie tunes could be coaxed. They still exist, but they were actually outlawed in Germany at one time because authorities believed they were awakening too many dead people.
JIM HAROLD: Whoa. [laughs] Wow, that’s pretty wild.
LESLIE RULE: I have a number of cases where jukeboxes will come on when nobody’s touched it and the music will suddenly come on. You’ve probably heard many cases of piano music playing somewhere where either the piano’s long gone, or the piano is there and the person is not there. Sometimes it might be a ghost and sometimes it might just be leftover energy from the musician. When you think about the emotion and passion that musicians focus on their instruments, it makes sense that they may echo with those tunes at another time.
JIM HAROLD: One of my favorites stories we had on a Campfire was a gentleman who had one of these little portable – back in the day, we would’ve called them transistor radios – little portable radio. He used to take it out on the jobsite. It wasn’t working and it wasn’t working, and he brought it inside. I believe – don’t quote me on this because this is just off the top of my head and it’s probably at least 10 years ago – but I believe it was his late sister’s birthday, and the music started playing on the radio. It was Carole King singing “You’re So Far Away.” Well, the ironic thing was that his sister was a musician and she loved to play Carole King music.
LESLIE RULE: Wow.
JIM HAROLD: Yeah. I thought that was kind of a cool little musical story.
LESLIE RULE: Yeah. It’s radios and jukeboxes and instruments. At almost every famously haunted place, if t’s got a lot of activity, at some point music will be mentioned.
JIM HAROLD: You’ve told us so many great stories and have so much great information; can you leave us just with one other last favorite story from this book? It could be on any subject you pick.
LESLIE RULE: I think the haunted carousel. This was a carousel made by C. W. Parker in the early 1900s. For years, it was at the Jantzen Beach Mall in the Portland, Oregon area. I spoke to two different people who had witnessed apparitions of children on the ride.
In one case, the guy didn’t even realize that they were ghosts. They were dressed oddly, and he thought they were foreign. He was waiting in line with his children so the kids could go on the ride, and he became annoyed because these two kids – it was a boy and a girl – were being really naughty. He figured they were the operator’s children, and he thought, “Why doesn’t she do something about that?” The kids were playing – there was a big cylinder in the middle and the door was open, and the kids had gone in there. It wasn’t until years later that he realized he’d seen ghosts when he met this woman by the name of Sarah Robinson, who contacted him via his website. He had a website about paranormal things that occurred around Portland, Oregon.
He gave me Sarah’s number, and I heard directly from her about her experience there. She first saw the ghosts when she was a little girl and her mother would take her to the mall, and it scared her. It was a little boy and a little girl, and she would see them only when the door to that cylinder in the middle was open. It scared her because she had the sense that they wanted her to come join them, and she felt this overwhelming sadness and loneliness from them. Whenever possible, she would pick a horse on the outside because she didn’t want to get too close. When she told her mom, her mom said, “Oh, you’re just pipe-dreaming.” She knew she hadn’t imagined it.
Years go by, and she grows up and is a mother, and she brings her toddler to the carousel. It was the last free thing he could do because he would be turning three the next day. She put him on the horse and she wasn’t even thinking about the ghosts, but when the little boy got off the ride, he said, “There’s kids down there, Mama.” He was really troubled. He wasn’t scared, but he felt really bad for these kids. She didn’t want to scare him by grilling him, but she questioned him very carefully to see if he would describe the exact same thing that she had seen.
She said, “Was it two boys?” He said, “No, it was a boy and a girl. They got hurt and they can’t leave.” She said, “Did they say anything to you?” He said, “The girl said, ‘Don’t throw him.’” When this story first appeared in Ghosts Among Us in 2004, I speculated then about where these ghosts might’ve come from. I wasn’t able to find a definitive answer, and while I still can’t say definitively, I have now found something that very likely could be the source, now that I have access to thousands of newspaper archives.
Charles Wallace Parker had a factory in Kansas, and he manufactured amusement park equipment for all over the world. He made carousels and Ferris wheels and shooting galleries. He also fixed broken-down carousels that he had not made, and sometimes if a carousel broke down, he would reuse the parts, including the horses. He was known as the “Carnival King” because he was so popular in the Midwest and he had created so many of the carousels that were running during that era. He started in the late 1800s and continued right up through the 1920s. I’m not sure exactly what year he stopped, but at one time the carousels were extremely popular. Coney Island had 20 different machines operating at the same time.
In my research, I discovered that they were actually pretty dangerous. I was shocked by how many accidents I discovered on the carousels, especially back in the era when safety was not a priority.
JIM HAROLD: Right, and there were probably open gears and stuff and all kinds of things.
LESLIE RULE: Yeah. So I found that this happened in I believe Indiana, and it was 1903. There was a carousel operating at a park, and there was a short circuit. It started going around faster and faster and faster, and in order to rescue the children, the operator lifted them off the horses and threw them. It got to the point where the wooden horses actually blew up. Some of the newspapers reported fatalities. That brought to mind what the little girl ghost had said to the little boy. “Don’t throw him.”
I’m getting chills all over my body right now thinking about this. The carousel was in an area where Charles Wallace Parker had manufactured a lot of carousels, so it may have been one of his. I can’t say for certain. Or it may have been that when that machine broke down, he salvaged parts from it, and he may have used a part from that carousel that malfunctioned. He may have used that on the famous carousel that was in Jantzen Beach for so long. I don’t know for certain that he did, but it is something that he did, recycle parts, and it was in his area. It kind of makes sense to me that that might be the source of the haunting.
JIM HAROLD: That makes sense to me too because I’m sure you’re familiar – John Fuller had the book The Ghost of Flight 401. It was an Eastern plane that had crashed in the Everglades. There were some fatalities. But they recycled parts of the plane and used it in other planes, and then people reported seeing ghosts of people killed in that crash on those planes.
LESLIE RULE: Yes. I mentioned that case in one of my ghost books. I forget which one, but I tried to track down firsthand information, and the only thing I was able to find was a story about a microwave. I spoke to a woman whose son worked at the airline, and he mentioned that they had a microwave there that no one was using, that was in storage. She said, “Ask if you can take it home,” and they were told that it was from that flight and they couldn’t use it because of that.
I can’t remember exactly what she told me; I’d have to go back and reread a book that I wrote 15 years ago to find it. But the feeling was that because there were so many hauntings, they were being very careful not to let stuff like that leave the area.
JIM HAROLD: That is interesting, and that gets into the whole topic – which maybe we can cover another time – haunted objects. Can objects be haunted?
LESLIE RULE: [laughs] Yes. Another fun, interesting thing to explore.
JIM HAROLD: Signs point to yes. And another thing the signs point to is Haunted in America: True Ghost Stories From the Best of Leslie Rule Collection. Leslie, I’m assuming people can find this book on all the online outlets, all the bookshops, everywhere fine books are sold?
LESLIE RULE: Yes, it’s in most of the Barnes and Noble stores now. You can get it through any online venue. It’s available either as an old-fashioned print paper book or as an eBook and also as an audio.
JIM HAROLD: Very good, very good. And you have a website or social media you’d like to share with people as well?
LESLIE RULE: I do have a website, authorleslierule.com. People are welcome to friend me on Facebook. I’ve still got some room on there and I meet a lot of interesting people via Facebook.
JIM HAROLD: Excellent. Well, the book is Haunted in America: True Ghost Stories From the Best of Leslie Rule Collection, and it’s got my personal – not that that means anything, but my personal stamp of approval. [laughs] I think it’s great. I think you should have it on your holiday list. Leslie, thank you for a delightful conversation. I don’t know why it took me so long to reach out, but I’m glad that we did, and I hope we can have more conversations in the future.
LESLIE RULE: I hope so too. That was fun.
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