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Posts Tagged ‘ghosts’

The Queen

When I was growing up, we lived in San Jose, California. We didn’t have any family near us. My mom’s family was in Texas and my dad’s in Chihuahua, Mexico.  Then, when I was about twelve or so, my dad got in touch with his half siblings in southern California and we began going to visit them on weekends, several times a year. The drive was a long one, especially before the I-5 section between Los Banos and Los Angeles was completed, in the days when we had to drive south on either US-101 or on SR-99.

Visiting the cousins was  a lot of fun because they were all spread out. Some in Norwalk, some in Baldwin Park, some in Orange County and some in Long Beach and each of the families of cousins had their own standard of living and the neighborhoods were so different from where we lived.

On one of the visits, our Long Beach aunt and uncle took us to the Queen Mary. which had been permanently docked at the Port of Long Beach and turned into a tourist attraction. When I first visited, it had restaurants in it but had not yet been turned into the fiasco that it later turned out to be. I remember the first time I set eyes on the Queen Mary. She was so beautiful. Majestic. Titanic. We walked up the footbridge and set foot on her wooden floors. In that moment I felt like I belonged on that ship. I remember a feeling of awe as I walked around the ship…a feeling that I was somehow linked to the hundreds of thousands of passengers that had walked those same steps and looked over the same rails, climbed the same stairs.

I kept wanting to go back and when I was older and my parents had moved to Long Beach, I went to visit The Queen as often as I could, even if I was by myself, with no excuse to visit her. I had dreams of being a passenger on the trans-Atlantic cruise ship.

Later, as an adult, I was teaching sixth grade in Glendale, California. The year the box office hit Titanic hit the big screen, my students were all about the ship and all things associated with the Titanic. I talked a lot to them about the tragic events of the sinking of the Titanic. Then I talked to them about the Queen Mary, which some of them had visited. I mentioned that the Queen Mary was bigger than the Titanic but they would’t believe me.

My own teenagers loved the movie and one weekend I decided to take them to see the Queen Mary because I had researched the two ships and they had so many similarities. I normally would not have spent the money to take them on the tour and in fact, I had never taken the tour in the dozens of times I had visited the ship. However, they were really fascinated with some of the similarities so I splurged and we took the tour. It was wonderful for me to find out all of the behind the scenes tidbits about the ship and hear stories of some of the passengers that had actually traveled from England to America on board the Queen Mary. The opulence of the ship was more apparent on the tour which took us to areas that were off limits to non-tour visitors. When we were inside of the swimming pool room (I believe it was the First Class swimming pool), I was listening to the guide when I caught a bit of movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked and there was a shadow of movement up on what I thought was a balcony overlooking the pool. The shadow was shaped like a person and moved as if it were a person, first watching the tour group then moving away and out of sight. My oldest daughter nudged me and asked if I had heard the voice. I hadn’t. I kept listening to the guide. My daughter kept staring up toward that balcony. She was clearly spooked.

When we left the swimming pool with the tour group, someone asked about the man in the balcony. The tour guide stopped dead in her tracks. She asked who else had seen the man in the balcony. There were about seven in the group who had seen him, although some of us said what we saw was a shadow, not specifically a man. My daughter and one other were the only ones that had heard a voice which they described as a child’s voice although they couldn’t make out what her sing-song voice said. The guide told us that she had never seen the shadow in the balcony nor the child or heard voices although she had heard some splashing even though the pool had been completely dry for decades. She did say that this was one of the places where many people reported shadows and voices and laughter “haunting” the ship.

The tour continued through the art deco opulence of the ship and we heard many more stories and a lot of famous names dropped throughout the tour. I didn’t see any other ghosts or spirits; neither did my daughter. But even now, more than twenty years later, I’m sure of what I saw, just as my daughter is sure of what she saw and heard!

I haven’t been to visit the Queen Mary in many years, about twenty I think, but would love the opportunity to go check her out again. She has seen better days but I don’t think that’s the end of her!

For a comparison between the Queen Mary and Titanic, go here.

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The Queen Mary, permanently docked in Long Beach Harbor. Thank you to my niece, Lisa Trimble for the snapshot.

T

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Note: This is probably the most difficult post I have ever written. It’s hard for me to go back and reread it so please excuse any typos or grammar errors.

It was November of 1982. I was the happiest I had been in a long time. My son was the source of that happiness. He was nine months old and was the light of my life.

Then the phone rang. It was Friday night, about 10. I didn’t think much of it being late as family often called at the end of the day. I picked it up and won’t ever forget the words. “It’s me, Carlos. I can’t talk but you need to sit down.”  I laughed at the sitting down part then he said it again, “Sit down Little Sister.” I did. I still had no clue but when he asked if I was sitting, I answered that I was, still clueless to what was coming. “David just killed himself. I have to go over there right now. The police and coroner are waiting for me. I have to go. I love you.”

That’s when the bottom fell out of my life.

I fell into depression for the first time in my life. I took care of the baby, kept in touch with family on the phone and I spoke to my brother’s widow on the phone every day. She would call me each day at the time my brother used to call her on his morning break from work. That was the time they got to talk about the kids and their lives without the kids being present. To get through that time,she would call me and we would spend the twenty minutes talking. It was good for me, too. We got each other through those first months.

One afternoon, as my son and I waited for his dad to get home from work, the phone rang. The phone was in my husband’s office, just on the other side of the living room where my son and I were. I ran to get the phone, leaving Tony crawling on the rug in the middle of the room. Not thirty seconds after I picked up the phone, I heard a loud bang. I dropped the phone and ran around the corner. Tony was on the floor. Hid dad had just walked in the door and was standing in the doorway, his face ashen, his mouth open. We checked the baby. He was fine. He didn’t even cry. My husband said that just as he opened the door, he saw the baby pull himself up on the coffee table, lose his balance and fall. As he fell, his forehead hit the corner of the coffee table. He said he was expecting to see blood all over. There was nothing. Not even a scratch or a red mark on him.

We couldn’t explain it. My husband summed it up. He’s not one to believe in this sort of thing so it surprised me to hear him say, “Someone was watching out for him.”

It made me smile. I knew it was David. Several times in the previous weeks, I had heard the baby cry during the middle of the night and before I even pulled myself out of bed, the music box would start playing music and he would stop crying. There was no one to turn on the music box yet it played. Twice I had gone into the baby’s bedroom to find the rocking chair next to the crib rocking by itself.

A month or so had gone by since the baby had fallen and hit his head on the coffee table. My next door neighbor volunteered to drive Tony and me to the store. We got in her car and she asked me if my guest wanted to go to the mall with us. I said we didn’t have a guest. She asked if he had already left and I said we had not had any guests in months and no male guests in about a year. She shook her head and said, “But I saw him. He was in the window in the baby’s room. I saw him last night. I couldn’t sleep so I got up and wandered around the house. When I looked over there, I saw a man walking back and forth carrying the baby against his shoulder. He walked back and forth, back and forth.” I asked her to describe the man she saw and she described my brother, David. My husband was the only man in the house and he was a full foot taller than my brother and very thin. My brother was near 200 pounds.

Indeed someone was watching over him. And it brought a smile to my heart.

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