The Slant: Where Ghosts Still Roam

By: Roderick Reed
By: Roderick Reed

Does the idea of going to Oak Street seem frighting this year? Or the prospect of staying at home on Halloween just plain scary. Here are a couple of things to know about in Haunted Laguna!

The Witches House on Wave Street.  The architecture of this is house right out of a fairy tale or the imagination of Walt Disney. Fact is it was the vision of Whittier carpenter Vernon Barker who built in in the late 1920s.

Not haunted as far as I know but it certainly has architecture perfect for October.

There are other buildings in town rumored to be haunted including Ti Amo Restaurant, which the owner Jim Hirschberg will tell you stories about if you ask and The Theater at Laguna Beach High school.

The most interesting “haunted” building in Laguna rests on Catalina Drive. The old white building sits on the hill. It was the Arch Beach Tavern, built in 1915 to house people from the movie industry.

This building is interesting because the ghost or ghosts in this building actually roam the nearby neighborhood. Over the years residents have reported seeing a little girl playing on the balcony at night on the third floor, another resident reported hearing digging going on in the laundry room, but the floor is cement, and the digging sounded like a shovel into gravel and dirt.

Others on the website Ghosts of America mostly report seeing an older woman with white, short perm-style hair standing over their bed.

“When I first moved in I woke up to what I thought was a nightmare but clearly was not; I saw a woman in old-style courtesan clothing. She had curly long dark hair and was wearing old-fashioned lingerie. She was scratching at me and telling me to ‘get out.’ I had actual marks on my arms, so this was very real! I remember she had long red-painted nails.”

Sounds a little crazy I suppose, but some friends of ours live on a street, which runs alongside the old tavern which is now an apartment house. Their first hand story backs up the stories that have been going on for years. A few months ago they began to tell my wife and I a fascinating story of a haunting at their house. I will refer to them as Greg and Marcia. They are very opposed to being thought of as believing in the supernatural and are still trying to rationalize their way out of the experience.

One night several months ago, Greg was jolted from sleep and hears noises in the house he couldn’t identify. He describes hearing pained moaning sounds. Greg also hears lots of commotion in the house. The sound was described as someone or a few people moving around the house. Thinking a couple of the kids were up he went to investigate. He saw nothing but was not able to go back to sleep because something “didn’t feel right” and he continues to hear sounds during the night. Greg spends the rest of the night on his back unwilling to close his eyes. He didn’t want to waken Marcia, not wanting to frighten her and shrugged it off as his imagination and eventually went back to sleep.

The next morning he brought Marcia a cup of coffee. Shaken and distressed, she began to explain her chilling night. She recalls waking up at about 2 a.m. and hearing footsteps in the house, first in the kitchen and moving closer until finally in the bedroom. She senses someone walking into the room. Not necessarily the sound, but the feeling of weight moving on the floor. Marcia sat up expecting to see one the kids at the bed. Instead, from the bedside, a woman described as having a turn of the century style dress with a white apron and curly hair was staring directly at her. Too scared to scream she closed her eyes thinking it was her imagination. Eyes reopen, the woman was gone. But she could feel her move across the floor. She never saw the woman again as of a couple weeks ago.

The ghost from the tavern seems to wander the neighborhood. At least two others families tell the story of the curly hair woman in their nearby homes!

Why aren’t there more ghosts in this town? For all the people who have died here over the years, some of them must not want to leave.

I will tell you right now, I love Laguna. If something ever happens to me, God forbid, I’m not leaving. Look for my ghost not only in my house but Bluebird Park, The Sawdust grounds and downtown.

Merry Halloween.

Roderick Reed is an interior designer in Laguna Beach. He lives in town with his wife Kathy and two sons Mason and Jack.

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