Odyssey Stark and Granny Chu visit the Florida Keys
By Brandy Stark
OK, well, admittedly the last part of 2001 has been tough on the Stark household. A constant array of car problems, pug health issues, job changes, and other fun-filled events have taken much time and energy. As the holidays approached, it was time to take a break.
I talked She-Who-Is-Great-And-Maternal (also known as my "mom") into going with me on a trip to the Florida Keys. As she does not believe in ghosts (Sigh. Yes, I know, I know), at least without empiracle proof, we agreed to stay in a haunted bed and breakfast. If anything happened she would believe.
We chose to go to the Red Rooster, located in Key West. It's a lovely place, quiet, near downtown and the shopping district, with caring and friendly staff. Because of our work in Pug Rescue and the members of our pug pack, we had hired a pet sitter to stay with the babies. However, two pugs went with us: Granny Chu and Odyssey.
Granny Chu is 12 and 1/2 years old. At such an age, she can be a bit cantankerous and moody (heck, and why not? She DESERVES to do whatever she wants!). We feared for the safety of our pet-sitter with her. :)
Odyssey had an eye ulcer rupture earlier this year in his left eye. I rushed him to the vet and, due to his relatively young age, opted to try and save the eye. The initial surgery seemed successful, but the eye was twice the size of a normal pug eye, and was blind. The day of the trip, I woke up to Ody's eye being bruised and even more swollen -- he had somehow hit his eye the night before. In a panic, I rushed him back to the vet, who gave him antibiotics, pain pills, and an anti-inflammatory shot. Ody was in good spirits, and seemed to be fine. However, due to the amount of work his eye would be, Mom and I decided to take him with us.
So, two humans and two pugs made the long trek from St. Petersburg to the Florida Keys, a 7 - 8 hour drive by car. The pugs truly enjoyed themselves. Of course, each pug had a human lap which he or she sat in the ENTIRE car ride. They were, to my surprise, well behaved and easy to travel with. This is quite a shocker, since they are Stark pugs, a breed who tends to be notoriously spoiled.
Anyway, after arrival at the Red Rooster, we checked in. The clerk told us we were in the most haunted room (or what she felt was the most haunted room) of the hotel -- room 18. It was a nice quiet room, off to the side, and pet friendly. PERFECT.
Local legend has it that in the early part of the century a woman made a deathbed confession that she killed her husband and buried him under the front porch of her home (which later became the Red Rooster). The porch was torn apart but no body found; the man's fate remains a mystery. Room 18 is to the side of the porch, but may have been the room where a later guest saw the ghost of a sad older man, who seemed confused about where he was and what was going on around him.
While little seemed to happen while we were there (to my utter disappointment), there were a few oddities. For one, the first night we arrived, Mom, who was beat from the drive, went to sleep with her Granny Chu. I stayed up, unpacking and pulling out the ghost hunting equipment I brought with me. An initial scan of the room showed me a few things: unusual EMF in the area of the dresser and into the bathroom. I found several sockets, but part of the area of EMF (electromagnetic energy, which ghosts give off) ranged over the bed (where there were no electronics, sockets, etc.) and into the bathroom (on a wall without any noticeable plugs, wires, switches, etc.). Odyssey, who was sitting on my half of the bed (where there was an EMF reading) stayed up with me, watching me taking photos of the room and making notes.
After the inital scan of the room, I sat down to work on some reading. I looked over to check on Odyssey. He was lying on the end of the bed, head raised and staring into one corner of the room. I watched his eyes -- his good eye seemed to be following something, and watching intently. In that area was the dresser and the TV -- which was turned off. It was also an area where the EMF was registering, though at more consistent readings.
I went over to the area and felt nothing unusual. I watched Odyssey a moment more; his gaze did seem to range to the dark TV screen. However, Odyssey, an apartment pug, is exposed to my TV. He pays little attention to it on or off (he's pretty smart about that). He has seen his own reflection (I held him often in front of the mirror as a puppy, and continue to have special moments with him where we stand in front of the mirror and he can look at himself). He does not seem fascinated with his image, accepting it as his own. And that did not account for his eye movement, which seemed to encompass the whole corner of the room. I watched the TV screen, too, and saw nothing in it moving. No lights, Mom was asleep and had not moved, and Granny Chu is a rock when she is sawing logs.
Also, I wondered why didn't Odyssey turn his head to look around the room? Normally, he is a curious dog and if he sees something out of place he gets up to investigate it.
The EMF readings remained consistent in the corner. But, while I stood holding EMF meter in one hand, making notes on a pad of paper balanced in my arms, I saw the EMF register flicker. The EMF dimmed, then came back. I stood still. My arm was steady, EMF meter at ready. It happened again.
That was about it, though. No cold drafts, no further unusual readings. I spoke with the owner, who could give me little information about the wiring of the bed and breakfast, nor the source of the unusual EMF. No electrical wires or panels were in that area that he knew of.
Odyssey did not take an interest in the area for the remainder of our trip.
The next morning, however, I woke up briefly around 5 a.m., then fell back to sleep. I had two very vivid dreams that Mom and I were awake and in our room when objects began to move around. Both dreams focused on the bathroom area, whose door is right next to the mysterious dresser and tv. In the first dream, objects were flying around and out of the bathroom. In the second dream, Mom and I went into the bathroom where I was showing her the EMF readings. Mom had hung a blouse in the shower. As we stood there, the blouse started to move, and invisible hands pressed into the material. (In real life, Mom had hung nothing in the bathroom. It was, sadly, only a dream).
Also, for the next several days, the TV set acted up whenever I was in the room. The screen would suddenly surge and flip, as if hit by energy from a passing magnet. Mom complained that this happened only when I was in the room, never when she watched TV alone. For example, one afternoon, she wanted to rest after an afternoon of walking. Returning to the hotel room, she watched a mystery on TV while I finished my last stop to see Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.
Curiosity satisfied, I came back to the hotel towards the end of the program, and sat on the bed to finish out the show with her. The surges came back with me. I had no equipment on me, nothing to cause electromagnetic energy, nor did I turn anything on or off.
So far, the digital photos I took of the room have revealed little. My 35 mm film has yet to be developed. Further research showed that most ghostly activity takes place in October in the hotel, not in December when we stayed. Nothing moved, there were no feelings of eerieness.
But, that first night, could some form of spectral being come to check out the temporary inhabitants of room 18? Or was Odyssey simply fascinated with the surroundings for some reason known only to his pug mind? Perhaps further research, and another trip to the Keys, will be needed. Check out the SPIRITS site on Key West for more details and images! KEY WEST
Arrived at 6:15 PM. Toured through grounds. Arrived at rooms. Unpacked and settled in by 7:10 p.m.. Pugs behaving normally.
First walk through EMF meter is on caution within the area of the bathroom and doorway. Detected a slight breeze and coolness at first, determined it came from a draft created by "bounced" air, blowing off at an angel and through a crack in the door frame.
EMF may be coming from the lights or plugs? Lights are on, but no plug in socket.
8:07 PM - I have observed Odyssey watching the area inside the TV/dresser area with interest. His eye seems to be following something from time to time. Ears are up. Mom and Granite asleep. Ody is up on the bed. I'm exercising.
Ody staring intently. EMF registers a "caution" in the area in front of dresser and TV. No sense of cold.
Is Ody looking at his reflection on the darkened TV screen? Not typical behavior for him.
8:26 PM: I have made several passes with the EMF meter. I have felt a couple of cool areas. One are is over bed. It, however, was another draft from a/c.
Goosebumps on legs very briefly while scanning the area for EMF.
Noticed that several areas of EMF are consistent, possibly powered by light switches. However, the range of EMF varies. Sometimes stead and sometime flickering. Also, got an EMF reading over the bed on third scan, over Odyssey.
At 8:26, standing at one area trying to record my readings, my EMF meter rested on my notebook as I wrote. I noticed that, though I did not move, nor did the EMF meter, the caution light was strobeing. A possible spike? The effect went away, though, and I had not moved, nor moved the meter.
I have noticed the area on one side of the room seems to hold EMF, the side away from the bathroom has no EMF readings.
8:44: Completed a series of digital photographs.
10:14: Have seen TV flickering...EMF?
12/20/01: I remembered two reams about the ghost. The first was set later in the morning (a dream about waking up he next day). The ghost began an elaborate display of moving items in the bathroom. I had EMF and digital ready and Mom witnessed in the dream.
The 2nd similar to the 1st, had the ghost moving a blouse Mom hung in the bathroom (dream only). The ghost manifested as impressions in the silk of the blouse. Again, I was very excited...and I woke up.
12.21.01: Spoke with Jim (owner)...unable to determine anything about the wiring. Repeated story about Delgado (see book).
Offered me to meet with David Sloan, owner of ghost tour and book author.
Didn't know about EMF or wiring....
Dec. 20th: Key West ghost tours: Brandy and Gail
Jason: guide. Dressed in black with top hat, cape, with skull belt clip.
St. Augustine, 2nd oldest city in Florida.
Manero: private residence, 1889., wife with 8 kids. Cigar manufacturer.
1891: Francise M. died. Turns out he had two secrets: once -- he was married before. Whenever got a divorce. His first wife took the property, as she was entitled. 2nd wife and kids got kicked out.
Harriet swore as she left the house, that's she'd always be there.
The house went through a series of forms: casino, bordello, restraint, guest house.
Harriet has been seen all over the house. Stairs, as a shadow, ball of light in Room 18.
In Room 18, a lady is also seen brushing her hair, and following the original layout of the room. She rarely interacts with guest.
Swinging chandelier, when people in a bad mood, or give off negative energy. Rarely stayed if tagged by ghost as being negative.
La Concha hotel: Talbot: 7 stories attracts suicides, tallest building in Key West.
A lawyer in a three piece suit can be seen. He "set up" his suicide to make it look like he had been killed by a rival.
From time to time, his death scream can be heard, loud scream, but no one can find the source of the scream.
Hemmingway: he is often seen there, but it actually is probably a room service waiter who died in 1983, due to reconstruction, fell into an empty elevator shaft.
Guests report feeling "watched"....
1 week and 1month ago, asked about hotel. A man staying in the Hemmingway suite found a man sitting in a chair, heard a loud bang, and the man vanished.
Others say there is a presence, hear a bang, when no one is there. Guard would sometimes feel a spectral hand on his shoulder (knew the man in real life, too).
Dean Lopes Funeral Home -- private residence...formerly home of necro-love.
Ellena de Hoyas, Carl Von Karsal married her corpse....after she was buried. He thought he had resurrected her.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church: Oldest non-RM Catholic church in Florida
Cemetery: had to be moved to water table.
Cemetary: statue there of an angel, where 25 people are buried.
Behind the wall of church is the Old Sea Captain's Grave"....Thomas Randolph. Protected waters from pirates. So well respected, they would not move his grave, but expanded building out to the grave.
Some believed they saw his ghost...it was a goat who would fall asleep on grave stone. Homeless people used to sleep on it, too.
Now: people who try to sleep on grave feel a foot on their chest, holding them down until person is removed.
The Artist House
(EMF meter: caution, stead, though fluctuating).
The Artist House is a private residence. The artist house had a little boy (Gene) who lived there, given a doll, 3 foot tall, named "Robert"
Gene blamed Robert for breaking things. Gene marries, as a wedding gift, his parents give him the house. Gene made a room for Robert as an adult. Robert seen as moving by children who could look into the doll move...subtle...1974, tragedy struck, Gene died.
Ann, the wife, sold the house with the stipulation that the doll stayed with the house. A plumber remodeling the house hear whispering, and noted that the doll changed position several times (each time he turned around).
1976, family sold house. In 1996, the doll was donated to the airport, which was then left to the Museum.
some people see a woman in a white dress, Ann, in the hose.
Robert, does not like pic taken. Pics come out dark, distorted, or cameras disappear.
1 witness talked of two cameras with pics of Robert, only those images of Robert came out totally blank.
At the artist house, my own digital camera misfired...not sure why? Would not work, turned it off, and let it go to swing by my side, and it then went off.
Children, in a church, were killed when a Baptist preacher burned down the church with his wife and children in it. (She was unfaithful).
(This may have produced an orb image).
Eaton Lodge: 2:30 - 4 am: Footsteps outside of door of one room heard, pacing, shadows of feet can be seen, people who try to confront the ghost throw open the door to find nothing there.
Guide had been poked by one ghost, and several have reported being pinched in the posterior in the general area of the Lodge.
During the civil war a Union soldier was killed in the area. It may be he who haunts it, or the ghost of a doctor.
Audobon House haunted.
Captain Tony's Salon : Bar and morgue originally. Key West Hanging Tree also located in the bar. The bar was built around the tree. A blue woman sometimes appears, who died slowly on the tree.
Bodies are buried there. Holy water built into walls.
12.21: returned to Church. Near Angel, towards the Street, EMF caution read, 12:05 p.m..
A field between flickering and steady detected. Digital and b and w film used, no images.
Tested street lights, they are not the source of EMF.
Theater: 12:15 p.m.:
EMF found in one spot outside theater. Caution flicker. Stopped after approx. 1 minute, in middle of sidewalk, unusual, did not repeat. not anywhere else in area did I get EMF.
Notes: I was disappointed that more did not happen in the hotel room. I found out that the ghost is more active in the month of October (we came in December). However, images produced had several possible orbs in them, though there was a lot of flash and reflection. I thought Odyssey's reaction to the hunt was interesting, and the first night was at the height of activity.
During the ghost walk, I felt the Theater was very creepy, and compelled several images to be taken. One did produce a possible orb.
At the Artist House, I did feel kinda creeped out, did get constant EMF, but the camera did backfire, the only time during the trip, while I tried to take a picture of the house. Very interesting considering the rumour about the doll! 1.28.02