Glen Ellen Telegram
In honor of our just passed holiday of ghosts and goblins, I thought we should visit (or re-visit) some spooky, unexplained, and altogether bizarre stories from around Glen Ellen. Every town has its secret skeletons and its tales of wandering spirits. What are the oft-reported sightings and visitations in our village?
Glen Ellen has the typical auditory mysteries – phantom knocks at the door or around the house (prankish teens?), shrieks from the hilly wilderness (mountain lions? coyotes? owls? bigfoot? restless souls?) Then there are the out-the-corner-of-the-eye movements and those neck-hair-standing-up moments that are tricky to explain away. But, it is the told, retold, and oft-discussed “ghost stories” rooted in history that tend to stick with us the most.
As Jim Shere eloquently summarized in the KP back in 2011, the Jack London Village area is quite active, and seems to have two spirits, Charles Pagani and Robert Chauvet. Wondering if the new Aventine Restaurant owners have had visits similar to those reported by previous occupants?
And what about the “ghost dog?” As penned by Arthur Dawson in his place names book, a Glen Ellen shopkeeper in 1996 saw a large white dog that she actually patted on the head just before the dog vanished into thin air. This apparition has reportedly been seen by multiple folks around town throughout the years, including Rustic Inn regulars. Cujo, anyone?
A ghost sailor on horseback has been seen riding the hills of Jack London State Park and the benevolent spirit of Jack himself is most often felt in the cottage, especially the dining room. On opening night of the first season of Broadway Under the Stars, everyone saw a brilliant shooting star blazing across the sky. As they start every performance with Jack’s “superb meteor” quote, park and Transcendence Theater crew like to think that this was Mr. London’s way of saying “Well done – welcome to the park.”
It seems that Mr. Albert Gaige, original owner and builder of the Gaige House, still enjoys his favorite spot in the mansion’s parlor or wandering the common areas. There are no reports of lurking in the guest rooms and previous owners felt no malevolence from this elderly spirit.
Town personality Sylvia Crawford reports that this is a great time of year to watch the will-o-the-wisps who inhabit the Regional Park. “Vague, shadowy images, shapes of ghosts, goblins, etc. that float just out of reach ahead of one as you walk down the trail, from Highway 12 back toward Arnold Dr. They sparkle and shift among the live oaks throughout the stroll. We love following them through the woods. And as fast or as slow as we progress, they stay just ahead of us, never to be encountered. They are best viewed just before twilight, as the western reddish sun is setting. They drift along, almost laughing, sometimes moaning, always beckoning us to move along before darkness overtakes the forest.”
Perhaps, however, the most unusual thing most of us have EVER seen happened just this past August in the form of ‘earthquake lights.’ Some saw the lights prior to the shaking, I saw them during the shaking, and others continued to see the lights after the shaking had subsided. Did you see it? Call yourself lucky, because this phenomenon seems to require very specific conditions of geology and tectonic movement.
Hungry for more? In addition to the article and book previously mentioned, the Ghost Hunter’s Guide to California’s Wine Country by Jeff Dwyer also has several entries on Glen Ellen.
Buzz from Around the Bend
The 2014 Glen Ellen Village Fair was a wonderful (albeit hot) event. This years’ theme was The Flowers of Wild Glen Ellen. The quilt was won by Linda Richards and the succulent basket went to Jeff Wilbur. Grand Marshal Anne Teller oversaw the parade, riding with friends (including Jim Shere of the Glen Ellen Historical Society and Ralph Benson of the Sonoma Land Trust) atop the locally famous cart and team of the Shepard family. The parade was judged by Frank Crook, Kip Fogarty, and Melanie Blake who awarded the following: Wild Glen Ellen Fairies (Best Costume), The Three Sisters (Best Costume Honorable Mention), The Benzigers (Best Theme), Glen Ellen Community Church (Best Theme Honorable Mention), Dunbar School (Best Spirit of Glen Ellen), Sonoma Volkswagen (Best Spirit of Glen Ellen Honorable Mention), Boy Scout Troop 63 Color Guard & Girl Scouts of Northern California (tied for Judges Choice Award), and Sonoma Valley High School Marching Band (Judges Choice Award Honorable Mention). More than 80 vendors were present and offering a great diversity of products and foods. Save next year’s second Sunday in October on your calendar; the committee is already starting to plan for the 25th annual fair. Theme? Glen Aliens!
On Nov. 9 a flagpole will go up next to the cannon near Jack London Lodge. Old timers and photos from the early 20th century report that a flagpole was present at this location from Jack London’s time up to the 60-70s when it disappeared for unknown reasons. Tom Richards (owner) and Rick Dunham (local contractor) will erect the new flagpole beginning at 10:30 a.m. Boy Scouts from Troop 63, led by scoutmaster Brian Kemp, will perform the inaugural flag raising and lead the pledge of allegiance at 1 p.m.