Archive for the ‘Sciences’ Category

Deep Water VI

August 1, 2018

Deep Water V discussed an invisible bedroom visitor that I experienced at age eighteen, in November 1965, an un-seeable transient creature that either had physicality or chose to behave as if it were fully physical. And this was not the first time I experienced apparently physical invisible visitors. There was one in August 1964 and another in 1958 or 1959. One occurrence was late at night, like the one in 1965, but the other visitor made its “appearance” in the middle of a warm sunny day. While much of the literature on seemingly “otherworldlies” explores the phenomenon of nighttime visitors that frequently arrive around three a.m.—the start or peak of the “witching hour” of Christian tradition—leading to theories that explain the encounters in terms of anomalies of the human mind, visits from the dead, and/or negative/unclean/demonic spirits, such as incubi or succubi—but heavy-breathing or heavy-footed intruders can make guest appearances at any time of day, and apparently at any time of year and in any place.

During most of the summer of 1964, I was employed by M. Edgar Rosenblum at the Hyde Park Playhouse, the former Vanderbilt Farm compound in Hyde Park, New York. Edgar’s flagship theatre was The Woodstock Playhouse, in Woodstock, New York, where his offices were located. The two summer stock theatres were—I say were because the playhouse in Hyde Park was destroyed by fire in 1987—almost an hour’s drive apart and Edgar relied on me to perform a wide range of activities related to the facility itself; to assisting the actors; to handling promotional tasks; as well as performing on stage. I have fond memories of working with people such as Estelle Parsons, Judd Hirsch, and others, in the years just before they became movie and television stars. The hours were long, often 100 hours a week, so I did a lot of sleeping in my customized 1957 Ford, or backstage, or in a dressing room, or—weather permitting—out on the lawn where a slope in the inner courtyard served as a recliner bed.

About midnight one night, when the moon was full, and its pale light shone through the huge dark and empty room where stage scenery was made, I climbed the creaky moon-lighted wooden stairs that led up to the second-floor dressing rooms where I would sleep on the wood floor with a blanket. I chose the northernmost room and closed the door behind me to keep out critters that can be found lurking in old barn buildings, and lay down on the floor, jacket rolled up under my head. Exhausted as I was, I was still on the alert because, even though the playhouse was in a low-crime semi-rural area, those unlockable old stone-and-timber buildings contained tens of thousands of dollars of lighting equipment, sets, props, furnishings, and tools. The dressing room door, like the huge sliding doors to the building itself, had a lock, but no one knew where the keys were kept, and staff often worked around the clock, so there was little need for locks anyway. The property was rarely without someone’s presence.

It must have been two or three a.m. when I was awakened by sounds of someone moving around in the workshop space below. My first instinct was to brace myself against the door, to bar forced entry, and peer through the old-time keyhole. I did that and was able to see a portion of the empty workshop, including a partly open exterior barn door. I continued to hear someone moving around—bumping and scraping sounds. Then, I froze when I heard what sounded like a boot step up onto the open staircase. The apparently boot-wearing person began to slowly climb the creaking stairs. My view from the keyhole was straight out, so I could not see down the stairs. I would have to wait until this person got close to the top before they would come into my limited field of vision. My pulse was pounding as I held my breath at the point where I was sure the intruder was about to emerge into sight in taking his next step. But still I saw nothing. Weirder yet, as the stepping sounds continued past the point where the visitor’s presence should have been more than slightly visible, all I could see was the same exact scene of moonlight coming through the exterior door and of some of the room below.

Soon, the sound of boots on creaking wood reached the small landing directly in front of the dressing room door and moved towards the door. I continued looking out through the keyhole, and yet there was still no one there. After a completely quiet moment that seemed unnervingly long, the visitor retreated, step by step, back down the stairs, across the workshop, and out of the building, invisible the entire time. After waiting for about fifteen minutes of total silence to pass, I exited the dressing room and headed for my car which was parked off the edge of the road in front of the stonewall and entry gate. The front seat of the Ford was not especially comfortable for sleeping, but I felt safe with the windows up, doors locked, and the key in the ignition so I could make a hasty exit. Surprisingly, I was able to return to sleep quickly. Maybe I was just that exhausted, or maybe I was getting used to such strangeness. This visitation occurred within a month after watching the rocket-shaped object traverse the backyard of my parents’ house (see the July 2017 post: “A Meta-Shift Anniversary”).

Strange days, indeed. And the following, third, experience of an invisible visitor from my early years is, for me, the strangest, partly because it happened in daytime, and partly because it includes the best evidence I have of invisible visitors’ apparent physicality.

To the best of my recollection, the year was 1959. I was twelve years old and a Boy Scout. Our family lived on the Van Wagner homestead property that my parents purchased from my grandmother, Alida Van Wagner Eastwood, a two-story farmhouse on ten acres of land that had been a dairy farm. A neighbor, Danny, was also a Scout and he occasionally visited me at our house, usually to play outdoors, snow-sledding or exploring the woods. On this day, although it was a nice sunny day outside, we were playing games on the floor of my bedroom, listening to my five-pound Motorola AM portable radio that held a half dozen or more size-D batteries and required a shoulder strap to lug it around. The bedroom was the southeast corner of the second floor and there was a full attic above that, with one of the two south-facing dormer windows directly above my room. The rest of the family had gone shopping that afternoon, leaving Dan and I behind in the unlocked house—not uncommon to do in those days before the widespread plaque of child abduction paranoia and the advent of helicopter parenting. We were the last of the free-range children.

Suddenly, right above our heads came an unmistakable thump on the attic floor, as if someone had come in through that dormer window, which was scarcely possible. The roof was unreachable without my father’s forty-foot ladder, and no trees overhung it. Yet there was not just a thump, but the sound of someone walking across the attic to the staircase on the north side of the house, stairs that led down to the hallway on that far side. Realizing that once that person reached the hallway, they would be walking west, down the hallway, and then south, and then east—towards my bedroom door. I thought at first that it might be my uncle Bob who, like my father, had grown up in that house and would occasionally enter without knocking or announcing himself, except that he would not have come in through the attic window. So, I turned the radio off and shut the bedroom door, securing it with a latch.

There was a one-inch gap under the solid wood door, so Danny and I got down on our bellies to look through that and hopefully identify who else was in the house. We soon heard the visitor walking down the hallway beyond our sight. The hallway floor was old narrow varnished boards, uncarpeted, and they flexed noisily. As the visitor rounded the bend, we expected to see shoes and the cuffs of a pair of pants, but what we did see was shocking: NOTHING—just the sight of boards flexing beneath a pair of invisible shoes and transparent feet. Not hesitating for more than a moment in front of my door, the visitor turned at the top of the staircase leading to the first floor, then proceeded to descend the old creaky stairs which were also wooden, varnished, and uncovered. At the bottom of the stairs we could hear steps crossing the landing towards the side exit, which was open except for the outer screened door. We heard the screen-door spring screech as the door was swung open; then the door slapped shut and the visitor was gone.

Danny and I looked at each other, flipped the latch, and opened the bedroom door to assess the situation. There was no trace of anything on the floor or staircase. Sunny day and blue skies be damned, Dan was bug-eyed. Without saying anything that sounded like words, he scooted down the stairs, exited through the screen door, ran up the long dirt driveway, and never came back. In fact, we never spoke again after that, never sat together on the school bus, attended none of the same classes in school, and I dropped out of the Boy Scouts. As of today, I have not seen Dan or heard anything about him in more than fifty years.