Spooky times for ghost hunters

A poltergeist turns out to be nice in Lake Oswego
by: Submitted,

Scott and Amy Howard couldn't help but notice when their 10-year-old daughter began taking great interest in the television show Ghost Trackers.

It is a funny-scary program in which middle schoolers seek to find evidence of ghosts in buildings by using the most up-to-date ghost finding equipment. Along the way they hear scary stories, laugh a lot and experience some pleasant chills and thrills.

'She really loves that show,' Scott said. 'She is really taking an interest in the paranormal. She started doing magic tricks for her little sister.'

Seeing their daughter's interest in this subject, the Howards decided to tell her a story: They had once lived in a haunted house.

Her reaction, of course, was 'Coooooool!'

'We just started talking to her about the stuff,' Amy said.

Yes, as a newly married couple living in their first home in Lake Oswego in the early 1990s, the Howards believe they encountered beings from the spirit world. In other words, ghosts.

No, this didn't involve eyes moving in an old painting or being chased down a hall by a floating white sheet. But there was something in that house they could not explain.

'The first thing came when I was looking at the house with my brother,' Scott said. 'As we were leaving we saw the light by the furnace was turned on. I remember thinking, 'Yes, I turned that light off.''

Naturally, this wasn't enough to make Howard put in a call to the Ghostbusters. But other strange incidents in the house followed.

'In the area of the kitchen I heard a sound,' he said. 'Then I heard a doorknob turn. I got up to open the door and no one was there. There was no way anyone could've gotten out that fast without me knowing it.'

Things got much weirder after Scott and Amy got married and Amy moved in.

'One night we were watching TV with a friend and Amy dozed off,' Scott said. 'Then she looked over at me and her eyes were rather large. Amy said, 'There was a lady sitting on the table between you and Doug. Then she was gone.''

What's more, Amy had recognized the lady.

'I knew her when I was a little girl growing up in this neighborhood,' Amy said. 'I used to talk to her.'

Amy had her next encounter of a strange kind one night while lying in bed.

'All of the lights were off,' she said, 'and I heard this scuffling around the bed, like a woman wearing slippers was walking around. I could tell someone was there. I was frozen. I didn't know what to do.

'Then the feeling disappeared.'

Scott received a visitor soon afterward. While going over blueprints one evening, he 'felt something.'

'I turned around and a man was standing there,' Scott said. 'He had kind of a smile on his face. Later I saw a photograph. This guy was in it.'

This was enough to make anyone hear the theme music for The Twilight Zone go off in their head. But Scott Howard took no guff from ghosts.

'One night, when Amy was not home, I was taking a shower,' he said, 'and the hot water started fluctuating. Being in the construction business, I knew there was no natural way for this happen. I yelled 'Knock it off!' It stopped.'

Actually, aside from the occasional practical joke, the Howards' experience with the supernatural went quite well.

'There wasn't a fearful presence,' Scott said. 'There was never a time I was scared.'

Amy said, 'It was just weird. It was strange. There was something there, but nothing that would scare you.'

'If it wasn't a giant hallucination on our part, then it was a spirit or presence that was good,' Scott said.

There is even an explanation.

'I think it was directly related to the relationship my wife had with the lady,' Scott said. 'We felt like someone was watching out for us. It wasn't a bad thing.'

When 'the lady' made her appearances, Amy said 'she had a smile. Sometimes she kind of giggled.'

Still, telling people that you have seen ghosts in your home can have its drawbacks. They might think you are nutty. Or even worse your property value might drop.

However, ghost sightings in Lake Oswego and West Linn are not rare. In a story that appeared in the Review just before Halloween in 2002, folks told of vivid experiences with ghosts at places like Christie School, Bay Vista Apartments and even the Oswego Lake Country Club.

Now, local believers in ghosts are getting downright official. Just last August a new organization formed called Lake Oswego Paranormal Investigators. At last count the group had 34 members, and there's no doubt they will have some terrific stories to tell in the coming years.

Amy Howard has not joined this organization, but Scott decided to put her on the spot.

Pointing a finger at her, Scott asked, 'Amy, do you believe in ghosts?'

'Yes, I do,' Amy said. 'Before I had been open minded about the question. But now I believe in them.'

Still, the Howards do not believe any ghosts will ever occupy their home in West Linn. That is because they already have much stronger spirits on hand.

Scott said, 'Our two girls are so loud they would scare away any ghosts.'