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Do ghosts really walk among us?

Local stories of the paranormal could explain the unusual


A few years ago, a young Sandy couple was settling into their apartment in Cascadia Village with their firstborn child. They had put a lot of energy into the furnishings and decorations for the baby and were looking forward to embarking on their new journey as parents.

But early on, it was obvious something wasn’t right. Every time they laid the baby in its crib, the child screamed helplessly. No amount of consoling, rocking or comforting calmed the baby, unless they took the child to another room in the apartment.

Flash forward a couple years. Another child joined the family. The couple set up a nursery for the new baby, using the same crib in the same room as the one abandoned earlier by its sibling. The newborn also screamed inconsolably every time it was placed in the crib.

The family ceased to use the room entirely. Shortly before moving a few years later, they invited a clairvoyant into their apartment to see if there was a reason why neither child was comfortable in that room. The medium told the couple that a century before, a pioneer woman had strangled her own infant in its sleep in the same location.

Consequently, the medium said, it was possible the distraught pioneer mother was repeating her actions with any child attempting to sleep in that room.

Depending on where one sits in the debate over the paranormal, the story could be true or just plain hokum.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JIM CLARK - Do ghosts hang around after their corporal bodies are long departed? Well, cemeteries would be the logical place for hauntings, like local pioneer cemeteries in Gresham Yet the trouble with ghost stories is ascertaining their validity. Rarely are spiritual apparitions verified or documented.

And those who have encountered weird events and things that go bump in the night usually can’t explain what they’ve seen themselves. Forget about relaying the experience to others — who wants to be thought of as certifiable in their social circle?

Science tells us that there is an explanation for what some believe are paranormal occurrences. High voltage power lines, for example, can generate electro-magnetic fields that some people may be sensitive to, causing strange feelings and hallucinations. Skeptics of the paranormal also say that doors opening or closing on their own are usually the result of drafts from air circulation.

But the bottom line is that there are unexplainable things out there and the Sandy’s couple’s experience in their apartment isn’t the only instance around these parts.

McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale is iconic in its reputation as a haunted place. Built in 1911, the former county poor farm was home to the destitute and infirm until its closure in 1982.

Ghost hunters call that sort of history a hot bed of “residual energy,” which could explain why Edgefield’s current visitors report seeing a nurse wandering the halls in the old hospital wing (now the winery).

Guests who stay in room 215 say their ankles have been tugged on in the middle of the night and others, wonder who the man in tattered clothing is in the hall.

Ghostly sightings and things that defy explanation are all part of the allure at Edgefield. Officially, staff won’t confirm or deny the presence of long departed residents, but they do keep a logbook at the registration desk for guests to record their experiences.

General assumption has always been that if there are such things as ghosts, they are nasty, violent entities. Seriously — what other reason would there be to supposedly wander eternity, causing havoc among the living unless there was a score of some kind to settle?

But apparently, not all spirits are mean-spirited.

At the Veterans of Foreign Wars building on East Powell Boulevard, former commander of Gresham United VFW Post No. 180 Val Shaull can find no earthly explanation for the sudden appearance of historical post artifacts.

“We’ve been in this building since 1945,” Shaull said. “In the last year, we found two desks with stuff from the 1940s and 1950s and we found a (VFW Women’s Auxiliary) flag from World War I that nobody knew anything about until a month ago. It’s really interesting, but where has this stuff been? We’ve only got a small amount of storage in the building and this is all new to us.” by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Members of the Gresham United VFW Post No. 180 recently discovered a World War I Womens Auxiliary flag they had never seen before.

The historic building was originally used as Gresham City Hall. An addition was built many years later, adding a court room on the ground level and jail cells in the basement.

Once the city moved to newer digs on Eastman Parkway, the upper floor of the building was used as a dance hall and later, as an activity hub for youngsters. Graceful paintings of dancers still adorn the walls in the former ballroom and its pine floors, while showing age, still shine in a few places.

But wandering around the building can be somewhat unsettling, Shaull said.

“I always tell people the old part of the building would make a great haunted house,” he said. “There are so many stairways and hallways in there that it would be easy to get lost. I always take a cell phone with me when I’m over there. And I don’t know if it’s because the jail was downstairs, but it’s just creepy down there.”

Shaull admits to being baffled by the discovery of post artifacts, given that the VFW and the American Legion both hold monthly meetings in the building and don’t share storage facilities.

The World War I auxiliary flag found recently, was rolled up and standing in a box alongside the other post flags. In fact, Shaull said, the flags had been moved to a newer box for storage not too long back and nobody remembers seeing the World War I banner at the time.

Does the post have a new benefactor?

“If there are ghosts in the building, they’re happy ghosts,” Shaull said. “They’re giving us things — they’re showing us historical stuff!”