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San Diego Specters

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San Diego Specters is an entertaining investigation into haunted sites-some famous and others obscure-throughout San Diego County. Fresh witness accounts are combined with genuine historical research on each of the suspected haunted places. Haunted sites examined include the Hotel Del Coronado, the world-renowned Whaley House and other historic buildings in Old Town San Diego. Firsthand reports of ghost and poltergeist phenomena are blended with historic data to provide an unorthodox and engaging portrait of ...
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San Diego Specters is an entertaining investigation into haunted sites-some famous and others obscure-throughout San Diego County. Fresh witness accounts are combined with genuine historical research on each of the suspected haunted places. Haunted sites examined include the Hotel Del Coronado, the world-renowned Whaley House and other historic buildings in Old Town San Diego. Firsthand reports of ghost and poltergeist phenomena are blended with historic data to provide an unorthodox and engaging portrait of spectral San Diego. All haunted locations listed in the book have been thoroughly checked by the author, John Lamb, a trained detective with 22 years of law enforcement experience.
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Editorial Reviews

Timothy Coffey
San Diego County, with its wealthy charm and friendly grace, doesn't seem like the place that the ghostly dead would inhabit, but they do, according to a local author and 15-year police veteran.

Retired Oceanside police detective John Lamb insists in his new book "San Diego Specters," that the frights of the night are real and that the San Diego area is one of their most popular spooking grounds.

Even though 15 percent of the American population reported ghost sightings an the oldest ghost story can be traced back to 500 B.C., not everyone believes in their existence.

"Most of us live in a mundane world and ghosts are something we can't control," he said.

They most often appear as transparent beings and rarely stay in one spot -vanishing slowly or quickly dissapearing and reappearing in another location. Unknown sounds, displaced items only to be found in unusual places and sudden cold spots are all part of the phenomenon. A change in temperature can range from a seven to 10 degree difference al the way to 23 degrees, according to a University of Illinois study.

The most unheralded part of the ghost phenomena, Lamb said, is that unlike the movies they are very unlikely to attack or purposely scare you. We might well scare them," he said.

Ghosts stories should be nothing new to an area rich in historical gore, Lamb said.

Battles between early settlers and pirates and Native Americans resulted in bloody slaughters on both sides. And in the early days of San Diego, a hungman's noose was the preferred form of capital punishment in Old Town. Therefore it should not surprise anyone that one of the few U.S. Department of Commerce "authenticated" haunted houses in American-the Whaley House-is built upon the site of Old Town's public gallows.... ( Daily Californian)

San Diego Union-Tribune
Spectral scribe really gets into the spirit.

...While Lamb believes in ghosts based on his Gettysburg experience, "I have not checked my common sense at the door." He brings his training as a police investigator to his study of unearthly phenomena, dismissing things for which there is no evidence.

And he takes a special delight in witnessing the conversion of a nay-sayer. During a tour of the grounds of the Whaley House in Old Town, a caustic young man continued to rail against the notion of ghosts-until, Lamb said, he saw the visage of a Scottish terrier, the famous ghost of Dolly the dog.

Lamb says that after the tour he stopped in the side yard of the Whaley House hoping to see the same thing the skeptic had, but had to leave without the experience. Yet he whispered, "Good dog," as he left.

Watching the smug man meet his first ghost was "a delicious experience," Lamb said.... Darlene Himmelspach

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780932653321
  • Publisher: Sunbelt Publications, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,412,308
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Former OPD detective investigates local hauntings in book.

They say you can see her on certain nights, a faint apparition dressed in white, mournfully searching the woods of Elfin forest for the child she hid from Indians who would later find and kill her sometime in the 1800s.

Don't believe it, said John Lamb, a retired Oceanside Police officer and author of "San Diego Specter".

As a former detective, Lamb has learned to sense when something does not seem right about a story, and the legendary White Lady of Elfin Forest just doesn't add up.

"She's seen across hundreds of acres," said Lamb, noting that hauntings usually are limited to smaller, more defined areas. "It's outside the patterns of a haunting, and in some respects very similar of the Hispanic folk legend of La Llorona, the folklore of a woman who murdered her children and now haunts a place looking for the children she murdered."

Similar ghost tales have been told in El Paso, Texas, San Juan Capistrano and other cities, he said.

Lamb, the Southern Californian regional coordinator for the nationwide Ghost Research Society, is not a disbeliever in the paranormal, and his book contains many stories more credible than the Elfin forest tale.

But he is inclined to put hauntings to the test rather than accepting them unquestioned. What makes "San Diego Specters" unique, he believes, is that he debunks five of about two dozen "haunted" sites in the book.

"I come out and say there is no White Lady of the Elfin Forest," he said. "I don't believe the San Pasqual battlefield is haunted. The Point Loma lighthouse has a reputation for being haunted. I don't believe it is. Mission San Luis Rey was supposed to be, and it isn't."

By looking at each possible haunting with a skeptical eye, Lamb's book may make the stories he can't debunk that much more credible.

"I haven't checked my common sense at the door," he said. "There are some people who will literally write anything that sounds entertaining, which is infuriating for those of us who have an interest in it."

Lamb's own interest was sparked in 1995 while he was visiting Gettysburg, PA., where he said he saw an apparition of a young Confederate soldier in a gift shop. That led him to begin researching the topic in hopes of understanding what he saw. He now thinks the apparition was not a ghost, but something called a "psychic imprint," or a memory somehow stuck in time.

"One theory is that emotional energy can linger in a place long after the memory is gone, " he said. "And we can convert that energy into a vision."- Lamb took early retirement for medical reasons in 1997, leaving him time to pursue a second career as a writer and to continue researching his new interest. Since his first encounter in 1995, he has seen only one other apparition. "I think it was 1998, on one of the buildings in Old Town," he said. "I just happened to be waling with a state park worker, and I caught a glimpse of what seemed to be an older gentleman, translucent and monochrome. I looked at it for a second, and it was gone."

Lamb said other park workers reported seeing apparitions at the same site. Lamb was taken by surprise each time he saw an apparition, leading him to suspect that sightings may happen only when people are not deliberately trying to find a ghost.

"I'm not a psychic," he said. "I'm just as surprised as anyone else when something happens."

Lamb spent several hours one night hoping to spot a ghost at a promising site and came up empty-handed, although he did wander into a spot where the temperature seemed to drop 10 degrees inexplicably.

"You move into it, and you're thinking, 'There's something here.' I backed away and I moved forward again, and it was gone."

Lamb Ws at the site of an abandoned gas station at Highway 78 and Interstate 5 in Oceanside, next to Hunter Steakhouse. Both are built over part of the now-relocated Buena Vista Cemetery. Lamb is skeptical when he reads about hauntings form unnamed sources or, even worse, attributions such as "some have said." He asked his witnesses" to go on the record for "Specters," although he did make some exceptions.

The Whaley House in Old Town is one of the nation's best-known haunted sites, although Lamb said it doesn't seem to be as active as others would like to believe. Lamb also doubts the much-repeated tale of a haunted room at the Hotel del Coronado. His research uncovered conflicting accounts about a woman who killed herself there.

As a former hostage negotiator who studied interrogation techniques, Lamb said he could tell when people were trying to pass off a tall tale for a true ghost sighting. But while admitting to an inherent dose of skepticism, Lamb does not call himself a skeptic.

"The person who says 'I have to see it to believe it," that's a little intellectually sterile," he reasoned. "Does that mean if you didn't see it, it didn't happen?" Gary Warth, Staff Writer NORTH COUNTY TIMES, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24, 1999

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Interviews & Essays

GHOST BUSTER: Southern California is home to dozens of ghosts, according to John Lamb, Regional Coordinator for the Nationwide Ghost Research Society and author of San Diego Specters: Ghosts, Poltergeists, and Phantasmic Legends. In his book, Lamb examines a host of haunted sites, such as the infamous Whaley House and the Hotel Del Coronado. Here, the former detective sergeant, who spent22 years in law enforcement before trading in his guns for ghosts, discusses his unusual vocation.

WESTWAYS: How do you investigate a haunted site? JOHN LAMB: "I approach each inquiry as if it were a crime for which no physical evidence exists. I collect good witness-statements, then corroborate them with supporting statements, as well as historical research."

WW: How do you separate true witness-accounts form fabricated tales? JL: "It's relatively easy to detect falsehoods, mainly because the storyteller will usually include dramatic elements that are incongruent with what we know about haunting patterns. To illustrate, a young man once told me that he and some friends encountered a ghost in an abandoned building. The specter pointed a bony finger at the intruders and demanded, 'Who has disturbed my peace?' It was a great campfire story, but unquestionably false. Anyone who has studied ghost phenomena knows that specters seldom interact with witnesses and almost never speak."

WW: Do all ghosts look like Casper? JL: "Some people view the wraith as having a physical body, while others see it as a diffuse, monochrome, or partially transparent apparition. Sometimes only the upper portion of a ghost is seen. Spectral episodes also include unexplained sounds or disembodied voices, anomalous odors, being touched by an unseen entity, or the sensation of a cold spot."

Westways: Southern California's Lifestyle Magazine. September/October 1999.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2005

    been there done that

    I'm one of the lucky persons that has a gift, that has been handed down from mother to daughter for generations. Though I was never told this till about a year ago. It explains why I have seen things and know things about the ones that are passing on. If they come to me it's because they need something done that didn't get down before they met their end, and will ask me to help. I have read many books on the subject and been many place's because of it. But I must say that the book that J. Lamb put out is one of the very best I've ever read. It tells the details, that you need to know about the places he mentions in the book. I look forward to reading many more by him.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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