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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.
|Publisher:||Sunbelt Publications, Incorporated|
|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.
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
What People are Saying About This
John Lamb's new book, about San Diego ghosts is the sort of ghost book you just could not put down. Authoritatively researched, well written, and up-to-date, with both well-known cases and newly found ghost stories, it turns hauntings from fearful to exciting. Not to be missed, especially for Californians.
John Lamb has done Southern Californians (and anyone else for that matter) a literary favor by writing a book that not only covers both well-known and little-known ghostly hauntings in the area, but also includes curious and fascinating vignettes of history.
A highly entertaining and well-written book by Mr. Lamb who spared no effort in his painstaking research and personal interviews with the various witnesses to the supernatural encounters. His no-nonsense approach to ghosts blended with his prior background as a police officer just enhances the believability and overall appeal of the stories within. Mr. Lamb approaches some of the more 'publicized' accounts with the perfect amount of candor and 'a grain of salt.' A must for the ghost enthusiast and a welcome addition to everyone's bookshelf of paranormal books. I know it will occupy a respected place on my shelf.
Mr. John Lamb takes the reader along with him as he uncovers the mysteries of haunted houses in his unique book. Told in a clear, no nonsense style, this book captures all the thrills of ghost hunting.
Real ghosts are not the things depicted in film and television-they do not pounce and surge like the creations of special effects. But, there is a special excitement in unraveling the mystery of a place dogged by paranormal events. Mr. Lamb uses his years of police experience to approach this study with both professionalism and a desire to "get the facts." In all of my two decades of investigating haunted houses in California I have never read a book that examines psychic investigation as well or as honestly as Mr. Lamb's. I believe this is a must read for anyone interested in the study of the phenomena of ghosts.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.