Oberlin Blogs

Ghostberlin 2

November 30, 2013

Peter D'Auria ’14

You may know me, dear readers, as no more than a highly competent blogger, but in fact I have a pretty much huge number of skills. Many of these skills must be kept secret but I can let you in on a little hobby of mine that I recently dusted off: Ghost hunting!!

Allow me to set the scene. It is 12:00 a.m., the witching hour, on Halloween night, 2013. Rain pours down in sheets; orange streetlights reflect eerily off the clouds. The wind is probably howling. I don't really remember. We can imagine that it does so. I have assembled a crack team of ghost hunting experts, aka some friends of mine who wanted to go ghost hunting, kept anonymous for this post, in case there are vengeful phantoms reading my blog. Armed with flashlights and cameras (with real film! I know, right? what year is it even?), we set off into the night.

"Hold the phone!" you protest. "You haven't explained how one even hunts for ghosts?" A pertinent complaint. Allow me to summarize the to wikiHow article on "How to Conduct A Ghost Hunt," possibly the best how-to explanation on the Internet (for real, I highly recommend you check it out). Effectively, how one hunts for ghosts:

1.Assemble a team.
2.Pick a location.
3.Explore location with team.
4.Collect data (generally pictures, audio recordings, temperature changes, and electromagnetic field detectors if you are super legit/have a budget).
5.Go home. Have some snacks.
6.Process data.
7.Make conclusions. More snacks. Bedtime!

"Psh!" You are probably scoffing. "This sounds tame. I was expecting hella danger!" Well, my dear skeptic, listen to this. In a Livejournal thread from 2006, the teacher of the (apparently also passed-on) "Ghost Exco" mentions hoping to launch a group called OGHOST, or Oberlin Ghost Hunters Organization for Students and Townspeople. If this fantastic organization did at one point exist, it appears to have faded away, which is a shame and a danger, because, as the ghost exco teacher warns in the thread, "NOTE TO ALL WHO READ THESE COMMENTS: *DO NOT* go ghost hunting (a) on your own and (b) without previous understanding of the background. There are ugly consequences sometimes." The wikiHow article confirms this danger, mentioning briefly yet ominously the possibility of encountering a certain type of spirit that "was never human and is generally bad news."

Holy cow. Yes, dear readers and vengeful phantoms, the stakes are high. But the pursuit of science is fearless.

Anyway, back to the hunt. Like ghosts ourselves, we moved from building to building, watching, listening silently. We photographed every detail, everything that may have seemed eerie or at all paranormal. At the end of night we had amassed a huge collection of photos, data, observations, everything we needed to prove or disprove the existence of ghosts at Oberlin.

Well, not really. It turned out that a lot of the photos didn't come out, or were really blurry, or were not returned from the developer, and also we got kind of tired, and went to bed pretty early, so we didn't really get everywhere we wanted. I dunno, it really doesn't sound too good when I put it like that. But anyway, we did get a handful of pictures, which are below. They have not been enhanced in any way. Points if you can identify a. ghosts and b. all the locations on campus.

A non-descript photo of black and green
I thought this was pretty artsy.

Another non-descript photo of black and green
The descent.

A student in front of a caged off door
An obstacle appears.

A head in an old elevator
That head in the bottom right isn't a ghost. That's just Zoey.

A student pulls a book out of a shelf
Ghost books??!

Old lockers
Ghost sports??!

A piano in an empty corner
Ghost tunes?!?!

A non-descript photo of black and green
I wish this was a picture of a ghost but I think someone just got too close to the camera. It looked pretty eerie though so I included it.

An empty concrete room save for a clothing line filled with clothes
This laundry room definitely had a creepy vibe.

A light bulb shining on a cieling
Energy-efficient ghosts?!?!


So, the question. Ghosts at Oberlin: Y/N? Well, if only it were that simple!

While we did not explicitly make contact with any ghosts, we did encounter some interesting phenomena. If you look closely in Photo # 7, you may notice some faint blue specks in the right-hand side of the picture, floating above the piano. And in the locker room there was a persistent cold spot in the air in front of a particular locker. Ghosts? We may never know.

Was there danger? Most likely we narrowly avoided ectoplasmic rage. Next time we may not be so lucky. Also the rain made everything pretty slippery. We could have tripped and fallen any number of times.

Despite the inconclusiveness of our mega scientific study, though, I think there are in fact a few lessons to be learned here. 1. There's a lot of cool old creepy stuff in Oberlin if you go looking for it. 2. If you want to go do something weird on Halloween night there are probably people who will be down to join you. And 3. Film cameras make everything look rad.

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