Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Ghost of Collingswood

A Neighborhood Escapade outside and
Inside the Neighborhood

The Ghost of Collingswood

A Tale Never Told


Was it possible that the dead—in some cases—were not completely dead and made alive in the form of an animating spirit— a kind of unprocessed soul? Perhaps from some far-off days and awaiting their time out, in hidden invisible cracks of the world? As was such a case that took place in the dojo in San Francisco; I had experienced a ghost like figure, and forevermore never to forget. And logic was pointing the way to me on this subject, now with interest. And for the first time, I shall share it with you, if you don’t call me crazy.
       As I think back of those far-off days in San Francisco (1968-’69), in such a case the person wouldn’t be an individual at all, would he? But with some kind of astral body, an animated image, he would be considered a being of some sort. I was told back then, the dojo was haunted; despite my doubts, I came to believe it was, I lived in the dojo for three-months 
       I slept there on a couch and often heard in the wee hours of the night, this rambling about the dojo; thus, getting up off the sofa which was my bed, looking into the gym area, finding no reason for the ruckus. And so it was, always the same. It was evident within these three months, that there was a strange likeness of a ghostly figure. How could this be, but it was. None of the Black Belts would ever sleep in the dojo, not one, for this very reason, it had a ghostly reputation.
       I told the ghost one evening, as he walked by me, we’d have to share the dojo, because I was not leaving. There he stood in front of me, and there I stood in horror and honor, no longer was there any doubt. Could he hurt me? I even challenged him one night when the windows were banging and the chairs were banging and I couldn’t sleep, he was making quite a ruckus. Hence, that night came the concrete image, I called to the Lord for assistance, and all went deadly silent: after a vast and impenetrable gloom had taken over me, but mentioning the Lord’s name, seemed to lighten up the darkness into a positive exaltation for me, and a condemnation for him. He was a giant of a spirit. I could call him Gargantua’s son, and perhaps would not be so far off, if Rabelais wouldn’t mind.
       I know you folks, readers are thinking I’m kidding, I’m full of bullshit, but when you get 2nd and 3rd and even 4th Degree Black Belts frightened, there’s a cause for the effect. I call this story “The Collingswood Ghost” because that is where Gargantua’s son lives; go there, go to 97 Collingwood street, San Francisco, California 94114, and stay there for a week, month, three months, I doubt you’ll last three days, unless you make peace with the giant.  
       To further this, let me say there was no real possibility of having any kind of relationship between the ghost and me, nor could we change places with each other. There were within those three months, many suspicious circumstances to warrant his presence, because after that one night I called to the Lord, he was on better behavior. And as brief as I can be, my intelligence recognized the full possibility of this matter, I was 21-years old, my mind put all the strange incomprehensible matters which had whirled through my head into deeper thought. The Ghost wanted to be left alone for the most part. He didn’t want invaders, and that was exactly what I was to him. No more no less. But can one dare to challenge such a fiend?
       There was this one time I was antagonistic to the ghost, I wanted his attention, and I had no real weapons against this thing but truth, if indeed that counted. It must have known and understood, I was stubborn.
       Youth is reckless, I perchance had only a passing knowledge of the danger I might have been in. I had told this story once to a woman from St. Paul, Minnesota, some ten years later, she evidently belonged to an occult society of some strange incomprehensible existence, one of supernatural mysterious mysteries, and she told me, compelled to tell me: “You were lucky, you might have been swept through horrible possibilities; you really had reason to fear.”
       Perhaps the apparition, was of the lower sort, not the bitter, or more evil, who’s to say.
       My impression of the apparition was that it was a huge being, perhaps four hundred to six hundred pounds, it made the wooden floor crackle as it walked by me, and it showed an indentation in the wood as it went from one step to the next, I could even visualize his foot print as this took place, double my size. I suppose my female friend was thinking of what terrible steps the monster ghost might have taken to effect his wishes, had I not called out to the Lord. Nay, what would have been his wishes, we will never know, I think his ultimate purpose was as I said, to be left alone?  I was to a certain degree in some glorious enthusiasm, and to him, I was just a pest.
       Then and there, I was determined not to warn anybody of this, and to await, as well content as I could be in my ignorance, I felt sorry for the ghost; and when I left the dojo to go to another residence, when I was asked how my stay was, I’d simply say, “Nothing out of the ordinary.” But it was of course, way out of the ordinary!

When I came back to the neighborhood, Donkeyland, in 1969, to which I’d be drafted into the Army shortly after my return, this being one of the reasons  why I did return, everyone asked me if I was homosexual now, because this mid-western boy went to the big city where back in those days it was taboo, especially in Donkeyland.
       Well I lived in the Castro District, while in Frisco, where that gay lifestyle was prevalent—as time taught me—it was a beehive of homosexuality; gosh I wanted to punch them all in the face upon my return for such a remark. But I understood—or maybe I didn’t—I was a tinge gullible back then, in San Francisco everyone knew that Castro was what it was everybody that is but me, and now back home everybody knew it too. 
       And to be frank, there was a married couple who befriended me, and one day sitting in bar in Castro, “Sam’s” the elder man, about 65-at the time, and his wife, not far behind him, said, “Chick, you know we’re all homosexuals in here?” It was a question-statement. My mouth dropped a few inches, and I said, “How can that be, you’re married,” I said, and she responded “Everybody but you!” And I said, “You got to be kidding, I’ve been coming here for six months.” And she answered with a chuckle, “We know that, and we play dumb, but we are what we are, and my husband and I are gay also.”
       Well what do you say to such a confrontation? Words seemed to fail me. I even appeared to myself to shrink a bit. I think the old couple was wondering if I was breathing at all. For them I think they felt satisfaction and relief; perhaps even with an air of majestic dignity, where there was no more wariness and hesitation or attitude change. I think they told me that because I told them I was being drafted into the Army, and would be going back to Minnesota pretty soon, and back to see my mother in St. Paul. She said “Everyone likes you here, you’re welcome to come back!” I thanked them both for being so considerate if not sensitive to my sensitivity, and said I’d not be able to come back into the bar knowing that. I didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable with me, nor I with them. Evidently it was more an issue with me than with them.  That old couple wrote me for two years thereafter, even while in Vietnam. And then it suddenly stopped.

No: 1032/2-18-2014

Reedited/Revised 7-2015