Santa Fe Ghosts

Santa Fe Ghosts

Author: Susan Blumenthal
Schiffer Books
ISBN #978-0-7643-3175-6

I dearly love Santa Fe – it is a magical blend of cultures that never ceases to amaze! Blumenthal allows us to see this magical city through the lens of its past, and through the ghosts that still haunt it. She is a native New Mexican, and writes with a clear, caring voice, using the venue of story to allow many tales to be told.

A story very personal to the author was the spirit of a mother who died in the house across the street (and way out in the country!) from her. The ambulance an police were there when she got home. She took the children into her home to care for them while the husband went to the hospital with his wife (one of those who died too young – thirty years old, with a heart problem). That evening, as she was rocking one of the children, she became aware of a presence. She knew that the presence was the mother, and that the mother had crossed over. She was there to say goodbye to her children.

Then there was Earl. Earl haunted a rental house that the author purchased. For the most part, Earl was fine with the author and her children living there. He was mischievous, but that was about it. Until she had some renovations done – including removing a piece of intricately cut trim. Earl was not happy with that. He was also not happy with any conflict in the house. (He crashed the ceiling in on a particularly loud argument.) Earl was also not too happy when the author went to sell the house. Unable to sell it, the author’s children moved in. There was enough conflict there that Earl decided to allow the house to be sold – which it was, to a quiet single woman. In a strange set of affairs, the man that the daughter married (he was adopted) gound out that his birth mother had also lived at that house.

One story was the most amusing – and it is one that Blumenthal told on herself! She spent a good amount of time researching and preparing to visit Santa Fe to follow ghost stories. She made notes, had information on the places she wanted to visit, printed out maps of the locations (important in Santa Fe, with its winding streets that change names indiscriminately), and placed them in a three ring binder. As she neared Santa Fe, she reached for the binder – which was nowhere in site! Yup – she had to wing that trip!

There are many, many interesting stories in this book. Ghost stories are not just about the chaos that they can cause, it is also about the lives that the ghosts lead before they became ghosts. About why they do not want to leave a particular location. The story about the Grant Avenue House is really two stories – the story of Artie, who was caretaker of the house, and experienced its strange behaviors, and the story of Ada Peacock Moore, who lived in the house with her husband and children. Blumenthal did a great deal of research on this story to confirm who the people were, what was truth, and what was fiction. This is an engrossing story, to be sure!
There are many more stories – the San Miguel Mission, and the bodies found there. The La Fonda Inn, The Oldest House (complete with brujas!), the story of wealthy Julia Staab, and the La Posada, the Loretto Chapel (what a gorgeous staircase!), the Palace of the Governors, the Hotel Saint Francis, and many, many more. Each story is told through the eyes of the author, and the words of the people that she interviewed. The people, and the building, truly come alive in the telling!

Black and white photos illustrate the stories in a very graceful manner, giving the reader the feel of the times that the stories refer to, as if they were “there”.

The reader gets to meet the Southwest Ghost Hunter’s Association, learn about their activities share their very unique logo. This is a serious group that operates with a very open mind – not looking to prove or disprove, simply to investigate.

It takes a very special kind of person to encourage people to talk about any type of paranormal activity, and clearly Blumenthal is that kind of person. She reports in a realistic manner, in good taste, and acknowledges what she experienced when she was doing the investigation. I have been to Santa Fe, and I have to agree with her that this is a city where the paranormal is not questioned, it is simply accepted as such.

For those that like to read good stories, for those that like to read about the paranormal, and for those that have an interest in ghosts and haunted buildings, this is a boook that you will enjoy!

© September 2009

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