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June 16, 2007

Los Gatos Ghost Tour by Mary Pope-HandyDo you have any stories about ghosts in Los Gatos? I would like to hear them. I’m collecting ghost stories to share on my Live in Los Gatos blog. And maybe someday I will put together a book on the area’s haunted places.

So you may be wondering, how did this strange hobby began? (My teens wish I just did needlepoint, or something “normal” instead.)

A few years ago, I began to casually collect local ghost stories because they intrigued me. Next I began to read some books on the subject..then more books. At my office, my manager asked me to share some of them just before Halloween in 2003. To my amazement, the agents in my office loved the stories of Los Gatos’s haunted spots…then several discreetly came up to me and told me their own stories of encounters with a ghost.

That’s usually how it works – people don’t usually share their stories about ghosts unless they think you believe. No one wants to be made fun of.

My interest grew further after a couple of personal experiences and then I began a page on one of my websites devoted to the topic of Haunted Real Estate, and I also got a URL dedicated to the page too: http://www.HauntedRealEstate.com.

At Halloween, and all through October, reporters started contacted me. Then the focus expanded and I had them phoning and emailing me about stigmatized properties too. It’s as if this thing took on a life of its own.

I haven’t sold haunted houses, I kept telling them: I just collect the stories, I read a lot. But I also started assembling information on disclosure laws around the country, about folks who were good at “ghostbusting” or exorcizing a house, places where you could do a ghost tour, haunted hotels… you name it.

And I added an RSS feed on ghost stories.

Frances Flynn Thorsen of RealTown.com asked me to write an article on ghosts. I agreed to do it (though my husband was a little concerned it might scare away potential clients who’d think I was crazy), and “Haunted Real Estate: A Primer for Real Estate Agents” was well received.

Now? It is still expanding, as if self-propelled. In the last month, I had two different people (whom I don’t know) email me about wanting to sell their haunted homes. Neither one, of course, is in Silicon Valley. Who’d have thought my hobby would lead here? So it seems I need a spot dedicated to “haunted houses for sale” or something along those lines on the site.

My “page” needs more space. Sometime in the next year, I think it will need to branch out from a single, long page on my ValleyOfHeartsDelight.com website into its own website.

Meanwhile, I’m blogging on Los Gatos and part of that effort is to include ghost stories from around the town. I have discussed the most prominent ones so far: The Opera House, Trevese Restaurant (formerly The Chart House and Chart’s), Border’s Bookstore in Old Town, Village Lane (the old cemetery – did they move ALL the bodies?) and Forbes Mill.

I know there are others because sometimes I get calls. A few months ago, a young woman phoned me and wanted to know where, exactly, the old cemetery was located because her new boyfriend refused to stay with her overnight due to a matronly ghost with an attitude that he didn’t belong there. (Her place was not on the old graveyard, but near it. I saw a “for rent” sign outside of her home within two weeks of her phone call to me.)

Some places I really have to wonder about: the Main Street Bridge (there was a lynching there) is one of them. Where was the town’s jail? Did the town do executions (lynching aside)? If so, where? What about the mortuary turned single family house on Main Street? (Not the former Chart House.) Anything doing there? I read something on a message board about a ghost off either Guadalupe Mines Road or Hicks Road – any truth to that? Your input would be much appreciated!

So, residents and friends of Los Gatos, I want to ask for your input: where are the haunted places in our fair town? Please call or email me in confidence. I want your story and I won’t blow your cover!

2008 UPDATE – San Jose State’s “The Spartan Daily” ran a piece on Hicks Road, and included a video, that is worth seeing:
http://media.www.thespartandaily.com/media/storage/paper852/news/2008/03/06/Features/The-Road.That.Makes.Some.Wonder-3254622.shtml