Oregon School Poltergeist
Before following my dream as an actor and making the big jump to Los Angeles, I toured for a couple of years with a children’s theatre company as a tour actor/director. I worked with a partner and we toured the U.S.A. and Canada in a pickup truck carrying all the set pieces, props, costumes, makeup and all the other equipment we needed to produce a full-length musical production. Our job afforded us the opportunity to visit many schools, auditoriums and theaters and to meet many interesting people. At more than one location we were told stories by the children of how their particular school was haunted. At one such middle school in Oregon, we had reached the mid-week point in production. My partner and I had just completed our evening rehearsals and had hung out until the last of the children were picked up by their rides. It was usually at this point in rehearsals that we would start putting up our set. We always took joy in seeing the delight in the children’s faces the next day as they came in to see the set was going up. We had been given instruction by the maintenance person on how to close the auditorium doors when we left to ensure it would lock. He told us he was leaving and we continued working. My partner and I each made several trips out to our truck in the parking lot, bringing in equipment.
As my partner was out at the truck gathering odds and ends, I busied myself with putting up the poles and fabric backdrops of the set. At one point, I heard a very loud crash in the hallway outside the gymnasium/auditorium where our production would be held that weekend. It sounded like a metal bed frame being slammed on the floor or a heavy piece of equipment or machinery had fallen or was dropped. It was so powerful and loud that I felt it on the floor under my feet, as if the building had shaken a little. I called out “Hello?” and left the gym, going out in the hallway toward where I thought the noise had come from. I assumed the maintenance man had not left yet and was doing some sort of work in the building. I entered the hallway and walked 50 feet or so and called out again. Getting no response and not seeing nor hearing anyone, I went outside to see if my partner had been in the building. I got outside and as I walked down the few steps to ground level, I heard a faint metal squeaking sound just slightly beneath me. Just to my left, a small flight of stairs continued down beneath ground level to what I believed was the basement of the school. As I looked down these steps to where I heard the squeak, I witnessed a metal door, about halfway open that was slowly closing on pitch blackness to the basement behind it. I stood frozen in my tracks and watched this door close. “What?” I said out loud as I wondered if someone had just entered that basement, why were they walking into darkness. I didn’t move for a few seconds, but finally went down the few steps, again saying “Hello?” I pulled on the door handle. It was locked.
I proceeded to the truck, where I found my partner pulling costume bags from the back. “Gimme a hand with these, will ya?” she said. I asked her if she had just been in the school. She told me she had not, that she had been out here for the past 5 minutes or so. “That’s what I thought,” I told her. When I asked if she had heard anything, she replied “Yes, I thought that was you.” “Where’s the maintenance guy?” I asked her. “He’s gone,” She told me. “You’re sure?” I said. “Yes” she replied and watched him drive away.” “Where?” I asked. “He was parked right there,” she said. “What’s wrong?” She could see I was visibly shaken. I relayed to her my experience and began shaking as I told her. She pulled out cigarettes, shaking herself and gave me one. We talked and shook and smoked for a few minutes, trying to make sense of it. When it was determined that we couldn’t, we decided we’d done enough for the night, ran in, turned the lights out, shut the door to the gym and practically ran back to the truck. “Let’s get the hell out of here!” she said as I put the truck in gear and we headed back to our motel rooms for the night.