Wednesday, October 26, 2016

UNSCHEDULED STOP


Ghosts??
Naw, no way!


We interrupt this blog for an unscheduled stop. Please remain seated and stay calm.

I've always considered my blog to be nothing more than entertainment. Mediocre entertainment, but entertainment nevertheless. I never felt a need to include reference sources or bibliographical data with my posts.

I try to write about uncontroversial topics (which for me is difficult, to say the least). After recently writing several anti-Hillary political posts my readership has dropped. I was expecting that. After all, 98 percent of my readers are liberal Democrats. I wasn't expecting some very nasty comments (which I deleted) calling me a Nazi and equating me with the Ku Klux Klan.
That irked me a little bit.

After considering shoving some burning crosses up those bastard's asses, I finally calmed down and said

"To hell with politics. I'll write about something fun and benign and non-controversial - - like Halloween!"

So far, so good. I was back on my mundane track.....and my three remaining readers seemed pleased.
(do I need to insert a *smile* here?)

Then, last Monday night, I proudly posted my Halloween tale of the "haunted" Houdini mansion. I thought it was a reasonably good read.
I was happy.

The Blog Gods saw that I was happy and decided to kick me in the balls.
I immediately received this somber comment (paraphrased):

"Your story doesn't add up. Please email me....."

Holy shit! What did I do wrong now?
Was this from the Blog Police?
An attorney? 
Houdini's ghost??

I had no idea. In a foolish panic, I quickly reverted my post to a draft.
I emailed.
I'm still waiting for the damning reply.

I plan to post my haunted Houdini story again - but before I do, I'd like to present my case and try to clear some things up.

First of all, I have written many articles about Hollywood history for very respectable publications. I'm not a novice at this game and I'm a staunch advocate of thorough research. 

My Houdini story has never been published. It was buried in my old files for years. I dug it out of the dust simply because I figured it would make a fairly good Halloween blog post.

My interest in the so-called haunted Houdini Mansion, and my research about it, began long ago when I was in my early 20's. At that time I was sharing a rental home in Beverly Hills with a fellow musician. I was very familiar with the area and was extremely interested in unusual stories about Hollywood history.

Several people had mentioned that there was an old haunted mansion on Laurel Canyon Blvd. that once belonged to magician Harry Houdini.

That was more than enough to intrigue me. When I finally found the address, I  discovered that the mansion no longer existed. Only the burned out ruins were there - on four acres of wild wastelands.
This setback intrigued me even more. All of this happened in the month of October. On a whim, I made a date with myself to visit the ruins on Halloween night. Getting drunk fortified my "courage". My midnight ramble through the ruins was interesting but yielded no ghosts.

Around this time I happened to discover a book entitled This Is Hollywood by Ken Schessler. He was one of the first writers to ever mention the Houdini mansion. I wrote to him and received a reply, and we exchanged stories that we heard about the mansion.

Later, I began my own research. In the main downtown branch of the L.A. Library I discovered some records concerning the mansion, which included the fact that the original address had been 2398 Laurel Canyon. It was changed to 2400 in later years. I also found out that the mansion was built and originally owned by department store magnate Ralf Marc Walker. In the 1920's he owned a popular discount department store in downtown L.A. located on 5th and Broadway.

My biggest discovery was that Harry Houdini never owned the mansion, but was a friend of Walker and did stay there as a guest.
Despite this revelation, the place is still referred to as the Houdini Mansion.

I began talking to a few old-timers who lived in the area during that era. I remember one old man named Mr. Scheffmeyer who was born in 1899. He told me that a party took place in the Walker mansion sometime around or just after World War I. During that party, a guest fell from the roof and was killed. 

This coincided with a later story I heard about Ralf Walker's son pushing his male lover off a balcony during a Halloween party. To my surprise, many years later a writer named Troy Taylor wrote about this exact same incident in one of his books (I think it was The Ghost Hunter's Guidebook, 1999).

Since my initial long-ago interest in this subject, many new articles about the so-called Houdini mansion have been written - - and many of my initial findings have proven to be true.

I am definitely not an expert on Houdini or the Walker mansion, but I know enough to stand firmly behind my findings. I've seen the place firsthand, have talked to numerous people who lived in Hollywood during that era, and I have dona lot of reading on the subject.

I plan to post my story again, and I'll include a few other links for readers who might want to learn more.

My account might not "add up" to some high standards, but I've written as honestly as possible about what I know. 

My main objective was NOT to give an historical textbook account, but rather to pique interest in a subject that I find fascinating.

 

13 comments:

  1. Well, email dude might know something you don't...couldn't hurt to hear him out. Might send you off on a whole new direction on the story.

    :-)

    -Andy

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  2. Oh, cool...a cyber stalker. I have one of those!

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  3. Well, I'm still here and I love your stories. Besides which, it's your blog and you can publish anything you please!

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  4. Hi Jon: I don't live in Hollywood and can't claim any knowledge about your story, but it was fascinating, informative, fun to read and dare I say that I learned a lot by reading it. I could never have done what you did; prowl the place on Halloween night, but damn what a great thing to do because of the Houdini connection. I loved your story and I love your writing and I can't wait for the autobiography.

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  5. As they say, you can't please all of the people all of the time. Water off a duck's back and all that. Repost the story! :) :)

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  6. Hey, thanks for calling me a stalker folks! My research of historical records turned up that the gay lover murder story couldn't possibly have been Ralf Walker's son. It probably happened but the facts aren't quite as it's retold. I emailed Jon what I've uncovered. Sorry to be a buzzkill. The Houdini part of it is spot on.

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    Replies
    1. Sluggy,

      I think you might now qualify for a discount at "Stalkers' Bargain Outlet."

      :-)

      -Andy

      Delete
  7. What's the matter with people?!?!?
    Your early life was certainly colorful (perhaps 'someone' is jealous?) ... so I really appreciate you sharing your vignettes the way in which you do. Don't stop!

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  8. I hope you re-post your Houdini story. I thoroughly enjoy your material. It's fresh, new topics for me to learn from - always interesting and perfectly presented. Go for it - and keep it YOUR way.

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  9. I didn't get a chance to read the houdini story. :(

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  10. Jon,
    No need to apologize for the strict accuracy of your blog posting. I enjoy all your Hollywood stories. Please keep them coming.
    Ron

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  11. Jon,

    I have met Slugmama and follow her Blog and I don't think she meant anything vicious in whatever her comment was. I hope you will put the Houdini Mansion post back up, I'd like to read it. I became very interested in Houdini as a boy, not just his escapes and magic, but because of the Spiritualism and his death on Halloween and all that. Over the years I have read numerous books and articles about the man and somewhere in that reading both the mansion and the death were mentioned. You do write fascinating stuff. Keep it up.

    Larry

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  12. If it's from your files, Jon, that's good enough for me. As for "To hell with politics. I'll write about something fun and benign and non-controversial - - like Halloween!", it's getting hard to separate the two subjects to any distinguishable distance. Sometimes I'm reduced to writing about the squirrel in my back yard. His name is Benny.

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I love comments. Go ahead and leave one - I won't bite. But make sure you have a rabies shot just in case.