Today, I am back home contemplating the wonderful and extraordinary events of this past weekend at the 14th Annual Port Gamble Ghost Conference. There is a joy in the camaraderie of shared time with like-minded people, meeting old friends and making new ones. A successful conference event is like riding a roller coaster. There is the anticipation leading up to the start and then there is the sense of careening through presentations, preparing for your own, and at the end you are wondering how it all went by so fast.
Here is the strangest experience I have had at any event – I experienced a moment of contact with someone or something not from this plane of existence. Okay, I think I saw a ghost. The Port Gamble Theater Building is one of the buildings carefully maintained to preserve the last company-owned town in Washington. Constructed in 1853, there is a definite history here, and as reported, a long history of paranormal activity. The theater itself is on the second floor, the restrooms on the first. I had heard people joke about ghostly events in the Theater restrooms, especially the men’s room.
I wasn’t thinking about having a special experience. It was daylight, not a dark and stormy night in an old Victorian mansion. I had just attended a historical presentation nearby in the Hood Canal Vista Pavilion, a modern building with a gorgeous view and facilities for weddings and meetings, constructed on the site of an old hotel that was badly damaged in the Columbus Day Storm of 1962. The old hotel had been there since 1907.
Last Saturday morning, November 11, a little after 11 am, I walked into the Men’s Restroom. The room is narrow and extends straight back from the hallway. It is about 25 feet long and about ten feet wide. The urinals are along one wall on the left with a toilet at the far end. With the lights off, the room is illuminated by a window high on the back wall. No one else was there. I didn’t bother to turn the lights on because I could see clearly that it was vacant. The weather outside was variable, heading towards rain, but sunshine was peeking through the clouds so I could easily see the entire room.
I was facing the wall, and I could clearly see my head and shoulders shadowed on the wall. With no warning I saw a second shadow, a larger, taller figure that appeared to be walking up behind me without a sound, eclipsing my shadow on the wall. I had not heard anyone enter the restroom. I started, but there was no graceful way to turn and exit. I quickly turned around in both directions and no one was there! I turned back towards the wall, and the second shadow was gone.
I went to the sink to wash my hands. I was still startled; I spent over 30 years in law enforcement, having to depend upon accurately observing and assessing what was around me. I knew I had seen a second figure shadowed on the wall in front of me. Like so many other witnesses who underwent a “first contact” experience, I was thinking, “I know what I saw!”
Just when I thought the experience was over, I heard a voice in my head say plainly, “Brother, you are welcome here.” It was a male voice, not scary or ominous. It was just a simple statement in my mind from someone else. I wasn’t scared or upset by this intrusion; I felt like this event was supposed to happen now. I like to believe I am still growing, still evolving my understanding of this existence. I never want to stop learning, and the reality of a shadow not cast by a solid form was the lesson for today.
I left the men’s room stunned, amazed and grateful. We are so conditioned by the entertainment industry. Where is it written that ghosts and the supernatural in general, must be frightening? We are conditioned to expect any fringe phenomena to be accompanied by high drama – cue the scary music and disturbing special effects. But having my first supernatural experience in a men’s restroom demonstrated that those who have passed on may have kept their sense of humor.
I learned something else important – reality doesn’t have such a definite edge as we are taught. Venturing beyond the edge of what is known and predictable may occur without warning or fanfare. The miraculous is just a moment away. I will be watching and listening more closely from now on.
This experience reminded me that life is a wonderful, unfolding mystery.
James E Clarkson
November 13, 2023