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Congressional Phantom



MikeSee

Skeptical Enquirer
In 1983, I had a part time internship with California Congressman Forney "Pete" Stark in Washington, DC. Even though I had another full time job, they were glad to have a young person from the congressman's home district pop in late each afternoon and be willing to spend two to three hours writing speeches and articles, and even dreaming up ideas for new legislation.

One evening, I was sitting at a desk in the congressman's office in the Longworth House Office Building working late into the night at a typewriter. I was pretty deeply absorbed in what I was doing when about 11:40 p.m., I had a sudden sensation that someone was staring at me. I looked up with a start to see a middle aged man with glasses, a mustache, and wearing a circa-1940s/1950s style rumpled grey wool suit standing there staring at me intently. I just gasped, and then, all of a sudden, he began to dissolve into thin air.

I jumped up at ran out of the office, heading for the main exit on Constitution Avenue. At the exit, I passed a Capitol police officer and told him what I had seen. He must have just thought I was nuts. At least, that was my impression from the way he looked at me. So, I headed out the door, trotted to my small Capitol Hill apartment several blocks away, and slept with the lights on that night.

I quit soon afterward without really telling anyone why. Oh, I'm sure I made up some excuse. After all, it was a lot of work and I was trying to carve out some time for graduate school applications. In any case, I wasn't going to spend any more time in the evenings in that office! I've never seen anything like this before or since....
 

0uterj0in

Reality Support Tech
Thanks -- great story. Who do you think it was? Why do you think he haunted the office? What were you working on? Do you think he was staring at you, or perhaps someone else who was once at that desk?
 

The Staggering Priestess

Magical Thinking and Brain Damage
Hi Mike! Having spent my share of nights working in empty old office buildings till the wee hours of the morning, I find your account very evocative and feel a sympathetic shudder.

Probably you don't have any wish in reliving the experience or increasing the uncanniness of it, but from a theoretical angle (sitting here nice and cozy in my brightly lit home) this strikes me as one of the most perfect ghost encounters to have, in that with a lot of digging you could certainly find out the identities of the Congressmen and staffers who used the office in earlier decades, and once you had that information you could probably track down photos of everyone and see if you could match a name and a story to the man you saw. If you could, it would be another rock to weight the idea that ghosts, or at least some of them, are external manifestations of other people, rather than visualizations that exist entirely within the circuitry of our brains.

(Not that I actually expect you have the time or inclination to spend dozens of hours running this down -- I wouldn't either. That's why I said theoretical :). Besides, if it happened to me I think I'd feel even more creeped out if I discovered the spectre I saw was the revenant of an actual person.)

Of course I'm aware that folks who refuse to acknowledge the validity of any aspect of the paranormal would explain it away by asserting that your subconscious must have conjured up the image of J. Throckfurter Wimplebean or whoever he is from an old photo or book or newsreel. It doesn't matter if you've never seen a photo, book, or newsreel of him in your life; the mere idea that theoretically you conceivably could have, is enough to grant closure to these minds. They are under the impression that Occam's Razor only cuts other people's fingers. This is not a revelation to anyone here, I expect.

In his rumpled suit it would seem that your spectre put in long hours himself. In ghost encounters like this I believe there is something to the idea that the living and present can establish a sympathetic wave to which something else that is or was on the spot -- a memory, a departed consciousness, an ephemeral doorway to the past -- can tune in and establish a connection.

Interestingly enough, out of curiosity I did a quick Google search trying to find out when the Longworth building was built (1933, an even 50 years before your experience) and came across another report of it being haunted:

I've never seen any of the ghosts in the Capitol. But I may have seen the work of what some said was a ghost next door in the Longworth House Office Building.

Former Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, had an office where lights would blaze bright and then dim, bells would buzz without reason, and doors would somehow lock themselves from the inside. Orton scoffed at the idea a ghost was there. But he moved out at his first chance, as have most other members who have had it in recent years.


The full article is here.
 

The Staggering Priestess

Magical Thinking and Brain Damage
One unrelated thing I meant to ask you, Mike (and anyone else for that matter) before my rambling carried me away:did you ever have a sense, when you were working in Washington, of a kind of psychic shadow weighing you down? I mean a feeling of darkness and negativity, unwholesomeness or ill-will that seems to hang over a place.

Phil Imbrogno, whom I really enjoy listening to, mentioned this feeling in connection with the Hudson River Valley during his Paracast interview, and New England researchers like Chris Balzano (whom I would love to hear on the Paracast, guys!) often bring it up when talking about certain spots in the Bridgewater Triangle in Massachusetts. I've felt it myself in a couple of places, and I would have thought that Washington, like any powerful nation's capital city in which evil, immensely powerful, untouchable reptoids (metaphorically speaking) have been congregating for a long long time, would be rotten with it -- yet I've been to Washington several times and never felt anything more unpleasant than being hot, sticky, and physically and economically exhausted.

Then again, in my touristy ramblings I probably never got close enough to the well-hidden lairs where the modern-day Tiberii play to enter the radius of their emanations, if there are any.
 

MikeSee

Skeptical Enquirer
Thanks -- great story. Who do you think it was? Why do you think he haunted the office? What were you working on? Do you think he was staring at you, or perhaps someone else who was once at that desk?

No idea who or what it might have been or represented. Other than having a bit of a scare, I haven't gotten overly analytical about it. Anything that I might come up with would just be conjectural anyway.
 

MikeSee

Skeptical Enquirer
</i>Former Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, had an office where lights would blaze bright and then dim, bells would buzz without reason, and doors would somehow lock themselves from the inside. Orton scoffed at the idea a ghost was there. But he moved out at his first chance, as have most other members who have had it in recent years.

The full article is here.[/quote]

Interesting to learn this. I've perused a number of "haunted Capitol" types of stories, and never once ran across one about the Longworth building.
 

MikeSee

Skeptical Enquirer
One unrelated thing I meant to ask you, Mike (and anyone else for that matter) before my rambling carried me away:did you ever have a sense, when you were working in Washington, of a kind of psychic shadow weighing you down? I mean a feeling of darkness and negativity, unwholesomeness or ill-will that seems to hang over a place.
No, I've never experienced more than the usual Washington, DC unwholesomeness. And, I never noticed anything unusual about the congressman's office other than I was surprised to learn that the staff worked in rather cramped quarters in many of these old offices. About the closest I could come to a "psychic shadow weighing" me down was simply the fact that I was extremely reluctant to work in that office by myself at night ever again.
 
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