Bewitching the airwaves
Few past or present could hold a wooden stake to the scope and scale of scary storytelling conjured up by a certain scribe of the supernatural dwelling in the macabre village of McMinnville.
We know her as Tracey Ward. And the terrifying tome through which she has made an indelible impression on the world of the weird is titled, “Spooks to Spirits, Haunted Places and The Places You Should Haunt.”
On All Hallow’s Eve 2011, she was introduced to News-Register readers as “Her Haunted Highness, The Queen of Halloween.” Her book had recently been released and she was on a roll, weirdness- wise.
Search as one might across the length and breadth of Valleyvania for anyone who equals Ward’s weirdness, all that can be unearthed are pretentious pretenders.
A few can come up with classically creepy credentials, mind you. Take Holly-Ween, who regaled readers on All Hallow’s Eve 2012 with more personas than the Three Faces of Eve.
However, rumor has it that her primary persona — Ms. Holly Goodman, the Siren of Sheridan — has more ambitious plans. She is several steps up in stages to strut across, so to speak.
Word is she will soon head south, having hatched a sinister scenario to steal the souls of certain mega-stars of the silver screen. Her objective? To transform herself into — HOLLY-WOOD!!
The iconic femme fatales she plans to portray are already among the dearly departed — Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Lindsay Lohan. I’m just kidding on that last one, of course; it’s only Lindsay’s career that’s dead.
But this is mere mockery, a tawdry trifle, a simpering shadow of the vile bane unleashed by she who cloaks herself in the mild-mannered mode of Ms. Ward. A normal — well, somewhat normal — McMinnville hausfrau.
Don’t be flimflammed by such shameless subterfuge. Ward’s true and truly terrifying self is laid bare for all to see as vividly set forth in the pages of her ghoulishly groundbreaking book.
And now, more insidious than ever, she’s plotting to expropriate the local airwaves with a radio show so steeped in spookiness it could frighten the froth off a rabid dog.
Her hour-long show, “Yamhill County History and Mystery,” will begin airing on KLYC 1260-AM at 8 p.m. Sunday evenings. The first installment kicks off the series this Sunday, Feb. 24.
There’s no telling what she’ll pull out of the crypt first, but as she is well aware, KLYC Radio itself was once exposed to the supernatural.
In 1991, the station’s news director documented a “paranormal presence” in the equipment room. It was particularly evident as the station’s transmitter was being warmed up for the day’s operation.
It had been reported previously by a number of employees over the years. So the owners brought in clairvoyant Erin Lasell to investigate, and she confirmed the “presence” during an October visit.
KLYC occupied those quarters until 1993. Its former studio is now a daycare center.
Staff at the center have reported paranormal activity in the same part of the building. This would seem to confirm that the apparition is destined to remain.
What if the building burned or was torn down? Where would the homeless haunter go then? Would it wander on over to the station’s new digs?
Ward will seek to supply answers, or at least interesting hypotheses, for such supernatural subjects.
Lest you have gained the impression the entire hour will be filled with one hair-raising account after another, please know that the Queen intends to entwine history with mystery.
On every program, she — and on occasion, a guest historian — plans to impart fascinating facts from the past. Of course, as often as not, a connection between the real and the conjectural could crop up.
For those who may be wondering what compelled Ward to do what she does so well, look no further than her childhood. At the tender age of 10, she had already attracted a following of like-minded youth.
“We called ourselves ‘The Ghost Getters,” she said. “And we were always in search of something spooky. It was me, my twin sister, my younger brother and a couple of other friends.”
The culmination of creepy experiences they sought and shared came several years later — around 1979, as Ward recalled — aboard the famed luxury liner the RMS Queen Mary
The 81,960-ton, 1,019-foot Queen Mary was launched in September 1934 as the flagship of the Cunard Line’s transatlantic fleet.
After acting as a troop carrier during World War II, she went on to serve Cunard until 1967. Her last voyage was to Long Beach, where she was turned into a museum, event venue and tourist attraction.
Led by Ward, four of the intrepid Ghost Getters boarded the vaunted vessel with the intention of exploring areas of the ship where the public is not allowed.
You could call it an inside job, as Tracey’s twin sister, Teresa, worked on the Queen Mary. And she had learned about a hidden entrance behind a full-length mirror in the main dining room.
The little band of intrepid adventurers, teenagers at the time, stealthily sneaked through the secret opening and made their way below. They descended into the bowels of the ship.
“Only the first couple of stateroom decks had been renovated for overnight guests,” Ward said. “Lower levels were closed off and the staterooms were used for storage. It was dark and dusty.”
In the hold, where the massive structural bones of the enormous floating hotel were exposed, their view was limited to the range of a single flashlight. “It was dark, dank and rusty,” Ward recalled.
Making their way back up, the group walked down the long, dark corridor of an abandoned deck, when suddenly a stateroom door opened and the light from a porthole revealed the shadowy form of a tall figure in an officer’s cap.
“You don’t belong here,” he growled and slammed the door shut, once again casting them into darkness.
“He was real,” Ward said. “He was there. We didn’t imagine it.”
From that time forward, her belief in the existence of hidden forces has never faltered. Reinforced time and time again, it is now an integral aspect of her life.
Gaining a broadcast venue to augment her public reach, Ward is prepared to impart dozens of stories based on local legend and lore, not to mention real happenings from decades ago.
Listen in on Sunday evenings. You’ll likely learn some interesting stuff about the place you call home while at the same time absorbing some other stuff destined to interrupt a sound sleep.
If you want to participate in the on-air action, Ward plans to have one call-in show per month. Anyone interested in calling with comments about shows or related topics is invited to take part.
And that’s what I found out while OUT and ABOUT — trying not to let the fear factor get in the way of my nose for news and views.
Karl Klooster can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 503-687-1227.