From DNA testing to the Dixie Mafia, we bring you new stories of true crime in American history. Join writer & host Benjamin Morris for exclusive interviews with authors from Arcadia Publishing, writing the hottest books on the most chilling stories of our country’s past.
California's Haunted Route 66: An Interview with author Brian Clune Pt 2
From the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert to the haunted Santa Monica Pier, California’s Route 66 is the guideline for a truly spirited road trip. The road is lined with ghost towns such as Ludlow, a town that lived and died twice, and Goffs, now a dusty museum where the shades of the past walk the streets. In Barstow, a hundred-year-old rail station hosts long-dead passengers still waiting for their trains, and in Monrovia, the Aztec Hotel entertains spirits from a bygone era, as does the Pasadena Playhouse, the official state theater of California. Join author and paranormal historian Brian Clune as he explores the haunted history of the mother road.
A historian for Planet Paranormal and The Full Spectrum Project, Brian travels California researching haunted hot spots. He has been involved with many TV shows and was in a companion documentary for the movie Paranormal Asylum. He gives lectures and has appeared on numerous radio programs. Clune is also the cohost for the radio program The Full Spectrum Project. He lives in Southern California with his loving wife, Terri; his three wonderful children; and, of course, Wandering Wyatt!
Brian. Welcome back to Crime Capsule. We are so delighted to have you. Happy to be back where we left off. Last week, you were saying that visitors who are interested in California's 166 can still take tours and visit these places and see these spirits, these presences, these entities for themselves and form their own judgments, weren't you?
[00:00:31.310] - Brian
[00:00:34.190] - Ben
Before we get back into the cases themselves, I wanted to ask you about your methods as a researcher. Now, you've been to these places sometimes on multiple occasions and studied them extensively, interviewed people on site. And your work as an investigator in this context, it relies on a number of different techniques, doesn't it, including instruments and personal approaches. So tell us about your methods when you go to a site and you start to research it.
[00:01:09.350] - Brian
So there are two different aspects here. One, when I'm doing an actual paranormal investigation, it's completely different than if I am doing historical research for the book. I'm looking for two different things for those two different reasons. Sure. When I'm doing a paranormal investigation, most people will watch the TV shows and they will see these just reams of equipment, REM pods and spirit boxes and all of this different stuff. And my team basically has all of that. We probably have a good, I would say, $8,000 worth of equipment, and it all sits at home. Now, basically all we do is we will take our digital recorders, some digital cameras, an ambient temperature thermometer, because the lasers, all that does is take a temperature of whatever the laser hits and we want to know what the temperature is in the room itself. And we will take an EMF meter. Now, the EMF meter is basically not to tell if there is a ghost there. It's to see if there is a high EMF in a location. EMF is known to cause well, it can cause paranoia, hallucinations and things like that. So if we're in a home case and somebody is saying, oh, well, we keep seeing this over here and we find enough EMF to warrant possible medical, we're pretty sure that's most likely what it is.
[00:03:14.200] - Brian
Because, like I said, natural causes are more prevalent than paranormal causes.
[00:03:21.070] - Ben
Does that make sense? If you have a dynamic or an environment which is known to produce sensations that go above and beyond normal perception, well, then, of course, you might be creating the very thing that you went there to see, right?
[00:03:36.200] - Brian
Yeah. And one of the things that I always got a kick out of is the television shows state that if there's a ghost presence, you're going to have higher EMF when it would actually work the exact opposite. Because a spirit, to be able to manifest or to be able to say, speak audibly or something like that, they need to draw energy into themselves to be able to manifest what they're doing, which would actually pull the energy out of the environment rather than put it back into the environment, if that makes sense.
[00:04:13.990] - Ben
I'm not an expert, but I'll take your word for it.
[00:04:18.670] - Brian
I know a lot of people that would dispute me on that, but physics state that that's the way it would work. So we just found that when you rely on too much equipment, you stop using your most important equipment, which is your senses and your brain. So we've reduced it to where we're not relying just on our equipment, we're also relying on our own senses. Now, when I go to do a research for a book, I'll take some equipment with me, just to do a preliminary, and my recorders are to interview people. And I have had some ghost activity on my recorders as I was interviewing people, so that's always kind of exciting. And then the cameras, I use my SLR mainly, which is horrible, to try and do investigations with. It's great to do photos for the book and every once in a while I'll capture something that's a little odd, although I'm not big on spirit photography, shall we say?
[00:05:33.030] - Ben
Yeah, there's a lot of lent flying around in the atmosphere these days. Especially spirits are known, or supposedly known to collect.
[00:05:44.200] - Brian
Well, let's jump back don't get me started on orbs.
[00:05:47.470] - Ben
No, we're not going to do the Orbs. We're not going to do the Orbs. Let's jump back in the car and let's drive on down to some of the next stops in your book. I do warn you that I have put on my skeptic hat a little bit more snugly for these next couple of cases, and I'm going to ask you a couple of questions along those lines, so be ready. So, Oro Grande, you write very charmingly, that quote, what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in spirit. First of all, writer to writer, well done, applause all around. Why do you say that?
[00:06:29.050] - Brian
Well, a couple of reasons. One, there seems to be a consensus with the people who live there that there is a good amount of paranormal activity. So part of that statement, as far as spirit goes towards that. The other, however, goes to the people themselves. There is not much left of Origo Grande, and the people who live there need to have a lot of spirit just to remain within the town. They love the town, they love being there and it cannot be easy for them. So part of that was also the spirit of the people who live there.
[00:07:20.150] - Ben
You're right that it's kind of like the town that almost was. It's the town that had a promising beginning, but then it was bypassed by the interstate and traffic to Vegas and it almost had a shot when it was first getting started a century or so ago, and then it missed its moment, or just kind of all the opportunities passed it by.
[00:07:51.290] - Brian
That happened with almost every one of the locations between Needles and San Bernardino. The original Route 66 from basically Chicago all the way through followed the railroad tracks. And the reason for that had to do with the railroads had already surveyed. You do not want to take a train up and down steep hills. So the road followed that knowing that it was already the easiest and less perilous route. Now during the time that Route 66 was in California, it was a very windy road. So from Needles it went northwest and then went back southwest, then went west and went back up north. So it kind of went just all over the place.
[00:09:08.090] - Ben
If any of our listeners out there want to jump on Google Maps or Apple Maps and sort of trace Route 66 in Southern California while we're talking, that's fine. We're not going to stop anybody from actually seeing what you're talking about here. It is a convoluted.
[00:09:22.690] - Brian
It is. So when Interstate 40 came through, it basically followed where Route 66 went from Oklahoma all the way to Bakersfield. From Bakersfield is where you pick up the Route 15, which then follows Route 66 down into San Bernardino. And from there you have either the 210 or the Ten, which then follows the rest of Route 66. But from the Cahome Pass just before you can descend down into San Bernardino, I'm talking the city of San Bernardino, not the county, because the county of San Bernardino actually goes from the California border all the way to the Los Angeles border. It's the largest county in the country. It went a straight shot. So it bypassed all of these little towns, and one of them was Oro Grande. Now Oral Grande before highway 40 came through, was one of the main routes to get to Las Vegas. And when it was, you had movie stars and all sorts of high profile celebrities coming through on their way to Vegas. And a lot of them would actually stop as kind of a halfway point almost in Oregon when Route 40 was built. And then the extension of Route 15 to Vegas, it all stopped.
[00:11:05.730] - Brian
There was really no reason for anybody to drive by Oro Grande, so the tourists just stopped coming. The only thing that has kept Oro Grande alive is the cement factory that's there.
[00:11:23.130] - Ben
Right. You mentioned in your book that it had a somewhat auspicious start with gold. And then when the gold ran out, they went to silver. And then when the silver ran out, they went to limestone, which became really kind of the foundation for the remainder of the economy. And what's interesting it still is and still is. And what's interesting about that is that means there were successive waves of miners and factory workers and so forth who populated the town during each of those sort of instances of mineral extraction. Now your claim is that it's one of the most haunted towns in the Mojave Desert precisely because there are so many unmarked graves, these anonymous factory workers and miners whose names will never know. And your claim, which is kind of interesting, is that ghosts don't like to be unrecognized, that they're not fond of being buried hastily or sort of without the proper trappings of ceremony and so forth. Is that based on personal experience with them, or where's the governing factor for that claim?
[00:12:47.740] - Brian
So it's a little bit of both. I was one of those who always thought, why would anybody want to go and investigate a cemetery? Because somebody is not going to be hanging around where their body is. They're going to be wanting to hang around where they felt more comfortable, their home or a place that they loved. And then my team and I, we were at the Pleasanton Pioneer Cemetery up in Pleasanton, California, and I won't go into the whole story of why we were there. And when we got back to our hotel, I started listening to my recorder and I'm like, wow. It was the first time I'd ever actually investigated the cemetery. I had so many different EVPs that it just shocked me.
[00:13:41.850] - Ben
You may need to explain what that is.
[00:13:44.050] - Brian
Okay. An EVP electronic voice phenomenon is a voice captured on a recorder that you cannot hear at the time that it is happening, but you can hear it when you play back your recording. One of the interesting ones myself, my buddy Ash and his wife Laurel were standing outside of a very small crept and we had introduced ourselves. Basically, I just said, Hi, I'm Brian. Ash said, Hi, I'm Ash. Laurel said the same thing. And right after that, a female voice you just hear go hi. And Boreal was the only female there, and it was not her. There was another one that was I found really interesting. A buddy of ours, Thomas Durant, who always claimed to be a psychic, who I was like, yeah, sure you are, Tom. We're walking through this one section of the cemetery and you hear Tom say, wow, I just had this tremendous urge to speak French. And right after he says that, we get a woman in a hushed whisper speaking French, and we were in the French section of the cemetery.
[00:15:07.550] - Ben
Do you still have these recordings?
[00:15:09.150] - Brian
I do. I try and keep all of my recordings. We don't put anything out unless it is a class A, which is the best recording you can get. Class B's will keep if somebody wants to hear them. Class C's, those are just for us because they can never be used as evidence. They're just so bad. But yeah, I still have all of the recordings. As a matter of fact, I think they're up on one of our YouTube. I'll have to figure out which one, though.
[00:15:41.210] - Ben
So let's return to Oreo Grande for a moment. Because you do write about a particular spot which was of interest. You write that there is kind of a town caretaker gentleman named Joe who will show you around and kind of take you through, show you the ropes, that sort of thing. And he has this room in his house. And you kind of make an example out of this room because Joe makes an example out of this room. It's a room where absolutely no one will stay, according to your account. And I'd like you to tell us about this particular room in Joe's house. But I'd also like to ask you, we have to proceed by the best known methods available to us, which include direct engagement, falsification, verification. Did you stay in the room?
[00:16:39.950] - Brian
I did not, but I would. One of the things that since Joe had called us there as investigators, and I was there specifically now, the way I look at my books are they're for entertainment. They're not a paranormal textbook. They're not meant to teach people how to be investigators. They're for people to read for fun. I like to joke about the fact that I trick people into learning about history by writing about ghosts. And one of the things that I try to do is whether Joe, with what he was telling me, if it was true or not, joe believed it was. So I put it in there. You'll notice that in any of my writing, I never make absolute determinations unless I know for a fact from my own experience. Now, I had heard from one other person in town about Joe's room because I made a point of asking, and they went, Absolutely. She goes, I will never stay in that room. I did once, and I will never do it again. Me personally, I would be more than happy to stay there. Unfortunately, Joe has since moved. He went from Oro Grande into Victorville, which is about seven or 8 miles away.
[00:18:22.220] - Brian
So he no longer owns the house. But, yeah, I would have loved to.
[00:18:27.170] - Ben
Yeah, it's one of those where it's catnip, right to an investigator. Well, of course, that's where we're going to stay if we're really going to absolutely check this out, to be sure. And suffice to say, I think our listeners and I know I will absolutely await the results of that investigation next time you're down in ora Grande. Now, pulling Skepticat off for one quick second, I do have to ask about Shelley's Shop because Shelley's Shop was special for a number of reasons, and I'm just going to name the reasons right now. Spectral animals, and in particular, ghost cats. Now, I'm a cat owner, and picking up a cat, if it does not want to be held is hard enough, but this takes it to an entirely.
[00:19:22.960] - Brian
It really does level.
[00:19:24.480] - Ben
What is going on at Shelley shop?
[00:19:30.490] - Brian
She was another one that I was really trying hard not to laugh at her. Joe had told me, You've got to go down and talk to Shelley because Shelley's around the corner is definitely haunted. He was telling me that him and Shelley are partners. He's kind of a silent partner, but a lot of times he has to open up and they will find things stacked up that were neatly put away the night before. He said he's opened up and he's actually seen cats and a dog or two every once in a while. He said the cat actually came up to them one time and then disappeared. But he's actually seen them darting here and there. And I said, sure, I'd be more than happy to talk to Shelley. And I went there, and she said, I don't know why Joe keeps telling people that. She goes, yeah, I've seen these dogs, but that doesn't mean the place is haunted. And I'm like, Shelley, if you saw a transparent dog yeah, that pretty means that you're being haunted by a ghost dog.
[00:20:36.070] - Ben
Yeah. You were so close. You were so close, Shelly.
[00:20:40.580] - Brian
Yeah. Oh, dear. I really have to wonder about some of the people that tell me these things. It's like, okay, you're admitting that you saw a ghost while telling me that there's no ghost here. Wait, what?
[00:20:56.210] - Ben
Well, I know where I'm going when I'm going to ora Grande, because the challenge is irresistible. Now, here's the thing, Brian. The presence of the ghost animals actually raises a very good question, which takes us around to a couple of the other towns in your book. And it's the question of nonhuman spirits, non biological entities. Right. And what I'm really talking about is trains. You write that in several of your towns you have occurrences like phantom train whistles and the sounds of carriages and train cars running through on the abandoned track, even though, of course, there are no actual trains around for miles. You grant a possibility that the Doppler effect might be in play here, but here's my skeptics hat is back on again. Because it seemed awfully convenient to me as I was reading your informance sort of testimony, that by the time you would try to capture it on audio or video, well, it's gone, right? It just happened so fast, I couldn't reach for my recorder in time. And that seemed to me just a little too neat and tidy. Where do you stand on the phantom trains?
[00:22:25.850] - Brian
Well, if I remember right, the only one that I remember writing about would have been at the golf cemetery. There might have been another one, but I can't picture where it would be. I do know I wrote about a train at Oro Grande, but that was the actual train. There are so many trains that go through Oro Grande, you can't help but spot one, like, every five minutes. Now, the one at golf, I don't know whether anybody has managed to catch any audio of it, and I do not have any legitimate scientific theories regarding it. My own belief would probably stem from place memory, whether it was say an engineer of the train whose memory of going through there was strong enough to leave what would be called a residual haunting, or whether it's the people themselves who know the story, who are producing the effect themselves, I really couldn't tell you. But as far as being able to reach for a recorder or something like that, from what I understand, it's pronounced enough and long enough where somebody could if they could hear it.
[00:24:03.050] - Ben
Well, now our listeners have another assignment. Now we can't go to California, much less Southern California, without talking about stage and screen. And you devote several chapters to these matters and a chapter in particular to the Pasadena Playhouse, which seems to be a very important location for some of your paranormal pranksters. What's interesting is that the vast majority of the entities at the Playhouse, they seem to be pretty harmless. I mean, they seem to be, for the most part, kind of practical jokers. But who were these folks who are set to still be around in Pasadena?
[00:24:49.010] - Brian
One of them is the owner. And you have to pardon me. I cannot for the life of me bring his name to memory.
[00:24:58.670] - Ben
[00:24:59.790] - Brian
Gilmore Brown. Thank you. Gilmore Brown. And the other is none other than the original Superman, George Reeves. And that was sort of his second home as he was growing up. He always wanted to be a boxer. His mother did not want him to be a boxer, so he actually went into acting. There's a whole big thing with Reeves. I actually wrote a whole chapter on him in one of my books, hollywood Obscura, about his possible death, whether it was suicide or murder or accident. But he seems to have gone back when he passed away. He was not exactly in the best of moods. He wanted to be taken as a serious actor, but was always type cast as Superman. And it used to drive him up a wall. The Superman character was actually his best and worst role. It gave him a lot of money and recognition, but it also kept him from being a serious movie star, doing.
[00:26:26.830] - Ben
What he really wanted to do, of course.
[00:26:28.460] - Brian
Right. But he had always loved performing at the Pasadena Playhouse. It was one of his favorite places to perform. Even during his time as a Superman, he would go back and do plays. If there was no parts for him, he would go in and he would actually be a stage extra because he just loved it so much. He loved the people that ran the stage. He was very fond of Gilmore Brown, but he was also a jokester and would play jokes on people incessantly, none of which were harmful or anything like that. But you get jokes played on you constantly, you're going to start getting perturbed. And he apparently just loved it to play jokes on people. So he's one of the main people there. And then Gilmore brown is the other main spirit, and Gilmore was also known as a prankster. So now you have two spirits, both like to play jokes on people who are supposedly both still there. Playing jokes on everybody there. That's got to be annoying.
[00:27:42.270] - Ben
Yeah. I mean, I like to think that you roll with the punches if you're an actor, and it's the whole improv thing of yes. And you never refuse the bit. You always take the bit and just carry it forward. Now, you do mention this interesting detail of a diary that one of the floor managers keeps of George Reeves posthumous activity. What's going on with this diary, and did you actually get to see it yourself?
[00:28:11.130] - Brian
I did not. Unfortunately, she is on hiatus right now. I'm not really sure what that means.
[00:28:22.590] - Ben
It's convenient there, Brian. A little convenient.
[00:28:28.990] - Brian
But I was told by the current manager that, yes, the woman has written a diary, and it's not just about leaves. It's about all of the different activity that has taken place over there. And I myself have investigated the Pasadena playhouse twice and have had a couple odd things happen. The strangest one was in brown's meeting room. I was there with, I think it was my buddy Jerry. And we were sitting there doing an EVP session, trying to see if we could contact Brown. And as we were sitting there, the chair at the head of the table decided to just go ahead and slide backwards. Yeah, that was the most profound thing that has happened there. But again, whether the diary actually exists or not, I write for entertainment, and I often say I will back my history 100%. My ghost stories, not so much.
[00:29:46.120] - Ben
Yeah. And my skeptics hat really kind of started to tickle my scalp when I realized that these people this is a dramatic company, this is a working theater, and I have actors in my family. These people are paid to lie for a living. How seriously can we take them? But I'll hear it from you, Brian. I'm willing to hear of something unusual from you. I want to go past second hand here.
[00:30:17.250] - Brian
Here's something to keep in mind, though. It is very rare that you have a theater, especially an old theater, that does not claim to have some sort of paranormal activity involved with.
[00:30:29.710] - Ben
That's true. That's very true. And many of our guests in this series who have written about haunted spaces, we very definitely darren Edwards, our first guest in the paranormal series. He has a chapter in his book about a haunted theater in southern Utah. So that's a fair point and I imagine well worth pursuing on the macro scale. So let's get back in the car, and let's actually head just a little further west to a spot that you say is very well known for paranormal activity. And of course, I'm talking about the Hollywood forever cemetery. There are some incredibly sad stories that are associated with this site, aren't there?
[00:31:22.230] - Brian
There are. But you have to remember that at the time the cemetery was founded, there was a lot of racism involved in Hollywood, which is why the cemetery itself was segregated. You had one section of it that was for Christians and another section that was strictly for the Jewish population. And one of the only reasons that they even allowed to have a Jewish cemetery there included in Hollywood Forever was because most of Hollywood was being run by Jewish men and women. The woman who was in Gone with the Wind, who played mammy, she wanted to be buried there, and they would never allow her to they wouldn't even allow her to be there. They finally did put up a plaque for her at the cemetery, so I was happy to hear that. But then the one guy who ended up buying the cemetery and embezzling all of the funds and buying a yacht, supposedly to take the ashes of the movie stars out to sea, he basically just used it to cheat on his wife. They found a bunch of earns in his office after he passed away that had never been taken out to have the ashes spread.
[00:33:16.990] - Brian
And it finally came to a head when part of the crematorium started to fall down on Mama Cast as she was being cremated. And that's when they found out about all the embezzlement and everything else. So that's just sad in and of itself.
[00:33:36.470] - Ben
As I read your account, it was clear just how much historical documentation you did actually have to sift through in order to give back stories to these residents. Mama Cast being one. You have, of course, Virginia Rappy. You have Clifton Webb. It really struck me, Brian, because there was a stark contrast to celebrity, how much there was that we knew about these glitterati, literati, sort of famous folks from the early part of the last century. Contrast to how many nameless, forgotten miners and rail town folk were populating the earlier chapters of your book. People whose lives had no less dignity, but we just don't know anything about them. Now I'm curious. The question I have for you is.
[00:34:30.710] - Brian
If you don't mind yeah, go ahead. One of the things that I found recently I am working on a true crime book for History Press right now, murder in Mayhem Hollywood. And one of the things this goes to what you were just saying about how much we know about the stars and how little we know about the miners. One of the things that caught my attention as I was doing research on the different murders that I'm researching for murder. Mayhem Hollywood was how much information I can find on the serial killers and the murderers and how little I can find on the victims.
[00:35:14.990] - Ben
On the victims, right.
[00:35:16.690] - Brian
It is really sad. I am racking my brain trying to find as much as I can on the victims because I'd rather bring them forward and let people know about them rather than the murderers. Because we already know who the murderers are.
[00:35:30.140] - Ben
Why and you don't want to sensationalize or glorify either.
[00:35:34.080] - Brian
Exactly. Anyway, sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you.
[00:35:38.280] - Ben
Not at all. What I wanted to ask you in that context is, and this is a tricky question, not in terms of sort of a gotcha moment. It's tricky because I don't exactly know how to frame it, but I'm going to try I'm curious whether the additional information about a supposed ghost backstory makes a material difference in the way that you approach a site. And what I mean by that is, does the fact that we know more about the wrongful death, in fact the murder of Virginia Rappy, then we know about those nameless ghosts in Oregon, does that change your approach as a researcher or an investigator? Is there a difference there?
[00:36:29.750] - Brian
There is a huge difference. One of the things that drives me crazy, as you might be able to tell, I'm not big on ghost reality TV, and one of the reasons for that is they go to a location and they do an EVP session and it's is there somebody here? Why are you still here? Did you die here? What is your name?
[00:36:58.970] - Ben
[00:36:59.520] - Brian
If the ghosts are there, they got to be sitting around going, god, I'm getting tired of answering this. Right? You guys are good. Yeah. At which point they'd be going, oh, you know what, just shut up, I'm going away. But if you go into a location and you know about the people that lived there, if you know about the history of the location, if you know about what happened at the location, you can ask intelligent questions. You don't have to ask if so and so was there, because you'll already know that that person was there. And if you know that person was there and you know the story of that person, you might be able to get information out of the spirit that you wouldn't be able to get by just saying, who is this? Why are you here? You already know why they're still there. So yeah, it makes a huge difference if you know the what, why, where, and when of a location rather than just the where.
[00:38:09.110] - Ben
The last instance that I want to ask you about with respect to this cemetery at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is about Rudolph Valentino, of course, exceptionally internationally famous silent film star of the very early one thousand nine hundred s. And this is about the firmest that my skeptics hat is going to be tightened around my brow this hour. Now, I'm going to ask you first of all to tell us about the story of Rudolph's arrival in the cemetery, and then I'll have a question for you. So just tell us kind of how he came to arrive there and about his suitors, really his paramours. Because that's the crux of this, isn't it?
[00:39:01.670] - Brian
How he arrived there there's a lot of speculation on what he actually died from. If I remember correctly. The official was peritonitis, if I'm remembering it correctly. But I think what you're really wanting to get at is his suitors, right? So, Rudol Valentino was known as the penultimate ladies man. He was the latin lover. He was every woman's dream at the time. And most people don't realize that Rudolph Valentino was gay. And the whole thing was an act for him. He was very good at it, but he preferred the company of men. And one of the men that he was most fond of, shall we say, was a man by the name of Ramon Navarro. And Valentino took Navarro under his wing and basically taught him how to be Valentino. I guess it is the best way to say it. And Navarro could replace him. It was basically so he could be an aide to him, so they could work together. From what I understand from reading one of the diaries, he was hoping that they could both, at some point, come out of the shadows. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be until decades later.
[00:41:06.210] - Brian
And I was actually asked by one of my editors, are you just making this up? And I actually said, no, I'm not. It came from a diary of Mr. Navarro, which I had seen. So it does come from legitimate sources.
[00:41:29.200] - Ben
Sure. Now, he had female suitors, as well. And you write that one in particular, flame.
[00:41:37.890] - Brian
She was not a seater.
[00:41:39.630] - Ben
I beg your pardon?
[00:41:41.200] - Brian
Ditra flame. Okay. Sorry. Wrong person. Go ahead.
[00:41:46.140] - Ben
Okay. No worries. You're right that ditra has a sort of special claim to fame with respect to the cemetery, which is that every year on the anniversary of Valentino's death, after her own death, she began to appear. Now, she would go and she would sort of lay flowers at his grave before she died because of how fond of him she was. But that after she passed away in I believe it was I looked it up. August 23 was the day that Valentino died. Every year on August 23, there is a lady in a black dress who is seen at the grave site of Rudolph Valentino laying a flower, and then she disappears. Have I got that right?
[00:42:46.470] - Brian
Yeah. Now, Ms. Flame actually met Valentino when she was 14 years old, and they thought that she might be dying, but it turns out that she did survive, obviously, and that her mother had asked mr. Valentino to go to her bedside and try and comfort her when she was in the hospital. And one of the things that they had talked about was that Valentino didn't want to be alone after he died. And so Valentino would keep going to the hospital to visit ms. Flame, and they became friends. Now, when Valentino did finally pass away, flame then kept her promised by because she had told Valentino that I will make sure that you are never alone. So over the years, she would go every year and she would put a single red rose. She would go in all black morning clothes. She did stop, however, after the fame of the lady in Black started to draw a bunch of other women in black to the cemetery. And so she probably just said, okay, well, I don't want to compete with them. I'm going to stop going. I know he's not alone because all of these other women are now going and leaving flowers at his grave.
[00:44:25.590] - Brian
And then all of it started to slowly fade away as she stopped going to the point where she then went back and started putting the single red rose until she passed. And it is thought now that the reason she keeps going is because even after her death is because she will not give up her promise to Valentino to always be there for him. So it's an act of devotion, which.
[00:44:54.620] - Ben
Is lovely, which is very sweet and gives me as many warm fuzzies as I could possibly hope for when I read an account like this. But good scientific knowledge proceeds on two grounds that it's falsifiable and repeatable, which is to say that any one of us could go to Valentino's plot on August 23 of each year, which just happened about two months ago and wait there and see if we see a lady in a black dress lay a flower and then dematerialize into thin air. And what I was curious about, Brian I'm not hostile. I'm just kind of curious. Is there a crowd that waits there from sun up to sun down on August 23 of each year to kind of I mean, you know, we could go.
[00:45:40.800] - Brian
We could go.
[00:45:41.520] - Ben
You and I could go.
[00:45:43.950] - Brian
I'd be more than happy to do that. The thing is, I don't think there is a vigil, although there should be. And part of the problem is Hollywood Forever Cemetery refuses to admit to any paranormal stuff whatsoever. They actually actively deter people from investigating and things like that. So whether they would allow it or not, I don't know. But because of the fact that the cemetery closes all of its mausoleums at dusk we don't know whether she goes at dusk or not. Now, I'm not trying to make excuses. I'm just giving you again, you will never hear me claim any of these, to be absolute.
[00:46:36.570] - Ben
[00:46:37.120] - Brian
Like I said, I write for entertainment. It's a great ghost story. But if somebody asks, you have to present both sides. So does she come first thing in the morning before they open up or does she come after they close up? We don't know. I don't think there was any set time ever mentioned.
[00:46:58.710] - Ben
Fair enough. Unfortunately, it is such a great ghost story and it is so specific that it can be tested. But to our driveway.
[00:47:12.470] - Brian
I could not agree with you more.
[00:47:14.910] - Ben
We need to reach the end of the road. And the end of the road is a very, very specific location, which is interesting because you write that there are actually two ends of the road when it comes to haunted route 66, maybe even three depending on how you tabulate them. You write that if the heyday of the mother road was in the 30s due to the depression and people traveling less. Seeking a better life and so forth. You write that the 1960s when the interstate came through. As we were talking about. Was in fact the kind of the beginning of the end for all of the settlements and communities along the way from Chicago all the way to Santa Monica to that area. You write that the Santa Monica pier is not the geographic end of route 66. It is the symbolic end of route 66. Can you describe that particular distinction for us?
[00:48:20.130] - Brian
Okay, so route 66 at the western edge has three distinct ends. Okay, you have the official end of route 66 which is the absolute terminus, and that is at Lincoln boulevard and olympic boulevard. And there's actually a sign, a very small one, that says end of route 66. Now that is the actual official terminus of route 66. Now there is the spiritual end of route 66, which is at the end of Santa Monica boulevard and ocean avenue where it meets the cliffs overlooking the pacific ocean. Santa Monica. It really is. Santa Monica boulevard was not only route 66, it was also classified as a will Rogers highway. And the will Rogers highway ended at Santa Monica boulevard and ocean. So there's actually a little plaque embedded in a stone that says, will Rogers highway ends here. And then there's a visitor center just off to your left as you're looking at the ocean that says end of route 66. And then there is what is now classified as the symbolic end of route 66. And what I find so amusing about this is it has only been in existence since 2009. So it was originally thought to be the end during a movie called the gumball rally.
[00:50:09.950] - Brian
Of course, yeah, classic. And that's where the gumball rally ended. And everybody figured, okay, they had been driving down route 66. So this must be the end of route 66. It never was. And the reason being is no interstate or state highway can end at a dead end. They have to end at another highway. So it could never be either at ocean or at the pier because it's not a highway. Then in 2009, one of the former presidents of the California historic route 66 association was opening up a store on the Santa Monica pier called Chicago to California route 66 store. And he put up the sign that says end of trail route 66. This was all in 2009. And since then everybody thinks that this is the actual end of Route 66.
[00:51:11.940] - Ben
Folks will believe anything. All right.
[00:51:14.870] - Brian
I have to admit, it is a great photo op, though it is a great sign to take a photo at.
[00:51:19.660] - Ben
I can only hope that your book is being sold at that particular store.
[00:51:24.950] - Brian
I haven't checked. I did go down during my marketing portion, and he said, yeah, it sounds like something we'd want to sell, but I do have to go down and double check.
[00:51:35.870] - Ben
Well, you do write that the pier itself is known for a little paranormal activity. It has some fairly prominent ghosts, actually. You mentioned a young lady by the name of Norma Jean Baker, who some of us know slightly better as Marilyn Monroe, who is alleged to visit the area from time to time. What is Miss Monroe doing on the Santa Monica pier?
[00:52:05.150] - Brian
So this actually came as a surprise to me to find out that Marilyn Monroe was seen there. I had done a lot of research on Marilyn Monroe because I wrote a chapter about her in my Hollywood obscure book, and I had never heard about Maryland going down to the pier. So when I heard about it, I was like, okay, I can't believe this, because I hadn't heard about it. So I delved back into all of my research. Didn't really find a whole lot. And then started going back even further into her childhood that I really didn't dive into when I was doing the other book and did find that when she had foster parents. That they would take her down to the Santa Monica Pierre and that it was one of her places that she really didn't want anybody to know about. Because that is where she would go to just be Norma Gene again and stop being Marilyn Monroe. And one of her favorite places as she was growing up was always the Loaf Hippodrome, which houses the carousel. And I did find some I don't want to say documentation, but some entries in her psychiatrists notes that were released.
[00:53:37.130] - Brian
What she did talk about it, and I had apparently just sort of overlooked that part because it wasn't getting into my brain. So to find out that, yeah, okay, she was down there, it started to make a little bit more sense on, one, why she's there, and two, why it's difficult to see her because it is a place where she didn't want to be seen.
[00:54:01.490] - Ben
Well, I have not seen the new biopic yet, but if it does not include a sighting there at the very end of the film, then we can count that as a definite oversight on the directors.
[00:54:14.310] - Brian
[00:54:17.190] - Ben
As the last thing I wanted to observe was last week, we went all the way across the country with Alison Chase. We were in Brooklyn, and we were at Coney Island, of course. And I'm going to confess, this is not throwing any kind of shade on Alison or on her book. In fact, quite the opposite. It's a marvelous piece of work, but I was a little disappointed that there were not more ghostly carnival writers at Coney Island. She described a couple of other sites in the area that had some entities and some presences, but none on the actual rides themselves. And I was so thankful. Brian. When I read your account to read about the spectral merrygoround and carousel riders. The folks who are actually just still enjoying the attractions as you do when you go to the Santa Monica Pier and you have written that imbalance for all of us of our generation who grew up on a diet of something like Ray Bradbury's. Something Wicked this Way comes one of the great novels. You have done us a great service. So I am extremely grateful.
[00:55:28.530] - Brian
I am glad I could help you'll. Love the chapter on Disneyland in my haunted Southern California, then.
[00:55:35.010] - Ben
Oh, that sounds well, that's going to have to go right on the nightstand then. Brian, it has been a pleasure to have you join us these last several weeks. And congratulations again on your book. If listeners want to find out more about your work, where should they go?
[00:55:54.310] - Brian
Go to my website, Brianclun.com, and something that might be of interest to your listeners. I started a blog and I write under the name the Paratraveler, and I have a few blogs up. Now I'm working on a few more that are designed so people can have their own paranormal weekend without having to join a group, take a tour. I write about specific towns. I write about the places you can stay that are haunted, places you can eat that are haunted, things to do in town that are haunted. So you can basically do your own.
[00:56:27.470] - Ben
Paranormal weekend to haunt the town.
[00:56:32.110] - Brian
Exactly. So if that's something you guys might be interested in, please check out my blog. It's naturally free of charge and you might find something interesting in it.
[00:56:41.590] - Ben
Well, this has been a total joy. Thank you again. I hope your shift on duty aboard the USS iowa goes smoothly with no spooky shadows.
[00:56:51.730] - Brian
I hope there are spooky shadows.
[00:56:54.370] - Ben
Okay, then. Well, I hope there are two then. As many as those old st ken throw at you, Brian. Thank you. It's been a pleasure.
[00:57:04.900] - Brian
Thank you for having me. It was a definite pleasure for me as well.