Oct. 30, 2019
Ben Goldman is a junior majoring in journalism in the college of Communication Arts and Sciences and minoring in documentary production. Goldman is also the co-president of the MSU Paranormal Society, a club for those passionate about discovering the unknown and the paranormal. For more information on the MSU Paranormal society visit their website here.
It was a dark and stormy night. A full moon rose, glistening above the shadow of the Beaumont Tower’s eerie glow.
The streets, long and narrow, seemed to stretch on forever as the passing street lights flickered. With every flicker, a slight windchill seemed to carry an even slighter shiver. Was I alone?
Running these cliches through my mind, I built up the perfect atmosphere as I arrived at the MSU Paranormal Society’s introductory meeting. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect.
Settling in, we were shown a series of videos, including a door closing by itself, and a whispering voice heard in a seemingly empty room. Though not “normal” by standard logic, I didn’t see a “ghost” closing the door, or a “ghost” materialize and whisper into the camera’s microphone.
In fact, two years later, I still haven’t seen a ghost. But that’s not the point.
After two years of exploring the “paranormal” realm, I have realized that the “ghosts” aren’t actually the point for me.
Take the Alvah N. Belding Library in Belding, Michigan for example. Like all good legends, the library was plagued by the familiar horror tropes.
The original owner, unhappy with the building’s changes, has spent the past 100 years restless and roaming the hallways; growls are heard; books are thrown off the shelves, etc. Anything you’d expect to see in a library-set horror movie has likely been reported at some point.
Though some strange things did happen that night, the real discovery was when the librarian unveiled a 100-year-old time capsule, recently dug up, and about to be reburied for another 100 years shortly after our visit.
The capsule was already bolted shut, ready to be put back in the ground. But just for us, she took the time to open it back up.
Inside were period artifacts, including newspaper clippings, coins and personal items belonging to the Belding family. And we were some of the last people to see these before they resurface again in 100 years.
Or, take the supposedly “haunted” Masonic Temple in Bay City. Currently being refurbished after sitting vacant for several years, we stumbled upon a never-before-explored hidden staircase, wherein we discovered sheet music and bible passages dating back to 1933.
We were the first people to see, let alone hold, these artifacts since the 30s, and that historical significance wasn’t taken lightly.
The reason being involved in the “paranormal” is so important to me is that it forces us to remember and engage with Michigan’s forgotten history.
We spend time at these sites, familiarizing ourselves with the artifacts and names of people that came through them. Whether our attempts to speak with these people is fruitful will remain subjective.
Did the ghost of Alvah Belding whisper into our camera’s microphone? One can wonder. But the Belding family was remembered that night, and their significance in the grander scope of Michigan’s history was understood in unprecedented ways.
Ghosts or not, we carry the legacy of our state’s history. In that regard, the people we are attempting to contact are still very much with us everywhere we go.