Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Can Ghosts Play Practical Jokes?

I would never have believed that ghosts could play practical jokes until it actually happened to me. It was back in 2006, when paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto and I set out for Eastport one miserable rainy and foggy afternoon We had plans to interview Lloyd Gerard of Lloyd Antiques on Main Street. He was going to tell us the story of his great-great-great-great-uncle Levi, who’d been haunting the place for years. He’d become sort of a legend in Eastport, according to Lloyd.

Andrew Simon Levi came from Russia to Long Island in 1860. He was a teenager determined to avoid serving in the Russian Army — in a sense a draft dodger. He became a traveling salesman, a peddler, selling needles and pins door to door. It is said he walked two months from Brooklyn to Montauk to Greenport to Orient, and then back to New York for supplies. He traveled alone, and never married. Levi died in 1926. For reasons unknown, his spirit has returned to haunt his great-great-great-great-nephew’s store.

“I’ve always been a skeptic,” Lloyd told us. “But what I see, what I hear, and actually what I smell…I have to believe, skeptic or not. Levi used to smoke cigars, and we have smelled cigar smoke. I don’t let anyone smoke in here, but we have smelled cigar smoke. Not only me, but the girl who works here once a week. She said to me one day, ‘Boy, who’s smoking a cigar around here?’ I said, ‘Nobody.’ A few minutes later she said, ‘But I smell cigar smoke.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s Uncle Levi.’ ‘Who’s Uncle Levi?’ she asked. I had to explain to her who Uncle Levi was. He’s here.”

Uncle Levi had always enjoyed playing practical jokes, and Lloyd said he still does. “He tips over tables, knocks things off shelves. He told one of my customers that a table upstairs was $65.00. It was a $400 table, and he tells this guy it was $65.00.”

Joe had asked Lloyd if he did, in fact, sell the table to the man for $65.00 and Lloyd replied, “I thought I better sell it for $65.00, or else. I didn’t want to incur his wrath. He’s been seen. He’s been heard. I hear him. He walks around upstairs. It could go for months with no indication that he’s here, then all of a sudden he’ll knock something off a shelf, something will fall over in front of you when you’re walking down the aisle.”

The apparition of Uncle Levi has appeared to many people, although Lloyd himself has never seen him. “Logical or not, people come to see me and say, ‘Where’s Levi?’ and I say, ‘It beats the hell out of me,’ but usually he’s upstairs. People go up to see him. Little kids come in and say how do we get to see Levi? He does come down here, though, and knocks stuff down. He loves practical jokes. People used to play practical jokes on him when he was alive."

After Joe and I had finished our interview, Lloyd said we were more than welcome to look around the store and take some photographs, adding that maybe Uncle Levi would knock something over for us. Joe and I laughed and headed to the infamous “upstairs,” talking about Uncle Levi and his jokes. It was quiet up there, and Joe walked around with his recorder while I took photos. Back then, on assignments, I had been shooting both manual for black and white, and digital for color. I had just taken some photos with my manual camera, and set it down in the middle of a table behind me. I picked up my digital camera and turned slightly to take a photo, when suddenly my manual camera crashed to the floor. Besides being concerned about its condition, I was completely stunned. I had a bag over one arm and a battery pack over the other. Possibly I might have knocked it over, but it was not as if the camera had been at the edge of the table. I’ve had my manual equipment for twenty years, and have never dropped it, damaged it or even scratched it, ever. I found this “accident” hard to believe.

I remember Joe looked at me and said, “Uncle Levi?” Luckily the camera itself was just fine. But the protective lens filter was broken, and the flash attachment had taken a bit of a beating; the part that attaches to the camera was broken. I was still in disbelief, trying to figure out how this could have happened.

Several days later, I had an e-mail from Joe. He had picked up some EVP’s on his recorder. He wrote, I honed right into the camera episode which I thought would be a good starting point, since I also asked Levi to talk to us afterwards. The best EVP is when your camera crashed and I said something like, “Oh, Levi? Was that you?” Right after, you hear a guy go, “Psssst!” Like someone is saying “Come over here.”

I listened to what Joe sent over, and sure enough, I heard the voice saying “Pssst!” In another EVP maybe five minutes later, the sound of glass breaking could clearly be heard. There was definitely no glass breaking in the store at that time. We would have heard it. Was Levi making fun? Perhaps this time the joke was on us.

You can read the extended version of this story in the chapter entitled "The Ghost of Uncle Levi" in Ghosts of Long Island; Stories of the Paranormal. Stay tuned to blogtalk radio on Thursday, January 5th when Joe and I will be discussing Uncle Levi and his practical jokes on the air. Visit us at www.blogtalkradio.com/kerriannandjoeshow.