Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gary's Ghosts

From my gathering Memoirs.  ©2010. Robert J. Kuntz

Gary Gygax was not only a great story teller, but he had some real scary stories that would keep you at the edge of your seat.  And he insisted that they were real.  He had convinced his daughters and son, Ernest, of these, and when I was about 14 years of age he related them to me.  Without going into extravagant detail, these all transpired at his mother's house on Dodge Street in Lake Geneva, just a block away from where I lived on Madison Street.

They included a friend (Tom Keogh, c.f., OD&D credits list) sleeping over and feeling a horned hand pressing down upon his back as he slept, which he later accused Gary of doing, and which Gary denied any part in.  The hand kept his friend pinned down.  The way EGG told this really effected me and I would not sleep on my stomach for months thereafter.

Another involves him being at home alone at night with his cat.  He is reading at the front living room table by dim light.  The door to the kitchen opens of its own accord and creaking noises, as made by approaching footsteps, come from that direction and proceed across the room towards him.  At mid point they reach a position parallel with the chair on which the cat is sleeping. The cat immediately wakes up and stands, arching its body upwards in a hair-raising scene.  The footsteps stop right before the table he is siting at, stunned.  The cat lays back down.

And the last is the sound of something very heavy falling in the attic with a great booming noise and then proceeding to make this same dreadful sound as if something were walking across the attic floor from one side of the house to the other.  Upon investigation by himself and Don Kaye, they found nothing moved or unordinary.

To say the least, I was never too thrilled being in that house at night when we visited his mom, or later, when Ernie Gygax was the soul occupant after her death. It had a very spooky quality to it.

At Milwaukee Gamefest 2004 EGG and I met to co-DM again and BS over old times, him just having suffered a stroke and myself a broken left leg.  While gathered afterwards at his Hilton Hotel room I reminded him of those stories he used to tell.   A twinkle grew in his eyes as he regarded the others present, and through no more encouragement on my part, out they came again, for the "amusement" of all.  I often wondered how many who heard these told in that same serious tone, in that same air of truth that cannot be confounded by doubt, actually slept on their stomachs that night...


Norman Harman said...


Timeshadows said...

Great account, Rob.
--Thank you very much. :)

Lord Ghul said...

Gary related these stories of his childhood in his Crusader editorial. Very good reading and highly entertaining.

Oh, Timeshadows, stopped by your blog after reading Rob's recommendations here at LotGD. Very interesting stuff, and indeed an inspiring cover art piece by P. Mullen.

Jeff T.

Timeshadows said...

@Jeff: Thank you very much. :) Likewise.
--I'll have to track down those DF discussions about AS&SH I remember seeing when they were first posted.
---The art on the site looks nice. Very evocative of the (sub-)genre.

Cheers & Best,

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

Good to know Ghul. Just one page out of 600-800 on the way. Stay tuned for more. :) You'll be happy to know then that there's about 1/4-1/3 of the book devoted to those family/familiar days. Lake Geneva was a grand place to be at then due to all of the great characters and situations and energy that was always transforming the cultural and social terrain, a tiny cultural dream-Mecca, so to speak.

Hi TS!

ATOM said...

Great post! You can tell a tale and so could Gary,I bet Tom remembered it too!

Anonymous said...

That is fascinating about Gary's experiences! I am not surprised. Actually, I am glad you posted this but I cannot possibly type everything I have to say about it, so I will try to make it short. Gary was gifted with knowledge that he shared.

"that cannot be confounded by doubt"

A powerful statement. I write that "I am not surprised" because I think experiences such as Gary's in your post, orbit around creative energy and/or open minds. I think it relates to asking the question, "What if?" I think this is because of the infinite circles regarding our existence. I think due to the thin line between fantasy & reality, & imagination, & the perception of the individual vs. conformity to society, & the holographic universe, it is all the ultimate catch 22.

[Disclaimer: these views are subject to change based on further experience]
I think there is an infinite amount of possibilities to our existence and reality that we are all capable of experiencing, however I think our reality is based on intent: what we allow into our orbit. I think by accepting society's dogma and conforming to society (I mean this on a very deep level) we extinguish the vast, infinite nature of our potential. I think the only way to avoid extinguishing this is simply by always questioning everything: or at least knowing that everything is a shade of grey and the only "truth" is personal experience.

Reality is relative. I try to understand that my reality is not the same as a person's reality in Russia or Gary's 'back in the day,' or yours or even my neighbor's who is only a brick wall away. I think our reality is like the aperture on a camera: if you open the lens to its largest aperture you will get maximum exposure. Therefore, I try not to shut down my aperture when another person tells me his experience or opinion because I know that his experience will expand my maximum exposure.

Rob, I think that probably Gary and all the "great characters and situations and energy" during the "Lake Geneva" days attracted this kind of creative intelligence. That's what this is-- it is intelligence. Gary was gifted with gnosis. This is "a Greek word meaning ultimate knowledge, obtained by direct inner experience." ... knowledge through personal experience... However, this can happen in infinite different ways for infinite different people, but it is there waiting for anyone. We just have to open our mind and the forces of the universe will show themselves and they will show themselves in a way unique to each individual.

That is the good thing about globalization of communication. We can learn about diverse experiences from all over the world. Globalized communication gives us better access to information and therefore, knowledge. For instance, Timeshadows mentioned documentaries on TV. I have seen amazing ghost stories on TV where an entire family experiences a ghost but the dad, who refuses to believe his family, doesn't see the ghost.

However, this information is scary. These people are not affected in a good way. I met a woman during my reiki class that saw ghosts most of her life. She was so traumatized she cried when talked about it. She could also "read" people when she practiced Reiki on a volunteer. That's her third eye, which I had similar experiences with.

The catch is that the fear caused by the ghosts is what powers the ghost. There is a way to deal with it but that is with discipline of mind like Gandhi discusses. Curb negative thoughts by changing your frame of mind to always "see the glass as half full." Which is seemingly impossible to do unless taught this your whole life from birth. I think that would deprogram the malfunction of individual in society.
We just have to attain knowledge with an open mind and allow it in without resistance. resistance is negative.

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

@Journalizer. Such great insights as always. As we are already in agreement I will add only the following. It is true on so many levels apparent that EGG was a man of many indexes and experiences, and this showed itself in every avenue of approach and especially in those moments of teaching/interacting with his children, and thus in his dutiful nature regarding them.

It is also true that Lake Geneva seemed a nexus point at that time, and that in itself is hard to explain, though I have thought years upon it. Many would say that, "It was happening." Maybe. It's more or less something as many experience. It was happening and you had to be there, and now here, to put even a finger upon it and even then the entirety is still at best a magical place in time and space which I have never seen repeated. And that started with my years before becoming part of the Gygax extended family, this I am aware of. EGG's stories, and there are many, many more that the public has not heard, where in a large part a reflection of that magic and charm. And then I have heard folks say that Lake Geneva itself seems magical, a "through-the-looking-glass- environment," and if that is true, so too is the fact that its inhabitants embraced that facet as well.

Thanks Lauren.

JRT said...

I remember reading the stories. Gary had created a "large resume", where he explained these supernatural occurrences, and I remember reading the one about the cat in MMM.

The most curious thing is that if you are a skeptic you can dismiss some of the occurrences as childhood imagination, but EGG did mention that as a much older adult he encountered some odd stuff happening in The Younglands, aka Stone Manor, an old mansion converted to condos in Lake Geneva in the early 1980s.

JRT said...

Whoops, hit the button too fast. So I have a feeling that, if you accept such things as ghosts being real, Lake Geneva is a prime ground for it.

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

Hey JRT. :)

Yes. The Stone Manor was weird, as well. Converted from a posh gathering ground for the rich into condos, much later in its history, as you note. Golden and crystal doorknobs and all. Like something out of The Shining.

I'll be covering my own experiences in my Memoirs as well as a few others from LG, which was a pretty magical/mystical place, IMO.

Thanks for the commentary! :)

Anonymous said...

I would be very interested in reading about those experiences.

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

...And Dr. Hawkins will read them, every ethereal word... ;)