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Wagner High Online Alumni

The San Carlos Ghost
Phoenix, AZ Reunion, 9-11 October 1998

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The following photos contributed by John Prunier '65
San Carlos Ghost
Photo #1-2

The San Carlos Ghost, Thursday night, 10/8/98.  Photo taken from Central Ave. of the San Carlos Hotel.

 The San Carlos Ghost

 When Susan and I arrived at the Hotel San Carlos Thursday night, I spent some time taking digital photos of the hotel and the surrounding areas for the website.  Due to some cable problems, I was unable to view any of the pictures until Saturday afternoon.  As Susan lay down for a quick pre-dinner nap, I started to bring up the pictures on my computer.

 The first photo showed a picture of the hotel lobby.  After resizing it and changing the format to JPEG, I randomly opened another pic.  It was a nice, but dark outdoor shot of the Roma Café next to the hotel lobby.  I again reformatted and resized the image.  The next random image was another shot of the café too.   I opened another image (#2) and swore under my breath because it apparently had been messed-up.

 This particular picture was a shot of the hotel from half way down the block.  I wanted to get the whole front of the San Carlos in one picture.  Instead of a nice evening photo of the hotel lights against a dark background, I noticed several blurred images in the photo that seemed to be a double exposure similar to what you might find with normal film cameras when you forget to wind the film.  Problem is, you can’t do that with my simple digital camera.  I was getting intrigued by the minute.

 It was then that I looked at the picture from a non-editing viewpoint and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  As I looked, I realized that the blurring in the photo appeared to be the wispy outlines of one or more people distorted by swirling and stretching.  For some reason, I could feel chills at the back of my neck.  I was apparently looking at ghosts!

 I am not an overly superstitious person, so my first inclination was to find a reasonable explanation for the weirdness in photo #2.  Could it be smoke from a cigarette, some problem with my camera, a practical joke, or another explanation?  At this point I turned on more lights in my darkened room and set about to try debunking this image before me. For some unknown reason, I kept looking around the room as I worked.

 I was the first person to view this image after it had been downloaded from my camera.  The original photo is in an Apple-unique QuickTake PICT format, which cannot be viewed with normal web browsers or JPEG/GIFF image editors.  The camera had also been in my possession for almost the entire time I had been at the reunion.  It would have taken an incredible amount of effort to foist a practical joke on me with this image.  All of my normal suspects (Gaye, Jim, Gary, etc.) were either preoccupied or not in attendance.  The more I thought about this possibility, the less it made sense.  Analysis:  barely possible, but extremely unlikely.

 My next thought was cigarette or some other form of smoke.  This was also a possibility, since I am a smoker.  I tried to recall the circumstances of the photo and could not remember smoking during this picture taking session.  I am certain that there was no other form of smoke, since I could recall that it was a dark, calm, and clear night (this is Phoenix after all!).  Analysis:  possible, but extremely unlikely.

 Was I having some unknown problems with my camera?  I tried looking at other photos both before and after picture #2, and they all looked normal.  I also could not recall ever having a similar problem with the digital camera in the past.  Analysis:  possible, but extremely unlikely.

 Was there another explanation?  Maybe, but I couldn’t think of one.  I thought I would ask others for their opinion.  With Susan still asleep, I crept quietly out of the room and slowly closed the creaky old door.

 Since we had been warned in advance that this hotel was haunted, I thought I would ask an employee.  I went down to the hotel café and while buying a soda, asked the cashier about San Carlos ghosts.  Very seriously she said, “it is well known by the local folks that this hotel is haunted.”  She continued “I’ve stayed at this hotel many times and there is always some sort of apparition or such appearing to the

 I walked out to the patio without telling her about the picture.  I sat down near where the picture was taken and tried to assess any other possibilities.  Although it was daylight, I could see that what I had taken was a clean direct shot of the hotel without any obstructions, strange lighting or other oddness.  And, the more I think about it; I wasn’t smoking at the time.

Later that afternoon, I showed Gary the pic and he also thought it might be smoke.  Susan, Gaye and Salli had also seen the pic while I was downstairs, since I left it on the monitor.  I was warned by some to keep it under wraps until the reunion was over because several of our gang might be overly superstitious.  Even so, the word got out to a few more folks and their reactions were serious.

John '65

Photo #1-2

This is an inverted color picture of the original.

 The photo above was processed through Eye Candy's Antimatter (tm) inversion filter and Adobe Photoshop (tm)

Photo #3

Anti-inversion of photo #2

The above picture is an inversion of photo #2, using Adobe Photoshop (tm)

Photo #4

Diffusion of original ghost pic.

The above photo is a simple diffusion of the original, photo #1-2.

Photo #6

Inverted version of the original.

The picture above is a straight inversion of the original.

The Arizona Republic Newspaper featured the San Carlos Ghost on Monday, 10/26/98
Ghost Story
Arizona Republic's article on the San Carlos Ghost.  First image is from the front page.  Second image is from the Off Ramp Column

 More of the Arizona Republic's article.  The last page contains the picture shown above.
Click on image to read the article.

Phoenix '98
Planned Reunions