Haunted Sanitarium

Fourth of July at Fenwick’s


I heard a great ghost story about an abandoned and haunted sanitarium across Lake Pontchartrain, not far from New Orleans known as Fenwick’s. Shut down and left for dead, it was begging me to come. As a very independent sixteen year-old I gathered a group of friends rallied rides. With three cars en route launching fourth of July firework from car to car on the Causeway Bridge, my convoy of paranormal teens set out to celebrate independence day in a haunting way. The plan was to investigate Fenwick’s, a sprawling mansion, and its ghostly residents. Only about five girls and six boys made it all the way to the grounds. But when we got there, everyone chickened out—even the boys would not go in. I laughed at them, picked up a flashlight, and went in on my own. Taunting the boys as chickens and beckoning the girls to follow suit, I think I intimidated most of them to follow my lead. I was way ahead of them and turned to stare back through the broken window panes, to notice four more of them drop out and go back to stay with the cars.


No matter. The place was everything I had hoped for and more: sprawling, old, and abandoned. Just where, at the time, I thought most ghosts would have liked to live. The schoolyard ghost story word was all about the haunted barbershop within the building itself. “A crazy inmate had cut the throats of twenty men,” or so the ghost story began. His spirit was still on rampage. I was going to be the one to find it, and I did. The kick-ass, old barbershop chairs were still in place. This butchering story may not have been real, but the barbershop sure was. The room was cold—not normal for a stiflingly hot, New Orleans, Fourth of July night. I got there first but sensed I was not alone. Soon, two or three other kids finally caught up with me, and we all spun on the chairs for a while and searched for blood splatters. "Maybe over there, in the corner?" One chair just kept spinning and twirling on its own, round and round. I could still hear its echoing rusty wail yards away in another wing.


From room to room we wandered, shadows moved on the walls around us even when we were standing still. Most of the kids got too scared and retreated back to the car. Not me. I was on a mission. I separated off on my own: I found the padded cells. They came complete with claw marks, downward drags ripped into the padding still evident on the walls. I called out, “Hey, come over here.” And I thought I was calling to my friends. I explored the room further. Then I traced the claw patterns with my own nails. I turned to see some of the old straight jackets left behind on the ground. I put on one of the jackets and sat quietly against the padded wall in wait. I thought I was still alone, but I felt others nearby, not of the flesh. I turned quickly and saw a peripheral blur of motion, but no one was physically there. Suddenly I felt a sort of sadness come over me. I didn’t at all feel like myself and when I looked down at my chest, my hair was not my hair. It seemed long, thick, and kind of a dirty blonde instead of strawberry. I tranced away while focusing on the somewhat disheveled condition of my hair wondering for a minute how this could happen, and finally realized I was not alone inside this straight jacket. The girl seemed a bit older than me, but not by much, and I guess she was waiting within the outfit. She was the one who was sad, not me. Personally, I knew I was far from sad so I said a prayer and told her it would be all right. The sadness went away. "Hmm, that helped. I helped."


I knew I was some sort of sensitive, but this was the first time I really realized I could feel things from the living and the dead. I had prophetic dreams, unusual visions and seen I had seen spirits off and on my whole life. I believed they helped me, but I had yet to fully realize that they may need me to help them too. I loved a good ghost story, but was beginning to know that my attraction to it all was more than just the story. Soon some of the remaining friends caught up and filled the room with teenage tension. I snapped out of my momentary melancholy and we all wandered more. I did not take the straight jacket, but couldn’t stop thinking about it, and her. How old was she? Why was she put in there? An antique postcard I found later of Fenwick’s states it was “for the treatment of nervous disorders including liquor and drug addiction.”


Paranormal equipment was not so accessible or so popular in the 1970's. The real parapsychologist studies back then were experimenting mainly with psychic abilities and Psi. “Psi is the unknown factor in extrasensory perception and psychokinesis experiences that is not explained by known physical or biological mechanisms.I had some of those, but there was no tech equipment in our hands. I didn’t even have a camera—just flashlights and fireworks to celebrate independence. This was in 1974 after all. I still wonder if she ever got independence. It was then I knew even more that this was what I wanted to do. Maybe this was what I was supposed to do. I found out more about that budding paranormal psychology field that was beginning to become a legitimate college curriculum. I began to research it on my own and always, always explored. But there were my gifts to factor in. The gift of insight and intuition and my prophetic dreams too. I needed to incorporate my spirituality, astral travels, and psychic abilities into the mix. I didn’t just want to investigate a ghost story like a cold science experiment. This was more about life, feelings and cooperation within all the worlds. I wanted to dance.


My life built a way to blend it all together, choreographed with the spirits themselves. It is a beautiful dance, but some of the steps were difficult to master and balance. There were tests that felt like they could tear you apart. There was also a lot of jealousy aimed toward me along the way, and some sadness and darkness too, but it was balanced by the beautiful wonder of it all. All in all, every step made me stronger.



Afterlife Lessons 


Always be aware, grounded, and strong in who you are. Be helpful to those in spirit form around you, if you can, and cleanse when you are done. Keep strong in your spirituality, and redeem your own mistakes in life so you can travel light in the afterlife. Consider also that maybe a ghost just needs someone to empathize with their situation and provide simple friendly advice. I was young when this happened, but it did make me look at things like life and ghost exploring a little more seriously than just a fun night out.


Many places and things can have residual attachments to them and sometimes an entire ghost too. Be aware and careful of this, not afraid. Make sure you are grounded when you embark on these types of paranormal outings and remember we are not alone. And do not go on these types of adventures alone either, so your fellow human allies can all keep check on one another too. That girl did not follow me that night, but she might have if I took the straight jacket. Her intentions would not have been to make me depressed, but I could have become depressed had I let that side of her attach to me and drag me down. I was aware those were not my feelings that night and was lucky to find the source quickly so it did not root in. We all pick up things in life, through our associates and places we travel. You don’t have to be on a ghost hunt for that to happen, but if you are, remember that you can become a part of the ghost story itself!


DO NOT trespass on abandoned sites.


DO NOT have firework fights from car to car on bridges!


Fenwick’s is torn down now and hopefully she was already gone by then, or maybe that demolition triggered her final release if she was still there, but I especially hope I helped release her many years before.


Spirit Who's Who


Role Model—This girl’s job was a model of “what not to do in life” for me. Who would want to be stuck in straight jacket? (Not me!) This girl also taught me to pay attention and that we can all help each other. This is a calling, not a game or a hobby. Maybe I modeled a bit of fun and humanness back to her with my sixteen-year-old upbeat energy, and that simple prayer.  I hope I helped her remember the fun side of life.


Attachment Ghost—This girl was stuck in the trauma of this event and it attached to the straight jacket that confined her. Intensity of emotions, good or bad can sometimes have a ghost stay with a particular item.


Phantoms of the Living Was she dead? I did not really know. I assumed so, but I connected with her spirit either way. She could have been a phantom of the living, a piece of her fragmented living soul that she left behind in that straight jacket. I sub-categorize this type as “Phantom Fragments” of the living. I connected with her psyche, living or dead, for you can help heal both.


You can also be reborn and a piece of you is still stuck in a past life fragment, or stuck in a contract made of fear. Or you can be reborn and withdraw the wonder, gnosis and beauty of your past lives too. It’s your choice, but many of us get stuck in repeating patterns. We do need literally need to pick up the pieces of our lives, hopefully during our life but it is still possible in after-life (or inter-life). I would not have known much about Phantoms of the Living in 1974, but it is indeed part of the paranormal worlds.


-Bloody Mary, originally posted 09/15/2016