Jeffrey Vallance has been a presence in OC Weekly and LA Weekly as an artist, writer and curator. But the presence Vallance explores in a new magazine article is the ghost of Orange County's favorite disgraced son, who apparently haunts the Yorba Linda joint honoring him.
Writing in the January issue of the British weirdo mag Fortean Times, Vallance begins by recounting an account he wrote in 1994--the same year the 37th president of the U.S. died--that first exposed the world (nether and otherwise) of the haunting of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, which the National Archives has since renamed the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
Vallance told of a "poltergeist-like phenomena" in the Nixon Birthplace house, at Dick's gravesite and within the controversial Watergate display. Those would be enough to spook any red-blooded member of the Silent Majority. But it's particularly spine-chilling to Vallance, who discovered through psychic medium and The Haunting of the Presidents author Dorothy Maksym that he was the original witness of a mysterious green mist hovering over the grave and that Nixon's spirit is working through--gulp!--him.
That, Vallance writes, ""came as quite a disturbing surprise!"
Perhaps hoping to revive that Ol' Stubbly One magic, Vallance conducted a ghost tour of the central county tourist trap on a recent Sunday afternoon. The 14-member tour was sponsored by the League of Western Fortean Intermediatists, a loosely knit Southern California paranormal organization recently founded by Skylaire Alfvegren, and along for the ride was famed psychic medium Joseph Ross.
"As the group toured the massive facility, Ross continually channeled Nixon, who would comment on various aspects of the displays," writes Vallance. "Just beyond the museum entrance are cases of artifacts from Nixon's early life, prior to his entering politics--grade school essays, early photographs, love letters to Pat and Naval service documents. Here, the spirit of Nixon told the group that this was the only part of the library that he still enjoyed visiting."
At the Hall of World Leaders, which features life-size statues of Mao Zedong, Nikita Khrushchev, Winston Churchill and other heavy world hitters, two tour members reported strange buzzing sounds in their ears, as if caused by insects. Nauseating smells also followed the group, which never determined the origin of the racket nor odors. And many "immediately felt an unearthly chill" at the Watergate exhibit, although no air conditioning duct could be found.
Cue The Twilight Zone theme . . .
Someone is definitely haunting the birthplace house, the touristas agreed, but there is debate over whether it is the spirit of Nixon or a later inhabitant of the house. Ross is among those who believe Tricky Dicky visits the home that spawned him every night.
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Before packing it in, the group gathered beside Nixon's grave, formed a circle and all joined hands as Ross did his final channeling.
"The sun was low in the sky, casting our shadows dramatically across Nixon's grave," Vallance writes. "Ross said that after many years of turmoil, Nixon's spirit was now considerably more at peace."
According to Vallance, "a warm, peaceful sensation" washed over tour members as they released hands. But he had to do one more thing before departing the sacred grounds: "I reached down and scooped up soil from Nixon's grave, which I have since preserved in several small glass vials, one of which I preserved in a reliquary which I keep close at all times."
'Cause you never know when you'll be called upon to whip some out.