Thursday, May 07, 2015

Weird Night in Ford City


Hi Lon - Back in 1987, when I was a teenager, I lived in a little town called Taft located in California. I was born in that town. It's a hot and dusty desert town permeated with the sulfuric stench of the oil fields surrounding it.

I was 18 at the time and I owned a little Nissan mini truck that myself and my friends would cruise around in searching for girls and parties. It was the trend in those days to lower your vehicle's suspension (like a low rider) and my little truck was just like that.

I was what people in my town at that time called a “metal head”. My friends and I wore our hair long and dressed in leather and denim. We always wore the mandatory heavy metal band t-shirt to top off our wardrobe. It wasn't uncommon to see me out cruising on the weekend with a couple of my metal buddies in my truck, blaring the heaviest music that was out for that time.

It was one such weekend night that me and my friends saw something we never will forget!

We were cruising the main drag in Taft on Center St., the main business section of the town. I remember seeing religious people handing out tracts from their church and they were wearing cardboard signs around their necks that said: “Repent! Don't cruise SINNER Street!” I laughed at the time and thought that was pretty clever.

My friend Dan and I had been cruising around all night looking for a party and girls - but sadly we were having no luck whatsoever. It was a strangely windy night with odd gusts of wind seeming to blow from all directions randomly and at great velocity. Later in the evening (around 11:30 p.m.) the cruising started to die off and the wind picked up even more. I suspect the cruise shut down early that night because nobody wanted to drive or walk around and be battered by the forceful gusts. It was truly an uneventful night for everyone because of that bizarre wind.

Dan and I were just getting ready to call it a night and head home when we noticed one of our mutual friends walking down the street, struggling against the wind. Dan motioned for me to pull over and pick him up. It was Ron, another one of our metal head buddies. We picked Ron up and drove away from Center Street for the night.

Ron asked if I could drive him to his step-father's house and I said I would. Ron was staying in a fifth wheel trailer on the back lot of his step-father's property located in the southerly extension of Taft (a place called Ford City). During the drive we all were joking and carrying on like teenagers do and we were also remarking on the weird wind that hit that evening.

We turned off on the road where Ford City Park was located (I forget the name of the street the park was on). As we approached the park that was located on the opposite side of the street we were traveling on, something crazy and amazing happened. We all witnessed it simultaneously, because the sight of it stopped our conversation abruptly as we saw it.

Floating above the trees of the park and across the roadway before us was I what I can only describe as some type of spirit. It was like a flying blue blanket or sheet, but it was glowing a pale blue. I say blanket or sheet because this entity was undulating in the wind, its form wrapping in and out of itself and billowing like a sail. It sort of looked like a jelly fish or something as it sailed over us. All parts of the spirit were billowing except for the very top of its form. In that place was what looked to be the classic cartoon ghost face of just two holes for eyes and one larger hole below them for a mouth. Seriously, it was like something straight out of an old Scooby Doo cartoon!!

But it gets weirder.

As this thing flew over us, my buddies Dan and Ron were looking out at the ghost and both were eliciting surprised responses like “Wow!” and “Dude-no way man!!” I admit I said nothing, because occurring simultaneously with the ghost drifting over our passing vehicle was the rapid, erratic flashing of a parked car's headlights just up the street from us about a block from the park. Strangely, I became more concerned about who was flashing us than I was with the ghost above our heads. The flashing car was parked on the same side of the street that the ghost appeared from, only farther down the road. The flashing lights occurred simultaneously with the appearance of the ghost. In recollection now, I can only describe the way the lights were flashing as being metered out into some form of signal, almost like a Morse code type thing. Only the flashing was violently erratic and bright.

At the time, I thought the flashing lights weren't connected to the ghost and that somebody was flashing us to blind us or maybe start trouble with us, I didn't know. Well, the ghost drifted over the road above us and disappeared over some trees and houses on our side of the road as we drove under it. All the while this park car is flashing frantically. After the ghost had gone out of sight, the flashing lights of the vehicle immediately stopped. My friends were in shocked amazement at what we had seen, laughing and basically freaking out over the spirit. I remained calm (albeit curious and a little angry, honestly) as we approached the car that had been flashing. I brought my friends back down to earth by saying: “Who's flashing us?!! Do they want some shit, or what?!!” I felt like it was someone messing with us and I didn't really connect it at the time to our sighting of the spirit. I felt we might be ready to get into a brawl with someone in the flashing car, honestly.

We slowly pulled up alongside the parked vehicle and looked it over. It was a little sports car, I think maybe a 280Z or something. The sports car was dark inside and there was no sign of anyone inside it, either. Not being satisfied with what we were seeing, I quickly pulled over into a parking lot next to the parked car and jumped out boldly to investigate who was messing with us by flashing us so wildly. The parked car was silent as my friends and I warily approached it. There were no signs of it having any occupants at all. I got bolder and went right up to it, putting my face and hands against the passenger window to look inside. The car was empty. I tried the door. It was locked. I ran around the other side of the car and that door was locked as well. I even felt the hood of the car for residual heat possibly left by the engine but the hood was stone cold. This was the 80's and I don't believe cars at the time had the technology to flash their headlights concurrently with an alarm or anything like that. I could be wrong. Aside from that, the car wasn't alarmed as I had tried the doors and no alarm ever sounded while doing so.

It didn't sink in to my mind at the time that the flashing headlights of the empty car were being controlled by the ghost we witnessed, as though the spirit was signaling or communicating to us in some way. None of us mentioned that possibility to one another as we stood there perplexed. My friends were still obviously in awe over witnessing the ghost and less concerned about the flashing lights and the empty car. I seemed less concerned about the ghost we saw and more puzzled about the car and admittedly, I felt more angry than surprised - as I had been prepared to confront someone in the car for messing with us.

All the entire time of this occurrence, the wind was blowing wildly around us, but after we jumped from my truck into the parking lot, the winds had stilled. Completely still.

We all silently got back into my truck and began to drive out of the parking lot. As we drove away, my headlights spotlighted the parked car and I was dumbfounded by what they revealed. The license plate of the crazy flashing sports car came into view. The license plate read: “I FLY”. I had to rub my eyes and take a second look at the plate. I didn't think that vehicle plates (at that time in CA) were allowed to have less that six letters and/or numbers across them. I could be wrong, however. I still don't know if I'm allowed to reveal to you what the plate read, or if it's legal or not to do so. Maybe it was a coincidental thing and I don't really need to mention it. If it is not appropriate to mention the plate, feel free to edit this account and leave that part out. But that's what the plate read. JM


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California Ghost Town Trails

Ghost Towns of California: Your Guide to the Hidden History and Old West Haunts of California


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