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  • Keith Snyder

As my passion to explore the "unknown" never wavered over the next several years, I began to become equally interested in other familiar and new things in life; baseball – girls, baseball, and girls! It was during this period; I attempted my first “official” investigation – “Brown’s Farm”.

My best friend and I decided it was time to explore an abandoned farmhouse that was rumored to not only be haunted, but also used for demonic rituals. As word of our looming adventure spread, we were shocked when two female acquaintances asked if they could come along. “Of course, you can join us”, I stated as confidently as possible. After I uttered those words, I realized we were now committed to investigate, and I was hopeful that my years of studying the paranormal would help me to not look like a complete idiot, and even more importantly, keep us alive and unpossessed!

Forget about taking the Mel-Meters, K-2’s, Digital Cameras, Digital Recorders, and many more technological advancements that were decades from development. Our tools were flashlights, observation and sensory skills, and plain old bravery.

As the night arrived, we departed my car and trekked down the hill to the farmhouse.

Each step grew heavier, as it was apparent to all that his place was beyond creepy! My attempt at calm reassurances was only deafened by my own heart pounding! I suddenly thought, “why the hell am I doing this, and I really hope I don’t meet any demons tonight!”

After amazingly finding the front door unlocked, I thought to myself “this is too easy!” As we slowly progressed into the house, our flashlights picked up the clear outline of a pentagram on the floor and some extinguished candles nearby. We did notice some other items on the floor that we assumed were animal fur, but we had little time to explore. With a flash of light and a huge bang, a neighbor lady came crashing up to the window yelling at us to “get out of there”. As she was screaming “I’m calling the police!”, we ran out of the house and reached my car in record time! Luckily, my car started, and we got out of there before she could call the police. (Important Note: there were no cell phones at that time)! The fact that a modern and easily accessible communication device was not present provided us ample time to elude the authorities! The point of this post is to share the lesson that "all" paranormal investigators who are seeking evidence must be "ETHICAL". One simple example of being an ethical investigator is to respect all laws. If you do not have explicit permission from the property owner to be on his or her property, then stay out! I cannot stress this enough!

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I was a typical, bored fourteen-year-old boy going through the motions of trying to understand myself and my world in addition to eating, drinking, and sleeping playing baseball! I credit my parents with giving me the passion to read and learn as much as I could possibly absorb. So, during the winter months when playing baseball was a distant dream, my mother would drop me off at our local library to check out some books. Since this was the pre-internet era, books were the only way to thoroughly explore my own interests. My mother was thrilled that I was an avid learner, but she had no idea of my stealthy operations between the stacks of books!

At that time, there was no “paranormal” section in most libraries. Subjects on ghosts and the unexplained were placed in the “Occult” section! After researching the Card Catalog (young readers will have to look this up) for my picks, I quietly found my books in the stacks and did my best to hide them from prying eyes! Let me be totally honest; borrowing books from a public library

in the early eighties from the “Occult” section in our small-town library was not a practice I wanted to be publicly recognized as performing! After pulling my selections, I made my way to the librarian’s counter. It never failed! I was always called to the librarian who looked stern! After she asked “did you find everything you were looking for?”, I nodded affirmatively and handed her my pile of books. After presenting my library membership card, she took her time verifying and marking the check-out card at the back of each book. I took a deep breath and prepared myself for the next event; I received the inevitable stare down the bridge of her nose over her glasses implying to me she thought I was a worshipper of Satan or just plain deviant! Oh, the joy of me leaving that uncomfortable inquisition to my mother’s awaiting station wagon and her huge grin and happy exclamation “Oh, you found some books honey!”. “Yes mom, I sure did. Thanks!”

Each subsequent inquisition at the library only confirmed to me that during that era the subjects that interested me – other than baseball - were generally considered to be taboo in society. Oh well, I guess that I was not normal, but I damn well knew that cryptozoology, alien encounters and spirits and ghosts kept me interested and eager to learn and absorb information like a sponge!

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My investigative journey into the paranormal began over five decades ago. I was staying with my maternal grandparents for the evening. This was one of the first sleepovers in my life that I can remember, so even though I was accustomed to my grandparents’ house, I was not familiar with a different bed; let alone different noises an old house will make as it cools down from the day’s heat.

Grandma and Grandpas' house was a simple, but beautiful structure built during the Victorian Era in America. Beautiful woodwork and trim adorned the house. The age of the house radiated through the gentle wafts of the smells of drying structural framing, wallpaper, solid wood floors, pocket doors, and generations of family members and their activities.

My grandmother lovingly assured me she would be happy to snuggle with me for our sleepover. As we prepared for bed, it suddenly dawned on me that the room we were in was my great grandmother’s bedroom. It should have been of little concern to me, but a five-year old’s imagination along with the reality that my great grandmother was deceased made my unease grow.

As we covered with sheets and bedspreads and my grandmother turned off the lights, while staring at the dimly lit ceiling with wide eyes, I mustered the courage to ask “if we were going to be bothered by ghosts?” My grandmother, quite shocked by the question, asked “why would you worry about such a thing?” I shyly responded with “I don’t know”. My grandmother assured me that all was well, gave me a kiss on the forehead, and told me to just think of happy thoughts.

To this day, I still have no idea why the subject of ghosts was even in my head that evening. Perhaps it was the strange bed, and a five-year old’s fear of the unknown. Prior to this experience, I did not witness anything strange or scary in my grandparent’s house; only unconditional love. I can fully admit that this experience was the first real memory of me pondering the subject of death, and more importantly, what happens to people when they die?

As my beloved Grandma promised, I experienced nothing but a very nice sleep that night. I'm sure she brushed it off as a young mind's imagination, but I will never forget that evening. As I slowly grew older and began to mature, the question of our own mortality and what happens when we are no longer living never left my head. I found myself drawn to any television shows, written articles or books on the subject of the unknown. As I grew older in years, my curiosity to explore the unknown grew as well. Little did I know that just a few years later, I would actually begin my exploration of the paranormal.

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