These events occurred back in the winter of 1972 when my friends and I were in Junior High.
We were invited by a couple girls we knew to attend a Methodist Church retreat in Florissant, CO. The Lodge we stayed at was an older two- story building with a large covered porch nestled several miles back in the woods on a dirt road.
You walk in the Lodge’s front door into a modest foyer, with a large living room (with fireplace) straight ahead and the boys and girls bunk areas (and restrooms) to the right. To the left was a set of stairs that go up to a large open dining area and kitchen on the second floor.
On the day we arrived, there was two feet of snow on the ground with a steady snowfall still coming down. After choosing bunks and stashing our sleeping bags and belongings, several of us headed outside for a long walk through the woods around the Lodge. We headed back to the Lodge as the sun went down and night began to fall; the snow was still coming down.
After an early dinner, about 15 or 20 of us were bored and came up with the bright idea to have a séance. A séance at a church retreat you might ask, and rightly so, but nevertheless we decided to have one. We all went upstairs to the dining area, pushed some tables together, found a couple candles, turned out the lights and sat down to begin. At first we tried summoning innocuous characters like Abe Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Aunt Jamima. But as the evening progressed, someone came up with the even brighter idea of summoning Jack the Ripper. Everyone, with the exception of myself and one other guy, agreed. We both tried to sway everyone from doing this without success.
Now I was a voracious reader of paranormal books and magazines (ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot, Loch Ness monster, etc.) and I had read an occult book recommending burning candles while conducting a séance to gauge the type of spirits present. The book said that if the candle flames burned long, tall and bright, there were good spirits present, but that if the flame burned dimly, while flickering, that evil spirits were about. The two candles we had burning on the tables were burning tall and bright during our attempts to summon benevolent spirits. As soon as we began to call upon Jack, both candle flames started flickering wildly and became very dim. This made me even more nervous, at which point I again tried to stop everyone from proceeding. I and the other guy were overruled.
This second floor dining area had windows along two sides (along the front and left sides of the Lodge), but none of these were open – it was cold and still snowing steadily outside. After watching both candles sputtering and flickering without pause for about 15 minutes, me and the other guy (I can't remember his name) finally bowed out and went downstairs to the living room. Before leaving, we both tried once again to convince the others to stop, but they all wanted to continue.
We were downstairs for about 15 – 20 minutes before we heard one of the girls upstairs scream. Running upstairs, we entered the dining room to find a couple girls crying and most of the participants looking frightened. We asked what happened and they made general comments of feeling a presence that scared them. About five or six of them quit, but the remaining ten or so decided to continue. Those wanting no more Jack the Ripper went back downstairs with me.
We were downstairs playing cards and hanging out for about 30 minutes when we heard several people scream. Running back upstairs we found the last of the girls crying and several guys looking like they wanted to. But the other four guys were acting really weird. They wouldn't respond to our questions of what happened or our pleas for them to stop the séance and relax. They were mostly staring at each other with looks of hatred on their faces. When I got up right next to one of the guys (my friend Mike), I had to repeat my questions over and over before he finally looked at me, and when he did, it put a chill down my spine. He looked right at me like he didn't recognize me and he had hate in his eyes, like he wanted to attack me.
Stranger still, three of the four guys pulled out pocket knifes, opened the blades and set them on the tables. Several of us argued with them to stop but they refused – they didn't say anything, just shook their heads. At the time, I figured they might be acting strangely on purpose, trying to spook the rest of us. But whatever the reason, they wouldn't stop the séance. Finally the rest of us returned downstairs.
At this point, it was getting late, about 11:30 PM, and the last girls to start screaming were so shook up they retired for the night, so did a few of the boys. The rest of us (including the first girls to quit the séance earlier in the night) were hanging out downstairs. Probably a good 30 minutes went by when we heard several loud crashes and shouting going on upstairs. Running upstairs again, we found the room in darkness with both tables knocked over. Two guys were wrestling on the floor in the middle of the room, my friend Mike was on top of another guy choking him. Another guy was whimpering in the corner with a small cut, through his pants, on his inner thigh that was bleeding a little. After turning on the lights, we found the fourth guy hiding behind the counter separating the dining area from the kitchen area. All four were pretty shook up, but again they didn't say much or offer any explanation of what happened. But luckily they all agreed to end the séance.
Since the excitement was finally over, about ten of us decided to make some hot chocolate. We had wanted some earlier, but since the die-hards were using the kitchen/dining area for their séance, we had waited. So we made some cocoa and were sitting around drinking and talking when one of the girls lets out a piercing scream. We all jump and ask, "What’s wrong? What are you screaming about?" She’s hysterical and says that she saw a man walking around outside the window, looking in at her. Well, we're on the second floor, there was no way anyone could be walking around outside the window. She was so scared she went downstairs to go to bed.
We all calmed down and finished our cocoa when another girl screams bloody murder, making us jump again. She says the same thing. She saw some man walking around outside the window looking right at her. We didn't know what to make of that. We cleaned up and returned downstairs to the living room. By now, all the girls had gone to bed and it was only myself and three other guys. It was getting real late, probably about 1:30 AM.
It just so happened that I was left alone for a moment; one guy went to the bathroom, the other two went into the boys bunk room to get something. I was standing in the foyer about five or six feet from the front door. There was a diamond shaped window in the door and the porch light was on. Just a foot or two outside the door a middle-aged man with a narrow face and dark eyes walked slowly by staring right into my eyes. A frosty chill ran down my spine and I couldn't move until he walked past the window out of sight. I ran into the boys bunk room calling for my friends. Within a minute, the four of us were out on the porch looking for this man I saw. I was too frightened to investigate alone.
There was no one there and there were no tracks in the snow on the porch either. As I mentioned earlier, snow had been falling all night, and you could see our tracks faintly where our group had gone out for our walk in the woods before nightfall. Those old tracks were almost completely filled in and smoothed over. The covered porch kept most of the snow out, which was better than three feet deep now, but even right up next to the Lodge door, the snow was several inches deep and their were absolutely no fresh tracks nor any sign of disturbance. We proceeded to walk halfway down the road to the caretakers house (about a quarter mile) and didn't see anybody.
The man who walked by the door and looked at me appeared real and solid, not transparent or ghostlike. He had a full head of dark hair peppered with gray and thick bushy sideburns. No beard or mustache. His face was thin with a aquiline nose and he had dark penetrating eyes. As he walked by I noticed what appeared to be fur framing his face. Since the diamond window in the front door was rather small (about 18 inches high and wide) it was hard to identify what it was, but it looked like the fur lined hood of parka pushed back off his head. To this day I get chills when I remember that face. I had never seen a ghost before and haven't since, but there was no other explanation for what I saw other than a ghost. I looked at his face from a distance of less than ten feet. It wasn't like I glimpsed a blur of motion from 40 or 50 feet away, I saw him clearly and distinctly. The porch light illuminated his face very well.
Thinking back on the encounter, I wished I had questioned one of the girls who saw the man looking in the second floor window, and asked them what he looked like. To verify whether he matched the description of the man I saw. Needless to say, I don't participate in séances anymore.