After I rounded up a list of local ghost storytelling events
to share with you here on Louisville.com, I found that I’d managed to whet my own appetite for hearing some campfire style scariness. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I heard that night, and since today is Halloween, it’s only appropriate to share the experience with you.
From the moment I arrived at the event, the parking lot was packed. I don’t know how many people I expected to show, but the turnout was many dozens more individuals than that. The library’s meeting room, decorated with cobwebs and grim Halloween cheer, was filled to the brim with both chairs and bodies filling them.
Before tearing into the meat of the occasion, the library took a moment to award door prizes. Toy bats taped under the seats of two lucky attendees branded them as the winners of small tote bags stuffed with new Halloween themed books. After the prizes were given out and introductions were performed, the room was handed over to a formidable man who easily captured everyone’s attention. He wore a black cowboy hat and matching vest. This was Keith Age, also known as the Rock-n-roll Ghost Hunter
. For the second year in a row, Keith had been invited to present by the Charlestown Library.
Keith began his presentation by explaining that when those from the LGHS go on a hunt, they are looking for “anomalies, not ghosts.” Their approach to ghost hunting is to record and collect data using instruments of science. But they know that ghost hunting is a hobby, not an established science. Keith admitted that it can sometimes be like watching paint dry as they gather data and sit around all night. But sometimes…well, sometimes things happen that can’t be explained. They don’t profess to have answers that explain the unexplainable, but it is fascinating to see the evidence they’ve accumulated.
Keith founded the LGHS in 1996. Today it is known as the oldest and most respected paranormal research group in Louisville, with 105 active hunters and 5000 total members. When the LGHS first started their website, they were the 39th ghost hunting group anywhere on the internet. Today there are millions of such groups.
Keith personally expressed a deep suspicion of how credible two common elements of occult culture are: psychics and orbs. Keith is of the opinion that the majority of “psychics” are big phony actors. He has had the distinct displeasure of working with a few that have annoyed him. And orbs, in case you’ve never heard of them, are shining circles that show up in pictures, often in clusters, and are believed by many to be spirits. They happen to be the most photographed paranormal phenomenon out there. Keith’s opinion of them? “Dust. 99 times out of 100, it’s just dust.” Light from a camera's flash hits dust specks floating around and bounces back to be captured in the photo. A few audience members who had photographed orbs themselves looked disappointed by his assessment.
Coincidentally, this past weekend, my future sister-in-law showed me her own recently captured photographic evidence of orbs in a haunted location. My suggestion that it could be light reflecting off of dust was met without enthusiasm. People don’t like it when you say their orbs aren’t real ghosts!
You may be wondering, since Keith expressed all this skepticism, if he ever finds anything worth a story from all the hunts he goes on. Yes, he definitely does. From being tossed down steps to having bricks fly at his head, he’s experienced more than a normal person’s share of supernatural activity. He took the opportunity of presenting to us to show some video, audio, and photos of his own.
Keith showed us the original images that sparked some of Waverly Hills Sanatorium’s urban legends. If you’re into the local supernatural scene, even if you only pay attention around Halloween time, you’ve probably heard of a at least one of these stories: little Timmy and his ball; the Shadow People; and the Bride and Groom of Waverly Hills Sanatorium. It was fascinating seeing the photos that turned into elaborate stories of hauntings over time. From spooky silhouettes to a small boy’s face, the photos were compelling, but they didn’t include the details now a part of the growing urban legends.
Keith also showed us:
- barefoot, child size footprints in the dust on a cold winter night when no one was around.
- a ghostly face floating outside of an upper floor window.
- a heat cam showing a shadow deciding to stop moving in sync with its owner.
- the eerie voice of a nurse paging a long dead doctor.
And more. There was plenty of unearthly material to ponder over.
When a child in the audience asked if ghost hunting was scary, Keith answered that whether or not you get scared matters more about mindset than whether a place is really haunted. “If you want to be scared, you will be,” he said.
With his captivating presence and style, it’s easy to see why Keith Age has become a TV personality, hosting Syfy original productions such as Spooked - The Ghosts of Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Children of the Grave, and more. Overall, he fascinated us as the sun sank below the horizon outside. We all departed the library into the full darkness of night to contemplate for ourselves the existence of specters beyond our understanding.