She doesn’t shoulder a proton pack or capture spirits in a trap box, but Robin Wallace does lead a paranormal second life. As a hobby, she explores homes and local haunts using ghost-finding instruments not easily understood by the uninitiated. During off-hours from her job as a reference librarian at the Filson Historical Society, Wallace helped establish Paranormal Researchers of the Ohio Valley (www.proov.net ), a private group that offers free investigations to determine if a home or other site is experiencing genuine ghostly activity.
What is the scariest place in Louisville?
I don’t usually get scared on an investigation. Scary movies scare me a lot more than supposedly haunted places. So I don’t know. It’s funny, I’ve always been afraid of the dark since I was a little kid, but I can walk in Waverly Hills Sanatorium or anywhere else and as long as I have my flashlight, it’s not a big deal. Waverly is ominous. I mean, when you’re walking through, and it’s pitch black, and there’s nobody else around except the guards, and you see a shadow person crossing the hall, that’s pretty trippy. I saw an entire room light up at Waverly . . . as if someone were standing in the room and took a flash photograph — but there was nobody in the room.
How did you become fascinated with ghosts?
I’ve always been interested in fairy tales, folk tales and ghost stories. My grandmother, who lives in rural Kentucky, used to tell me stories about ghosts and haints. I loved being scared and having fun at the same time. Most of all, I love the mystery of it — trying to answer the age-old question: Is there life after death? Can a spirit come back to this plane of existence?
For me the biggest fascination is that it really is the last unexplored frontier. You never know what to expect on any ghost hunt. Anything can happen. You don’t know if you’re going to see a full-fledged apparition. You don’t know if you’ll see objects move. You don’t know if you’ll experience a cold spot.
What’s the biggest misconception about ghost hunting?
I think something people don’t often realize is how boring ghost hunting can be, because about 95 percent of the time there is a (rational) explanation for what is going on. You sit around waiting for something to happen. Spirits don’t come on demand.
Do you have a favorite scary movie?
My favorite is the original The Haunting from 1963 because it’s terrifying without being gory and it deals with a paranormal investigation.