Phone Calls from Beyond


I

The idea of phone calls from the dead may seem outlandish, but while they don't exactly clutter up the phone lines, they are not as uncommon as you might think. Many people have received calls that seem to come from another world.

One such phone call was experienced by Ida Lupino, who was a movie star during the middle of the 20th century. Although Ida became famous in Hollywood, she had been born and brought up in England, a member of a theatrical family that went back for generations. Her father and mother, Stanley and Connie Lupino, were well known performers in the English variety theater. When Ida was nine, they were living in London at her grandmother's house.

One night, Ida had a disturbing dream about a man she called Uncle Andy, a friend of her parents. She woke up, and went downstairs to tell her grandmother, who was preparing a late supper for Stanley and Connie. While Ida was telling her grandmother about the dream, the phone rang. Her grandmother asked Ida to answer it.

"I went to the phone," Ida relates, "took it off the hook and heard a voice on the line. But it was so faint I could scarcely understand the words. Finally the voice became stronger and I could understand the message, repeated monotonously several times: "I must talk to Stanley, It is terribly important."

The little girl recognized the voice as that of Uncle Andy. She said her father wasn't home yet. But the voice kept saying the same thing over and over. Ida called her grandmother to the phone. She heard her grandmother say, "Andy, are you ill? I'll ask Stanley to call you the moment he comes in."

Then the call was cut off. Ida's grandmother protested angrily to the operator, who insisted there had not been a call on the line in the past hour.

Stanley and Connie returned a half hour later and Ida told them that Uncle Andy had called. They looked very upset and tried to send her to bed.

But her grandmother backed her up. "She's not mistaken, Stanley," she said. "I heard Andy too. I think you had better call him. He sounded as though he were ill."

Ida says she has never forgotten how shaken her father's voice sounded when he replied:

"Mom," he said, Andy is dead. He hanged himself three days ago."

II

Mammoth Cave National Park, in Kentucky, contains perhaps the most famous collection of caves in the world. According to people who work there as guides, and according to at least some of the 2 million tourists who visit the caves each year, there are ghosts in those caverns.

The most convincing witnesses might well be members of the Cave Research Foundation, which numbers some 650 scientists who investigate caves all over the United States. Their headquarters are at Mammoth Cave Park. Most CRF members are professors at universities, not the sort of people who make up stories about ghostly experiences. But things happen. As one CRF member put it:

"We're a bunch of hard-nosed people. Most of us who have these experiences are not believers in ghosts, ordinarily. We just describe the facts and let others decide."

Two CRF members who had a chilling experience are Dr. Will White, a professor of Geochemistry at Pennsylvania State University, and Dr. George Deike, a government scientist. They were investigating Crystal Cave, which is no longer open to the public. However, it had once been open to the tourists and there was an old Army field telephone down in the cave.

"I guess they used it", White says, "to let the guides know some people were coming, tell them to wake up."

On this day, White and Deike, on their way through the cave to do some geological exploration, were walking by this ancient, broken down telephone - when suddenly, it rang!

The two scientists were too startled, perhaps too fearful, to stop. They kept walking down the passageway.

White says "When we got about 200 feet farther on, the phone rang again! We looked at each other for a moment, then we ran back. I picked up the old phone and answered. It was one of those old fashioned Army phones with the butterfly switch on it.

"What I heard sounded like a phone sounds when it is off the hook and there are people in the room. You hear the sound of voices, but you can't tell what they are saying. I said hello, or something like that. And on the other end there's a startled gasp. And that was all. No one responded. The line was now dead."

Astonished, the two scientists noticed that the phone was attached to a rusty, twisted phone line. The traced it back to the mouth of the cave and to a weathered shack that had once been the ticket office. But the phone line ended there. It was attached to nothing!

Had Dr. White heard the sounds of another world?


One has to wonder if ghosts find it easy to push electrons around...