Experience has shown that children are far more in touch with the spirit world than are most adults. It is not because there is anything inherently special about kids, it is simply that they have not yet been conditioned to disbelieve what they experience. Think about it, I bet throughout your life you have heard people say “there’s no such thing as ghosts”, or “it’s all in your imagination”! Whether you do or do not believe in ghosts is beside the point, the not so subtle societal conditioning seeps into a person’s mind! The majority of people, by the time they reach elementary school age have been taught not to believe in the supernatural and as a result they start to doubt their own experiences and keep it to themselves. In some cases these poor souls convince themselves they are suffering from mental illness when in reality they might be having a paranormal encounter!

But little kids have not yet been trained to deny their experiences. They are still learning about the world around them and simply report what they actually see and feel. Parents may even encourage their offspring’s ghostly interaction, thinking it is cute their child has an imaginary friend or is just so creative and making up such fun stories. Sometimes smart parents figure out what is going on and can properly address the situation, and decide how they want to handle the child’s ghostly connection. Unfortunately, for the most part the guardians just write it off as childish fancy and forget the whole affair. Every once and a while though something will occur that will make even the most skeptical of parents take serious notice and understand there is an out of the ordinary event at hand. This is one of those stories.

One of my favorite parts of being in charge of Spellbound Tours, Salem’s number one ghost tour, is hearing our guests’ own ghost stories from their lives. This tale was related to me a few years ago by a wonderful family from New Jersey who had come to enjoy The Witch City during a school vacation week. It is a story both tragic and heartwarming, it is a story of tragedy and ultimately of hope. When they related the story to me the entire family was clearly emotional and I could tell they believed every word they said. There is even striking photographic evidence to back up their claims. I have every reason to trust that they were telling the truth as they had experienced it.

The family who told me this tale was a traditional nuclear family; mother, father, and two teenagers, a boy and a girl. When the first child, the boy, who we will call Jacob, had just been born the family was living in New Jersey and commuting to work in New York City. They were figuring out how to balance raising a kid and working at the same time. They got a lot of help from their friends, most of whom were excited that the couple had had a baby, as they were the first in their social circle to do so. One man in particular, we will call him Joe, became particularly connected to the infant child. Whenever he could find time he and his wife would volunteer for babysitting duty. Joe loved baby Jacob and could not wait to have a child of his own. The baby also loved Joe, he would make happy baby noises whenever he visited. The young family and their friends were doing well.

One morning just after nine am when Jacob was about ten months old, the mother, who we will refer to as Dawn, heard him fussing in his crib from the next room. The baby was squirming around and grasping at the air, making excited sounds. All of a sudden he stopped gurgling and launched out his first word ever, “JOE!” The mother was delighted, her baby was talking, and the first word he said was the name of one of their best friends! “JOE, JOE, JOE!” hollered baby Jacob clawing at the air above him. His mother ran and grabbed a camera to snap a picture and record this important moment. She then rushed to the phone in the kitchen to call Joe and tell him the news, he would be so happy! She called him up but the line was busy. Dawn tried again, and got nothing, the phone was still occupied. She figured she had tried and went back to attending the baby. Approximately fifteen minutes had passed and baby Jacob had stopped saying the name and was now being eerily silent, almost frozen, with what could only be described as an infant version of concern on his face.

When the baby had fallen asleep, Dawn went back to her chores about the house. To fill the air she turned on the television. The same tragic image was on every channel. Two airplanes had crashed into the Twin Towers of The World Trade Center in New York City. The world was in chaos. Luckily for the new family even though the husband worked in the city his office was nowhere near the deadly scene. But like everyone they had a connection to the horrible event. Their friend Joe worked in one of the towers.

No wonder the phone lines had been jammed. She hoped Joe had made it out in time, but he worked on a pretty high floor where there was no realistic chance for survival. As the television kept replaying the awful event Dawn remembered how Jacob had been calling Joe’s name and grabbing at the air. With horror she realized that this had happened just moments after the news said the second tower, the one Joe worked in, had been hit! Had Jacob somehow known his friend had died?

With the nation in such a state of shock, the accomplishment of baby Jacob’s first word was put on hold. While it was impressive, and it was quite a coincidence that he called out Joe’s name at just the moment he must have departed this life, the family had more pressing matters to attend to. Funerals, and grieving, and worrying about their own safety in this once hopeful, now terrifying, world. Celebrating the first word milestone would have to wait.

Months passed, life went on, and people tried to pretend things were normal and get back on track. After holiday festivities Dawn finally went to develop the roll of film that had been in her camera for ages. She was looking forward to seeing pictures of the baby’s first Christmas. When the pictures were ready, Dawn peeled open the envelope and took out the stack, expecting to see happy scenes of Christmas when what was revealed made her drop the images in shock. Trembling, she picked up the images and looked again. The first few photographs were the ones that she forgot had been taken on September 11th to commemorate Jacob’s first word. What was in those images was breathtaking. In each one right above the baby’s crib there is a perfect translucent orb of light. The infant is looking directly at the orb in every shot, reaching right for it!

Most orbs can be explained away fairly easily, particularly when they are captured with digital cameras. The vast majority are tricks of the light, reflections, and lens issues, but these pictures are striking. Hard as I tried I could not discredit this series of shots. The orb follows the same trajectory in each picture, there is no light fixture or window visible that could have caused the phenomena. The camera was an old fashioned film camera so that rules out digital hiccups, and the thing shows up on the negatives too. The baby is looking and reaching directly at it, the expression on his face is one of recognition, as if he sees a familiar person. The orb in these shots is entirely consistent with the few verifiable energy orb pictures that exist and cannot be discredited by conventional methods. It is translucent, yet the white color is the same all the way through, no gaps or hard edges. To my trained eye it looks like the real deal.

The family now takes comfort in the photographs. They believe that the orb is Joe’s spirit and that he had come, minutes after his earthly death, to say goodbye to the baby he had so cared for in life. I tend to agree with them. Of course it all could just be a coincidence that the baby called for Joe immediately after he passed, and that there is a credible spirit orb floating above the crib in the pictures taken at that exact moment, but I think that stretches credulity. It all fits together too well to be a cosmic accident. None of the family has experienced any subsequent encounters.

If you have any ghost stories of your own, or any photographs that you believe might contain supernatural phenomena please feel free to share them with us.