|Photo by Bob Stevenson|
In late 2002, I found myself jobless since the gubernatorial candidate I had been working for lost his election in a landslide. I had just turned 22 and was considering actually going to college. A friend told me about Job Corps. Well, I didn’t want to go to Job Corps, that’s where they send the bad kids. I misunderstood. He meant for me to go work at Job Corps. At my young age, having just come off working a political campaign I could do anything, and he felt me being in a leadership role working at a Job Corps could be good for me and good for the wayward kids who would be attending. After some hemming and hawing I finally applied at the Texas Workforce Center downtown. I couldn’t teach a class since I didn’t have a degree, so that limited what I could do. The people in the office recommended me for orientation staff. Well, okay, that sounded good.
They hired me almost immediately. I thought I would be working in the McKinney, Texas Job Corps. Instead, they shuttled me off to Guthrie, Oklahoma. A plane ride, a rental car and an apartment search later, I was on board the Guthrie Job Corps Center as orientation staff. I didn’t do any research on the town or the campus, but right off the bat I got an eerie feeling about the place. No one told me that Guthrie, Oklahoma was known as the most haunted city in Oklahoma. Also, no one told me the Job Corps campus was formerly a convent. On top of all that, there was a cemetery attached to the campus. This is where they buried nuns that had passed on. I told a friend about this recently and she told me, “Wow, it sounds like you were living in one of those towns from a horror movie.”
The town itself didn’t bother me. I didn’t do much but go to work, go to my apartment, go to the grocery store, and then the occasional trip to Whataburger. I didn’t get a notion that something was amiss until I went to the town bar and some of the locals would talk about the ghosts at Job Corps. They would also mention area ghosts, but I was more interested in the ghosts at my place of work. I hadn’t heard anything at all about this. Some of the kids, or as they called them “Trainees” would complain about hearing noises in the dorms at night, but nothing past that. I asked some of my co-workers and they would laugh. “It sounds like someone is just having some fun with you.” It was at that moment I decided to go to a better source, the dorm staff.
The dorm staff were a bunch of surly adults in their 30’s and 40’s. They were a close-knit bunch who laughed a lot. But they could also be deadly serious when the time came. One man, Mr. Andrews (not his actual name) used to convey to me his story of the night his older brother was murdered coming home from a night club. As far as the Guthrie Ghosts (what I’ve deemed them), some told me about noises at night, whispers at times when no one was around, and shadows.
The shadow had red glowing eyes, and in some instances was “like a mist.” Other dorm employees mentioned some students not wanting to return to their rooms because they “saw something.” The most stories I got came from Dorm 28, which was also known as the 21+ dorm. They told me the girls’ hall was where spirits liked to reside. The staff chalked it up as young girls just having fun with the staff, but if that was the case why didn’t it happen in other girls’ dorms as well?
It was at this time that I asked if I could pull double shifts helping out in Dorm 28. It was then that I started working out of the front desk, which looked like a control center with desks and computers, and glass surrounding it, so we could keep an eye on the main lobby. Days and weeks passed with nothing out of the ordinary to report.
Then came the night that I saw the shadow. Note that I have a history of hearing and seeing things. I wouldn’t say I was more susceptible to seeing spirits, but I went through a period in my life where I saw and heard things that to this day I cannot explain. On this night, I was working on a report for my main job of being an orientation staff member. It was near time for me to leave. Most of the other staff had gone home. I had turned the lights off because I was on my way out. Mr. Andrews was doing his routine bed checks.
I felt a brief chill. You can always tell when someone is watching you. I saw something out of the corner of my eye, standing in front of the door. It was shaped like a man. At first, I thought it was Mr. Andrews messing with me. It was then that I turned and saw the shadow for just an instant before it vanished. It didn’t have red glowing eyes and it wasn’t a mist. It was a shadow in the shape of a man. I don’t remember exactly what I did next. The next thing I remember is me packing my things up and waiting for Mr. Andrews just outside of the front office. I said good night and went home. The entire time I was thinking something was going to get me. Much like I did the night my friend and I were “attacked,” I went home and read my Bible.
For the next couple of weeks things were normal in the dorms. As I was one of the few people who were knowledgeable about computer, I was volunteered by Mr. Andrews to help run ethernet through one of the vacant dorm rooms in order to prepare for new arrivals. I did this at night, in pitch dark, because I wasn’t too smart. Within a few minutes of me running cable, with the only light in the room coming from the glow of a computer screen, I turned to my left and saw the shadow, blatantly standing in front of the door so I couldn’t just run out. I froze and just stared at it until the thing simply dissipated. I finished setting up the computer and I darted out of there as fast as I could.
A week later I was asked to do the same in one of the girls’ rooms. I did it in the daytime, with the lights on and the door propped open with a door stop. Nothing was going to get me this time. A few minutes into running the ethernet cable, the door slammed shut on its own and the lights turned off. I said “Nope!” and I got out of that room before I even had the chance to see any shadows. I told Mr. Andrews and he was actually very understanding. That’s when he told me about the history of the campus and the land it sat on.
Oklahoma killed off its Native American population, and they then had a literal race for people to claim land. Guthrie was no different. For some reason, though, Guthrie is a place where a lot of these hauntings occur. Guthrie hosts a lot of different haunted walks for tourists. I personally believe the hauntings at Guthrie Job Corps Center are directly linked to its history of being a convent and having nuns interred nearby.
The last thing I personally experienced happened a few days after the door slamming on me. I was working with Mr. Andrews and one of the female staff members. It wasn’t very late at night, and some students were still up. Earlier in the evening the mess hall had given out ice cream cones for students staying in that weekend. On weekends local students could go home if they wanted to. The ones from out of state stuck around. There weren’t very many of them, so it was almost like a skeleton crew.
Out of nowhere all the girls from the girls’ hall suddenly ran out to the lobby, screaming. They were all gathered in their TV lounge area and they had seen something. I can usually tell when someone is faking, and as far as I could tell these girls were not; If they were, they deserve academy awards for acting. After calming down the girls refused to return to their rooms. The girls said the being was similar to what others had told me, a mist with glowing red eyes. One of the overnight janitorial staff was an old Celtic woman who was very strong in her Catholic beliefs. Mr. Andrews called her in to say some prayers in the hall. Only after she went through each room and prayed did the girls feel comfortable going back to their rooms.
I never heard a peep again. That was the last experience I had. I was starting to get homesick, and I put in my two weeks and left that place and came home. I have not been back to Guthrie, Oklahoma since then. Perhaps one day I’ll return and go on one of those haunted tours and stay at the haunted bed and breakfast.
To this day I’m still not sure if my experiences had manifested themselves because people told me what to look for, or if they were 100% genuine. I read a study once where test subjects were told about something enough times that they began to believe it for themselves, and even seeing what they were told. If you tell me there is a big yellow spot on the wall enough times, I am going to start seeing a big yellow spot on the wall.
A lot of students would tell me about uneasy feelings on campus, things that happened to them when they were near the cemetery, and things of that nature. The students may have had widely different experiences than me because I was staff and they actually had to live there and be part of the environment. I researched the subject some and found a blog where people actually gave their own accounts of experiences on that campus.
The blog author mentions silhouettes of nuns near the cemetery, as well as the mist with red eyes. She mentions a stench that the mist left, which I did not smell. She mentioned the laundry room doors locking on themselves. Also, a girl was attacked by a shadow person, which may be the same one I saw. The blog author mentions a Jesus statue in the cemetery, and how no one could get a clear picture of the face for some reason.
|Photo by Arthur C. Jenkins|
In all the research I did I kept coming across mention of Big Red, a building where the nuns used to live. I don’t remember if this building was still standing when I worked there, but it comes up a lot in conversation. One person, who claims to have attended in 1979, said you could pass by Big Red and hear crying and wailing. The rest of the comments are about “odd activities” and an overall uneasy feeling about the place.
I don’t want to question the validity of anyone else’s claims. I can only go by what I experienced there. Maybe someone with more sensitivity toward that type of thing could see and feel things that I simply could not. Nevertheless, I do believe that something is happening there. The city and the state both have the type of history that would draw that type of activity toward it.
If you ever attended or worked at Guthrie Job Corps Center and feel comfortable sharing, drop me a line or comment here. I would love to talk to you.