The Phantom Hand of 5th Ave
With the 2019 Downtown West Bend Ghost Walk season kicking off on September 7th, my mind has been wandering back to seasons past. Guiding these walks is a lot of fun for a lot of reasons. It allows me to tell stories, it allows me to meet open minded people, but it also sometimes allows a large group to experience paranormal activity.
Before I get into exactly what I mean, please understand no guarantee can be made that anyone will experience unexplainable phenomena on a walk. In fact, most walks happen without anyone reporting anything peculiar. I especially never experience it, because my back is always to the alleged haunt—though I’ve had a few occasions where people shriek and take pictures over my shoulder.
However, usually a couple of times a year, one or more tour patrons are fortunate enough—or unfortunate depending on your point of view—to see, hear, or even feel something. I’ve been waiting to share a particular event for a while, as it occurred between stops on the walk, thus it is rarely told.
It was a few years back, on an early October Saturday night. It was a very small walking group, thanks to some terrible, unseasonably cold drizzle. Only three patrons had proven sturdy enough to endure the unpredictable Wisconsin weather. As the tour neared its conclusion, the weather began to clear. We left the exterior of the Old West Bend Theater and we marched back towards our meeting place in front of History Center of Washington County on 5th and Chestnut. We were silently walking past the corner of 5th and Walnut when one of the young women cried out. I turned around to see if someone had fell, and she was looking at the other two women who were following a good eight or nine feet behind her, talking amongst themselves.
“Did you just touch me!?” she asked urgently.
I had turned quickly and knew there was no way they could have been within arm’s length of her, nor had they been paying the slightest attention to anyone but each other. The two young women looked at each other in confusion, and said they hadn’t.
According to the alarmed patron, as we got a few feet beyond the crosswalk, she’d felt a large, heavy human hand rest itself on the middle of her back, and move to the right, as if brushing something from her clothing.
The woman was very disturbed by the encounter. She’d not expected to have physical contact with paranormal phenomena, especially when we weren’t even in front of a (known) haunted location. After having explained what had happen, she regained her composure and we walked on and finished the tour. As I told the final story of the night, she remained on guard, as did the others, who were now nearly as frightened as she was.
I suppose it just goes to show you, when you go out seeking the
paranormal, sometimes it seeks you. One woman found that out first hand, when
she became to first person to experience the phantom hand of 5th
-J. Nathan Couch
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