Previously: “Abandoned by Disney”
Humans have long been fascinated by photography’s ability to capture a moment right as it’s happening. We’re fascinated even more, though, by things revealed in photographs that our own eyes couldn’t necessarily see at the time the image was taken. Most of the photos taken during spirit photography craze that hit at the turn of the century have since been determined to be obvious fakes… but what if those “Anomalies” they captured were real? And what if somebody REALLY didn’t want us knowing they were? Make sure you click through to read the rest of this one — you won’t want to miss the images that accompany it.
[Like what you read? Consider supporting The Ghost In My Machine on Patreon!]
I guess I should say upfront that I’m new here, so be patient with me, as I don’t know all the rules or etiquette or whatnot. A friend of mine linked me to this board after I told him the story and showed him the materials I’m about to share with you. He thinks some of you will appreciate it, but to be honest, from where I’m sitting this site seems more like a haven for idiots than a serious “paranormal image board.” Whatever. I’m motivated to share this stuff and need to do so anonymously, for reasons which will become clear. Technically, I’ll be breaking the law, but if I understand how this place works, this thread will disappear in a day or so anyway.
Here’s the deal. I am a production editor at a small independent publisher in the U.S. I won’t say which or where, so don’t ask, as I’d like to keep my job. The pay isn’t that great, but it’s an easy gig, and I like the people I work with. A lot of what we publish are what you’d call coffee table books.
The kind people flip through when they’re bored, but almost nobody ever reads them cover to cover. Bland pictorial histories of certain cities or states that sell well in regional gift shops. The occasional book of maps or a biography. A few museums outsource their gallery catalogs to us. That kind of thing. The work is boring, but it’s steady and we get enough jobs and our books make enough money to stay afloat, which is a lot more than most small presses can say these days.
Because we’ve been around a while, our name is somewhat known to history buffs and people who think they’re an expert on such-and-such town in Nowhere, Idaho or some esoteric topic nobody really cares about. We get a lot of unsolicitied manuscripts from people that really shouldn’t be writing books and unsolicited CDs full of photographs from people that shouldn’t be taking pictures. Because we’re small, and don’t have a separate acquisitions editor position, the job of going through this “slush pile” gets passed around the office.
Very rarely, somebody will find something worth pursuing and pitch it to the rest of us, but our Senior Editor/Publisher gets the final say. For the last nine months I’ve been working more or less nonstop on a book that everybody at the office was pretty excited about. Our copyeditor found it during his turn with the pile. An old guy I won’t name had contacted us out of the blue and offered us the chance to publish his rare archival photo collection, provided we treat the subject matter with the respect and seriousness he felt it deserved.
To use his term, and what was going to be the book’s title, the photos were all “Anomalies.” That is to say, they depicted something out of the ordinary or otherwise inexplicable, something that usually had an equally interesting story to go along with it. Most of them were from the first half of the 20th century.
Like I said, it’s not the kind of thing we normally publish, but the few samples the guy sent in with his pitch letter were pretty compelling, and once we had seen the rest of them, heard a few of the stories, and realized that none of these pictures were widely known, we knew we had something that would get people’s attention. The format was going to be simple and classy, with a lot of white space and breathing room. Each photo would appear as a high quality print on the right hand page, followed by a blank left hand page, and then a couple paragraphs to caption each photo on the following right hand page.
From the very beginning, the guy was a nightmare to work with and the job took forever because he refused to send in more than one document at a time. He would send me certified mail, I would get it, scan it, and mail it back certified, and only then would he send the next one. He seemed to think he had an extremely valuable collection and was hugely paranoid about losing it, so he only risked one item at a time. In the end we spent so much money on mailing costs that it would have been cheaper to fly me to where the old guy lived with a scanner and a laptop.
We were maybe a third of the way through the production process when this fucking guy pulled the rug out from under us. Somebody had offered him a large sum of money for the photos, way more than we were offering for the book rights, on the condition that the book get shit canned and the photos stay out of the public eye. We demanded he come in for a face to face and tried to reason with him, and cater to his pride and desire for “scholarly acclaim,” and for a few days it seemed like it had worked. But when he got back home, he flip-flopped again and started cursing out me and my Senior Editor on the phone, demanding we shelve the book.