Today, Oct. 27th 2004, I discovered something that proves that I'm not totally crazy! I just happened to hear a conversation on the radio about haunted houses. It was almost Halloween so I wasn't really paying any attention to talk about haunted houses! At least not until I heard a name that I had not heard for almost 50 years, "Tarabino". This immediately got my attention! He said (I will be staying at the Tarabino Inn, in Trinidad).
In Trinidad Colorado there's a big old house at 310 E. Second Street. When I was a child in the 1950's, my family lived in this house from about 1954 to 1959. We moved to Trinidad because of my dad's job. Somehow my parents picked that house, maybe because the rent was $50. per month, which was still a lot of money back then. It was built in an Italian Victorian style in 1907 by the Tarabino brothers from northern Italy. They came to Colorado and established a department store in the late 1800's and later built this house.
My parents told us that a man had the house built for his wife but that she died before she ever had a chance to see it. I don't know where they heard that from, it may have been from Mr. Tarabino, our landlord and a relative of the of the original owners. It was beautiful inside and out with 14 foot ceilings, bold wood trim everywhere, big decorative chandeliers and walls sconces with pointed glass shades. It really had a lot of character. Mr. Tarabino lived next door with his wife in a smaller house. They were very quiet and we didn't see them much. There was a part time caretaker "Zeke", he was an odd but friendly old guy who seemed to drink a bit. He took care of odd jobs around the place, tended to the boiler. There was a large incubator in the basement that Mr. Tarabino owned. Sometimes there were a 100 or more baby chicks in a special section of the Basement. I guess Mr. Tarabino sold them before they grew up. I never saw a grown chicken, only chicks. The only time we would go to the basement was to wash clothes. I didn't like going in the basement. I used to have bad dreams where I would be outside near one of the basement windows, when something would reach out and grab my feet and legs and pulled me down into the basement window. I had that dream several times! 50 years later it still gives me chills!!! Aside from that, I liked living there. The house was warm and comfortable and I have a lot of happy memories from those days. We did have a problem with bats! They must have liked the house too because they used to hang from the corners of the ceiling of the front porch! Mom was always making dad go out and get rid of them. My dad said they were harmless and nothing to worry about, but mom was afraid one of us kids would get bit so she insisted he get rid of them. So he used to go out with a long stick and smash them to kill them, an ugly task! My bedroom was a room in the front part of the house but one day my parents moved my bed to a smaller room near the back of the houses. It was like a porch enclosed with windows. The first night in that room I was afraid of something and didn't want the light turned off. I felt like there was something in that room watching me! My dad would turn it off and I became terrified! I would run out of the room to my parent's bedroom. I told them there was something in there and it was going to get me! They would do the expected thing parents do, take me back to the room, talk to me for a bit and turn the light off, but I would still panic and refuse to sleep in the room! Finally they gave up and let me sleep in the other room again. In the daytime, that room never bothered me, only at night!
One day a funny thing happened! I noticed a small piece of wood sticking out of the ground near a lilac bush. I told my Mom, "I'll bet there is a treasure buried there" ! and started digging! She made me stop but later when she wasn't looking, I went back and started digging again. Not to far below the surface, I started to find old toys. They had been buried in a small wooden box that had rotted but did not collapse till I got to it! Inside was a metal 1920's or 1930's styled race car that was about 7 or 8 inches long , a doll, toy clown and a few other things including a few spiders. They were all broken or had something wrong with them and were pretty cruddy looking from being in the ground for a long time. My mom took them all and threw them in the trash! I threw a fit because I wanted to keep the race car. I think there was a wheel missing from it and it was covered with rust but it was really neat looking and I wanted it! Maybe it was just a coincidence but its pretty strange.
Another strange thing happened. One night, Mr Tarabino's dog "Princess" started howling and would not stop for quite a while. My older brother Jim, said, that means some one is going to die! My mom said that's not true and told him to stop talking like that. The next day, we learned that Mr. Morley who lived across the street, had died during the night! A strange coincidence but since that day, every time I hear a dog howl, I think of that.
One time when my uncle Jim was staying with us, there was a loud crashing sound in the middle of the night and some plaster fell from the ceiling. He and my dad grabbed their pistols and went all through the house looking for an intruder or something. They thought it sounded like it was upstairs but they couldn't find any evidence of what caused the loud noise!
The strangest thing to happen to me in the house.
One night I was laying on a couch near the staircase. It was pretty dark in the room and I was awake, when all the sudden I saw two children! Actually it was an outline of two children. Nowadays people call it an aura, but it was the color of the stars, kind of like a light blue light, almost sparkling! I couldn't see any faces or any other details, just the outline of the kids. Everything else was as dark as the room. It was the shape of a girl and a smaller boy though by their size they looked older than me and they were walking towards me from the hall next to the stairs! I panicked! I started screaming, they quickly turned to leave as if I scared them off or as if they were in trouble and they disappeared into the dark! This all happened in just a few seconds. My mom came and tried to calm me down, she said it was just a bad dream. I tried to tell her I wasn't asleep! I finally got over it! I never saw the children again! It wasn't that I thought I saw ghosts! Its just that there were 2 kids in our home walking towards me in the night! I think that would shock anyone! Even though I still remember the way they approached me was in a friendly manner, not aggressive but just like a couple normal kids who just had spotted another kid and were curious and wanted to come over to see who I was. I remember thinking that when I saw them but it still terrified me having these strangers in our house! This event was forgotten for about 20 years.
Well, we moved back to Denver, the years passed and I grew up, spent time in the Army, got married and was living in Englewood, Colorado. I had totally forgotten about the kids in the old house. About 20 years had passed since then and life was normal till one night I was laying in bed in the house in Englewood and was still awake. From my bed I could see into the living room. The lights were all off but it was not pitch black. Suddenly someone walked right past the bedroom doorway! I grabbed a 38 special and carefully snuck into the living room ready for I don't know what but there was no one there! It was not until I started to describe what I saw to my wife ....... and then it suddenly dawned on me ! ! ! Oh My God! This was just like the children I had seen 20 years ago in that old house! The only difference was that the aura of the children had been bright blue but this adult sized aura was not nearly as bright as with the kids! Well now I'm starting to wonder what the hell is going on but in time, I forgot about it. Then later in the same house, I saw the same dim outline of this adult walking past the doorway again, 2 or 3 times over a 7 year period, every time it happened the same way. They would just slowly walk past the bedroom door exactly the same way every time. I questioned my sanity for a while but soon got over it. We eventually moved out of that house and once again I didn't really think or talk but in early 1997, I used oil paints to do a small painting of what I had seen that night in the Tarabino house. Over the years I have tried several times to find any information that I could about the house by searching on the Internet but never could find anything, I didn't even know how the name (Tarabino) was spelled! As a kid, I pronounced it, (Terrbino) so I had pretty much given up hope of ever finding anything at all about the house.
Now 10-27-04, it has been 50 years since the strange happenings in that house. I am going about my daily routine, when all the sudden, I hear the name "Tarabino" from a man on the radio, talking about haunted houses! I jumped onto the internet and did an image search with the words: (Tarabino and Trinidad) Guess what the first image I found was??? Yes! It was that big old house I lived in way back then! Its now a bed and breakfast (The Tarabino Inn). I called them and talked to the woman who lives there. I told her about my childhood in the house she confirmed to me that she and her husband have also had some strange things happen to them in the house as well as did the previous owners of the house. Now I was really excited! I got back on the computer and did some more searching and quickly found a site that has info about reported haunted houses. On their website was a photo of the same house! Now I'm really getting the chills! There I sat, looking at a website, (All about ghosts.com) and another photo of the house and an article about strange happenings in the house over the years. After doing more checking I learned that there have been a lot of mysteries reported over the years by residence and visitors to this house. Everything from loud crashing noises and a place in the house where people report feeling some kind of energy, to reports of people seeing ghosts or entities including Barney Tarabino, one of the original owners. There have been reports of a young woman standing at the foot of the stairs and people feeling a hand on them and many other strange happenings. For all these years I had always questioned myself about what I saw that night in that house. Now I know I am not the only one to come away from the Tarabino house with a mystery.
The book "Ghosts of Trinidad and Las Animas County" by Dean Sneed, has a chapter about this house.
After realizing all this, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry! I started going through hundreds of old photos looking for some photos of the place and found them. I found a few from the 50's and some that I had taken back in the 70's when I went to Trinidad with a camera to get photos of the house. I had only intended to take photos from the street but when I found my self standing right there in front of the house, my feelings changed greatly! So many memories started rushing through my mind. I felt like I was standing in front of a dear old friend. I just couldn't stand it I had to get closer I decided to take a chance, so I went up and knocked on the door. A man answered and I introduced myself and told him I used to live there and asked if he would mind if I took some photos from different angles in the yard. He not only said it was ok but also invited me in for a cup of coffee. Before we went in, we went around to the back to take photos. I noticed a bunch of bricks laying on the ground near the house! As I looked up at the house. the man mentioned that lightning had struck one of the chimneys and damaged it a few days earlier. I guess there is always something happening around there! Then we went inside. When I stepped into the house, I became so overwhelmed with emotion that I couldn't even speak! It was only because of so many happy memories of that old place. They were very nice people, the man's wife was very short and she told me that she had got hurt when she was a child, her spine was injured and it caused her to stop growing as she aged. We drank coffee and chatted for a while and I was soon on my way back to Denver again. That was the last time I saw the house. I felt sad leaving the old house but was glad I took my camera and got the photos.
Jim Savage - An Interesting Trinidad Character
Another thing in Trinidad that as a child, seemed spooky to me was an old man that my dad used to visit to buy antiques, old coins and guns from. His Name was Jim Savage. My dad used to take me with him sometimes when he visited old Jim and it seems like it was always at night. He lived in an old house out on a dirt road, there was a long walkway from the road to the house and the walkway was almost like a tunnel formed by tree branches. Old Jim would open the door and welcome us into a dimly lit house full of all kinds of strange old things including a human skull that always sat on a table in his living room. I can still remember the old dark yellow color of it! I was afraid of the skull but always had to go over close and look at it anyway.
There was always plenty of interesting things in that house to keep me busy looking around while my dad and Jim bartered over old guns and things. My dad collected coins and old guns and Jim always had a lot of stuff like that. He also had a variety of Indian artifacts and who knows what else. Years later we went to see him and his house was almost empty and even the walls were almost bare, I guess he had sold about everything he had to survive. That was the last time I saw Jim Savage. I've always wondered where that skull came from.
60 years later I got an email from Jim Savage's daughter Dolita! She saw this short story and offered to share some interesting details about her dad. She shared with me the only picture she had left is of her Father, Jim Savage. She described the Gold wallpaper and the long scary tunnel that I remembered as an amazing place for her and her sister and her to play in. And how it produced the largest grape leafs and most delicious grapes.
The following words are from Dolita about her father, Jim Savage.
He was an amazingly generous and kind man. He left home at 11 years old With his Fathers blessings, he left home at the age of 11. Told him it was time to make his own way. His Father gave him $1 to begin his journey. At his passing, he still had that same dollar, which I have today. He was an engineer for the D & RGW Railroad "Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad" until he retired.
He had the only original Pawn Shop in town. Most of the interesting items had around the home were from folks that brought them to pawn & never came back. He usually took in items that would never re-sell merely to help folks out. He fed all of the families that lived in Drop City and they would give us homemade, painted wheat bread in exchange.
Same with Food, we also had a large chicken ranch to the rear of the home & supplied eggs & chickens to the community. We planted vegetables all around the land & supplied vegetables to the community as well. We did all of this by hand, no machines back then. We also had a ranch in Engerville (that,s how we pronounced it LOL) with goats, horses, sheep, turkeys, ducks, cows, donkeys & guineas that also supplied Trinidad & surrounding areas with meat, milk, etc...
He owned the Better half of Trinidad, including most of the stores, pool hall, bars, business's, homes, lots and lots of properties. He had many many prominent, powerful friends and acquaintances, most of whom were Judges, Chief of Police, Dr's, etc. Most of these folks were also Masons...here ya go with the history of the skull. To understand the importance of that Skull, you will need to research the Masonic temple & their beliefs.
I always demanded he tell me story after story about his life. He always responded with some great story. I still remember every single story. He once told me in his journeys as a young man that he actually had an encounter with the Barker Boys!
I never forgot the read on top of that skull "As you are now, so once was I, as I am now, you soon will be, so be prepared to follow me". That area where that skull sat was my bedroom! Because of the Masonic significance, I was never afraid. He told me years ago when he still lived in Missouri, that there was a guy that kept stealing his watermelons. He said he warned him one to many times...and there ya go...TRUE OR NOT....who knows.
James W. Savage was born October 16 1894 and died Aug,15 1974 but he accomplished a lot, he served his community and left many memories. In his own way he is a part of Trinidad and Colorado history.
A comical incident at Tarabino house
On a lighter note, there was one more funny coincidence that happened. One morning I was looking for a comic book that I had. I asked my Mom if she had seen it. She said, "Oh I threw that away. It was falling apart"! Oh No! I started crying and was really upset. Hey, I was only 4 or 5 years old! She said, ok lets go see if we can find it before the trash men come. As we stepped out the back door, we could see the trash men loading the trash into the truck! Now I'm really upset and crying! Mom went over and talked to them and they dug through the mess and found my comic book. I was so relieved. What a close call! I was too young to read it and it was in terrible condition with the cover missing but I really loved that old comic book. It was Casper the Friendly Ghost! LOL!
I still don't know what it was that I saw that night but I now know it was real! I feel better knowing that I was not the only one to have strange experiences there. Looking back on it all now, I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't panicked and scared the children away ! ??? It will always be a mystery!