The Spirits of the South Bay
You’ve been forewarned! When it gets dark on the last Thursday of October, you better keep your eyes wide open and your feet ready to fly. The South Bay has many a wild and wicked tale to tell, and if you don’t stay on high alert, you may not see November.
- Written byChris Ridges
According to local legends, there are many supernatural beings hovering around our area. And as Halloween night approaches, you’ll need a reminder as to exactly what goes bump in the night. So, trick-or-treaters, before you go knocking on a stranger’s door, check out these ghost stories about the South Bay’s most haunted haunts.
AX MARKS THE SPOT
If you’re making your All Saints’ Day rounds in Portuguese Bend near Ladera Linda Park, please watch your step when you see an empty lot near Main Sail Drive and Burma Road. A teenage boy axe-murdered his entire family in their home located there in the 1930s.
Police found the interior of the house covered in blood along with remnants of the family’s bodies. The house burned down mysteriously shortly thereafter.
For reasons not known, the space has been nicknamed “Spike” by locals over the years. The house has been seen to actually return at times, especially during dense fog. Psychics who have examined the location concur a sense of mayhem and tragedy remains there.
No one has been able to rebuild on the spot for various reasons—including bright, sparkling lights that appear out of nowhere and a strange, repugnant odor so strong no one is able to stay there longer than a few minutes. There have been many odd and unexplained electrical phenomenon reported on the site, too, including spontaneous combustion that has resulted in some small but worrisome fires. If you drive by the overgrown lot, don’t turn off your engine—it may not start again.
When you’re going door-to-door in Redondo Beach, keep a lookout for Jake near Redondo High. Jake was a student there during World War II who had a crush on a girl whose fiancé was fighting overseas. When the Marine returned after the war’s end and heard about what had been going on, he found Jake and beat him to death on campus.
Jake’s ghost has since been known to roam the high school halls, having a ball turning lights off and on, knocking things over, stomping around and stealing small, valuable objects—only to return them unexpectedly months later. His apparition appears from time to time at various locations on and around the school grounds. Do not call out his name; those who have done so have regretted it.
Will you be trick-or-treating near King Harbor this year? If so, watch out for the paranormal presence of tanned, blond-haired, wet suit-clad surfers along the shore. Many body and board riders whose heads hit the rocks or were carried out to die underwater in unexpected swells are known to spook the hell out of locals and tourists.
The visions are seen while dining at one of the restaurants at the harbor or pier … or during an autumn sunset walk. The surfer ghosts are often seen body surfing during storms or sitting on the dangerous rocks watching the breakwater and waiting—just waiting. Shore patrol and police are often alerted to reports of the ghosts, mistaken by alarmed passersby for night surfers.
THE LADY IN THE LIGHT
While running the costumed kiddies around and through the neighborhoods near the Point Vicente Lighthouse, keep your eyes open for The Lady in the Light. Christened in the spring of 1926, this lighthouse was, at the time, the brightest beacon in all of Southern California.
The almost-70-foot tall structure included a 1,000-watt lightbulb that streamed its focused beam through a 5-foot wide lens, seen for 20 miles out to sea. The beam was so bright that, after WWII in the late ‘40s, locals found it a terrible nuisance—blinding them in their homes and while driving their cars every 20 seconds as the bulb rotated.
The lighthouse windows that faced inland were eventually painted with a thin layer of white translucent paint. This helped keep the bright light from bothering the neighbors and motorists but created a wholly new phenomenon.
When the light rotated around through the painted windows, reports came in that a woman could be seen walking in the tower—slowly pacing while wearing what appeared to be a long, thin gown. The spooky vision became well-known in the area and made news in the local newspapers often. Most believed her to be nothing more than an optical illusion, so a much thicker coat of paint was applied in 1955.
Immediately afterwards, hikers and scuba divers began to report sightings of the same woman walking along the cliffs near the tower, where she was believed to have fallen accidentally to her death as her husband kept the lighthouse in running order. Another legend has it that she threw herself off the cliffs after being rejected by her lover. Even another has the Lady of the Light waiting for her husband who was lost at sea, forever watching for his ship and aided by the incredibly powerful beam’s reach.
Whichever is true, she is seen still today and has become the area’s most permanent resident. If you go looking for her, keep your eyes on the cliff’s edge … it’s a long way down.
And save me the Butterfingers.
From the first full-length film to a teen sensation’s sitcom, the South Bay has provided the backdrop for many memorable moments on both the big and small screens. Film historian and local writer Jerry Roberts reveals the assorted characters that roamed our beaches and boulevards, including noir detectives, treasure-seeking pirates and even a high-schooler named Hannah Montana.