Ghostly images: Spirits take form in latest film on El Paso

By Ramón Rentería \ El Paso Times

spiritual orb

spiritual orb

A close-up of what documentary filmmaker Jackson Polk says is a spiritual orb at the old Asarco smelter. (Photos courtesy of Capstone Productions Inc.)

Filmmaker Jackson Polk issued a little warning while introducing the latest video version of El Paso ghost stories.

“Get ready to experience ghosts in El Paso like never before,” he said. “For the first time, spirits reveal themselves as more than energy and begin to take on human shape.”

Polk is putting the finishing touches on “Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 3,” a film that visits some of El Paso’s most haunted and historic locations.

“I’m not interested in catching ghosts per se,” Jackson said in a recent interview. “For me, it’s more of a spirit journey and I’m the video guy.”

Polk, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, will introduce the latest edition of “Ghost Stories” on Oct. 8 at the historic Scottish Rite Theater in Downtown El Paso. The film will be screened again on weekends throughout October.

Polk, the creative force behind Capstone Productions, suggests the films are not meant to prove or disprove ghost stories but to explore legends and folk tales that make up El Paso’s rich history.

In “Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 3,” psychic Diana Calamia and a team of “ghost trackers” check out a theater having trouble with spirits and a restaurant where ghosts supposedly throw things.

Calamia talks to spirits and offers a medium’s insight on El Paso’s most famous missing persons case, the still unsolved case of Pat Patterson and his wife, Margaret, who disappeared in 1957 from their Kern Place home. They left behind their cat, their car and wallets.

Calamia suggests the couple were killed in their home.

Polk also offers a short preview of what will become the fourth volume of ghost stories, possibly by February, a tour of the old Asarco smelter, one of the most haunted places in El Paso. The team also encounters an ancient shaman at Keystone Heritage Park, just a stone’s throw from the historic Camino Real once used by Spanish explorers traveling from Mexico to what is now New Mexico.

Bernie Sergeant, the chairman of the El Paso County Historic Commission, was present when the medium detected the spiritual shaman.

Sergeant has experienced hard-to-explain things at Concordia Cemetery. His own family has experienced strange happenings. He said he found it astounding that the medium helped the shaman communicate with him through her.

“I’m guardedly skeptical,” he said. “But all of these ghost stories, these spiritual apparitions make for a very good story as it pertains to the culture and heritage of El Paso.”

Polk became affiliated with the psychic because he thought what she was doing, talking to spirits at some of El Paso’s historic sites, seemed interesting.

“Now, I kind of see it as a mission. We’re sort of helping her take care of these lost souls,” Polk said. “To me, it’s a representation of a more realistic future when you die. You have a choice to go here or there or just hang around.”

He is convinced that the ghost tracking team now has conclusive evidence of what appear to be ghosts. The video includes a digital image shot at the El Paso Playhouse Theater by Ruben Escandon Jr., one of the photographers helping to document the tour. The photo depicts what appear to be smoke-like apparitions that the psychic had just described as a couple dancing on stage.

Polk believes more people will begin to understand that they have a spiritual side.

He criticizes paranormal studies groups that try to entice spirits to manifest themselves on audio or video recordings by insulting them.

“These paranormal societies, if they don’t have a psychic with them, they’re just whistling in the dark,” Polk said. “You shouldn’t treat spirits like they’re pets in the woods or something. They’re real and some day it’s going to be you.”

Ramón Rentería may be reached at rrenteria@elpasotimes.com; 546-6146.

Make plans

  • Premiere screenings of “Ghost Stories of El Paso, Volume 3” are scheduled at 2 and 4 p.m. Oct. 8 in the Scottish Rite Theater, 301 W. Missouri, in Downtown El Paso.
  • Additional screenings are scheduled at 2 and 4 p.m. Oct. 15, 8 p.m. Oct. 22, and 2 and 4 p.m. Oct. 29 and Oct. 30. Tickets will be available at the theater starting one hour before each screening at $6.50 with a credit card or $6 cash.
  • Information: elpasogold.com.