I stumbled across this book thanks to a subreddit on haunted places in Orange County. It’s all about Anaheim so of course I would be interested! It seems to be the only book so far from author, Tom Zaradich, so you could say it’s his freshman entry. In short, it’s really good.
This has got to be the quintessential book on hauntings in Anaheim. I don’t believe another book has been published with so much on-the-ground information as this one. What’s really wonderful about this book is that the author takes a slight skeptic’s perspective of the described hauntings. Meaning, Mr. Zaradich isn’t satisfied with the relaying of old wives tales and rumors because he actually digs into the histories of the locations by interviewing witnesses, and even bringing in outside experts such as local historical society members with extensive knowledge of the area.
In a few cases he is able to convincingly determine that the ghosts that are haunting certain locations most likely aren’t the ones everyone believes they are, for example take the case of The Old Yorba Linda Cemetery where it has long been rumored that Alvina Yorba De Los Reyes died as a teenager in a carriage accident. The legend goes that Alvina comes back to visit the graves of her family members on every even year. Problem is, the real Alvina Yorba De Los Reyes isn’t buried in the spot where the supposed haunting took place and actually died during childbirth, and this is verified by one of her descendants in the book!
Anaheim’s Dead starts off with a tour of one of the oldest neighborhoods in Anaheim which just so happens to be his current neighborhood, The Colony. We’re taken along for a ride through the details of various houses, their residents and varied histories.
One notable home is the Duckworth-Gatas House where witnesses have spotted a little blonde girl staring out from an upstairs window and also heard the unexplainable sound of someone going up and down the staircase. Another haunted house stands out for having had a secret compartment that was used to store bookie information, and was even featured on HGTV’s “If Walls Could Talk”, but also is believed to be the residence of a ‘ghost cat’ that played with the living resident’s cats.
Moving on from 100-year old houses, the author takes us to a few public venues such as the Anaheim White House Restaurant where he interviews various employees, including the owner, and picks the staff's brains about strange glowing lights and a young female ghost seen going up a set of stairs. Following that, we’re taken to a few nightly music clubs like Chain Reaction and The Doll House where people have described hearing random voices among other bumps in the night. Mr. Zaradich isn’t satisfied to stay within those public spaces so then he moves us on to locations such as Anaheim High School and the Anaheim Public Library, then through some open areas like La Palma Park and Pearson Park where we’re given a slew of stories about each spot. Towards the end we land in a few of Anaheim’s more notable cemeteries, one in particular stood out as exceptionally creepy since visitors report hearing the disembodied wailing of a woman’s voice early in the morning on a specific day of the year, and this isn’t even The Old Yorba Linda Cemetery (Ok, technically not in Anaheim).
The best thing about this book is that the author has such a thorough approach to the haunted locations. If he cannot figure out a reasonable explanation for a haunting, he will try to make sure the spirit is who everybody thinks it is. Zaradich will bring in local historians, pore over old articles and public information about the locations and then will give his own piece towards the end on just how believable a haunting is.
Most books on hauntings take the legends as they are, not deeming to dig deeper with eye witness interviews and outside consultation. That distinction is one of the main reasons this book is so enjoyable, the writer tries to exhaust all other options and explanations first!
For anybody interested in this type of haunted places specifically in Anaheim, this book offers up great information, stories, and anecdotes, I cannot recommend it enough.
Here is a link to the book on Amazon: Anaheim's Dead: Ghostly Encounters with the Passed