Sunday, February 2, 2014

Yale Gracey’s Ghost Story

Yale Gracey

Yale Gracey worked for Walt Disney as a WED effects master. 

In the early 1960s, he and Rolly Crump were developing the effects for Disneyland’s latest attraction the Haunted Mansion when they were asked, “Have you ever had anything in your life that you thought was kind of supernatural?”

Without missing a beat, Gracey responded, “Oh yeah, I had a ghost read to me when I was 10 years old.” Crump now intrigued asked Gracey to tell them more.

Haunted Mansion under construction--
completed in 1962.
When Gracey was ten years old, he and his mother went to visit relatives on the East Coast for the summer. The family lived in a big old house. This was a wonderful summer for Gracey who was left to play with his cousins indoors and outdoors without much supervision.*

All the kids slept in the home’s largest bedroom together. In this room an old lady lived in the closet--she would come out from time to time. When she did, she would read stories to Yale and his cousins then she would return to the closet.

The cousins all agreed not to mention her presence to the adults in their lives for fear she might disappear for good.

At the end of that summer Gracey’s mother asked him what he liked best about their visit. Yale then replied, “The little lady who lives in the closet that reads to us every night.” The room immediately grew quiet.

His mother taken aback exclaimed, “What?”

One of Gracey’s cousins whined, “No, no, Yale, she’ll never come back.”

Gracey’s mother concerned about what her usually no-nonsense 10-year old son had told her decided to do some research about the old home. The local historical society lent her a picture of a woman who was the original owner.

When she showed the photograph to Yale and his cousins they immediately recognized her as the old woman who lived in the closet.

Rolly Crump
Rolly Crump initially told part of this story during a panel discussion held during the 30th anniversary celebration of the opening of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion attraction. 

He emphasized to the audience that Yale Gracey was not one to exaggerate the truth. In fact, he was about the most straight-talking man he had ever known. For this reason, Crump felt Yale Gracey’s ghost story was true.

* Gracey was the son of an American Consul--he was born in Shanghai, China and he attended an English boarding school. 

Here is a short bio about Yale Gracey--it mentions the various effects he created for Disneyland.


Unknown said...

Ya gotta love a good ghost story! Especially when it's true! Thanks to him we have the best haunted attractions in the world thank you!

Virginia Lamkin said...

It makes what he created even more interesting.

It was mentioned that the elements of the Haunted House that are more childlike are the result of his encounters with this ghost as a young boy.

Leona Joan said...

Great story! My favorite ride at Disneyland is The Haunted Mansion. My favorite time of year there is Halloween, when the park is all decorated for Halloween with loved Victorian style decorations. 🎃