If you were watching or listening to the news in early February 1958, you might remember the story of a poltergeist called Popper invading a home in the Long Island suburb of Seaford, New York. This was the first time a haunting was shown on television, and Popper didn’t fail to entertain!
After school on the 3rd of the month, James Herrmann, Jr., 12, and his sister, Lucille Herrmann, 13, walked in the front door of their home to an orchestra of popping bottle tops.
At exactly the same moment, screw-top bottles all over the Herrmann home had shot their caps right off, shooting their contents into the air! Liquid starch in the kitchen. Shampoo and liquid medicine bottles in the bathroom. A bottle of holy water in the bedroom.
The family was concerned and wondered about chemical reactions of some sort. Two days later, the activity happened again at the same time of day, just as the children walked in the door from school. A bottle of nail polish shot off its cap, as well as a bottle of isopropyl alcohol, bleach, starch, detergent, and the holy water.
The activity continued and increased, with more aggression exhibited. Bottles flew off of shelves and smashed to the floor, and objects sailed through the air.
Detective Tozzi and Father William McLeod of the Church of Saint William the Abbott were called in to help the family.
The holy water sprinkled throughout the rooms by Father McLeod was evidently too late to be of assistance.
Detective Tozzi stayed at the home alone one night, but the activity only seemed to occur when the son was in the vicinity. When the family returned, the activity seemed to increase triple fold with the boy’s phonograph player flying around the room, heavy bookcases being upended, and a statue of the Virgin Mary slamming into a wall mirror. A huge world globe shot down the hallway directly at Tozzi. A newspaper photographer’s flashes flew out of their bag and hit the wall.
Tozzi witnessed all of this activity, and sought the help of electricians, physicists, parapsychologists, and even the Air Force. No one could provide a reasonable explanation.
Just as the detective gave up all hope of helping the family, on March 2 at about 10 p.m., a dish shattered in the dining room, a bed table fell over in James Jr.’s room, and a bookcase crashed in the basement. That was the end of the activity, after 67 recorded disturbances in a month’s time.
Steiger, Brad. Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places. Canton: Visible Ink Press, 2003.