Claudia Cunningham is someone who has very generously shared with me several accounts of strange and supernatural experiences that directly involved her. Claudia tells us: “In the late ‘70s I was married and my husband was a police officer who worked nights. Being alone and bored a lot I was heavily into reading of the paranormal through my massive little library – and I was then reading Phone Calls from the Dead by Scott Rogo [and Raymond Bayless]. The gist was that when someone died they could call you and the book gave many instances of this happening. One famous person it happened to was the late actress Ida Lupino. Her father, London stage actor Stanley, supposedly called her from beyond the grave. It was eerie reading, believe me.
“One night I was in bed reading the book and I snapped on the AM radio on my night table, and the show was WGY’s talk show and they were interviewing UFO abductee Betty Hill. She said she had a lot of phone interference after seeing the UFO with her husband Barney…static, that sort of thing. I was very nervous that night listening to it and imagining my phone would ring. Imagine my shock when it DID ring. This must have been around 9 PM at night…and all I could hear was static!! Like I say, I was heavily into reading anything about UFOs, Bermuda Triangle, etc. and I think my fear triggered the call. I mean, I think fear attracts these entities and they were having, as John Lennon would say, ‘a larf’ on yours truly.
“Second incident…I was a gal who liked to go out on weekends as anyone would in their early 20s. I was dating Denny Cunningham, who I would later marry. Denny worked at the Postal Service before getting on the Albany, NY Police department and he worked nights. I would drive in from my parents’ home in Glenmont to Albany and meet him, just usually for a chat and to watch Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show together at his parents’ home. On Fridays and Saturdays my parents would go out to meet another couple for dinner and drinks and not return until sometimes 2-3 AM. Now, when you leave Albany en-route to my house you go down what used to be a very rural road (now it’s all built up, but in the late 60s it was very desolate). You had to pass a huge Catholic cemetery and when you pulled in my driveway there was and is a field with high weeds. I always imagined that someone could be waiting for me and do something awful. I’ve always had a very vivid imagination!
“I did have an incident where a man followed me home one night and pulled a pen knife out of his pocket after I pulled in the driveway. He was trying to run me off the road…it was terrifying. This happened after the incident I will now tell you about. But to return to the subject at hand, between the fear of breaking down in front of the cemetery and the field next to the house, I was always very nervous. I ran into the house, dreading the fact that it would be dark and I’d be alone. No one was home but “us chickens” as my grandmother used to say. I immediately turned on a light on the mantel and retired to my bedroom, heart beating heavily, to await my parents’ return. I no sooner got to my bedroom than my brand new pink rotary phone with a PRIVATE UNLISTED number I had just gotten, (free as it happens, compliments of my employer, NY Telephone Co.) rung! Denny never called me that late. He never called to see if I made it home or anything. Three people had the number – Dennis, his sister and my friend, Ann. I had just gotten the phone. No one had my number, OK?
“A man with a guttural and threatening voice said very emphatically, ‘Claudia? I see you just got home. Do you know KNOW what I’m going to do with you? I’m coming over now’…and hung up!!!!!!! I thought I would absolutely die on the spot. Just think, now…a brand new phone with a brand new number… no one had it. If a neighbor saw me pull in they wouldn’t have my phone number to call me, so it was no neighbor. I heard a car pull in the driveway as I was planning to run out through the cellar through the cellar door to escape…and it was my parents! Thank the Good Lord. I never found out who it was, nor do I want to know. I was involved in my studying UFOs, etc. and I was always very nervous and upset around that time to begin with. As many young girls know, and especially in that time, it was very important to get married. Denny was kind of balking, and I was miserable. Besides, I hated my job…so I was nervous all the time and emotional. Again, my private fears and my interest in strange subjects must have pulled some entity to me just to frighten me. Well, whoever it was succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
Third incident: Denny’s sister, Dorothy Jeffers, was taking care of a neighbor who had cancer, an older lady. Her family was kind of broken up and the kids never really had much of an interest in her, so Dottie would stop by and bring her groceries, call her to check on her, etc. The lady passed on…I think her name was Margaret or Minnie. One night about two weeks after she passed away Dottie had just finished doing the nightly dishes after dinner when the phone ring. There was much crackling on the line and static, then a faint tiny voice – unmistakably the old lady’ – said, ‘Dottie? Thank you for taking care of me’…and the line went dead. She said it was absolutely, positively the lady’s voice. Me? I think it could have been a demonic entity posing as the neighbor. At any rate, it happened, it was real…so we’ll put it down to being a very great mystery.”