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Old Kombi Ghost Story

Discussion in 'Kombi Stories' started by bradster, Apr 27, 2010.

  1. bradster

    bradster New Member

    Messages:
    55
    Location:
    toowoomba
    VW Camper Van Ghost Story
    Traveling film-maker Elliott Bristow was no stranger to the hazards of driving across America.
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    Since 1969 he had criss-crossed the United States many times, first taking the 'Groove Tube' review on early videotape to college audiences, and later showing his own four-screen movie presentation 'Road Dreams', with footage taken on his travels through all four time zones of the USA.

    It had all started in New York, where, on April 5, 1968, he had arrived from England for a two week holiday. A bizarre event led to him staying longer than expected. In his second week in New York, he was held at gunpoint by an armed and strangely polite robber, who was later apprehended. So Elliott could act as a witness, his visa was extended, and he ended up staying a year, by which time he'd decided he wished to remain in the States.

    He had got a job with Channel One based in New York's Lower East side. They were a groundbreaking media company who recorded comedy reviews on early videotape, and showed it under the title 'The Groove Tube' at college venues across the States

    Elliott volunteered for the job of 'video roadie', i.e. driving with the bulky tape player and black and white tv set across the country, showing the review at colleges and universities. Mode of transportation was Channel One's early 60's split screen VW bus, which was used for carrying the equipment, and to provide on the road accommodation. Encouraged by a friend, he began to use a Super 8 movie camera to record the sights he saw along the way, and started to build up an archive.

    During this period Elliott was involved in a road accident, in which he would discover the true meaning of that familiar warning sign, the one with the deer jumping into the air. It happened at night on Interstate 80 between Columbus, Ohio and Muskingum.

    He was driving east along the Interstate at the van's maximum speed of around 70 mph, when, without any warning, a large deer - described later by the policeman as a 9 point buck - bounded over the edge of the highway and directly into the path of the VW van. There was no possibility of taking evasive action. The animal had simply jumped into the air on a trajectory which put it directly in the path of the vehicle, and in an instant, thousands of pounds of animal flesh slammed into the front of the split screen van. The impact was dampened by the spare tire on the front, but the van toppled over onto one side, skidding across the lanes of the highway and into the central strip.

    Elliott was inside, unsecured - few people wore seatbelts in those days. He hit his head on the windshield and was knocked unconscious.

    Slowly coming to, he remembers piecing together what had happened, like assembling bits of a mosaic. He heard the dripping of gasoline from the rear of the van, and was able to make a swift exit. Miraculously, he was unharmed, and the van didn't blow. It had skidded off the main highway, out of the path of passing trucks.

    Elliott hitched a ride, phoned the college where he was due to show the film, and explained what had happened. They came, unloaded the video equipment, took it to the venue and within two hours of the accident, he was showing the presentation to another audience. Only later did the reality of the accident sink in, and Elliott began to suffer from delayed shock. The van, with its crumpled front end, was a write-off. And Elliott was lucky to be alive.

    Using a succession of cars provided by Channel One, he was able to continue taking the show to colleges around the country, but by 1970, video technology had improved, making it unnecessary to carry equipment to the venue - a video cassette could be sent and played on one of the new video players instead.

    But Elliott wanted to continue life on the road and so he decided to put together a presentation of his own. He would display his Super 8 footage on four projectors with four screens, one for each of the four time zones of mainland USA. It was a unique cinematic experience that never failed to impress audiences.

    Fees gained for showing the film would be used to finance further trips, on which he would gather more Super 8 footage, to be incorporated into the show, and so it went on.

    Now with a show of his own, but very little money, he wrote in desperation to Volkswagen of America, hoping they might be able to loan him a van. They were so impressed with Elliott's show and with the publicity opportunities it offered, they gave him one, a brand new shiny VW Bay camper van.

    He used this VW bus to take his show to all corners of the States, gathering ever more Super 8 footage as he went along.

    Life on the road was exciting but not always carefree. Operating on a tight budget, and there could be no stays in expensive motels. On a long drive to a gig, Elliott would often pull over and sleep in the van, either for a few hours, or for the whole night.

    Parked by isolated highways in the middle of nowhere, in the early hours, with the engine switched off, lights extinguished, and no sound but the wind or a lone bird or animal, it often felt threatening.

    But what could happen? Many things. Some crazed individual could come along, smash the windows, break into the van and threaten you with a knife or gun. Luckily it never did happen in all of Elliott Bristow's travels across the United States.

    But he had a couple of brushes in the middle of the night when he felt decidedly vulnerable.

    One of them was at Four Corners, the spot where the four states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico meet. Tourists can stand on all fours with feet and hands in all four states. A plaque marks the spot. Four Corners is not far from the Navajo Indian Reservation in New Mexico.

    During the night, in a nearby car park, Elliott was asleep in the vehicle. Outside he heard the sound of men, laughing, cajoling, fighting, and driving a car around recklessly. Evidently they were from the reservation. The effects of alcohol on its young male population were well documented. Outside, the shouting continued. He lay tense inside, expecting the worst at any moment.

    Luckily they went away, but if anything had happened, who would have known? There was no-one else around, the area was in the middle of nowhere, completely deserted.

    Another incident happened in Washington state, near a full scale reconstruction of Stonehenge. Elliott had driven up to it and parked nearby for the night, around 200 yards away. At around 2am, he heard the sound of people outside. They weren't shouting, or raucous, but quiet and measured. It was as if they were taking part in some kind of ceremony.

    If it had been in the middle of the day, he might have got out of the van and asked them what they were doing, but at 2 in the morning, different rules seem to apply. He waited with bated breath for something to happen. It didn't. At least not on that occasion. The sounds receded and he drifted back into sleep.

    When parking overnight, the main priority would be to get out of the line of the headlamps of passing cars. An isolated vehicle parked next to the road would attract attention, particularly from the police.

    Away from the road, it was possible to stay out of sight, with all lights switched off, in the black of night, miles from any town, you could be unseen, and get some sleep.

    It was in an isolated location like this that Elliott was to get the shock of his life, an experience he has never since repeated, nor would he ever want to repeat it.
    It was the late fall early winter of 1972, around October, November time. The first snow flakes of winter were blowing in from the north.

    Elliott was on his way from his home base at the time, Iowa City, to a gig in Wyoming, some 500 miles to the north west.

    Continued on next post....
     
  2. bradster

    bradster New Member

    Messages:
    55
    Location:
    toowoomba
    Old Kombi Ghost story continued...

    He was driving in the pale blue and cream VW bay camper van which had been provided by Volkswagen of America. It had now clocked up quite a few thousand miles.

    As ever he still had a lot of ground to cover, and was getting tired. The gig was early the next day. He would have to stop and rest. It was about 11pm.

    Following well-practiced procedure, he drove off the highway, to a distance of a few hundred yards. This was open prairie, empty of any animals or people, with not a house or light anywhere, as far as the eye could see. It was completely flat, barren. Hills, if you could have seen them, would be on the distant horizon.

    Through the curved windshield of the VW bus, the fine cascading snowflakes were lit up by the headlamps, as he drove slowly over the uneven terrain. He found a place to stop, and switched off the engine. There was a dusting of snow on the ground.

    It was a routine stop, just like any other of countless stops he'd made on past journeys. There was a fixed procedure before going to sleep. Check the vicinity to make sure you're out of the way and not near any unseen houses or other potential hazards. Then get inside, pull the sliding door closed, draw the curtains, and make sure all the doors are locked.

    Despite these measures, you still felt vulnerable, isolated, susceptible to unseen forces. No phone, no companion, no brick walls or fences to protect you, only the thin metal and glass skin of the VW camper van separated you from whatever was outside.

    Elliott got inside his sleeping bag, lying parallel to the door, his head toward the rear of the van, and quickly fell asleep. He remained asleep for some time.

    Suddenly he was awoken by the sound of the sliding door being violently hurled open with such force, such determination, it seemed as if it had been done in anger.

    The van rocked gently on its suspension as the heavy door banged against its guide rails into the fully open position. There was no other movement of the vehicle, no shifting of weight as an unknown assailant jumped inside. There was no-one, nothing, no sound at all, just silence, the wind and the snowflakes now blowing inside the van.

    Terrified, Elliott got up, grabbed a flashlight and shone it around the interior of the van to see if anyone was there, hiding, and about to pounce.

    There was no-one.

    Pointing the flashlight he lit up the ground outside, expecting to see footprints in the snow.

    There were no footprints. Nothing to suggest that any person, animal or other entity had come anywhere near the van.

    What unseen force could have done this, and more to the point, how had it been possible to open the lock from the inside?

    Anyone familiar with the VW van will know that the sliding door doesn't open of its own accord. It has to be pulled open, and it can be fiddly to turn the handle to the unlocked position.

    These were questions that Elliott didn't care to ponder on right now. With lightening speed he jumped into the driver's seat, turned the ignition, - thank goodness, the air-cooled VW engine started first time! - headed back towards the highway and continued on into the city of Casper, where he was due to give the presentation in the morning.

    He spent the rest of the early hours wide awake in an all night diner, drinking coffee and thinking over his experience.

    The next day, as ever, he showed the film to another appreciative college audience. For the traveling movie-maker and presenter, the show must go on.

    Elliott told people about the incident, and in doing so made a significant, and chilling discovery.

    The spot where he had parked his VW camper van that night - and unfortunately he can't remember with any certaintly the exact location - was the place where, many hundreds of years previously, in the days before the arrival of the White Man, two rival Native American tribes had battled against each other, with many men slaughtered. The spot where Elliott had parked his VW van was a documented Indian battle site.

    Elliott drove on, covering many thousands of miles, sleeping in countless isolated spots, but he never experienced anything like it again. To this day he can't offer an explanation, and he doesn't care to investigate it any further, preferring to let such things lie.

    For those of us - me included - who often sleep in the car or camper in a rest area on an Interstate motorway, or autobahn - we can feel relatively secure. Bathed in the reassuring light of the sodium vapor lamps, with other fellow travelers, car drivers, truck drivers, sleeping nearby, there is safety in numbers.

    But off the highway, out on the prairie, in the empty wastelands, the badlands, isolated and far from other living beings, with only yourself and your vehicle for company, who knows what unseen hazards are lurking just outside the windows of your vehicle... or maybe inside! :cry: :cry: :cry:
     
  3. vinny

    vinny Active Member

    Messages:
    2,408
    Location:
    Geebung, Brisbane
    cool story man :)
     
  4. OLLIE GIRL

    OLLIE GIRL New Member

    Messages:
    82
    Location:
    gold coast
    You have a gift for telling a story ...... I feel really on edge now!!
     
  5. Joels73 Panel

    Joels73 Panel Active Member

    Messages:
    1,218
    Location:
    Somerset, Tasmania
    Haha yeah thats is some scary stuff.
     
  6. malibu

    malibu Member

    Messages:
    387
    Location:
    albion park rail
    So,who was it?
     
  7. bradster

    bradster New Member

    Messages:
    55
    Location:
    toowoomba
    ghost story

    Glad you all liked it folks :D
     
  8. Dubman

    Dubman Well-Known Member

    great story..... Cool Job he had too....
     
  9. bradster

    bradster New Member

    Messages:
    55
    Location:
    toowoomba
    ghost story,

    Forgot to add these old photos of Elliot Bristow with his splitty !
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  10. melissa

    melissa Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,819
    Location:
    Newcastle NSW
    That middle picture is a sticker on my fridge! There was a young girl selling them at Manly, late last year.
     
  11. bradster

    bradster New Member

    Messages:
    55
    Location:
    toowoomba
    Photo

    Hi Melissa,
    now you know the story behind the picture! :)
     
  12. car_freak_tim with kombi

    car_freak_tim with kombi New Member

    Messages:
    322
    Location:
    Hastings, Victoria.
    Thats some scary stuff.:cry: I would be literally crapping myself if that happened to me because the old VW flat four does not get going too quickly. Those Indians might have been able to catch up with it. :lol:
     
  13. bradster

    bradster New Member

    Messages:
    55
    Location:
    toowoomba
    ghost story

    Hy mate, it puts you off doing any big road trips, especially if youre alone!!! :cry: :cry:


    Cheers
    Chris
     

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