Monday, January 17, 2011

Backseat Ghost Driver!

On March 22, 1959, Jim Chinnery accompanied his wife Mabel to a local Ipswich area cemetery.  Jim waited dutifully in the couple's car as Mabel paid a brief visit to her mother's grave.  Her mother, who had died the previous year, had once told Jim that she would "forever be at his side."

Not something most son-in-laws want to hear, this eternal promise was probably NOT on Jim's mind on the sunny, early Spring day, but perhaps it was.  Mabel had brought along her camera in order to take a few photographs of her mother's tombstone, and with one picture left on the roll, playfully snapped a photo of her smiling husband as he waited patiently for her return to the car.

Shortly after, the couple had the roll of film developed at their local drugstore.  When the prints were returned, they were shocked to see that Jim was not alone in the car; the very solid image of Mabel's mother was seated firmly behind him on the passenger's side!  Mabel's mother had often accompanied the family on drives, and now could clearly be seen sitting in her usual position, with the sun reflecting off her glasses.

A local newspaper, the Sunday Pictorial (which became the Sunday Mirror in 1963) obtained the photo and the negative and ran the story.  As part of the feature, the paper had a photography expert examine the photo.  The expert ruled out tampering, and also ruled out double exposure.  However, many websites that feature this photo as a Top 10 Ghost Photo fail to mention the second part of the analysis...the expert stated that he believed the anomaly was created by a trick of light.  In his own words:  "The woman's scarf seems to follow the line of the back of the car.  As light shines in through different windows of the car it can create odd patterns."

In 2006, the late producer Ivan Howlett filmed a French television documentary featuring the photo.  Unfortunately, research into the photo turned up little supporting evidence as Mabel's maiden name is unknown, thus making tracking down her mother's name and mother's site of burial nearly impossible.

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