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The making of a scary East L.A. story

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Haunted East Los Angeles authors Mario J. Becerra (left) and Victor Huesca | C.J. Salgado

By C.J. SALGADO

EAST LOS ANGELES — Shhhhh. Come closer. If you ask me, it’s not Halloween without a good scary story.  Writers Mario J. Becerra and Victor Huesca couldn’t agree more.  Their recently published book, Haunted East Los Angeles, tells of devil worship, spirit children, Ouija boards, poltergeists, and graveyard apparitions. Apparently, many others agree, too, because the Chicano Resource Center at the East Los Angeles Library was packed at his Thursday evening book talk.

After reading his book late night, I wondered about the real story behind the making of a good scary story.  I just had to find out,  if only to calm my nerves.

Becerra and Huesca are cousins. Writing a book was something Becerra thought about doing someday. Huesca was always into the paranormal and supernatural. Late last year, they decided it would be a good project to work on as family. Becerra would do most of the writing and Huesca would do most of the research. The hardest part, said Becerra, was finding the time to work on it. With two boys, he knows well.

“Writing is not always fun,” said Becerra, a first-time author. “It’s work!” Often, he had to toss a draft and start over until he was satisfied. After some seven months, it was done.

Why write about haunted East L.A.? Both Becerra and Huesca grew up in East L.A. Over the years, they had heard bits and pieces of the local lore. Huesca admits to even having had run ins with the supernatural world himself, at times hearing unexplainable whispers and feeling the presence of something not of this world. Becerra, on the other hand, never actually encountered a ghost but is willing to open his mind to the possibilities, especially now after hearing bone chilling tales related by others in the research for the book.

The book, which is available for sale on Amazon, is relatively short, only 39 pages, made up of five chapters covering stories revolving around Evergreen Cemetery, Stevenson Middle School, Casa Del Mexicano, Linda Vista Community Hospital and the “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez. It’s the perfect length to read in one sitting, say, before going to bed or as a warm up, or better yet, a chill down to a scary movie night.

My personal favorite is the chapter on the former Linda Vista Community Hospital, “the most notoriously haunted locale in East Los Angeles,” claims the book. This 110 year-old hospital in Boyle Heights (now a senior housing complex) was the primary health care facility for Santa Fe Railroad company employees in California.  There was also a morgue and incinerator. As the book states, “whenever one is in a place that has so often housed the dead,” it means for a lot of ghostly energy.

Having written the manuscript, Becerra approached Gloria Negrete, a young artist from East L.A. for the cover illustration. She agreed. Becerra and Huesca both liked the ghost stories in Chapter 2 on Evergreen Cemetery best. Fearless, Negrete spent some time at Evergreen Cemetery. Then, inspired by the book’s stories on the cemetery and her visits, she created the original artwork for the book cover showing a beautiful “young ghost woman perambulating slowly through Evergreen.”

So what specter of the future lies ahead for these literary purveyors of phantoms? Becerra is already contemplating the next book, “Haunted Los Angeles.”

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2 comments

  1. Do any of you know the story of a man that dance with a lady ghost all night, the mans coat was found on top of her grave stone in Calvary cemetery?

    • Sounds familiar, but can’t recall who told me that story. I might have heard it a long time ago when i worked in skidrow at a plasma center. Some young dude told me about Lincoln Park statues that came to life at night and the demon who used to show up at El Paso del Norte bar to dance with the men and lure them to their disappearance ..

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