Ripley’s Paranormal Coincidences

May 30, 2012

 This story is the king of all paranormal coincidences. Well, so far, for me anyway. It’s a fascinating tale but complex to describe. You gotta bear with me as I set this thing up. You will also find some selected text underlining here. That’s because I’m pointing out key elements of the story that all fit together for a total package.

In 2011, I published Book I of The St. Augustine Trilogy, my paranormal/historical novel for young adults titled, Sliding Beneath the Surface.

The story mostly takes place in the St. Augustine, FL neighborhood called the Abbott Tract just north of the Castillo de San Marcos–the old old Spanish fort.

Right at the edge of that neighborhood sits the original Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum. At night, Ripley’s runs their Ghost Train Adventure that begins and ends there at the museum.

In Sliding, the main character, fifteen-year-old Jeff Golden, mentions he’s been to Ripley’s and there he saw a carved Chinese puzzle ball like the one Lobo, an old Native American shaman once handed to him. I had Jeff say all that because in my research travels to St. Augustine, I saw a large puzzle ball at Ripley’s and decided to use it as a key paranormal symbol–hence it’s appearance on the Sliding cover above.

Photo of the puzzle ball I took at Ripley’s several years ago.

In continuing first person comments, Jeff makes clear his dislike for all the tourists who flood St. Augustine and go on silly ghost tours like the one at Ripley’s. Then Jeff describes times during terrifying paranormal exploits when he and his girlfriend, Carla:

  • Ride their bikes past the historic St. Francis Barracks that houses the Florida National Guard Headquarters
  • Encounter a soldier in front of the National Guard building
  • Go to the St. Augustine National Cemetery just down the street from the National Guard building
  • View the historical marker there erected by the West Point Society of North Florida in relation to the Second Seminole War
  • View the 3 coquina pyramids that cover the remains of over 1400 soldiers killed in all the Seminole Wars
  • Learn about the start of the Second Seminole War from Lobo, the old shaman
  • Encounter a cannon used in the Second Seminole Wars

Photo courtesy of Greg Dillon 

In writing Sliding, I mention in the book:

  • How some of the officers killed in the first battle of the Second Seminole War were West Point Graduates and
  • That my father, Walt Dillon, graduated from West Point. (Both my parents are buried there)

Now, many years ago, my wife Barbara and I wrote our nonfiction book titled, An Explosion of Being: An American Family’s Journey into the Psychic, originally published by an imprint of Prentice Hall.

When I published the Sliding book in 2011, I also brought out a new edition of Explosion through my own publishing company. That book is dedicated to my father and describes his funeral at West Point. Dad’s death started Barb and me on our investigations of the paranormal and resulted in the writing of Explosion.

The Ripley’s mansion on San Marco Avenue

Just after the first of this year, 2012, I contacted a friend of mine, Dave Lapham. Dave wrote two books on the ghosts of St. Augustine. I called him because I wondered how he had marketed his books.

Turns out, one thing Dave did was to set up book signings at Ripley’s right there up the street from the neighborhood where all my fictional  characters live. Dave suggested I gave Ripley’s a call. Ripley’s?  I had thought about book signings in St. Augustine but not at Ripley’s. How interesting.

At the time though, I was so swamped with other things that the thought of working St. Augustine book signings into my schedule just then seemed overwhelming. Dave’s idea was a good one but it took me until  the week of May 14 to do anything about it. Here’s where the coincidences really come flying at me. Yup, everything you’ve read up to this point has been prologue.

Early in that week, my friend Chuck Dowling, another author but a writer mostly of military fiction, emailed me. He asked if I had ever thought of doing book signings in St. Augustine. I replied and said, yes, I had just put it on my calendar to call Ripley’s on Friday based on Dave’s suggestion.

Florida National Guard Headquarters

A day or so later, I got an emailed newsletter from the Seminole Wars Foundation based in Bushnell, FL, of which I am a member. In doing research on the Second Seminole War for Sliding, I found the group’s goals and activities very worthy.

Anyway, one particular article in the newsletter really caught my eye. Their next meeting was coming up and here’s what it said, boiled down to the following bullet points:

The meeting will:

  • Be held on August 18, 2012
  • Be held in St. Augustine
  • Be held in recognition of the 160th anniversary of the 1842 interment of all Seminole War casualties buried in the St. Augustine National Cemetery

    Annual Reenactment of the Dade battle that started the Second Seminole War

  • Be held at the Florida National Guard Headquarters–the old St. Francis Barracks
  • Involve The West Point Society of North Florida, in addition to one other military organization
  • Involve the entire group walking from the National Guard Headquarters to the St. Augustine National Cemetery
  • Involve a ceremony at the 3 coquina pyramids
  • Involve the firing of the cannon from the Dade Battlefield park museum, like the one Jeff and Carla encountered

I’m telling you what. I read that piece over several times, marveling at the fall meeting’s connections with both my books and my father. To say all that was startling is to do it an injustice. I had yet to attend a meeting of the Foundation but this one I could not miss.

For a few minutes, I just had to sit back and marvel at how many things could come together like that. Even believing at least some coincidences have significance, as is my thinking pattern, I was no where near prepared for such a rush of multiple, connected events. Synchronicty at its best. Carl Jung would have loved it.

BUT WAIT! It doesn’t end there. Back to Ripley’s.

As planned on Friday, May 18 , I called them. Ripley’s that is. There I spoke to Ralf who was very receptive to the  book signing idea. In fact, he said, it might be good for me to do one on a Saturday evening when there are a ton of their Ghost Train folks coming through the museum, and then again during the next day on Sunday. After looking at my calendar and checking with my wife, the dates of July 14 and 15 were open for both of us and for Ralf so I immediately scheduled them. Perfect.

But that also got me to thinking. I would be going up to St. Augustine on Saturday August 18 for the Seminole Wars event during the day, right? That led me to ask Ralf about doing a book signing that same night and then the following Sunday. Again, both dates were open and I immediately scheduled them as well as those two days in July.

Actually, it was only after speaking with Ralf that the enormity of what I would experience on August 18 truly hit me. Wow. With the Seminole Wars event during the day and signing both books at Ripley’s that night, I had scheduled myself into living out all those coincidences within about an eighteen-hour span of time. And it had taken less than a week from the time my friend Chuck called asking me about St. Augustine book signings until I finally set everything up with Ralf . Quite a whirlwind of activity.

Photo courtesy of NASA

The universe had spoken and emphatically so, but why? Was there any purpose in all this happening in such a linked way, assuming it all fell together as planned? Was I being guided somehow if nothing more than a higher aspect of my own being? To be perfectly honest, I would like to think that it was some sort of confirmation of my efforts in writing and studying the paranormal. Maybe yes, maybe no.

But the universe is a tricky place and when you try to interpret it’s intentions, it can very easily smack you upside the head. Some of those folks who study synchronicity suggest that intense coincidental events partially, at the very least, reflect your own thinking and observational patterns.

The idea is that you increasingly play a part in creating “coincidences” on a quantum level without realizing it.  This can result in delusional cycles of self-reinforcement instead of revelation. Here is where people interpret series of coincidences that mirror their beliefs that the world will soon end and are just a bit disillusioned to find it hasn’t gone away on schedule.


So, for now, I’m just going to be very thankful that I was privileged to watch such amazing patterns emerge out of our everyday world and fuse themselves into a structure in which I will be a grateful participant. No matter what, it’s going to b e fun to see it all unfold.

By the way, all the location photos you see here I took a number of years ago in my research for writing Sliding Beneath the Surface. Under the category Photo Galleries here on my website blog, you will find a number of groupings that relate to the Dade battle–the one that started the second Seminole War in 1835. Or you can find them under the Florida History category.


If you are truly interested in all kinds of strange phenomena, you also might be like to take a look at my book, Carl Jung, Hauntings, and Paranormal Coincidences.  You can find it in most online bookstores. Listed below, however, are direct book links to some of the larger retail outlets in the English speaking world:

Amazon.comAmazon CanadaAmazon UKAmazon IndiaAmazon AustraliaBarnes and Noble, The Book Depository



Here are some interesting links if you care to check them out.

Click here for another interesting series of “coincidences”.

Click here for the spring newsletter of the Seminole Wars Foundation. See page 3.

Click here for the Seminole Wars Foundation.

Click here for the West Point Society of North Florida.

Click here for the St. Augustine National Cemetery.

Click here for the Florida National Guard.

Click here for Ripley’s.

Previous post:

Next post: