OK. OK. There are plenty of ghosts in the old town of Niles and its picturesque canyon on the southeastern side of San Francisco Bay. The John McCain lookalike, Charlie Chaplin, lived and worked there circa 1915. As did Broncho Billy and casts of hundreds forgotten faces. Joaquin Murrieta?
But I mean THE real Niles ghost. The most famous one.
The Niles Canyon Ghost the best known of the local ghosts, but in the 1950s, Alameda County sheriff’s deputies on at least two occasions nabbed youngsters hiding in the bushes with white sheets over their heads. According to old newspaper clips, the sheriff picked up one Clarence Chivers, 19, on Feb. 26, 1950, on suspicion of impersonating a ghost.
When I talked to her, his mom, Bea Chivers, was still chuckling over her son’s youthful prank.
”I thought they buried that story,” she declared.
Young Chivers, now a senior citizen was a truck driver and lived in Newark.
Two years after the Chivers incident, the newspaper clips reported, deputies arrested a 22-year-old for the same reason. They reported there were 20 to 30 kids hiding along Niles Canyon that same day.
The story of the “Lady in White” is still told today.
The old newspaper clippings, which are missing some details, said that on Feb. 26, 1938, a young woman was killed in an automobile accident. She died while returning from a formal ball. Since then, on rainy Feb. 26ths, she flags down motorists at night. She gets in the back seat and gives as her destination an address in San Francisco. When they get to the toll gate on the Dumbarton Bridge, they look in the back seat. The woman is not there. Curious, they drive to the address in San Francisco, where they find a sad-faced old woman who tells them that her daughter was killed some years earlier driving through Niles Canyon.
As the visitors leave the house, they catch a glimpse of a picture of the woman’s daughter on the fireplace mantel. It is the young woman who flagged them down. . . .