Investigators: Christy, Roger, Kevin, Marcia, Jim, Donna & Dana
Equipment used: Hand held Sony video cameras, personal audio recorders, digital cameras, and various EMF meters
OKPRI's Movie Documentary of our investigation at the Abandoned Joy School
The old school building sits quietly alone, no longer filled with children’s laughter or the busy movements of teachers as they inspire and teach their students. Now, this aging building is left only with echoes of these memories, memories that have been said to hold secrets which have created a legend of ghosts.
The legend depicts the tragic death of Melba, the janitor’s wife, who in 1945, mysteriously fell from the top basement stairs down below to her death. Different versions of the legend are told, but one in particular
says that Melba was pushed down the stairs by an unseen force. Her death was ruled “accidental” but some say it was not an accident at all. Some even believe Melba has never left the old school building and that her ghost still walks the halls of the old Joy school.
This old school has quite a history to it as well! From what history we do know of this school, we have learned that the land was donated to Murray county as part of the Eskridge Estate. Then a $30,000 bond election was held to fund the building project, it’s architect was J.B. White of Ardmore. A contractor by the name of Elkridge & Wheeler was hired to build the school and did so, completing the building in 1922.
A contest was held to name the school and the winning name
became Joy and it was Murray County‘s first consolidated school. The original consolidated districts thru 1922 were Carr Flats, Talley and Wheeler.
The school first opened in July of 1922 and had 114 students enrolled in its first year. Most schools use school buses as their main source of transportation, but for the first students of Joy school, strangely enough, their transportation was three model T Fords. For twenty-four years, the school remained a Kindergarten thru High School until 1946, when it was changed to grades 1-8.
Sadly enough, classes where discontinued in December 2001 after being opened for nearly 70 years! Those individuals associated with the Joy School District today are trying to get the old Joy school a Historical site declaration. Currently now even though there are no more classes being held at the school, they do have men's basketball in warm months. (No leagues. Pick up games) on Monday nights in the old gym and then of course they have the “Fear of the Dark” Haunted House during October for the Halloween season. Admission
to this annual event in the past has ran $4 a person and those who have attended have said that they were not disappointed and they loved the haunted house. Most would agree to say that they enjoyed it even better than Oklahoma City's Brick-town Haunted Warehouse! Each year the volunteers for Fear of the Dark haunted house change their “scare themes” to keep it fun and exciting since they usually have over 1000 visitors that come to the event! If you are ever down in Southern Oklahoma around Halloween, you ought to check out the old Joy School’s Haunted House!
We were invited to come out and investigate the old Joy School by Tracy Beasley, who is part of the Joy School Historical Association and is actively working on having the school recognized as a historical landmark. She had previously watched a media airing that we had did and was excited as she contacted us to see if we would come out and investigate the school.
We weren’t really too sure if the rumor’s of the janitor’s wife were true. We know how legends can sometimes have a bit of truth to them, but we also know how they can get twisted and changed over a period of time. None the less we were intrigued by the opportunity to investigate the old school building and decided to see if we could find out if the building really had activity going on or not. We were contacted by several different people after our first initial investigation and before our second investigation there at the school and learned that many of the stories we were told, all seemed to have one thing in common: These people all felt like they had experienced strange paranormal phenomenon there at
the old school. One of these people happened to be the school’s former principal who worked there at the school over 17 years ago. She told us that she had often felt herself being watched there in the school, especially when she was alone and even reported feeling strange in the teacher’s lounge area. She told us of one particular time when she was retiring her position as the school’s principal, she had gone in the school to the teacher’s lounge area to take her small table home with her, but got a weird feeling and decided not to.
Other’s have reported to us similar incidents, some more intense than others, but most of the stories involved the teacher’s lounge area. Some reported being locked inside the teacher’s lounge while others reported having the doors slam shut on them, hearing voices, footsteps and always the sense that they were not alone and being watched. We were even told that the school’s staff used to tell the children attending there not to go into the basement area because “Melba would get them.” We were told that many of them were told this in order to keep the children from falling down the steep steps of the basement.
This investigation was very strange both times that we investigated this location. The first time that we were there the building seemed to be very active. While doing the sweeps, it was the North side of the building that seemed to catch my attention (as well as the whole group’s attention) more than any other part of the building. Ironically the most interesting room was the teacher’s lounge area which was a bit strange because according to the legend it was the basement area that was rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Melba, the janitor’s wife. As mentioned above, we found out later through other sources that the janitor’s wife’s real name wasn’t Melba at all, but she was nick named this by
numerous people associated with the school in an attempt to keep children from going into the basement area because the basement steps were steep and they didn’t want anyone getting hurt in the basement area.
One really interesting thing we captured was a strange dark shadowy image of a child in the top window area of a door. The old doors used to have small windows they would open to help with air flow. While in one of the classrooms, Christy turned around and took a photo and was aiming down the hallway since we were hearing footsteps and sounds. She didn’t know that she had captured the shadowy child in her photo. One unique thing is that there was no furniture in the hallway that would have been that high where an animal or person could get on top of it. There were also no animals or children present with us during our investigation.
It was also on our first investigation of the old school that we had he most active night for recordings, etc, but again, this was more noticed towards the teacher’s lounge area and nothing specific to the basement. This again made me feel like my impressions of Melba’s ghost not being there were correct. It
wouldn’t be until our next visit to the school that I learned that Melba was indeed still there in the building. It was during our first visit however that we felt the building was alive with activity. When we were doing our sweeps everything seemed quiet, but many of us felt drawn to the North end of the building. We didn’t pin point it at first until we got to the teacher’s lounge area. It was in this room that myself and another member heard audible voices. The words that I heard were, “The wall!” and still to this day I have no clue what they were referring to. Tracy and her husband did confirm that the walls that are now in place, at one time were not there so the teacher’s lounge area was changed up a bit.
While most of us were in the teacher’s lounge area doing the sweeps, a couple of members were standing outside the room in the hall and one in the doorway. All the sudden the door started to close very quickly on its own as if suddenly pushed hard. We from that point monitored the door off and on all night and just when we weren’t paying attention to in the door started closing again on its own and I was able to capture this on video. I could never get any spirits to step forward and admit who had messed with the door, but later on during a sit down, we learned of 2 males spirits that were also there in the building and they were “pranksters” of sorts. They seemed to convey that they enjoyed all the yearly Halloween festivities and were amused that the building had a legend of being haunted. It was my impression that they felt the need to help
keep the legend alive by adding tothe activity in the building.
Video of Door to Teacher's Lounge Opening on its own.
On our second visit to the school, the building seemed to go quiet and there wasn’t much noticed activity going on, not even any movement with the door on the teacher‘s lounge. On the second visit I again felt the two male spirits and when we tried to get them to communicate with us, they didn’t want to give any information about themselves so we only had our original impressions of them from the first visit. We were however surprised when Melba made herself known to us. She did convey that she was happy in her current state and still felt she was needed at the school. When we asked her about her death and what happened, she appeared to be confused and really didn’t know the exact details of her death. She knew that she had fallen down the basement stepped and that she had passed, but she didn’t know exactly what caused her fall. That is the part that she seemed confused on. She also appeared to be very reserved on our second visit and at first acted a bit reclusive as if she wasn’t too sure about it. We are in agreement that this could possibly be why we didn’t pick up on
her on our first initial visit. We were strangers wondering around in the school, so perhaps she felt a bit uncomfortable with us since we didn’t go first to the principal’s office to check in as a visitor!
Our team feels like this location is haunted by many different spirits. These ghosts are not all necessarily connected to the school's past. There were some who are transient and who have taken up residency there. There were some ghosts who felt happy but others who felt sad and some who felt angry. We do feel like some spirits will stay in abandoned places where they don't have a lot of live human interruption. We believe this to be the case with the abandoned Joy school.
Below is the newspaper article the Wynnewood Gazette wrote about our investigation there at the Abandoned Joy School.