For A Minute I Thought, “Walter, Is That You”?

When I saw this story I thought for a minute that it was one of our stellar citizens.

India official blames quake scare on Oregon man’s ‘hogwash’ alert

An Oregon man who says he forecasts earthquakes by measuring the universe’s “dark matter” and his friend, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker, may have sparked panicked evacuations Thursday in tsunami-ravaged India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

But it couldn’t be Walter, he’s dead.

Walter was an elderly gentleman that lived in Linn County. He always popped up when there was a big event. His specialty was “witching”, divining the location of different things through the use of rods that would cross each other when you were near what you were looking for.

The first contact I can remember having with him was when we were looking for someone who had driven into Foster Reservoir. He called up and told us where to look because he had “witched” it using a map. Walter was quite old even then and had difficulty walking, so he exercised his “witching” powers by using maps. At least most of the time.

One afternoon he was driving by a local high school as just “knew” that there was a bomb in one of the lockers. He drove to the local Police Dept and told them. This was near the time of Columbine, so the Police took him seriously. They evacuated the High School and pushed Walter around in a wheelchair while he “witched” each locker. It must have been a sight. No bomb was found and we didn’t hear much from Walter for a while. He did pop up to report laser cannon orbiting over the United States, but called back later to tell us the they were gone now.

Sept 11 2001, Walter reappeared. This time he was helping his country by witching the location of bombs and later, Anthrax. He called the FBI. The FBI having absolutely no sense of humor, especially in the aftermath of 9/11 called us to check him out. They insisted that we send a Deputy up to talk to Walter, even after I explained to them that Walter was 86 years old and couldn’t leave the house by himself, much less put bombs or Anthrax anywhere. So a Deputy went to Walter’s house and had a chat with him. He had been “witching” with his maps again. He couldn’t find a good map of Washington D.C. so he had an old one out of an atlas. He would put the map on the table and kind of hover over it with a couple of welding rods. When they crossed, he would peer down and try to see what point on the map they were over. Needless to say, his accuracy left something to be desired. He died here a couple of years ago. I kind of miss him because, if nothing else, he was entertaining, and a really great guy to talk too.

This is not to say that “witching” is completely wacko. When I was in Germany, our cable plant chief used to use a pair of copper rods to locate underground telephone cables. It actually worked in that case! In fact, he had me try it myself using a couple of soda bottles to hold the rods. damnedest thing I ever saw, but all I found were cables, no Anthrax.

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