Karen Ketchum lives above an antique and clock-repair shop in LaPorte. | Photo provided
Updated: May 18, 2013 6:10AM
“All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.”
— Steven Wright
Karen Ketchum, 64, has been a widow for 20 years. She lives above an antique and clock repair shop called As Time Goes By near the intersection of Lincolnway and Monroe in downtown LaPorte. She told me she thinks the place was built around 1870 and originally was a hotel called The Imperial.
Ketchum is of the Spiritualist faith.
“I’m from Oak Park, Ill.,” Ketchum began. “I went to Fenton High School in Bensonville. When my husband and I were in Chicago, we lived downtown right at Oak Street Beach on 71 East Division — the Gold Coast.”
Yeah, I hear yuh, we lived in Lake Village on Ind. 10, just east of Black Oak Bayou.
“In 1980, we bought a summer house on Fish Lake (about 10 miles southeast of LaPorte) because we had three children, there was no place for them to play. For two years, we spent every weekend and vacation there. In 1982, I told my husband, ‘I’m not going back to the city.’ We moved to Indiana.”
Our mutual friend tells me you’re a psychic.
“That’s not so. There’s a difference between a psychic and a medium. I’m a medium. A psychic hears and sees with their third eye. A medium can hear and see with their naked eye. And, yes, I talk to dead people. Living in this building, I do get a lot of sights; it’s very active.”
Please, tell me more.
“There is a difference between ghosts and spirits. A ghost is someone who has passed and does not go to the other side; they stay for some reason or another. A spirit is one that has passed, has gone on, and has come back. That’s the thing that a lot of people don’t understand.
“Then you have residual and you have intelligent hauntings. I have a lot of residuals here in this building.”
I have a lot of hairs standing up on my arms here in this building.
“But I also have many, many intelligent hauntings.”
When did you have the realization that you had this gift?
“I’ve been this way my entire life. My father had it too. Oh my God, my father had it. I didn’t know exactly where to go and what to do. It was like, ‘What do I do with gift?’ I finally met somebody about 12 years ago who kind of pushed me in the right direction.”
Let’s back up a bit. Tell me about your father.
“My dad had precognitive visions.”
“I was going to fly to Los Angeles by myself;, my husband took me to the airport. My father called O’Hare (International Airport) and got me on the phone. He said: ‘Come home now.’ You never questioned Daddy.”
What did you do?
“I left my baggage on the airplane and waited for my husband to pick me up.”
“The engine of the damn plane I was supposed to be on fell off, killing all those people. I think it was Flight 191. That was in the late ‘70s.”
You’re giving me the heebie jeebies.
“My dad and I liked to go to cemeteries. A cemetery is nothing but a park for the living; it’s not for the dead. We’d go look at these graves and my dad would say: ‘Do you see that over there?’ I’d say, ‘Yes, I do. I see a little girl.’ We’d walk over to where she was standing and there would be the gravestone of a child.”
Karen, would you mind if we turned on a few more of these lights? It’s kind of dark in here.
“My husband is buried in Pine Lake. I’ll tell him, ‘I’m going to Pine Lake Cemetery, c’mon over.’ And he’s there. But most of the time, he hangs out here or with the kids.”
“Yes, I read tarot cards, palms, my crystal ball and a deck of 52. They are very helpful guides. Everybody scrays. I just do it a little better because I’ve had more training.”
Scrays? (pronounced scries).
“How many times have you looked at the clouds and said, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s a puppy.’ Water and oil in the street after a rain, you might see a horse. That’s an example of scraying. It’s the same as when I concentrate on my crystal ball, something will pop through.”
Interesting. Karen, for me, I think it’s ESP. Just the other day, I was waiting my turn at a drive-up and I could hear the woman tell the customer ahead of me, “Welcome to Burger King, my name is April.” When it was my turn to pay, I looked at the woman and something told me she was born on my birthday. I asked her, “Were you born in April?” She replied, “Yes, April 8.” Somehow, I just knew it. That kind of thing has happened to me for as long as I can remember.
“You were listening to your spirit guides. We all have spirit guides that have been with us since the time of conception and will stay with us until we pass — I call it graduate.”
Are you or have you been a church-going woman?
“My mother and her family were German-Jews. My father was a Baptist. I married a Lutheran. Actually, I’ve attended many different churches, but never felt comfortable until I joined a Spiritualist Church in Michigan City. When I walked into that church, I felt as if I was at home.”
Some readers will consider you either evil incarnate, a crackpot or a charlatan.
“I have been ridiculed and I have been verbally beaten up because of what I believe. I’m a firm believer in all religions. None of them are wrong. All of them are right. I could never condemn or judge you if, say, you were a Catholic.”
Karen, you’re preachin’ to the choir.
“I give readings and also have classes in the basement of this building.”
How much for a reading?
“They are $30 each. I had a woman in here; she paid me. I had the money sitting on the table while I was giving her a reading and all of sudden I felt extreme negativity. My hand went over my mouth. We were together maybe about 10 minutes. I handed her money back. She didn’t understand. I told her, ‘You have to leave.’”
“I saw her husband pass away in a very bad accident. I wasn’t going to tell her to go home and wait for the phone call. On the other hand, sometimes things come out of me like, ‘You know, if you weren’t such a whore, you might not have all these problems.’”
Karen, the cynic might ask, “Why aren’t you filthy rich from making visionary stock market investments or picking the winning lottery numbers?”
“You know, it doesn’t work that way. I don’t play the lottery or the stock market. I’m just a little old lady who sits up here and has herself a ball. I’m never alone.”
Karen Ketchum: A blithe spirit who has a ball — made of crystal.