A different type of time travel
experience happened in 1938, near the end of the Great Depression, when
Marguerite Vassar was walking toward the pump outside her farmhouse near Milton,
California. The farm had once been well kept, but it was rundown now that the
depression had made it difficult for the Vassars to make ends meet.
That day in late spring, Marguerite was alone. Her
husband had gone to work, her children were in school. Since there was no indoor
plumbing, she had gone outside, heading for the pump. She had just turned the
corner of the house when she suddenly felt different. Later, she said that she
had been "caught up in time."
As she stood there, aware of some
time change, a woman burst out of the farmhouse door, a terrified look on her
face. She must have been baking, because Marguerite noticed that her hands were
covered with flour. Then Marguerite detected the smell of fresh bread and cut
strawberries wafting from the kitchen. Like most other people who see an
unexpected and unusual scene from the past, Marguerite didn't question what was
happening. She didn't wonder how the woman had gotten into her house, or where
the odor of bread had materialized from. She simply observed as the scene
unfolded, as if she were watching a play.
Marguerite heard footsteps
running up the path that connected the farmhouse to a nearby pond. She turned
and saw two young boys rush toward the woman. When they reached her, they buried
themselves in her skirt. Further behind were three men.
One was carrying pitchforks, but the two others carried the lifeless body of a
teenage girl. She had long blond hair, but it, like the rest of her, was soaking
One of the boys ran to open the
farmhouse door. The woman ran in, followed by the men. As the story goes,
Marguerite supposedly stepped in behind them before the door closed.
What she saw was a kitchen, but
not the one she had become used to. A pot of stew was bubbling on the stove. A
red-checked cloth covered the table. In the center were fresh strawberries in a
blue bowl. Fresh bread was cooling on the counter. But no one was there.
She noticed a trail of water on
the floor and followed it through the kitchen and living room to a bedroom. As
Marguerite reached the door, she watched the woman pulling the top covers from
bed. Then men laid the girl's body down. boys looked scared, the adults were
At that moment, Marguerite's
vision of the past faded. Only she wasn't in the house, she was where she
had been standing at the corner of the house.