I must preface this story by telling that I no longer possess the tapes mentioned; the tapes, two originals and two copies of the second tape, vanished.
Back in late nineteen ninety, I bought an AM-FM cassette recorder, an inexpensive model. When I got it home, I plugged it in, turned on a local station, inserted a brand new cassette, and set it recording through the system. When I played the tape back, over the music was an odd rushing sound, like a stiff breeze blowing across the mike. However, there was no breeze in the apartment, and anyway, the machine was recording internally.
The machine recorded normally when carried outside, and ran on batteries.
About a month later, Dave and I were talking on the phone-he and Buddi, as usual, were coming by for the weekend. He mentioned the tape, and asked me if I'd recorded anything else; I hadn't. I told him that, as soon as I got off the phone, I'd buy a couple of blank ninety minute cassettes, and we'd see what we might pick up.
When they arrived, Dave and I placed the recorder in the front room, which I used as a bedroom- the three of us would be in the next room, with the connecting double doors closed. We started the tape, and walked out of the room, closing the doors behind us. While it was recording, we entered the room twice-once, to check on a loud noise in the room, like a large book being slung across the floor; I owned a dictionary of that type, but when we entered the room, it was in its usual place, and nothing else out of place. (On the tape, you can hear the doors slamming open, and Dave and I entering the room, but not the sound that brought us in there.) We also went in to turn the tape over.
When we played the tape back, the first thing we noticed was a sound like a large machine, or engine, which is heard all through Side 1-someone compared it to the sound of an old-fashioned iron lung. Also, a young woman can be heard speaking, indistinctly... The voice sounds like Buddi, but she was asleep on the sofa at that time-she woke up just before we went in to turn the tape over.
There were other voices, of men, other women, of a child crying, all muffled, as if at a distance. Someone, a woman, is singing, and three times, we heard the sharp CRACK! Of someone being slapped hard across the face. Laughter, metallic sounds, faint music, all these were recorded, although we heard nothing. As mentioned before, the loud crash, and the smoke alarm going off in the hall, did not record. The footsteps we often heard were heard in the hall, but did not record.
Side 2 was just the normal hissing of a tape running through a recorder, with no sound loud enough to be picked up.
I made two copies of this tape, giving one to Dave and Buddi, and one to another friend. Each tape was subtly different from the others, 4-X, on the first copy the sound of a book crashing is missing, although it was on the original, and the other copy.
One of the copies carried street sounds, including a fire engine and a train; logically, the original should've had them, as the room the recorder was in faced Broadway, with the railroad tracks about five blocks north.
I had the original for two years after I moved from 1444 Broadway, and played it periodically. By this time, I'd moved to Cleveland, and Dave and Buddi had moved into the apartment above me.
We were at their apartment, entertaining a mutual friend, when Dave decided to play what we referred to as "the mystery tape" for this person. After searching all through his den, where their tapes were stored, we realized it was gone. I went downstairs, to get the original; it was missing from where I'd last seen it, and could not be found.
When we next talked to the friend who had the other copy, we found that hers was missing, also.
To be honest, I was somewhat relieved... Whenever the mystery tape was played, the atmosphere in the room got heavy, and almost icky-once when it was played at my place, a friend of mine left the room, and refused to come back until the tape was stopped.
At the time, I'd never heard of EVP, which was something I learned about after starting to listen to "COAST-TO-COAST AM" back in 1999.
For the record...I've never been tempted to try it again.