Judging by the experiences that Jackie Cassel relates in her monograph “Paranormal Waters” (published in 1867 when the passion for the spa resorts was at its peak), the thermal establishments are not only sources of health but also of paranormal phenomena. Mrs. Cassel, a middle-aged and unmarried Frenchwoman resident in Clermont, suffered from cerebral lumbalgia and the doctor prescribed her some purple pills, but as she did not like that color, she preferred to prescribe herself a stay in the spa of Carlsbad in Czechoslovakia. Even with reluctance, her doctor agreed to pay for her stay at the Grand Hotel in that spa city, and that is how Mrs. Cassel began his career as an expert in spas.
In that first stay in a thermal establishment, she realized that unusual things happened there. For example, the towels disappeared. You left the towel on a lounger and, when you returned, it was conspicuous by its absence. The jars of aromatic salts also disappeared and, on one occasion, the hotel manager disappeared too along with the last year’s collection. But disappearances were not the most surprising.
Once, Mrs. Cassel was submerged in spring water up to her neck in one of the pools of the thermal establishment, when suddenly the telephone rang. This would not have been anything special if there had been a phone or at least if the phones had already been invented. But its inventor had not been born yet in those years, so it is not strange that Mrs. Cassel was surprised. Anyway, she left the pool and picked up the phone: “Say”, she said, and then she heard a female voice reciting verses by Emily Dickinson. This surprised her even more since Emily Dickinson still did not exist and, logically, she had not yet composed any verse. What kind of paranormal phenomenon was that? Clairvoyance? Fortune telling? Prestidigitation? That did not fit into any of the known categories of paranormal phenomena.
The next day she commented the incident with a veteran user of spas, who downplayed the phenomenon by saying that sort of thing was common in the thermal establishments of that category. In cheaper establishments, that did not happen. And just at that moment the man received a phone call by means of which an unknown voice began to recite to him verses by Pablo Neruda. But the man hung up because he did not understand Spanish. That seemed funny to Mrs. Cassel: The man could hang up a non-existent telephone, he could hear non-existent verses… but he could not understand Spanish! The laughter of Mrs. Cassel made the man uncomfortable and he walked away cursing under his breath. That same afternoon, during the usual big early evening meal, she found him again on the phone. When, after listening a few minutes, the man hung up, Mrs. Cassel hurried to ask him who it was. “Well, how should I know?”, he blurted out, “It was an unknown poet!” In fact, it was impossible for the man to know because it was Robert Frost, who had not been born yet.
Disconcerted, Mrs. Cassel requested an audience with the hotel manager to clarify these strange phenomena. But it turned out that the hotel manager was not born either. On the way to her room, the phone rang again. This time, she refused to take it. But the phone kept ringing as if it were an important call. Mrs. Cassel was doubting whether to pick up the non-existent phone or not when she woke up in anguish in her Clermont bed and, after recovering from the anguish, remembered that she had an appointment with the doctor about the lumbalgia matter.