The Heinous Haunting by Eleanor Toll

Bella Kan ’24 and Ellie Ruos ’24
Staff Writers

To all those who enter Toll Hall, beware, for the ghost of Eleanor Toll has risen to protect her legacy. This might sound crazy, but trust us.

Toll was the first woman appointed to the Board of Trustees at Scripps College, but she died suddenly before she was able to serve. She spent her life humbly minimizing her accomplishments, claiming motherhood was at the forefront of her life. It’s as if she wanted to live in the shadows.

On Sept. 8, two desperate and overheated Scripps students decided to crash for the night in the Toll Hall Recreation Room. That’s us, Bella and Ellie: two unlucky sophomores with broken air conditioning units during a month where the high was a constant 100 degrees. The firm couch cushions and powdery smell were less than ideal, but at least the air conditioning worked.

After a long day of studying, we grabbed our pillows and prepared to go to sleep. The first sign of paranormal activity came with the flickering of the chandeliers. Perched over the couches and tables, the light fixtures never went dark throughout the entire night. We flipped the switches on and off a few times as the blinking continued, but nothing changed. The portrait of Toll stared at us from the foyer, mocking our futile attempts.
The spooky activity persisted and climaxed two hours into our sleep. I, Bella, will take over with the storytelling as Ellie cannot recount any experiences after falling asleep that night. After falling asleep around 2 a.m., we both woke up at exactly 4 a.m.. There was an eerie feeling in the air. I looked around to find Ellie sitting upright and staring at me.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. She then motioned to the chandelier. At this point, the light flickering increased in frequency and the bulb was much brighter than before. It was alarming.

Ellie then turned back to me and said, “Eleannnnnoorrrr,” with a slight vibration in her voice. I stared at her in disbelief–it seemed as if she was possessed by the spirit of Toll herself. We both then fell back asleep, unable to recount anything else.

One could say we are being dramatic. Maybe Ellie was half-awake, muttering nonsense and trying to prank Bella in good fun. We considered this too. However, the two nights following the paranormal activity, we both woke up at exactly 4 a.m.. Both times we were back in our separate rooms, free of Toll’s piercing stare, but apparently not of her haunting.

I, Ellie, live in Toll Hall. Since that night, I always notice Toll’s probing portrait following me as I walk in the front door. This occurrence sparked our curiosity to look deeper into her life-story and understand her possible motives for haunting Scripps students.

An L.A. Times article from 1926 recounts that her life was rich in accomplishments. She was vice president of Security Trust and Savings Bank of Los Angeles, the former president of Los Angeles District of Women’s club, and organized the Glendale Symphony Orchestra Association. She was a teacher at Los Angeles High School, a mother of four sons, and a wife to Charles II Toll.

The article also mentions her tendency to “discourage her supporters” and default to motherhood as her main accomplishment. Why did she feel the need to depict her vibrant life as quiet and simple? Is she rolling in her grave, regretting her modesty? These questions haunt us. If anything, Toll could be calling out for recognition by sparking the attention of Scripps students living under her name.

All in all, we respect her and hope that she haunts us with love. However, let it be known if you live in Toll Hall or decide to stay the night, be wary of Toll and say her name in good faith. She is never not watching.

Image Source: Vivian Monteiro ’23