Friday, October 31, 2014

The History of Halloween - A History Goes Bump Special

Halloween has a rich history that dates back to the 16th century.  Many customs and rituals continue to this day, but very few people know the origins of some of the rituals many of us have observed on this day be it bobbing for apples to carving pumpkins to going door to door trick-or-treating.  Many of us have wonderful memories from when we were children and for us here at History Goes Bump, it continues to be one of our favorite holidays!

Much of the Halloween customs come from the time of harvest.  Before we had modern marvels like calendars and clocks, people used the moon, the sun and the seasons to keep track of the passing of time.  The name for this time of year became Samhain, meaning "end of summer."  Bonfires were built as a part of the festivals.  This is also the time when the Gaelics developed the belief that continues to this day that the veil between our world and the afterlife is thin and communication between those worlds is more accessible.  Candles were placed in windows to light the way for spirits, particularly lost family members.  Not all spirits were good and people developed a system for scaring the spirits away, which have become our modern day Jack 'o Lanterns.  Centuries ago, any kind of gourd would be hallowed out and used and sometimes even turnips were used.  People would carry smaller gourds with them as they traveled. 

There is some folklore that goes along with the carving of pumpkins about how the name Jack got involved.  The website Halloween History has some variations: 
"In folklore, an old Irish folk tale tells of Jack, a lazy yet shrewd farmer who uses a cross to trap the Devil. One story says that Jack tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree, and once he was up there Jack quickly placed crosses around the trunk or carved a cross into the bark, so that the Devil couldn't get down. Another myth says that Jack put a key in the Devil's pocket while he was suspended upside-down;

Another version of the myth says that Jack was getting chased by some villagers from whom he had stolen, when he met the Devil, who claimed it was time for him to die. However, the thief stalled his death by tempting the Devil with a chance to bedevil the church-going villagers chasing him. Jack told the Devil to turn into a coin with which he would pay for the stolen goods (the Devil could take on any shape he wanted); later, when the coin/Devil disappeared, the Christian villagers would fight over who had stolen it. The Devil agreed to this plan. He turned himself into a silver coin and jumped into Jack's wallet, only to find himself next to a cross Jack had also picked up in the village. Jack had closed the wallet tight, and the cross stripped the Devil of his powers; and so he was trapped. In both myths, Jack only lets the Devil go when he agrees never to take his soul. After a while the thief died, as all living things do. Of course, his life had been too sinful for Jack to go to heaven; however, the Devil had promised not to take his soul, and so he was barred from Hell as well. Jack now had nowhere to go. He asked how he would see where to go, as he had no light, and the Devil mockingly tossed him an ember that would never burn out from the flames of hell. Jack carved out one of his turnips (which was his favorite food), put the ember inside it, and began endlessly wandering the Earth for a resting place. He became known as "Jack of the Lantern", or Jack-o'-Lantern."
Some people did not feel fully protected by their lanterns, so they would wear masks and costumes to conceal their identity and fool the spirits or at least attempt to appease them.  Modern celebrations include costumes as well and children wear them as they go door to door trick or treating, which when taken for its full meaning indicates that if someone does not cough up some sweet treats, a trick will be played on them.  While some people believe that Halloween is completely Satanic in nature, it is full of Christian history and tradition.  Pope Gregory III chose November 1st as All Saints Day in the 8th century and the night before became known as All Hallows Eve. The tradition of going door to door for goodies has been a part of All Saints Day since medieval times.  Poor people would go door to door asking for food and offering to pray for the lost souls of family members.  This was started in Ireland and Britain and was originally called "souling" and the food people were given was called soul cakes.  In France, Christian family members would pray at the graves of loved ones and leave them bowls of milk.  In Italy, families would leave a meal out for the deceased before they headed off to church services.

Irish and Scottish immigrants brought their traditions with them to America.  There is little evidence that Halloween customs, particularly trick or treating were practiced in America before 1900.  But after that time, newspapers began to report the practice and it steadily grew in popularity.  Unfortunately, the practice has lost some of its appeal and people have noticed fewer trick or treaters at their homes all because of a hoax we all grew up with as kids.  News reports were always warning parents to check their kids treats for poison and needles and hospitals opened up their X-ray machines to check the candy - which probably did more poisoning of the candy than any human ever did.  Parents would not let us eat any candy until they checked it and we all lived in that fear.  And it was for nothing, although the urban legend continues to this day.  Snopes has the details here.  Trunk or treating has become quite popular in these most recent years and usually occur in church or school parking lots.  Children go from car to car to get their treats and people generally decorate their trunks in a variety of themes.

Halloween in America has continued to expand and incorporated far too many symbols to count from bats to vampires to witches and more.  Haunted experiences and theme parks are lucrative enterprises and most cities feature the very thing we love here at History Goes Bump:  ghost tours and walks.

So what are some of your memories of Halloween or favorite traditions?  Let us know in the comments below!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Haunted Honolulu Police Department

A friend of the show shared the following video with us:
Apparently, the police department is quite haunted with supernatural experiences taking place in several areas.  The Honolulu Police Department was built on the original site for Honolulu's transportation barn where buses and street cars were housed during the 1800s. Two workmen were servicing a car in the barn when another trolley car came rolling in for service. Neither the men, nor the trolley car operator saw each other and the men were crushed to death.

The police department houses a museum on the first floor full of police artifacts and uniforms.  These items could possibly be imprinted with something from previous owners.  A former police officer details some of the experiences that have happened in the museum, including a several pound mannequin being found upside down, standing on its head.  Other people have seen the mannequin blink or move.

These stories remind us of the recent report of hauntings at the Espanola Police Station.  Whenever police report supernatural activity, it is much easier to believe because they are credible witnesses.  So is this police department in Honolulu haunted?  That is for you to decide, but the accounts sure seem believable to us! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

HGB Podcast 7 - The Villisca Axe Murder House

Moment in Oddity -Fecal Transplants

There is a deadly Superbug by the name of Clostridium difficile or C. difficile.  The infection causes cramps, fever, diarrhea and swelling of the bowel.  It kills 14,000 Americans a year and has infected up to 500,000 people.  A doctor in the UK discovered a way to treat the disease and the treatment is quite odd and a tad disgusting.  The treatment is a fecal transplant.  That's right, poo is the cure.  Stool banks like OpenBiome of Massachusetts asks healthy people to donate their stool, paying them $40 per deposit and that stool is then used to treat C. difficile. The transplant is performed via a duodenal tube, a rectal tube or colonoscopy.  The healthy stool contains beneficial gut microorganisms and it fills up the unhealthy intestines of the sick patient with healthy flora.  The C. difficile is overwhelmed.  The patient is healed.  Sending bacteria to fight bacteria makes sense, but it is rather disgusting and well, odd.

This Day in History - The Creation of Double Stranded Barb Wire

On this day in 1873, a revolutionary new form of fencing is registered with the patent office by a farmer named Joseph Glidden.  Glidden had gotten the idea for his design after seeing a similar form of fencing made by Henry RoseThe fencing was barbed wire.  Rose's version was single strand while Glidden's was double stranded and the improvement was significant.  The wire was more easily produced and resulted in 80 million tons being produced by 1880.  Glidden's wire was the most popular in the nation.  Before Glidden's barbed wire, farmers had to use expensive wood to build fences when trees were unavailable and his invention made fence building easy, cheap and durable.  Life on the plains changed drastically.  Farmers could protect their land from open range animals like cattle and cattle ranchers had to change their operations.  No longer could their cattle graze openly, but cattle drives could no longer run over unfenced land to rail depots.  In later history, barbed wire was used extensively during World War I to protect trenches and the wire is used to keep prisoners inside jails.  Joseph Glidden probably had no idea just how useful his barbed wire would eventually become.

The Villisca Axe Murder House

The subject of today's podcast is far more than just a haunted historic location.  The story of this old white
frame house in a field in Villisca, Iowa is at the heart of an unsolved true crime that is tragic in every sense of the word.  An entire family, along with two other children, lost their lives in one evening.  We invite you to take a trip with us, back to 1912, back to a small flourishing rural Iowa town.

The town of Villisca is in Montgomery County in Iowa.  Today, the city has few residents, but Villisca was a town with a bustling train depot in the early 1900s.  D.N. Smith had planned a rail line for the Burlington and Missouri Railraod in 1859 that lead to the creation of the town.  The Civil War slowed down the building of the railway, but when it was finally built, the depot made the city a center for business and shops began to line the main street.   In 1912, Villisca had the only publicly funded armory in the state of Iowa lending to a rich military history up through the World Wars.  The name Villisca means "Pleasant Place" and it was a nice small town where neighbors all knew each other and Sunday socials were important events.  Some claim that the town was actually named for the Native American term "Wallisca," which means "evil place," and after hearing the tale that has made Villisca famous, listeners might agree that Wallisca fits better.

Josiah B. Moore and Sarah Montgomery were married on December 6th 1899 at the home of Sarah's parents.  Josiah had lived in Villisca for several years and he and Sarah settled there.  They were well known, well liked and affluent members of the city and Sarah was very involved with the Presbyterian Church there.  They lived on their farm with their four children: eleven year old Herman Montgomery, ten year old Mary Katherine, seven year old Arthur Boyd and five year old Paul Vernon.

On the morning of June 9th, Josiah Moore phoned the home of Joseph and Sara Stillinger to inquire if their daughters, Lena and Ina, could come to stay the night that evening at the request of his daughter Katherine.  The Stillinger girls left for church that morning and met up with the Moore family at the annual Children's Day Program at the Presbyterian Church.  The Stillinger girls and the Moore children all participated in the program that was directed by Sarah Moore and we imagine that everyone had a grand time.  We envision the Moore family at home sharing tales of the day's events and laughing heartily as they set up an area for the Stillinger girls to sleep that evening when they returned a little before 10pm.  No one had a clue what evil was lurking near or in the home.  By morning, the entire Moore family and the two Stillinger girls would be dead in a crime that would horrify the nation.

Mary Peckman was a good neighbor.  Like every good neighbor, she watched over the Moore family.  We've had our neighbor across the street come over and let us know that we had left our garage door up one evening.  Good neighbors do that.  Mary was gathering up her laundry when she noticed how still the Moore home was and she could see that no one was working on the chores for the day like milking the cows.  She approached the door and knocked.  No one answered.  She tried to open the door, but found it locked.  She returned home and telephoned Josiah's brother Ross who hurried to the homestead.

 Ross Moore glanced through a window and knocked on the door.  He fumbled with his keys and found the one that fit the lock of his brother's door.  He opened the door to the downstairs bedroom and immediately returned to the porch, greatly troubled by the brief vision he had of the room.  There were two small bodies in the bed and dark blood was soaked into everything.  Mrs. Peckman called the sheriff and City Marshall Hank Horton was first on the scene.  He had been the primary peace officer for the town for only a year.  He found everyone dead where they slept, all having suffered multiple blows to the head.  Dark material covered the mirror in the room where the Stillinger girls slept and an axe rested against a wall.  The family's doctor was called to the scene as well as the county coroner.  While trying to identify the two girls in the downstairs bedroom, they determined that one of the Stillinger girls appeared to have been molested.  Identification was impossible because of the damage to the skulls, but a nearby Bible revealed the girls' identity.

It was determined that the axe that was found in the house was the murder weapon and based on marks made by the sharp end of the axe on the ceiling in several places, it was hypothesized that the dull side of the axe was the weapon.  As detailed in the book, "On the Road to Villisca: The Hunt for the Midwest Axeman" by Hank Brewster, axe murders during these years in America's history were not entirely unusual.  A family of four was murdered in Portland, Oregon, the Coble couple was murdered in Washington state and six were murdered in Colorado Springs to name a few.  And who can forget Lizzie Borden who was acquitted in 1892 of the axe murder of her parents?

Solving crimes at this time was tough, especially in a small town where police had no real experience with processing crime scenes.  There was no DNA analysis until recent history and fingerprint evidence was just getting its start.  It was possible that nearly 100 people tramped through the murder scene, many just curious townspeople.  The main evidence left behind was a slab of raw bacon wrapped in cloth near the axe, food was prepared and left uneaten on the kitchen table along with a bowl of bloody water, the killer had wiped his hands on several items and a heel mark was left on a magazine.  The police were perplexed as to how one killer could have dispatched the entire family without waking anyone.  The victims all had coverings placed over their heads after they were killed, so it was surmised that the killer knew his victims.

Several people became suspects in the crime, though no one would ever pay for the murders.  Frank Jones had once been Josiah's employer.  The two men had parted ways on bad terms after nine years and when Josiah opened up a rival company, taking business from Jones, the bitter rivalry grew.  Jones had money, enough to hire someone to do some killing for him and that lead to a second suspect: William Mansfield, an alleged serial killer.  Two years after the Villisca murders, Mansfield killed his wife, infant child, father-in law and mother in law in Blue Island, Illinois with an axe and before the Villisca murders he is believed to have committed the Axe Murders in Paola, Kansas and the murders of Jennie Peterson and Jennie Miller in Aurora, Colorado.  (Reminds me of the Hammer Man killings in Aurora when I was a child living in Aurora in the 80s.)  Mansfield was arrested, but later let off when employment records gave him an alibi.

Reverend George Kelly was also considered a suspect.  The good reverend was a traveling preacher who was in town for the Presbyterian Church's Children Day and left quickly the following morning.  When he was brought in, he confessed to the crime after coercion and the confession was thrown out before he was tried.  An initial trial ended with a hung jury and he was acquitted during the second trial.

Another serial killer was suspected of being at work.  Earlier, we mentioned the book about the Midwest Axeman.  Henry Lee Moore was believed to be that man and he was convicted of the murders of his mother and grandmother after the Villisca murders occurred.  They were killed like the Moore family.  Henry Lee Moore is a study all to himself and an infamous killer.

Andy Sawyer was a drifter and he claimed that he passed through Villisca at the same time the murders occurred.  He was never arrested because a sheriff in a nearby town had arrested Sawyer for vagrancy the night of the murders.

So who murdered the family?  We will never know and perhaps that is why the Moore home is believed to be one of the most haunted locations in America.  The home has gone through eight owners since the Moores were murdered.  Darwin and Martha Linn bought the home finally in 1994 and restored it to the way it had been when the Moore family lived there.  The home is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open for tours and overnight paranormal investigations. Tours and overnights have yielded claims of unexplained occurrences from children's disembodied voices to objects falling over to oil lamps blowing out to people being touched.

The woman who suggested this location to us has stayed overnight in the home and she not only expressed having feelings of sadness, but she also heard scratching on the walls and something touched her husband's ear, waking him from sleep.  Their fully charged lights flickered and an interesting point she expressed to us was the absence of bugs, both outside and inside the house during the summer in Iowa.

Well known paranormal investigator Troy Taylor investigated the house in 2005 and he and his team documented the closing of a door several times when candy was offered as enticement.  They tried to debunk the movement of the door in every way and found no explanation.

The website Haunting Villisca has the following testimonial:
"On April 29, 2006 four members of PRISM (Paranormal Research & Investigative Studies Midwest) and three guest investigaters spent the night in the Villisca Axe Murder house.  The following is an account of some of their experiences.
Several times some of the team members felt their hair being tugged and one of us felt a tugging on the chain necklace he was wearing.
The team was all gathered in the parlor room downstairs and while there they heard noises from the upstairs;thuds and bumps like someone was jumping off of the bed or children rough-housing.
At about 2:45 AM, the closet door in the children's room upstairs opened and closed by itself.  There was a candy necklace hanging on the closet door handle and it would move and rattle against the door and then the door would either open or close.  This happened several times and was witnessed by the team and also was caught on film.
Also in the bedroom, the women of the team witnessed what appeared to be tiny pale fingers from the inside of the closet door.  Waving from underneath the door and touching the inside of the door.  Also witnessed was an intermittent  faint glow coming from the inside of the closet.
Throughout the night, the team recorded audio and took many digital pictures.  Some EVPs and spirit orbs and  spirit anomalies were captured.  Some of these can be viewed on
This is an experience that none of us will soon forget and all look forward to going to the house again.
Carl and Dottie Norgard"
The strange thing about the hauntings is that no one who lived in the houses prior to the Linns purchasing the house ever reported paranormal activity.  It seems to have only started after renovations were implemented.  And one has to ask the question, how much affect could all these paranormal groups going through the house have on the house?  Have they brought something with them?  Have they conjured something?  Is the Moore home in Villisca, Iowa haunted?  That is for you to decide.

For more information check out the best website on the murders:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Updates on the Podcast and the Spooktacular Crew!

Anytime a podcast is initially launched, changes are sure to follow and that is what this update is all about.  The podcast has been on air for nearly a month now and the feedback we have been getting has been phenomenal - thank you to everyone for your feedback!  We have struggled a bit with the idea of how to generate income for the podcast and we decided to try the route of other podcasts, but it never sat well with us.  We are avid podcast listeners and one thing that can annoy us to the point of unsubscribing from a podcast is ads.  We would never run ads on the show other than those that promote the show itself, although we are not against sponsorship of a show because this is generally announced at the beginning of the show and is unobtrusive.  So we decided to go the route of offering extra content for monetary supporters of the show like some of these other podcasts.

Yesterday, we received an email that changed our thinking on membership in the Spooktacular Crew.  Becoming a member of the crew required supporters to donate at least $5 a month.  This email we received came from a podcaster whom we had never heard of before, nor had we listened to his podcast.  The email read as such:
"Hi Diane,

I recently left a rating and review of your podcast and was wondering if you could do the same for mine?

As you probably know, ratings and reviews are the mother’s milk of podcast rankings. I’d love to have a review from someone like you.

When you do, let me know that you did, and I’ll give you a shout out on the next show."
Of course, no such review had been left for our show, but the point about this email is this idea of bribing people or something of that nature to get them to support the show.  This jackass had never listened to our show.  And what does it mean to get a review from someone who has not listened to the content?  Nothing.  We have also been sent emails that a certain company could get us Twitter followers for a price.  What?!  We want people to listen to the show, not fake numbers in some kind of popularity contest!

If people donate to the show, we want it to be because they have a little extra cash and want to help further a show they enjoy listening to and we want to make sure to not alienate people who are having a tough time in this economy.  SOOOOOOO...membership in the Spooktacular Crew is open to:


This means that everybody will have access to bonus content and that content includes not only a newsletter, but also access to the HGB BonusCast.  What is the HGB BonusCast you ask?  This podcast is different than the regular podcast because it contains bonus material such as outtakes, bloopers, extended interviews and real life ghost experiences as told by listeners. There will be between one or two of these extra podcasts a month in addition to the regular show and are uploaded to the regular podcast feed!  In the future, we will also be adding video content other than just the videos running the podcast audio.  Please check out the Spooktacular Crew page for more information!

We still have Milestone Goals and Rewards set up at the Patreon Page, so that people have an idea of what monetary contributions will equate to when attained.  And we would greatly appreciate any little bit that people are able to donate.  We are managing to produce the show with old software and one microphone, but we would love to set-up a professional type studio to bring listeners the quality production they deserve and to start having interviews.  Even $1 a month makes a big difference, especially when every listener sends in that $1!

So stay tuned for the launch of the HGB BonusCast and the Newsletter!  We should have a subscribe button set-up shortly for the newsletter.  Thanks so much you Spooktacular people!  And welcome to the Crew!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

HGB Podcast 6 - The Legend of Bloody Mary

Moment in Oddity - The Tale of the King and the Restaurant Owner

One day, King Umberto I, the King of Italy decided to have dinner at a restaurant that he had never been to before.  As the king ate, he caught a glimpse of the restaurant owner and asked for the owner to join him at his table.  The King was intrigued because the restaurant owner could have been the King's twin brother.  As the men talked with each other, they discovered that they both were born on the exact same date.  Not only that, but both men were married to women who shared the same name.  The restaurant was opened on the exact same day that the King took the throne as well.  The men parted ways later that day.  Some time later the restaurant owner was involved in a shooting accident that resulted in his death.  King Umberto received the news on the same day and as he listened, an assassin shot him and killed him, thus both men died on the same day.  What an odd coincidence.  Or was it?

This Day in History - John Dillinger's gang robbery

It was a cool October day.  Monday the 23rd of October to be exact.  And Indiana's most infamous outlaw was about to make his move in 1933.  A black Studebaker pulls up to a hill outside the Central National Bank in Greencastle, Indiana at 2:45pm.  Inside the vehicle are John Dillinger's gang, which included Russell Clark, Harry Pierpont, Harry Copeland, Charles Makley, Red Hamilton, and either Hilton Crouch or Leslie Homer.  This is going to be the gang's first major robbery.  Pierpont approached a teller window and asked for change for a $20 bill and when he was directed to another area, he pulled out the gangsters' weapon of choice: a tommy gun.  The rest of the gang pull out their tommy guns and the vaults are emptied in five minutes.  The total take was $75,000 and no shots were fired, which was a good thing since the police station was right across the street.

And since we are Disney nuts:  Walt Disney's Dumbo was released on this day in 1941.

The Legend of Bloody Mary

If you grew up in America, you are very familiar with urban legends.  Urban legends are the folklore for a young country like America.  These types of legends get their start mostly from true tales that get twisted, turned and added to over the years and change based on the storytellers flourish for hyperbole and dramatics.  These tales become legends because the origin is untraceable and are generally handed down from person to person and the use of urban is mainly meant to convey that these stories are more modern rather than something that has taken place in an urban setting.  Most of us have gone through the various sleepover rituals based on urban legends and told or heard various stories around the campfire.  These types of things are a rite of passage.  You may recall playing a game called, "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board," "Truth or Dare," or perhaps you even dug out the Ouija Board.  There were the stories of "The Hook" or the woman in white hitchhiking who disappears once she is dropped off at a cemetery and who can forget the story of the babysitter who gets the call from a creepy man asking about the children in the house and a trace on the call reveals that he is actually in the house.  And then there was a game played in the bathroom with a mirror based on the legend of Bloody Mary.

The story behind Bloody Mary has various versions just like all urban legends and there are two main women that the tale could be based upon.  The first is a woman who was really called "Bloody Mary" and that is Mary I, the Queen of England from 1553 to 1558.  The moniker was based upon the fact that she had Protestants executed.  In just five years, she had 280 people burned at the stake.  Her parentage did not help either since Henry VIII was her father.  The tragedy of Queen Mary I is that she never was able to carry a child to full term.  It is said that asking Bloody Mary about her children gets a nasty response.

The second woman that the tale is based upon is the one that is most likely the true origin and has various versions as well.  One such version is about a woman who lived during the Civil War named Mary Worth.  She was believed to be a witch and committed heinous acts during her lifetime.  A favorite pastime for her was to kidnap runaway slaves and torture them in her barn.  She used the slaves in black magic rituals as well.  Eventually the townspeople burned her at the stake.  Another version of the tale comes from across the pond in England during the 13th Century.  Apparently, a witch there calling herself Mary was abducting and killing young girls and the townspeople there burned her at the stake as she hurled curses at them.  And then there is the Mary Worth who was a woman disfigured at a young age who became a witch.  Irregardless of which of these tales is the origin, the name Mary has stuck as well as the accusation of being a witch.

In all stories, Mary is buried in a cemetery local to where the urban legend is being told.  In one such city, a red tombstone with no name has been reported to be the grave of Mary Worth and people leave trinkets and sometimes practice witchcraft at the gravesite.

Here is where the Urban Legend and sleepover rituals come into the picture.  Summoning Bloody Mary in a bathroom mirror is considered a test of courage.  The ritual dates back to the 1960s and the superstition about mirrors dates back to ancient times.  It is believed that spirits can be trapped in mirrors because their reflection confuses them and the boundary of the mirror frame locks them inside the mirror.  This is why superstitious folks will not buy antique mirrors and possibly why breaking a mirror is bad luck because a spirit has been freed.  Folklorist Janet Langlois wrote an essay about Bloody Mary in 1978.  The more recent movie "Candyman" was clearly inspired by the Bloody Mary ritual.

The actual ritual goes something like this and is mostly done by girls:  a young woman goes into a bathroom with no windows and no lights.  She carries either a flashlight or a candle with her.  She faces the mirror and calls out the name "Bloody Mary" three times or thirteen times based on the ritual being followed and then either turns on the flashlight or holds up the candle and it is said that she will see Bloody Mary in the mirror.  If she doesn't look into Bloody Mary's eyes, Mary will tell her the future.  If she does look Mary in the eye, Bloody Mary will scratch out her eyes or disfigure her or even kill her.  At least, that is how the story goes.  In actuality, most girls run screaming from the bathroom because their own reflection in the mirror has caused their eyes to either hallucinate or play tricks on them.  Sometimes the girls go into a bathroom as a group and hold hands in a circle while they chant together.

What should give people pause about this type of ritual is the actual act of conjuring or divination that is being represented by the ritual.  It is as if the mirror is being used as a portal and the girls are conjuring the spirit of Mary.  This type of game could prove to be as dangerous as the use of a Ouija Board.  This is probably why so many terrifying real life stories are told about experiences involving Bloody Mary:
"I was 9 when me and my friends tried doing Bloody Mary at my house one weekend. As well as I remember there were five of us and we carried my Mom's candles in the upstairs bathroom and all five of us were chanting Bloody Mary. We saw an old woman with cuts on her face and chains around her neck and shoulders looking out of the mirror out at us. Then the shower curtain went up in flames and we ran out of the bathroom. An older boy ran into the bathroom and luckily for us got the fire put out. We all got in big trouble for it and the parents thought we caught the shower curtain on fire with the candles but we had the candles at least six feet from the shower curtain when it suddenly went up in flames. I know for a fact that we did not touch that shower curtain with a candle. I've always thought about it and I know that we saw Bloody Mary but I've never been tempted to do it ever again. I was 25 this year and I remember it like it was yesterday. There were five of us girls there that night when we did Bloody Mary and had the fire in the bathroom and two of those girls who were my childhood friends died at different times in fire related accidents. I've been scared of fire all my life and I've never been tempted to do Bloody Mary again. I've always been afraid that we some how caused the death of my two friends that night and I've been afraid of fire all my life."
"Some of my friends, five of us, cramped ourselves into a small bathroom in my friend Cathryn's House. We ended up saying Bloody Mary (more like chanting it) about 20 times or so for anything to appear. When we did finally see something it started out as a green glow then the darkened portrait of a face became more visible, by that time half of us were screaming so we knocked each other down trying to get out of the bathroom and then I flipped on the light. It was a welcome relief."
"I was only seven at the time, a few friends and I went to a bowling ally. Now our parents belonged to a bowling groups so we just chilled at the arcade part. One of the other kids told us a story about Bloody Mary. My friends and I didn't believe them.  So me and two of my friends went to the mens' restroom. All we had was a flashlight. We turned off all the lights and chanted 'Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary'. My one friend then flashed the flashlight on and quickly off. I looked at the mirror and there was a girl. She looked like she was in her early twenties. She was looking the other way, yet started to turn towards us. My friends and I bolted out of there before she attacked us like the legend says. After this experience, I feel like someones always watching me. I haven't tried contacting any other spirits after this.  A few months after my friends did this, my dad died. Could she have driven him crazy enough to kill himself? Could this spirit be so full of rage it drives people to shoot themselves?  Now, ever since this happened my moods are different. I'm 15 and some days I'll just suddenly go into depression. Some days I just want to curl up and die. Could this be revenge for summoning her all those years ago?  My friends who did this with me all stopped talking to me. I met one recently and she seems okay. Could I have been the only one who seen Bloody Mary? Could she only be after me? If she is, then why? This may have happened seven or eight years ago, but I still feel the effects."
As for us, we've never seen Bloody Mary in the mirror and have never heard from anyone we know that they have.  So is the legend of Bloody Mary real?  Does she really appear in the mirror to exact revenge?  Is she just the figment of active imaginations?  That is for you to decide!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

HGB Podcast 5 - The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

This Moment in Oddity - Dr. John Osborne's Skin Shoes

Outlaws and the Old West go hand in hand.  One such outlaw could be found in the Wyoming territory and he went by the name Big Nose George Parrett because he had...well...a big nose.  So large in fact, that when it came time to bury him in his coffin he wouldn't fit until several men pushed down upon the pine lid.  Dr. John Osborne claimed the body of Big Nose George and decided to use his body for study, particularly his brain since he thought that George was criminally insane.  The good doctor's wife had been committed for being criminally insane and he thought studying Big Nose George's brain would help him find a cure.  In the end, many people might consider Dr. Osborne the insane one because of what he did with George's body.  The doctor removed skin from George's chest and legs and then had it sent to a tannery with orders to create a pair of shoes from the skinDr. Osborne wore his shoes proudly.  As a matter of fact, they were on his feet at his Inaugural Ball in 1893 when he became governor of the state of Wyoming.  The good doctor also went on to become assistant Secretary of State under President Wilson.  The shoes still exist to this day and can be seen in their new home at the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins, Wyoming.  Shoes made from the skin of an outlaw certainly strikes me as quite odd.

This Day in History - Nuremberg Trials Begin

On this day, October 18th, in 1945 the trials against World War II war criminals begin in Nuremberg, Germany.  Nuremberg was chosen as the site for the trials because it was considered the birthplace of the Nazi Party since it held propaganda rallies there and the Reichstag Nuremberg Laws were passed there.  Those laws were the anti-semitic laws that led to the destruction of Jewish businesses and finally the round up of Jewish people.  The trials were conducted before an International Military Tribunal and by October 1st, 1946, twenty-two war criminals had been tried.  Twelve of those convicted were sentenced to death, among them were Reich Marshall Hermann Göring, Julius Streicher, Hans Frank and Alfred Rosenberg. Three others that were convicted were sentenced to life imprisonment and four other convictions led to prison terms ranging from 10 to 20 years. Three men were acquitted.  The war crimes they were accused of ranged from enslavement to persecution to murder and to extermination.  One other man was tried in absentia and that was Martin Bormann.  Other war criminals who were not tried because they had committed suicide before the trials were Robert Ley, Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels and, of course, Adolph Hitler.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is located in downtown Hollywood at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard.  The architecture of the hotel is in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style featuring rounded Moorish windows and wrought iron chandelier and lights with a giant lighted sign atop the edifice.  The architects were Fisher, Lake & Traver, a short-lived architectural firm that also designed the Stillwell Apartments in Long Beach and the Phoenix Westward Ho Hotel.  If the name of the hotel makes you think of a president, that would make sense because the hotel is named for President Teddy Roosevelt.  Stalwarts of the Hollywood community financed the building of the hotel and included Mary Pickford, Louis B. Mayer, Sid Grauman and Douglas Fairbanks.  The hotel climbed to twelve stories and featured 300 rooms when it was finished and it officially opened on May 15th, 1927.  The Grand Opening was celebrated with several celebrities from Charlie Chaplin to Will Rogers to Greta Garbo.

The Roosevelt fell into decline in the 1950s and a new owner remodelled, painting the hotel a horrid seafoam green and demolishing the historic archways.  The beautiful painted ceilings were also covered.  The wrecking ball came calling in the 1980s, but the Radisson bought the building and attempted to restore the Roosevelt to its former glory using historic photographs for guidance and they did a good job.  Thompson Hotels later bought the Roosevelt and they manage it to this day.  Parts of the Walk of Fame line the outside of the hotel and the building beckons visitors to enter and transport back to the Golden Age of Hollywood.  The hotel features vintage bowling lanes, an Olympic size pool with a David Hockney mural painted on the bottom, live theatre and the Tropicana Bar.  Unfortunately, the hotel has been extensively renovated and modernized by Thompson Hotels, which makes it perfectly comfortable for the modern era, but most certainly has lost a bit of its glitzy charm.  Despite the interior renovations, the Roosevelt Hotel is one of the few historic treasures remaining in this area, along with the Chinese Theater that is a block to the east and the El Capitan Theater that stands on Hollywood Boulevard as well. 

The grand Blossom Ballroom of the Roosevelt hosted the very first Academy Awards in 1929 and it was banquet style.  Thirteen statuettes were handed out by Al Jolson and Douglas Fairbanks and the entire ceremony lasted a mere five minutes.  This was the only time the Oscars were hosted at the hotel because it was not large enough for later ceremonies.

One of the hotel's most famous guests practically made the Roosevelt Hotel her home.  Marilyn
Monroe lived in a poolside suite for two years after her star began to rise.  She had begun as a model and that career started to take off just as she found herself newly single having gone through her first divorce of...well...many.  Thus she made the hotel home and enjoyed sitting in a dark corner booth at the Cinegrill, which is named Teddy's today. The room was the largest and best in the hotel and that suite is now named for her.  Marilyn also posed for her first ad ever - an ad for suntan lotion - on the hotel pool's diving board.

Other famous people would make the Roosevelt Hotel home as well.  Clark Gable and Carole Lombard lived in a penthouse there and that penthouse is now named for them.  Along with the name change came a price change.  A penthouse that Gable paid $5 a night for now runs a whopping $3,500 a night!  Montgomery Clift lived at the Roosevelt during the filming of "From Here to Eternity" and paced the hallways of the ninth floor as he memorized his lines.

You may know Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, but did you know him as a bathtub ginner as well?  The Roosevelt had a barber shop and Flynn used a back room there to brew his famous gin recipe.  And if you have seen The Little Colonel starring Shirley Temple, you may recall the fabulous tap dancing routine she does with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in the film.  They practiced that routine in the Roosevelt Hotel on the stairs between the ballroom and the lobby.

With so much activity and so many famous people coming and going throughout the years, one would imagine that the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is haunted and it reportedly does host a few specters.  As mentioned before, Montgomery Clift had stayed on the ninth floor and paced the hallways.  Apparently, his spirit liked the hotel so much, that he has returned and can be seen pacing the floor and also practicing his trumpet.  Room 928 had been his room and people report feeling cold spots in the room and both maids and guests have been touched in that room.

A mirror that had once been in Marilyn Monroe's Suite was moved to a wall in the lower elevator foyer.  People claimed to see the reflection of Monroe in the mirror.  Recently, the mirror was moved into storage.  Monroe is not stuck to just haunting her old mirror though.  She has been seen and felt in her suite, which was room 246.  She also has appeared in the Cine Grill and the scent of her perfume lingers.

Carole Lombarde has been seen hanging around the penthouse she once shared with Clark Gable.

A couple of non celebrity ghosts hang out in the Blossom Room.  Psychics claim a nervous man in a tuxedo resides in there on occasion and also another man in a white suit has been seen near and playing the piano.  Piano music has been heard coming from the room when no one is there as well.

Unseen entities occasionally take a dip in the pool.  The website http://haunted reports: "Security guards have seen ghosts take a late night, early morning swim in the pool. One such ghostly resident decided to do so at 3 AM in the morning, to beat the crowds. While the security cameras picked up his image in the pool, when a security guard went down to investigate, he communicated through walkie-talkie that no one was there. Waving his hands at the camera. However, on the security camera, the guard was waving his hands right through the apparition's head!"

Poltergeist activity abounds with mysterious calls coming into the switchboard in the lobby from empty rooms.  Rooms are locked and unlocked on guests.  Disembodied voices are heard in various rooms as well.  A ghost that takes on the appearance of a little girl calling herself "Caroline" has been seen by hotel staff skipping about the lobby and some guests have seen her in hallways.

So is the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel still playing home to celebrity guests who died long ago?  Are ghosts creeping around the place?  That is for you to decide.

Cult of Weird provided the skin shoe story on today's episode and you can find more details on that here:

Monday, October 13, 2014

HGB Podcast 4 - Molly Brown and the Molly Brown House

Moment in Oddity - James Dean's Cursed Car

On September 30th, 1955, actor James Dean was killed in a violent car accident after his Porsche 550 Spyder slammed into a Ford sedan that was making a left turn through an intersection.  Not long after the accident, rumors began flying that the Porsche 550 Spyder was cursed.  Some people believe the car that Dean nicknamed "The Little Bastard," was responsible for the actor's death and the history of the car after the fatal crash seem to support the belief that the car was cursed.  Several parts from the Spyder were salvageable and placed in other cars: the engine, transmission and tires.  All cars that received parts from the Spyder were later involved in terrible or deadly accidents.  When the car was initially brought into the shop of the new owner, George Barris, it rolled off the back of a truck and crushed a mechanic's legs.  Later the car was being used as an educational piece about driving safety and on a trip to one event, the truck transporting the Spyder went off the road and killed the driver, somehow ending up on top of the driver after he was thrown from his truck.  At another safety event, a teenager's hip was broken when the car's restraint chains snapped and the car fell on the teenager.  Then somehow the Spyder managed to disappear...forever. German Porsche mechanic Rolf Wütherich was riding along with James Dean and was injured in the crash, breaking his jaw and shattering his thighbone.  He later tried to kill himself a number of times.  He was never successful, but he did go on to stab his wife fourteen times.  He died in 1981 in a drunk driving accident.  Was this about guilt or was he cursed?  Was this a carryover of the car's curse.  We'll never know, but such a car certainly is odd.

This Day in History - The Gray Ghost's Greenback Raid

On this day, October 13th, in 1864, John Singleton Mosby and his battalion of guerrillas staged
another one of their infamous raids dealing a heavy blow to the Union during the Civil War.  Mosby was a Confederate Army cavalry battalion commander and his command was the 43rd Battalion, 1st Virginia Cavalry.  He was nicknamed the Gray Ghost because of the stealth of his raids and ability to evade capture.  His men came to be known as Mosby's Raiders and they were good at blending in with locals.  Union Major General Sheridan had won several battles in Virginia and held most of the territory, but Mosby would be a thorn in his side.  On the night of October 12th, Mosby took 84 men to Winchester and they attacked all day on the 13th with their crowning achievement coming that evening.  Several miles west of Harper's Ferry ran the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  Mosby and his Raiders displaced several pieces of the track near Brown's Crossing and then they waited.  Around 3am, the Passenger Express made its way towards the area and when it hit the spot where the track was removed, it derailed sending passengers flying.  The Gray Ghost's Raiders sprang into action and rounded up all the passengers at gun point, shooting a Union soldier in the process.  They burned the rail cars and made off with $173,000 in Greenbacks before rising away.  The raid halted railway operations for a while and came to be known as the "Greenback Raid."

Molly Brown and the Molly Brown House

*We interviewed Colorado Historian Annette Student for this podcast.  She is the author of several books featuring Colorado locations including the definitive guide to historic Riverside Cemetery, "Denver's Riverside Cemetery: Where History Lies."  You can email us at if you would like an autographed copy of the book. The book sells for $24.95 + $2.00 taxes to Colorado residents + $6 shipping and handling ($32.95). Out of state pay $24.95 + $6 shipping and handling (30.95) Or check it out on Amazon!*

The Molly Brown House has reports of paranormal activity and Diane remembers the house being included in haunted historic tours sponsored by Historic Colorado (Check that out at  The Molly Brown House itself hosts several Halloween inspired events each year with both their Victorian Horrors Tours and Ghosties and Goodies Tea. (Check those out at  Both Margaret and her husband J.J. have been seen roaming the halls of their former home and J.J. who enjoyed smoking a pipe and cigars must still be enjoying these items in the afterlife because the scent of the smoke can still be detected on occasion and the unique thing about this was that J.J. was not allowed to smoke in the house when Margaret was around.  Margaret's mother passed away in the home and she is sometimes seen standing at one of the windows.  Occasionally, the window blinds will go up and down without any seen assistance.  Rocking chairs also rock without assistance and the tinkling of piano keys is sometimes heard.  The dining room hosts a ghost that rearranges items and has been photographed sitting at a table wearing her Victorian best.  Keep in mind that the home served as a type of halfway house for girls and activities that could lead to paranormal activity are a possibility.  So is the Molly Brown House haunted?  That is for you to decide.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

HGB Podcast 3 - The Poe Show

Moment in Oddity – The Female Stranger GraveThere is a grave in St. Paul Episcopal Church’s Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia with an inscription on the gravestone that reads:
"To the memory of a Female Stranger
Whose mortal suffering terminated on the 14th day of October, 1816 Aged 23 years, and 8 months
"This stone is erected by her discon- solate husband in whose arms she sighed out her latest breath, and
 who under God did his utmost to soothe the cold dull hour of death.
"How loved, how honor'd once avails the not, To whom related or by whom begot, A heap of dust remains of thee
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be."
And then Acts 10:43, “To him give all the prophets witness that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
The grave is considered a historical mystery and an oddity.  Legend weaves a tale about a woman who died in 1816 at Gatsby’s Tavern in Room 8.  Two hundred years has helped this tale twist and turn and there are many theories about who the woman was, who her husband was and how she died.  The one clear fact is that the woman was ill and died young.  Was she Theodosia Burr Alston, wife of Governor Alston, or was she a young foreign woman who died in her lover’s arms?  Why was there a need to conceal her identity?  Is this why she purportedly haunts Room 8 at the Gatsby’s Tavern?  Does she wave from the window to the long lost love we know nothing about?  We will more than likely never know the truth, but the fact that someone would go to the effort to lay an elaborate gravestone with an elegant poem and not name the occupant certainly is odd.

This Day In History - Edgar Allan Poe dies on this day, October 7th in 1849. This show is dedicated to his memory.

The Poe Show

Edgar Allan Poe's life is a study in tragedy.  Perhaps that is why his writings seem to carry a melancholy theme throughout.  Poe was born in the city of Boston on January 19th, 1809 to parents that he would never really know because his mother died before he was three years of age and his father had already abandoned the family.  John and Frances Allan took Poe in as their own and raised him.  The Allan family was very well off and Poe was sent to the finest schools and he did very well academically, but there was something broken deep inside him that he attempted to fix via a myriad of vices.  One of those vices was gambling and the debts that he owed piled up causing a rift between himself and his foster father John when John would not loan Poe money.  The debts forced Poe to leave school in 1826.  The relationship between John and Poe would never recover.  Poe was written out of Allan's will and left in poverty.

During this time, Poe had become engaged to a young woman named Elmira Royster.  When Poe left school and returned to the Allans, he found out his fiancee had become engaged to another and Poe left heartbroken.  He decided to join the Army in 1827 and also published his first book of poetry that year, "Tamerlane and Other Poems."  The next year came a second book of poetry, but Poe's writing was receiving no attention.  He decided to go to West Point and entered in 1830.  Poe wasn't much of a soldier and he was kicked out of West Point after only a year.

Poe was a writer at heart and he latched onto prose.  He could write anything and he did.  While most people know him for his macabre horror and mystery genre works, Poe wrote romantic poems, black comedy like his story "Loss of Breath," tall tales like his story, "The Angel of the Odd," and even science fiction like his work, "Mellonta Tauta."  He started to make a name for himself as a literary critic and began selling pieces of his original writing to magazines and newspapers.  He would come to be known as the Father of the Detective Story and there is no doubt that he was THE best short story writer of all time.

In these early writing years, Poe found love again in a highly controversial way.  He had moved in with his Aunt Maria Clemm in Baltimore and fell in love with her 13 year old daughter Virginia, who was also Poe's cousin.  Virginia and Poe married when she was fourteen and moved to Richmond, Virginia where Poe became the literary editor for The Southern Literary Messenger.  Poe had also embraced another vice and became an alcoholic.  He battled depression through his most prolific writing years as well and the death of Virginia from tuberculosis just eleven years after their marriage did not help.

It was in 1845, two years before Virginia's death, that Poe wrote the piece that would make him an international sensation:  The Raven.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!
The Poem was reprinted nineteen times in Poe's lifetime.  So what is your favorite Edgar Allan Poe piece?  Perhaps it was The Pit and the Pendulum or maybe The Murders in the Rue Morgue or The Mask of Red Death or The Cask of Amontillado or even The Fall of the House of Usher.  For me, it was a story that captured my attention when my fifth grade teacher read it aloud to the class: The Tell-Tale Heart.  I was hooked on Poe from that very moment.

One hundred sixty-five years ago, Edgar Allan Poe died.  He was only 40 years old and the circumstances of his death seem to be the final mystery he wrote.  He was traveling from Richmond to Philadelphia and stopped in Baltimore for a couple of days.  He was found on the street in a critical state on October 3rd and rushed to Washington College Hospital where he died four days later, crying out, "Lord, help my poor soul," before he passed.  Doctors claimed that "congestion of the brain" killed Poe, a diagnosis no one can understand in our modern terms.  Did this mean he had cholera or an alcoholic wet brain?  There are claims that he had acquired rabies from somewhere or that he had syphilis.  Was it something more mundane like heart disease?  The fact that he was traveling and a sick man would generally not start a trip when sick and the fact that he was delirious when found seems to indicate something peculiar had happened.  The mystery deepens with the fact that when Poe was found, he was not wearing clothes that belonged to him.  Was he beaten and mugged?  Was he Cooped, a practice in which men were stuffed in a box like a chicken coop and beaten and then forced to drink alcohol, dressed in clothes that were not their own and taken to polling places to vote for a certain candidate? He was incoherent the entire time he was in the hospital and so unable to explain what had happened to him, but he called out "Reynolds" several times.  The attending doctor, Dr. John J. Moran, did not help the situation as he began to embellish his tales of the death of Poe.  So we will never really know what caused Poe to succumb to the thing he wrote most about: death.

Edgar Allan Poe lived in several homes during his lifetime and many survive to this day.  His cottage in New
York is in the Bronx and known as the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage.  The last home he rented in Philadelphia is preserved by the National Park Service and known as the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site.  The oldest home in Richmond, Virginia serves as the Poe Museum there, although Poe never lived in the building.  Baltimore is home to the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum and Poe is buried in Baltimore at the Westminster Burial Ground.  His original grave was moved in 1875 to a memorial near the front of the cemetery.  A mysterious admirer paid homage to Poe at his grave every year on the writer's birthday from 1949 to 2009.  The admirer would leave three red roses and a bottle of cognac.  No one knows who the admirer was and only once was he caught in a grainy picture wearing a black fedora and a long coat.

It seems only fitting that Edgar Allan Poe would still walk the earth as a ghost.  The Poe Museum in Richmond reports hauntings, but mostly of a woman named Gertrude and never of Poe.  Typical ghostly activities are footsteps, the noise of slamming doors even though many of the doors have been removed and voices caught on EVP.  The same is true of the Poe Museum in Baltimore, which seems to have several spirits haunting it, but not Poe's spirit either.  One of the spirits seems to be a residual haunting by a woman.  Paranormal investigators and employees of the museum report icy cold spots even in the heat of summer, disembodied voices and windows and doors opening and closing on their own.

As for Poe, he is reported to haunt the Westminster Burial Ground and is seen sometimes in the catacombs under the church.  The "Horse You Rode In On" bar was established in 1775 in Fells Point and Poe used to drink there frequent.  A ghost at the bar has been nicknamed "Edgar" and he reportedly is a poltergeist, opening and closing the cash register, swinging the chandelier and pulling out bar stools of patrons, particularly if they state that Poe does not haunt the establishment.  His ghost has also been spotted roaming the halls of the hospital where he died.  And the streets of Baltimore play host to the spirit of Poe as well.  His tortured life seems to continue on even after death.

To buy a Poe Cottage Paver:
An exhaustive website of Poe Information:
The music of Kristen Lawrence featured on the show: and


Saturday, October 4, 2014

HGB Podcast 2 - Stanley Theatre In Utica, NY

Odd History – Jesus statue with human teeth

Statues made to honour or represent Jesus Christ are a dime a dozen.  There are probably millions around the world if someone were to count.  But we imagine that a Jesus statue sporting real human teeth is quite unique…and creepy!  The Christ of Patience statue is located in a small Mexican town and has been there for 300 years.  The statue was sculpted to depict Jesus before his crucifixion, with a sad expression and blood running down his body.  It was a standard tradition several centuries ago for human body parts to be donated to churches as well as hair.  The definition of creepy to me is a statue with human hair.  The Christ of Patience was taken in for restoration and the teeth were discovered complete with roots.  Whose teeth they are, nobody knows, but it seems strange that someone would donate teeth particularly when one notices that the Christ statue’s mouth is barely open.  Are they from different people who volunteered to have teeth pulled or were these teeth possibly from someone who was not a willing donor?  We’ll never know, but that statue is quite odd.

This Day In History

Doane Robinson was a historian from the state of South Dakota.  He wanted to find a way to attract tourists to his state and he came up with a MONUMENTAL idea.  The Black Hills National Forest was already a tourist destination and Robinson decided that placing the faces of some American presidents on the side of a mountain in the Black Hills would be the perfect tourist draw.  He hired sculptor Gutzon Borylum to accomplish the task.  That task began on this day, October 4th, in 1927.  George Washington was the first face carved into the mountain and was completed in 1934.  President Thomas Jefferson followed, but things did not go as well.  The facade cracked and so he had to be restarted on the other side of Washington.  President Abraham Lincoln followed and then finally President Teddy Roosevelt.  The project was completed in 1939 at a cost of $1 million.

The Stanley Theatre in Utica, NY

*Special thank you to listener Patty aka HappyHomemaker29 for suggesting this location*

The Stanley Theatre opened in Utica, New York after thirteen months of construction, on Sept. 10th, 1928.  The theatre was designed originally as a grand movie palace with seating for over 2900 people.  Architect Thomas Lamb designed the theatre and the architecture style is most often referred to as Mexican Baroque, but the theatre really is a hodge podge of Spanish Baroque, Indian, Middle Eastern and Art Deco.  The marquee has always been something to behold as it juts out impressively to greet visitors with glowing lights and large lettering.  The exterior of the building is covered in terra cotta and tiled mosaic.  Upon entering, there is no missing the impressive grand staircase that rises from the lobby to the Mezzanine.  The staircase
looks familiar and recognition brings a bit of melancholy, for this staircase is designed exactly like the Titanic’s grand staircase.  The rest of the interior of the theatre is glorious and ornate with gold leaf, gold columns, marble lions, gilded cherubs and twinkling stars lodged into the pink hued domed ceiling.

The theatre was named for Stanley Mastbaum, one of the Mastbaum brothers.  The brothers owned a chain of theatres under the Stanley-Mark Strand Corporation.  Three days before the Stanley Theatre opened, Warner Brothers bought out the chain and took ownership of the Stanley under the Warner Brothers Circuit Management Corp.  On opening night, the silent movie “Ramona” starring Dolores del Rio played.

The theatre was a spectacular place to see the latest releases coming out of Hollywood and she had a great run until the 1970s.  The 70s saw the theatre fall out of use and into disrepair and she closed her doors at the beginning of the decade.  Restoration efforts began in 1974 and have not ceased.  Everything has been replaced and restored and things like electrical have been updated.  The name has changed to the Stanley Center for the Arts and now features off Broadway shows, concerts, opera and ballet.

As is the case with many older theatres in America, when the curtain falls on the stage and the lights are
dimmed, not all activity ceases.  The Stanley has its own set of bumps in the night.  In particular, there is a row of seats – 101 to 113 – that are purported to be haunted.  There are tales of one seat in that row that leaves patrons who sit in it feeling bewildered and scared as they are either sat upon or forced from the seat.  Rumor is that the theatre will not sell tickets for that seat or any seat in the row, but some claim that is urban legend.  As for the theatre, they will not reveal which seat is haunted, nor if they in fact do not sell tickets for certain seats.  Reports of shadows and footsteps abound.

Ghost Seekers of Central New York has investigated the theatre on several occasions as the only paranormal group allowed to do so and they claim to have captured orbs and strange mists on camera and video.  The balcony seating area by Exit 5 seemed to have a large cold spot that was felt by several people.  Also in the balcony area, near Exit 3, an entity seemed to manifest.  Patrons of the theatre claim to have felt the presence of something in the ladies’ restroom.  The Ghost Seekers seemed to validate this claim when they caught a shadowy figure floating towards that restroom.

Are the hauntings intelligent or are they residual?  Are the hauntings even real?  That is for you to decide.

Show Notes:
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