Sunday, September 27, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 72 - The Life and Afterlife of Bruce Lee

Moment in Oddity - Germany's Weird Rules

Germany had some really weird rules in the distant past. There were clothing laws that made wearing certain items forbidden. Poor Magdalena Schöttlin was wearing a neckerchief when she ran afoul of the law. The reason why was because the handkerchief was too large for her station in life. She was hauled before the court where she explained the item had been a gift. This was her third offense with wearing the neckerchief and she was fine four days' wages. At one time Germany had 1,350 laws dictating what people could and could not wear. Men were supportive of the laws because they didn't have to meet their wives wishes for new clothing items. (Hey you guys out there, don't get any ideas!) The same battle over a neckerchief happened to another woman in 1684. Items made from silk or calico were strictly forbidden. Hannß Jacob Eytel, a weaver’s son, was fined about two weeks’ earnings in 1662 “on account of the very wide trousers he has been wearing, which fashion he is not entitled to” and threatening that “if he should again put on such trousers of this fashion, they shall, by virtue of the Princely Command, be confiscated”. Several couples were fined for inviting more than twelve people to their weddings. Thirty groups of unmarried people were fined for holding dances. One poor woman in 1687 appealed to the court for welfare, but because she and her son had been seen in clothing above their station in life, help was refused to her. The Germany of old, certainly had some laws that were very odd.

This Day in History - Navy Abolishes Flogging

On this day, September 28th, in 1850, the United States Navy abolishes flogging as a form of punishment. It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when flogging was used as discipline for sailors. Whipping was administered via a cat-o-nine-tails, which was a whip formed from nine knotted ropes. It was believed that this kind of punishment was more effective than confinement and got sailors back to work quickly. Congress decided to abolish the punishment. They did not offer alternatives, so the Navy turned to dousing with sea water, jailing sailors in sweatboxes, tattooing, branding, wearing signs of disgrace, lashing with thumbs behind the back, tricing up by the wrists, straight jackets, and locking seaman in irons and providing only bread and water. The Navy believed these punishments were needed because insubordination and desertion rose without the use of flogging. Commodore Matthew C. Perry tried raising morale to instill good behavior. And guess what? It worked. In 1855, Congress followed this path and came up with a system of rewards and punishments that worked much better than flogging and carries over to our modern era.

The Life and Afterlife of Bruce Lee

Just the mere mention of the name Bruce Lee conjures visions of martial arts fighting and movies. Bruce Lee fought discrimination to become the most famous American of Asian descent. He is considered the most influencial martial artist of all time. Fame was elusive and once found, it perhaps was not what Bruce Lee had dreamed it would be. His candle did not burn long as he died at the young age of 32. Some say it was a curse that took his life. A curse that carried over and took the life of his actor son Brandon Lee as well. Could it be the early deaths of these two young men that has led to their spirits being at unrest? Was it a curse that plagued the Lees? Come with us as we explore the life and afterlife of Bruce Lee.

Lee Jun-fan was born in the year and hour of the Dragon on November 27, 1940 in San Francisco, California. The timing of his birth was a powerful omen in Chinese Astrology that he would lead a powerful life with much impact. His mother, Grace Ho, was half Chinese and half Caucasian and came from a wealthy family. Her clan was one of the most powerful in Hong Kong. His father was Lee Hoi-Chuen and he was Han Chinese. His career was in the Cantonese Opera and he was one of the leading actors in both that and film at the time. Lee Jun-fan was given his name by his mother and it means "to arouse and make prosperous." Dr. Mary Glover, who was the attending physician, gave Jun-fan the name Bruce. The family would use neither name and they called Bruce by the nickname Sai Fon meaning "little peacock." The Lees used this nickname because they were superstitious and believed the gods would take away a male child if they disapproved of that child. Sai Fon is a girl nickname and perhaps the Lees felt they could fool the gods with that name. The reason they feared losing Bruce is because they had lost their first born son in infancy.

After Bruce was born, the family returned to Hong Kong and Bruce was raised there. The Lee family had been in America on tour with the Opera. He began his career in martial arts in Wing Chung when he was thirteen under Master Yip Man. Bruce referred to his martial art as Gung Fu, which is Cantonese for Kung Fu. Bruce appeared in several films as a child actor and he appeared in twenty films by the time he was eighteen. He loved acting and would jump out of bed at midnight to make a film. But if someone tried to wake him for school, he would just roll over. He also took up dance, which went with his martial art studies. He actually competed in dance and in 1958 won the Hong Kong Cha Cha Championship.

The Lee family had been in America when Bruce was born because they were on tour with the Opera. Because Bruce was born in America, he was able to claim American citizenship and he did that when he was eighteen and boarded a ship bound for San Francisco with only $100 in his pocket. He headed to Washington to attend the University of Washington in Seattle. He decided to start his own Gung Fu school while in Seattle and he opened Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute. It met in a very small rented basement room. As the school grew, Bruce was able to rent a larger location on University Way and there was a room in the back big enough to serve as a living space. One of his students was a girl named Linda. The two soon fell in love and married in 1964. Bruce decided that teaching Gung Fu would be his career and he started making plans to open schools around the country. He left his Seattle school to his assistant and good friend, Taky Kimura, and moved with Linda to Oakland where they opened another Gung Fu Institute.

Bruce decided that Gung Fu was not as complete a martial art as it could be and he developed Jeet Kune Do. This decision arose from an incident in his martial arts school. A group of Chinese instructors came and told him they disapproved of him teaching Causcasians their art. They challenged Bruce to a duel of sorts. Bruce won, but he was disappointed that it took him three minutes to pin the main guy. He decided then that he needed to improve his art. As he continued with his art, he was asked to give a demonstration at the First International Karate Tournament. Bruce was charismatic and spectacular and in the audience sat Jay Sebring. You may recognize that name because Sebring was one of the victims of the Manson Family Murders. Sebring was hairstylist to the stars and he told one of his clients who was a Hollywood producer, William Dozier, about Bruce Lee. The producer was looking for someone to play Charlie Chan's son, so he gave Bruce a call.

After an impressive screen test, Dozier was positive he wanted to work with Bruce. Unfortunately, the Chan movie project fell through, but Dozier gave Bruce $1,800 and promised him that if the Batman TV series proved to be successful, he had plans to start a Green Hornet show and Bruce would be given the part of Kato. At this same time, Linda gave birth to the couple's first child, Brandon. After hearing about the new grandchild, Bruce's father died. Bruce decided to use the money Dozier gave him to take the family to Hong Kong, so everyone there could meet Linda and his newborn son. They spent four months there and then flew to Seattle to spend time with Linda's family. They decided to relocate to Los Angeles because Bruce had decided that martial arts might be his passion, but his career choice was acting.

Production of the "Green Hornet" began in 1966. They filmed for six months and though the series was fairly popular, it was not renewed for another season. People loved watching Bruce perform his moves, which he slowed down considerably so the camera could catch them. Fame was elusive and Bruce began to think he made a bad decision. Between 1967 and 1971, he only was able to land a few bit parts on TV and in film. His daughter Shannon was born in 1969. In order to provide better, Bruce took on celebrity clients and taught them Jeet Kune Do. In 1970, he sustained an injury to his back that was so severe he was ordered to bed rest and told he would never do Gung Fu again. He was in bed for six months. He then pursued his own recovery and began walking, working his way back up to full strength. He would live with the pain of the injury the rest of his life.

While he had been stuck in bed, Bruce came up with the idea of a TV series centered around an Eastern monk who traveled throughout the Old West. He pitched the idea to Warner Brothers and the TV series "Kung Fu" was born. Bruce anticipated playing in the starring role, but the part was given to David Carradine and Bruce was left disappointed. No one thought a Chinese man would be bankable. Bruce headed to Hong Kong with Brandon, who was five at the time, to visit family. Bruce was amazed to find that he had become fairly well known there. Everyone referred to him as Kato and Hong Kong filmmakers started approaching him. Bruce decided that this could be his backdoor into Hollywood and he made the movie "Fists of Fury." The film was a huge success.

"Fist of Fury" was the sequel to "Fists of Fury" and it did even better. Bruce had been under contract for those two movies and now he was free. He moved on to his next project, "Return of the Dragon," which he wrote, directed and produced. It proved to be a box office smash and Hollywood started paying attention. In 1972, Bruce was in the middle of "Game of Death" when Warner Brothers approached him about making a movie in collaboration with Hong Kong. This movie would be "Enter the Dragon." Bruce put "Game of Death" on hold. Filming was tough because of language barriers and Bruce was stressed as he wanted this movie to really impress American audiences. They got it finished and it was scheduled to premiere in August of 1973 at the Hollywood Chinese Theater. Bruce would not live to see that premiere and his crowning achievement.

On July 20, 1973, Bruce experienced a headache. It was not severe, but he needed something to dull the pain. A friend gave him Equagesic, which was a prescription painkiller. For a minor headache? Bruce went to lie down and could not be roused later. He was in a coma. He was rushed to the hospital where he died. The coroner who conducted the first autopsy was unable to determine what had happened. The top forensic pathologists were flown in and it was finally determined that Bruce had an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the pill. That allergic reaction caused his brain to swell. No one has been completely satisfied with this answer. There was cannabis found in his stomach, but everyone agreed it had nothing to do with the death. Interestingly, a couple months earlier, Bruce had collapsed with convulsions and swelling of the brain after eating Hashish from Nepal, which was considered to be very pure. At the autopsy, no other drugs were found in Bruce's system other than the painkiller and the cannabis. It should be pointed out that he was terribly unhealthy when he died. He had only 1% body fat and so he was far too thin. He was depressed and would fly into rages. Something was not quite right with him. Was it possible that Bruce was murdered? Some believe the Triad Gang had put a hit on Bruce for multiple reasons. Others thought that a jealous fellow martial artist had given him a death touch strike called a dim mak.

Bruce was laid to rest wearing the traditional Chinese outfit he had donned in the movie "Enter the Dragon." He was buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Seattle, Washington. Bruce had not wanted to live a long life. He feared losing his physical abilities. He often told Linda, "If I should die tomorrow. I will have no regrets. I did what I wanted to do. You can't expect more from life."

One of the strangest items in the biography of Bruce Lee are rumors about a family curse.  It's similiar to the Kennedy curse. Bruce once had a premonition after the death of his father. In this premonition, he saw himself dying when he reached half the age his father was when he passed away. His father was 64 at the time of his death. Bruce did indeed die when he was only 32. Bruce described another incident in which a dark shadow came upon him and held him down for several minutes. No matter how hard he tried, he could not get the shadow off of himself. He was drenched in sweat when the entity finally left. Bruce said it was one of the few times he had physically been defeated. Was this death following him? Bruce kept a mirror in his home to ward off evil spirits. That mirror blew away in a typhoon shortly before his death. There has been no real definitive cause of death for Bruce, which leaves the door open for this kind of speculation about what really killed him.

Not only was Bruce's death a part of this curse, but the death of his son Brandon also seems to be linked. We don't believe in coincidences around here, so when we consider that Bruce's character in the movie Game of Death fakes his death in the same way that Brandon died, it makes us wonder. In the movie, Bruce is playing an actor who is shot and dies in a scene and it turns out that he actually has really been shot. He doesn't die, but everyone thinks he has, so he goes with it and comes back to reek revenge. Brandon was killed when pieces of a real bullet flew out of a gun that was suppose to be firing blanks and hit him. The improbabilty of an actor dying on the set from a real gunshot leads to speculation. Perhaps both men just simply passed away from freak causes.

Bruce Lee had a run in with a dark entity once in his life. He worked at Ruby Chow's Restaurant at one time and the place was reportedly haunted by a shadow figure. This figure was seen by a cook and he quit immediately. A buser was jostled by something unseen as she took a tray of dishes into the kitchen. A tea pot on the tray was tipped over and liquid spilled to the ground. She claimed that the liquid formed into a question mark. The owner of the restaurant, Ruby, claimed she saw the shadowy figure and that it pinned her to the ground. The same thing happened to Bruce. He was pinned for several minutes, but he managed to finally give the entity a blow that made it disappear. Bruce told the story often and the incident left him shaken. As if he had fought death itself.

Whether it was their youth or the circumstances of their death, both the spirits of Bruce and Brandon are rumored to still be here in their afterlife. There are many stories of sightings of both men at the place where their graves are located. The above picture was taken some time in 2005 and given to the Ghosts and Critters website. There is a weird lens flare at the bottom that could be explained away, but we pause when we look at the tombstone just to the left of the picture of Bruce. It seems almost as though there is a shadow that is facing in a similiar way as the picture of Bruce on the marker. Could just be the picture taker, but the man in the picture claims that the photographer had long hair. The picture is interesting.

Bruce Lee lived a short life, but he is one of the most famous individuals in the world. Has he returned because of unfinished business? Is his ghost really seen, or are people imagining that his spirit remains? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 71 - The Flamingo & Bally's Casinos

Moment in Oddity - The Case of Dr. Lemberger

The mysterious case of Dr. Alfred Lemberger took place in 1901 and was reported in the St. Louis Republic. Apparently, the doctor had gone to the home of a sick child and diagnosed him with diptheria. He told the family what to do to help the child get better, but the family refused the advise and the child died. They blamed the doctor and it is said that they wished him ill. Some might call this a curse. The doctor was visited in his office later by a woman who prophesied the following, "Within nine days that fine mare will die, the colt you value will die, your last hunting dog will disappear, and then you will die." Dr. Lemberger later visited a club where he liked to play cards and he announced to his friends that he would be dead in a couple of weeks and laughed. He told them about the woman and the prophesy, but he never mentioned her identity. His friends joked along with him. Imagine the doctor's shock and their's when the mare did indeed die. A couple days later, his good hunting dog disappeared and her two puppies died. The doctor began traveling with friends for protection. He feared someone would try to kill him. After nothing happened, the doctor began to scoff about the prophecy, but he really shouldn't have done that for the ninth day had not passed. And it was in the evening of that ninth day that the doctor was playing cards and made his bid when he suddenly fell forward across the table...dead. The victim of a heart attack at the age of thirty-four. Had the good doctor been cursed? Who was the strange woman? We'll never know, but the case of Dr. Lemberger certainly is odd.

This Day in History - John Jay nominated as Chief Justice

On this day, September 24th, in 1789, President George Washington nominates John Jay as the first Chief Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the highest judiciary in all the land. Jay was already a very accomplished man having been a Founding Father and Signer of the Treaty of Paris. President Washington had actually wanted him as his Secretary of State, but Jay declined, so he was offered Chief Justice. Jay wrote six of the Federalist Papers making him the perfect candidate for the Supreme Court as the Federalist Papers helped explain the different parts of the Constitution in the effort to get states to ratify the founding document. He was unianimously confirmed on September 26th for the position. He served for six years and in that time, he set up most of the rules and procedures for the Supreme Court. He resigned in 1795, so that he could become the second Governor of New York. President John Adams nominated him to Chief Justice again in 1800, but Jay declined and retired quietly to his farm because he felt the court lacked energy and dignity.

The Flamingo and Bally's Casinos

Las Vegas has always been considered "Sin City" because of the permissiveness of what most people consider to be sin like gambling, sex, drinking, prostitution and much more. Las Vegas was a warm retreat for gangsters at one time and some of those gangsters helped Vegas to become the city it is today. People driving towards Las Vegas witness the glow on the horizon from all the neon lights that sparks the imagination. What child hasn't sat stunned in the car watching all the blinking lights? This place is the capital of entertainment and a good time. Las Vegas plays host to more than just the living though. A city caught up in this much emotion is the perfect setting for ghostly activity. Today we explore just two of the places that are reportedly haunted. The Flamingo and Bally's have interesting histories that have led them to be rumored to be haunted. Get out your tokens and loosen up that arm for some one on one with a one armed bandit as we venture into the casinos of Vegas.

Las Vegas means "The Meadows" in Spanish. The Las Vegas Valley was oasis-like and contained springs that were only known to Native Americans until a scout named Rafael Rivera came upon the area while searching for water. Around fourteen years after Rivera's discovery, John C. Fremont led an expedition out to the west and his group camped at Las Vegas Springs in 1844. This was one of four expeditions he led. Fremont was an interesting character in history. He was a man set on his own desires. He was court martialed for mutiny and insubordination and later during the Civil War, he was relieved of his position by President Lincoln for insubordination. But he was successful enough that he was continuously given more responsibility. And he meant enough to Las Vegas that they named a street for him, Fremont Street. That street is the second most famous street in Nevada. The first, of course, is the Las Vegas Strip.

The Las Vegas Strip is world famous because it is the section of Las Vegas Boulevard that is home to a concentration of casinos. Two of those casinos are The Flamingo and Ballys. The Flamingo is the oldest operating casino on the strip and thus it dates back to the time when the Mob ran Las Vegas and indeed, the Flamingo was built by Bugsy Seigel. The casino cost him $6 million to build and opened in 1946 under the name The Pink Flamingo Hotel and Casino. Originally, the property was owned by Charles "Pops" Squires. He was one of Vegas' first settlers. Margaret Folsom bought the property from him in 1944 and then sold it to Billy Wilkerson. He was planning on building a resort that would be the finest in town, but the war caused supplies and building materials to soar and Wilkerson soon ran into financial issues. Bugsy and his gang had come to Vegas for the gambling and when they heard Wilkerson was having problems with finances, they posed as businessmen and bought a two-thirds share of the project. *Fun fact: Pops paid $288.75 for the property, while Wilkerson paid $84,000.*

The Flamingo was built in the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne Styles. George Vernon Russell was the architect. Some of Wilkerson's design ideas would become staples at casinos. The idea for no clocks and no windows in the casinos was his as well as the fact that even non gamblers have to walk through the casino to register and get around the hotel. When the finances dwindled and Bugsy and his partners were brought on, another architect was hired named Richard Stadelman. Del Webb became the contractor. The hotel opened with 105 rooms, tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course and a trap shooting range. There was a habitat built for flamingos that was a garden courtyard. The Flamingo did not receive its name from Bugsy. Hollywood went with the legend in the movie "Bugsy" that claims Bugsy names it for his girlfriend whom he nicknamed Flamingo because of her long skinny legs. Wilkerson gave the casino its name when he first started designing the building.

Bugsy may have been good at running criminal enterprises, but he had real issues running a legitimate hotel and casino. During building, which was still ongoing even after the casino officially opened, cost overruns reached $4 million. The Grand Opening of The Flamingo was a complete flop and the casino lost $300,000 in its first two weeks because without completed rooms for people to stay in, they took their winnings elsewhere. Business was so bad that Bugsy closed The Flamingo. He finished construction and reopened in March 1947 with a much better reception. Despite The Flamingo running a profit, investors were not happy. They wanted bigger returns and since most of these investors were other mobsters like Lucky Luciano, Bugsy was in hot water. A meeting was called in Havana and Bugsy completely lost his temper and stormed out. Not a good idea with the Mob. As one would expect, a hit was ordered on Bugsy and he was killed while sitting on a couch in the home of his girlfriend on June 20, 1947. At the same time, several mobsters walked into The Flamingo and took over operations peacefully. The killing of Bugsy would make national news and suddenly, everybody wanted to come to exciting Las Vegas.

The Flamingo changed ownership and names many times along the way, including becoming the Flamingo Hilton under the Hilton Corporation for some time. Harrah's Entertainment is the current owner. The hotel was expanded to 3,626 rooms and the casino now covers 77,000 square feet. Many singing acts and other performers have presented entertainment at the Flamingo. As of 2015, Olivia Newton John and Donny and Marie Osmond alternate performing regularly at the casino. In 2012, the Port Adelaide Football Club came to the Flamingo to celebrate. Player John McCarthy decided that he wanted to attempt to jump from the roof to the top of a palm tree. Apparently, he must have had a few too many drinks because it was a horrible idea. He made the jump and rather than landing on the tree, he fell 30 feet to his death.

The Three Coins Motel was opened on the current site of Bally's Casino in 1963. That business was short lived and the Bonanza Hotel and Casino was built on the property in 1967. In 1973, the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino was opened in place of the Bonanza. It had 2,084 rooms, making it the biggest hotel in the world at the time and it cost $106 million to build. Kirk Kerkorian was the owner and he loved the movies and he owned MGM, so that is where the name came from. The decor reflected Hollywood and it had two large theaters. It became the standard for Las Vegas.  The Grand Opening was attended by Cary Grant and Gregory Peck. Dean Martin opened the showroom. When going to the MGM, everyone dressed to the nines. A fountain with a giant statue of Zeus was installed. People stepped down into the casino, which was relatively quiet, and they could take elevators down into the shopping area that had the most high end shops of anywhere. A 300 seat movie theater was down there as well with blue leather plush loveseats and couches. There were tables at each seat with red call buttons.

Everything was wonderful until November 21, 1980. A fire started in one of the restaurants early in the morning and made its way up into the hotel. Tragically, 85 people were killed, mostly from smoke inhalation. The number could have been higher as there were 5,000 people in the hotel at the time. One thousand people were rescued from the roof alone. There were no fire sprinklers in the casino. And if it hadn't been for the opening in the stairwells and elevator shafts and faulty smoke dampers in the ventilation system, the smoke might not have reached up into the hotel's tower, which is where most of the deaths occurred. New fire standards were created after what was the worst disaster in Nevada history and the third worst hotel fire in modern U.S. history. The MGM Grand was rebuilt in eight months.

In 1985, the hotel was sold to the Bally Entertainment Corporation for $594 million and renamed to Bally's. The Hilton Hotels Corporation bought Bally's in 1995. Hilton eventually formed their casino holdings under Caesar's Entertainment, Inc and Harrah's Entertainment bought Bally's in 2005.So the Flamingo and Bally's are under the same ownership. Recent news was made at Bally's in 2013 when a gunman opened fire in an after hours club there, wounding two people and killing a third because he didn't want to pay the cover charge.

Hauntings and casinos seem as though they would go hand in hand with all the connections to the Mob, but also because of the strong emotions that run high. For many of us, gambling in a casino is a fun pull of the arm on a slot machine. But for some, it is a serious business. Those with gambling addictions or just simply caught in the horrible wheel of trying to win back money that one couldn't afford to lose, have real heavy emotions at play. There is the intense stress, the anger and most importantly, the fear. And with Bally's playing home to a location that once had a deadly fire, its not surprising that there are reports that the Flamingo and Bally's are both haunted.

Bugsy Seigel invested a lot of time and money into the Falmingo, so it is not surprising that he would want to stick around in the afterlife and he has. He is seen most often as a full bodied apparition in the Presidential Suite, that he designed with bullet proof windows and five exits. He is also seen near the pool. There is a memorial for him in the garden and occasionally his spirit has lurked there as well. A cleaning lady quit after seeing Bugsy's ghost on the fifth floor.

The upper floors at Bally's report the most activity, which started almost immediately after the big fire. Full bodied apparitions have been seen many times. The disembodied sound of weeping and screaming is heard. The acrid smell of smoke is reported many times and the occasional fire alarm goes off for no reason in particular. A service elevator in the North Tower was the scene of several employees' deaths. Modern day employees claim that they all avoid the elevator at all costs because of the strange occurrences that happen with that elevator.

Casino goers have reported seeing a strange misty smoke in a corner that seems to be enveloping a woman. This apparition has actually been witnessed playing the slot machines before disappearing. A bluish green spirit that appears to be disoriented has been seen. A comment at TripAdvisor states, "The hotel was good and the location is right in the middle of the strip. I had a nice room on the 23rd floor. The only odd thing was that at 0630 one morning I observed a women standing in my room for about 3 minutes until she slowly faded away."

Another commentor at TripAdvisor had stayed on the 23rd floor and found the experience harrowing:
 "I had no clue about what I was getting into. I upgraded to a renovated room on the 23rd floor. Initially I was happy about the room until I encountered weird things that took place in early am...3. I had the worst 4 sleeps ever! My wife had her first night terror ever. She was facing the wall yelling and screaming at the top of her lungs, so loud I jumped out of bed clinching my chest. She was yelling stuff like OMG and leave me alone and was running towards the door. The screams coming from her were so loud that I thought security was going to be called. I was so frightened that I had a hard time breathing for like 45 minutes. This was the first time in her life she had a night terror. Other weird things were chills running through my body constantly. It started from my head and would go thru my body out of my feet and cycle thru repeatedly. I travel alot and I thought this was weird so I decided to go talk to customer service and I asked them of there was history to the room. She assured me that she had no recollection of anything on that room recently and offered us to stay on a much lower floor. I declined because I wanted to still have a bar fridge and I don't believe in ghosts or supernatural stuff, and convinced myself it was probably a bad dream that she has no memory of. My wife and I returned to the 23rd floor and as I exited the elevator, I made a comment to her that was what would you do if there was a fire here...I never made comments like that before. Again I continued to have chills, the bar fridge made banging noices, and it felt weird. The last night as I couldn't sleep I looked over at the curtains and saw clear air waving movements in the corner. I didn't want to look anymore so I slammed my eyes shut and prayed. Then as I started to fall asleep I had a bad dream and woke up instantly. It was about a man running frantically, that I thought he was chasing me, but was running for water, like a calm ocean, but was running fast in panic on the shoreline. I thought all this was crazy, and had explainations like the a/c was what gave me shivers and the night terror was from a late meal...etc. When I arrived home I was curious so I started to google things and found out that the 23rd floor is most haunted and a fire broke out in 1980 where 85 people perished. I had no knowledge of this before and will now check for history's before I book another hotel"
One of Bally's most active apparitions is that of a young boy. He is heard in the corridor of the seventeenth floor calling out for his mother. On the same floor, an elderly couple are witnessed walking down the hall and they just disappear. The man has his arm wrapped protectively around the woman.

These hauntings that occur at both casinos are not played up by management. They actually would prefer that the stories not be told as they see it bad for business. And based on some comments at TripAdviser, one might believe that. But our experience has proven that reports of hauntings make places seem more attractive. Hence why nearly every bed & breakfast in Florida claims some kind of haunting. Are The Flamingo and Bally's Casinos haunted? That is for you to decide!

Monday, September 21, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 70 - Haunted Tombstone

Moment in Oddity - The Case of the Backward Imposter Body

A very strange medical case presented itself in 1881. A man had been in a tragic accident that had taken his life. His body was sent off for an autopsy and what the doctors found was quite strange. The man's organs were transposed. This means that all his organs were in the opposite side of the body than where they would be in a normal human. The heart was on the right side. The liver was on the left side. There had been other cases of people with transposed organs, but all died as infants. The fact that this man had lived into adulthood was quite amazing. But the case takes an even weirder, sinister twist. You see, these doctors loved having such a specimen. How could they possibly let this medical marvel go back to his family for burial? They decided that they must keep the body. They didn't need the head. After all, the brain is in both hemispheres of the head. Perhaps you have already guessed what they did. These unscrupulous doctors cut off the head of this man and attached it to the body of another. Then they sent that body to the family. The family, of course, noticed something amiss and sued. It's bad enough that doctors would do such a thing, but the fact that they actually thought they could get away with their deed is just plain odd.

This Day in History - The Hobbit is Published

On this day, September 21st, in 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien's classic "The Hobbit" was published. George Allen & Unwin Ltd. of London were the first edition publishers. It debuted with much acclaim and by December the 1,500 copy first run was sold out. The Hobbit was written for young adult readers and was nominated for the prestigious Carnegie Medal, but the book is enjoyed by adults as well. The novel is the recording of a journey taken by a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. He joins thirteen dwarfs and a wizard named Gandalf in a quest to take back the dwarfs old home and treasure, which was taken from them by a dragon named Smaug. Tolkien was influenced by many other works when it came to writing the Hobbit. George MacDonalds "The Princess and the Goblin" influenced his imagery of goblins. MacDonald also helped Tolkien to meld his Christianity with fantasy. William Morse and Jules Verne also influenced Tolkien. Norse mythology runs heavy in the novel as Tolkien was a Germanic Philology scholar and had a passion for Norse stories. The novel has withstood the changing of the decades and is even more popular today, having been made into a series of films by Peter Jackson.

Haunted Tombstone

We are joined on today's episode by author and medium Janice Carlson to discuss her experiences in Tombstone, Arizona. Tombstone calls itself "The West's Most Famous Town" and it probably is just that. Come with us as we explore the history and hauntings of Tombstone!

Ed Schieffelin was a quirky looking fellow. He had long black hair that hung below his shoulders and his long black beard was tangled in knots. He looked forty even though he was only twenty-nine years old. His clothing and hat were very worn and covered in patches made from deerskin and rabbit fur. His appearance reminded people of a wild animal. Ed was part of a scouting expedition whose purpose it was to basically spy on the Chiricahua (chir-i-cow-uh) Apache tribe. Ed was also a prospector and he was always searching for precious minerals and gems. He had just been in the Grand Canyon area, but found nothing.  He would wander out in the barren land around camp looking for precious stones. His fellow scouts would laugh and tell him that the only stone he would find out there would be his tombstone. Ed got the last laugh when he stumbled upon some silver. He named the mine Tombstone as a reminder of what the doubters had said. The year was 1877 and Schieffelin is credited as founder of the town of Tombstone.

As happened in that day, people heard about the silver strike and they came to the area seeking their own treasure. They came for good reason because Ed's strike was assayed as the Mother Lode. It was necessary for a town to be built, so a man named Solon M. Allis came and laid out the town. Ed was a millionaire at this point and he went off in search of more adventure. He was found dead in a cabin in Oregon, laying across a table where he was working gold ore. His journal remarked that he had struck it rich again, but left no indication where the find was located. Ed was brought back to Tombstone and buried in prospector's clothing according to his wishes. A monument was built in his honor.

By 1880, the town's population had soared to close to 20,000 people that were made up of white men, women, children, Mexicans and Chinese. There were a hundred saloons and a thriving red light district. There were also theaters. Schieffelin Hall was built by Ed's brother Al and still stands today and is used for government offices. It is the largest standing adobe structure in the southwest. One of its claims to fame is that Wyatt and Morgan Earp saw a play there the night Morgan was assassinated. For a time, it served as a Masonic Hall and then it fell into disrepair. It has been fully restored and quite possibly could be the most haunted location in Tombstone. The sounds of spurs and something that sounds like chains have been heard many times. Groups of people hear it at a time, so it is hard to relegate to just someone's overactive imagination.

Twice the town was ravaged by fire. Once in 1881 and again in 1882. One of the fires is rumored to have started when a lit cigar hit a barrel of whiskey at a saloon. Significant pieces of property were damaged and forty men lost their lives. The smell of smoke is still smelled today and some people claim to have seen the spirits of burn victims wandering around. Janice told us that this particular soul sense is named clairalience.

Over time, the silver mines started filling with water and it was too costly to pump it out. The town slowed down and people started leaving. In the end, $37 million in ore was pulled from the mines. Today, around 1500 people call Tombstone home. That doesn't include the ghosts.

Photo courtesy of Janice Carlson
Janice made a visit to Boothill Cemetery where she tried testing her medium skills to figure out what particular people died from. There are many Boothill graveyards throughout the west and they derive their name from the idea that gunfighters died with their boots on. In Tombstone's Boothill Cemetery, three men who died at the shootout at the O.K. Corral are buried here: Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury and Frank McLaury. Three hundred people are buried here in total. The cemetery was no longer used after 1886 except to bury the occasional criminal. The City Cemetery on Allen Street became the new burial ground. This website has a detailed layout of Boothill Cemetery:

The O.K. Corral shootout was between the Earps and the Clantons. The Clanton group included Ike and Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, Billy Claiborne and Wes Fuller. The Earps' group included Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday. It lasted all of thirty seconds and three men were dead. Morgan suffered a gunshot to his shoulder and Virgil was hit in the leg. No one is sure who shot first, but one of Holliday's bullets was the first to hit a body. The area is said to be haunted by those who died and gunshots are heard many times. Ghost Hunters has paid the place a visit.

Janice met up with Sister Paranormal Investigators at their shop, The Undertaker Shop. The place is reportedly quite haunted and Janice regaled us with the haunting experiences she had there as well as those of the ladies who own the shop.

Undertaker Shop - Photo courtesy of Janice Carlson
The Old Tombstone Hotel has a haunted room. Room 119 had a guest who hung himself one night and now reportedly has decided to never checkout. His disembodied voice is heard and objects move about the room. Apparitions of cowboys and stagecoach drivers have been seen at various locations. The Crystal Palace Saloon seems to be one of their favorite locations to visit. The First Marshal of Tombstone, Marshal Fred White, was shot down in the street by Curly Bill Brocius in October of 1880. Curly and his gang decided to shoot up the town one morning and Marshal White decided to disarm them. Curly supposedly accidentally shot the Marshal in the groin and he died two days later. He was shot in front of where the Bird Cage Saloon stands today and his spirit has been seen in the area and could possibly be one of the haunts at the saloon. And we have our woman in white! She is seen on the main street of Tombstone wearing a long white dress. There are two tales behind her haunting. She was either a mother so distraught over her child's death from Yellow Fever that she killed herself or she was the Madame of a brothel who was hanged for her crime.

It would seem the Old West is still alive in Tombstone. Do the cowboys, ladies of the evening, prospectors and gunfighters of the past still carry on in Tombstone today? Is this town haunted? That is for you to decide!

Janice Carlson's "Soul Sensing" book is fascinating and we highly recommend it. Check out Janice's website at:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 69 - Landers Theater

Moment in Oddity - Skeleton Under the Tree

Outside Collooney, Sligo, Ireland, a 215 year old beech tree was shaken from its foundations by a violent storm. The massive tree was actually toppled in the storm. Typically, when such an event occurs, people call a tree care company to come in and clean up the tree. In this case, archaelogists were called. The reason why: a skeleton was buried within the roots of the tree. The lower legs were still in the ground, but the roots pulled the upper skeleton up into the air. The archaeologists found that the skeleton belonged to a young man around twenty years of age and that he died between 1030-1200 AD. And his death was not from natural causes. It was violent. Knife wounds were found to the bones of the hand and the ribs. His body was not just left where he was found. It was actually buried in this spot as a formal Christian burial. We'll never know who this young man was, but the fact that his skeleton was revealed to the world because a tree blew over, certainly is odd!

This Day in History - Harriet Tubman Escapes For First Time

On this day, September 17th, in 1849, Harriet Tubman escapes slavery for the first time along with two of her brothers. Her brothers decided to return to the plantation and she returned with them, but three months later she escaped again and this time for good. She was born into slavery in the state of Maryland. She and her family suffered brutal physical beatings and she carried the scars and permanent physical injuries the rest of her life. Harriet did not just escape to the north and stay there. She became an active abolitionist and returned to the south using the Underground Railroad and helped up to 300 other slaves escape their bonds over an eight year period. She became a mentor for John Brown and while she was not thrilled with his use of violence, she did praise him as a martyr when he was killed at Harper's Ferry. At the start of the Civil War, the Union Army employed her to help free hundreds of slaves during the Combahee River Raid. Harriet became a leader in the civil rights movment and was a huge proponent of womens suffrage. She died in 1913 from pneumonia. She was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery.

Landers Theater

What is it about theaters that causes them to so often have tales of haunting experiences? Is it the emotions that are displayed on the stage and evoked in the audience? Are they just more prone to accidents and death? Landers Theater in Springfield, Missouri is one such theater. This theater has stood for decades and seen much history. Famous performers took to the stage, including Lillian Russell and Lon Chaney. When motion pictures became the thing, the theater adapted. But there is more than just a rich history to this place. Something else seems to have carried over through the decades. Spirit activity is reportedly high inside this elegant theater. Come with us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Landers Theater.

The State of Missouri became a part of the United States initially through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. For many years it was just a territory, but in 1821, Missouri officially became a state. The area that is today the city of Springfield was originally populated by the Kickapoo Native American tribe. John Polk Campbell was born in 1823 in Tennessee. Campbell moved to Missouri and settled in a very large county that included most of southern Missouri. That county had been established in 1833. Campbell made a push for the county to be named Greene after American Revolutionary General Nathanael Greene. He then founded what would become the city of Springfield in 1829. In 1838, the city was incorporated.

The Old Wire Road travels through Springfield and it was on this road that the Cherokee passed through while on the Trail of Tears. The road was named Wire Road because it was along this route that the first telegraph line in the area was built. The road was an intregal part of the Civil War and portions of it still exist today. It was after the war that Springfield became a part of the Wild West. The town square had its first shoot-out in 1865. The man who won the gunfight and became nationally known was Wild Bill Hickok. Springfield is also where the birth of Route 66 occured. Traces of that famous route are still a part of Springfield. In 1891, the Baldwin Theater was built.

The Baldwin Theater was named for a man who owned a stove factory in town and pushed for the building of the theater in the city. It was a rival to the already flourishing Grand Theater. That theater burned down in 1895. The Baldwin would suffer the same fate in 1909 when a fire started in the boiler room and spread quickly. The town needed a new theater and plans for the building of Landers Theater were begun. The Boller Brother's architectural firm designed the Landers. Their specialty was designing movie palaces and they just happened to be from Missouri.

The theater was built by John and D.J. Landers and R. W. Seward in 1909 at a cost of $100,000. The style was that of the Neoclassical found in France. This style is influenced by Ancient Greece and the French movement was expressed in what they called the Louis XVI style. The theater was framed in wood and it is thought that the reason for this was because one of the builders owned a lumber company. Missouri limestone piers were installed in the front of the building and the quoins, cornices, cartouches and parapet were made from terra cotta. The rest of the structure is made from brick.

A large stage was built so that live performances could be run at the theater. The design around the stage was ornate and electric lights were installed. Plush seats made theater goers comfortable and the first production they would watch would be "The Golden Girl" starring Lillian Russell. It debuted on September 18, 1909 and the Missouri Republican wrote of the event:
“Under the tempered glow and radiance of two thousand electric lights which shed their beams, rivaling the brilliance of a mid-day sun in ocean mist, or the witching haze of a dreamy Indian Ozark summer, the devotees of fashion and pleasure and of material progress, met and mingled last night, at the opening of the Landers theatre, a commodious and beautiful temple of amusement, the perfect appointments of which brought a flush of admiration and of pride to the cheek and a gleam of pleasure to the eye of those who greeted “The Golden Girl” and witnessed the initial offering of the playhouse which came to Springfield as a heritage of fire.”
 Landers was part of the Orpheum Circuit of theaters. This was a chain of movie and vaudeville theaters. The Orpheum Circuit later became part of the RKO corporation. The O in that stands for Orpheum. Famous performers other than Lillian Russell that took to the stage were John Philip Sousa, George Cohan and Lon Chaney. Chaney was the "Man of a Thousand Faces" and performed in the Phantom of the Opera and Hunchback of Notre Dame. "The Birth of a Nation" debuted in 1915 and was shown in the theater. This was a silent movie and the first 12-reel film in America. The movie has been controversial as it was used to recruit members of the KKK and is considered to be racist. Nevertheless, this was the beginning of Landers Theater being used as a movie theater.

In 1920, the theater suffered a fire. A boiler had exploded. There were coal bins under the stage and they soon caught fire. Every fire truck in town came to the scene to prevent the entire block from being engulfed. Fireproofing precautions taken inside the theater like the hanging of an asbestos curtain, helped to keep the fire contained and kept the theater from being a total loss. Within five months, the Landers was rebuilt and reopened. In 1928, "talkies" came to the theater. This made Landers the 35th facility in the world to play talking motion pictures. The stage was still used though and in 1961 NBC-TV began broadcasting the Five Star Jubilee from the theater. Movies continued to run at Landers through to 1970.

In 1970, the Springfield Little Theater organization bought Landers Theater. They began the effort to restore the theater to its 1909 grandeur. The 527 seats have been restored along with the Baroque Renaissance/ Napoleon styled decoration. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Springfield Little Theater stages around nine productions a year. Other musical performances are staged here as well. Around 60,000 people watch the productions each year. But there are rumors that something other than just the living are watching the performances.

As is the case with so many old theaters around the world, Landers Theater is rumored to be haunted. Spotlights are suddenly unplugged. People feel a tap on their shoulder when no one is there. Performers claim that during rehearsals and also during live performances, they see a shadowy apparition watching them from the upper balcony. The 1920 fire did more than just damage the theater. It took the life of the theater's janitor. Some believe that he is the shadowy figure seen in the balcony.

The balcony also plays home to a residual haunting of a baby. Apparently, a worst mother's fear came true one night in the theater. A woman holding her baby on the balcony accidentally dropped the baby. This same visual of the baby falling from the balcony haunts the actors on stage at times. Performers also claim to hear the disembodied cries of a baby and occasionally the murmuring words of comfort from a female ghost.

The costume room is on the fourth floor and has a window. A male apparition has been seen in the window several times with long blonde hair. He apparently wears Elizabethan clothing, which makes us wonder if he is in costume. The interesting piece to these sightings is that this ghost has never been seen inside of the theater. He is only seen from the outside.

On another occasion, a director saw a man standing in the building and he struck up a conversation. The man said nothing and walked towards a pillar and never crossed back into sight. He just disappeared. The director said the man had a beard and long hair and stood about six feet tall.A despondent stage hand hanged himself from the rafters and stayed there through three performances before anyone noticed him. It is believed that he walks about on the catwalks.

And then, there is the Green Orb and the Black Void. These are just plain creepy. The Green Orb has been seen near the west stairs and near the balconies. It glows green and measures about five feet tall. The Black Void is just that, a darkness that envelopes the area it is in and has been seen in many parts of the theater. People can tell that it is present because they suddenly can't see through to something behind the Void like a brick wall. There will be a black patch in front of the wall that appears to have no bricks.

Landers Theater is one of the view original theaters still dotting the landscape of America. As seems to be the tradition of these grand old places, tales of unexplained activity are reported. Do the ghosts of former actors and workers continue to hang around the stage? Are the noises that are heard, just the sounds of an old building settling? Is Landers Theater haunted? That is for you to decide!

Monday, September 14, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 68 - Maitland Gaol

Moment in Oddity - The Fertility Chair of Naples

The Miracle Chair in Naples, Italy looks nothing like a chair. It is basically a recessed area of a stone wall with a rectangular stone seat jutting outward. Although it does not look impressive, it apparently has an impressive power. The chair was blessed by Sister Maria Francesca in her last days and now is able to bring fertility to infertile couples. She lived 200 years ago and she is believed to have presented the stigmata of Christ meaning she bleed on the palms of her hands. They even call her today Saint Maria Francesca of the Five Wounds of Jesus. People gather in a church near the chair and wait their turn in the chair. Once a woman is seated, a nun crosses the woman on the forehead and on the stomach using a cross constructed from the bone and hair of Sister Francesca. One woman claimed that she had three years of infertility and then she became pregnant after sitting in the chair. The walls of the church are covered in birth announcements. Does the Fertility Chair actually help women to become pregnant? We don't know, but sitting in a stone chair in hopes of becoming pregnant does seem a bit odd.

This Day in History - The Star Spangled Banner Inspired

On this day, September 14th, in 1814 Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the Star Spangled Banner. Key and John Skinner had set out from Baltimore on a mission to negotiate the release of some American prisoners. They flew a white flag of truce as they boarded the HMS Tonnant and over dinner they managed to get Major General Robert Ross to agree to release his prisoners. During the dinner, some of the British commanders discussed battle plans. For this reason, Scott and Skinner were held captive until after the British attacked Baltimore. Fort McHenry came under attack on September 13th and Key witnessed the fighting. He saw the rockets red glare coming from the British HMS Erebus and he witnessed the bombs bursting in air. He also saw that the small American storm flag flew above Ft. McHenry. He was unable to watch the rest of the battle and would not know until morning how things turned out. The storm flag was lowered during the night and the larger stars and stripes was raised above the fort. When Key woke up in the morning and looked out at Fort McHenry, he saw that the flag was still there. That particular flag was made by Mary Young Pickersgill and hangs at the Smithsonian Institute today. Key wrote the poem "Defense of Fort McHenry" over the next few days and it later became America's national anthem. 

Maitland Gaol

Maitland Gaol is considered Australia's hardest jail. For nearly twenty years the gaol has stood empty, but for 150 years this jail housed some of Australia's worst criminals. Behind the sandstone and razor-wire of this modern day tourist attraction, some of the worst brutality occurred from murders to rape and of course, suicides. Inmates claim that the cells were concrete coffins. This kind of energy and emotion usually feeds unexplained activity. Rumors of hauntings permeate the stories about the gaol. Come with us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Maitland Gaol!

Maitland Gaol is located in East Maitland in New South Wales, Australia. The jail was built from sandstone and opened in 1848. It was designed by Mortimer Lewis. The stone bricks were dovetailed into each other and the walls were two and half feet thick. The roof was made from slate and iron bars were in every window. Although it didn't officially open until 1848, people were incarcerated at the location starting in 1843. Two men were hanged before the permanent buildings were even constructed. Executions were public affairs as was the case at most jails around the world at that time. Executions continued through 1897 and sixteen men in total were put to death, three for rape and thirteen for murder. Starting in 1861, executions were done inside the jail rather than publicly. The following is from the Maitland Mercury written about the execution of George Waters Ward in 1849:
 "On Monday morning George Waters Ward, convicted at the late Maitland Circuit Court of the murder of Richard Connelly, was executed inside the walls of the Maitland gaol, in the presence of several hundred persons, including a great number of children, and some women.

About five minutes past nine o'clock Ward was brought out from the gaol into the yard accompanied by the Rev. Mr. Rusden (who had been with him since six o'clock that morning), C. Prout, Esq., the Under Sheriff, E.D. Day, Esq., Dr. Wilton, Mr. Tristrem, and others. The Rev. Mr. Rusden read prayers, in which Ward joined with apparent fervour. Having reached the scaffold, Mr. Rusden knelt down with the unfortunate man, and passed some minutes in prayer, Ward audibly joining in the responses.

About twelve minutes past nine Ward mounted the scaffold, Mr. Rusden still accompanying him, and the executioner following. On reaching the platform Ward called out in a clear firm voice, 'Good bye, Mr. Tristem, God bless you, and you all', looking round on the crowd. Having engaged in prayer with Mr. Rusden for a minute or two, Ward addressed the crowd assembled nearly as follows: "My friends, I am going to die this day, and I hope that you will take warning by me and keep from drink, and that if any of you ever give evidence in a court of justice you will speak the truth. I am not going to accuse any one, but I will only say that some spoke the truth on my trial, and some spoke false. I die in peace with all the world, and in the hope of a better life. I pray for you all, and hope you will all take warning by my example".

The executioner then fastened the rope round Ward's neck, and put a white cap over his head and face, during which Mr. Rusden continued praying and Ward joining with him. Mr. Rusden then left the scaffold, and the bolt being drawn, the wretched man fell, and died after struggling convulsively for a few minutes. Ward's bearing on the scaffold was firm and composed throughout."
Four towers were built by 1863 to help give the guards a better place to watch the grounds. These towers were staffed 24 hours until razor-wire was introduced. Shifts lasted for five hours and guards were allowed only to keep watch. They could not let anything distract them from their watch. As the prison grew, two more towers were added.

The present day kitchen was not always the kitchen. The bathhouse and morgue were there in the 1800s. Food at the gaol was considered quite good. When the kitchen was moved to its current location in 1980, a second floor was built above it with special cells for the kitchen workers. Working in the kitchen was a privilege and few prisoners were allowed to work there. Women were originally incarcerated at the gaol along with the men and unbelievably, their children were kept with them. There was a women's wing called C Wing and a day room called the D Wing and the conditions were deplorable. The Cook House was next to D Wing. Both of the Cook House and D Wing were demolished in the 1980s to make room for a larger exercise field. B Wing had its own exercise area as did 5 Wing. There was a chapel built within the gaol in 1868. Every prisoner was given a Bible here upon their arrival. The gaol had its own hospital that could care for seven men at a time and only if they did not have a terminal disease. The hospital moved around through four locations.

Darcy Dugan was incarcerated at the Maitland Gaol. He was a notorious bank robber and he was pretty good at escaping incarceration as well. His first escape came in 1946 when he was being transported by a prison tram. He used a kitchen knife to saw a hole in the roof of the tram and he crawled out. He escaped two other times and was finally sentenced to death, a sentence that was later commuted to a life sentence. There was a large prison riot in 1975 and it is believed that it was started by Dugan. He was released on parole in 1984. He died in 1991.

One of the brutal murders committed by inmates on another inmate was due to his being a snitch. He informed the warden that a tunnel was being built and when guards investigated Cell 7 in C Wing, they found an 18 ft. tunnel. They filled it in with concrete. The snitch was later found with his throat slit so deeply that his head swung back on his shoulders.

It was decided in 1996 that the gaol was overcrowded and too expensive to upkeep, so plans were made to close down the facility. In 1998, the closing was final and inmates were moved to other locations. Now, the gaol is open for tours and as a museum. Special events are held there as well. Much of the original buildings and cells have survived. People can get a good feel for how much gaols changed through the decades by visiting Maitland Gaol. They can also experience what it was like to be locked up in this place.

For 150 years, death and brutality were an integral part of the history of the Maitland Gaol and possibly that is why it is considered to be one of Australia's most haunted sites. In its time, the worst of the worst offenders were sent here with 16 of them being executed. A number of others died while incarcerated. Hunter Paranormal Australia has spent many evenings walking the cell blocks and they have recorded many EVPs and captured strange mists on their cameras. They once recorded on video one of their investigators receiving scratches on her back. The feeling of being watched follows people wherever they go in the jail.

In 5 Wing, an inmate named George Savvas hung himself inside the door of cell 4. 5 Wing was a newer built block and the worst criminals were put here in solitary confinement under the highest security. They had their own yard, which they were only allowed to spend an hour in each day. George and fellow inmate Ivan Milat made plans to escape in 1997. Milat was a serial killer who had been convicted of the Backpacker Murders. There were seven victims in those murders and all of them had been backpacking. All of them were found buried in the Belanglo State Forest. Correctional officers caught George and Milat and the next day, George was found hanging in his cell. Many people report having encounters with George when they are near this cell.

 A residual apparition has been seen rocking back and forth in a cell. In another cell, the photo of a shadowy figure wearing a hat was captured and is shown on the tour at the gaol. The hat seems to match the uniform that gaolers wore. Disembodied whispers have been heard. Houses creak and settle and so do jails. Maitland Gaol creaks, clangs and cell doors slam shut. Are these residual noises carried through time or just the standard noise an empty old jail would make? We found an interesting observation on the West Sydney Paranormal site:
"W.S.P.R Investigators all heard cell doors slamming on both investigations at Maitland Gaol. The problem is: Where is the noise coming from? On both investigations, not one member of the investigative team saw a cell door slam! We definitely heard them and even felt the reverberation of the event, however, no physical evidence was found, i.e no closed doors. We weren't able to really isolate where, within the building, the sound came from, and on investigation, we couldn't find any doors closed.

Is it possible that what we heard, is a residual event? Are we tuning into a parallel dimension of when the prison was in use - or an alternate reality of an active spirit? This is something we need to research more and really look into on our next visit.

All we can say at the moment, is that these sounds are definitely unexplained!!! I can guarantee that there was no-one physically present, that could've made those noises."
This video from the group seems to capture a disembodied moan. Be forewarned that the end of the video features their logo slamming into place, which is quite loud and may startle you:

Another tale claims that cell 4 in the C Wing housed an inmate who conducted Satanic rituals in his cell. He wrote occult graffiti on the walls, which is apparently still there. In a final act, he committed suicide by setting himself on fire. One poor guard was given the job of cleaning the mess up and although he was considered to be a level headed guy, he would later be found in his bathroom at home with his wrists slit. He had broken the mirror and used a shard to do the deed. Before dying, he wrote a message in his own blood explaining that he had to do this to prevent Satanic forces from being unleashed. No one enters Cell 4 and it is still padlocked to this day.

As we have found with other gaol locations, the depressed and angry emotional energy collected throughout the years lends itself to claims of haunting activity. Are some of the inmates who served time here and perhaps died here, still here in the afterlife? Is there more to the disembodied noises than just overactive imaginations? Is Maitland Gaol haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 67 - Raynham Hall

Moment in Oddity - Odd Creature in Russia

This comes to us from the Sydney Morning Herald:
 "A tiny alien creature that washed up on the banks of a river in north western Russia has locals and experts stumped. At first glance it looks like something borne from the abdominal cavity of a Nostromo crew member to wreak space-horror havoc on Sigourney Weaver and the human race. But the four-centimetre oddity that was found in the Leningrad region in the town of Sosnovy Bor by a woman named Tamara as she waded in the shallows of the Kovashi River, according to a local television news report. With what appears to be an elongated skull, shrunken frame and taloned limb, Tamara's friends thought it was a mutant chicken embryo. But Tamara was not convinced the creature she found - and christened 'Kesha' - was of such mundane origins. Biologist Yegor Zadareev at the Krasnoyarsk Institute of Biophysics agreed. 'It seems that this body is neither fish nor fowl … this creature has a mysterious skull, no neck and wings,' he said according to a translation of an interview on Russian TV. Kesha was to be sent to Moscow for further analysis, which is sufficiently vague to conjure images of top secret underground bunker laboratories, reverse-alien probes and mitochondrial sequencing. Kesha had alien conspiracy theorists dusting off their tin-foil hats. UFO Sighting Daily, whose other tops stories are "UFO follows The Donald Trump Helicopter, Tells US Trump will be next President", and "City on Mars Inside Alien Skull Found In India"  is eagerly awaiting the results of further tests. But Tamara's friends and their mutant chicken egg theory is closer to the money for Sosnovy Bor locals. The key word being 'mutant'. The residents of the town, which is in the shadow of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, are "naturally suspicious" of expert authority, reported the Australian duo behind the Mysterious Universe podcast report, tongues-firmly-in-cheeks. The plant had a history of disastrous industrial accidents and cover-ups, according to a former Russian Federal Inspectorate for Nuclear and Radiation Safety, Vladimir Kuznetsov. Three people were killed when a cooling circuit unit ruptured the year the plant opened in 1975. Over last three decades there have been two fires, a radiation spill detected six kilometres from the site and five other major accidents at the plant. If it is a radioactive mutant spawned from a leak at the nuclear power, that makes Kesha more Blinky the fish than a flesh-eating alien."

This Day in History - Sewing Machine Patented

On this day, September 10th, in 1846, Elias Howe patents the sewing machine.  Elias was a factory worker who lost his job in the Panic of 1837. He moved to Boston where he was able to find work in a machinist shop. Elias liked to tinker and he began using some of the equipment to build a machine that could sew. When he was done with his creation, he had the first Lockstitch Sewing Machine. It took him eight years to invent. He decided to demonstrate his creation for the public and they were dazzled by this machine that could do 250 stitches per minute. It did the work of five hand sewers. He patented the machine in Conneticut. Many legal battles ensued as Elias tried to prtotect his invention from being copied. Other inventors like Isacc Singer improved on the mechanism, but ended up having to pay Elias some of their profits since the original was his to begin with. Elias made over 2 million dollars with his sewing machine and during the Civil War, he donated some of his money to the Union Army.

Raynham Hall   *All photos courtesy of Philip Childers*

Raynham Hall has seen much history in its time. The homestead survived the Revolutionary War and occupation by a British regiment. It was part of a spy ring as well. It has survived years of additions being added to the building and the changing of hands. Something else has survived from the past as well. It would seem the spirits of the former occupants have decided to stay as well. Come with us as we explore the history and hauntings of Raynham Hall.

The city of Oyster Bay was first settled by the Matinecock Indians, which were really from the Lenape people. The first European settlers arrived in 1650. Both the Dutch and English set up camp here and the boundaries between the two were very fluid. The area was given the name Oyster Bay because oysters were plentiful in the waters. Many of the Dutch settlers were Quakers. The Townshend family were some of the Quakers who came fleeing religious persecution. and their family would have deep roots in the shipping business. Oyster Bay received its charter from England in 1667, after the Dutch relinquished control and within twenty years, all the land still owned by the Indians had been sold.

Samuel Townshend was born in 1717. He was 23-years-old when he moved from Jericho, New York to Oyster Bay. He purchased land there in 1740 that would provide him better access to the waterfront. He was building a shipping business with his brother Jacob and this location would be perfect. He built a four room frame home initially, which meant the house was built with two rooms on the first floor and two rooms on the second floor and there was a central chimney. This proved to be too small for him and so he added four more rooms to the north side of the house. The home was considered to be of the "saltbox" style. That style referred to homes built with a wooden frame and a pitched roof that slopes back farther in the back, so basically the rear roof is longer than the front roof. Salt was kept in boxes like this, thus the name. He dubbed it "The Homestead" and it officially became known as the Townshend Homestead. The reason the home became too small was because Samuel married Sarah Stoddard and they ended up having eight children.

The shipping business flourished and by 1765, the Townshend brothers owned four ships and were sailing them to far off locations like South America, the West Indies and Europe. The ships exported goods like rum, fabric and molasses along with lumber. Samuel also imported goods and decided to set up shop as a merchant from his home. As his business grew, Samuel grew in prominence and he decided to get involved with politics. His first government position was as Justice of the Peace for Oyster Bay. As the drum beat of revolution grew across the colonies, Samuel took part as a member of New York's Provincial Congress serving from 1774-1777. When the Revolutionary War was over, Samuel became a State Senator for New York.

Samuel's endeavours during the Revolutionary War and his loyal patriotism made life very dangerous for him and his family in New York. The British occupied much of New York for a substantial amount of time. Many people found themselves on prison ships where they would die. It is estimated that 10,000 people from New York died on these ships.The British came to Townshend Homestead and burst open the door. They took a rifle down from the mantle and smashed it declaring that a rebel had no right to a gun. Samuel was arrested and led away in chains. A neighbor who supported the British crown saw Samuel being led away and he followed. He was good friends with the Townshends despite their political differences and he paid a large sum of money to the soldiers in order to gain Samuel's freedom. We're not sure how happy he was to have done this after Samuel entered politics, but because of what he had done, he was allowed to stay when the British vacated. The British did occupy the Townshend Homestead and use it as a meeting place for Lt. Col. John Graves Simcoe from 1778-1779. Simcoe fell in love with Samuel's daughter Sarah and wrote her the first recorded Valentine. No one knows if Sarah felt the same way, but she never did marry.

Robert Townshend was Samuel's fifth child. Two of his older siblings, Phebe and Solomon I, died as infants and older brother Samuel Jr. died of fever in 1773. His other older brother Solomon II was Captain of the Glasgow, which was a ship owned by their Tory neighbor that had helped free their father, and although the ship belonged to a Tory, Solomon was a loyal rebel who had met up with Benjamin Franklin in London. Robert was a loyal patriot as well, which led him to become a spy. George Washington had formed an intelliegence ring dubbed the Culper Spy Ring. Robert joined the ring in 1778 and he used his business as a merchant as a cover. Robert's code name was Culper Jr. and he sent messages to Washington as a result of information he gathered while eavesdropping on the british. The messages were encoded with a secret numerical code and sometimes written in invisible ink using a formula developed by John Jay's brother James. Washington used a re-agent solution to make the ink visible. The Culper Spy Ring's greatest moment came when they alerted Washington to an attack on the French fleet landing in Rhode Island. Robert kept his spy work a secret from his family his entire life. It was not revealed until 1930.

Samuel died in 1790 and his family continued to live at Townshend Homestead. Phebe lived in the home with Sarah and Robert. You might be getting confused by some of these children's names because the Townshends used the same names for a couple of the children. There were two Solomons and two Phebes. This Phebe that lived a long life caused quite a scandal. She was what we would today refer to as a cougar. An older woman who marries a young man. When Phebe was 45 she married Dr. Ebenezer Seeley who was only 26. Seeley would later become owner of the property. In 1851, a grandson named Solomon redesigned the property in the Victorian style, which was popular at the time. He added carpeting, decorative wallpaper and ornate furnishings. It was at this time that the homestead became known as Raynham Hall because Solomon wanted to project wealth. The name is taken from the Townshend Seat in Norfolk, England.

The house continued to pass down through the family, enduring a legal battle, being sold off for debt and being bought back by family again. It was transformed into a tea room for a time in the 1930s and was used by the Oyster Bay Historical and Geneological Society. A great granddaughter deeded the home to the Daughters of the American Revolution who eventually found it too expensive to upkeep the property.  The town of Oyster Bay bought the property in 1947 and they restored the buildings front area to its original look from the 18th century. The building opened as a museum in 1958 and it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

In 1938, Raynham Hall was under the ownership of Julia Weeks Cole. She was a descendent of Samuel Townshend. She wrote an article for the Glen Cove Record detailing some paranormal experiences that she had heard had taken place here. One story tells of the apparition of a ghost rider on horseback. A woman staying overnight was awakened from her dreams from the sounds of a horse outside her window. When she looked out, she saw the spirit. Some think this is the ghost of a British soldier named Major John Andre who was hung for treason after paying many visits to Raynham Hall. Others think the spectre is simply a harbinger of doom.

Julia also wrote that the ghost of Robert Townshend has been seen on the stairs even though they were a newly built part of the home. The stairs are actually the most active area of the home. The swishing of petticoats is heard near the base of the stairs. Michael Conlin was a worker at the home who tended to the gardens in 1860s. His apparition has been seen out in the garden. He wears a coat with brass buttons and sometimes appears without his legs. He has dark curly hair and a moustache and beard. Staff members report hearing disembodied footsteps.

Sally Townshend's old room is always chilly and has an oppressive feeling of sadness. Perhaps over her loss of her Valentine as she died a spinster. The sweet smell of apple and cinnamon are smelled in the kitchen as if reaching back from the past. Of course, this may not be strange considering that apple scent is used in homes all the time. Pipe smoke is smelled as well. The scent comes from an area of the home where Samuel used to sit in front of the woodburning stove smoking his pipe. EVPs have been captured by investigators and we listened to a few. On one we did clearly hear the word "Johnson" said in a lower tone. Where that name comes from, we don't know. Another was creepy as hell because you can distinctly make out the screams of someone behind the talking of an investigator.

Raynham Hall has been a museum for several decades, rather than a residence. But it would seem that someone or something is residing at this location. Are members of the Townshend family still here in spirit? Is Raynham Hall haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
To listen to the EVPs:

Monday, September 7, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 66 - Ohio State Reformatory

Moment in Oddity - The Hammersmith Ghost

The year was 1803 and superstitions ran strong in the Hammersmith District of London. Many people started coming forward and complaining to authorities that a ghost had been harassing them near the Hammersmith Graveyard. Rumors circulated that the ghost must belong to someone at unrest in the graveyard because its body had been buried in consecrated ground. The belief at the time was that if someone committed suicide, they could not be buried in consecrated ground or the soul would not rest. Thus the culprit of these harassments must be the spirit of a suicide victim. An excise officer by the name of Francis Smith decided to take matters into his own hands and he hid outside the graveyard, waiting for the ghost to appear. Why he thought a bullet would kill a ghost is beyond our understanding. Sure enough, the ghost appeared and Smith fired his gun. The ghost fell over dead. And as you probably already guessed, the ghost Smith saw was actually a real man. He was a plasterer named Thomas Millwood and he was wearing the customary white shirt, pants and apron. Smith was arrested and tried and although he argued that he only shot because he thought Millwood was a ghost, he was found guilty and sentenced to hang. The King later commuted the sentence to hard labor. It was sometime later when an elderly shoemaker came forward and admitted that he was the Hammersmith Ghost. Apparently, he would wear a white sheet because he wanted to scare his apprentice who had in turn been scaring the elderly shoemaker's children with ghost stories. Now that certainly is odd!

This Day in History - Perkin Warbeck Declared Richard IV

On this day, September 7th, in 1497, a sailor by the name of Perkin Warbeck is declared to be Richard IV on Bodwin Moor in Cornwall. The only problem is that Perkin is not a part of the monarchy. Perkin's true past is cloudy, but he would claim after being imprisoned that he was born to a Flemish father. Perkin first claimed the English throne in 1490. He had been traveling with a merchant and had put on some of the fine silk clothing the merchant sold. When the people of York saw him in the clothing, Perkin claims they demanded that he pretend to be the younger son of King Edward IV in order to get revenge on the king. Perkin tells people that he is Richard of Shrewsbury and that he has been absent because he and his brother, Edward V, had been captured. His brother had been killed, but the captors let him go if he promised to hide his identity for seven years. The aunt of the real Richard backed Perkin and he gained more support. King Henry VII knew that Perkin was an imposter though and he complained to other royals. After officially being declared King Richard IV on Sept. 7th, Perkin put together a Cornish army and went after King Henry VII. When Perkin heard of Henry VII's forces, he became fearful and abandoned his army. King Henry captured him and threw him into the Tower of London where he would confess to being a pretender. He later escaped twice and was finally drawn in Tyburn where he read a confession, Tyburn was the principle place for executions at the time. After reading the confession, Perkin was hanged.

Ohio State Reformatory

Sometimes a place is needed to help with reforming young people when they wander down the wrong road in life. That is what the Ohio State Reformatory was originally meant to do: help wayward young men get back on the right road. The beautiful Gothic reformatory built of iron and limestone is so picturesque that it was used as a location in the movie, "The Shawshank Redemption." But what happened to many of the residents of this building was anything, but beautiful and certainly was not about truly reforming young men. Stories that include torture, beatings and other misdeeds are numerous. And wherever strong emotions are built up, we usually find some kind of unexplained phenomenon. Come with us as we venture inside the Ohio State Reformatory!

Mansfield, Ohio was established in 1808 by three men: Joseph Larwill, Jacob Newman and James Hedges. The town was right near a fork in the Mohican River. The Surveyor General of the United States at that time was Jared Mansfield and the residents decided that Mansfield would be a fitting name for their town since he had helped with the plotting. In 1846, a railroad line was built in Mansfield that traveled to Sandusky and the town really began to flourish and grow at that time. Hautzenroeder & Company was a major cigar company that based itself in Mansfield and by 1888 it was the largest employer in town. Other manufacturing in Mansfield produced paper boxes, linseed oil, brass objects, doors and even suspenders.

In a field in Mansfield, a training area was set up for Civil War soldiers in 1861. The camp was named Camp Mordecei Bartley after the Governor of the state who served in the 1840s. In 1867, it was decided that the area would be perfect for the Intermediate Pentitentiary. That is the name that the reformatory would originally go by. It was named Intermediate because it was meant to be a midway stop between the Boys Industrial School in Lancaster and the State Penitentiary in Columbus. This was a place for first time offenders. The city of Mansfield and the state of Ohio worked together to purchase 180 acres of land. They spent over $1.3 million to construct the facility.

The architect for the Reformatory was a local Cleveland architect by the name of Levi T. Scofield. Scofield went all in and decided on not just one architectural design, but three of them. These styles were Queen Anne, Victorian Gothic and Richardsonian Romanesque leading many to think that the reformatory is chateau-like in appearance. And it is indeed a beautiful building. Many involved in the creation of the jail hoped that the structure would somehow inspire those locked within to change their lives and turn from a sinful life to a spiritual one. Another architect named F. F. Schnitzer completed the construction and became the first Superindentent of the reformatory. The cornerstone was laid on November 4, 1886 with Schnitzer's name on it. Even before it was finished, the structure changed names and in 1891 it became officially known as the Ohio State Reformatory. The East Wing became known for its unique cell block structure. The cell block was built from steel and rose six tiers and was amazingly free standing. The only cell block in the world to be free standing at that height. The doors officially opened in September 1896 even though construction would continue until 1910. One hundred and fifty young men were the first occupants.

Life in the reformatory was similar to full blown prison with boys creating shanks and shivs. Violence between inmates was very high. The 1930s would see such an influx of first time offenders that the prison became overcrowded. Most of the staff lived at the reformatory as well. Inmates claimed that the place was overrun by rats and disease. The food was unpalatable. Sweat boxes were used to punish mainly black prisoners. The worst place to go was The Hole. These were solitary confinement cells and inmates sometimes had to sleep on the concrete floors. Following a riot, 120 inmates were thrown into The Hole. That's a lot of men having to share only twenty cells. They were forced to stay in there for thirty days. One inmate was murdered during the punishment. In 1948, a prison farmer and his family were murdered by an inmate.

The Boyd Consent Decree was issued by a judge in 1986 after several lawsuits about the inhumane conditions at the reformatory where brought before him. The decree ordered the facility to be closed and another structure was built to the west. That opened as the Mansfield Correctional Institute. The doors to the Ohio State Reformatory closed officially on December 31, 1990 and in its time, the reformatory had housed over 155,000 men. Two hundred of them died during incarceration. This number does not include the deaths of non-inmates at the facility. The facility is now run by the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society and tours are conducted from April through September. It becomes a haunted attraction during the Halloween season.

The Reformatory not only gained fame being used as a location in films, it also has been investigated by several reality TV paranormal shows. These included "My Ghost Story," "Paranormal Challenge," "Ghost Hunters," "Ghost Hunters Academy," "Ghost Adventures," "Scariest Stories on Earth," "Scariest Places on Earth," and "Ghost Asylum." The reason for so many appearances on paranormal shows is that the Ohio State Reformatory is considered to be one of the most haunted places in America.

Warden Arthur Lewis Glattke was a hard man. He served as Warden from 1935-1959. He and his wife Helen lived in the Administration Wing. It was in 1950 that his wife Helen died in that wing after an accidental gunshot. She apparently was reaching into a jewelry box when the gun went off. She contracted pneumonia while recovering and died three days after the accident. Was it truly an accident or had the Warden killed his wife? Some believed the latter. When he later died after having a heart attack in his office, haunting activity began in the Administration Wing. Helen wore rose scented perfume and it is sometimes smelled in the hallways. She also reportedly likes to visit the library. The Warden has been heard in his office saying, "Catch me if you can." Or it could be an inmate saying something to the Warden. Pictures have been photographed of what looks like someone sitting in the Warden's chair. Sandra experienced the olfactory paranormal sensation in 2007 and wrote of it:
"My family toured the Ohio State Reformatory last weekend when we were in that area for another occasion. I didn't know anything about the place before going on the tour. While we were in the area where the Warden and his wife used to live, my 8 year old son was getting tired of listening to the guide, so we started browsing through the rooms alone. We walked into a room and I immediately started to smell roses. Without saying what I smelled, I asked my son if he could smell anything. He answered, "Yes, flowers." A moment later others from the tour walked into the room and the smell instantly disappeared. After the tour, I mentioned my experience to a volunteer at the front desk. She told me that the Warden's wife, Helen, loved roses.

When I got home I started searching online for information about the Reformatory. Several links mentioned visitors smelling roses, and it meant that Helen was near. I didn't believe in the supernatural going in, but since I specifically smelled roses without any knowledge of previous stories, I definitely believe now! I didn't want my son to be scared by the experience, so I told him Helen must have liked us because she took the time to say hello to us, and left when the others came in."
The Chapel is haunted by strange noises and shadowy figures that disappear quickly when spotted. Unusual photographs have been taken inside as well. Occasionally, people claim to feel as though they are being touched by a spider web even though they have not actually walked through a spider web. Others are scratched or pushed. Disembodied screams are heard in the hallways as if someone were being tortured. The sounds of cell doors slamming shut echos in the corridors.

One of the wayward boys at the reformatory was a fourteen-year-old boy who was beaten so badly, he died. The incident took place in the basement and it is believed that his spirit now knocks about the place. The basement is also where The Hole is located. Because of the severe punishments that took place here, anyone who enters claims to feel a certain malevolence and even glowing eyes have been witnessed.

A woman named Carrie was on a ghost hunt and reported to the website Grave Addiction, the following experience:
"I just got back from visiting the OSR, and a group of us had an experience in the cell block. The cell that I am speaking of is the one marked with the "X" that has been reported to have activity. We were taken back to the block when the tour was over, there were about 9 of us along with the guide. We heard someone running. The guide asked who was running because there shouldn't be anyone. Immediately the cell door slammed shut. It scared us all and we wasted no time at all getting out of there. The guide was so scared that he was soaking wet with sweat."
Do some of the past inmates of the Ohio State Reformatory still remain in their cells? Have the intense emotions associated with this place been locked into the stone shell and do things replay themselves over and over? Is the reformatory haunted? That is for you to decide!

 Show Notes:
Our interview with Patrick Keller on the Big Seance Podcast:

We received an email from Apryl, a listener, with an update about the infamous wall from the St. Valentine's Museum. Part of it still exists at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. Here is an MSNBC clip featuring the museum: