Monday, February 29, 2016

HGB Ep. 109 - Winchester Mystery House

Moment in Oddity - Scratching Fanny
Suggested by: Robert Sherfield

The Cock Lane Ghost or - as she is more commonly known - Scratching Fanny, was a haunting that occurred in 1762 in London. The story behind the haunting is scandalous. William Kent was married to Elizabeth Lynes. She had become pregnant and tragically, she died while giving birth to their child. The heartbroken William soon took up with a new woman: Elizabeth's sister, Fanny. GASP! At the time, it was forbidden by law for the two to get married. That didn't stop them from living in sin together. They rented a place from a man named Richard Parsons on Cock Lane. Parsons soon borrowed a huge sum of money from William. There was no way he could ever pay it back. William had to go away on business and while he was gone Fanny became frightened by strange scratching noises on the walls. She thought for sure that her sister was haunting her. When William returned, they moved out. Tragedy struck again for William when Fanny died from small pox shortly thereafter. William began to press Parsons to pay back his debt. Parsons began telling everyone that William had poisoned Fanny with arsenic. He said he knew this to be the case because Fanny herself had told them, as a ghost. He claimed that she was haunting the Cock Lane property. He said she was scratching on the walls and that her full bodied apparition would appear. People started gathering outside on Cock Lane every day for a glimpse at the hauntings. The roads were impassible because of all the people. An investigation was begun to see if William was indeed a murderer and if the hauntings were really taking place. Was Scratching Fanny the real deal? After all was said and done, it was proved that Scratching Fanny was a fraud. It was Parsons teen aged daughter Elizabeth who had been scratching at the walls. Her father had made her do it. The fact that a man would force his daughter to pretend to be a ghost and that he would spread such an amazing and fraudulent story, that was meant to accuse a man of murder, all to get out of paying back a debt, certainly is odd!

This Day in History - Hattie McDaniels Wins Oscar

On this day, February 29th, in 1940, Hattie McDaniels becomes the first African-American person to be nominated for and win an Academy Award. Hattie was born in Kansas in 1893 to two former slaves. She was one of the first African-American women on the radio in the 1920s. Her break out role was in 1934's Judge Priest. In 1940, she won the role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind. This was the role for which she won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar. She said she hoped to be a credit to her race in her acceptance speech. Some were critical of her performance claiming that it enforced stereotypes. Her career took a downturn after this and she went back to radio in 1947 starring in The Beulah Show. She died on October 26, 1952 in Los Angeles, California from breast cancer.

Winchester Mystery House (Demanded by listeners *chuckle*) Research Assistant April Rogers-Krick and Ronda Williams

The Winchester Mystery House or Winchester Mansion is one of the most unique and bizarre homes ever built. The mystery part of the name refers to the interior infrastructure. It truly is a mystery why certain elements were constructed. There are stairways that lead to nowhere, doors that open to walls and windows on the interior of the house. Numerology plays a significant part in the design as well. Legends and rumors permeate the history of the home. Was the weird construction an elaborate attempt to fool spirits to keep them at bay? Many of the rumors about the house include tales of haunting activity. Tours are very popular here and listener Ronda Williams shares her experience with the Flashlight Tour in this episode. Come with us as we explore the mysteries, history and hauntings of the Winchester Mansion.

The story of the Winchester Mansion begins with Oliver Winchester. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1810. He originally went into the clothing business and sold dress shirts. In 1857, he purchased the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company and he changed out the name Volcanic for his own name. From 1866 through the turn of the twentieth century, the Winchester lever-action repeating rifle was a legendary part of America’s Old West. It was known as “the gun that won the West.”  The Winchester rifle was used during the Civil War and was used by American settlers. The gun helped to make Oliver Winchester a wealthy man.William Wirt Winchester was born in 1837. He was Oliver's son and was a part of the Winchester company for his entire life. When Oliver died on December 10, 1880, the Winchester company was worth over $3 million and his personal fortune another $1.5 million.  He left his estate in equal thirds to his wife, his daughter, and his only son, William.

William married Sarah Lockwood Pardee in 1862. She was a 4 foot 10-inch 90 pound debutante.  Sarah was born in 1839, played the piano well, read voraciously and spoke four languages. William and Sarah had one daughter, Annie, in 1866. Annie died of marasmus, a disease that prevents the human body from breaking down protein and the afflicted starves to death. Sarah watched her daughter starve to death until Annie passed away at six weeks old. She is buried in New Haven, Conneticut. It took Sarah ten years to get past the death of her only child. In late March 1881, just three months after his father’s death, William succumbed to tuberculosis, leaving his one-third of the Winchester fortune to his widow, Sarah. She would make about $1,000 a day, from the Winchester Company.

After William's death, Sarah was encouraged by a friend to visit a medium so that she could speak to William again. Spiritualism was all the rage at the time, with seances taking place in the homes of many a Victorian parlor. Sarah already was a superstitious woman, as will be reflected later in the design of the Winchester Mansion. The medium she consulted was named Adam Coons. Sarah explained to him that she worried that the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles would come after to seek revenge. Coons supported this belief, although there was obviously no proof for this. He and Sarah both thought all the deaths in her family were because of these spirits, but disease was a part of life back then. Dying of tuberculosis was common as we all know. Coons encouraged Sarah to sell her home in Conneticut and move to California. She did move with her sister and claimed that William guided her to the Santa Clara Valley.

Sarah moved into a small, eight room farmhouse situated amongst apricot and prune orchards in San Jose, California in 1884 and became a millionaire recluse. There was something else that legend claims the medium told Sarah. He explained that when she bought her new home, she must continue construction on the place as long as she lived, so the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles would have somewhere to live and be pacified. Based on the interior of the house, we would think that the construction was meant to confuse the ghosts. Another legend says that Sarah was a Spiritualist who believed that as long as she kept building onto the house she wouldn’t die. Sarah almost immediately began construction on the small farmhouse. A third, then fourth story appeared above the trees. Towers and strange abutments materialized. A fifth and sixth story were added. The ongoing building was strange enough but the mismatched exterior architecture of the constantly growing Victorian styled house had the locals, who loved to gossip, convinced that the widow Winchester was more than just an eccentric recluse.

Neighbors would peek through the elaborate gardens.  They watched the construction in amazement, but most never saw the inside.  Sarah rarely invited guests into her home.  Gossiping servants added to the stories of her eccentric reclusive lifestyle and obsession with ghosts within the community.  Sarah’s neighbors and other residents of San Jose believed her as crazy as she was rich. Sarah ruled her household with a firm hand.  She would often spy on her staff, but few would quit their jobs, because she paid high wages.  All the employees, except for her personal secretary and the butler who served dinner, were forbidden to see her unless she wore a veil.  Even an accidental glimpse was instant dismissal. Servants needed maps to navigate the miles and miles of corridors. Hidden passageways were concealed by wall panels.  Behind one closet door was a solid wall.  Behind another was access to 30 more rooms.  Some doors opened onto unexpected dangers, such as a two-story drop to the floor below.  A fireplace chimney stopped short of the ceiling, a bathroom door was made of clear glass, and a wide balcony that suddenly narrowed to mere inches.

Whether Sarah was crazy or eccentric, she was rich, so she had the luxury of following her every desire.  Sarah arrived in San Jose with $20 million and in 1897 when Mrs. Oliver Winchester died she inherited 2000 more shares of Winchester stock. Sarah expected only quality materials and craftsmanship.  She ordered Tiffany glass designed with her favorite flower - the daisy, French wallpaper, Belgian crystal, and West African mahogany.  Redwood is used throughout the house. *Fun fact: Redwood is termite resistant.* Doorknobs were made of copper, silver, and gold.  She also had installed an automated elevator, the first seen on the west Coast.  She used only the latest technologies, including a few of her own inventions. When Sarah found a fabric she liked in town, she would buy it all up, so no one else in town would have the same design.The plaster was made with horse hair making it more insulated. One fireplace is inspired by a pagoda and made from West African Mahogany. The metal cupboard is the Spiritualist Society's Spiderweb. The brick is actually Minnesota Pipestone, which is used in the manufacture of peace pipes, and it is etched so that it appears to be brick.

The house grew to seven stories with the installation of an observation tower. No official plans were ever drawn up of the Victorian style house and the foreman John Hansen followed Mrs. Winchester's plans rather than common sense or his own expertise over the years causing chaos. The floor plan changed constantly.  Many structures were built, torn down, then built again. Additions stick out in all directions. New wings were erected within inches of old ones.  A bell tower in the yard was eventually surrounded by the house. This made the bell tower accessible only through a secret underground tunnel.

The mansion is full of many oddities.  One room has a gaslight operated by an electric switch.  Another small room contains four fireplaces, four hot-air registers from a central furnace and two gas heaters.  There are stairways that lead into solid, blank walls and ceilings. Many of the 10,000 windows open onto solid walls and there are cupboards that open into another room like windows. There are 52 skylights, many opening into the floors of rooms above them. Sarah had only three mirrors in the immense mansion to appease the good spirits. The “séance room” has one entrance and three secret exits.

The Grand Ballroom was built almost entirely without the use of nails and contains two leaded stain glassed windows with mysterious quotes from the works of Shakespeare. The 7/11 Staircase goes down seven steps and then up eleven and in the end, you remain on the second floor. The Switchback Staircase is a winding staircase with 44 steps. In any other house, climbing that amount of stairs would put one three stories higher. In the Winchester Mansion, those steps are only two inches high and only rise nine feet. The reason for this could be very practical. Sarah had arthritis. *Fun fact: The house had to be brought up to code in 1949 and fire sprinklers had to be installed without the benefit of blueprints. There are 7.5 miles of piping in the system.*

And then there is the number thirteen. Almost every room is paneled with 13 sections, almost every stairway has 13 steps, most of the chandeliers have 13 lights, most of the outside rooms contain 13 windows, and there are 13 bathrooms. Nearly all of the windows contained 13 panes of glass. There are also 13 hooks each with a robe hung on it. The front drive is lined with thirteen palm trees. She even added 13 drainage holes to a hand-painted Italian antique sink.

Tragedy struck on April 18,1906. An earthquake that more than likely would have measured between 8.1 to 8.4 on the Richter Scale, struck California. It's effects were felt from Los Angeles to Northern Oregon. The Winchester Mansion held up fairly well considering the chaos in which it was built, but the observation tower toppled and the house was lowered to four stories. The front area of the house was badly damaged and Sarah had the entire front portion of the house sealed off because she thought the spirits were angry with her since they did not protect the house nor her from the quake.  She herself was trapped for several hours in her Daisy Room after the earthquake. The front entrance was never used again.

Sarah died on September 5th, 1922 and the construction immediately stopped. The construction had gone on round the clock for thirty-eight years. In the end, she had spent $5.5 million on construction. There are 160 rooms and the house covers 2400 square feet. There are 10,000 windows, which are more windows than the Empire State Building contains. There are 2,000 doors, 52 skylights, 47 fireplaces, 40 bedrooms, 40 staircases, 17 chimneys, 13 bathrooms, 6 kitchens and 3 elevators. The hammering ceased and left half driven nails sticking out from unfinished lumber.  The house was quickly sold and Sarah's furnishings were sent off to auction, meaning that the furniture in the mansion currently is not original. The Mansion is now a historical landmark.  Open for tours now, psychics, tourists, and tour guides all report strange occurrences in the mansion. *Fun fact: Harry Houdini visited the Winchester Mansion in 1924.*

Sarah did not leave the home after her death.  She reportedly haunts the home.  Brent Miller was caretaker of the home from 1973-1981 and he heard breathing and footsteps in the room where Sarah Winchester died. This is not necessarily the room she always slept in because Sarah slept in a different bedroom every night hoping to avoid contact with the ghosts. She also had a ritual that she followed to keep spirits from following her into the Seance Room. At exactly midnight, the bell in the tower would toll.  This would signal Sarah to scurry along the twisting corridors and secret passageways.  Up and down elevators and odd-sized staircases.  In and out of windows.  Her roundabout route discourages anyone from following her.  With a final glance over her shoulder she would enter the Séance Room through a one-way door.  This room was deep in the heart of the mansion and was off limits to all but her.  At least all the living.  This is where it is said she would receive her building instructions from the spirits.  After the meetings, she often hosted a dinner party, with 13 settings.  Her chefs fixed gourmet meals, which were served on gold plates.  It is not known if her guests were living or dead.

Most haunting activity is centered on the third floor. A tour guide said she had once been taking a group of young boys around the house and when they got to the third floor, one boy claimed about being extremely cold. He started to shiver. The other boys felt his skin and he was ice cold. None of the rest of them felt cold. When the group left the third floor, the boy warmed right up. A friend of Miller's caught a picture of an apparition in coveralls when he came to visit.  Could this be the carpenter ghost that has been seen laying the floor? Another caretaker turned off all the lights and locked up one night and when he got into his car he glanced at the house and saw that every light on the third floor was lit.

Unused kitchens sometimes give off the scent of a warm meal, particularly chicken soup.  A manager at the Mansion named Janet started working here when she was a teenager. One day she was mopping when she heard bustling coming from one of the kitchens. She walked into the kitchen and found it empty. She went back to mopping and again heard pots and pans banging around. She checked the kitchen and found it empty again. It happened a third time and then stopped. Janet also had another freaky experience. She was watering plants and heard a loud rapping several times. She checked each  of the three times that it happened to see if anyone else was in the house with her, but she was alone. The final time she heard the rapping, she figured out it was coming from the roof area. She went up to investigate and something closed and locked the door behind her. That door has only two keys. Janet had one of the keys with her, thankfully, so she could unlock the door. The other key was with the other manager. She called him to verify that he had the key. He did. So who locked the door?

Paranormal investigators report feeling icy spots, hearing organ music, seeing orbs and locked doorknobs turn and moving lights. Some windows slam shut hard enough that they shatter. A tour guide named Elizabeth was walking to the Oriental Rooms that contain items from the Orient, that were common in Victorian homes. She claims that something compelled her to turn around and she looked at the fireplace that had been behind her. She noticed an elbow on the mantle and realized it was attached to a full body apparition of a twenty something young woman, wearing period clothing from the 1920s. She was around 5'4" with dark hair. Elizabeth looked away and then looked again and the ghost was still standing there. She was sure of what she saw. When she looked away and then looked back one more time, the female figure had disappeared. The staff believes that the ghost belongs to Marion Marriott who was Sarah's niece and personal secretary.

According to ghost lore the mansion’s odd features make sense.  Spirits like to use fireplaces to enter and exit a place and it is said they dislike mirrors.  The mansion contains 47 fireplaces but only three mirrors.  Ghosts do not cast shadows so Sarah arranged light fixtures so that the ghosts would not feel conspicuous and humiliated because they did not cast shadows. Legend claims that the mansion also reflects Sarah’s attempts to control which ghosts visited.  By catering to their wishes and providing extravagant luxuries she welcomed good spirits.  The confusing floor plans and oddities such as hand carved wooden posts and railing installed upside down were meant to discourage the spirits of outlaws killed by Winchester rifles.

Superstition also caused Sarah to board up a cellar room where she kept a wonderful wine cellar. One evening she went to get a bottle to enjoy and noticed a black hand print on the wall. She assumed that an evil ghost had made the print. Common sense tells us that it was more than likely one of the dozens of workmen that came through the house. Nevertheless, she walled up the room and no one has ever been able to locate the wine cellar to this day.

Some people claim that the story about Sarah fearing spirits was baloney. In the 1950s, a series of interviews of Sarah's nephew William Winchester Merriman were conducted by an author and the book claims she had not been obsessed with gun-fearing ghosts and spirits.  According to the author, William, said his aunt had simply decided to take up the hobby of architecture to get her mind off her past traumas. The author also claims he explained that many of the bizarre things in the house had been added after her death to make the house more intriguing when it opened for public tours.  This story also claims that she had actually lived in a houseboat at the tip of San Francisco Bay at times.  This has since been debunked as the author taking creative license to sell more books and articles.

One of our listeners, Ronda Williams, went on the Flashlight Tour at the mansion a couple of weeks ago and she shared her experiences and pictures with us. Ronda said, "Before the tour we had some time and were strolling around the garden. My boyfriend saw a light hovering on a wall and he couldn’t find any source for it. I didn’t see that unfortunately, but he did. This picture shows him looking at the wall in question. If I knew he was seeing an orb I would have pointed the camera elsewhere!"

Photo courtesy of Ronda Williams

During the tour, Ronda said a bunch of people including her boyfriend heard faint music. It wasn’t electronic sounding like it came from a phone. Neither I nor the tour guide heard it, but she said it’s common. Ronda took a picture of the Wheelbarrow Man. She said, "This photo I took of another photo. The man who is highlighted was one of the groundskeepers and is a spirit called “Wheelbarrow Ghost”, He’s been seen by different people over the years pushing his barrow around the grounds. When I took the photo it was completely lit up but the actual image on my phone mainly highlights the Wheelbarrow Guy.” Kind of cool I thought. A weird trick of lighting that didnt really make sense when I took it."

Photo courtesy of Ronda Williams

Other photos Ronda took during the tour:

Photo courtesy of Ronda Williams

Photo courtesy of Ronda Williams
Comments from our listeners who have visited the house:

Beth Edwards Lang: Very interesting story. Kinda feel asorry for the lady always thinking something was after her. We did the flashlight tour on Friday the 13th. The house is amazing.

Michelle DePriest: It was an amazing home! Unfortunately our guide really rushed us! I never had any experiences there (I think I might have at the Whaley House) but if you look on you tube they have a video of the chandelier moving "on its own"

Shelley Emary: What a place! Windows in the floor, doors that open to walls, doors that open to a three story drop... etc etc.... I didn't have any experiences though... but what an amazing place!

April Gaea Garaci: It's so gorgeous the architecture alone is worth the visit but the history and supernatural stories makes it even better

Lianna Sapien: Amazeballz! And it's short person friendly! My brother felt a presence behind him during a tour when he was behind a door that had no knob on his side. Regardless of the creepy, it's just a fun house!

Lisa Linderman: I went in summer of 2014. Took the regular tour and the behind the scenes tour. I never felt creeped out or scared, had no "experiences" except for missing a bottom stair and falling into a post. To say I fell in love with the place is putting it mildly. So beautiful, and I actually found it quite peaceful. I am determined to go back, and if I could swing it I would absolutely stay overnight. Incidentally, I was strongly persuaded both by the tour and by some poking about that the "being pursued by ghosts" was either entirely fabricated or at least extremely exaggerated. She was unbelievably rich, bored, lonely, and eccentric. And possibly a Freemason...that would explain some features of the house too. I love Sarah Winchester, and her amazing house. But Dean will always be my favorite.

There is no doubt that the Winchester Mansion reflects the eccentric nature of a fascinating woman. Did she really fear bad spirits? Did she take construction advice from friendly spirits? Is she still in her home in the afterlife? Have other spirits made this mansion their home? Is the Winchester Mystery House haunted? That is for you to decide!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

HGB Podcast Ep. 108 - Haunted Old Salem

Moment in Oddity - Violet Jessop
Suggested by: Robert Sherfield

Was the life of Violet Jessop charmed or cursed? Violet was the daughter of Irish emigrant sheep farmers and she was born in Argentina. She moved with her family to England after her father passed away. She helped to support the family by working as a stewardess on cruise liners. Her first job was aboard the RMS Olympic in 1911. On September 20th of that year, the Olympic collided with the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Hawke. Neither ship sank, but a water tight compartment in the Olympic did fill up. Violet was uninjured in the accident. She next worked on the ship HMS Titanic. And as we all know from history, Titanic will sink. After the horrible collison with the iceberg, Violet helped women and children board lifeboats. She later stepped onto Lifeboat 16 and was handed a baby to care for until the Carpathia came to the rescue. Violet had survived a second cruise ship wreck. Violet moved to the RMS Britannic, which had been converted to a hospital ship during World War I. That ship struck a mine on November 10, 1916. Violet was once again helping people into lifeboats and getting aboard one herself. She survived yet again. And even though she had three brushes with death aboard ocean liners, Violet went right back to work aboard a cruise liner. We're not sure if she was charmed or cursed, but the fact that she experienced three ocean disasters and lived, certainly is odd!

This Day in History - The First Mardi Gras in New Orleans
by: Jessica Bell

On this day, February 27th, in 1827, the first Mardi Gras is held in New Orleans. The term Mardi Gras is French and means “fat Tuesday.” The "Tuesday" refers to the fact that this day falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the last day prior to Lent. Lent is a 40-day season of prayer and fasting observed by the Roman Catholic Church (and many other Christian denominations) which ends on Easter Sunday. The origin of "Fat Tuesday" is believed to have come from the ancient Pagan custom of parading a fat ox through the town streets. Such Pagan holidays were filled with excessive eating, drinking and general bawdiness prior to a period of fasting. The New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition began in 1827 when a group of students, inspired by their experiences studying in Paris, donned masks and jester costumes and staged their own Fat Tuesday festivities. The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple (symbolic of justice), green (symbolic of faith) and gold (symbolic of power). New Orleans' krewe tradition began with the Mistick Krewe of Comus, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen that organized a torch-lit procession with floats and bands in 1857. As years passed, Mardi Gras gained other lasting customs like the throwing of beads, wearing of masks, decorating of floats, and eating of King Cake. Though Louisiana remains the only state in which Mardi Gras is a legal holiday, nearby Alabama and Mississippi acquired their own Mardi Gras traditions and Fat Tuesday celebrations are now held across the nation. And to get the real insiders look at Mardi Gras, we suggest the Beyond Bourbon Street Podcast.

Haunted Old Salem (Suggested and Researched by Assistant Producer Steven Pappas)

When most people think of cities in North Carolina, they think of Charlotte or Raleigh. These are the state's two sprawling metropolises and home to many large industries. What most people don't think about is a city mid-way between the two and that is Winston-Salem. Winston-Salem is a town that is not only the home to the headquarters of some large companies such as Texas Pete and RJ Reynolds, but also has a rich history which began as a religious settlement in Old Salem that is still standing 250 years after being established. The town of Old Salem is considered to be an archaeological site. This is a place where people put down roots, and it seems some spirits may have as well. Come with us as we explore the history and the hauntings of Old Salem, North Carolina.

The Moravian church started as a protestant movement which became an established denomination in 1457. This movement was started by John Huss in what is now the Czech Republic. The Moravians were the earliest protestant church, rebelling against Rome earlier than Martin Luther. 50 years earlier in fact. The anger of the Roman empire forced the rebels to worship underground and after a few centuries of persecution, they found themselves fleeing as exiles. They found protection under a German nobleman and eventually crossed the Atlantic to settle in the new world. They settled in Georgia and Pennsylvania until eventually being sent to settle in North Carolina. They established the first Moravian settlement in North Carolina at Bethabra, before settling the central city of the Wachovia land tract. This town was called Salem and it was established in 1766.

Salem thrived, becoming known as a trade town. They produced and exported many goods ranging from tools and metals to furniture and food. There was a standard tavern, which George Washington spent a night in, as well as many other buildings which are still standing today. The Single Brothers House, the church, the Sisters House, winkler bakery, crafts shops and many others.  The Single Brothers House was a building that housed unmarried men, specifically those in the choir. It was built in two sections with the first being built in 1769 with half-timbered construction. The second section was built in 1786 from brick. The brothers not only lived in this building, they worshipped and ate here as well. A workshop behind the house could be rented by the men to practice their trades. The Single Brothers operated a bakery, brewery, distillery, tannery and slaughterhouse along with a plantation.

The Sisters House served a similar purpose for the single women. Their house was built in 1785. It was suppose to be built a year earlier, but apparently the tavern was more important. Bricks that had already been made for the Sisters House were used to rebuild the tavern after it was destroyed in a fire. The house would later go on to be used by the Salem Female Academy.

The town carried on for a few centuries as an everyday village until 1950, long after Salem and the neighboring Winston combined to form Winston-Salem, when the town became an official non-profit which is tasked with restoring the buildings, giving guided tours, and acting as a living museum in the vein of colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.

When the town became a historical site, they chose a tin coffee pot as their symbol. This is due to the large coffee pot which is placed at one of the entrances to the town. It is 7 feet 3 inches tall and would hold 740 gallons if actually used for coffee. It is said that in the 19th century a small boy would climb to the top of the pot and put boiling water in it so that smoke would come from the spout. Other stories surrounding the pot include a union soldier using it to hide in from a passing patrol during the American civil war and it is even claimed that they may have used this large pot to boil water for coffee used in their annual lovefeasts at Christmas and Easter.

Lovefeasts are an important part of the Moravian denomination. They describe them as such on their official website:
"The holding of lovefeasts, after the practice of the Apostolic Church, has come to be one of the outstanding customs of the Moravian Church and has proved to be a real means of grace. Members of other denominations are attracted to Moravian lovefeasts in large numbers, and thus the spirit of fellowship is greatly advanced.Lovefeasts originated in the first gathering of Christians after Pentecost. The early believers met and broke bread together, thereby signifying their union and equality. These meals of the church family were associated with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, which followed them. They were called agape, from the Greek word for love, that is for the highest type of spiritual love. Gradually the agape lost its devotional character, and toward the end of the fourth century the Church gave it up.

The lovefeast of Apostolic times was resuscitated in its original simplicity by the Moravian Church in 1727. There is no rule as to the food to be offered, except that it be very simple and easily distributed. The drink may be coffee, tea, or lemonade, fully prepared in advance, so that it may be served very quietly and without interruption of the singing. Usually mugs are used, which may be passed from hand to hand along a pew from a tray brought along the aisle. A slightly sweetened bun, which can be served in baskets passed along the pews, is a convenient form of bread. Usually men handle the trays of mugs, and women the baskets of buns. While the congregation partakes, the choir sings an anthem. Later the mugs are quietly gathered and removed. The food served is not consecrated, as in the communion. Children and members of any denomination may partake."
Considering the long and storied history of Winston-Salem, it should come as no shock that there has been a lot of supernatural activity reported in the area. There have been many reports revolving around the Salem Cemetery, which sits on the land directly adjacent to the town. People have reported hearing eerie sounds and wailing voices in the cemetery as well as seeing shadowy figures floating above the headstones at night. (While I have not heard or seen anything in the area, I have gotten an eerie feeling just looking at the massive graveyard while cleaning headstones in the Moravian Gravyard next to it.)

Many people who grew up in Winston-Salem know the story of the little red man. On March 25th, 1786 a local shoemaker was helping to excavate the foundation for the Single Brothers house, when a wall collapsed, which killed him. For years following the incident, strange things would happen. Throughout the house people would report hearing a tapping which sounded oddly like the hammer of a shoemaker. A small man wearing a red cap, like the shoemaker had been when he died, was seen scurrying around the halls on many occasions. After some years the house was converted into a home for Widows and one of the more famous stories is taken from that period. One of the widow's granddaughters, who was deaf but still able to speak, cam up to her grandmother asking questions. She knew nothing of the ghost, the story, or the accident, but she told her grandmother all about the man in the red cap beckoning her to come and play. In the mid 1900's a prominent city figure was showing someone important the house when the red man appeared before them in the cellar. Out of terror and embarrassment, he called in a local pastor to put the spirit to rest. It has not been reported since.Steven has been in the cellar at this location.

Many other stories surround the community. There is the story of the night rider, who died in the tavern only to send a message to his family from beyond the grave. There is the tale of the maintenance worker who heard unexplained organ music when he was alone in the church. And there are stories revolving around strange behavior and sounds in Salem College, a girls college located on the property. (My cousin went to this school and told me about everything from doors slamming to noises, to, BUCKLE IN, her friend waking up to her roommate sitting by her bed on the floor and staring at her face while grinning.)

With the history of this settlement and the success and peace those who settled it found there, it is no wonder there are so many tales about people staying behind. So are the spirits of settlers still around keeping an eye on their town? Do the craftsmen and women continue their crafts even in death? Is Old Salem haunted? That is for you to decide.

Show Notes:
More on Old Salem:
Lydia Miller's Horror Movie Article:

Matt's ghost picture at Old Jail in St. Augustine:

Photo courtesy of Matthew Hirons

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

HGB Podcast Ep. 107 - Franklin Battlefield

Moment in Oddity - Portugal's Stone House
Suggested by: Jorge Almeyda

Up in the Fafe Mountains of Northern Portugal, on a remote hilltop, is a most unusual house. This is a home that looks straight out of a Flintstone's cartoon because it is made out of stone and set between four large boulders. It's known as Casa do Penedo or "House of Stone" in English. Many people who see a picture of the house think it is photoshopped, but it's quite real. Thousands of tourists visit the location each year. The two story stone house features the traditional front door, windows and shingled roof, but also amentities like a fireplace and a swimming pool that was carved out of one of the boulders. Much of the furniture is made from stone and the stairs were fashioned from logs. Large three bladed wind turbines line the hills near the house and help provide energy to it. It was built in 1974 as a family's vacation home, if you will. The fact that it blends in to the natural setting so well is part of what has made it so popular. It is so popular that the current owner has had to leave to get away from all the tourists. Robbery attempts have forced the installation of a steel door and bullet proof windows. How the family managed to build this home and get the supplies here is a mystery. The fact that the stone house of Portugal appears to be straight out of the Stone Age certainly is odd!

This Day in History - United States Aquires Control of Panama Canal
 By: Jessica Bell

On this day, February 23rd, in 1904, the United States acquires control of the Panama Canal Zone for $10 million. The idea of creating a water passage across the isthmus of Panama to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans dates back to at least the 1500s, when King Charles I of Spain tapped his regional governor to survey a route along the Chagres River. The realization of such a route across the mountainous, jungle terrain was deemed mpossible at the time, although the idea remained important due to the need for a potential shortcut from Europe to eastern Asia. The French were the first to try to create the passage, but after 10 years of work, the spending of $260 million, and the loss of 20,000 lives, the French sold control of their rights and property in the area to the United States for $40 million. When a proposed treaty over rights to build in what was then a Colombian territory was rejected, the U.S. threw its military weight behind a Panamanian independence movement, eventually negotiating a deal with the new government in 1903 that gave them rights in perpetuity to the canal zone. Part of the deal was that the United States agreed to pay a rent of $250,000 per year to Panama for a zone six miles wide. The Panama Canal, a 52-mile long waterway, was completed in 1914, at a cost of $352 million, remarkably under budget and under schedule. Control of the world famous Panama Canal was transferred from the U.S. to Panama in 1999.

Franklin Battlefield (Suggested by Thomas Cartwright)

Franklin, Tennessee is a warm small town that just oozes history. The Civil War's Battle of Franklin took place in this town in 1864. This was one of the Confederate Army's worst battles. In fact, the assault has been dubbed "The Pickett's Charge of the West." The Carter House, the Lotz House and Carnton Mansion sit where the battle took place. As is the case with so many battlefields around the world, this one is reputed to be haunted as are the nearby homes. Join us as we explore this fascinating town, the horrific battle and the history and hauntings of the Franklin Battlefield.

On October 26, 1799, the city of Franklin was incorporated and named for Benjamin Franklin in the state of Tennessee. The man responsible for both was state senator Abram Maury, Jr. Before the Civil War, Franklin was in one of the wealthiest counties in Tennessee and it was the center of the plantation economy in the state as well. The Civil War weighed heavily on the town. Union forces occupied the city for three years. It's difficult to talk about the battle named for this city without referencing the entire town. Every building that existed during the Battle of Franklin was used as a hospital, whether it was a private home or a public gathering place. It took decades for the town to recover economically.

The Battle of Franklin was one of the bloodiest of the Civil War, which is saying a lot since so many of the battles were devastating in this war. There were 8,500 casualties in this one day battle that took place on November 30, 1864. Atlanta, Georgia had fallen to General William T. Sherman on Sept. 1, 1864. Confederate forces that had been defending the city were under the command of General John B. Hood. The defeat caused General Hood to take his forces, that numbered 30,000, into Tennessee. Hood thought he could weaken Sherman by going after the supply line coming from Nashville. Sherman wasn't worried about a supply line at this point. He figured that his army could take whatever they needed from the homes along their path. He did, however, send the Ohio Army under General John Schofield into Nashville to hold the area for the Union. That army was 30,000 strong.

In Nashville, General George Thomas already had 25,000 Union soldiers. If Schofield got there in time, the Confederacy's Hood would be outnumbered almost two to one. Hood decided to meet Schofield before he got to Nashville and he was successful in splitting the company. But Hood and the Confederacy were going to start making a series of mistakes. The first would be miscommunication. Schofield's army was able to regroup and pass by Hood's men in the night unscathed. The Union troops made it to Franklin. They regrouped and formed an imposing line of defense. Hood made another bad decision by deciding to pursue Schofield into Franklin. And the reason why is that this was going to become like Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg. The Union was tucked nicely behind secure areas and the Confederates were going to have to cross two miles of open ground to even get to where they could engage the Union.

General George Wagner of the Union met Hood's forces a half mile in front of the Union's main line. Hood managed to press ahead because the Union soldiers behind the line didn't want to kill any of their own with friendly fire. Hoods forces slammed into the union right outside of the Carter family's house and combat took place in the gardens there. The Confederates started to win using bayonets, shovels, whatever they could find to fight. Union Commander Emerson Opdycke had disobeyed orders to join the Union line at the front and he had forces behind the Carter House. This was good because he was then able to surprise the Confederates and kept the union from facing disaster.

The Carter House was built by Fountain Branch Carter in 1830. It was a one-and-a-half story brick house meant to house his family of twelve children. Mr. Carter already had a successful business in town and he was looking to pursue farming at this new home. He was very successful and grew the farm from nineteen acres to two hundred and eighty-eight and a cotton gin was installed. This battle that is currently raging around this beautiful farm is now tearing up the land. The lives of those at Carter House would be forever changed. Brigadier General Jacob D. Cox took possession of Carter House and set up his headquarters in the parlor. The Carters grabbed their slaves and they ran to their basement and hid in a north room there. The Lotz family that lived across the street hid with Carters as well. The Carter's son Tod served as an aide to Confederate Brig. Gen. Thomas Benton Smith during the Battle of Franklin and he was wounded during the fight. Several men carried his body to his family home where he would die two days later. The Carter farm never recovered and it was sold in 1896. The State of Tennessee eventually bought the Carter House in 1951 and it opened the home to the public in 1953. The Battle of Franklin Trust manages the property today.

The battle continued to rage and the Union once again had the upper hand. A side note about this is that the Union had an advantage because they had seven-shot Spencers. Christopher Miner Spencer was an inventor and he came up with the Spencer Repeating Rifle. It was revolutionary and reliable. The ammunition magazine was placed in the rifle's buttstock. There were seven shots that were manually fed into the chamber by lever action. It fired as fast as a man could cock the hammer and work the lever. The Confederates kept pressing forward. They were stopped by a twist of timbers that they were forced to climb. It was a horrible decision and the Confedrates were picked off. Union soldiers described the scene as nightmarish with twisted corpses caught up in the timbers. The Confederates retreated and reformed and then went forward with a new attack six different times. They were nothing if not tenacious. Hood sent a final group forward in the dark. It was yet another foolish decision and the group was quickly felled in the torchlight.

The Confederates finally fell back, leaving thousands dead and wounded near the Carter House. Schofield drew his troops back to Nashville. In the end, 7,000 Confederates were left dead or wounded. Fourteen of them were generals. The Union suffered less than 2,000 casualties. It was a disastrous loss for the Confederacy. General Hood wasn't finished though. He decided to pursue Schofield and eventually there was the Battle of Nashville.

The Carnton Mansion was built in 1826 and was later inherited by John and Caroline McGavok in 1844. The home was visited by dignitaries that included Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston. Right before the battle began on November 30th, Caroline noticed that the cattle were acting strangely. If she didn't know better, she would think they were scared. She would soon find out why the livestock were shaken. They apparently could hear the charge of General Hood's forces on the Union strongholds. The sounds increased as the battle raged and got closer to the mansion. The screams of dying men were everywhere. It must have been truly horrific for the McGavoks. When the battle wound down, injured men were brought to the house.

Caroline jumped into helping the wounded men. She told the servants to roll up the rugs to prevent them from being damaged and the wounded were brought inside the mansion. In all, 200 men were cared for inside the house. Their wounds were dressed with pieces of clothing that had been torn apart and everyone was fed. Doctors came to the house and literally performed operations in the parlor. Those that didn't make it, were carried outside and laid out on the back porch. When the numbers of the dead were too much for the porch, bodies were stacked up against the back of the house. Unsubstantiated stories claim that there were so many dead, they were stacked in huge columns.

The Confederate Army decided to bury their dead outside of the Carter House. John McGavok was not happy with that arrangement and he decided to have the bodies moved to Carnton in an official cemetery. Caroline took it upon herself to make detailed records of the dead for the benefit of their families.They searched the bodies for any kind of identification they could find. She wanted to bring some kind of peace for the families of the lost.

German immigrant Johann Albert Lotz purchased five acres of land from Fountain Branch Carter in 1855. Lotz built his home on the land and it took him three years. Lotz was a master carpenter and his home displayed this skill. He built three fireplaces with mantles and they revealed the range of his skill from simplistic to complex. A wonderful black walnut wraparound handrail stretches from the ground floor to the second floor. It was an engineering feat for the time. The outside features cartouches, millwork and hand carved acorn finials. The house boasts a battle scar made by a cannonball when it flew through the roof, through the floor of a second story room and landed on the first floor and rolled. A charred, rounded indentation can still be seen on the floor. The home was across from the Carter House as mentioned before, so the house was witness to the battle and death as well. And the land was devastated. What we hadn't mentioned until now was that the Union had cut down most of the trees and poisoned the water. The Lotz House today is a Civil War Museum.

The fact that bodies were moved after being buried may have led to some unrest at the Carnton Mansion. The Restless Soldier is the most famous ghost at this location. His full body apparition is seen walking through the mansion and he likes to hang out on the back porch. Occasionally, he ventures away from the house and marches the perimeter of the house as if on guard duty. People know that he is nearby because of the sound of his noisy booted footfalls. A former cook has been reluctant to leave the mansion as well. A photo captured her head hovering in a hallway many years ago. Caroline McGavok is still here in her home some say. She is this location's "Woman in White." People are not sure, which of these ghosts is fond of breaking glass, but it happens sometimes. The spirit of a girl who was killed here in the 1840s might also be the culprit.

The Lotz House has its ghosts as well. In fact, this house was described by the Travel Channel in 2012 as one of the “most terrifying places in America.” A woman wearing a nightgown is seen and heard crying out for her lost loved ones. This house also features a young female ghost who is witnessed looking out through the windows. The current owner's wife claims she was asked by a woman one day in the home, "Where is Anne?" The wife was the only one in the home and this woman was in period clothing. Papers and other items go missing and are found elsewhere in the house. The craziest story from the Lotz House is about a 911 call made from the house one evening. When the police arrived, they found the entire family sleeping. No one had made the call. The phone lines were checked and everything seemed fine. Two more 911 calls were made from that house that evening.

The Carter House is plagued with a poltergeist. Some claim that it is one of the Carter's daughters named Annie. A tour guide was interrupted one afternoon by a guest who pointed out that a statue behind the guide was moving up and down. Objects appear and disappear on a regular basis. And staff members claim that they feel a child tug at their clothes. The apparition of a little girl was seen running in the upstairs hallway by a staff member. Makes us wonder if this same little girl is seen in all three houses. A disembodied female voice is heard occasionally and people claim she sounds friendly. And since Tod Carter died in this house, it's not surprising that people claim to see his ghost as well. Recently, a visitor claimed she saw Tod sitting on the side of the bed of his former room. He was there for only a moment and then he disappeared.

 The battlefield itself is rife with activity. There are disembodied voices, the sound of people running, gunshots and drums. As has happened at Gettysburg, ghosts have been mistaken as re-enactors. One visitor to the site claimed to have had a long conversation with a Confederate soldier who disappeared after their discussion. In all, 1,700 Confederate soldiers were buried in the cemetery. One lone spectre has been seen standing guard outside the cemetery. Mischievious ghosts, that some believe are twin brothers, enjoy tickling people and tugging on clothing. A young girl's spirit runs about the cemetery as well.

So much suffering happened on this plot of land. The Civil War brought strong emotions to the town of Franklin. Has something from the past continued on into the present? Is there residual energy continuing the fight? Do ghosts continue to walk these historic homes? Is the Franklin Battlefield haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Franklin on Foot Ghost Tour:

Friday, February 19, 2016

HGB Podcast, Ep. 106 - Fearing Tavern

Moment in Oddity - City of Souls
(As suggested by several listeners)

There's a wonderful little town just outside of San Francisco that is full of old world charm. There are only 1400 residents and the architecture is Spanish-Mediterrean in design. The streets are paved in brick and lined with ornamental lights. That town is Colma and its a wonderful little city with a small municipal government. Its even caught the attention of the New York Times that described Colma as more "necropolis than metropolis." Wait, what?! Indeed, the city of Colma has been dubbed the "City of Souls." And the reason why is that the dead far outnumber the living here. While there are 1400 residents, there are 1.5 million dead. There are 16 cemeteries here. As we know from studying haunted history, many cemeteries have been moved or bulldozed over because they sit on prime real estate. For San Francisco, this was a real problem. They passed an ordinance in 1900 that outlawed the building of anymore cemeteries due to property values rising. It was just cost prohibitive. San Francisco went further in 1912 by evicting all the dead and closing down the cemeteries. Colma was originally known as Lawndale and it was incorporated in 1924 as a necropolis. The dead were relocated and more cemeteries were opened. Most living residents were employed in relation to the cemeteries. The city took on the name Colma in 1941 and slowly the city grew and diversified. Some notable dead residents include: Wyatt Earp, William Randolph Hearst, Levi Strauss, Joe DiMaggio and Manson Family murder victim Abigail Folger. The city's motto is "It's great to be alive in Colma!" Now that, certainly is odd!

This Day in History - The Donner Party Rescued

On this day, February 19th, in 1847, rescuers reached the stranded Donner Party. In the summer of 1846, a group of emigrants decided to head west to find their fortunes. There were 89 of them and 31 of those people were members of the Reed and Donner families, for whom the group has been named. They set out in a wagon train from Springfield, Illinois. The group made it safely to Wyoming and they decided to try a new route called the Hastings Cutoff. George Donner became the captain of the group and he led them through their shortcut, which turned out to not be a short cut. It actually added three weeks travel time. They met up with other hardships and did not reach the Sierra Nevadas until October. The group set up camp near Truckee Lake, which later became known as Donner Lake. An early winter storm came through and blocked their path through the mountains. They were stranded and their supplies were dwindling since their travel time had extended past what they had planned. The Donner family and a few others decided to travel onward and they made it six miles before they had to set up another camp. Tents were made from wagons. Eventually the oxen had to be killed for food. In December, a group decided to go for help. Fifteen of them set out for Sutter's Fort near San Francisco. The expedition was plagued with problems and several members finally resorted to cannabalism to survive, as did the emigrants still back at camp. Only seven survivors managed to reach a Native American village. The news reached Sutter's Fort and they sent a rescue party. They reached the group at Truckee Lake on February 19th. The return trip was rough and took until April. Of the 89 emigrants who originally set out with the Donner Party, only 45 made it to California.

Fearing Tavern (Suggested by and Research Assistant Dianne Moores)

Photo courtesy of Dianne Moores

The Fearing (Fairing) Tavern is located in the Massachusetts coastal town of Wareham, in the southeastern portion of the state. The town is bordered by Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay and is considered the "gateway to Cape Cod." The fact that the town was situated near rivers and coastline made it prime real estate for European settlement. The area is rich in colonial history and the tavern itself dates back hundreds of years. The tavern is considered by paranormal investigators to be one of the most haunted locations on the SouthCoast. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Fearing Tavern.

In 1678, the first Europeans began to settle the area that would later become the town of Wareham. This was on the heels of King Philip's War that we discussed in our Plymouth episode. This was an armed conflict between the Native Americans and English colonists. Wareham was incorporated in 1739. It was named for the European town of Wareham. *Fun fact: Wareham is home to the Tremont Nail Factory, which is the oldest nail manufacturer in the United States.*

Photo courtesy of Dianne Moores
Before Wareham was an official town, a man named Isaac Bump, who ran the local grist mill,  moved to the area and built the original structure that would become the future Fearing Tavern. The year was 1693. The home had four rooms and plans for incorporating the city of Wareham were conducted here. In 1747, Israel Fearing purchased the house and made plans to expand the property. His son Benjamin took ownership and built the white clapboard Georgian Colonial style house that still stands today. The property remained in the hands of the Fearing family for 200 years. It was in 1765 that the home opened up as a tavern. In the 1820s, Benjamin's son added a new bedroom and kitchen to the house.

The Fearing family was rumored to have had loyal ties to England during the 1700s, but conflicting local information states that members of the family were “Patriots” during the American Revolution. Local history reveals that the Tavern was often frequented by British soldiers and the paranormal activity in the building includes sightings of British troops. Rumors have persisted that the Fearings hid British soldiers in the house. The Tavern was also used as a stop on the underground railroad for slaves on their way to Canada. Several secret rooms and passages still exist in the building and are highlights of the paranormal investigations that have taken place. Legend has it that over 200 British soldiers stopped at the Tavern for spirits and a bite to eat before heading out to burn down a local cotton factory.

The Fearing Tavern served many purposes over the years. It was a stage stop on the route to Boston, it was a one room schoolhouse in 1825, an old Methodist Meeting House in 1835, the Union Chapel in 1880, a court house and a post office for the Town of Wareham. The tavern was restored in 1958 and boasts 16 rooms. The building is now owned by the Wareham Historical Society and is uninhabited. It is run as a museum during the summer months and is open to the public for touring. the museum contains period artifacts and antiques, some of which have been donated by the Fearing family. Guided tours are offered of the museum. A creepy doll room, antique rocking chair, family bible and secret tunnel under the street add mystery to the centuries old tavern. And then there are the hauntings

Author Michael Markowitz’s book titled "EVP: Electronic Voice Phenomenon – Massachusetts Ghostly Voices" details over 50 EVP’s collected during one such investigation at the tavern. Examples of EVPs include a German accented voice saying, "Ze Attic" and a little girl saying, "Wanna play dress up?" The strangest capture featured the following conversation between two male voices, "Hey Ashford, I killed Grandpa Ash!  I just knew you’d feel the pain” and a voice states in reply, “then consider it… a gift."

The tavern has had numerous paranormal groups conduct investigations which have yielded EVPS, apparitions and unexplained happenings. Well known paranormal author Jeff Belanger has included the Fearing Tavern in several of his books and the Wareham Historical Society holds an annual Haunted History Night which includes tours of the tavern as well as other buildings in the area.  A 30 minute YouTube video by Jeff Belanger featuring a tour of the building, highlights many of the rooms and areas where paranormal activity has been observed. Light orbs and EVPS were recorded and are visible on the video. (We've included the video in the show notes.) Local paranormal investigators have documented many unexplained occurrences and consider this tavern one of the most active buildings in the area. The Fearing Tavern continues to lure investigators every summer, hoping to witness something paranormal or at least unexplainable.

But it's more than just those who are seeking ghosts that have had experiences at Fearing Tavern. A young girl on a school field trip to the tavern claimed that she saw a female spectre sitting in a rocking chair knitting. A newspaper reporter toured the tavern one evening and was startled by several shadowy figures that seemed to be following her. She wasn't sure there was anything to the shadow figures until a gray mist began to form before her eyes and then it started to approach her. Women in period dress have been seen by multiple visitors. Disembodied noises of horses and carriages are heard outside of the tavern.

Nothing tragic seems to have happened at the Fearing Tavern. The property has not passed through many hands. So why is there some kind of paranormal activity taking place at this location. Is it just that family members who have passed away are unwilling to leave in the afterlife? Did British soldiers die near the tavern during the Revolutionary War and now they come here in the afterlife looking for the comfort they found in life? Is the Fearing Tavern haunted? That is for you to decide!

Jeff Belanger video:

Monday, February 15, 2016

HGB Podcast, Ep. 105 - The Life and Afterlife of Lucille Ball


Moment in Oddity - Mushroom Death Suit

We've featured green burials in our oddity segments before in the form of organic tree pods in which your putrefying body feeds a tree by the roots for a couple years. The latest in green burials is the Mushroom Death Suit. Jae Rhim Lee and Mike Ma are founders of the Coeio company, which has created created the Infinity Death Suit. This is considered to be another eco-friendly alternative to standard burial and one of its positive benefits is that it apparently has the ability to remove the 200+ toxins from your body as it decomposes. The suit is full body, including the head and comes in black and the fibers of the suit are woven with a strain of spores hand-picked for their voracious appetite for human flesh. The key to getting the suit to work effectively is to bury the body early, usually within 24 hours, which allows early decomposition and this activates the spores. The company advertises their suits in this way, "Unlike conventional burial and cremation, they do not use harsh/toxic chemicals, pollute the environment, or waste precious natural resources. The Infinity Burial products also go a step beyond other green burial options, by cleansing and purifying toxins that accumulate in the body. If left unabated, these toxins end up contaminating the surrounding environment." And here we thought that humans made good fertilizer. We guess that's only if mushrooms help with the process. Now that certainly is odd!

This Day in History - Socrates Sentenced to Death
By: Carbon Lilies

On this day, February 15th, in 399 BCE, Socrates (Father of Western Philosophy) is sentenced to death after being found guilty of  “...denying the gods recognized by the state and introducing new divinities, and, secondly, of corrupting the young.” During his life, Socrates was an artist, a soldier and finally, a philosopher. His methods in his search for happiness through wisdom led to him being loved by many, but vilified by others since high society was not always represented in the best light. Most Athenians at this time were fixated on physical beauty, past glories and the idea of wealth, while Socrates attacked these values in favour of putting more emphasis on the greater importance of the mind. Not everyone appreciated the humorous way that Socrates challenged conventional Greek thinking feeling it was a threat to their way of life. The charge of impiety was believed to have been politically and personally motivated. Trying to distance themselves from the Thirty Tyrants of Athens who had just been overthrown, the accusers used Socrates relationship with his former student Critias (considered one of the worst of the tyrants) as an example of how he corrupted young minds.
Refusing to hire a speechwriter as was customary (even though gifted speechwriter Lysias offered his services free of charge), Socrates defended himself. He would not plea for his life or give a self-justifying defense stating that he was instead a benefactor to the Athenian people. This did not go over well. The guilty at this time were allowed to suggest an alternative punishment to a death sentence. Most would beg for mercy and to be exiled but Socrates suggested that he be held in honour and to have free meals served in the Prytaneum (a place reserved for the heroes of the Olympic games). This was seen as an added insult to the Athenian courts. Socrates was convicted and sentenced to death by drinking a hemlock concoction...which he did without hesitation. Shortly before his final breath, Socrates described his death as a release of the soul from his body.

The Life and Afterlife of Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball was a glamorous actress, producer, film studio head and comedian who was not afraid to get a little messed up if it brought a laugh. Her legacy as one of the funniest women - if not THE funniest woman - on television stands to this day. Like nearly all stars in Hollywood, her life was one of successes and failures. Her greatest success was the television show "I Love Lucy" and it has never been out of syndication. She was the first female to head a major Hollywood studio. The spirit of her comedy endures to today and it would seem Lucy's actual spirit is still here with us in the afterlife. Join us as we explore the life and afterlife of Lucille Ball.

Lucille Desiree Ball was born on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York. Her childhood was not one that would lend itself to success in life as a comedian. Poverty and tough circumstances plagued her early life. Her father Henry, who was nicknamed Had, was an electrician. He moved the family from New York to Montana looking for work. Later, he relocated the family to Michigan, so he could work for the Michigan Bell Company. When Lucy was just three-years-old, Had contracted Typhoid Fever and he died. She always claimed that this was her first real memory.

Her mother, Desiree, was pregnant with Lucy's brother Fred at the time and she moved everyone back to Jamestown, so she could find work in a factory. Desiree met a man named Ed Peterson and married him. Peterson didn't like kids and he wasn't about to raise another man's children. He moved himself and Desiree to Detroit without Fred or Lucy. Lucy was passed off to his parents. They were poverty stricken and her step-grandmother was ironically, a humorless woman. Desiree returned to her children when Lucy was eleven. Lucy got her first taste of performing when she was twelve. Her stepfather was a Shriner and he suggested she try out for the chorus line for their next show. She loved the feeling she got from performing and later decided at fifteen that she wanted to try acting. She begged her mother to allow her to attend John Murray Anderson School for the Dramatic Arts in New York City and her mother agreed. Not necessarily because she wanted Lucy to become an actress. She thought this route would get Lucy away from her boyfriend at the time, who was twenty-three.

Tough circumstances hit Lucy twice more in her childhood. On July 5th in 1927, Lucy's family was out in the backyard shooting a new .22 caliber rifle her grandfather had bought as a present for her brother.  They were aiming at tin cans. A neighbor boy named Warner Erickson came over uninvited. The girlfriend of Lucy's brother was taking aim at one of the cans when Warner's mother hollered for him to come home. The gun went off and Warner was shot. The bullet severed his spine and his family sued the Balls. It ruined her grandfather and they ended up losing the house and having to sell all their possessions. The next circumstance seems to be a case of Rheumatic Fever that hit Lucy in 1928. She was seventeen at the time and working as a Hattie Carnegie model. She ran a fever one day and got horrible leg pains. She ended up having to stay at home with her family and put her acting pursuits on the back burner for three years while she recovered.

Lucy returned to New York City in 1932 and pursued work on Broadway under the name Diane Belmont. She would be hired for a chorus and then quickly fired. She became frustrated and decided to head to Hollywood. Her first job was as a Goldwyn Girl promoting the movie "Roman Scandals" in 1933. It was at this time that Lucy changed the color of her locks. We asked Spooktacular Crew members about their thoughts on Lucy. Michelle DePriest had commented, "I Love her! She was ahead of her time! A great role model for women! I think it's funny, I read something (I think) about she was a blonde who became famous as a red head and Marilyn Monroe was a red head who became famous as a blonde?! If I'm not mixed up, I think it's a neat 'factoid'"! It would seem that Lucy's true hair color was chestnut color and she dyed it blonde at this time.

Lucy landed her first role as an extra in the movie, "The Three Musketeers." In 1937, she got her first big part in "Stage Door" with Ginger Rogers and Katherine Hepburn. She continued getting roles in films that were considered second-tier into the 1940s. She even earned the moniker "Queen of B Movies." It was in 1940 that she met Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz. She was filming the movie, "Dance, Girl, Dance." They starred together in her next film "Too Many Girls" and the couple fell in love. Many felt they were mismatched. Desi was young and considered a "ladies man." People thought it wouldn't last, but they ended up marrying. It was in 1942 that Lucy went from blonde to redhead and she would hold that trademark look for her entire life. MGM had asked her to do it. Things were rough in the marriage and by 1944, Lucy had filed for divorce. They reconciled and were married for twenty years.

Lucy became a mother for the first time in 1947, giving birth to a daughter named Madeline Dee. In 1948, she was cast in "My Favorite Husband" as Liz Cugat, a wacky wife. It was a radio program for CBS Radio. It was so successful that CBS decided to take it to television. They asked Lucy to develop it and she agreed to do it, but only if Desi could play her husband. CBS balked at the request because they thought the viewing public would reject the premise of a red-headed white woman being married to a Cuban. Even though it was actually reality. CBS finally agreed. The year was 1950 and Lucy and Desi founded Desilu Productions to produce the show. Desilu became the second largest independent television production company and in 1962 it become the number one independent production company. It would go on to produce The Untouchables and Star Trek. Lucy actually bought Desi out in 1962 and ran Desilu by herself until she sold it in 1967 making her the first woman to run a production company.

Back to CBS and this television program. Desilu Produced a pilot for the show and CBS didn't care for it and dropped the project. Lucy believed in it and she and Desi took it on the road as a vaudeville act. It was very successful and soon "I Love Lucy" was on CBS Television. CBS was met by another demand from Lucy. She wanted to film the show in Hollywood. Most television was done in New York. The other demand was that "film" part. Television was done as a live medium, but Lucy wanted to tape the show and broadcast it later. This was an expensive process and CBS said they would only agree to it if Lucy and Desi took a pay cut. Lucy got the better end of the deal in the end because she retianed the rights to the shows and CBS ended up paying $1,000,000 to get the shows back. Lucy used the money to purchase RKO Studios and Desilu Studios was founded.

There were other innovations with the show. It filmed before a live studio audience. Listener Jenni-lee Watt commented, "Did you know that the laughter from the audiences for I love Lucy were so genuine and intense that they recorded it for use on other sitcoms. Kinda creepy to think that when you watch shows with recorded laughter that you are literally listening to the laughter of the dead." Other innovations were using multiple cameras and different sets adjacent to each other. "I Love Lucy" dominated the ratings and people became very attached to the characters and story lines. One of those story lines was writing Lucy's real life pregnancy into the show, which was another innovation on television. Not only was pregnancy not suppose to be shown on TV, the word pregnant was banned from use. It was agreed to go forward with the story, but only if "expecting" was used instead of "pregnant." This was Lucy's third pregnancy. In 1951, daughter number two, Lucie Arnaz had been born. This next child would be their son, Desi Arnaz, Jr.

The country was riveted by Lucy's pregnancy. Lucy was going to have to give birth by Cesarean, so the story line was written to coincide with the real delivery, so both Lucy and her character gave birth on the same day. Audiences waited with baited breath. They called CBS for information. The 1952 presidential election had to battle with ratings against "I Love Lucy." Dwight Eisenhower's swearing in had 29 million viewers while the birth episode got 44 million. The show ran for six seasons and was ranked No. 1 for four of those years and won five Emmys. The run ended in 1957 and Lucy and Desi moved forward with a new show called "The Lucy and Desi Comedy Hour." After the last episode of the Lucy and Desi Comedy Hour was filmed in 1960, Lucy filed for divorce from Desi claiming that their real marriage was nothing like what people watched on TV and that living with Desi was a nightmare. He was a philanderer and alcoholic.

In 1960, she married comedian Gary Morton. He was thirteen years younger than her and she got him involved in the production company. In 1967, she sold Desilu to Gulf Western and it became a part of Paramount Pictures. Through the 60s and 70s Lucy made a handful of films and she launched two other sitcoms: "The Lucy Show" and "Here's Lucy." They did alright, but nothing would be like her original genius show. She tried to revive her television career in the 1980s, but nothing really stuck. She made her last public appearance on the 61st Academy Awards on which she and Bob Hope received standing ovations.

On April 26, 1989, Lucille Ball died after having a surgical procedure at the age of 77. She had an acute aortic aneurysm that caused her to have emergency surgery in which she received an aortic transplant from a young man who had died in a motorcycle accident. She started to recover quickly, but by the end of the week, she was complaining of pains in her abdomen and she died shortly after lapsing into a coma. It was discovered that she had another aortic aneurysm, but this one was in her abdomen. She is buried at Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown, New York. Phil and Monica Childers have visited the grave and shared her tombstone with us:

Photo by: Phil & Monica Childers
Before we jump into the hauntings, we should touch briefly on the elephant in the room. This is very timely for Diane as she listens to the "You Must Remember This" podcast and Karina Longworth has just started a series on The Hollywood Blacklist. The House Un-American Activities Committee brought Lucille Ball in to testify before the committee. She was indeed a registered member of the Communist Party in America for a brief time. The Los Angeles Times interviewed her about her secret testimony and if she thought that this revelation would hurt her career. She answered, "Hurt me? I have more faith in the American people than that. I think any time you give the American people the truth they’re with you." Lucy explained that she originally registered to vote and claimed the Communist Party for her grandfather's benefit because he was a zealous socialist. She did host a meeting at her home in the 1930s for new members of the party. She was a member in 1936 and in 1938, but after that Lucy votes for Democrats and Republicans. Desi addressed the issue before one of their episodes when he said, "The only thing red about Lucy is her hair, and even that is not legitimate."

Lucille Ball lived at 1000 North Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills at the time of her death. Lucy's second husband Gary sold the house and the new owners had it torn down. Lucy lived in the house for so many years that perhaps it was hard for her to leave it in the afterlife. Or maybe she has remained here because she is upset that her home was destroyed. Many witnesses claim that Lucy is the spirit behind supernatural activity in the home that was built in the spot where her house used to stand. While Lucy's home was in the demolition stage, a friend of her's decided to drive past the place one last time. Perhaps to say goodbye. Several walls were already missing. The friend could see into Lucy's bedroom. Something caught his eye and he noticed a tall redhead looking through the fence that was around the property. He thought to himself that she resembled Lucy and then she turned and looked at him and he had no doubt that it was Lucy. She appeared to be sad and confused. She looked back at the house and then turned and walked away. Once she got to the south corner, she disappeared.

Windows break without reason. Loud disembodied voices originate in the attic as does the sound of furniture and boxes moving around as if someone is rearranging things. Even more eerie is the claim that the tune from "I Love Lucy" is heard playing softly in the attic. The owners come home some days to hear what sounds like a party going on upstairs, but there is no one else in the house.

Lucy's ghost is thought to haunt more than just her former home. She quite possibly might be at one of her home away from home locations, which would be the Desilu Studios. Today, the building is known as the Hart Building and it sits on the property of Paramount Studios. Her disembodied spirit has been seen on the upper floors by night watchmen. After her spirit is seen, the scent of flowers is detected. This is how people know that Lucy has paid a visit to the studios.

Is it possible to get to meet Lucille Ball in the afterlife? Has her legend carried on after death for more than just her personal legacy? Does Lucy still walk among the living? Is Lucille Ball a ghost? That is for you to decide!

Listeners comments on Lucy:

Steven Pappas:  I grew up watching old reruns of I Love Lucy. I still think it is one of the most genuinely funny things to come out of Hollywood! Talented lady.

Phil Childers: A picture of her grave. Monica and I got our marriage certificate in her hometown. The museum is awesome. Highly recommended!

Rhonda Kay Mayfield:  Love love love Lucy!!

Phil Childers

Monica Childers

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Design Contest 2016

We do a monthly drawing and the winner receives a t-shirt. We thought it would be fun to have an exclusive design each year and since we have such talented listeners, we launched a design contest. The parameters for 2016 were that the design needed to include at least one ghost, one palm tree and the the words "History Goes Bump." These are the entries that we recieved, making choosing a winner very difficult. At the end of the year, the winning design with be added to the Emporium as a design listeners can choose to put on an item of their choice.
Entry 1
Design by: Kristin Swintek

Entry 2
Design by: Matt Haesly
Entry 3 (WINNER)
Design by: Ronda Williams
Entry 4
Design by: Phil Childers
Entry 5
Design by: April Rawlings
Entry 6
Design by: April Rawlings
Entry 7
Design by: April Rawlings
Entry 8
Design by: April Rawlings
Entry 9
Design by: Shelby Labrie
Entry 10
Design by: Carbon Lilies