Wednesday, February 22, 2017
HGB Ep. 185 - Bobby Mackey's Music World
Moment in Oddity - Strowger Telephone Switch
(Suggested by Emily Margaret)
Stepping switches were used in the early years of telephones to route telephone calls. The Strowger Switch was an early stepping switch that was invented by Almon Brown Strowger. The invention was patented in 1891 and was the first commercially successful switch of its time. The first model was made from a round collar box and some straight pins. Strowger was a unique figure in history. From the time he was a child, he liked to tinker with mechanical items. He was a teacher and fought in the Civil War. He finally ended up in the position of undertaker in Kansas City, Missouri. One may not think that there was much competition when it came to being the town's undertaker, but apparently there was and Strowger had a hard time getting traction for one simple reason. His competitors wife was a telephone operator in town and she would route all the calls for an undertaker to her husband. He decided to use his mechanical skills to invent a system that would get rid of the intermediary telephone operator. The Strowger Switch was born and the patents eventually ended up with the Bell Company in 1916. The fact that a telephone invention was inspired by an undertaker needing to route more business his way, certainly is odd!
This Month in History - President Ford Issues Proclamation Against EO 9066
During the month of February, on the 19th day, in 1976, President Gerald Ford signed Proclamation 4417, which officially terminated Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin Roosevelt. It was that Executive Order that began the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II. The proclamation read in part, "In this Bicentennial Year, we are commemorating the anniversary dates of many great events in American history. An honest reckoning, however, must include a recognition of our national mistakes as well as our national achievements. Learning from our mistakes is not pleasant, but as a great philosopher once admonished, we must do so if we want to avoid repeating them. February 19th is the anniversary of a sad day in American history. It was on that date in 1942, in the midst of the response to the hostilities that began on December 7, 1941, that Executive Order 9066 was issued, subsequently enforced by the criminal penalties of a statute enacted March 21, 1942, resulting in the uprooting of loyal Americans. Over one hundred thousand persons of Japanese ancestry were removed from their homes, detained in special camps, and eventually relocated." This not only officially ended the order, it acknowledged a sad day in American history.
Bobby Mackey's Music World
Bobby Mackey's Music World is northern Kentucky's longest running live music nightclub. For nearly forty years, this honky-tonk has hosted singing, dancing and drinking. But before the bar was opened up on this spot, a slaughterhouse was run here. A pit in the basement leads to the nearby Licking River and the blood and other waste from the slaughterhouse was dumped down this pit into the river. The building has been connected to murders, occult rituals and hauntings for years. Some claim that the pit itself leads straight to Hell. Join us and the hosts of Hillbilly Horror Stories Podcast, Jerry and Tracy Paulley, as we explore the history and hauntings of Bobby Mackey's Music World.
Wilder, Kentucky was originally known as Leitch's Station. It was the first settlement in Campbell County, Kentucky and the property was owned by Major David Leitch, for whom it was originally named. He was given the land for his service during the American Revolutionary War. In the mid-nineteenth century, a railroad station was built in the area and it was named Wilder Station It serviced the Louisville, Cincinnati and Lexington Railways. Leitch Station was changed to Wilder and this city is where Bobby Mackey's Music World is located.
Robert Randall Mackey was born in March of 1948 in Concord, Kentucky. After high school, he moved further north in Kentucky and took a job with the C & O Railway. From the time he was a young boy, he loved music and singing and he hoped eventually to become a country performer. He worked for the railway during the week and then played in local bars on the weekends. In 1977, a couple of fans, Norm and Jean Stamper, suggested that Bobby open his own club across the river. The three looked around and found an old place on Licking Pike that was an industrial area. The building had just been the Hard Rock Cafe and the three formed a partnership and leased the building. They named the honky-tonk for Bobby and Bobby Mackey's Music World was born.
Long before people were two stepping on the wood dance floor and before the Latin Quarter Casino was open, Bobby Mackey's went through a series of incarnations. In the late nineteenth century, it was opened as a slaughterhouse. The blood and other waste were dumped down one of three pits that led to the Licking River. This was long before polluting rivers was outlawed. The slaughterhouse was eventually torn down. There was a tunnel beneath the slaughterhouse that made it a perfect spot to set up shop during Prohibition. It was a speakeasy called the Bluegrass Inn for several years and when selling liquor became legal in 1933, the building became a casino. The first casino was called Primrose Club and then it became the Latin Quarter Casino. The casino was very successful in the 1950s, but the owners were arrested many times on gambling charges. The authorities went so far as to break into the club in 1955 with sledge hammers and confiscated slot machines.
It was during this time that one of the club owner's daughters met a terrible fate. She had fallen in love with one of the singers. We'll let Jerry tell the story. (Johanna's father was furious when he found out Johanna was pregnant by the singer and he had the singer killed through his criminal connections. Johanna was furious and tried to poison her father. Her body was found in the basement. And now she apparently haunts the place.) A poem still exists, written on a wall, that is attributed to Johanna. It reads:
My Love is deep as the sea
That flows forever
You ask me where will it end
I tell you Never
My love is as bright as the sun
That shines forever
You ask me when will it end
I tell you Never
The world may disapppear
Like a Castle of sand
But I'll be waiting here
With My Heart in my Hand
My Love I love you so much
Now and Forever
You ask me when will it end
I tell you Never
Bad luck seemed to permeate the building after that time. The Hard Rock Cafe opened in the 1970s, but it was closed in 1978 because of fatal shootings on the property. And reports of hauntings have been a part of its history as well. When Bobby and the Stampers set up the bar, they had no idea of its haunted reputation. Carl Lawson was the first caretaker and he began reporting weird occurrences. Doors locked and unlocked on their own and lights turned off and on without assistance.
A legend connected to Bobby Mackey's has to do with the murder of Pearl Bryan. She was a young woman from Indiana who was pregnant. She was described as a "Sunday school and church worker, sprightly and vivacious and a social favorite in her home with bright blue eyes, blonde hair that shaded to auburn, a pretty face and the almost flawless complexion of an unspoiled country girl." She moved to Cincinnati in 1896 to be with the father of her baby, dental student Scott Jackson whom she had met in 1893. He got his friend, another dental student named Alonza Walling, to help him get rid of this problem. They drugged Pearl, took her to an isolated field about two miles from Bobby Mackey's, which was the abandoned slaughterhouse at the time, and they killed her. They decapitated her before leaving the body in the field and rumor has it that they tossed the head into the pit at the bar as some kind of occult ritual and sacrifice to Satan. Pearl's body was identified through a manufacturer's number in one of her shoes. The two men were caught, tried and hanged for their crime. They never told where they had put Pearl's head.
She reputedly haunts Bobby Mackey's and is an interesting link to Johanna. Both women were five months pregnant at the times of their deaths. And now they seem to take a dangerous interest in any women that visit Bobby Mackey's including his own wife who was five months pregnant when she had such a terrifying experience in the bar that she would never go back inside. There are claims that Bryan's murderers haunt the place too. There are claims of full-bodied apparitions, shadow figures, orbs of light and demonic entities. The location has been featured on A Haunting and Ghost Adventures.
Some scientific investigators believe that the weird feelings people get at Bobby Mackey's has something to do with the electrical wiring and infrasound, which is low frequency signals. But could there be something supernatural going on here. There is a history of blood from not only slaughtered animals, but people who have been murdered or committed suicide on the property. And possibly, paranormal investigators have awakened something. Are there ghosts at Bobby Mackey's? Is Bobby Mackey'sMusic World Haunted? That is for you to decide!