Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ep. 260 - Haunted Islands of Maine

Moment in Oddity - Why Does Dracula Wear a Tuxedo?
Suggested by: Susan Elizabeth Whigham

Have you ever asked yourself, why does Dracula wear a tuxedo? Yep, I know, you ponder these things. Bram Stoker, in his novel Dracula, describes the visual appearance of Dracula's face and such, but not much about his attire, so where did we get this idea that Dracula wears a tuxedo, cape and medallion? Where did we get that he had an aristocratic demeanor? After all, the first movie inspired by the novel was Nosterafu and the vampire in that movie is a hideous creature. In 1924, Raymond Huntley played Dracula on stage in London and this would be the first time that the character was portrayed as charming and wearing a tuxedo. Legend claims that Huntley provided his own costume. When Dracula came to the stage in America in the late 1920s, Bela Lugosi played the title role, and he went with the tuxedo and well-coifed hair as well, adding the cape. When the stage play was produced by Universal as a movie starring Lugosi, the image of the Halloween Dracula was cemented. The medallion that is part of the costume was inspired by Lugosi who wore the ornamental medal on his chest and some believe that it was his own personal possession. The origins of the medallion are mysterious and it only appears in two scenes. Lugosi was allegedly buried with one version of the medal and as we know, he wore his Dracula cape as well and that certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Confederates Destroy the Merrimac to Prevent its Capture

In the month of May, on the 9th, in 1862, to prevent its capture by Union forces, the Confederate Ironclad Merrimac was destroyed by the Confederate Navy. Towards the beginning of the Civil War, the Confederates seized the Merrimac from the Union shipyard in Virginia. They transformed the ship into an ironclad so strong that it could not be harmed by cannon balls. The Confederates quickly used the Merrimac to sink two Union ships, the Cumberland and Congress. The Union feared this ship and knew they had to build something formidable before the Merrimac could destroy more of their navy. Within 100 days, the Monitor was built. This ship had been built in secret and was described as a "cheese box on a raft." It was made from iron and had a revolving turret with two big guns inside it. In March, the Merrimac and the small Union Ironclad Monitor met and came to a draw. This was history's first duel between ironclad warships. The ships met again in April, but did not engage. Then in May, the Confederates had to evacuate Norfolk and they destroyed the Merrimac. The Monitor would later be lost during a gale off Cape Hatteras. The encounters of these two ironclads changed Naval warfare forever, making wooden ships obsolete.

Haunted Islands of Maine (Suggested by listener Katrina Ray-Saulis)

Based on its location, Maine has been a prime spot for explorers. There are 4600 islands off the coast of Maine and each of these islands has its own unique history. Some of that history is tragic and it is these grievous stories that seem to have led to some haunting experiences. Outer Heron Island reportedly has buried treasure, a haunted cave and apparitions on the beach. There is Jewell Island with its residual ghost soldiers and stories of buried treasure. Boon Island has its very own haunted lighthouse. Long Island has its phantom ghost ship and crew. And listener Katrina Ray-Saulis joins me to share a mostly unknown history about Malaga Island that highlights the racism that led to some cruel treatment and ultimately some haunting activity. Join me as we explore the Haunted Islands of Maine!

No one is sure how Maine came to have that name. Native Americans were the first to brave the cold and harsh terrain of Maine. They used birch bark canoes to explore the Maine coast. They were hunter and gatherers, but eventually began growing corn and beans in the summer. Leif Erikson was the first European to explore the coasts of Maine as early as 1003. John Cabot was a Venetian explorer and he claimed the New England area for Britain in 1498. In 1622, Sir Fernando Gorges and John Mason received a royal grant for all the land between the Merrimac and Kennebec rivers and then in 1639, Gorges was granted exclusive rights to Maine by another English King. Eventually though, the Massachusetts Bay Colony claimed jurisdiction over Maine in 1647 and purchased proprietary rights from Gorges’ heirs in 1677. Several French and Indian Wars took place on Maine until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, in which France surrendered all claims in North America. Maine developed a fishing, shipbuilding and lumber industry in the ensuing years. Massachusetts maintained control of Maine, which tried voting for separation and statehood several times, but low voter turnout prevented that from happening. The tide turned during the War of 1812 though when Massachusetts provided little support to Maine. Maine achieved statehood on March 15, 1820.

Outer Heron Island

Outer Heron Island lies a few miles offshore from Boothbay Harbor. There are stories of a buried pirate treasure here near a cave. Paranormal activity is reported at this cave and some claim that the cave is a power point on the island. Photographs have revealed several weird anomalies there with what appear to be multiple spirits. In one picture, there appears to be a ghostly pirate peeking out from behind a treasure hunter being photographed in front of the cave. There is a legend of a lost grave here and some claim the skeleton in the grave wears an emerald seal ring given to Sir Francis Drake by Queen Elizabeth I. The claim is that this is the body of Drake's great grandson, who died on a trip to Maine. One man claims that he saw a gathering of ghosts on a beach one night. There was a bonfire as well. He did not know that he was witnessing a ghostly scene until he snuck up on the group and when he jumped into the open, the fire was gone and no one was on the beach.

Jewell Island 

Jewell Island is eight miles from the city of Portland, Maine and the outermost island. It is named for George Jewell who bought the island in 1637. He ended up drowning in Boston Harbor after a drunken night and didn't get to enjoy his island for long. Jewell Island eventually became a strategic center during World War II and the military built Battery 202 there. Three years after V-day, Battery 202 was abandoned by the soldiers physically, but it seems as though some essence has remained behind. A woman named Margaret visited the abandoned Battery 202 when she was a young girl. She happened upon a doorway that was the entrance to the tunnel that led to the gunnery. She could hear men speaking inside the tunnel. She called out and the voices stopped. They started up again a moment later. She entered the tunnel, but found nobody.

There is a legend that a gold treasure had been buried on Jewell Island. A ship sailing from Bermuda shipwrecked near the island and survivors saved the gold and buried it on the island. They never retrieved it. At least, that is one of the stories told. Another is connected to the pirate Anne Bonny. There is a claim that she and seven men buried a treasure and then she killed all the men so that only she knew the location. And then there are the rumors that Captain Kidd sailed along the coast here and buried some of his treasure there. There are tales of ghosts connected to these treasures roaming the beaches. Perhaps looking for their treasures.

Boon Island

Boon Island is only 400 square yards, located six miles from York, Maine and was given its name by a group of sailors that were shipwrecked on the island in 1682. Boon means lucky place and they felt it was lucky that the island was there and that a bonfire they built brought them rescue. Boon may not really be such a lucky island. A phantom fire is seen blazing on the island on stormy nights. It leaves no burn marks and when people seek it out, it disappears when they get too close. The Native Americans who had lived here would light bonfires for sacred offerings on Mount Agamenticus.

Another shipwreck here was of the Nottingham Galley in 1710. The sailors managed to build a bridge to the island with the ship's foremast and they were relieved to be saved by the island. Until they realized they had no food, fresh water or way to build a fire. As is the case with so many of these castaway or stranded stories, cannibalism is about to enter the picture. There was Captain John Deane and thirteen of his crew. The first to go was the cook. But he was not eaten as the men turned to raw mussels and seagulls for food. But before long, they were starving. And this was winter, in Maine with no fire. Frostbite was causing fingers and toes to be lost. When the carpenter died, they butchered his body and lived off it for the next two weeks until they were rescued on January 2, 1711. They had survived twenty-three days on the island. The spirits of the cook and carpenter are said to still be on the island. Their deep moans are heard on the wind and disembodied footsteps are heard on the ground when no one is nearby. Workers on the island have long reported feeling as though they are being watched when they worked. Full-bodied apparitions and emaciated figures wearing ragged clothes have appeared to keepers as well. As though the guilt of being cannibals has brought back the spirits of the survivors.

Obviously, the seas around the island are treacherous and a lighthouse was needed, so the station was established in 1799 and the original lighthouse was built in 1811. That was authorized by President James Madison during the War of 1812. The one that stands today was built in 1855. The lighthouse was made from granite and rises 133 feet tall, making it New England's tallest lighthouse. Keepers have experienced paranormal phenomenon. One of them owned a Labrador retriever and that dog would snarl and snap and something unseen and even chased something that the keeper could not see. And we have a woman in white here. She is seen at dusk or dawn on the rocks at the waters edge. No one knows who she is or why she is here.

This ghost could possibly belong to Katherine Brights who was the wife of lighthouse keeper Luke Brights. He died one night while going out to save their boat during a violent storm. He tied himself to the lighthouse with a rope, but he was soon battered on the rocks. Katherine dragged his body to shore and then into the lighthouse. She maintained the light for five days with his body decaying near the stairs. Then the light went out. A group came to see what happened and they found Katherine stark raving mad. She died a few weeks later later in the hospital. It is thought that her spirit returned to Boon Island. Fisherman hear her cries and see her figure on the rocks. So sounds like she could be the woman in white here. One night, a keeper was unable to return to the island to light the light, but it came on by itself and it was attributed to Katherine.

The light was automated in 1980 and maintained by the Coast Guard. The island was put up for auction and is now privately owned, so no one can visit it or tour the lighthouse.

Long Island

Long Island is off of Portland, Maine and actually seceded from the city in 1993. As is the case with most of the islands, Native Americans were the first residents, but left when Europeans arrived in the 17th century. The first to build a house here was Col. Ezekiel Cushing. He bought the island in 1732. and is credited with being the first European to settle and build a house on the island. He willed the island to his nine children when he died in 1765. Farmers and fishermen came soon thereafter. Soon after, other settlers arrived to make a livelihood out of farming, fishing, and catching lobsters. In the late 1800s, the island turned to tourism and the Granite Spring Hotel and Casino was built. People arrived on steamboats and paraded with their parasols on the boardwalk until a fire right before World War I burned it all to the ground. During World War II, Casco Bay became United States Navy base Sail. Tourism started up again and it is still a popular place in the summer for visits.

One ghost story told about this island is about an experience a little girl named Isabel had one day on her way home from school. The crew from the Sea Maiden was thought to have been shipwrecked at sea, but she saw the entire crew walking up the wharf from the trip. They looked to be carrying things they had brought back from their voyage to foreign lands. She noticed that even though they should have been happy and cavorting, they were very grim and took no notice of her or any of their surroundings. She hurried home to tell her family that the Sea Maiden had made it to port. Her family went to a neighbors to tell them the good news and found that no one had seen or heard from the crew and one of the neighbors was the family of the first mate. They headed down to the wharf and saw that there was no ship there. The next day, the village learned that the Sea Maiden had been shipwrecked and the whole crew had perished.

Malaga Island

Listener Katrina Ray-Saulis joins me to discuss the history and possible hauntings in connection to malaga Island. This island has a tragic history that many are reluctant to talk about. Connected to this are the graves that were moved from Malaga Island to the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded, which is today Pineland Farms, a 5,000 acre working farm. Maine Ghost Hunters did an informal investigation of the cemetery there and reported, "While on location TonyL claims to have had an experience we tried to get on digital camera and on tape but couldn’t because the battery to my video camera was sucked dry, and all of the photos we took after TonyL announced that the “experience” was taking place came out purple and blurry.  My camera batteries for this digital camera also went from “full” to “dying” in an extremely short period of time.  We are planning a return nighttime trip with “permission” in hand by the proper authorities in the next 2 months."

A psychic named Kelly Spurlock was visiting the island and she saw a group of ghostly African American women dressed in white dresses and white head cloths. There were twelve of them and they ranged in age from twelve to around eighteen. They faded into the air as Spurlock's boat landed. She noted that they seemed to be an intelligent haunting as they made eye contact with her and definitely saw her. They gave off a sense of foreboding. The ghost of a woman named Beth McKinney is said to roam the northwest part of the island near an old well. Her name has been picked up on the Ghost Radar app and the strong smell of perfume has been detected. The well is at the site of the former home of the McKinney family. Beth died in the home and was buried in the cemetery there. Until she was dug up. Strange images have been caught on film, usually featuring a white billowing shape or strands of light orbs with faces. Batteries drain and camera shutters freeze up.

The islands of Maine are each different with their own unique history. And they each have their own individual ghosts stories. Are any of these stories true? Are these islands haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Katrina's book:

Marcus LiBrizzi book: Haunted Islands in the Gulf of Maine

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Ep. 259 - Melbourne's Princess Theater

Moment in Oddity - The Mars' Cursed Sunken Treasure in Baltic Sea
Suggested by: Markus Watt

The pride of Sweden's 16th century navy was a warship called Mars. Fittingly, it was named for the Roman god of war. It was equipped with 107 guns and measured 48 meters, which made it the perfect flagship for the Swedish fleet and it lead it into the Northern Seven Years' War. In 1564, during the battle of Öland in the Baltic Sea, the Mars caught fire and it sunk beneath the sea, consigning 800 to 900 Swedish and German sailors and a fortune in gold and silver coins to the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Some believe that the ship was doomed from the start by a curse. King Erik XIV had an ego and he enraged the Catholic Church when he confiscated church bells to melt down and make cannons for the Mars. The church felt the ship was too big and too powerful and some wonder if it didn't do something to ensure its fiery fate. Other stories persist in telling stories of ghosts that rise up from the ship to conceal its location. And that would nearly seem true as it took until very recently for archeologists and treasure hunters to find the Mars. The most unusual thing though is that the Mars was found nearly fully preserved, despite being on the bottom of the sea for hundreds of years and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Hoover's Claim About Black Tuesday

In the month of May, on the 2nd, in 1930, President Herbert Hoover made the idiotic claim that the stock market crash was a temporary setback. On October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday hit Wall Street with a catastrophic crash of the Stock Market. Investors traded 16 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange in a single day and billions of dollars were lost. Very wealthy people lost everything and many of them took their own lives in their desperation. Despite the fact that this threw the industrialized world into a downward spiral, President Hoover made this statement, "While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed the worst and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover. There is one certainty of the future of a people of the resources, intelligence and character of the people of the United States-that is prosperity." As history would reveal, the Great Depression ensued as the longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world up to that time lasting ten years.

The Princess Theater in Melbourne
(Suggested by listener Rick Kennett)

Melbourne is the capital of Victoria and home to close to 4 million people. This city is a center of diversity and for the history of Australia it is a symbol of the independent spirit. Victoria and Melbourne were established as autonomous colonies, working outside of government regulation and permissions. This attracted men with that same spirit. One of them would re-purpose an amphitheater as The Princess Theater. This is a theater with roots running as far back as the founding of Melbourne and with that kind of history, one just knows this theater is ripe for hauntings. And there does seem to be some ghostly activity going on here. Join me as I share the history and hauntings of Melbourne's Princess Theater!

The Kulin Nation used to live on the land that is now the city of Melbourne.  That nation is made up of five separate aboriginal language groups: Boonwurrung (Boon-wur-rung), Dja Dja Wurrung (Jar-Jar-Wur-rung), Taungurung (Tung-ger-rung), Wathaurung (Wath-er-rung) and Woiwurrung (Woy-wur-rung.) The Kulin are represented by the Bunji, which is the wedge-tailed eagle and symbolizes the creation spirit and the Waa, which is the crow and symbolizes the protector of the waterways. *Fun Fact: There are 1500 Kulin archaeological sites with around 200 of them within the Melbourne metropolitan area itself.*

The British were the first to occupy Victoria and their original reason for this was out of fear of possible French settlement. British Lieutenant David Collins brought a party of convicts and free settlers to Port Phillip in October 1803 and established a small colony. Through the early 1800s, the area became popular with whalers and sealers. Initially, settlers from Tasmania filtered into the area and began squatting on the land. When the government tried to remove them, they resisted. John Batman was an Australian entrepreneur and explorer and he was one of the first white men to live in Melbourne. He came to Port Phillip Bay in May 1835 and 'paid' the local Aboriginal people in blankets and trinkets for about 243,000 acres of land near the Yarra River. This would become the township of Melbourne by 1837 and Captain William Lonsdale was named magistrate. New South Wales was frustrated at the lack of compliance from the autonomous Victoria and they were forced to recognize it as a successful colony. This lead to the Port Phillip District gaining independence from New South Wales in 1850 and they established a separate police force, a customs office and a separate Lands Office. Things really boomed for Melbourne after that as the gold rush hit.

In November 1851, alluvial gold was discovered north of Melbourne at Clunes, Anderson's Creek, Buninyong, Ballarat, Mount Alexander and Bendigo. Ships from all over the world brought miners into the town of Melbourne. The colony swelled from a population of 80,000 to 300,000. By 1856, more than 86 million grams of gold were mined, which equalled around $100 million. This eventually made Melbourne Australia's major financial centre and Victoria became an extremely wealthy colony. The good times were not always rolling though as the town was hit with depressions in both the 1890s and 1930s. After World War II, many migrants from Europe arrived and today the city is considered a culturally diverse city. One of the historical sites in this town is The Princess Theater.

The Princess Theater stands in the footprint of a previous theater. That first theater dates back almost to the founding of Melbourne and was an equestrian amphitheater name the Astley Ampitheater after the Astley Royal Ampitheater in London. This was built by Tom Moore during the Gold Rush. In 1857, that amphitheater was remodeled into a theater and opera house by George Coppin. Coppin had spent his entire life on the stage, making his first appearance as an infant. At the age of seven, he and his sister had their own act. He was born in England, but set his sights on Australia in 1842. Actually, that's not entirely honest. A coin set his sights on Australia. If it had been tails, he would have been headed to America. He started in Sydney working in theaters and bought a hotel. He moved on to Melbourne eventually and started converting buildings into theaters. He also started importing luxuries that included ice, deer and live turtles. But it was theater that he really made his mark on Australia. He only owned the newly remodeled amphitheater for a short period of time and the theater changed hands almost every year. Due to the constant change in ownership, the building deteriorated and was basically taken down to a shell and rebuilt from scratch in 1865. The theater was successful again after that, but by January 3, 1885, it was closed after falling into disrepair once again.

Three of Australia’s most influential theatre practitioners, JC Williamson, George Musgrove and Arthur Garner, formed The Triumvirate and they bought what was left of the theater, demolished it and rebuilt the theater that stands today at a cost of £50,000. The architect was Willaim Pitt. Construction took nine months and the new Princess theater opened on December 18th, 1886. The theater was built in the Second Empire style. The Second Empire refers to elements from the Second French Empire. This can be seen in the theaters three four-sided gambrel-style mansard hip roofs with dormer windows on each side. Each of these roofs also has its own crown made with cast iron filigree. The middle section of the exterior features two sections of exquisite stained glass. These were added in 1901 to outdoor terraces to create a Wintergarden Bar. The front foyer and stairs were made from marble and were said to be equal to that found in the Paris Opera, the Frankfurt Stadt and the Grand in Bordeaux. The stage lighting was state-of-the-art. The most unique thing about the theater was the retractable roof. The first performance was of The Mikado.

Ownership changed again in 1910 and the poor theater found itself in the hands of several owners again. In 1915, theatrical producer Ben Fuller took control and partnered with American stage actor and dancer Hugh J. Ward. Several years later, they hired architect Henry Eli White to extensively renovate the auditorium and foyers and the grand copper awning was added at that time. The theatre reopened on December 26, 1922 with a performance of The O'Brien Girl. In 1933, Efftee Films purchased the theater and the initials FT were carved over the proscenium arch for F. W.Thring, the theater entrepreneur. He made the Princess Theater the first home of his radio station 3XY. When he died, Ben Fuller took over the lease once again and eventually purchased the theater with Garnett Carroll. From 1942 to 1947, the Princess ran exclusively as a cinema, due to the scarcities of World War II. Fuller died in 1952 and Carroll assumed full control bringing an array of opera, ballet, musical comedy and drama to the stage. His big moment was hosting the National Theatre Movement’s gala performance of The Tales of Hoffmann for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Carroll was fond of American musicals and produced many of them including, Kismet (1954), The Sound of Music (1960), The King and I (1960) and Carousel (1964).

Garnett Carroll died in 1964 and ownership of the Princess passed to his son, John Carroll. He eventually leased the theater to the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. In 1973, the theater was listed by the National trust. David Marriner purchased the theater in 1986 and refurbished it back to its 1922 state, minus the old technical stuff. 2,000 paint samples were microscopically analyzed to ensure an accurate reproduction. Painters were trained on-site in the special techniques used in 1922 like colour glazing, which is the colors being blended from a darker hue to a lighter range near the central sunburst. Original light fixtures were found and replicated. The Princess reopend yet again and this time it was the musical Les Misérables, followed by The Phantom of the Opera. That production of Phantom would become the longest running show ever staged in Victoria. Today, the Princess Theatre is known as the home of musical theatre in Australia. And on the topic of phantom's, the Princess has its own resident ghost it would seem.

Frederick Baker, known to the world as Federici, was an Italian-born opera singer who performed during the late 1800s. He was world renowned for his work in the bass-baritone roles of the Savoy Operas written by Gilbert and Sullivan. His career started in London in 1872 when he was 21 and he eventually originated the role of the Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance. In 1887, Federici traveled to Australia with his wife and kids and joined J. C. Williamson's company. This brought him to the stage at the princess Theater. He played Florian in the first production in Australia of Princess Ida. Other roles in Australia included the Mikado, the Pirate King, Dick Deadeye, Colonel Calverley and Strephon. His final role would be at the Princess Theater in 1888 and he played the role of Mephistopheles in Faust. Eerily, as he was traveling down a trap door through what looked like smoke and flame to portray his character's plunge into Hell, he suffered a deadly heart attack. 

Even though the actor's body was removed from the theater, his spirit has not left. There are many stories of people experiencing the ghost of Federici. Stories come from past and present staff and theater patrons. The first story is about the night he died. Many of the cast had no idea that he had passed away until after the final curtain call. When they were told, they were shocked because they all swore that he was on stage with them taking that final curtain call. Many people have seen what they describe as unexplained balls of fluorescent light that hover about the stage. Equipment malfunctions during performances. Unexplained noises are heard coming from within the wings and corridors. More harrowing are the bizarre accidents that have taken place.

“Fred is very much a benevolent presence, nothing nasty ever happens. He’s more of a friendly poltergeist,” says Jesse Cain, the theater's business development manager. When a documentary was made nearly 80 years later, by Kennedy Miller in the early 1970s, a photograph of the film set revealed an ashen-faced, partly transparent observer. Nobody had seen anyone matching that person on the set that day. Ernest St Clair took on the role of Mephistopheles after Federici's death and he swore that every time he stepped forward to take his bow, invisible hands pushed him backwards. During a late night rehearsal, a staff member saw a figure sitting in the dress circle and asked his staff who had let a visitor in. The employees said they hadn't let anybody in and a search was called for to find the stranger. He was never found.

Many performers have seen the full-bodied apparition of Federici walking in the halls. His ghost is most often seen in the dress circle. (For those who don't know, the dress circle is the second level of seating or first few rows of the first balcony.) He is seen dressed in evening attire complete with cloak and top-hat. His specter seems to be scrutinizing the stage performances. His apparition is seen sitting in a seat also and has stayed so long that people can make out the finer details. When his spirit is seen on an opening night, it is thought to be good luck for the run of the production. The theater staff always ensure a vacant seat within the dress circle on opening nights to better ensure that his spirit makes its appearance.

An article about the Haunted Melbourne Ghost Tour says, "Early theater owners spotted a way to get a bit of good publicity for the theater and offered up 100 pounds to any member of the public prepared to spend a night alone in the theater. There is no record of anyone ever taking up their challenge. In the very early 1900's a new fire alarm system was placed in the theater. The resident fireman was required to punch a time clock every hour, triggering a light on a switchboard at a nearby fire station. If he failed to clock in, an alarm was raised and a brigade dispatched to the theater. One particular night during a heat wave no message came through on the hour and within minutes the brigade was dispatched. On reaching the theater the firemen, finding no sign of a fire, discovered their colleague huddled in a corner terrified beyond belief. He later claimed that he had opened the sliding section of the roof to let the heat out and some air in. As the panels opened, bright moonlight came into the auditorium revealing a figure standing, statue-like, on center stage. He described this figure as a tall, well-built man with distinguished features, dressed in evening clothes with a long cloak and a top-hat. The best known sighting of the ghost occurred in 1917. The theater's wardrobe mistress was working back late to finish costumes for an upcoming production. At approximately 2.30am a fireman knocked gently on her workroom door and stuck his head inside and asked her if she'd like to see a ghost. The skeptical woman's curiosity got the better of her and she went with him. They went up some side stairs to a landing beside the dress circle. The fireman pointed to Federici who was sitting in the middle of the second row of the dress circle. He was staring down at the empty stage as the fireman and the wardrobe mistress looked on. They eventually left the ghost and returned back to their work quite amazed at what they'd seen. A couple of years later another fireman had an experience. He saw the ghost standing in the same spot on two separate occasions."

The Princess Theater was unique and innovative in its day with a retractable roof. The theater faced many years of disrepair and neglect and then renovation. This alone with the emotions connected to acting usually ensure that a theater is going to have ghostly activity. Throw in the death of an actor and you might just have yourself a haunted theater. is Melbourne's Princess theater haunted? That is for you to decide! 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ep. 258 - Haunted Skagway

Moment in Oddity - Appenino Sculpture

The Appenine Colossus is found near a pond at Villa di Pratolino in Florence, Italy and seems to be emerging from the mountainous rockwork. The Villa di Pratolino was a Renaissance villa built by the Grand Duke of Tuscany for his Venetian mistress, Bianca Capello. The villa was mostly demolished in 1820 and what is left is part of Villa Demidoff. The sculpture, known as Appenino, is like a half-man, half-mountain squatting over a snake from which water flows, with his head bent as though he is looking down at the snake. His left hand rests upon it. Appenino was created by Flemish sculptor Giambologna in 1579-80. He created works in the Mannerist style, which exaggerates balance and proportion. While the work is amazing in and of itself, what really makes it wondrously unique is that it has several hidden caves inside. These caves are decorated with frescoes and a small marble statue of “Venerina” is inside one of the caves. One of the really bizarre features was reputedly a space in his head that had a fireplace which, when lit, would blow smoke out of his nostrils, and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Pop-up Toaster Invented

In the month of May, on the 29th, in 1919, the pop-up toaster received its patent. Humans have been eating bread for over 6,000 years and for most of that time, bread has been toasted to preserve it and to make it tastier. Before the electric toaster was invented, people used fire to toast bread. Charles P. Strite was a master mechanic in a plant in Stillwater, Minnesota and he was becoming increasingly frustrated with the burnt toast that was served in the company cafeteria. The cafeteria staffing was not adequate enough to keep a continuous eye on the toast. So Strite decided to invent a toaster that did not need supervision. He incorporated springs and a variable timer into his design and this created the first pop-up toaster. He figured that the device would only be sold to the restaurant trade, but as we all know, nearly every home has a pop-up toaster today.

Haunted Skagway

Skagway, Alaska is a popular destination for cruise ships hosting Alaskan cruises and it was one of the settings for Jack London's "Call of the Wild." And Skagway does have a wild history due to its location during the Klondike Gold Rush. The Red Onion Saloon not only provided a place for prospectors to get a drink, it also was a high class brothel. Today, the saloon is a restaurant and bar that serves up more than just food and drinks, it serves up some haunting experiences. The Golden North Hotel dates back to the gold rush as well and plays host to two apparitions. There are buildings for fraternal organizations and government and a couple of houses that also play host to spirits. Join me as I share the history and hauntings of Skagway, Alaska!

The word Skagway is the nickname of Kanagoo. Kanagoo was the mythical woman who transformed herself into stone at Skagway Bay. She is the cause of the strong winds on the bay. The people who lived here originally were the Tlingit People and they named a mountain now known today as Face Mountain a name that translates to Kanagoo's image. And it does look as though the profile of someone is looking up from the top of the mountain. The Tlingit were hunters and fishermen. The tribe still exists today, but much of their heritage was lost when Russian missionaries brought Russian orthodoxy to the area. The indigenous people lost their faith in their own medicine men and ways when small pox devastated them.

Very few white men came into the rugged area. A former steamboat captain named William "Billy" Moore conducted surveys over the Coast mountains because he believed he would find gold through there. Similar passes in South America and British Columbia had revealed that they had gold, so his belief was backed up by facts. He claimed an area of land measuring 160 acres with his son Ben in 1887 and this was near the mouth of the Skagway River. After staking their claim, they built a sawmill, wharf and log cabin. Billy just knew that prospectors were going to be flocking to the area and he was going to be prepared. Billy only had to wait about ten years before the Klondike Gold Rush started. In 1896, gold was found in the Klondike region of Canada's Yukon Territory. Soon, Skagway was flooding with prospectors. This would be the entryway into a 500-mile journey to the gold fields in Canada. This would seem like a dream for Billy as the population swelled to 30,000. But his lot was jumped and his land was stolen.

The official resident count was marked at 10,000 and this made Skagway the largest city in Alaska.  Skagway grew into a modern city with fine hotels, electric lights, water works, a telephone system, street grading, a city hall, jail and residential districts. The city's government stepped in to regulate gambling and saloons. One of those saloons still stands today: The Red Onion Saloon. The Red Onion opened for business in 1898 when the Klondike Gold Rush was at its height. The building was constructed from planks cut by Billy Moore. As was the case with so many drinking establishments of this time, the main form of entertainment hosted at the saloon was the bordello. And this was not just any bordello. The Red Onion was the most exclusive bordello in town. Alcohol was served on the first floor, with the brothel being on the second floor. The business only ran for two years as the gold rush waned and prospectors moved on to other areas.

After the Red Onion shut down, it served a number of other purposes. During World War II the building was used as a U.S. Army barracks to board soldiers. It later served as a union hall, laundry, bakery, television station and gift shop. The building was bought by Jan Wrentmore in 1980 and she turned it into a restaurant and bar that hosts a museum dedicated to the prostitution past. There is more than just a bordello museum hosted here though. The saloon is reputedly haunted and has such a reputation that many paranormal investigators have come to visit and investigate and the location was featured on the TV show "Alaska Haunting" in October of 2015. There is more than one ghost haunting the building.

Investigators have reported picking up EVP. Guests and employees have felt cold spots and seen apparitions. Glasses have moved around on the bar. Disembodied footsteps are heard up on the second floor. When people go to see who is wandering around up there they find nobody. Several times though they would "find" something else and that would be the scent of perfume. One time, the police were called because the disturbance upstairs was so loud. The police showed up and as they approached the stairs, they claimed they saw what was a shadow figure running down the hall and into a room that had belonged to the former madame. They found no one in the room. A musician who played in the saloon once lived on the second floor and one night he awoke to see a shimmering light in his room and he felt a very strange sensation. One of the local town leaders was upstairs once and claimed to feel a strong presence that felt hostile.

One of the most well known spirits in the Red Onion Saloon is that of a former prostitute named Lydia. Lydia likes to water the plants apparently. When the owner goes around to water the plants, she sometimes finds the soil to be wet. There are no plants in the madam's room and yet an apparition has been seen walking around as if it is watering plants. No one knows why Lydia is here because there is no record of a Lydia dying in the bordello. But she is hostile towards men, so maybe something did happen to her.

One employee said, "I have worked here 13 years and can tell you that there is SOMETHING here. We’ve had employees see her, have witnessed things flying off the back bar, have customers see her… All sorts of events. It’s definitely more ‘active’ in Spring and when the building is quiet. Or at least, we notice it then."

Another business that opened in Skagway was The Golden North Hotel. The Golden North Hotel was built at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898. It is three-stories, painted white and has a gold painted cupola. The hotel closed in 2002 to guests. The building is currently occupied by Frontier Excursions & Adventures. In its heyday, around 1,000 prospectors would pass through the doors every week. One of those prospectors was named Klondike Ike and he arrived in Skagway with his fiancé Mary. The couple rented Room 23 at the hotel. Ike left Mary there to make his fortune in the gold fields. Mary died while Ike was away. Some say she had been ill with pneumonia, others say she grew depressed waiting for Ike and starved herself and still others say she died of a broken heart. She was found wearing the wedding dress she had bought for her future nuptials.

Mary's spirit is believed to still be in the building to this day. She has been nicknamed "Scary Mary" by those that have experienced her. Guests who stay in Room 23 have occasionally woken up because they were feeling as though they were being choked. Their lungs feel tight, almost as though they were sick with pneumonia. Other guests have reported seeing the apparition of a woman roaming the halls or watching out a window. The owner and one of the maids were together when they saw Mary standing by the window in Room 23. Blasts of cold air are felt as though something very cold has walked by and mysterious noises have been heard. Mary also seems to have made an appearance in a photograph when a singer from Juneau had his girlfriend take his picture while standing in the then empty third floor Hall. After the picture was developed, they saw that a woman was standing next to him who was clearly not there when the picture was taken.

There may be another ghost here as well that reputedly haunts Room 14. A mysterious light has been seen by both guests and staff in that room. It has a sparkle quality to it and others claim that it is a twinkling orb. No one knows exactly why it would be in this room, but it moves around and seems to be non-threatening. Some hotel guests have felt really sick when staying in Room 14. It gets so bad that some have nearly passed out. They claim to see a grayish light manifest at the same time that they are feeling ill. As it fades away, they start to feel better. Some ghost hunters claimed that they found a dark ring around the tub the morning following their overnight stay. It was as though someone had taken a bath during the night, but none of them had. And they were sure that the tub was clean when they checked in.

The Eagles fraternity first met in Skagway in 1899. They moved into the Eagles Hall in 1916. The hall was formed by bringing together two old hotels that were built in the 1890s. The Mondamin Hotel was moved here in 1916 and the Pacific Hotel was added to the rear in 1920. The building is two stories and painted maroon with white trim. During the summers, the hall hosts a popular show called Days of '98 Show. This is Alaska's longest running theater production and dates back to 1927. The show was originally started as a fundraiser for the hockey club and is a variety show. The second floor seems to be host to several friendly ghosts. They manifest as cold spots and people have seen apparitions throughout the second floor.

The Mulvihill House was built in 1904 for W.H. Case who was a partner in the well-known photographic firm of Case and Draper. The house is named for a man who lived in it from 1914 to 1949, White Pass and Yukon Railroad dispatcher Mul Mulvihill. The house is Victorian in style. He died in 1949, but his spirit is still in the house. He reputedly taps out messages on a phantom telegraph, opens and closes doors and walks throughout the home stomping around in what sounds like heavy work boots. Today, the Mulvihill House is a private residence. Not sure if the current owners have experienced the haunting activity.

The City Municipal Building was built in 1899. This was the first territorial court in Alaska, but today it serves as Skagway’s city hall and department of tourism. There is a museum on the second floor. There are reports of strange noises coming from this floor and the source has never been discovered.

The White House is a building on the edge of town that is fire damaged and abandoned. It was originally built to be a private home, but during World War II it became a hospital. Later, the house was used as a small hotel, then a day-care center and then a home for families once again.People who have stayed or lived in the house have reported supernatural activity. A commercial fisherman was staying there with his family and he and his wife awoke one night to see a the apparition of a woman standing at the foot of their bed. They also experienced their toddler daughter chatting away with someone they could not see in the kitchen. They occasionally saw this apparition in the kitchen and she matched the description of a woman who used to run the day-care center.

There's no hauntings going on at this location that I know of, but it is one of the most unique buildings in the city and that is the Arctic Brotherhood Hall. It is said that this is the most photographed building in Alaska. The building was constructed in 1899 as headquarters for arctic brotherhood Camp Skagway No. 1. The facade is made up of more than 8,800 pieces of driftwood collected from local tidal flats. Sticks have been shaped into a mosaic of letters, a gold pan and square patterns. The Trail of '98 Museum is inside and features Native artifacts and relics of the gold rush, including gambling paraphernalia from the old Board of Trade Saloon.

*Rabbit Hole: Soapy Smith

I first heard of Soapy Smith in Colorado. Doing research for this episode, I read that Soapy had ended up in Skagway and it is here that he died and was buried in the City Cemetery. He was quite the character and I thought you would enjoy hearing about this infamous con man. Soapy had been born into a rich plantation family in 1860, but as was the case for so many southern families, the Civil War changed their fortunes. His family relocated to Texas and it was here that he began his career as a bunko artist. He gathered together some other rogues to help him out with his scams. They used the typical shell games, three card Monte and other little cons. Soon Soapy was known as the “King of the Frontier Con Men.”  He moved on to bigger games and created his “Prize Package Soap Sell.” Soapy would set up a suitcase on a stand on a busy street corner. Inside the suitcase were piles of ordinary soap wrapped in plain paper. he made a big production of wrapping the soap in money from one dollar up to a hundred, then he would rewrap the bar in plain paper. He would then sell the soap $1-5 per bar. A shill in the crowd would buy a bar, unwrap it and find the hundred dollar bill. Of course the crowds of people would quickly buy some bars. Most would find only a bar of soap that cost Soapy 5 cents. He did this for two decades and it earned him his "Soapy" nickname.

In Denver, he added stock exchange swindles to his repettoire. Soapy had such a large group of men running his cons that he claimed to be the boss of Denver’s underworld crime empire. He opened the Tivoli Saloon and Gambling Hall in Denver. *Fun Fact: Bat Masterson worked as a dealer at the Tivoli for a time.* Sopay joined forces with Old Man Taylor in Leadville and the two operated a successful shell game upon the many unsuspecting miners. People in Denver were trying to shut down gambling and so Soapy took his operation to Creede, Colorado, another mining town in the mountains. He opened a club were he displayed a petrified man for the price of 10¢. He called the “petrified man,” “McGinty” and this was also a hoax, as it was actually nothing more than cement over skeletal remains. The oddity brought in lots of customers though. The club ran crooked card games and swindled many gamblers.

Soapy returned to Denver and eventually became a wanted man and so he moved further west until the Yukon Gold Rush grabbed his attention in 1897. He made his way to Skagway. He soon claimed to be the boss of Skagway. He opened a saloon called Jeff Smith’s Parlor and ran his cons out of there. Soon the people of Skagway were tired of Soapy and his ways. a vigilante group tried to force Soapy and his gang out but he claimed to have a bigger force of 300 men and the vigilante group backed down. The group would return in 1898 and they held a meeting to discuss what to do with Soapy. He showed up with a Winchester rifle over his shoulder. he argued with a guard at the door and a gunfight erupted. When the smoke cleared both Soapy and the guard lay dead. Soapy’s last words were reportedly: “My God, don’t shoot!” Soapy Smith was buried just outside the city cemetery. His grave and his saloon, which has since been moved from its original location, can still be seen in Skagway.

The city of Skagway looks much like it did over 100 years ago with wooden boardwalks and buildings dating back to the late 1800s. Several of these buildings seem to be housing an energy left over from the past. Is Skagway one of the most haunted cities in Alaska? Are these buildings haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ep. 257 - Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Moment in Oddity - The Center of the Universe in Tulsa
Suggested by: April Barber

You probably were unaware that the “Center of the Universe” is located in of all places, Tulsa, Oklahoma. One just follows the brick path that leads to the railroad tracks at the corner of W. Archer St. and N. Boston Ave just northwest of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. There one finds a marker indicating that the Center of the Universe has been discovered. And what proves that this spot is the Center of the Universe? A very weird and mysterious acoustic phenomenon. This phenomenon is that when one stands in the center of the circle and calls out, they will discover their voice echoing back at them like a private amplified echo chamber. And even stranger, the sound is echoed back much louder. For people standing outside the circle, they hear a very distorted voice. Legend claims that even a foghorn could be going off in the center of the circle and nobody would hear it outside the circle. Studies have been unable to prove what is causing the weird anomaly and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Born

In the month of May, on the 22nd, in 1859, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the second of ten children. He decided to get into medicine and attended the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School where he received a Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery qualifications in 1881 and an M.D. in 1885. One of his professors inspired him to create the character of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes made his first appearance in A Study in Scarlet, a novel-length story published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual of 1887. It probably seemed odd to Conan Doyle's friends that he could create such a logical character who held to science when he himself was a big believer in the paranormal and routinely took part in seances. Conan Doyle addressed his beliefs in a short novel named "The Mystery of Cloomber," which was published in 1889. He wrote Sherlock Holmes stories through to 1926. He died in Windlesham, his home in Crowborough, Sussex in 1930.His funeral was held by members of the spiritualist community who celebrated his passing beyone the veil. On July 13, 1930, thousands of people filled London’s Royal Albert Hall for a séance during which Estelle Roberts, the spiritualist medium, claimed to have contacted Sir Arthur.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Tuberculosis was a horrible disease in which people had to watch their loved ones literally waste away before their eyes. For this reason, it was commonly referred to as Consumption and there were points in history when people actually believed that people suffering from TB were being attacked by vampires. One of the nicer locations built to help people with TB was Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky. A group of us visited and toured this historical hospital where so many people met their final end at the hands of the dreaded disease. For this reason, the sanatorium is famously known to be very haunted. And for those of us that visited, I think most of us left convinced that some kind of supernatural activity is happening. Join me as I share the history and hauntings of Waverly Hills Sanatorium!

Waverly Hills Sanatorium looms large when first approached. When you arrive at the gate, an employee comes down and instructs everyone to drive up the hill to a parking lot. The trees open up into a full view of the sanatorium when you reach the top of the hill. Despite the fact that it has stood abandoned for the most part for many years, the building looks to be in remarkable condition. The screens no longer stretch in the windows of the solarium, giving an eerie open feeling and gargoyles continue their sentinel duty at the top of the building adding to the creep factor. We were instructed to walk to a rear building for check-in and you immediately feel just what a presence the building is all by itself, minus the stories of ghosts.

Waverly Hills sits on a spot where a school once stood. Major Thomas H. Hays had bought the land in 1883 with the goal of building a school for his daughters to attend. That school was just a one room school house that was located on Pages Lane. Lizzie Lee Harris was hired to be the teacher and she named the school "Waverley School" after some novels named "Waverley Novels." Major Hays followed suit and named the property "Waverley Hill." The Board of Tuberculosis Hospital kept the name after purchasing the land and opening the Sanatorium. The original sanatorium that they built was not the large structure that stands today. The first was a framed building with a hipped roof and only had two stories. It could accommodate around 40 to 50 patients. The climate of Jefferson County, where Louisville is located, was conducive to the spread of TB and by the early 1900s, the county was hit hard. The original hospital was ill equipped to handle the amount of patients that would be flooding in. The city of Louisville started to plan a new hospital in 1911, but they had no intention of including admission of people suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis.

The Board of Tuberculosis Hospital was given $25,000 to erect a new hospital for the care of advanced cases of pulmonary tuberculosis. In order to start the building, the patients from the City Hospital had to be moved to tents set up on the grounds at Waverly Hills. The new pavilion was finished in 1912 and could care for another 40 patients. A children's pavilion was added as well for both sick kids and the children of patients. The plan for Waverly was to continue adding buildings and it eventually became like many other TB properties. These properties would become self-sufficient mini cities with their own water treatment facilities, post offices and growing their own food. Waverly followed the same pattern. But eventually, there was a desire to build a larger structure and that is the building that still exists today

Construction began in March of 1924 on the brick, five-story gothic styled building. It was designed by architect James J. Gaffney. The sanatorium would be able to house up to 400 patients. It was designed to provide a variety of treatments and was considered state-of-the-art at the time, despite the fact that many of the treatments they used for TB, we would consider barbaric. The facility officially opened on October 17, 1926. One of the treatments offered at Waverly Hills was time out on the Solarium.These were large patio areas on the outside of each floor where patients would sit for hours to take in the fresh air and enjoy the peace of the wooded area that surrounded the sanatorium. There was an audio system set up where patients could listen to music and the radio station broadcasting from within Waverly Hills. Our tour guide said it was like the first iPod. Some patients would be left out here up to 13 hours and there are even photos that show that some patients would actually be covered in snow. For this reason, the first electric blankets were used here. Another treatment was time in the sunroom, which was a room with heat lamps that were to provide a feeling as though being in the sun. The more barbaric treatments included electric shock for people with TB of the brain and surgical procedures to remove ribs and muscle. One of the worst treatments was a process where a lung would be deflated because TB needs oxygen to survive. This treatment did help some people, but mainly ended up killing people.

The facility served as a tuberculosis hospital until 1961. In 1943, streptomycin was discovered and it proved to successfully treat TB. This eventually would make Waverly Hills obsolete and so it did close in 1961 with any patients still remaining being transferred to Hazelwood Sanatorium. The following year it reopened after renovation as WoodHaven Medical Services, a geriatric facility for people with mobility issues and dementia. This facility ran until it was closed by the state in 1981. This was supposedly due to patient neglect. Simpsonville developer J. Clifford Todd bought the hospital in 1983 for $3,005,000. Todd joined forces with architect Milton Thompson and the men planned to convert it into a minimum-security prison for the state. Waverly is surrounded by a neighborhood and obviously, these people were not about to allow a minimum security prison in their backyard. The men switched to a plan to build apartments, but that fell through as well.

Robert Alberhasky bought the property in 1996 with the hope of turning it into an arts and worship center. He wanted to also build a replica of the Christ the Redeemer statue that is in Rio de Janeiro. This statue was going to be 150 feet tall and 150 feet wide and placed on the roof of the sanatorium. Donations fell through and the project was cancelled the following year. Tina and Charlie Mattingly then bought Waverly Hills in 2001. The Mattinglys hold tours of Waverly Hills and host a haunted house attraction each Halloween, with proceeds going toward restoration of the property. Restoration is going well, but is slow. The rooms that we saw that were restored looked great. Waverly Hills Historical Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of Waverly Hills Sanatorium.

It is no secret that Waverly Hills is haunted. And while I generally leave it up to you to decide if a place is haunted or not, I can tell you that I believe something I cannot explain is going on in this building. There are stories that two nurses killed themselves in Room 502, one by hanging and the other jumped to her death. They are believed to haunt the fifth floor and one has shown up in photographs. The smell of fresh baked bread has come from the former kitchen. Many ghost hunters claim that the ghost of a small boy named Timmy roams the halls. Chelsea explained that there are no records of a Timmy at the sanatorium and she doesn't believe the stories. The creepiest story in connection to Waverly is that of The Creeper. The Creeper is a dark and terrifying entity that crawls along the floors and the walls and many believe it is demonic in nature. Others believe it’s a human spirit that's been twisted by the trauma of tubercular death. People who see it are filled with dread.

The Cult of Weird website reported the following experience, "As we continued our conversation I began to notice a small orb-shaped pinpoint of light moving across the second floor solarium. It was the size of a firefly but a blue-white color, and it would disappear only to reappear with perfect timing in every other window. My companion asked if I could see a blue light. I said that I could. We watched as it traveled the entire length of the west side of the building heading east. At first it appeared as if it was inside the building, but as it progressed it moved up above the solarium windows in front of the exterior brick. When this happened it became two separate identical points of light, spaced so closely they almost touched each other. When the light neared a bend in the building—the sanatorium is roughly question mark shaped—we lost sight of it. The light(s) traveled roughly 350 feet in approximately 10 seconds."

Out tour started at the Body Chute. This was a long chute that went downhill a very long way and we walked down most of it on some concrete stairs next to it. A track system would carry the bodies to the bottom where families could pick up the bodies or the local funeral parlor would collect them. The reason this was used was because so many people were dying, the administrators were worried that it would depress the patients and they would give up their fight and all hope when they saw so many of their compatriots die. The chute is very creepy and smells. Our guide, Chelsea, told us a story about an experience that she had at the Body Chute. She was giving a tour and had her back to the chute. She noticed that several people in her group were getting startled looks on their faces and one of them told her to turn around. When she did, she saw a white misty figure at the bottom of the Chute. She has experienced enough at Waverly Hills that she thought to herself, I'm okay as long as that just stays where it is. When she turned back around, she saw that her entire group had run away. She turned around again to see why they had run and the white figure was running straight at her.

We spent some time in the refrigeration room and Chelsea asked for a volunteer. One of our group, Quin's boyfriend Matthew, volunteered. Chelsea said,"Hi kids" and explained that she was going to ask the children who used to play hide and seek in the refrigeration system if it would be okay for Matthew to enter one of the units. She also told Matthew to ask permission. Chelsea goes through this process ever since one of the people she put in the unit on a previous tour told her that the children had said that they needed to be asked for permission for someone to enter. She then shut him up inside the unit. She explained that on occasion, the refrigerators had to be used for bodies, so they would move the vegetables and meat out and put the bodies in. People who are closed up in the unit routinely feel their hair being pulled or the shirts being tugged upon. Chelsea played an EVP that a guest had recorded on their phone. You can hear the guest say "Ready or not" and then a child's voice responds "Here I come."

The man who was serving as our "caboose" told me a story about an experience he had on the fourth floor. A group had arrived in a chauffeur van and the driver had joined the tour. The driver was bringing up the rear with the guy telling me the story and they distinctly heard the sound of dance music floating up the hall and they also could hear the sound of feet dancing on the floor. The former cafeteria of Waverly is haunted by the ghosts of a little boy and girl and there is also a resident ghost cat. People feel it rubbing up against their ankles. There was a chapel at Waverly for services and was also used for arts and crafts. Outside one of the windows, an apparition appeared in a picture. We saw the picture and it was creepy as hell. And this was up on the third floor, so nobody could be standing outside the window.

We went inside Lois' Room and said hi to her. Chelsea told us her story. She shared a photo of Lois who passed away in the room at the age of 28 from TB. She suffered from it for 8 years and spent all of those at Waverly. Her sister, Audrey, also had the dreaded disease and joined her in the room. She managed to recover and lived to be in her 90s. Investigators have picked up EVP of a female voice saying "Audrey" as though Lois is searching for her sister. A flowery smell is sometimes detected and she likes to play with Chelsea's hair. We then went to an area where there had been an elevator shaft. A homeless man and his dog were thrown down to the bottom of this shaft and reports claimed that it had been a ritualistic murder. The homeless man had lived in the building for quite some time and he was very protective of it. This is where I had my first paranormal experience of the evening and it was shared by the whole group. I clearly heard a dog whimper while Chelsea told the story. i thought perhaps it was the power of suggestion until Chelsea asked if we all heard it and everybody said yes. Then a little bit later there was another whimper followed by a door slam. And we again heard the dog whimper a third time before we left the area. It was clear. It was audible. I have no doubt that the ghost of a dog had joined us...or at least a residual whimper.

We went to the fifth floor, which opened up onto the roof. This is said to be the most active floor. Chelsea told the story of the nurse who hung herself in the center room. She had fallen in love with a doctor who was married and carried on an affair with him. She discovered she was pregnant and she told him about it. He rejected her and in her dismay, she committed suicide. Some stories claim that she lived in Room 502 and hanged herself there, but Chelsea said that was not true. She had done it in the public area. I went into 502 where a Spirit Box session was taking place and made this recording. Before I made the recording, we were let loose to do some investigating if we liked. I had turned off my recorder to save the battery. I use an H1 Zoom and you have to pull down and hold a switch to turn it on. I did this and watched the display light up. I pushed record and nothing happened. I noticed the display was off.I thought that the battery had a half charge when I looked at the display, but perhaps I was wrong. The only way the Zoom will turn off that way is if the battery dies.Otherwise, you have to hold down the switch just like turning it on. I turned it on again and saw clearly that half the battery was still good. I tried hitting record again and nothing. It had turned off again. I thought that maybe the battery really was going bad, but i tried a third time.This time the recorder stayed on for 15 minutes and recorded. Deana of TwistedPhilly shared a creepy experience she had up her on the fifth floor in her Patreon bonuscast about Waverly Hills.

The fourth floor was by far the creepiest floor and most of the Spooktacular Crew felt very uneasy here and even a little sick. Before we went through the metal door, Chelsea told us about some teenagers who were ransacking the place and they got locked in by something. They had brought an axe with them and tried to open the door with it, but had no luck. The marks in the door are still there. Whatever is on this floor does not seem to be human. There are supposedly shadow figures everywhere and Chelsea instructed us on how to look down the hallway and blink our eyes so they wouldn't play tricks on us. I think I saw two shadow figures and this was verified by the Caboose guy who was standing next to me.

Visitng Waverly Hills is an experience that every paranormal enthusiast needs to have. I look forward to visiting again. Nothing scared me here, but i definitely feel like I had experiences. Are the former patients and staff still wandering the halls in the afterlife? Is Waverly Hills haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ep. 256 - Haunted Cemeteries 9

Moment in Oddity - The "Most Beautiful Suicide" in the World?
Suggested by: Cheryl Smail Kell

The picture was titled by Time Magazine as the "Most Beautiful Suicide in the World." The picture featured the body of Evelyn McHale atop the mangled and crushed roof of a limosine parked next to the Empire State Building. No one is sure why Evelyn decided to end her life. The reason was a mystery to friends and family. She had left behind a note, but that almost made her decision that much more mysterious. The note read, "I don’t want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family – don’t have any service for me or remembrance for me. My fiance asked me to marry him in June. I don’t think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me. Tell my father, I have too many of my mother’s tendencies." As to what those tendencies might be, is anyone's guess. Mental illness or some other affliction? And why would she so dramatically end her life if she didn't want anyone to see any part of her body? She had visited her fiance the day before and he said that everything was fine. The next morning, May 1, 1947, she arrived at the observation deck of the Empire State Building, placed her coat over the railing, put her suicide note next to the coat, hoisted herself onto the rail and jumped. After she hit the limosine, her picture was taken and it shows Evelyn in a very peaceful state. She looks almost as though she is only sleeping. She is clutching her pearl necklace with her gloved left hand and her feet are crossed at the ankles. So while it is strange to refer to a suicide as beautiful, she does seem to have found peace, but as to why she would make such a terrible final decision was left a mystery and that certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Archie Williams Born

In the month of May, on the 1st, in 1915, African American Olympic athlete Archie Williams was born in Oakland, California.Williams was a track star, bu he had never broken 49 seconds for the 440 yd (402 m). During 1936, he got his times to get lower and lower and he set a world record at the NCAA championships. He went on to the Olympic trialsand placed first. This gave him a spot on the team to Berlin. Jesse Owens was one of his teammates. He won the Olympic gold medal in the 400 m. Adolf Hitler refused to shake his hand or Jesse Owens hand. Their defeats of the german athletes helped debunk Hitler's theory of Aryan racial superiority. After the Olympics, he went on to earn a mechanical engineering degree from the University of California-Berkeley but faced discrimination and wound up digging ditches. He later became an airplane pilot and trained Tuskegee Institute pilots including the black air corp of World War II. He died at the age of 78 in 1993.

Haunted Cemeteries 9

Most cemeteries in the world do not see many tourists or visitors. Usually there is only the occasional family visit to lay some flowers at a gravesite. Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is different. Nearly 3.5 million people visit the graveyard every single year. Another cemetery that has a tendency to draw tourists is the Howard Street Cemetery in Salem, which has a connection to the Salem Witch Trials. And then there is the Lonesome Hill Cemetery that is the typical local cemetery with very few visitors and a place I would not know about had it not been suggested to me. While these three cemeteries are all different in the numbers they draw to visit, they share one distinct similarity. They are all reputedly haunted. Join me for a stroll through the headstones as we search out the hauntings found at these three cemeteries.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is the most popular cemetery in the world for tourists to visit and it also is the largest cemetery in the city. It stretches to 110 acres and was the first garden cemetery in Paris. The graveyard is full of famous burials and beautiful monuments and memorials and is located on Boulevard de Ménilmontant. Grave sites run the gamut from simple headstones to huge monuments to tombs big enough to kneel inside while saying a prayer to elaborate mini chapels. The city bought the property in 1804 and Napolean commissioned the cemetery to be built. Pere Lachaise was named for the confessor to Louis XIV, Père François de la Chaise who lived from 1624 to 1709 and resided in the Jesuit house rebuilt during 1682 on the site of the current funerary chapel. That chapel was erected in 1823 by the Neoclassical architect Étienne-Hippolyte Godde. He also created the monumental entrance of the cemetery a few years later. The land had previously been used as a vantage point by the king to watch skirmishes between the armies of the Condé and Turenne during the Fronde. The design of the cemetery was laid out by Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart. Père Lachaise Cemetery was opened for burials on 21 May 1804. Initially, Roman Catholics would not allow any burials in the graveyard because the church had not consecrated the ground. So there were only 13 graves that first year.

The first person buried at the cemetery was Adélaïde Paillard de Villeneuve. She was the five-year-old daughter of a door bell-boy of the Faubourg St. Antoine. Don't bother looking for her plot though as it no longer is there. Napoleon had declared that "every citizen has the right to be buried regardless of race or religion" after he was declared Emporer by the Senate. Her plot was a concession based on this declaration. In 1805, there were 44 burials and they increased slowly over the following years. In 1817, the remains of Pierre Abélard and Héloïse d'Argenteuil, who were lovers, were transferred to the cemetery and their monument was created from fragments of the abbey of Nogent-sur-Seine. For this reason, lovers or lovelorn singles leave letters of tribute at their crypt. Legend claims that if they do this, they will find true love. Burials grew by so much that the cemetery had to be expanded year after year and by 1830, there were more than 33,000 graves. It is believed that there are around one million people buried at Pere Lachaise in total. People are still buried here, but there is a waiting list and one has to either be a Parisian or died in Paris to be buried there. One might wonder how new burials can be accomodated. Apparently, plots are leased and if a family fails to pay or fails to renew the lease, the bones are dug up, boxed, tagged and sent over to Aux Morts Ossuary. Plots can be bought too, either into perpetuity or for 50, 30 or 10 years. And then I imagine people are disinterred. And about that Aux Morts Ossuary, it houses the remains of between 2 to 3 million people. Aux Morts translates to "to the dead." There is a monument in the front of this modern-day catacomb that was sculpted by Paul-Albert Bartholome.

Another interesting monument here is the Communards' Wall or Mur des Fédérés. One hundred forty-seven Communards were shot on May 28, 1871 during the last day of the "Bloody Week." Communards were the last defenders of the workers' district of Belleville. The memorial has become a gathering place in modern times for the French political Left. The President of France who carried out the "Bloody Week" was Adolphe Thiers and he is buried in the cemetery and occasionally there are issues with his grave being vandalized. Another poignant memorial is the Buchenwald-Dora Memorial that was inaugurated in 1964 and honors the victims of World War II. The sculpture was designed in bronze by Louis Bancel and was commissioned by the Association des Désportés de Buckwnwald-Dora. The Mauthausen Memorial honors French victims of the Austrian concentration labor camp. People here were worked to death, literally. The sclupture features one prisoner carrying a granite block up 186 steps known as the “Stairs of Death.” This was a horribly punishing task that was endured by more than 100,000 prisoners.

Another fascinating and haunting funerary sculpture by French sculptor Charlott Dubray belongs to Georges Rodenbach, a 19th-century Belgian writer and poet most famous today for his novel entitled “Burges la Morte.” Obsessed with death evident in much of his work, he is pictured here rising from his earthly tomb with a rose in his hand.

There are many famous people buried here.

Edith Piaf is one of the most celebrated performers of the 20th century. She was a French singer and cabaret performer whose torch songs became her trademark. She knew much of loss, having lost her only child as a toddler, a lover in a plane crash and being involved in multiple near fatal crashes left her body irreparably broken. It was this latter loss that led her into morphine addiction and alcoholism. The abuse she put her body through shrunk her weight to 66 pounds and eventually she died of liver cancer when she was only 47. She is buried next to her daughter Marcelle, her father, Louis-Alphonse Gassion, and her second husband Théo Sarapo. The name inscribed at the foot of the tombstone is Famille Gassion-Piaf. Her name is engraved on the side as Madame Lamboukas dite Édith Piaf.

Gertrude Stein

Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin was born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola, Poland and grew up in Warsaw. He was a musical child prodigy, particularly with the piano and all of his compositions incorporated the piano. He was called the Romantic Movement's "Poet of the Piano." He left Poland at the age of 20 and went to Vienna and shortly thereafter he went on to Paris where he found his greatest success. He became a French citizen in 1835. He supported himself by giving lessons and selling compositions. He was a sickly man who was unlucky in love. He contracted tuberculosis and spent the latter part of his life being supported financially by his admirer Jane Stirling. He eventually died from TB in 1849 when he was only 39. He was buried minus his heart. That was interred at the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw. His monument features a seated statue of Euterpe, the muse of Music. There is also a profile of his head in marble in a medallion on the base of the monument.

Oscar Wilde is buried in a creepy tomb that features the sculpture of a half-demon, half-angel figure that was sculpted by Sir Jacob Epstein. A unique and controversial part of the sculture was that it had exposed genitalia. For a long time, Parisian authorities concealed them, but they were removed during WWII.

Jim Morrison was the lead singer of the rock band The Doors. A bust used to be on his grave, but a fan stole it. His grave is regularly hit with graffiti and his family pays to have it removed. Unfortunately this graffiti has crossed over to other graves and fences have been installed to help prevent some of this. Morrison's grave was almost the victim of the cemeteries “lease” policy. He only had a 10 year lease on his burial and people who owned nearby plots tried to have him disinterred. They did not succeed.

Dominique Vivant, Baron Denon (4 January 1747 – 27 April 1825) was a French artist, writer, diplomat, author, and archaeologist. He was appointed as the first Director of the Louvre museum by Napoleon after the Egyptian campaign of 1798–1801, and is commemorated in the Denon Wing of the modern museum and in the Dominique-Vivant Denon Research Center.[1] His two-volume Voyage dans la basse et la haute Egypte ("Journey in Lower and Upper Egypt"), 1802, was the foundation of modern Egyptology.

Marie Trintignant was a French actress who was born in 1962. She died in 2003 at the hands of her boyfriend Bertrand Cantat, who was the lead singer of the French rock group Noir Désir. Cantat repeatedly punched Marie Trintignant in the head and this caused her to have a cerebral edema. She was 41 at the time of her death.

The famous mime Marcel Marceau is buried here as well. Marcel Marceau was known as the Master of Silence. While he is known for being a the most famous mime in the world, his charitable work was even more impressive. In 1939, the Jews of Strasbourg, France, where Marceau’s family lived, were told topack it up and move it out. Marcel fled with his brother and worked for the underground where he changed the ages of young French kids, so they would appear to be too young to send to labor camps. He relied on his acting skills to pretend to be a Boy Scout leader. He used the ruse to smuggle Jewish children and the children of underground members across the border into Switzerland. After the war, he studied under the great master of mime Etienne Decroux. In 1947, Marceau created his alter ego Bip, who was a clown in a striped jersey and battered opera hat. He performed for over 60 years and died in 2007.

Other interesting burials are painter Jean-Louis André Géricault’s grave, which was by 19th-century painter, sculptor and architect Antoine Etex. It is a statue replica of Jean-Louis holding a paintbrush done in bronze and also features a relief of his highly controversial painting of the “Raft of the Medusa.” Etex also designed the tomb of the Raspail Family. Madame Rapali’s grave is known as the "Farewell to the Jailed Revolutionary" and is a ghost whose arm stretches upward from his shroud to the prison-barred window.

Pere Lachaise is considered to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in the world. People claim to see strange lights in the cemetery at night and during the day there are cold spots in various areas. Translucent spirits are seen as well. One of the apparitions that has been seen on a consitent basis is Adolphe Thiers, who was prime minister under King Louis-Philippe in the 19th century. His favorite way to get people's attention,other than actually showing up as a full-bodied spirit, is to tug on people's clothing. One story mentions Marcel Proust and Maurice Ravel. They were a loving couple in life -- it is said they rise at night from their graves and go in search of each other. The other famous ghost here belongs to Jim Morrison. His spectre is seen roaming among the headstones close to where his grave is located.

"I was 14. It was 1978. We were on a student trip to Spain and France. My best friend, a Japanese girl named Chihiro and I were no longer traveling 'together' as it were. I believe she was chasing a boy, and since I had nothing in common with the other suburban American kids on the trip, I was pleased when yet another Japanese girl took a shine to me and invited me on an adventure. He name was Miki Miyagi and she was a Japanese resident of Canada. How she ended up on our student trip, I never knew, but she was about 17 and quite worldly. I suppose I appealed to her since I was comparably serious as an Oriental student with more the appearance of a Canadian than an American. She told me her reason for coming on the trip. She was a great aficionado of Chopin and wished to visit his grave. She was in the process of reading a book of his love letters with some paramour or another. Miki spoke fluent French and I was just starting out. I remember taking a metro, then a bus... How the chaperones of the trip ever allowed us to run about on our own in Paris at that age, I'll never know. I remember her asking for directions of the French people and being fully conversant with them which was very impressive.

We made our way into the cemetery. I remember walking past a sentimentally festooned bust of someone who was a rock musician from the Doors, Miki told me. I'm ashamed to say that I hardly knew who Jim Morrisson was. But there he was. After some more searching, Miki found Chopin's resting place. She had brought her camera and asked me to take her picture by the headstone. I was pleased to oblige. Just as I brought the camera up to site with the lens, I saw a young man on the other side of the headstone with clothing of another age. "Oh!" I remember exclaiming, not sure what to say nor in what language... Were we in his way? Or... But as I removed the camera from my eye, he was no longer there. I remember that he had a bit of a wry smile. I said nothing at the time and proceeded to continue with the picture for Miki.

Later that evening I told Miki about what I had seen. Immediately she took the book she had been reading and turned to the picture section. "Did he look like this"? To my amazement, there was a painting of the young man I had seen at the headstone in her book about Chopin! Now to me, even to this day, and certainly at that time, if I am to think of a picture with the word "classical composer" I see a wild, white haired old man. And while I've since realized that he was a pianist and not a conductor, I can assure you that my mental picture of him would have been no different. The image of the young man that I saw was not made up by me based upon any expectation I could have had about what Chopin looked like."

Lonesome Hill Cemetery in Phillipsburg, Missouri
Suggested by listener Sheryl McReynolds

Lonesome Hill Cemetery is located just southeast of Lebanon in Missouri where I-44 (not the I-44 loop) meets SR5, also called Jefferson Ave. Take I-44 southwest for 7 miles and take the exit just past Caffeyville called Dove Road and turn right on Dove Road. This dead ends onto State Hwy W.Turn left onto State Hwy W and drive down it 2 miles, then turn right on Cattail Road and go down 1/4 mile. The cemetery will be on your right, just before you reach the railroad tracks. This was a charming little cemetery with several legends, but development has taken away some of that charm. There are around 800 burials here, many of them large family plots. The burials began in the late 1800s and continue today. The legends associated with this cemetery claim that witches were buried towards the back of the cemetery. The local hanging tree once stood here as well, making it convenient to bury the executed. The hanging tree no longer exists, but there does seem to be something haunting this place.

Blue mists reputedly hover at the tree line and seem to emanate out into the cemetery and a few people have claimed that the blue mists has followed them. One woman wrote, "Also legend to this is that something is suppose to come from the trees and chase you around. It has happened to me and my sister and son." She apparently took pictures, but her website is no longer active. 

A person going by MS wrote of their experience at the cemetery, "Dear ghost story people, I was looking around on the net and came upon your site. I use to live in Lebanon Missouri and me and my friends loved to go ghost hunting. We have went to Lonsome Hill , Veteran park, and many others. We went to this one cemetery way way out in the woods that was a family cemetery. We had to go over some big hills and through a big field. When we made it to the field a big cloud of fog came out of the big group of trees in the middle of the field where the graves were and it never got in front of us or on the sides of us it just stayed behind us and when we got into the grave yard it surrounded the trees and never came into it. We pulled out an ouija board and played around with it and nothing happened, but there were acorn like things falling out of the tree's at us and it was a lil windy in the grave yard, but not in the other woods we had to go through to get there. And supposedly that grave yard was a slave grave yard for a family that owned that farm out there. The graves were back in the 1800's.

QK wrote, "I went to this place well I was pregnant with my first son about two years ago. I am naturally very aware of the supernatural, but the pregnancy had somehow added to the effect. My now husband and his nephew took me out there well my husband was on leave. We got there around 11 PM. We parked the car right inside the entry. At first something in my gut told me not to get out of the car. (I didn't know the stories about this place at the time) My husband talked me into it, so I left the car and we started walking around. We took a lot of pictures got some orbs and what seems to be a lady sitting. We never reached the back. I saw something in the shadows and refused to keep going. It honestly looked like red eyes about the hight of a large wolf. It was as I was walking at a very quick pace back to the car that I really felt something watching me. Near the back I saw or at least I thought i saw two females standing and looking at me. Near their feet was what looked like another female kneeling and a the profile of a large dog. I ran the rest of the way back to the car. At first it wouldn't start. I myself am Pagan (a witch) and take sage EVERYWHERE with me. I lit the sage and soon after the car started. I had never had issues with the car before. Believe me or not its up to you."

EJ wrote, "When I was a senior in high school close to 20 yrs ago now, my best friend at the time myself and two girls went to check out this spooky sounding place. Well when We first pulled up to the cemetery there was a sign that told us not responsible for accidents or deaths. We thought that was a little creepy but continued in. We got to the top of the cemetery and noticed there was a heavy chain around three headstones. We exited the car and went to look, there were carvings in the headstones looking witchy or satanic to us. Then we are walking looking at head stones names dates etc... The night was a typical early fall night in this part of Missouri, a light gentle breeze from the SW. When all of a sudden a leaf dust devil spins up in the middle of the cemetery, we all freak and run to my buddy's fairly new car, car won't start. We have the girls get in to steer while we push. As soon as we clear the entrance the girls beg us to get in the car so we do and my friend try's the car it starts we leave and as we are getting back on the interstate the car will not accelerate past 35.. At another time a few years after myself, fiancé, and three buddy's from the service decide to go check out the area again. Same entrance sign at the time as previously mentioned we pull the car up to the top again and get out to walk around and check things out. I show my buddy's the three chained off headstones and we are speculating what the signs carved into them are loosing place of my girl. When from a little ways off I hear her say hey come this way guys. So we all start to walk in the direction of the voice and we see "her" we are catching up and I am beside "Her"  when we then hear my fiancé from the opposite direction yelling for us to come over here. I look over in the direction of the voice confused my fiancé begins running toward us and I look back to where "she" was and "she" was gone. We reach my fiancé and tell her what just happened. She said we should get outta there.we did. Looking back we saw a mimic guiding us away from my fiancé. When I think back I notice my memories of the mimic are dark hollow eyes and a Hebe gebe feeling not like the warm love I felt from the real woman. Hope you maybe able to check this place out."

Howard Street Cemetery in Salem

The Howard Street Cemetery is located beside the old Salem jail. Like the cemeteries found in Boston, many of the headstones are very old here, but many are in good condition. This cemetery was founded in 1801 and is Salem's third oldest cemetery. Many East India merchants and sea captians have their final resting place here. Members of Nathaniel Hawthorne's family are here too: His grandfather, mother and sisters. One of the well known people found here is George Ropes, Jr. who was best known as a marine and landscape painter. One of his paintings features George Washington's Mount Vernon. Many of his ship paintings are exhibited at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Some of his other works are on display at the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

The haunting connected to the Howard Street Cemetery dates back to the Salem Witch Trials. One of the people accused of being a witch was Giles Corey. Corey was born in England in 1611 and was a wealthy farmer. His three accusers were Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam and Mercy Lewis. He was killed in one of the most horrendous ways used during the trials. He was crushed to death beneath rocks that were steadily added to a board that was lain across his body until he could no longer breath. The authorities were trying to get a confession and they did this to him over three days. This took place in the alley right next to the cemetery. As Corey took his last breaths, he placed a curse on the town of Salem and the sheriff. many people throughout the years have claimed to see Corey's spirit walking and floating in the cemetery and have felt the occasional cold touch of his hand on them. The curse seems to have worked as the sheriff, George Corwin, died of a heart attack. Other Essex County sheriffs suffered from heart conditions as well. Many of these men claimed to see Corey in their room before they died.

Corey also makes appearances in much the same way as the Mothman. He seems to come as a harbinger of catastrophes. He appeared in the days leading up to the 1914 Great Fire. Some think that the fire was part of his curse.