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.
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. 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.