Thursday, July 30, 2020

HGB Ep. 347 - Griggs Mansion

Moment in Oddity - The High Line or Death Avenue

Above 10th Avenue in Manhattan on the West Side lies a train line known as the High Line. Today, it has been transformed into a beautiful park, but the history behind this rail line lead this lane into being nicknamed "Death Avenue." There was a need in the city for a freight train to carry goods to and from the warehouses and factories on the West Side. There was just one problem. This is Manhattan, so it was incredibly busy and crowded. Running a train through cross streets, traffic and pedestrians would not be a good idea. But that didn't stop the New York Central freight line. They built rail lines down the middle of 10th and 11th Avenue in 1846. Shortly thereafter, the maiming and deaths began. To try to help the situation, the West Side Cowboys were born. These men would ride on horseback, waving red flags and lanterns, in front of the trains to warn people that the train was coming. It was a dangerous job and not as effective as it was hoped it would be. By 1908, well over 430 people had been killed by the trains. Some tracks were moved underground and eventually this set of tracks was moved above the street and named the High Line. The last train ran here in 1980. We can only imagine that witnessing a cowboy riding down the middle of 10th Avenue in Manhattan, waving a flag and screaming "The train, the train" while a locomotive rumbled behind him, certainly was odd!

This Month in History - World UFO Day

In the month of July, on the 2nd, in 2001, the planet started observing World UFO Day. UFO stands for unidentified flying object and this particular day was founded by UFO hunter Haktan Akdogan. The day is meant to help spread awareness that there may be life in existence on other planets. The hope has been that enough pressure will get international governments to come clean about what they have in their UFO files. People celebrate the day by hosting watch parties  where people spend hours watching the skies for weird anomalies. The date was picked to commemorate the rumored crash of an UFO in Roswell, New Mexico on July 2, 1947. Some people choose to observe World UFO Day on June 24th instead because this is when the first ever official report of a UFO in the United States was made by avaitor Kenneth Arnold. Either way, make sure next year you have your lunar cocktails ready and your bags packed because who won't be ready for a trip off this planet? As long as there are no anal probes involved!

Griggs Mansion (Suggested by: Sharon Remackel)

The Griggs Mansion in St. Paul, Minnesota was originally built for wealthy merchant Chauncey Griggs in the 1880s. This house stands on a street full of historic homes and although it is quite beautiful, it has been through several hands. No one knows why it changed hands so many times, but it seems as though no one managed to live there for more than a couple of years, save for an art school that took up residence for twenty-five years. Could that be why this home is rumored to be one of the most haunted houses in the state? Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Griggs Mansion.

St. Paul is one of Minnesota's biggest cities and has a strategic position along a deep bend of the Mississippi River. This was originally land inhabited by the Ojibwa and Sioux tribes and it would be the Sioux tribe that would make a treaty with Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike in 1805 that would give the US possesion of the land. Fort Snelling was built here first, followed by settlers like tavern owner Pierre Parrant whose Pig's Eye Tavern gave the settlement its name, Pig's Eye Landing. Parrant was one of the settlement's more notorious residents and was a whiskey salesman with a crooked eye and a big troublemaker. Catholic missionary Lucien Galtier arrived in 1841 and built a log chapel that he dedicated to the apostle Paul and the town would take on the name St. Paul. This town would become the capital city for the Minnesota Territory, which officially became a state in 1858. The Northern Pacific Railway helped the city to grow and soon St. Paul was the gateway to the Pacific Northwest. As the Depression took root in the 1920s, gangsters made St. Paul their safe haven. St. Paul continued to grow and is the second largest city in the state. Chauncey Griggs arrived in the city in 1856 and would build his mansion here in 1883.

Chauncey Wright Griggs was born in Connecticut in 1832 to a family that was known as good New England stock. It as written of the Griggs, "In whose tombs scandal never slept." By the age of fourteen, Griggs was already working as a clerk in an office while he continued his education. He decided to go into teaching initially, but found it boring and decided to move to Detroit and go to business college. He found work as a clerk in a bank there after graduating and was soon talking about business pursuits with some of the clients. The furnishing business is where he started his mercantile pursuits, but by 1856 he decided pursuits further west would be more prosperous and he was right. Griggs was only twenty-two years old at this time and he set up a general store in St. Paul. He knew that railroads would be needed, so he set his sights on promoting the building of the railroads as a contractor and was eventually a coal and lumber merchant.

Through all this, Chauncey had a girl back home in Connecticut, Martha Gallup, and he brought her out to St. Paul and married her in 1859. They would go on to have five children. Griggs and Martha had just set up home when the Civil War broke out and he joined the Third Minnesota Infantry where he was soon promoted to Captain. He fought in Nashville and helped General Grant with his pursuits in Vicksburg. In 1863, he became ill and had to resign from his post. He recovered and not only kept up his business pursuits, but entered politics serving first for two years in the State Legislature and then seven years in the Minnesota Senate. The Griggs had amassed a small fortune and decided to build a grand mansion next to Grigg's business partner, Addison Foster, on Summit Avenue at number 476. Eventually, Summit Avenue would be filled with Victorian mansions and today is the longest stretch of Victorian-era homes in the United States. On this 4.5 mile stretch, of the 440 original homes built here, 373 still stand. *Fun Fact: Frank Lloyd Wright called the street "the worst collection of architecture in the world."*

The four-story Griggs Mansion was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style by architect Clarence Johnston, one of Minnesota's most prolific architects. The mansion was constructed from Bayfield brownstone, which is found in Wisconsin along the Lake Superior coast and is a quartz sandstone. There are these wonderful turret like parts of the structure and arched windows. The property included a carriage house and cost $47,000 to build and was completed in 1885. There were twenty-four rooms and all floors had high ceilings causing people to describe the rooms as cavernous. The interior also had beautiful wood-paneled walls and stain glass windows. The Griggs didn't live in this house for very long. After four years, the family decided to relocate to the West Coast. They just missed out on the streetcars finally arriving just south of Summit Avenue, granting access to downtown more easily.

In 1910, the house was heavily damaged in a fire that nearly gutted the entire mansion. A New York interior decorating company restored the house and updated it for around $6,000. Roger B. Shephard bought the house and when he died, his family donated the house to the St. Paul Gallery and School of Art. This was in 1939. At this time, the front dormer was replaced by a skylight to bring more light into the painting studio. The school remained at this location for twenty-five years until a new center was built. Carl Weschke (Wesk) was a publisher of occult books under Llewellyn Publications and he owned the house throughout the 1960s. (Llewellyn was his middle name.) He is considered the father of New Age and grew up with spiritualist grandfather that heavily influenced him. For a time the house was broken up into apartments and today is a private residence. We're not sure how many people actually owned this home, but it really seems to have been like a "hot potato" as so many people have described it with families spending a lot of money hiring staff and buying furnishings and then moving out very quickly.

There are reports of the mansion having at least six distinct spirits roaming its rooms. Sharon had written us about Griggs Mansion, "Have you ever done a cast on the Griggs Mansion in St. Paul, MN? It’s considered to be the most haunted house in St. Paul, possibly, even in Minnesota. The reason I’m asking is that in 1963, I think, I spent the summer working as a Jill of all trades for the summer. My first real job. I did clerical work, clean up work and whatever needed to be done. That was the last year that the St. Paul Art Center was there. After that, the mansion was bought by Carl L. Wescheke who was a publisher of occult books and the founder of Llewelyn Publishing, which publishes FATE magazine. He was there for a couple of years. The home has an EXTENSIVE history of haunting and there’s about seven or eight spirits inhabiting it. I experienced several 'haunted' things during that summer, I have always been 'sensitive' to the paranormal. (remember, playing in cemeteries - lol). So didn’t allow it to affect me too much. Also, at this time I had no clue about the reputation of the home. Going forward to the early 80’s I found a book called the Haunted Heartland which had the Griggs Mansion in it. Imagine my shock when I found out about it’s reputation!!! It also explained some of the strange things I encountered while I was there, that summer."

At one point, Carl Weschke had asked a university student to watch his house while he was away in February of 1965. On an evening during that time, a neighbor made a frantic call to the police department claiming that he could hear cries coming from inside the Griggs Mansion next door. Patrolman Jerry Dolan and his partner were sent out to investigate. When they arrived at the house, it was dark and quiet. They checked the front door and found it locked, so they went around to the back door. It was unlocked and they pushed it open. As they entered the house, they swept the room with their flashlights and found a disheveled young man crouching in a corner, overcome with fear. He was shivering uncontrollably. Then all of a sudden they heard a howling coming from somewhere in the house. The officers did a quick search of the house, but found no one else in the house. Officer Dolan claimed that his hair stood on end the whole time. They  wrapped the young man in blankets and loaded him in their patrol car. They asked him what happened and he cried out, "I have seen death!" They took him to the hospital where a doctor found that he had nothing physically wrong with him, but that he was in a state of deep shock.

Nick Woltman wrote in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press in 2016 about three reporters from the Pioneer Press who tried to stay overnight at the Griggs Mansion back in 1969, "They were invited by the house’s then-owner, a local publisher of books on the paranormal named Carl Weschcke, to investigate rumors that it was inhabited by ghosts — but they fled before dawn after hearing what sounded like footsteps approaching their room. 'We all agreed on one thing,' they wrote. 'There is no prize on earth that could get us to spend a single night alone in that great stone house.' The article also shares the owner at the time, Carl Weschke's, experiences. Mr. Weschke had the home renovated, which included replacing the windows. After that, one window kept opening by itself. Weschke finally got frustrated and nailed the window shut. The next morning, he found the window open again. He had told Woltman that he was in the library when he saw a man standing in the doorway and explained, "Neither of us moved. There was no sound. We just kept standing there face to face. He wore a dark suit. His face was long and thin. His hair was bushy and white. He seemed to have an expression of surprise when he saw me.” And then the man just faded away. Once when he was on the back staircase, he felt himself being picked up and tossed in the air.

This man was seen by many people in the house. Another person who saw him was Dr. Delmar Kolb. In the early 1950s, Dr. Kolb joined the art school staff and he needed a place to stay, so the school allowed him to move into an apartment down in the basement. One night he awoke with a start when he felt two cold fingers pressed to his forehead. He had broken into a cold sweat too. Kolb flipped on the light and saw a blue flash or streak that disappeared. Two nights later he was startled awake once again and could make out a figure at the end of his bed. This looked to be a man of average size, dressed in a black suit and top hat. We're not sure if there was a light on somewhere that enabled him to see this, but we wouldn't be surprised since he had the scary experience two nights before. At first, the teacher thought that maybe this was someone who had broken into the house, but when it turned and walked into the brick wall, he knew he had just seen a ghost. This was not the only report of this man in a suit and hat. Several people claimed to have seen him.

We went back and found the 1969 article from the Pioneer Press that the reporters wrote relaying their experiences in the house. They had brought a psychic named Roma Harris with them. He said, "There has been much sorrow here, a lot of suffering … things have been done that shouldn’t have happened. There was a general — or something — here. I see a blue uniform with lots of gold on it." Roma also felt the passing of the maid at the stairs and said, "Someone was pushed and fell here … the police were called … the person was permanently injured … but it was an accident." He continued, "There is so much activity here … so many who have lived here. The house has a heaviness about it — like a ball and chain." He left and the reporters stayed. Throughout the night, the men felt a sense of dread, especially near the staircase. Around 1:20 a.m.,  there were five distinct thumps like heavy footsteps and then silence. At 3:35 a.m., the men heard a creaking sound that was not like the house settling, but rather sounded like soft footsteps. These were on the stairs. They stopped after a minute. One reporter ran over to the stairs and saw no one. At 3:45 a.m., there were some squeaking sounds on the stairs as though someone were walking down or up the stairs. They packed up at 4 a.m. and decided they would never return again.

One of the other spectres thought to be in the house might be Chauncey Griggs himself, which is odd since he didn't live in the house very long and didn't die here. As we just shared from the Pioneer Press article, Roma saw a man in a blue uniform. Many people believe that this was Griggs in his officer uniform. There was a gardener employed here at some point named Charles Wade. He was very dedicated to his work and could be intense. Wade often used some of the books in the library to help him in his gardening efforts. When he died, people believed his spirit returned to the house and now occasionally flips through the books in the library trying to continue his work on some unfinished business. There are also claims of a teen-aged girl named Amy being in the house. No one knows at what point she lived here, but she had played the piano in the mansion. And she may be doing that still in ghostly form. Roma had claimed to feel this girl as well. Three students moved into the basement apartment and one of them saw an apparition too, only this one was not a man in a black suit. This was the head of a child floating above his bed. Many students at the school claimed to feel as though something were watching them or hovering behind them.

One of the more well known spirits here is said to belong to the maid that the medium Roma had claimed he felt at the stairs. But the story about her doesn't seem to include an accident on the stairs, but rather a suicide. She had a romance that didn't end well and she went into a depression. This was in 1915 and she made the horrible decision to hang herself off the fourth floor landing of the stairs. Shortly thereafter, she started appearing to people in the house. Two of these people were a servant and a butler in the fourth floor hallway. Many people have a feeling of foreboding when they climb the stairs, especially near the fourth floor. Could this be one of the entities that the reporters heard during their investigation?

Other experiences that have been reported are people being shaken in their beds, shadowy apparitions, rasping coughs from empty rooms, light bulbs shattering, bags falling off shelves and jumping across the floor and the feeling of something unseen walking by them. With all these stories, it's hard not to believe that something strange is going on inside the mansion. Is the Griggs Mansion haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

HGB EP. 346 - Babenhausen Barracks

Moment in Oddity - Forestiere Underground Gardens
Suggested by: Nancy Doi

CNN named the Forestiere Underground Gardens as one of the World's Coolest Underground Attractions and the story behind its creation is fascinating. Baldassare Forestiere was a Sicilian immigrant who arrived in Fresno, California in 1901 with a dream of pursuing citrus farming. Near his former home in Filari, Sicily, he had roamed the nearby ancient catacombs and marveled at the tunnels. He wondered if he could build something like that in Fresno and he did after purchasing a worthless piece of land. Forestiere grabbed a pick, shovel and a wheelbarrow and set to work hand-digging the hardpan sedimentary rock. For 40 years he worked crafting a subterranean complex of patios, grottoes and garden courts that include a tiny chapel, kitchen and living quarters. He was not a trained artist, but he built beautiful arches and stonework. The hardworking immigrant also managed to plant 10 acres of fruit-bearing trees and vines, up to 20 feet underground. There were lemon, grapefruit and orange trees and even wine and table grapes, kumquat, carob, jujube and quince. Forestiere did all of this while working full-time as a ditch digger. He managed to create for himself a cool oasis with underground gardens and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Discovery of Rosetta Stone

In the month of July, on the 19th, in 1799, a French soldier discovered the Rosetta Stone. A soldier under Napoleon was fighting in Egypt when he found a black stone that had broken off of a bigger stone slab. This was outside the city of Rosetta and so it came to be known as the Rosetta Stone. This four foot by two and a half foot stone was covered with writings in different scripts that included Ancient Greek and Egyptian demotic and hieroglyphics. This actually led to scholars being able to decipher hieroglyphics. The message on the stone is actually rather mundane and is a decree that the priests of the temple in Memphis supported the king. After the British defeated the French in 1801, they took ownership of the Rosetta Stone and today is at the British Museum.

Babenhausen Barracks

Babenhausen is a town in Germany with a long history that reaches back over 800 years. Remnants of that past can still be seen today in the fortified city wall, Witch's Tower and old churches. The town has been the scene of witch hunts and the rebirth of European Jewish life in a displaced persons camp. The Babenhausen Barracks is today a museum, but once served as a military post for Germans and Americans. There are stories of deaths here that have left behind a spiritual residue and many people through the decades have experienced activity that they cannot explain. Join us as we share the history and haunts of the Babenhausen Barracks!

The town of Babenhausen lies in the south of Hesse near the big cities of Frankfurt and Darmstadt. This is a grassy region of Germany and the town has a medieval core with a castle that dates back to the 12th century and an old fortified city wall from 1445. The town of Babenhausen would get its charter in 1295 and was lorded over by the Hanau-Münzenbergs and then the Lords of Hanau in the 13th century. The name Babenhausen would come from a minor line of the ruling family called the Hanau-Lichtenberg who ruled in 1458. This family would hold on for a long time until 1736. Then there was almost a war for power between two other factions, the Landgraves of Hesse-Darmstadt and the Hesse-Kassels. After three decades, Babenhausen came to Hesse-Kassel and then at the beginning of the 19th century, Babenhausen belonged to Hesse-Darmstadt. The town would become the site of a UNRRA-sponsored DP camp for the Jews after World War II. The town hosts a medieval harvest festival and Christmas Market.

When we think of witch hunts, Salem, Massachusetts is usually the first place to come to mind. Germany doesn't, but it should because the burning of witches at the stake was almost a sport here and Germany is actually the country with the highest witchcraft execution rate in history. Heinrich Kramer was a German churchman and inquisitor and he wrote Malleus Maleficarum or Hammer of Witches in 1487. This was an instruction manual for detecting witches and executing them. The Church condemned the book and said it didn't reflect their teachings, but it found wide distribution throughout Germany. And while the Church didn't support him, he was asked by the Nuremburg Council in 1491 to share his expertise on conducting witch trials. Thousands of women and children across Germany were tortured and burned at the stake, until The Enlightenment brought an end to it all. Many towns in Germany have witch towers, which were part of medieval town walls or castles that were used as a prison or dungeon. There is one in Babenhausen and witch hunts did happen in this town. *Fun Fact: A craft beer here is called the Hexe ("Witch") and features the local witch tower on the label. One of the reasons that witch hunts started is thought to be not only for economic issues connected to grain price fluctuations, but also the spread of Protestantism. Between 1500 to 1660, up to 80,000 accused witches were put to death in Europe. One of the legends of Babenhausen is that a woman was burned at the stake here in the 19th century and that she left behind a curse. Part of that curse was her seducing soldiers and leading them to their deaths. But there are also stories that as many as 50 women were imprisoned in the witch tower and then burned at the stake in the marketplace.

The beginnings of the Babenhausen Kaserne or barracks reaches all the way back to the year 1900. Prior to this year, three squadrons of the Red Dragoons had headquartered in Babenhausen, but they left in 1891. The Red Dragoons were a mounted infantry who got their name from a firearm called the dragon, which was a small version of the blunderbuss similar in size to a pistol. With the Dragoons gone, Babenhausen not only needed a garrison for protection, but as we all know in communities that have military bases, they add a lot financially. The city council began negotiations with the German Reichstag, which was basically the German Parliament, and War department and told them that they would build a Kaserne for 500,000 Reichmark, if the War department would agree to send three Field Artillery batteries to Babenhausen. The German Reichstag agreed to send the batteries if the town spent 1 Million Reichsmark on the barracks and then gave the German Reich the option to acquire the barracks after 25 years. The German Reich had formed in 1871, which was the German nation, and it would end in 1945. The listeners are probably familiar with the three separate periods of this time, which were the German Empire (1871–1918), Weimar Republic (1918–1933) and Nazi Germany (1933–1945.)

Babenhausen's council bought 10 acres of land and prepared it for the construction of the barracks, which began on July 3, 1900. By October 1, 1901, there were 21 buildings completed and a water tower. Shortly thereafter, the 2nd battalion of the 61st Field Artillery Regiment of the Grand Duke of Hessen was moved into the barracks and the city had its garrison. Things would be peaceful until 1914, when Germany would declare war on Russia because Germany was an ally of Austria-Hungary whose heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, had been assassinated by a Serbian nationalist group known as The Black Hand. Russia was allied with Serbia. Before long, most of Europe had taken sides with Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary on one side and France, Britain and Russia on the other. This was the start of World War I. As an aside, one has to wonder what was the purpose of this war? Did the world really start "the war to end all wars" because someone was assasinated? Most war historians use the acronym M-A-I-N to explain what happened and these letters stand for Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism and Nationalism.

A few days after declaring war on Russia, Germany opted for a two-front war and declared war on France on August 3, 1914. This then brought Britain into the war. The regiment at Babenhausen was ordered to head to France on August 7th. This left the barracks empty and so it was used as a human and a veterinary hospital. When WWI ended, the 61st Field Artillery returned to Babenhausen in December 1918, but then was deactivated. The hospitals followed a few months later and the barracks was abandoned. In 1920, a French infantry battalion moved in for a month and then the II battalion 35th Reichswehr regiment moved in to the Kaserne. This was a military group of the Weimer Republic. The Treaty of Versailles on September 30 1920 forced the regiment to leave and a security group and non-military group moved in. They stayed until 1929, when the property was abandoned yet again..

Germany had schools that specialized in sports and these were called the SA Sports school. The Babenhausen Barracks would become the home for one until April of 1935, when all of these schools were disbanded and the German 36th Field Artillery regiment was stationed here. This barracks had a lot of groups coming through it and this would continue as the world moved towards WWII. The next group to arrive was a horse riding school for the German cavalry and after they trained, they headed for Danzig on November 14, 1939. WWII had started two months earlier. The German Luftwaffe, which was the German Air Force took up residence and were there until late 1944 and a maintenance company came in and eventually used part of the barracks for a POW camp that included 400 soldiers. The United States Army liberated the camp on March 25, 1945. It was decided that the Kaserne would serve as a good place for displaced Jews to be housed and German POWs were kept here too through October 1946. Other displaced people were brought in that included Poles, Estonians, Lithuanians, Latvians and Russians. The United States shared the running of this with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and this continued until 1950.

In 1951, the United States military did some major over hauling. They added a new water tower and apartments in 1951 and this became a semi-permanent US military post with the 36th Field Artillery Group moving in, but they also shared space with the German flying club LSC. Construction continued into the 1960s as the military added tennis courts, more housing, a gymnasium, elementary school, and another airfield with hangars. The city of Babenhausen eventually sold the Kaserne to the German government and the US Army stayed on using the barracks as support for Operation Desert Storm August 1990 to May 1991. The base eventually started deactivating in 2005 and the US military handed off the Kaserne completely to the German government with a special closing ceremony honoring 56 years of US American and 106 years of military presence in the Babenhausen Barracks. Today, it serves as a museum.

There are many who claim that the barracks are haunted. There are several buildings on the property, but most stories center on the HQ Building. Around the property, sightings of soldiers in Nazi uniforms have been reported. These soldiers are usually in a regiment and seen marching. Soldiers claimed that doors opened and closed on their own and that there were intense cold spots. One of the weirder stories claims that soldiers would pick up a ringing phone and hear a woman's voice on the other end and she would be speaking backwards. The most common occurrence is the sound of disembodied footsteps.

The HQ Building has the story of a young German woman connected to it whom people call Miss Mueller. This woman was engaged to a German artillery soldier who was stationed here at the barracks and she sadly had to see him off to war. He was ordered to go to France to fight on the front lines during WWI. But he didn't want to go and he went AWOL with three of his buddies. They didn't go far though. They actually stayed on the base and Miss Mueller hid them in the attic of the HQ Building. She would sneak them food and water. Things went fine for a couple of days, but someone got suspicious and followed her on one of her food deliveries and the four deserters were found. They were brought before the military command and sentenced to die by firing squad. The executions were carried out and a devastated Miss Mueller threw herself from the top of the HQ Building. At the moment she died, the clock on the buildings tower stopped. The clock remained broken and soldiers started experiencing strange things in the building from unexplained noises to seeing apparitions. Now here's the really weird thing. That legend about the one supposed witch that was executed and left behind a curse that killed some soldiers, well there is a story told about a Frau Muller that was accused of killing three men with sorcery, so she was executed. This was in the 17th century. Then in 1843, a relative of Frau Muller was stoned to death during another witchhunt and her boyfriend died from a mysterious cause soon thereafter. In 1920, a soldier was engaged to a girl with the last name Muller and he committed suicide jumping from the fifth floor of the HQ Building. His fiance left town and was never seen again after that. So there are weird stories connected to this Miss Mueller.

Jack Baumann wrote an article for Stars & Stripes Magazine back in 1974 about the disturbances happening in the HQ Building. The 41st Field Artillery was stationed here at the time and Major Roy Highsmith claimed that he had footsteps coming from the fourth and fifth floors at night when no one was up there. This was the location of education offices and there would be no reason for anyone to be in those rooms. Highsmith said, "One night I was working late, and I kept feeling this sensation that someone was staring at me outside in the hall. The door opened several times, but it probably was the wind. I lifted my head several times because I thought I saw someone walk by the door. No one was there when I went out to look. I could have sworn I heard someone walking down the hall." Baumann also wrote about the experiences of Sergeant Michael Wilson who was on night duty and heard sounds from the upper floors as well. He said, "Between 1:30 and 2 a.m. I heard the steps coming from above, so I went upstairs to check it out. It was very distinct. There wasn't anybody up there, so I came down again. Two or three minutes later it happened all over. As soon as I got up to the fourth floor it stopped. So I went down again. I heard the noises for a third time, but I didn't bother with it. From 2 until 5:30 a.m. I heard the toilets flushing, desks being pushed around and running sounds. It was really strange." That sound of furniture moving around is also a common occurrence.

Baumann went on to share in his article that a couple of staffers for Stars & Stripes decided to stay the night in the HQ Building. They checked all the windows and doors and made sure they were locked. They surveyed the fourth and fifth floors and made sure no one was on those floors. They stationed an armed guard on the second floor. There was no way anybody could be on the upper floors unless they went up the outside fire escape. The first night was completely quiet and they got no evidence. Undeterred, they investigated for a second night. Disembodied footsteps started at 1am. The noises picked up at 2am, which was the experience of many soldiers in this building. There were footsteps and scraping noises. Upon investigation, nothing was ever found.

A Captain Norman R. Cherry actually saw something. He said, "I came up here one night to pick up some papers. It was about 9: 15 p.m. On the way out of the office I turned the lights out, walked down the hallway, locked the (hallway) door and glanced over my shoulder. I saw a shadow walking down the hall towards me." Could this have been the soldier who had thrown himself from the fifth floor. An interesting thing about that story, is that when the military investigated the death, they found the bodies of five men who had been reported missing, in the attic. We could find nothing about how they died. Another soldier said, "My office was on the 4th floor, as were the offices of the Group Commander, XO, CSM, S1, Adjutant, and PIO. I would always hear footsteps and things being moved, but never gave them a thought. At night, all floors were locked and the only people in the building were the officer and NCO pulling staff duty, and they were always behind locked doors, because the Group had nukes assigned. At times, I would even catch something out of the corner of my eye either walking past my office door or standing in the doorway. At first I would get up to see who was there, but nobody ever was."

The best stories by far came from a man named Bob Weaver and were shared on the website. Here are his eyewitness accounts and these seem to include the ghost hunt conducted by Stars & Stripes, "I arrived in Germany in January 1972, and was assigned to the 2/83 FA’s Service Battery as a supply sergeant. My primary MOS was supply, but my secondary was Personnel. The battalion personnel sergeant soon discovered my secondary MOS and pulled me up to battalion to be his assistant. About a year later, I was transferred to 41st Group, to be the Group Personnel Sergeant (PSNCO). I told you I had served a previous tour at Babenhausen, which was back in 1961-1964. During that tour, I heard many stories about the Frau Mueller ghost and the German soldiers that died in the old Headquarters building, but I never really gave them much thought. I heard those same stories when I returned there in 1972, and still did not think much about them. I have always been the type that gets very little sleep, and back then, I would just get up and go into work. This was usually about 3AM. The only people in the HQ building at night would be the people working in the education center and the staff duty personnel. Once the education center classes were over, which was around ten each night, the two people left in the building were the staff duty personnel, and they were always behind locked doors.

The 41st Group had nuclear weapons assigned, which meant only officers and NCOs with a secret Crypto clearance could pull staff duty, and because only a few of us had that high a clearance, the total number of people available to pull that duty was never more than 6 or 7 of each. This meant we pulled staff duty every few days. This also meant that it gave everyone ample opportunity to hear the sounds coming from the fifth floor. While some were willing to talk about their experiences, others refused, and one Captain in particular, after having his own personal experience with the ghost, refused to go into the building alone at night. What happened scared him so bad, that he had to be transferred to V-Corp. HQ. Whenever I would go into the office at night, I would always hear the sound of people walking on the floor above me and the sounds of things being moved around. I could also hear the faint sound of people talking. I could never understand what was being said, but it did sound like talking. I would also hear someone walking down the hall outside my office and, from time to time, I would catch movement out of the corner of my eye. Each time I checked, there was nobody there.

One night, while I was working on a promotion board I had set up for the next day, I thought I spotted someone standing in the doorway. When I looked up, no one was there. What was there was the sound of someone walking down the hallway. I jumped up and ran to the door, but nothing was there. I looked outside but no one came out and there was no one in any of the offices. I shrugged it off and went back to work. Things like this happened all the time. I might add that the bottom of American combat boots were made of rubber and, while they made a loud sound when you walked on wooden floors, they were not as loud as the sound of a German hobnailed combat boot. These were the type of boots used by the German Army and were the type of boots worn back in the early 1900s, when the ghost stories began.

In early 1974, we had a new PIO clerk assigned. A few months later, he came to me and asked if I knew anything about the female ghost. I told him what I knew about the Frau Mueller story and he said he had been doing his own investigation and discovered the story was well known and that the local Babenhausen newspaper even did a story several years ago on the ghost. He mentioned that he had a friend who worked for Stars and Stripes and that he wanted to do a story. He came to me a few days later and asked if they could do a ghost hunt in the building. He said it would only be him, his friend, and a professor from West Texas College. He asked if I could be there as well, and even asked if I could get person who had never had experiences with the ghost to attend. I received approval from the Group CO. The stage was set.

We set everything up for the following Friday night. Everyone met in the CSM’s office around 7PM. Back then, we had none of the ghost hunting equipment they do today, so the only thing we had was a still camera and a tape recorder. Our plan was simple, we would go to the fourth floor once the education center closed, and check each room. We locked every window in each office, and closed and locked every door leading into the hallway. We also closed and locked all windows facing the street. If you look at the picture, you can see there are no fire escapes on any floor. The only way in or out of the building was by that one staircase. As we left the floor, we closed and locked the swinging glass doors. The door to the attic was already locked, and the key was kept across the street in another building. We went back to the CSM’s office to wait. To make sure we made little sound, we all took off our shoes and only spoke in whispers. That would have been a perfect night for a ghost hunt, as it was stormy, windy, and rainy all night. As luck would have it, nothing happened. A couple of weeks later, the PIO clerk came to me again and asked if we could try one more time. I got permission and we set it up for that Friday night.

That night we met again and went through the same routine. The weather was great. It was warm with no wind or rain. After checking everything, we went back to the CSM’s office to wait. While there, the S&S reporter asked several questions and began writing his story. The college professor told us he had always been interested in the paranormal and that Hans Holzer was one of his favorite authors. As I also liked Mr. Holzer, the two of us struck up a conversation about the paranormal. As the night went on, nothing happened. About 2AM, I decided to make some coffee and the S&S reporter and I walked down the hall to where our coffee pot was located. After starting the coffee, he and I were standing there talking about the ghost stories, when we began to hear the distinct sound of several people walking on the floor above us. We walked into the hallway to tell the others what we had heard, but they heard the same noise and were coming out of the office.

We stood there for several minutes listening to the sounds coming from the fourth floor. The funny thing was that everyone wanted to be on a real ghost hunt, but nobody really wanted to go upstairs to see what the noise was, so the reporter and I decided to go up and see for ourselves. The others stayed in the office where the coffee pot was. I guess they really wanted a cup of coffee. We got to the fourth floor and found the glass doors still locked. Looking down the hallway, we could tell all the offices were still locked. I unlocked the doors and we went in. We went into the room directly over the room we had been in below, and I dialed the phone number in that office. As I was dialing, the reporter said he could feel the room get colder. I could too, but did not say anything. I actually thought we might be a little scared. Anyway, the professor answered the phone and I asked if he could hear anything. He said they could all clearly hear someone walking down the hallway and in the room where we were standing. I told him to listen while I put the receiver down and we went through each office.

All doors were locked, and as we went inside each room, we found the windows still locked as well. We relocked the doors and checked the windows facing the street. They too were locked. We went back to the office and the reporter picked up the receiver. He told the professor what we found, and asked if they could still hear anything. They could. He stopped and told me they could clearly hear several people walking down the hallway and into the office where we were. I walked into the hallway but saw nothing. However, I could plainly hear footsteps coming down the hall. I was about to turn and say something to the reporter when I saw a shadow go by me on the left. The reporter saw it too, dropped the receiver, and ran into the hallway. There was nothing there, but it had gotten very cold.

We went back into the room and, as I leaned on a desk that was against the wall, something rocked the room and tossed me against the opposite wall. It felt like something heavy had been thrown against the wall in the next office. I can tell you that it scared the hell out of me. I mustered up as much courage as I could and walked into the hallway. The office door next to us was locked, but the light inside was on and I could clearly make out the shadows of someone moving inside. I called for the reporter, but he was so scared he would not move. I had to have someone else come upstairs because I was too scared to open that door by myself. The person who had never heard the stories and did not believe in ghost came up. We opened the door and were immediately hit with a blast of very cold air. I think he became a believer right then. The room was freezing to the point you could see your breath, but it almost immediately went back to warm. We could see nothing out of place and nothing that would have made that noise. I turned off the light and locked the door. We went back downstairs to talk about what we saw and heard. The rest of the night, we could hear movement upstairs and one or two even said they could hear crying. I never heard that. The next morning, Saturday, we decided to call it a day.

A few days later, we were hit with a 7th Army alert, which meant we had to load up and move out to our holding areas. The alert came about 1AM, and we were in our positions, which were just outside the Kaserne, by 5AM. Later, the Group XO sent a young Captain back in to get some papers he left in his office. As the Captain turned to lock the swinging glass doors, he saw a dark shadow coming down the hallway toward him. He had only been there a short time and did not know about the ghost, and the S&S article had not yet been published, but when he saw the shadow, he forgot the door and ran out of the building. When he got back to the area, he was white as a ghost and shaking all over. He told everyone what he had seen and refused to enter the building again. When he ran out of the building, he dropped the XO’s papers. My boss and I went back in to retrieve everything and when we got there, we could tell the Captain had left in a hurry because everything was on the floor and the keys were still in the lock.

A few days later, the story was published. It was even on the front page. My PIO guy took a picture of the building that was to be used for the article. The CO’s vehicle was parked in front. For the article, they decided to use the picture in negative form, which made it look spooky. Once the story came out, people began coming forward with their own stories. A German paranormal TV show came out and did a segment for German TV, and several German newspapers did stories. I had several more experiences with the ghost, but as it never bothered me, I saw no reason to bother it. An interesting footnote on the subject happened about two months before I was due to come back home. My replacement came in early and once I broke him in, I asked to go over to the 2/5th FA because they did not have a PSNCO. One day my replacement came over and I could tell something was not right. I asked what the problem was and he asked if I knew anything about the ghost. I told him the story and he said he had been hearing the same noises. It apparently got to him so bad that he almost had a breakdown and had to be reassigned back to the states. I was asked to extend my tour a year, but already had an assignment and my family was ready to go home, so I left. I did manage to keep in touch with some of the guys there and they reported several more ghostly experiences. I always wanted to go back and do a real ghost hunt there just to see if what I experienced was real.

Mr. Artmuscle commented on a video about the barracks on YouTube, "I was stationed there from '71 -'73 and was a medic.  We heard all kinds of crazy sounds in the dispensary at night when we had to pull 24 hour duty.  We even recorded some of the stuff.  I was mopping the floor one night and as I was backing up to the stairs leading to the basement while mopping, someone grabbed the bottom of my pants cuff and yanked my leg backwards.  I laughed and thought one of my friends was messing with me, but when I turned around, no one was there.  The hair stood up on the back of my neck and every time I had to pull all night duty after that, I put the desk in the corner of the room and sat with my back to the corner all night until someone showed up the next morning."

Baberhausen Barracks had an active military life and has many legends connected to it and also many people who have had unexplained experiences. These are military people, so they don;t seem the type to be given to fanciful stories, so their stories are considered more reliable. Is the Baberhausen Barracks haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Ghost experiences from:

Thursday, July 16, 2020

HGB Ep. 345 - The Biltmore Hotels

Moment in Oddity - Jeremy Bentham's Dead Body

Jeremy Bentham was a guy ahead of his time. He was a libertarian who believed in individual freedom, the decriminalization of homosexuality, rights for women, animal rights and the abolition of freedom and capitol punishment. He supported all of this in the 18th century and early 19th century. That's pretty interesting, but even more interesting is his life after he died in 1832. Bentham also believed in being of use after one died and so he wanted his body used for instruction. He wanted his body preserved and rolled out at parties. The planning that went into this started long before he passed. Bentham would carry glass eyes with him that he wanted inserted into the sockets of his head after he had been preserved. As was instructed, Bentham's body was dissected in front of his friends. Several others attended as autopsies were controversial at the time. The skeleton was put back together, but there was an issue with the head. An ancient method of mummification used by the indigineous people of New Zealand went horribly wrong and left the head looking mangled and absolutely terrifying. The head also was so misshapen, it couldn't be attached to the body, so a wax head was commissioned. Today, Bentham's body is on display as a skeleton dressed in a suit with a wax head at the end of the South Cloisters of the main building of UCL inside a wooden cabinet. The real head was rarely put on display, but as recently as 2018 it was also on display at UCL at the Octagon Gallery. Jeremy Bentham's wishes for his dead body and what actually became of those wishes, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - First Income Tax Bill Signed Into Law

In the month of July, on the 1st, in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the first income tax bill into law. Due to Covid-19, the filing of income taxes was postponed until this month in 2020. It seems almost fitting since this month was when the first income tax became law. The Union needed help to fund their efforts during the Civil War and it was decided by Congress that an income tax would help. Reports claimed that $320 million would be needed to and the sale of public lands and other taxes would raise $300 million, but Congress needed to find a way to get the other $20 million. The bill they passed imposed a 3% tax on incomes between $600 and $10,000 and a 5% tax on higher incomes. The law was amended in 1864 to levy a tax of 5% on incomes between $600 and $5,000, a 7.5% tax on incomes in the $5,000-$10,000 range and a 10% tax on everything higher. This helped to fund the war and in 1872 the law was declared unconstitutional and repealed. And to our great joy, the Bureau of Internal Revenue was established by an act of Congress.

The Biltmore Hotels

The are many hotels in the United States that carry the name Biltmore as part of their title. Three of them are well known for being one of the most haunted locations in their respective states. One of them is the Millineum Biltmore in Los Angeles, which will be an episode of its own one day. Another is the Providence Biltmore and based on its ominous past, that is not surprising. The fancy lobby belies the legends that claim that a Satanist not only financially backed the hotel, but performed rituals within its halls. There are tales of Prohibition fights and murders and people have literally disappeared from the hotel. The stories about this haunted hotel have inspired the likes of Stephen King and Robert Bloch. The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables also has tales from the days of Prohibition and has a long list of spirits said to be haunting its halls. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Biltmore Hotels in Rhode Island and Florida!

Let's first look at the Biltmore in Providence. Providence, Rhode Island has a really symbolic name. Providence is defined as God or nature providing protection and even direction for one's life. You have probably heard older people use the terms "divine providence." The man who founded the town in 1636, felt as though providence had guided him to this spot as he fled religious persecution in Massachusetts. That man was preacher Roger Williams. He purchased the land from the Narragansett tribe and established a community of people who believed in political and religious freedom. This was a great spot because it was on the water and would enable Providence to become an important seaport that would enable exploration across the ocean to bring back imports and was a key port during the Revolutionary War. Rhode Island was the first colony to declare independence from England before the war. But being this close to the water has also left the city open to damage from hurricanes and it has been hit hard a couple of times. The rivers of the city have added to the beauty and people can walk the cobblestone paths along them or ride gondolas on them. In the center of the downtown area, one will find The Biltmore Hotel.

There is no missing The Biltmore Hotel. The red brick building stands 18-stories, making it the ninth tallest building in the city, and it has the word Biltmore spelled out in large letters across one wing of the hotel. The hotel was designed in the Federal Beaux-arts style by the architectural firm Warren and Wetmore, who also designed Grand Central Terminal in New York City. This was part of the Bowman-Biltmore Hotel chain that was owned by John McEntee Bowman and Louis Wallick. You might be wondering where the Biltmore part of the chain got its name and it actually was inspired by the Vanderbilt Family's Biltmore Estate. And the name Biltmore was part of over ten historic hotels around the country. This Biltmore opened on June 6, 1922 with nearly 600 rooms. The interior is elegant with embellished ceilings and a grand center staircase leading to the second floor and a brass and gold glass elevator, with a gorgeous chandelier hanging in the center of the lobby. The elevator wasn't installed until 1978 and actually no longer works. There is also a large rooftop grand ballroom with large windows giving a great view of the city.

In 1947, Sheraton Hotels acquired the property and a few years later, Hurricane Carol flooded the lobby with eight feet of water. A plaque commemorates the high-water mark in the lobby. Gotham Hotels took over in 1968 and renamed the hotel, Biltmore Hotel and Motor Inn. By 1975, the hotel was closed and abandoned and remained that way for four years, eventually facing demolition. But this was a historic hotel and the citizens didn't want to see that happen, so Mayor Buddy Cianci got the property designated as a landmark. A group of local businessmen purchased the hotel, renovated it, adding an exterior glass elevator, and reopened it in 1978 as The Biltmore Plaza Hotel. The hotel would continue to pass through several hands from Dunfey Hotels to Omni Hotels to Hilton and even The Providence Journal, the local newspaper. The modern version of The Biltmore no longer carries that moniker and has updated the inside to a chic and colorful interior, featuring plaid and tweed, now known as the Graduate Providence, a boutique hotel with around 300 rooms. The Graduate Group of hotels bought the property in 2019. All of the donuts in the artwork pay homage to the fact that Providence has the most donut shops per capita of anywhere in the United States.

So that's the extent of the official history. The odd and paranormal history about the hotel and the city of Providence is quite different. There are claims that this was a city governed by Satanists, which is quite ironic considering its name. Whether that is true or not, reputedly the person who financed the building of the hotel was Johan Leisse Weisskopf, a Satanist. He had two things he specifically wanted added to the hotel: chicken coops on the roof for holding sacrificial birds and dugout hot springs in the basement for purification rituals. There was also a dining room known as the Bacchante Dining Room with nude waitresses. This became a real party place in a time of Prohibition. The likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Douglas Fairbanks would all come to hang out at The Biltmore. Eventually mobsters moved in and ran a speakeasy from the basement. Wine was served in crystal goblets for patrons who were not government officials for a quarter. Government officials drank free for obvious reasons.

Now many might think that the murders and rapes that are said to have taken place at the hotel, would have happened when the Satanists were conducting rituals in the hallways and the basement. But that doesn't seem to be the case here. The politicians and police officers who were allowed to drink for free here seem to be the ones conducting the crimes. Between the years 1920 and 1933 six police officers were accused of being involved in the murders of eight people that happened at the Biltmore. There was a mayor who was accused of murder, a cardinal molested a young girl and drowned her in a tub and a governor was accused of raping six women and killing one. There are also stories that people disappear from the hotel. The most recent disappearances were said to have happened in 2008 and were Erving F. Bishop and his daughter Emily Bishop, who was 4 years old. They were tourists from New Jersey and had gone walking late in the hotel because Emily couldn't fall asleep. They were reported missing around 4am by the girl's mother. We looked everywhere for newspaper reports and could find nothing, so we aren't sure if this is just something posted to a blog or if it really happened. Much of what has happened at this hotel is hard to pin down.

The Providence Biltmore was named "Most Haunted Hotel in America" by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. On top of that, this place served as inspiration for The Overlook Hotel from The Shining and The Bates Motel from Psycho. Neither of those places seem to resemble the hotel, so one starts to think that it must be the stories of the place that serve as inspiration. The Stock Market crashed in 1929 and many people lost everything they had and felt as though suicide was the answer. One such man was staying at The Biltmore and threw himself from the 14th floor. To this day, guests claim to see the figure of a man falling from the upper stories of the building. The murder victims of the politicians are said to haunt the hallways of the hotel. The sounds of raucous partying with glasses clinking are heard after hours when the bar is closed and disembodied voices laughing and talking are heard.

Experiences reported on the Ghosts of Providence Blog:

From 2010, "I was there for 2 weeks... on a job with a crew of 50.... i could not sleep and woke up every night at 3am... then I had what I thought was a dream ... a women pressing on top of me... i freaked out, dialed my coworker sleeping on the upper levels and slept in her room the rest of the weeks...this place is haunted!

Prop Girl wrote, "Oh My Goodness!!! I've been here since Monday and I had a nightmare that something was pressing down on ME! I was suffocating in my dream and woke up completely gasping for air! It was room 906. I switched rooms right after."
From 2012, "Wow, I only got to this page because of my experience at this hotel. I woke up initially at 1:15am because something touched my eye lid. i closed my eyes and put my head back on the pillow again. Instantly something touched my eyes again. I freaked out and turned the light on. I finally fell asleep. Then I woke up at 3 something in the morning with what felt like a man pressing down on me. I could not move, breath or open my eyes. I finally let out a scary screeching sound that woke up my husband (who was on the other end of the king size bed). I made him move right next to me cause that was the only way I was comfortable. I didn't sleep the rest of the night."

Another person claimed in 2011, "I stayed in room 833 last Wednesday night. I had never heard of the Biltmore being haunted. I did have an unusual experience. Before I went to bed, I shut the security lock (the one that is a long piece of metal above the regular locks). In the morning, when I was leaving to get my coffee, I noticed that the lock was open. Thinking I may have just forgotten, I didn't think much of it. When I got back to the room, I closed the door and made sure I shut the security lock before taking my shower. When I got out of the shower I checked the door and sure was open! I will not be going back!"

And then in 2013, the same thing was reported, "My wife and I stayed here one night in May 2013. I wondered if anything was going to happen or if we would see anything but quickly forgot about it once I got tired and we went to bed. The next morning, my wife walked to the bathroom to take her shower when she noticed the top door latch lock was open. She closed it and took her shower. When she got out, I heard her ask me if I went out. I hadn't and asked her why she asked, she explained what she had seen and done and showed my the (once again open) latch lock! We both remembered me closing the latch lock and dead-bolting the bottom lock as I had to push the door a bit with my foot to line the dead bolt up to lock it. Right as we closed the latch lock...again, I looked down and saw that the dead bolt lock was UNLOCKED! Very strange and spooky!"

Another from 2011, "I swear to all of you that I stayed there in June of 2001 for 6 nights and there was a ghost in my room. I saw her image twice and I freaked out. When I checked out, the front desk clerk informed me that I was not the first person to see a ghost at the hotel. It was really scary. I never believe people when they tell me they see ghosts but after that experience I am now a believer."

Ashley wrote in 2016, "My husband and I stayed in room 326 for the last 3 nights. Our friends got married at the Biltmore this weekend. My husband is from Louisiana & talks about seeing ghosts when he was a child, I've never seen any and have been skeptical. The first night we got in at 1a because our fight was super delayed. While we were unpacking quickly before bed, my husband did a double take looking at the doorway of our room, said he just saw sometime walk by (into our bathroom). I ignored because I like to stay naive about this questionable "ghost world". The first 2 nights, we took Ambien, so I'm uncertain if anything happened or not. Last night, we got in bed at 2a. I woke at 430a to water running & our tv really loud. I thought someone above or around us was showering & I could hear the water in the pipes. I turned off the tv & stayed in bed, listening to the water run-waiting for them to finish showering so I could go back to sleep. I finally got up to pee & realized our bathroom sink was the water running. I turned it off, confused & jumped back in bed. The tv had turned back on while i was in the bathroom. I woke my husband & asked if he had gotten up or had turned on the tv, he said, "no". I woke an hour later to the same thing, water running/tv loud. I turned off the water & left the tv on so I could focus on whatever show that was on HGTV to settle my nerves. I purposely waited until after we checked out to now look up whether there were any reports of the Biltmore Providence being haunted. I'm not sure what the hell happened in our room but suggest ghost enthusiasts to check out room 326 if that's what you are looking for. It was a beautiful hotel but I'm good with not experiencing any further questionable activity there.
Now on to the Biltmore Hotel here in Florida. Coral Gables was founded by a poet. This is a town outside of Miami and was developed by George Merrick who had inherited citrus groves from his father in the 1920s. He wrote of his vision for Coral Gables, "I dream of the home of the Fairies and Fays, on the isles of the calm southern sky, Of the fanciful turrets and towers ablaze, In the flood of the rays from on high." The architectural design of much of the city is Mediterranean Revival and this is certainly reflected in the beautiful Biltmore Hotel. George Merrick had this upscale hotel built to attract people to come to his new city. He teamed up with John Bowman who had built the Providence Biltmore and they poured $10 million into the project. The architects were Schultz and Weaver. The hotel opened in 1926 with two eighteen-hole golf courses, a polo grounds, canals with gondolas, a large swimming pool, several large ballrooms and a tower patterned after the Giralda in Seville, Spain. The interior featured hand-painted frescos on the barrel vaulted ceilings, marble columns, travertine tile floors and carved mahogany furnishings. This was the tallest building in Florida until 1928.

The Biltmore opened with a widely attended gala where champagne was flowing heavily and guests could enjoy the Charleston and fox-trotting on the ballroom floors and walking through the lush gardens. And the list of famous people to stay at the hotel is vast with names like Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Ginger Rogers, Al Capone, President Franklin D. Roosevelt - who even made this the southern White House for a time - and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor - that would be Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. The hotel came to be known as a place for aquatic competitions, particularly synchronized swimming. Johnny Weismuller even broke a world-record in swimming at the pool before he went on to play Tarzan in several 1930s movies. There was even alligator wrestling here. These activities kept the hotel afloat during the Great Depression. When World War II broke out, the hotel became the Army Air Force Regional Hospital and this brought big changes with the floor being covered with linoleum, windows were blacked out, operating rooms were added and a morgue was set up on a lower floor. The medical theme would continue after the war as the University of Miami School of Medicine took over the building and then eventually this was a Veteran's hospital in the 1960s. That closed in 1968.

This once gorgeous upscale hotel that had been the place to stay in the Roarin' Twenties was then abandoned and it remained that way for five years. The City of Coral Gables took possession of the building through the Historic Monuments Act and Legacy of Parks Program to save it from being demolished, but they did nothing with it and it sat for another ten years. In 1983, Coral Gables finally started restoring the hotel and poured $55 million into the rehabilitation. It reopened as an upscale hotel once again, but that didn't last for long as the end of the 1980s took a big hit to the economy. The hotel shuttered again. In 1992, Seaways Hotels Corporation bought the Biltmore and poured another $40 million into restoration, updating everything for a modern world and resurfacing the swimming pool with polished marble. Interior designer Lynn Wilson worked her magic inside. Eventually a culinary academy would open here and the hotel has maintained its elegance up until our modern time.

The hotel is nearly 100 years old and in that time, it has seen much death, particularly when this was a hospital not only during the war, but after. We had medical experiments and autopsies done here while this was a medical school. And then veterans had to make do with the low level of care they received here and one can imagine how depressed they probably were. And the hotel itself was left abandoned for many years. This makes for a fine mixture that could lead to hauntings and there are many ghost stories connected to the building. Psychics claim that there could be over a hundred spirits within the halls of the hotel. During the abandoned years, people who lived nearby or golfed at the nearby golf courses would claim to hear sounds coming from the empty building. Sometimes it sounded as though there were a party being hosted. The lights would flicker or just turn on even though no one was supposed to be in the building. There were so many complaints to the police one year, that they decided to stakeout the building and make a raid. They expected to find drug traffickers or at the very least squatters. When they busted into the building, they were shocked that they found no one, not even an urban explorer. That was in 1979.

Maintenance workers have claimed to have issues with the lights turning themselves off and on and they can't figure out what is causing the problem. One such worker told Dave Lapham in his book Ghosthunting Florida that he had once heard a great crash in the evening that sounded like a vase being slammed into a wall or the floor and when he went to investigate, he found no broken vase. He found absolutely nothing that would have caused the crash. He was also told the story of a young couple who boarded the elevator and before they could push any of the buttons, the door closed and the elevator rose to the 13th floor even though the number was not pushed. This was a special suite and the door would only open with a special key, but the elevator door opened. It sat open for several minutes, so the young lady playfully stepped off. The minute she exited, the doors closed and the elevator went all the way down to the lobby even though her husband frantically started pushing buttons to get the elevator to return to the 13th floor. He couldn't get the 13th button to light up because the special key was needed. He ran to look for a bellhop in the lobby and at first the bellhop wouldn't believe him because no one was staying the suite, so the elevator could not possibly have stopped at that floor, much less, opened. The two men went up to the 13th floor and found the wife terrified. She told them that she had been enveloped in a cold cloud of air that carried the scent of a cigar and that she heard laughing and talking. She felt as though someone had been standing near her.

Could this woman have experienced one of the more famous spirits at the Biltmore, Fatty Walsh? Fatty Walsh was one of the most notorious and powerful gangsters in Miami during Prohibition. That 13th floor suite had once been home to his illegal casino and speakeasy. That is most likely what the young woman heard as she waited for her husband to rescue her. One evening, a disgruntled gambler shot Fatty. Or he might have been murdered by a hit man. Either way, Fatty died in that casino on the 13th floor and he now haunts the place. Many people have smelled the scent of cigar smoke in the hotel and there is sometimes a woman or two who complains about being touched inappropriately by somebody she cannot see. There are tales of the gangster writing on foggy mirrors and likes to play with the lights. There is a rumor that President Clinton was staying in the 13th floor suite in the 1990s and he wanted to watch a big game on the television only they couldn't get any reception. The other rooms in the hotel had no issues. They brought another television into the room and still could get nothing but snow on the TV. The entourage ended up having to leave, so the President could see the game. Maybe Fatty wasn't big on having a politician in his suite.

There is a lady in white at this location. She is seen in white because people think she was wearing white at the time of her death. She lost her life when she fell from a fifth or sixth floor balcony. She was staying at the hotel with her family and when she had looked away for a moment, her young son had climbed up onto the railing of the balcony. She quickly ran to the balcony and grabbed him, but in doing so, could not stop her momentum and she spun around and fell backwards over the rail and down to her death. Today, guests and employees claim to see a residual haunting of the woman, sprinting towards a balcony and falling over it. But this ghost may not just be residual because she has been seen in guest rooms as well and sometimes even sits on the edge of beds. The front desk occasionally gets calls in the middle of the night with guests complaining about a strange woman in the hallway or in their room. The woman seems to be very sad and when she is seen running towards the balcony, the look on her face is abject fear.

Richard Winer wrote in the Sun Sentinel in 1986 about the experiences of a couple of security guards, " as George Warren and his partner stared at the TV screens, what they saw was unmistakable: The tracks from a wheelchair streaked across the monitor. It was impossible! No one -- let alone someone in a wheelchair -- could enter that room without setting off the alarm. The men raced down to the museum. There, imprinted in the rug, were the unmistakable tracks made by a wheelchair. But no sign of a wheelchair was found. The tracks in the rug remained for weeks, Warren says, before vanishing like dust in the wind. And there's more, like the night last spring, when frightening yells and screams drifted down from the upper reaches of the long-empty Biltmore. Another security guard, making his rounds, stopped dead in his tracks on the 12th floor as screams continued to filter down from the 13th floor. Charging up the stairs, the guard penetrated the blackness with a flashlight. As he reached the 13th floor -- dead silence. The screams ceased as suddenly as someone being smothered. Then the guard's flashlight went dark. Standing alone in the darkness, he banged the light against the palm of his hand and called out in a shaky voice, "Who's there? Who's there?" Receiving no response, the trembling man groped his way down the steps. Suddenly, his flashlight came back on, and the screams started again. Turning around to head back up to the 13th floor, again his flashlight went dark. That's it, he decided, let the ghosts howl all they want. I'm not going back up there."

Both of the Biltmore Hotels we covered on this episode were grand hotels at one time that fell into disrepair and abandonment. Today, they are once again hosting guests and it would seem ghosts as well. Are these hotels haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

HGB Ep. 344 - Haunted Music

Moment in Oddity - Paris' Open-Air Urinals Helped Defeat Nazis
Suggested by: Darren Koch

We are women, so we certainly are not experts in urinals or their usage. We don't know if it's typical for men to use them as a social gathering point. We're pretty sure though that they've only been used to turn the tide on an enemy during a war, once. The French came up with a creative idea to share military intel among themselves. In the 1830s, France installed open-air urinals, so that men would be able to relieve themselves easily without resorting to peeing on buildings or the street. Come on guys, we know you've all done this at some point. These urinals were used to pass information for the French Resistance during World War II. There were more than a 1,000 of these open-air urinals in Paris during the war and once the Nazis occupied the city, the Allies and the French Resistance would pass notes to each other away from the Nazis eyes. So these urinals are credited with helping to defeat the Nazi Regime and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Chris Cornell Born

In the month of July, on the 20th, in 1964, musician, singer and songwriter Chris Cornell was born. Cornell got into music from a young age, learning to play the piano, guitar and a snare drum. He also, unfortunately, got into drugs as a teenager. In 1984, he helped found the band Soundgarden. They found early success and quickly signed to an independent label and later moved onto to a major record label. Cornell had a unique style and sound and this would become what we know as grunge music. Soundgarden would be the first grunge band to be signed by a major record label. Cornell had an amazing vocal range and not only had success with Soundgarden, but his next band Audioslave. He was nominated for 16 Grammy Awards and sold over 30 million records worldwide. Rolling Stone named him on their "Best Lead Singers of All Time" list. Cornell battled with substance abuse for part of his life, but managed to get sober and help other artists to get clean as well. He had issues with anxiety and depression since he had been a kid and he would continue battling that until his death. He died on May 18, 2017, but the circumstances of his death are questionable. The cause of death was officially suicide by hanging and several prescription drugs were found in his system, but in therapeutic doses. His wife had talked to him right before he died and she said he had been slurring his words and told her he thought he took one too many sleeping pills. She became concerned and called security. Cornell had indicated to no one that he was suicidal and he was in a great place in his life. He was buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery in a nice place by the pond, front and center of the main drag. Kelly and I both got to visit the grave in 2018.

Haunted Music

We've covered quite a few music related topics on the podcast. HGB has featured Ernestine and Hazel's Juke Joint, Bobby Mackey's Music World and the Cincinnati Music Hall and we've talked about the life and afterlife of Patsy Cline, John Lennon and Elvis Presley. Bonus episodes have featured haunted instruments, Gram Parsons and the Devil's Chord. We thought it would be interesting to do an episode on haunted music as a whole. This obviously won't be exhaustive, but we are going to delve into haunted radio stations, recording studios, buses and jukeboxes. We'll also look at the elements of music that lead to hauntings and curses. And wow, does music have some curses!

Music has been with humanity since the first beings probably figured out that two rocks hit together made a sound. And probably even before that, the pleasant strains of a bird chirping and singing were heard. Music has great power. A few strains from a song can transport us to another time, a moment in memory. Certain types of music can cause us to feel sad or exhilarated. Some music is relaxing, while other pieces can be downright unnerving. We obviously are going to focus on the latter. But before there were birds and before there were humans, there were angels. At least for some belief systems. These angels could sing and maybe even played instruments. There was one angel in particular that was the most beautiful, both in appearance and sound and that was Lucifer. Many people probably are familiar with him being described as beautiful, but did you know that he was basically a musical instrument all on his own.

The Bible says of Lucifer in Ezekiel 28:13, "You were in Eden, the garden of God.  Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings (timbrels) and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared." In the Hebrew, toph is the word for settings, which also means timbrel and that is a musical instrument. The Hebrew word for sockets is neqeb and that means hole or pipes. Isaiah 14:11 says, "All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps." So again, we have a reference to Lucifer being musical. Most Biblical scholars refer to him as the Director of Music in Heaven.

As most people are familiar with the story, Lucifer rebels with a third of the heavenly angels and they are cast down here to Earth with the humans. For those of us who study what is referenced as "fringe Christianity," this is the time when humans are going to make some big advancements in technology. For us, this is when the fallen angels teach humans about make-up, black-smithing, building, music and much more. While Ancient Aliens on TV presents the helpers in building megoliths and pyramids as aliens, we think of them as fallen angels. Although the movie Footloose doesn't present the evils of music coming from this, we believe that is why music ended up with a negative connotation, you know the whole, Rock & Roll music is of the Devil. No one knows what music is like in Heaven, but Lucifer got his talent and experience somewhere, which is why music as a whole is not of the Devil. But could there be some music that is of a more negative nature. Of course there is, because there is no light without the dark.

*And as a side note, irregardless of what the Church has taught for years, there is no consensus on whether Lucifer is Satan or the Devil and also that fallen angels are demons. These could all be constructs from the Roman Catholic Church. The Bible itself is quite unclear about any of these elements.*

We've all heard the tales of the musician selling his soul at the crossroads in exchange for musical talent. We'll look at this in a bit, but first, let's look at a brief history of music. We think everybody would be in agreement that drums and drumming is probably the most ancient of musical sounds, other than the voice. Nearly every indigineous culture on every continent that has humans, drums. And there is probably good reason because drums are like the beating of the heart. And you don't have to be able to carry a tune to sound good with drums. The Egyptians are credited with lots of firsts and many believe they were the first to design instruments. In 4000 BC, they started using flutes and harps and moved onto more complicated instruments like clarinets. An early form of the trumpet would be introduced in 2500 BC by Denmark. One of the first stringed instruments was created by the Hitties in 1500 BC and a few hundred years later King David comes on the scene and he was incredibly musical. The Bible describes him singing and dancing and playing the harp. During one such harp recital, King Saul tried to kill David. The Hebrews used music during daily life in Israel.

The Greeks would move music forward even more, developing Classical music in 700 BC. The teaching of music was a requirement in the schools and it would be the mathematician Pythagorus who would develop the octave scale when he treated music as a science. And this is a key element to focus on when it comes to talking about the paranormal connection to music. Can music be used as a form of alchemy? We'll discuss this further when we get to the Renaissance. Music was so popular in Greece that they regularly held musical competitions. Aristotle and Plato both believed that music was a wonderful leisurely pursuit that made students better learners. They believed it gave the soul freedom. But Aristotle also had interesting thoughts on the effects of music. Aristotle warned that certain modes of music shouldn't be studied because they stirred unhealthy emotions. He wrote in his work The Politics, "Rhythm and melody supply imitations of anger and gentleness, and also of courage and temperance, and of all the qualities contrary to these, and of the other qualities of character, which hardly fall short of the actual affections, as we know from our own experience, for in listening to such strains our souls undergo a change. The habit of feeling pleasure or pain at mere representations is not far removed from the same feeling about realities."

Boethius was a Roman senator and philosopher and he translated the works of Plato and Aristotle into Latin and brought the Greek musical notation to Western Europe. He also wrote about the idea of opera. The Common Era would see music moving forward at a rapid pace and can be broken down into eight eras. The first is Medieval and this was from 500 AD to 1400 AD. During this time, Guido D'Arezzo invented solfege, which is the vocal scale we were all taught by the Sound of Music: do, re, mi, fa, so, la ,ti, do. Also during this time, music moved away from the influence of the Church, like Gregorian chanting, and became more folk-like and the Church started looking at this music as pagan.

Next was the Renaissance Era from 1400 AD to 1600 AD. Renaissance means "rebirth" and it was as though music was being reborn, separate from the Church and music became more complicated with more moving parts. This found its footing in Northern Europe, in the future France, Belgium and Netherlands. Germany wrote a lot of organ pieces during this time. Music became more tonal. At this time, many alchemists started mixing music in with their alchemy. Michael Maier was a German physician and alchemist who wrote the 1617 hermetic book Atalanta Fugiens and in it he described fifty fugues, which are canonical with multiple voices on a theme that appears at the beginning of a composition and repeats several times throughout.  This symbolized the philosopher's stone, which was a legendary substance that could be used to turn base metals into gold and silver.

Next would come the Baroque Era from 1580 AD to 1750 AD and the first operas were written at this time. Composers like Vivaldi, Bach and Handel would come on the scene. The oboe, violin and double bass would appear. Baroque is derived from the Italian word barocco, which means bizarre and this was a time of experimentation. Melodies would be supported by harmony. The Galant Era would be from 1720 AD to 1780 AD and continue into the Classical Era that ended in 1820 AD. Sonatas would start at this time and music would get less complicated with the piano being the preferred instrument. Mozart wrote his first symphony at this time and Beethoven and Schubert would take music into the next era.

The Romantic Era would fall between 1800 AD and 1910 AD. This music would tell a story and composers during this time would be Johann Strauss II, Brahms, Wagner and Tchaikovsky. Literature and art were mixed with the music as well. The saxophone and flute would become more complicated. Nationalistic themes were developed and music started telling more stories.
The Modern Era would start in 1890 AD and go through to 1980 AD. The Postmodern would start in 1930 AD and continue to the present. With so many years, this covers a vast array of music from neoclassical to concert music to to impressionistic to electronic music to jazz and really, everything we know past Classical. An interesting instrument introduced during this time was the Theremin.

We mentioned that the music that broke away from the Church centuries ago was labeled as pagan. This was during the Middle Ages or Medieval times. The Devil's Interval or Devil's Chord was introduced at this time and it was considered so diabolical, that it was banned by the Church. The Devil's Chord was not harmonious like the other music of the time. Harmony has notes that flow together and share pitches and frequencies. There is a set timing to the harmony, like a waltz is 3:4 time and a march is 2:4 time and etc. The Devil's Interval is formally called the Tritone. This is the augmented fourth and the diminished fifth. According to Carl E. Gardner’s 1912 text  "Essentials of Music Theory" a “triad” in music is composed of three tones. These tones are a starting note plus the third and fifth tones found along its scale like C and then E and G. Most chords are independent, but a tritone is dependent and has “dissonant” or tense intervals. There is something about a dissonant chord that is disturbing to our spirits. If a composition ends with a tritone, it is uncomfortable. And in a singing composition, it is nearly impossible for any singer, regardless of talent, to sing. Thus, any piece of music with the Devil's Interval is thought to be creepy and chilling. Because of all of this, the church banned it and called it Diabolus in Musica.

John Sloboda, a professor of music psychology at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama, was interviewed on NPR in 2012 and he explained how it is that the Devil's Interval is disturbing saying, "Our brains are wired to pick up the music that we expect, [and] generally music is consonant rather than dissonant, so we expect a nice chord. So when that chord is not quite what we expect, it gives you a little bit of an emotional frisson, because it's strange and unexpected." Many composers have used the Devil's Chord throughout history. Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde has the Tritone in its prelude. For this reason, it is sometimes called the Tristan chord. This incorporates the notes F, B, D sharp and G sharp. Wagner's "Gotterdammerung" also has the chord and some terrifying imagery which will also become a part of performances of the Devil's Interval. In this opera, there is a scene that has drums and timpani and feels evil with a scene playing out what seems to be a Black Mass. Beethoven has it in his Piano Sonata No.18 and "Fidelio." Michael Tippett's Second Symphony features the Tritone prominently. Camille Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre" was a salute to the dead coming alive at Halloween and first performed in 1875. Hungarian composer Franz Liszt used the tritone scale and images of devils playing violins and dancing in his Mephisto Waltzes.

And then there was Giuseppe Tartini’s “The Devil's Trill Sonata.” Most violinists claim that this is the most difficult violin piece in the world. Tartini himself claimed that the Devil had written it and that it was through a dream that it was delivered to him. The Devil was playing it on a violin in a ferocious, mad way. What Tartini put to paper he said was but a shadow of what he had seen in his dream. And yes, I'm having visions of the Devil Went Down to Georgia. There are different claims about when it was written. I saw both 1713 and 1740. The more formal name of the piece is Violin Sonata in G Minor. About a quarter hour in length, the sonata begins in a reflective mood, with gently flowing violin lines over harpsichord accompaniment; some performances replace the harpsichord with a modern piano. Frequent double-stops, requiring the violinist to play simultaneously on two adjacent strings, increase the technical challenges, even before the tempo quickens. After this languid introduction, the sonata charges forward with the violinist offering ever-new versions of earlier melodic fragments. Some variations are more overtly challenging than others, particularly those near the end of the piece, which are replete with not just double-stops but also trills, runs, and quick alternation of pitches high and low.

This brings us to Jazz, which was some of the first music in our modern era to be deemed "of the Devil." Jazzmen used the Devil's chord throughout the '40s and '50s and even had a hand signal to pay homage to what they called 'the flattened fifth'. This was a high five but with the thumb folded in to the palm and the musician would call out "Oolya Koo, man!" When singing the tritone jazz performers would sing with a false chord technique that came off as just a sound like a scream or growl. Metal singers do the same today. In our modern era, one can hear it in Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," Black Sabbath songs, Rush's "YYZ," the song "Maria" in West Side Story, Busta Rhymes’s “Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check,” The Simpsons theme song and death metal music.

The Devil's Chord is not the only way that music has been made disturbing. Poland would introduce a type of music referred to as sonorism. This started in the 1950s and featured the use of traditional and nontraditional instruments to make eerie and disturbing sounds. We imagine this is how much of the foley for horror movies is produced today. There is no rhythm and no melody. One of the most famous composers to use sonorism was Krzystof Penderecki and his most famous piece of this sort was "Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima." This piece has influenced a far amount of music we hear in horror movies, including Children of Men, There Will Be Blood, Under the Skin, Shutter Island and The Shining. In his later years, Penderecki focused on the tritone or The Devil's Chord. He just passed away in March of 2020. He had said of his music in an interview with Resident Advisor, "For some pieces, like the Threnody, I prefer young people to perform it, because they are still open to learn. This piece, even though it was written over 50 years ago, is still very fresh and new. Some notation that I invented at that time is now common, but there are still some special techniques, different types of vibrato, playing on the tailpiece of the bridge, playing directly behind the bridge. These things are unusual, even after 50 years."

Hungary has had some interesting music come out of it, starting with Hungarian composer György Ligeti. He created a piece for solo organ that is chaotic and disturbing called Volumina that caused an uproar. The first thing the listener hears is the performer's forearms across the keys. This is a long piece and the first attempt at recording it caught the organ on fire. People started saying that Ligeti was the destroyer of organs. Another Hungarian piece of music with a notorious reputation was blamed for causing people to commit suicide. This was Gloomy Sunday written by Hungarian pianist and composer Rezső Seress and is nicknamed the "Hungarian Suicide Song." It was written in 1933. The original lyrics were written as if the world was ending and reflected the despair about war and people's sins. Poet László Jávor wrote his own lyrics to the song, titled le Szomorú vasárnap (Sad Sunday). The protagonist wants to commit suicide because his lover has died. More people remember those lyrics. "Gloomy Sunday" was first recorded in English by Hal Kemp in 1936, with lyrics by Sam M. Lewis. Billie Holiday performed it in 1941 making it incredibly popular. Urban legends began claiming that people were killing themselves after hearing the song. Radio networks began banning the song. Here are the lyrics:

Sunday is gloomy,
My hours are slumberless
Dearest the shadows
I live with are numberless
Little white flowers
Will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of
Sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thought
Of ever returning you
Would they be angry
If I thought of joining you?
Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy is Sunday,
With shadows I spend it all
My heart and I
Have decided to end it all
Soon there'll be candles
And prayers that are said I know
Let them not weep
Let them know that I'm glad to go
Death is no dream
For in death I'm caressing you
With the last breath of my soul
I'll be blessing you
Gloomy Sunday

We've all heard the theory that one can sell their soul to the Devil in exchange for becoming proficient with a talent or gaining money or fame. There are many tales of musicians meeting the Devil at the crossroads and selling their souls to gain musical genius. This is the legend behind Delta bluesman Robert Johnson who seemed to know very little about playing the guitar. That doesn't make sense considering that music historians refer to him as the Grandfather of Rock and Roll. Johnson was a black man who was born in Mississippi around 1911 with little opportunities. He wanted desperately to be a guitar player in the juke joints and get the women to flock to him. But he couldn't play and no matter how many guitar pickers he pestered to teach him, he was not musically inclined. He left town for a year and when he came back, he was a better guitar player than anyone around and many rockers credit Robert Johnson as an influence. Rumors started flying that Johnson sold his soul to the Devil to gain his talent. Johnson would practice late at night in the cemeteries and then play mind-blowing riffs in the juke joints.

Johnson embraced the rumors that he had met the Devil and included the narrative in a song. He sang about Satan in six of his songs. One of his songs was titled "Hellhound on my Trail" and in it he claimed that an evil spirit was following him. Something did indeed catch up with him and he either drank himself to death or was poisoned with strychnine by a jealous man in 1938. He was 27 at the time and would be the first to start a legend about a special club for musicians known as The 27 Club. We'll talk about this club a little later, but we wanted to touch on another virtuoso whom people felt had sold his soul the the Devil for his talent too. This was violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini. Paganini came from a poor family and none of them were musicians. People claimed that Paganini seemed to almost overnight become an expert on the violin. Even more stunning to listeners than just the music he conjured, it was the way in which he played. Like he was possessed. He writhed and flailed about, breaking strings as he violently played his violin. People claimed he sold his soul for his talent and that when he played, he was possessed by the Devil. And yes, the violin and fiddle definitely seem to be a theme with Satan here.

The 27 Club is an exclusive Rock & Roll club that no one actually wants to be a member for the simple reason that it means you are dead, at the age of 27. Clearly, rock stars have died at a number of ages and we could compile enough in each age category to have a club for each, but what makes this club unique is the level of talent included within it. Robert Johnson is considered the first and the last, as of the production of this podcast, would be Amy Winehouse. Brian Jones was a founding memebr of the Rolling Stones and died from drowning in his pool while under the influence of drugs and alcohol in 1969. Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson was a member of Canned Heat and died of a drug overdose in 1970. Jimi Hendrix choked on his own vomit after overdosing in 1970. Janis Joplin also died that year from an overdose on heroin that was bad. The same drug took Jim Morrison in 1971. Founding member of the Grateful Dead, Ron McKernan, died in 1973 from internal bleeding due to cirrhosis caused by his heavy drinking. Kurt Cobain died in 1994 after shooting himself with a shotgun...maybe. And then Amy Winehouse overdosed in 2011. Was this some kind of curse that felled these 27-year-old musicians. Clearly, they lived hard and fast, but had they made a deal with the Devil? We think this is mostly confirmation bias. If there is a curse realated to a rocker, it would probably be whatever curse is keeping Keith Richards alive.

Haunted Jukeboxes

Paul Seaburn wrote an article on the Mysterious Universe website about a haunted jukebox. This was a 1954 Seeburg Model HF100R owned by Richard Loban. Loban restored the jukebox, replacing a stripper plate and he added a collection of his own 45s. In slot G-5, he placed the song "If You Leave Me Tonight I Will Cry." Strangely, the jukebox started playing the song in G-5 all by itself. Loban replaced some old parts that he thought were causing the problem, but the jukebox kept playing G-5. The former owner told Loban that he thought the jukebox had been a prop in an epsidoe of Night Gallery. In this episode, a character pushes a button and the song "If You Leave Me Tonight I Will Cry" plays. Only the character didn't select that song. No matter what button he pushes, that song plays. The camera finally zooms in for one last song and the character pushes the G-5 button. Was this the jukebox from the television show? Whether it was or not, that is a really bizarre story and the jukebox does seem to have something paranormal going on.

The jukebox at Bobby Mackey's is reputedly haunted and seems to attract spirits. These include a ghost dog, a ghost without a head and a filmy white apparition. The jukebox turns on by itself. A police office responded to a security issue and found the jukebox on when he entered the empty building. The staff claimed that everything was off when they left. The craziest stories include claims that the jukebox plays even when unplugged and one staff member claims that the jukebox played without being plugged in, without a record on the spindle and the song playing was not on any record in the jukebox!

Haunted Tour Buses

Country musician Whisperin' Bill Anderson claims that he and his band toured for twelve days abaord a haunted tour bus. In the back of the bus was the state room and almost from the moment the band set off on their tour, they started hearing moaning coming from the state room.

Haunted Radio Stations

Radio stations have powerful transmitters. There was a time when getting a disc jockey to play your record could launch you into stardom. Is this why so many former and current radio stations are reputed to be haunted? The Wolf is a country station that broadcasts out of Tallahassee, Florida on 103.1 FM. A DJ there named Big Moose had a startling experience. He was alone one morning prepping the traffic report when he heard the voice of a little girl say, "Can you hear me?" He thought perhaps it was bleed through from another station, but the voice was really clear. And then he heard it again ask, "Can you hear me?" He shrugged it off until it happened again the next day at the same time. And then it happened again the next day. He had been experiencing doors opening and closing on their own before this, so he started to believe that the station was haunted. Then the station caught a weird orb zooming around the station on the security cameras. So what could be behind this? Big Moose did some research and found that a home had been in the spot where the radio station was now located. A brother and sister had been jumping on a bed on the second floor when the little girl was bounced out an open window and she fell head first to the ground. Could this be the little girl wondering if she can be heard?

Jennifer Waits wrote about her radio station in 2014 on the Radio Survivor website, "Luckily I don’t get the sense that the station that I call home (KFJC-FM) is permanently haunted, however there was one night when I wasn’t so sure. I was sitting in the KFJC lobby one evening when the front door knob started rattling for no reason. I have no idea if it was a ghost, but it happened soon after one of our DJs died tragically, so I assumed that it was him (Ken “Spiderman” Hamilton) making his presence known."

Tim King wrote in 2012 for, "And it all began at that radio station, when I came in early to bring the AM signal up for the day. This “powering up” of the station was done in a narrow room in front of the DJ booth. We called this “the rack room” and that is a term often used in both radio and television stations, “racks” hold all of the broadcast equipment. Each morning when I arrived at the station, I always felt a little uneasy and better after reaching my office and turning the lights on. All night after they closed up at midnight, the place sat in total darkness. The first thing in the rack room was turning on the “plates” so they could warm up 15-minutes prior to starting the actual transmitter. Then a couple more switches, information entered in the legal documents on a clipboard, and the main switch is activated bringing the station to life. But it was always during that 15-minutes that strange things happened. It started with the uncomfortable feeling. It was always cold, hard to pin that on anything but living in Oregon during the colder months I suppose, but there were sometimes more goosebumps than usual. I felt like I was sharing space with someone and neither of us liked the other very much. There was never anybody else around during these hours of the day. I think now that the spirit if that is what it was and I had a very similar agenda, we both wished the other was long gone. As I activated those switches in the rack area, or waited the last minutes before doing so, I would often see what I would describe as fleeting images in my peripheral vision. I would turn my head, but there was never anything there. But there was something there, and I would have this happen every day. I became used to it eventually and I only discussed it with my wife. It caused no fear, and over time caught my interest."

Meximo70 wrote on the website Hot Dish Hell, "When I worked at local radio station KFMT, i started out on the 9pm to 5am shift. We were the only radio station around doing 24 hour live radio, the rest was automated. If you called me at 2am wanting to hear Brittany Spears, by God i’d get her “oops”-ing for you at 2am. When you work after 5pm at the station, you’re the only one there. The door gets locked and in order for anyone to get in if they don’t have a key is to press the doorbell which would set off a strobe light in my studio and i would come with the handy dandy studio key and let you in (if i liked ya). The FM studio’s control board faced a window looking out to a sheep pasture. At night you could see your reflection and everything behind you. Your back was to the door, which is a little unnerving when you’re at an empty studio by yourself in the middle of a sheep pasture. One night, while i had just put on the song of the second set, i heard rustling paper behind me and then i felt a cold breeze go by me. i always kept the studio door open since there wasn’t anyone else in the building. The strobe wasn’t going off, so i thought maybe the owner came in a different way and was doing some late night work. it was 1am. i walked around the entire radio station, knocked on Charles Woody’s office door, and looked out in the parking lot. i was alone. So i went back into the studio, did a commercial break and went back into the music set again. I went into the production studio and updated the weather report which would play on our sister station KSOM country. While i was in there, i heard a small knock on the production studio door. I believe at that point i shouted out an expletive. I ran for the FM studio, closed the door, and because of security reasons, the door does not lock; so i propped my stool against the knob. About an hour later, after i had announced upcoming events and went into a commercial break, I looked up and i saw a shadowy figure walk past the studio door window. I heard the papers rustling too. At 4:30am, morning show host Dark Cigar came in to start his prep. When he came into the studio he asked how things were. I asked him, 'Can I ask you something without you thinking i’m freakin’ crazy?' 'Sure.' he said not really sure if that was the right answer. 'Anyone ever…I don’t know…witness anything strange around here?' 'Oh, you mean the ghost?' 'What?' 'This place is supposedly haunted. Some DJ here i guess killed himself and supposedly walks around here and reveals himself to certain people. I’ve never seen him, but plenty of others have.'"

Haunted Recording Studios

As music moved out of the 1980s, glam rock faded into a shabby look incorporating flannel shirts and roughed-up jeans that came to be known as grunge. One of the pioneers of this music was Robert Lang. Lang set up a studio in Seattle in 1974 and many groups have recorded in the mansion that seems to jut out from hillside overlooking the city. Nirvana produced their final album here. Before the grunge groups recorded here, the blues men partied and recorded at the Robert Lang Studios. And somewhere along the line, the studios became a home for a spectre. The official website for the studios features a picture of the bassist from the group Drown Mary inside a sound booth with a misty white mass beside him. Robert Lang claims this is a ghost that he calls Dubby. Dubby was Lang's friend whose real name was Walter Westley Leonard who died after drinking too much and choking on his own vomit. Dubby had stashed a bunch of cash in a plastic barrel and buried it on the property where the studios were going to be built. Lang had no idea where the money was, but as they dug out the ground to build the studio, he found it and it was a lot of money that was poured into the construction. And that's why he thinks Dubby is here in the afterlife. Music groups claim to experience cold chills, doors open and close on their own and recording equipment goes on the fritz. The band Afghan Whigs had an issue with the tape recorder and they also watched as the lights flickered many times in what they described as a violent way. A member of the band called in a psychic friend and she encouraged them to work with the spirit, so that it would allow them to finish their recording session. She burned some sage and they got the recording done without further issues.

Chris Cornell was our subject for the This Month in History segment. One of the bands he performed with was Audioslave and one of the studios they recorded at was Rick Rubin's mansion in Laurel Canyon. Now Laurel Canyon just seems to be haunted like Hell, so it isn't surprising to hear that this place is said to be haunted. The reputation of this haunting had the drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chad Smith, so fearful that he would not stay overnight at the studio. The spirit is said to have been caught in photos taken for artwork for the group's Blood Sugar Sex Magik album. This was an orb with a face in it. The band Slipknot also experienced the ghost via several weird experiences. Drummer Joey Jordison claimed that he felt a spirit walk through him. Who could this spirit be? Before this was a recording studio, it was a wealthy family's mansion and the spoiled son of the owner as said to have pushed his lover from a balcony, killing her. This former mansion burned to the ground and then the current mansion was built. Many bands believe this studio has more than one ghost hanging around.

The former RCA Studios in Nashville are said to harbor the ghost of the King himself. Anytime someone would mention the name Elvis in the building, things would go haywire. Lights would act weird and strange noises would be heard. Some of those noises would be caught in the recordings and could only be heard during playback. Elvis recorded some of his hits here and that is why people think his spirit visits. But there have been lots of greats who recorded here that might want to return to a place of their creative greatness.

Music speaks to our very souls. It can bring back a tender memory or turn our calm countenance to anger. Music can push us to do that one more rep or inspire us to dance. Could there be something else within the strains of peculiar notes? Something disturbing? Something haunting? Are these curses real and could these locations be haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

Matt Swayne's Books: Haunted Rock & Roll and Ghosts of Country Music