Thursday, December 28, 2023

HGB Ep. 518 - Haunted Poland

Moment in Oddity - Tyrone Sunken Garden

Hidden gardens are always intriguing, but the Tyrone Sunken Garden in Fenton, Michigan is exceptionally unique. The location is made up of stones from all 50 states and have been assembled in a manner to resemble Stonehenge. The creator of the garden, Charles Smith, traveled throughout the United States and shipped the granite stones back to Fenton. All 50 states are represented and each stone is engraved with the state's motto and flower. The property is owned by Crestwood Memorial Cemetery. The manager of the cemetery has stated that the garden needs to be refurbished but that has yet to take place. There are two stone archways with engravings that welcome guests to the circle. At the center of the Stonehenge-like-structure is a white obelisk. The garden is flanked by a hill and a small stream. According to a Times article, the unique space was created by Smith in 1935. There had been a wooden bridge erected by volunteers to aid in the access to the hidden garden but sadly, vandals broke it. According to a Facebook page dedicated to the Tyrone Sunken Garden, the entire history of the location is not completely known. However, the nearly 90 year old hidden garden certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

In the month of December, in 1939, Robert L. May wrote Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. May worked for  Montgomery Ward department store as a copywriter. He was requested by his boss to write a cheery children's book. Preferably using an animal as the main character, similar to a story like Ferdinand the Bull. Previous holiday seasons the department store had purchased mass amounts of coloring books to give out to the children of shoppers. The thought was to create the store's own storybook to save on costs as well as to be used as a marketing ploy. At the time of his bosses request, Robert's life was difficult. His wife was dying of cancer, finances were stretched thin and he had a 4 year old daughter to care for. As May began to write his storybook, he recollected his days as a child and how painfully shy he was. This inspired Robert to base the story on a character who was sort of an ugly duckling with a kind heart. Together with his daughter Barbara and a Montgomery Ward artist, the three visited Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo to come up with a rendering of the main character. After the death of his wife, May's boss offered to have another writer finish the book but Robert declined. When the book was completed he read it to Barbara and her grandparents and by their reactions, May determined the book had its desired effect. That Christmas, 2.4 million copies of the softcover Rudolph poem booklet were given away at Montgomery Ward's. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Haunted Poland

Like so many countries in Europe, Poland has been witness to centuries of history from medieval times, through World Wars, communism, democracy and its utter erasure from existence. Overseers to much of this history in Poland have been castles. Many of them have ghost stories attached to them. But it's not just the castles. Churches and landmarks also have their legends. Join us as we talk about the history and hauntings of Poland!

The website features an interesting legend we wanted to share before we got into the real history of Poland. "The Legend of Lech, Czech and Rus. Over a thousand years ago, there were three Slav brothers wandering with their tribes through the lands of forests and fields stretching between two large rivers, Oder in the west and Dnieper in the east, in search of the best place to settle. One day, after months of weary travel, a beautiful sight appeared before their eyes: on a hill there stood a huge oak tree with a nest between its branches. From the nest a mighty white eagle soared into the sky. Lech was amazed by the view and considered it as a sign from the gods for him and his people. He decided to settle there and chose the white eagle with its wings spread wide against the sunset sky for their emblem. Soon they built a town which they called Gniezno (a “nest” in the Slavic language). The town became the capital of their nation and the first capital of Poland. And so the three brothers separated: Czech decided to go south and Rus chose the east where they started their own countries." 

The land that would eventually encompass the country of Poland was first settled by tribes of people. There were Germanic clans, Slavs, Balts, Celts and Scythians. West Slavic Lechites (ley kites) established themselves during the Early Middle Ages and they would eventually be known as Polanians or Polans and this is where Poland gets its name. The word means "people living in open fields." Poland would first be ruled by dynasties with the first being the Piasts in the 10th century. Poland was Christianized about that time as well. The country was in a precarious position because it sat in the middle of what is considered the East and the West. Wars, uprisings and land confiscation have been a part of its record. It grew to be the largest country in Europe and was also completely erased. Poland was part of one of the biggest medieval battles when it defeated the Teutonic Knights with Lithuania. After that, Poland experienced its Golden Age where art and science flourished. This ended in the late 18th century when Poland was invaded by Russia, Prussia and Austria and they partitioned pieces of Poland, so that it no longer existed. That nonexistence would last for 123 years. The 1800s saw several uprisings, which obviously all failed. World War I would give Poland rebirth and it formed a republic that was able to stop a massive Soviet invasion in 1920. The invasion of Poland by the Nazis in 1939 started World War II. A strong resistance movement formed with the Allies and the largest European resistance movement of the war lead the Warsaw Uprising. By the end of the war, six million Poles had lost their lives, three million of them were Jews. The country rebuilt, but it was under Soviet control until 1989. Poland wrote a new constitution and is today a capitalist economy with a Parliamentary democracy. And also, a country full of legends and ghosts!

Diablak in Babia Góra (Dee ah blok Bah bee ah gore ah)

Translating the name of this location gives one an idea of the legends connected to this mountain range. Babia Góra means a "Mountain of Old Wives" and Diablak means "The Devil's Peak." Babia Góra is located on the border between Poland and Slovakia and the Devil's Peak is the highest peak of the Babia Gora. The Devil’s Peak has a dark history. Legend claims that the Devil set up a contract with a robber and he built him a castle on the top of Devil's Peak. The castle collapsed on the thief and he tried to dig himself out with a shepherd's axe. He was unsuccessful, but climbers claim to still hear him trying to dig himself out. Another story about this location claims that Babia Góra is a sitting old woman that turned to stone. Other legends contend that the peak hosts covens and witches would observe their Sabbath here.  The weather can be very extreme here and is probably why there are so many accidents on it, but there are those who claim it is because the mountain is haunted. The theory is that the supernatural phenomena of the Devil's Peak gives off an exceptionally high level of energy that clouds the mind and hence why planes crash here and climbers fall.

Skull Chapel in Kudowa-Zdrój (Koo doe vah Zedroy)

The Skull Chapel is technically known as St. Bartholomew's Church and was built by Friar Waclaw (Votswahv) Tomaszek in 1776 in the Baroque style. He was a parish priest for the nearby village of Czermna (Germna). The story goes that he was walking near an embankment by the belfry and saw a human bone sticking out of the ground. The Friar fetched the village undertaker named Langer and the two men began digging and digging some more. They found one bone after another and they realized that the entire area was strewn with human bones. There had apparently been a couple of mass graves here, one for victims of a cholera epidemic and another for people killed during a war in the Klodzko (Kwod skah) region. There was obviously no way to know who all the people were or which bones went to what people, so they decided to bleach the bones and put them in the chapel. Over the years, they added more and more bones and eventually even the undertaker and the Friar had their bones added to the chapel when they passed.The walls of the chapel are now adorned with 3,000 skulls and the bones of around 21,000 people. The Skull Chapel was restored in 1945. This is said to be one of the top eight spooky places in Poland, but we actually think its pretty cool. We haven't heard of any hauntings, but it probably also hasn't been investigated.

Wawel (Vah vel) Castle 

Wawel Castle was built atop a Jurassic limestone outcropping in Cracow. Legends claim that a cave beneath the hill was home to a dragon. This dragon was slain by a clever shoemaker. The shoemaker took the skin of a sheep and stuffed it with sulphur and put it outside the cave so the dragon would eat it. It did just that andf then had as incredible thirst, so it drank and drank from the nearby Vistula River and this caused it to explode. The bones were hung near the entrance of a cathedral as a warning to other dragons. By the 9th century, the hill became the principal fortified settlement of a local tribe with an earth and wood rampart. In the mid-11th century, the castle was built as a Romanesque stone building called the palatium. The first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler took place here in 1320. The castle was expanded both eastwards and upwards through the centuries. Some changes included a Gothic pavilion called the Danish Tower and an irregular courtyard. There were cathedrals built on the hill too and this would become the necropolis of the rulers of Poland. The castle was rebuilt in the Renaissance style in 1504. Hans the Wood-Carver built the wooden ceilings and various painters decorated the walls with friezes and royal portraits. The Renaissance palace has survived into today, but has suffered some fire damage and isn't as splendid as it once had been. The Austrians turned it into an army garrison, which damaged the building as well, but a lengthy restoration helped and other restoration projects have been conducted as recently as the 1990s. The castle now runs as a museum. Since this is the main burial sight for Polish kings, the spirits of those former rulers are said to haunt the castle. One of their main haunting acitvities is to gather all together on Christmas Eve in the castle and their full-bodied apparitions have been seen. One of the court jesters for King Sigismund, Stancyzk, is also said to haunt the castle. This is usually to give a warning that danger is near. He will appear on the battlements if this is the case.

The Wielopolski (Wheel oh pole ski) Palace

The Wielopolski Palace is also located in Krakow. This is where the Krakow City Council meets and it is the residence of the mayor of Krakow. The palace was built between 1535 and 1560 for Hetman Jan Tarnowski. Upon his death, the palace passed into the hands of three other families with the final one being the family for whom it was named, Wielopolski. The fire of Krakow in 1850 destroyed the palace heavily and the family sold it. A surgeon bought it and repaired it and before long, musical performances were being held as well as masquerade balls. The city of Krakow bought it in 1864 and they remodeled it for government purposes. The spirit here belongs to a young woman who was the Countess of Wielopolski. She apparently fell in love with a man of a lower rank, the butler of the palace. Her father found out when she confessed her love to the priest and her father walled her up in the castle. For that reason, her soul has no peace and she wanders the halls as the White Lady.

St. Mary's Basilica

St. Mary's Basilica is located in Krakow and was built in the 14th century. It is a brick Gothic styled church. The interior houses monumental polychrome murals and a national treasure for Poland, The Altarpiece by Veit Stoss. This is also known as St. Mary's Altar and is a large Gothic altarpiece that sits behind the high altar. It was carved between 1477 and 1489 by the German-born sculptor Veit Stoss and was stolen by the Third Reich during World War II. The altarpiece was recovered after the war and put back in its rightful place. Another unique thing connected to the church is that every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, a trumpet signal—called the Hejnał mariacki—is played from the top of the taller of Saint Mary's two towers. The trumpet song breaks off in the middle to commemorate the death of a 13th century trumpeter who was shot in the throat while issuing a trumpet alarm about a Mongol attack. The spirit of that trumpeter haunts the church now. 


Wola Justowska (Voe lah You stow skaw)

There is an abandoned house in the Wola Justowska district of Krakow. The house is completely overgrown with vegetation and even has a tree growing through the middle of it. The windows and doors are boarded up. A story claims that a man hanged himself in the house in the 1990s and weird things happened to people who moved in afterwards. A married couple moved in first and they didn't last long, moving out within the month. The last straw for them was when their car started by itself and drove forward in the garage. The next couple who moved in, opened a jewelry shop in the house and they started finding the gems crushed in their drawers. An IT company were the next occupants and they left after the monitors started throwing themselves on the ground and several computers burned up. People who walk by claim to see lights and dancing shadows behind the boarded up windows. 

Zofiówka (Zoe fewv kaw) Sanatorium

The old Zofiówka Sanatorium is located in Otwock (Ott whahsk) near Warsaw. This was founded as a Jewish asylum for the treatment of mental disorders and was founded in 1908 by  Polish-Jewish neurologists Adam Wizel, Samuel Goldflam, Ludwik Bregman and Adolf Weisblat. They had formed the "Society for Poor Jews with Nervous and Mental Illnesses." There was an isolation ward for the most difficult patients. Conditions were never great, but they got worse during the occupation of Poland during World War II. Four hundred patients were starved there by the Nazis. A few of the doctors managed to escape, but the rest committed suicide to avoid torture. After the war, the Soviets reopened the sanatorium and it mainly cared for children. In 1985, care was mostly for those who were drug addicted and this continued through the 1990s when it closed. Locals claim to hear disturbing moans and disembodied footsteps. Some patients were taken out into the forest and killed by the Nazis and people have told stories of seeing blurred faces in the forest, surrounded by a strange glow.

Sobotka Hill (Soh Baht kah)

Sobotka Hill is located in Gdansk (guh dinesk) and the name translates to bonfire in English. There’s an old-deserted mansion sitting on an incline known as "Devils Hill." Legends claim that witches met with demons for forbidden rituals here. The real story is that a Masonic order used the mansion for meetings in the 19th century. They called it Lodge of Three Halls. Locals have seen weird flashing lights in the windows at night. Phantoms are said to walk the house. 

Wieliczka (Wee ah leets kah) Salt Mine

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is really something to see and it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is a story of a legendary treasurer connected to the mine. Inside the mine is the Treasurer Chamber. It is said that a ghost guarded the treasure in the mine: salt. Miners would tell stories about this spirit whom they called The Treasurer. This is a good spirit and the following story reveals that. There was a young boy who was very poor and he went to foreman at the mine to see if he could get work there. The foreman scoffed and told the boy that he probably couldn't handle the work. The boy begged for work and explained that he needed to help his family. The foreman relented and told the boy that he would give him a week to prove he could handle the work. As the boy worked, a miner came over to him and said that he would help the boy if the boy agreed to give him half of his wages. The boy agreed. The week ended and the boy had managed to prove himself. He went and got his wages and then he went to find the miner who helped him. The miner appeared to him and said that he was The Treasurer and that he was very proud of the boy because he proved to be honest. The Treasurer told him to keep all the wages. And then he disappeared. Now when The Treasurer shows up, he is usually warning of a disaster like a cave in, fire, explosion or flooding.

Liw (Lee ewe) Castle

The Liw Castle is located next to the winding Liwiec (Lee ewe wek) River in the town of Liw. The castle was built in the Gothic style in the first half of the 15th century. Masovian Duke Janusz I of Warsaw had ordered the construction to protect the river. The castle was expanded in 1549, but unfortunately burned to the ground in the mid 17th century. A manor house was built in 1792 on the site and this too ended up destroyed. The castle and manor house were rebuilt after World War II and they are today a museum. One of the families who had lived in the castle were the Kuczynskis (Coo chin ski). The castellan (kuh steh luhn) was Marcin (maar cheen) and he gave his wife Ludwika (lewd week ah) a richly ornamented ring. Somehow, the ring became lost, so Marcin ordered another one made. This ring too was lost. Marcin heard some rumors about his wife giving the rings to her lover and he believed them. So he ordered his wife beheaded. In the Spring, when the new gardens were being prepared, the two rings were found in the nest of a magpie that had fallen out of a tree. The wife had not been having an affair. The castellan was heartbroken and guilty and he killed himself. The wife's spirit is said to still walk the castle and she is seen in a yellow dress, so people refer to as the Yellow Lady.

Przemysl (puh sheh muh shl) Castle

The Przemysl Castle is located in Poznan (paaz nuhn). The castle started as a Slavonic fortified settlement known as a gord. A Polish king captured it in 1018 and built a Romanesque rotunda and great hall. In the 1300s, this was replaced with a Gothic castle that was destroyed in 1498. It was rebuilt and then later renovated into the Renaissance style in 1616. The castle was rebuilt, yet again, in 1762 and this is the castle that can be seen today. The Austrians stationed troops in the castle in the late 1700s during the partitioning of Poland, which eventually reduced the size of Poland to the point that it ceased to exist. The Austrians used the castle as a prison for Russian prisoners during World War I. Restorations were completed in both 1920 and 1980. The castle can be toured and features exhibitions on Casimir (kah zi meer) the Great, a mobile archery range and knight shows where people can learn how to sword fight and use bows. This is home to the Culture and Science Center as well. There are two ghosts here. One is believed to belong to a 13th-century duchess whose husband paid some servants to murder her while she bathed and the other is a black knight who sometimes accompanies her.

Kornik (Coor nik) Castle

Kórnik Castle is located in the town of Kornik near Poznań (paaz nuhn). The Gothic Revival castle was built in the 14th century and willed to Poland in 1924 and houses a museum and extensive library. This had belonged to Teofila (tae oh feel ah) Działyńska who was a well known Polish landowner. She wasn't as well known in life though as she was in death. She died in 1790 and that's when she started starring in ghost stories. Before her death, Teofila did a great job of preserving the land and renovating roads and bridges and she built a Lutheran church. She rebuilt the castle and established a great library inside, preserving many important books. But she made a big mistake before she passed. She decided to expand the castle again and in order to do this, a small hunter’s lodge that belonged to the Gorek family had to be torn down. Legend claimed that the family had buried their treasure in the lodge and conjured evil spirits to protect it. These spirits were disturbed when the lodge was torn down and so after Teofila died they punished her by forcing her to wander the castle for eternity. She manifests from a portrait of herself that hangs on the wall. In it, she wears a white dress so she is seen wandering the halls as the Lady in White.

Bobolice (Bo bo leetzay) Castle

King Casimir (kah zi meer) III the Great built the Bobolice Castle in the middle of the 14th century in the village of Bobolice. Polish King Louis I the Great gave the castle to a Hungarian Duke who leased the castle to another Hungarian who used the castle to conspire with the Teutonic Order and to rob local villagers. The king finally had enough of that and he invaded Bobolice and took back the castle. It then passed through various families, one of which was the Krezowie family. The niece ended up imprisoned in the castle where she died and she was also a spirit known as the lady in white. That's one version of the story. The other claims that there were twin brothers, one who lived at Bobolice and the other who lived at Mirow Castle. They built a tunnel between the two castles and hid a treasure in it that they had a witch guard for them. One brother went away and when he returned, he brought a back a beautiful girl with him. He eventually suspected that his brother had fallen in love with the girl, so he locked the girl into the cellar down by the treasure. The next witches' sabbath, the witch left for Bald Mount and the other brother snuck down and slept with the girl. The twin came back and caught them and killed his brother. He then bricked the girl in and she died. She now haunts the castle as the Lady in White. She prefers the castle tower. Today, the castle is privately owned.

Niedzica (Need Zeeca) Castle

Niedzica Castle is in the southernmost part of Poland. The castle was built in 1320 and was a border post with Hungary. The castle is Gothic in styling and has been renovated several times through the centuries. Despite being in Poland, it mostly housed Hungarians. The last Hungarian inhabitants left in 1943 and the Red Army eventually marched in and took it during the war. The country of Poland took ownership in 1963 and runs it as a museum. The original Gothic castle is mostly in ruins, but its dungeons are intact. The legend connected to this castle is about Sebastian Berzeviczy, who owned the castle in the 18th century. He traveled to the New World and fell in love with an Inca princess and they had a daughter who married the nephew of a descendant of Inca kings. The group eventually fled to Italy with some sacred scrolls that included a treasure map to where a lost Inca treasure was hidden at Lake Titicaca in Peru. The family brought the scrolls to the castle and people still believe that the map is hidden in the depths of the castle. The spirit of the Inca princess is said to haunt the castle, probably to guard the map.

Czocha (Cho Ha) Castle

The Czocha Castle is located in Sucha (such ah) and is nicknamed the "ghost fortress" and that is because it is so full of ghosts. The castle was built in the 13th century and then was rebuilt in 1909 by Ernest Gütschow, a German entrepreneur. The castle is a hotel today. There are several spirits that haunt the bridge that leads into the castle gates. These people were part of a funeral procession in 1719 and the bridge collapsed underneath them. They drowned in the moat and now their moans are heard. One of the castle's owners had an unfaithful wife and he ordered her drowned in the well in the courtyard. Her cries are still heard coming from the well. She apparently had a child fathered by her lover and the child was bricked into the castle. Are you sensing that Poland likes stories about bricking in people in the castles? The cries of the baby are heard coming from the walls. The German entrepreneur Gütschow had several spouses who were all unfaithful and he would throw them into the castle’s dungeon through a secret trapdoor hidden in his bedroom. Their souls are said to be imprisoned in the maze of underground corridors. There's a White Lady here too. This was a woman named Gertrude who lived in the castle with her brother in the 15th century. She turned traitor on him and helped the Hussites mount an attack on her brother. He managed to protect himself and the castle and when he found out his sister had betrayed him, he had her beheaded. A curse was called down on her so that she couldn't even enter the gates of Hell and she is doomed to walk the castle forever.

Halszka (Howl skah) Tower

The Halszka Tower was one of the defensive towers from a medieval castle that was built in the 14th century. This is also called the Tower of the Black Princess. Her real name was Halszka from Ostrog. Her father wanted her to marry Lukasz (Loo Kash) Gorka, but she wasn't having any of that, so she was imrpisoned in the tower from 1559 to 1573. Apparently, she was forced to wear an iron mask while in there. Today, it is said that she haunts the tower.

Ogrodzieniec (Oh grah jin yitz) Castle 

Ogrodzieniec Castle now lies in ruins. It dates to medieval times and sits upon the mountain, from which the castle gets its name. The castle was built into the rocks around it, so it was well fortified. Several families have owned it through the centuries and it has been occupied and burned several times. The ruins have been preserved and can be toured. There are a couple of ghosts here. The first belongs to a big black dog that rattles a chain that is around its neck. The spectral dog has been seen walking the grounds. A man who owned the castle in the 17th century named Stanisław (stanee suave)Warszycki (war zik ee) haunts the ruins. he had made a fortune in his time and didn't want to share it with anyone. He was a very cruel man as well and liked to make use of a torture chamber in the castle. It is said that the Devil took the man straight to Hell when he died, but people claim to see his apparition and to him walking around. perhaps he is still trying to guard his wealth.

Some famous Poles were Frederic Chopin and Marie Curie. Chopin has a ghost story about him shared on Classical Public Radio WDAV's website, "Chopin’s restless spirit strikes again! In fact, this story is just one of several spooky experiences pianist Byron Janis has had involving the late composer. Feeling a supernatural link with Chopin, Janis was once gifted a rare cast of the composer’s face from Georges Sand’s estate, which he proudly displayed on his piano. One day, guests who were visiting Janis’ family at home asked about the mask – and suddenly, something remarkable happened. Salty fluid began to leak from the cast’s eyes, followed by a frothy foam bubbling forth from its mouth, leaving the family and guests in awe and 'terribly shocked.' Janis’ explanation for the incident? The mask was crying tears of joy – and 'Chopin was happy he could communicate, somehow, with the current world.'" Was this really Chopin back from the grave? Are any of these Polish locations harboring spirits? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, December 21, 2023

HGB Ep. 517 - Haunted Cemeteries 28

Our sponsor for this episode is StoryWorth. Go to to get $10 off your first purchase!

Moment in Oddity - Lake Bacon 

Who here loves bacon, raise your hand. I'm sure many of you listeners raised your hands with Diane and I. OK, now who here loves Lake Bacon? What is lake bacon you ask? Well, back at the start of the 20th century, America was experiencing a meat shortage. The population was growing by leaps and bounds. Land was overgrazed and the Bison were in danger of becoming extinct. A resourceful fellow by the name of Frederick Russell Burnham came up with an alternative to the typical meats Americans consumed. Can you guess what Lake Bacon is referring to now? Frederick was a soldier and chief of scouts for the British army during the Second Boer War. He then made his home in Africa in 1893. Meat animals of American fare such as cows, sheep and chickens were not native to America and yet that is what made up a large part of peoples diets. So Frederick Burnham proposed Hippopotamus meat. At the time, African animals like ostriches and camels had been introduced to particular areas of America and had adapted very well. Even Louisiana Congressman Robert Broussard was on board with the importation of hippos thinking they would solve his problem with invasive water hyacinths. The plants plagued the waters of New Orleans choking out the fish supply and hippopotami love eating hyacinths. A bill was then introduced in 1910, the H.R. 23261, also known as the Hippo Bill. It was meant to acquire $250,000 in funding to import useful animals, of which hippos were included, into America. The New York Times even wrote an article describing the taste of hippo meat with many Americans believing that the meat would be available very soon. The bill failed which ultimately turned grazing lands into feed lots and everglades and marshes were drained to create grasslands for cattle. Had the bill passed, Sunday morning breakfast could very well find many of us noshing on Lake Bacon today, and that certainly is odd.

This Month in History - How the Grinch Stole Christmas Premiered

In the month of December, on the 18th, in 1966, the original telecast of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas, premiered on CBS in the United States. Since then the children's book turned animated movie has become a perennial holiday special. Most of our listeners appreciate the original movie's narrator and voice of the Grinch as performed by Boris Karloff. The story of the Grinch with a heart that is two sizes too small, displays how a little bit of kindness can change the outward perception of a person, or Grinch. Disguised as Santa Claus, the Grinch raids the homes of Whoville on Christmas Eve. He steals their gifts and holiday treats assisted by his dog Max who is disguised as a reindeer. The pair then retreat to the Grinch's icy mountain top lair with their loot. On Christmas morning, the Grinch is shocked to hear the Whos of Whoville still singing a joyous song despite having all their gifts and holiday meals stolen. His shenanigans to stop Christmas in Whoville were thwarted in part by the kindness of Cindy Loowho, as well as the singing of the Whos. It's then that the Grinch realizes that Christmas still came regardless of his actions: 'It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. Maybe Christmas...perhaps means a little bit more.' The Grinch then proceeds to bring all the gifts and Christmas goodies back to Whoville and is welcomed back into their community with the Grinch himself carving the roasted beast for the Christmas feast.

Haunted Cemeteries 28

Cemeteries are always fun to visit and when they have ghost stories connected to them, it's even better. On this Haunted Cemeteries episode, we feature cemeteries in Alabama, Ohio, Texas and Nebraska. As taphophiles, we also treasure the unique and odd that can be found in cemeteries and we are going to share some of that here too, as well as a very solemn cemetery for infants. And who doesn't want to hear about a place connected to death called Dead Man's Hole? Join us for a walk through some cities of the dead!

Dead Man's Hole

Death for so many has a pit stop at a mortuary before heading off to a cemetery. We're going to start this episode off talking about an obscure mortuary that was shared to us by listener and Executive Producer Beth VanderYacht. Ever heard of Dead Man's Hole? The River Thames has played final resting place to many bodies for hundreds of years. The Tower Bridge was completed and opened in 1894. The bridge was designed in the Neo-Gothic style and formed from a solid steel frame after a competition was run for a design and abandoned. There were 50 entries that had been submitted and one that was rejected was by civil engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry. An architect named Sir Horace Jones teamed up with Barry and they altered the design slightly and proposed it, gaining approval from Parliament in 1884. Jones never got to see the bridge finished as he died one year into construction. The bridge took 8 years to complete with 31 million bricks and 13 million rivets installed into it. It allows ships through by moving the roads like two giant seesaws that pivot.

On the eastern side of the bridge there is an alcove under the bridge that has glossy white tiles. This is Dead Man's Hole. Like so many bridges in the world, there are many people who have met death from the bridge. These could be victims of accidents, murder or suicide. Their bodies tended to float into this alcove and a pole and hook system would be used to fish the bodies out of the water. The bodies would then be left on display to see if anyone would identify and claim them. Sometimes those bodies would be waiting a long time. Long enough to explode from decomp. You can visit this spot and would never know what had once been here, save for the hook and pole that still hang on the wall.

Camping with a Grave

This next burial isn't haunted that we know of, but it's interesting because of its location and we figured you taphophiles would appreciate hearing about it. In the Ossineke State Forest Campground there is a campsite that overlooks Lake Huron. Not many people would expect to find a grave at a campsite, but this pine surrounded and beach adjacent site is the final resting place for A.J. Michalowski. And he's been here a long time. And old gravestone marks the spot under a tree and most people find it adorned with trinkets left behind as memorials. A.J. was only twenty-six when he drowned in Lake Huron back in 1865. He had worked nearby at the old Oliver sawmill and one day when he was off of work, he decided to sail a small boat across Thunder Bay to Alpena. This was in November and Lake Huron is known to get some wind that's nicknamed "the gales of November." A burst of wind probably capsized the small craft and A.J. drowned. His body washed up on shore very near to where he is buried. If you want to camp next to a dead guy, ask for Site Number 4.

XYZ Grave

And let's throw in one more odd burial. This one is found in a gorgeous and very peaceful cemetery called Fountain Hill Cemetery. It's located in Deep River, Connecticut. Back in the winter of 1899, four men staged a bank robbery at the Deep River Savings Bank. What the robbers didn't know was that the bank had been tipped off that it was being targeted and they hired a local man named Harry Tyler to guard the place at night. One of the men was in the process of prying open one of the bank's tall windows when a shot rang out and hit him in the head. He fell back dead and his three accomplices scattered. Nobody identified or claimed the body, so the town decided to bury the criminal in an unmarked grave at the Fountain Hill Cemetery. Harry Tyler received a letter shortly after the burial and it requested that the robber's grave be marked with a cross that had the letters X, Y and Z on it. There was no name attached, but Tyler could tell that the writing was female. He complied. After the cross started to deteriorate, the town put a small shoebox size stone on the plot and marked it with XYZ. People claimed that a woman dressed in black would visit the grave every year in December. She would leave a small flower. Apparently, this went on for forty years. A newspaper article identified the dead robber as Frank Howard, but his stone has still always just read XYZ.

Arlington's Lost Cemetery of Infants

We heard about this location from our friend Maria Wessenauer over at Hollywood Exhumed. This is located at 801 West Mitchell Street in the northwest corner of Doug Russell Park in Arlington, Texas. For most of history, an unmarried pregnant woman was a pariah and usually sent off into seclusion to have her baby. The Berachah Industrial Home was founded by Reverend James Tony Upchurch in 1903 and  offered these women a place to stay. They not only had a place that cared for them, but they got training to help them reintegrate into society. The home became its own self-sustaining town. There was also an orphanage that opened here around 1935. As time went on, the home closed and the buildings were demolished to make way for the University of Texas Arlington. What has remained through it all is the little lost cemetery that became a final resting place for babies who were stillborn or died from complications during childbirth. The first burial was Eunice Williams who was one of the residents. There are eighty graves in total. People have reported seeing shadow figures darting between the trees and the disembodied sounds of children and babies are heard.

Bladon Springs Cemetery in Alabama

Bladon Springs is located in Choctaw County in Alabama and is named for the nearby mineral springs that had a hotel and spa spring up around them. A cemetery was established and is located at 3599 Bladon Springs Road. It's surrounded by a wrought-iron fence with the familiar arched wrought-iron sign above the entrance. This is a fairly small cemetery with around 150 burials, mostly of families. But that doesn't stop it from having a big reputation as creepy and haunted. The main spirit belongs to Norman Staples whose grave can be found towards the back of the cemetery and to the right under a Spanish-moss laden oak tree. Norman was the son of James T. Staples who was a steamboat entrepreneur. Norman followed in his father's footsteps and upon James' death, he took over ownership of the steamship James T. Staples, which had been launched in 1908. Papers declared this the grandest steamboat on the rivers of Alabama. Norman wasn't great with money and was soon heavily in debt and the steamship was seized in 1912. Watching the steamship get auctioned off was too much for Norman and he shot himself in the chest with a shotgun, killing himself on January 2, 1913. He was buried at Bladon Springs Cemetery and soon after, crewmen on the James T. Staples claimed they saw Norman's spirit walking the deck at night. The ghost was also seen in the boiler room. Shortly after that sighting, the boiler exploded and killed 26 crewmen. This blew it from its moorings at the dock and it floated down the Tombigbee River to the Bladon Springs Cemetery and sank. The explosion and sinking was the last great steamboat accident on an Alabama river. Norman's spirit is said to have left the sinking ship and now resides at the cemetery where it has been seen walking among the tombstones. He seems to favor the graves of his four children: James Alfred, Berth Jaddetta, Mable Claire, and an unnamed infant. They all died before the age of six.

Chestnut Street Cemetery

Chestnut Street Cemetery in Cincinnati is also known as the Old Jewish Cemetery and is the oldest Jewish burial ground west of the Alleghenies. In the early 1800s, there weren't many Jews in Cincinnati and thus there was no separate burial ground for them. One of them was named Benjamin Lieb, although nobody knew that he was a Jew. He was living as a Noachide as he married a Gentile. He became gravely ill and knew he was going to die, so he went to the other Jews and begged them to bury him as a Jew. He then confided that he was a Jew. The community decided that they should buy a plot of their own and they paid $75.00 to Nicholas Longworth for a small plot. Lieb was the first burial. There would be 85 total burials before the cemetery was full. A cholera epidemic that hit Cincinnati in 1849 filled it up quickly. It was closed and then it was decided to move the burials to a bigger cemetery named Walnut Hills Cemetery. And that's where our haunting comes in.

The haunting centers around a man named Edgar Johnson. He was a prominent New York lawyer whose father was buried in the Chestnut Street Cemetery. He threatened to sue if his father's remains were moved. So Edgar's father went nowhere and Edgar himself died in 1893. He apparently intended to guard his father's remains even after death. A woman claimed to see something strange in the cemetery shortly after Johnson's death. She was passing a high brick wall that separated the cemetery from the street and when she got to the gate, she looked through it and something "of large proportions, wrapped in a winding sheet and the face glowing as though phosphorescent. It had a smooth gait, and the arms were crossed before the breast. Its step was measured, but long, and it appeared to move slightly above the grass. It encountered no obstacles, even though it passed the overturned head and foot stones. No rustling came from its trailing garments. Occasionally, it would stop, the arms drop and the body bend forward, as though the glowing eyes were making close quest of some object." This figure was heading straight for her and she tried to scream, but no sound came out of her mouth. She was frozen to her spot, unable to move. The figure then turned towards the shadows and dissolved away. The woman finally found her feet and headed for the police station where she reported the encounter. A police officer who took the report believed that she had seen something that scared her, but as to what it was, he wasn't sure. People started claiming that it was Edgar guarding his father. Investigators also claim that this cemetery is a hotbed for EVPs and have captured human whispers or barking dogs when no dogs were heard audibly.

Port Isabel Cemetery

Port Isabel Cemetery is located in Port Isabel, Texas. Port Isabel is as far south as one can get in Texas and on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. The town was established after the Mexican War of Independence and became a major exporter of cotton. Because of its location, the Union and Confederates fought over the town and each held control of it and its port at different times. But before this, Mexico owned this part of Texas and the land where the cemetery was founded was granted to a man named Don Rafael Garcia by the Mexican government. Garcia founded a ranch on the land in 1829 called El Fronton de Santa Isabel, which translates to Saint Elizabeth's Bluff. He didn't live at the ranch, but rather hired workers to operate it. These workers were the ones who laid out an acre of the land as a burial site. It's believed this dates back to the 1840s, but no burials remain from that time. The oldest marked graves date to the 1880s. Initially, this was consecrated as Catholic ground, but it eventually became a community cemetery. The Champion Family immigrated from Italy and owned the property in the early 19th century. They donated the cemetery to the Catholic Church in 1926. 

Apparently, there is a haunted tree here. A woman's grandmother had told her a story about what was called the Sybil Child haunting a tree at the cemetery. The Sybil Child had been a prophet a couple hundred years ago. This woman went to the cemetery after midnight on the night of a full moon, which her grandmother had told her were the requirements to guarantee a sighting. The woman waited to see if any tree in particular seemed to call to her and then she headed towards a nondescript tree in the center of the graveyard. She knelt next to the tree and closed her eyes. Almost immediately she saw "flashes and glimpses, too fast for me to process, played against the back of my eyelids. My eyes were closed, but I knew that the skin on my arms and neck had become the color of moss. I was sick. My skin turned to moss, then my flesh, and finally, my bones showed through.” The woman then claimed that she was given a vision of cities filled with green moss that was an illness like a plague. It spread like wildfire across the world. The woman screamed and her eyes snapped open. She was all alone in the cemetery and it was quiet. Her skin was normal. She claimed to see the vision over and over again for quite some time. Had she been given a vision by the Sybil Child? This child would go into a trance and walk the town every full moon and she would report tales of doom. So she was like a walking harbinger of doom. One morning after a full moon, she simply disappeared. And now she gives visions to those seeking them at the Port Isabel Cemetery. There is also said to be the apparition of a little boy that wanders throughout the cemetery.

Ball Cemetery

Ball Cemetery is located at 20999 South 176th Street in Springfield, Nebraska. The cemetery is named for the Ball family, a pioneer family, who own it privately. We're not sure when it was founded, but the oldest headstone dates to 1869. The cemetery was open to burials for people other than members of the Ball family. One of these people was William Liddiard. He was born in England in 1850 and immigrated to America when he was seventeen-years-old. He served as Sarpy County Sheriff for eight years and then served as deputy United States Marshal for five years. He also served as a scout under General Miles and the General gave him the nickname "Rattlesnake Pete" because he regularly killed rattlesnakes out on the trails. One day, he killed as many as 500. And he left Springfield, Nebraska to join Buffalo Bill for some adventures. Here is a letter from Cody to Rattlesnake Pete, "My dear Bill, I will let you know about bringing Indians soon as I can hear from my agents in Paris—in two or three weeks. We are after a great Building there. My business is simply great. We will get pretty near to $70.000 here this week. Your friend, Bill Cody."

There are believed to be several spirits in the cemetery. One of them is Rattlesnake Pete who passed July 15, 1906 in Wyoming and was brought back to Nebraska to be buried in Ball Cemetery. There is another spirit who seems to be angry and has physically touched people in rough ways. There is a female spirit who has been heard both singing and speaking softly. She laughs too, particularly after someone feels their clothing get tugged. The spirit is said to belong to a woman named Mary Mumford. A strange mist has formed in the cemetery and disembodied footsteps are heard, especially in the fall when there are leaves on the ground. 

There are many unique stories connected to these cemeteries. Each is special in their own way. Several seem to have spirits. Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, December 14, 2023

HGB Ep. 516 - Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst

Moment in Oddity -  Montenegro Tree Fountain

In the village of Dinosa, Montenegro, there is a unique tree that streams water after heavy rainfalls. Apparently, there is a cavity in the tree that reaches its base and when groundwater from the local springs increases, the water is forced up through the trees' trunk. After hard rainfalls it occurs at quite a rapid rate approximately 5 feet high from the ground, creating quite a spectacular natural fountain. The species of tree is a mulberry and it is estimated to be approximately 100 to 150 years old. The rise in groundwater that helps cause this phenomenon usually occurs in spring or autumn, typically happening once a year. The people of Dinosa have witnessed the tree fountain since the 1990's. Although this isn't the only tree fountain in the world, it is a rare phenomenon which certainly makes it odd.

This Month in History - Premiere of Playboy Magazine

In the month of December, on the 1st, in 1953, Playboy magazine debuted with Marilyn Monroe on the cover. Also known by her given name, Norma Jeane, she didn't actually pose for the 'Sweetheart' centerfold in the inaugural issue as many people believed. The first issue of the men's lifestyle and entertainment cover read, "Marilyn Monroe Nude". Hugh Hefner never paid her a single cent, nor did Marilyn give permission for the then four year old photos to be used. As it turns out, the photos were not acquired legally. Back in 1949, Norma Jeane needed money to pay her bills. Lacking a job and cash she posed for Tom Kelley, a pinup photographer. She was paid $50 and the photographer promised that he would make her look unrecognizable. She signed the photos release documents as Mona Monroe. She stated that the reason for her signature and request was, "I don’t know why, except I may have wanted to protect myself, I was nervous, embarrassed, even ashamed of what I had done, and I did not want my name to appear on that model release." Regardless, the photos were sold and just a year after her photoshoot Marilyn Monroe started experiencing her breakout success as an actor appearing in 'All About Eve', 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' and so many other films. Playboy's Hugh Hefner quickly tagged along on Monroe's dress tails (as it were). Hefner maximized his investment after purchasing the rights to her photos and using them in his premiere magazine release as the first Playboy Sweetheart, later to have the moniker of 'Playmate of the month'. Sadly, Marilyn was never paid more than the original $50 for her shoot, never received a thank you or any other compensation while many made millions off her photos. Norma Jeane was urged to deny that the photos were actually of her, but despite the warnings, she confirmed the photos were indeed her and she stated later that they surprisingly helped her career. Ironically, despite not having any real connection with Marilyn, Hugh Hefner was said to have purchased the burial plot next to her for $75,000 back in 1992, stating that "spending eternity next to Marilyn is too sweet to pass up".

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (Suggested by: Samantha Napier)

Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst in Trenton, New Jersey is a very unique military base in that it is the only tri-service base in the United States Department of Defense. All six armed forces branches have units stationed there. The name is derived from the United States Air Force's McGuire Air Force Base, the United States Army's Fort Dix and the United States Navy's Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst. This location was the scene of the horrific crash of the Hindenburg in the 1930s. Several buildings on the base are said to be haunted. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the place most commonly known as Fort Dix!

The Lakehurst Naval Air Station is located in Manchester Township in New Jersey. This began as Lakehurst Maxfield Field, which was a test range for ammunition being manufactured for the armed land force of Imperial Russia. This was in 1916. During World War I, the United States Army acquired the field and reopened it as Camp Kendrick. In 1921, the United States Navy purchased the property. The Navy decided to use it as an airship station and that is when the name changed to Lakehurst Naval Air Station. This would become the center of airship development in the United States. This work would continue until it was deactivated in 1962 and surprisingly, airship operations were resumed in 2006. In the field behind the large airship hangars is a memorial to a famous disaster that took place here: The Hindenburg Disaster. 

The LZ 129 Hindenburg was a German rigid airship that carried passengers. This class of airship was named for Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, who was President of Germany from 1925 until his death in 1934. The Hindenburg class were the longest class of dirigibles. The LZ 129 was the largest airship at that time and was designed by the Zeppelin Company, which was named for German airship innovator Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. The airship was a great success and made ten trips to the United States in 1936. This attracted the attention of American Airlines and they contracted with the Zeppelin Company to have the Hindenburg shuttle passengers from Lakehurst to Newark for connections to airplane flights. On May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg was making a landing at Lakehurst when things went terribly wrong. There had been a storm, so the Hindenburg took a bit of a detour. At 7pm, the Hindenburg made its way back to Lakehurst and was coming in for its final approach. The airship was half full with 36 passengers and 61 crew members and running off of highly flammable hydrogen gas. 

A special flying moor was going to be rigged in which the ship would be winched down to the mooring mast. The Hindenburg made a sharp turn because the ground crew wasn't ready, the wind shifted and another sharp turn was made. Water ballast was dropped and six men were then sent to the bow to trim the airship. Mooring lines were dropped and the port line was overtightened and then it seemed as though gas started leaking, there was some static electricity and flames burst out. Eyewitnesses all saw different things, so it's hard to know exactly what happened. The flames spread quickly and the bow lurched upwards and the ship's back broke. The tail crashed to the ground and flames burst from the nose killing 9 crew members. The fire burned for hours. In the end, there were a total of 35 deaths out of 97 people on the airship, including 13 of the 36 passengers and 22 of the 61 crew. Many survivors were badly burned.

Herbert Morrison was broadcasting for WLS radio and here is part of that famous coverage, "It's burst into flames! Get this, Charlie; get this, Charlie! It's fire... and it's crashing! It's crashing terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! It's burning and bursting into flames and the... and it's falling on the mooring mast and all the folks between it. This is terrible; this is one of the worst of the worst catastrophes in the world. Oh it's... [unintelligible] its flames... Crashing, oh! Oh, four or five hundred feet into the sky, and it's a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. There's smoke, and there's flames, now, and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity, and all the passengers screaming around here! I told you; it – I can't even talk to people, their friends are on there! Ah! It's... it... it's a... ah! I... I can't talk, ladies and gentlemen. Honest: it's just laying there, a mass of smoking wreckage. Ah! And everybody can hardly breathe and talk and the screaming. I... I... I'm sorry. Honest: I... I can hardly breathe. I... I'm going to step inside, where I cannot see it. Charlie, that's terrible. Ah, ah... I can't. Listen, folks; I... I'm gonna have to stop for a minute because I've lost my voice. This is the worst thing I've ever witnessed."

The Air Station later hosted the U.S. Navy's first helicopter squadrons and today is used for Naval Aviation programs with two runways that are still in use. Base Realignment and Closure merged the Naval Air Station with two neighboring military bases. One of those was Fort Dix, which started as Camp Dix in 1917 in Wrightstown, New Jersey. This was named in honor of Major General John Adams Dix who served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Buchanan. He actually had a long list of accomplishments. Dix was a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Civil War, and a former United States Senator and Governor of New York. After May 1918, Dix was used as an embarkation camp and then as a demobilization center. This became one of the largest camps in the Northeast and had a history of mobilizing, training and demobilizing soldiers. It was renamed Fort Dix in 1939. This was an all-male base until 1978 when the first female recruits entered basic training there. Dix ended its active Army training mission in 1988 due to Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations. It began a new mission of providing training for Army Reserve and Army National Guard Soldiers. 

McGuire Air Force Base was originally known as Fort Dix Airport. It was established in 1937 in Burlington County near Wrightstown in New Jersey. The airport opened to military aircraft in 1941. Seven years later on January 13, 1948 the United States Air Force renamed the facility McGuire Air Force Base. This was in honor of Major Thomas Buchanan McGuire Jr. whom died during World War II in 1945 as he was engaged in an aerial dogfight and giving aid to his wingman. He was given the Medal of Honor and was a second place American flying ace of World War II. McGuire Air Force Base became the Air Force's "Gateway to the East." In 1954, the Military Air Transport Service took over jurisdiction of McGuire AFB and in 1992, the base became part of the newly reorganized Air Mobility Command.

The largest building on Fort Dix had been Walson Army Hospital. We say "had been" because it was dismantled over years and finally demolished in 2018. The hospital opened on March 15, 1960 named for Brigadier General Charles M. Walson and had been built to replace the wooden buildings built during World War II. The hospital was two 9-story ward wings and a 9-story service wing with a 500-bed hospital that could be expanded to 1,000 beds. Medicines and messages were whisked to all floors through pneumatic tubes. Surgical facilities included eight fully equipped operating rooms, X-ray, dental, eye-ear-nose-throat, childcare, neuro-psychiatric, and therapy clinics and an emergency operating room was located near the ambulance entrance. Nurses quarters were completed in 1963 and in June 1965, a $1.3 million construction program began on a two-story addition for clinics and a one-story Air Evacuation Section. During the realignment of 1992, Walson Army Hospital was transferred to McGuire Air Force Base and was renamed Walson Air Force Hospital. In April 2001, the Hospital was closed and as we said, it was demolished by 2018.

There are several locations on the base that are reputed to be haunted. One of the main locations was the  Base Medical Building or Walson Hospital when it still stood. There were reports of people hearing disembodied voices and the lights turning on and off by themselves. Visitors claimed to see floating orbs and experienced sudden temperature drops. The morgue was one of the more haunted areas. At the admittance station on the Dental Floor, a woman was talking to another employee when she saw a figure float behind the employee and she knew they were the only people there. It floated away and disappeared. Another woman saw an apparition and she ran to a door that shouldn't have been locked and it took several tries before the door would finally open and she could run away. She was terrified. 

Dameyon Beamon was a member of the 305th Medical Group at Walson from 1995 to 1997 and he claimed to encounter unexplained things. He said, "I worked nights at the primary care clinic. On many occasions when we would do security checks, the front door that used to be the pharmacy entrance would be unlocked, even if only an hour ago it was locked tight." One night, Beamon and a co-worker went to the ninth floor, which was the former psychiatric ward and they noticed an open window in one of the rooms. Beamon said, "At the precise moment Clark closed the window, the light in the room flickered, turned off and then came back on." There was also an experience for Beamon when he was exploring the old morgue. He was looking at some pictures there when he heard "the sound of a grown man crying."

Username grydberg wrote, "I have a great story from Ft. Dix haunted hospital. I was stationed at Ft. Dix from late 1997-mid-1999. One summer day in 1998, my friend and I decided to go check out the top 5 floors. We took the freight elevator, because the patient elevator stops after the 4th floor. We went to the 9th, then 8th floor with nothing abnormal, as soon as we stepped off the elevator on the 7th floor, the psych ward, things got strange. First of all, the temp dropped, not enough to see our breath, but there was a drop, the lights were flickering like crazy, and my friends brick walkie-talkie was going crazy. He thought someone was trying to get a hold of him, but no one responded, then we heard the patient elevators close, and we jumped back in the elevator. We went back to the 7th floor about 45 minutes later, and everything was normal. The lights were lit, and the temp was normal. We checked things out, and did not see anything abnormal. There are stories of babies crying, and a real neat story of the floors on the OB floor being freshly mopped. There is a mop and bucket that was left up there, and the floor will be wet, with foot steps across it, and the mop and bucket are dry. I also worked with a girl, and she was in the back of the lab, and she saw an image of a person walking behind her in the computer screen, when she turned around, no one was there. The last is an inquiry. I heard that there was a "super-soldier" being created in the sub-basement. Supposedly right after Vietnam War, the basement was quickly cemented in, and to this day, there is a crawl space, and the suspended ceiling is still there. I would like more information if someone can find it. The last story is of the morgue. I had keys to the morgue, so we would go down and check things out. The lights never work, they continuously flicker, and you can feel a presence when you lay down in the cooler. We would lay down on the morgue table, and be pushed back into the cooler. I did this only once, because I felt like someone was lying next to me."

The Garden Terrace had once been a Teen Center. A boy aged around 15-years-old has been seen walking around the Garden Terrace and people know that he isn't human because he fades away. He is usually seen wearing jeans, a blue jean jacket and a red hat. He has blonde hair. Username Stubbly Dooright wrote, "One night, on a late Friday night, another friend and myself were pulling out of a street, and at the intersection of that street into another, noticed a young man in blue jeans and a blue jacket with a red cap, walking across. I remember pointed out to my friend how I thought that the cap didn't go with his outfit. My friend was driving and so when she slowly pulled to a stop, after the young man crossed the street we were driving on, I looked at the young man, to see if he would turn his head to see if we were too close. I would have. Anyways, I noticed that he didn't and I thought that was strange. I then turned my head, where my friend looked at him and then she told me she saw him fade away. I didn't think that happened, and said that being dark and woods around the area, he must have ran into the woods. She accepted that explanation, but with reluctance."

The Airfield where the Hindenberg crashed and burst into flames is also haunted. The dead were taken to the nearby Hangar 1, which may be one of the reasons why the hangar is said to be haunted. At the Airfield, people feel creepy and sad. Some people have claimed to hear disembodied voices shouting, “She’s afire!” outside the hangar. The Second Deck in the hangar is a place where people have experienced unexplained activity. On one quiet weekend, there was only one person in the hangar and he heard voices coming from a corner of the Second Deck. He walked over and could clearly make out music and voices speaking a language he believed to be German. They seemed to be coming from the other side of a door, so he opened it and all the noise immediately stopped. The hangar is said to create its own weather conditions sometimes. One time there was a ground mist that was about four feet tall around three o'clock in the morning. There was only one employee in there and he saw two heads bobbing above the mist on the far end of the hangar and it gave him chills and sent him running out. He locked up and went home. A nightwatchmen was on duty and he heard someone call his name in Hangar 1. There was no one else there and he saw a figure moving towards him and he noticed that this figure had an ashen face. The spirit called his name again and then walked right through him. He ran out of the Hangar and never returned. 

Ghost Hunters visited on Season 5, Episode 26. In the Hangar, Dustin Pari was investigating with Britt and Dustin heard something walk above him. They also saw a figure in the Hangar in the far right corner where most of the activity is alleged to happen. Kris and Amy investigated in there after them and they went into some upper offices that the guys didn't go into and they got a very oppressive feeling in there that caused them fear. Then they felt like something flew over the top of them. A light went off and the ladies heard noises like a man grunting or clearing his voice. Kris said she had never been that freaked out on an investigation before. Grant and Jason saw a figure that looked like it was going up some stairs and then they heard what sounded like 15 people making noise together. They called for the figure to come on down and then they saw the figure look over the railing and then it was gone. In the Medical Building, Amy and Kris kept seeing a light turn on and off at the end of the hallway.

There have been stories that people have seen the Jersey Devil around the base. Most of these reports came in during World War II. Housing units have reports of weird sightings. One that is called Kennedy Court had residents who reported glowing red eyes that peer at them from the nearby woods at night. The trails near the housing units are said to have no wildlife and no sounds are heard. There definitely seems to be some weird stuff going on at this base. Is Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, December 7, 2023

HGB Ep. 515 - Cleveland Grays Armory

Moment in Oddity - Roland the Farter

Worldwide, current day and old, talents performed by individuals have varied greatly. Surely Roland, Court Minstrel to 12th century King Henry II had multiple talents but today the court jester is most well known for one specific performance every Christmas. One of his monikers was 'Roland the Farter'. It is recorded in history that each Christmas Roland had a single job in the court. He was to perform a dance that culminated with one jump, one whistle and one fart all at the same time! Releasing that basement pressure is always a relief for the frantic person afflicted. However, it is a global distress that can bring on embarrassment and shame regardless of the society one lives in, as well as resulting in odiferous fumes of course. It is a natural process of the human body and even Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer and so may other writers included the humor of flatulence in their recorded pieces. Regardless, being employed for a performance requiring a foul, flying flatulence accompanied by a whistle, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Liquid Paper (Suggested by: Chelsea Flowers)

In the month of December, on the first, in 1951, Bette Nesmith Graham invented liquid paper. When Bette was hired as a secretary, typing took up a large portion of her job. Unfortunately she was not the best typist. During that same Christmas season at her secretarial job, she noticed a man painting a sign on a bank's storefront. Any time the man made a mistake, he would paint over it to cover the error and proceed with his work. At this time, Graham was attempting to use the new electric typewriter which was, in theory, meant to make typing easier. However, every time she made an error, trying to correct it would leave a smeared mess. Watching the painter across the way inspired Bette. She decided to use white tempura paint to mix a solution in her kitchen blender. She then brought it to the office to test painting it over a mistyped letter, letting it air dry before typing the correction. It worked and she named her invention 'Mistake Out'. When word spread about her invention it blew up. Be that as it may, it took five years for Bette to imagine selling her product. She began working nights and weekends with her son Michael (of The Monkees fame) to fill up the needed bottles. It wasn't until 1956 that she collaborated with her son's chemistry teacher and a paint manufacturer to further develop what would later become Liquid Paper. Once she patented her invention it blew up, but she was fired from her secretarial job due to her poor typing skills. Her business for liquid paper grew rapidly leaving her wealthy and a philanthropist. Bette later created multiple foundations supporting women and female entrepreneurship and artistic endeavors.

Cleveland Grays Armory

Cleveland sits on the opposite side of Lake Erie from Canada. While this proximity is not worrisome to us today, there was a time when Cleveland was worried that Canadians might invade their city. They needed a military group for protection and so they formed one. This group eventually was known as the Cleveland Grays and they built an armory that is today a museum. A haunted one apparently. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Cleveland Grays Armory!

There was a time in America's history where we didn't have a National Guard and each city was responsible for its own protection. The type of threat posed to a city depended on its location. For Cleveland, the greatest threat would be coming from the North. The War of 1812 had ended in 1815, but this didn't end hostilities between the British and some parts of America. The Canadian Rebellions of 1837 also caused concern with insurgents leading rebellions against the crown in Lower and Upper Canada. The fighting in Lower Canada was more intense, which is why Cleveland grew concerned. French Canadian farmers were struggling economically and many Canadians were calling for responsible government and London ignored the pleas. Patriot Rebels attacked British Regulars, but didn't fare well and many French Canadian settlements were burned. Many of the rebels fled to America. The Upper Canadian rebellion failed as well and the two colonies were formed into the Province of Canada. The rebels did; however, get responsible government.

The city guards not only provided military protection, but they would also participate in ceremonies, assist local police forces and form social clubs. Cleveland formed its own volunteer force made up of 65 men in 1837 and called it the Cleveland City Guards. Sounds like a sports team. Many cities used the term city guard, but others used light guard or simply guard, along with the name of the city. Cleveland decided it would rather take on the name of the color of their uniforms, which were gray, so in 1838 they became the Cleveland Grays. Those uniforms were very distinctive and members topped their look with tall black bearskin caps. Once a man had been a member for 25 years he was considered a "Pioneer" and could wear a leather apron with his uniform and he could carry an axe when on parade. 

Today, the Grays mainly work to preserve the military heritage of Cleveland and promote patriotism, but in the past they served as a military unit during the Spanish-American War, the Mexican Punitive Expedition in 1916, World War I and during the Civil War, they were the first company to leave Cleveland. This gave them the distinction of being the 1st Ohio Volunteer Infantry and they saw action at Vienna Station and the first Battle of Bull Run. They remained independent through the Civil War, but joined the National Guard during the Spanish-American War. After that ended, they returned to being independent. World War I saw the last active service of the Cleveland Grays as a unit. Individual members have gone on to serve in all wars up to the Persian and Gulf Wars. The men's only group now allows women to be members. 

Many of the city guards would build their own armories and Cleveland did just that in 1893, erecting a gorgeous Richardson Romanesque styled stonework building. But before that, the Grays set themselves up in different locations. They first occupied the fourth floor of the Mechanics Block and they were there for over 30 years. In 1870, they moved into a former fire station on Frankfort Street and in 1880 they moved into the new City Armory on Long Street. Unfortunately, fire destroyed much of that building in 1892.  The Grays managed to recover quickly despite losing much of their equipment and they soon raised enough funds to build their new armory. The cornerstone was laid on May 30, 1893 at a ceremony featuring the Grand Army Band of Canton. This stone was a three-ton Berea sandstone block. Colonel John Frazee was given the honor of laying the stone. When the building was finished, it stood four-stories high with a five-story tower on one corner. The front window lintels were made from solid rough-hewn sandstone. The front entrance had colossal oak doors with a black iron drop-gate in front and the main entry arch was formed from polished granite columns. The building has been described as "a splendid mix of color and texture in materials." It's a massive fortified looking building that seems quite out of place with its surroundings. But it is a wonderful piece of architecture.

The armory hosted more than just the militia group. There were social events like a performance by the Metropolitan Opera Company, military balls and the first performance of the Cleveland Orchestra. This was also the exclusive venue for celebrating Cleveland's Centennial in 1896. The armory had a large banquet hall as well. But it still served its main purpose with housing weapons and providing a drill hall for the militia. There was also a 140-foot shooting range in the basement. For entertainment, there was a billiards room. And in 1970, a 3 manual 17 rank pipe organ from the Warner Theater in Erie, Pennsylvania was installed. Three or four concerts a year were given on the organ. The armory collected many artifacts over the years and so it was a no-brainer to eventually turn the armory into a museum. The Grays Armory Museum preserves not only these artifacts, but also preserves the traditions of the Grays and shares their heritage. Veterans Day is always special here with the museum presenting an educational program honoring those who served. The Grays Armory can also be rented for special events.

One of the most interesting items in the museum is the "secesh cannon," which was the first cannon that was captured by Union forces during the Civil War. This happened during the Battle of Corrick's Ford in July of 1861. Some troops from Indiana seized the cannon from Brig. Gen. Robert Selden Garnett and his men. This Indiana garrison had served with the Cleveland Light Artillery and they decided to give the cannon to them. The Grays brought it back to Cleveland and placed it in Public Square. It was then fired every time the Union had a victory. When General Robert E. Lee surrendered, the cannon was fired through the entire night. It was eventually moved to the armory and put on display.

There are claims that the building is haunted. People experience the normal doors slamming on their own and disembodied footsteps and orbs have been captured in pictures. One thing that should be noted is that there is a cemetery right behind the armory. This is the city's oldest cemetery and called Erie Street Cemetery. It was founded at what had been the edge of town in 1826. Many of Cleveland's early pioneers are buried here like Lorenzo Carter who was the first permanent settler in the city. Carter was a smart man as he became good friends with Chief Seneca when he moved to Cleveland and this helped the settlement make it through years of disease, floods and bad farming. He was a good man who protected a runaway slave and carried an American flag that his father had passed down to him that was made during the Revolutionary War. That flag continued to get passed through the Carter family and today is on display at the Western Reserve Historical Society. It was made from Homespun linen and hand-stitched together. The red stripes were dyed from cranberries and the blue field was dyed from elderberries. There are around 17,000 interments in the cemetery and the Cleveland Grays have worked to maintain the burials.  

The Confederate cannon is believed to have a spirit attached to it. There are stories of a female spirit who has been seen dancing as though she is attending a spectral ball. She is usually wearing a white party dress. And speaking of the ballroom, which is located at the back of the third floor, a ghostly soldier has been seen walking through the wall. Author Chris Woodyard has written books about haunted locations in Ohio and one of the places he has covered is the Armory. Woodyard claims to be psychic and he was sitting on a leather couch in a second floor room when a spirit appeared eight feet in front of him. He described the ghost as being "a handsome young man with light brown hair, parted on one side, sporting a 'crown imperial' goatee" wearing The Cleveland Grays uniform woolen jacket with a very distinctive graduated glockenspiel pattern formed from braids and buttons.

What could be causing the hauntings? There were two known people who died in the building. The first is a construction worker who helped build the Armory in 1893. He died in an accident on the property. The second death involves a former maintenance man named Lou. He lived at the armory and had a massive heart attack one day when he stepped out into the Drill Hall. Later, when it was decided to move Lou's van off the property, the activity started to kick up with more unexplained noises and disembodied footsteps. Lou can be a prankster. He likes to walk right behind the living when they walk across the Drill Hall. Lou seems to still be making the rounds doing his chores. He checks to make sure the building is secure and has been seen in his caretaker’s apartment in the tower. Lou's pretty possessive of his space. Once when the Civil Air Patrol was meeting in the first floor tower room, a large plotted plant in the room began shaking uncontrollably until it fell over.

There are other spirits here too. A spirit who enjoyed cherry-vanilla pipe tobacco has left the scent behind in certain rooms and can be discerned by the living. A crew that had come in to do some restoration work in the lobby took a short break and when they came back, they found a huge mess of their paints. Clearly a ghost wasn't happy with their work. A caretaker once got a scare when he was working behind the Drill Hall. He watched as a gray-green hand pulled the door closed. He jumped up and opened the door to see who was in the Drill Hall. There was no one there. A college student had volunteered to clean up the third floor Ballroom. He was busily cleaning when he was startled by a soldier coming through the wall. The student sat frozen for a moment and then he coughed, which seemed to cause the spirit to dissipate. There was another cleaning moment involving some Civil Air Patrol members. They were in the first floor foyer. One of the members went to make sure that all the doors were locked. He saw a soldier standing on the central staircase wearing a uniform from the past. This soldier was watching him. He made a quick exit and refused to be anywhere in the building alone again.  

Ghost Hunters visited Cleveland Grays Armory during Season 11 on Episode 2 in 2017. At the time, a woman named Kristin was the manager and she wondered if ghostly activity had picked up since she was a woman running a facility that used to be open only to men. She also felt that Lou, the former maintenance man, was still hanging around the place. A man named Dante Lefloria was down in the gun range when he saw a shadow figure walk across it. He at first assumed it had to be a person, so he called out because it is dangerous to have people walking across a shooting range and that is when he realized he was the only person down there. Dante went to Kristin's office and told her what happened. When he finished, all the service flags hanging on the walls in her office, fell to the floor. That had never happened before or since. 

Employee Dan Link had been in the building alone many times and one night when he was working down in the basement, he heard footsteps walking across the Drill Hall above him. About three months before the Ghost Hunters investigated the building, alarms went off in the building and all the motion detectors were going off. Kristin immediately called the police and when they all entered, they found nothing wrong in the building and nothing out of place. They checked security camera footage and saw multiple orbs like it was snowing in the room, zooming across the screen. Then the orbs suddenly stop and go away and that is when the alarms started going off.

Jason and Steve would hear footsteps on the floor above them, run up to see if something was up there and then hear footsteps coming from below them. Then a door closed behind them on its own. They felt like a spirit was messing with them. They tested the door and it wasn't anything they had done. They then heard a loud noise behind them. When Shari went into the same areas that Jason and Steve had investigated, she was grabbed on the shoulder, like a pinch between two fingers. Dustin and K.J. went down to the shooting range and they heard disembodied footsteps. It sounded like a lot of shuffling. 

In 2013, a guide at the Armory told News 5 Cleveland that a caretaker would regularly go down to the basement and play the piano down there and several times when he was doing that, he witnessed a lady in white materialize out of a wall. Sometimes he saw Grays members walk through the wall, apparently to get to the bar on the other side. A tour guide told WKYC Channel 3 in 2018 that one night they were giving a tour and a woman on the tour suddenly froze. The guide asked if she was okay and she said, "Uh huh, but I just saw a man on the stairs." The guide asked what he was doing and the woman said that he was just standing there in a military uniform and then he disappeared. Apparently, the woman saw someone on every floor that evening. In October 2023, Fox 8 visited the Armory and reported that in the basement, an exterminator said he was touched on the shoulder and felt someone breathe on him. That exterminator refused to return for four to five months. They also were told that many people have reported seeing a woman in white on the third floor, looking out to the nearby cemetery.

The interior of the armory still has renovation work that needs to be done, but the wear and tear is actually endearing as it reminds us of its long military history. How many people from the past touched that same spot of wall? How many unseen people are watching you touch that wall? Is the Cleveland Grays Armory haunted? That is for you to decide!