Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Haunted People

The German word 'poltergeist' means 'noisy spirit' or 'noisy ghost'. Parapsychologists often refer to the phenomenon as 'Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis' (RSPK).

Poltergeist activity is generally thought of as being associated with one person.  Usually the person in a teenage girl who is going through some kind of angst.  Many believe the poltergeist is a physical manifestation of their angst. Historically many people who have been tormented by poltergeist activity have been said to be possessed.  Many contend that poltergeist activity is caused by ghosts.

Common characteristics of the phenomenon are: the movement and hurling around of inanimate, often extremely heavy, objects, the opening and closing of doors and windows by no visible means, unexplained noises such as voices, moans, screams, explosions, crashes, raps, thumps, scratches and knocks on floors, doors and walls, heavy footsteps, bed-shaking, the breaking of household objects such as crockery, the destruction of garments, the throwing of stones, rocks and dirt, bad smells, mysterious fires, the appearance of pools of water on floors, the malfunctioning of electrical equipment, telephone ringing, the unexplained appearance of objects, apparitions and even physical assault. Stone throwing is very often the first sign of poltergeist activity, with the houses of victims bombarded by stones and bricks sometimes for days before any other kind of unexplained phenomenon occurs

Whatever the ultimate cause of poltergeist activity,  it is clear that the person is haunted.  They may be haunted by their own angst filled psyche, but they are haunted and no amount of moving or running can free the victim from their torment.  One of the best documented poltergeist cases was the Rosenheim case, Dr. Friedbert Karger was one of two physicists from the Max Planck Institute who helped to investigate perhaps the most validated poltergeist case in recorded history. A 19 year old secretary in a law firm in Rosenheim, a small town in southern Germany, was seemingly the unwittting cause of much chaos in the the firm, including disruption of electricity and telephone lines, the rotation of a picture and swinging lamps which were captured on video (which was one of the first times any poltergeist activity has been captured on film) and strange sounds that sounded electrical in origin were recorded.

Another famous case  took place in Macomb, Illinois in 1948. In this case, another angst filled teenager named Wanet McNeil was forced to live with her father after her parent's divorce. The girl and her father moved to her uncle's farm, just west of Macomb. Wanet was very unhappy with the situation and her emotions were high. In the weeks that followed, Wanet managed to start fires all over her uncle's farm with nothing other than the power of her mind. She had no idea that she was causing the phenomena.


My sister was tormented by poltergeist activity for several years.  Her case was classic.  She was going through a period of intense psychological disturbance and strange things started happening around the house.   Loud banging noises were heard throughout the house at night.   Objects moved on their own.   At one point a stack of boxes that were against a wall on one side of a room were hurled across the room against the ping pong table, breaking it.  My parents sheltered her from much of the activity.  The activity became worse at night when she was sleeping and my parents didn't tell her about the strange things that happened.  However, she was still constantly terrified by the little she did see.  The activity stopped abruptly last year and has never returned, but it was clear that she was the one driving all the activity.  She was the one who was haunted.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Long Nights at the Morgue

My husband and I used to spend the night at the morgue.  It wasn't a morbid fascination.  It was an easy part time job.   The job didn't require much.   You just had to be there.   If a body came in when the day staff was gone,  you had to check it in and move it to the freezer.   Many nights, nothing at all happened.   There was a room just for night staff with a little bed and a television with a VCR.  You could lay on the bed, watch TV, and sleep.  The only thing is,  you were alone in the morgue.

My husband has many interesting stories about his nights in the morgue.  He worked there very regularly.  As a med student,  it was only part-time job he had the time to work. He also wanted to be a pathologist for a while.   He spent inumerable night sitting on that crappy little bed with stained sheets in that closet of a room looking out at the door to the freezer.  The nights were long there.  You would try to sleep, but no sleep would come.   It didn't help that every night around midnight,  the fire alarm outside of the freezer where the bodies were kept went off for about five minutes and then suddenly stopped.   It also didn't help that your imagination could absolutely run wild in the confines of that tiny room.

My husband described his worse night at the morgue to me.  It was the night after on of the many hurricanes we got at regular intervals in Mobile.   A body had been found in a flooded out road after the water receeded.  The body was bloated and half rotted and he had to check it in. It smell terrible and he felt sick.   He almost past out.  Several bodies came in that night and the alarm went off one time for each body.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Real Story of The Exorcist

As a young girl,  I found a copy of William Blatty's The Exorcist and read it in less than two days.  It was the most engrossing and horrific book I had ever read.  I still have never found its equal.   The book itself was beautifuly written and terrifying, but what made it even more scary was what was written on the inside flap of the book.   There it said that the book was based on a true story.  

The Exorcist was based on the story of a 13 year-old boy named Robbie.   In January of 1949, Robbie lived in Maryland with his family and was very fond of his aunt.  His aunt and he began to play the ouija board together.   They enjoyed the game and were able to contact a friendly spirit.   Robbie's aunt wasn't always available to play with him,  so he began playing by himself when she wasn't available.  Suddenly, the family began to notice various odd noises around the house.  They heard dripping and scratching and things that sounded like mice in the attic.  These noises began to escalate with time and ended when Robbie's aunt died.

After Robbie's aunt died,  things got worse.  Robbie's bed began to shake violently at night while he was on it.   Objects flew around his room for no reason.  Things broke.   A vase was hurled at Robbie's mother.   Robbie began ot use the ouija board more regularly in a desperated attempt to contact his aunt for help.

Robbie's parents took him to see doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychics, and ministers.   The first three were unable to help.  The  minister and the psychic both recommended an exorcism by a catholic priest.   Robbie got worse and entered a trance state.  Scratches appeared all over his body.    Finally, after months of coping with the ordeal,  Father Hugh's was contacted and the exorcism began.   Of course,  it wasn't as easy as it was in the movies.   The boy was at a hospital, tied to the bed.   The process took weeks.   At some point, Robbie got a spring loose from the bed and cut the priest.  The process was a nightmare that offered no help to young Robbie.     The boy spoke latin and told the priest he was the devil, but for some reason the mother thought that he was possessed by his aunt.

Robbie was released from the hospital and the entire incident was covered up, but Robbie was no better.  The scratches appearing on Robbie's chest said Louis and Robbie's mother thought they were a message from her sister.  The family moved to St. Louis.    The family began experimenting with the Ouija board again to contact the aunt and get spiritual advice from beyond.  Robbie deteriorated.  Finally, Father Bowdern was called and after another ordeal, the boy was healed on Easter Day by taking communion.

You can learn more about Robbie's long and horrible ordeal in the book "Possessed, The True Story Of An Exorcism." It was written by Thomas B. Allen.   The story is obviously more complex than this little synopsis and the book is worth reading to get the entire story.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Top Ten Best Ghost/Haunting Movies

I did a lot of research before I came up with this list.  I read many other lists of the top ten best ghost movies and reviewed my favorites and their merits.  I have to say that one thing I learned reviewing so  many of these lists is that these lists are all very different and because of that I admit that this is my subjective judgment on the matter.  The top five on my list are movies that were present on almost every list I reviewed.

10.   The House on Haunted Hill 
  
         
9.   Poltergeist
    

                                              
8.  The Ring 


                                            
7.  Ghostbusters  


                                             

6.   The Grudge     

                                            
5.  The Orphanage   

                                           


4.  Beetlejuice      

                                          
3.   The Others    

                                         
2.  The Shinning


1. The Haunting (1963)


                                   

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ghosts in Art

Ghost, Cam de Leon

At its core, the desire to find ghosts and understand the paranormal world is driven by the desire to understand death and what happends after death.  It is fueled by a primal need to know what is unknown to us and to make sense of forces we can't understand.  Paranormal researchers and ghost hunters try to use science to explain and define the after life in concrete terms and variables.   They try to make sense of the unexplainable.   But they are not the only ones to try to explain the other side or the world that comes after death.  Artists, poets, and philosophers have been trying to make sense of it for years.  Here are some of my favorite paintings of ghosts.  They are just a few of many that have attempted to understand the paranormal using paint and vision.

Chagall


Ghosts are Crying Memories, Jodi Fallon


Ghosts IV


Haunted

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Haunted Halls of Athens State

I travelled to Athens, Alabama today where I visited the oldest college in Alabama and took pictures of  the University's haunted halls. Athens State University was founded in 1822 and is haunted by numerous ghosts.   These ghost's story tell the the story of the history of the school.  They are stories of lost love and tragic loss.  These stories are part of the story of the South.  The first is the story of a poor stable boy who died serving the head Mistress of Founder's Hall.  At that time,  Athen's University was an all girl's Christian College and the boy died serving the daughters of the old South.   Founders Hall is also said to be haunted by the ghost of a poor girl who died in the light of her own candle.

Since the night in 1914 when the building was dedicated, folks on the Athens campus have reported seeing the ghostly form of a young lady in a formal white dress in and about McCandless Hall. This apparition, holding flowers, has been frequently observed casting a strange light from the third floor. Some students have smelled her flowers. Others have seen the ghost in the dressing rooms, as if she were preparing for a perfor­mance. Her phantom footsteps have been heard throughout the stately old structure.  This beautiful ghost is said to be the ghost of Abigal Adams, a famous opera singer who performed at McCandless Hall.   She died on her way home from the University.

There are many more ghosts that wander the grounds of Athens State, making it one of the most haunted schools and places I have ever been to.  Tonight I am posting pictures, but I will tell the many ghost stories associated with this beautiful school more in depth when I have more time.




Thursday, March 25, 2010

Terrifying Toilet Paper

I can wander cemeteries alone at night and sleep alone in haunted hotels. I can wander through medieval castles in the dark on ground where blood soaked battles have been fought, but I am absolutely terrified of bathrooms. I'm ok if the bathroom has been cleaned recently, but public restrooms can induce panic and I have to keep Clorox wipes in my bathroom to make sure it is sterilized at least 3 times a day.


That is why this is the perfect item of terror for me. My aunt sent me this toilet paper. She saw it in some curio shop in New York and thought of me. This ghostly toilet paper is a horror novel by Japanese Author, Suzuki Koh. The title of the Novel is "The Edge". The wrapping is the cover of the book and when you open it up, each sheet of toilet paper is a page of a terrifying, blood drenched horror novel. Ideally, every time you went to the bathroom you could read a sheet and be gripped with fear right before you wipe and flush. This might serve a cathartic affect. You can toss the terror away after each page.  Unfortunately for me, I can't read Japanese, so all the wonder and horror of this toilet paper novel is entirely lost on me. But the idea of it is wonderful and it will always sit on the back of my toilet reminding me that there is more to fear in my bathroom then my 7 year-old forgetting to flush the toilet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Biograph Theater

Chicago is home to many chilling ghost stories.  From haunted airports, to haunted theaters, to chilling castles, and shadowy graveyards.  Chicago is a ghost hunter's dream.  It's history is filled with fascinating characters, gangsters, and fires and this history has helped to paint the corners of the windy city with shadowy phantoms.

Since I will be visiting the windy city next month,  I am beginning to make a list of the most interesting haunted places in Chicago.  At the top of my list is The Biograph Theater. The Biograph Theater was built in 1914 and was one of the first movie theaters in Chicago. It is a little theater in downtown Chicago that has been made infamous by the death of the infamous public enemy, John Dillinger.  John Dillinger was coming out of the theater on the night of July 22, 1934 with two of his girlfriends when he was shot in the back and killed by FBI agents.  It was here,  in the back alley just behind the theater, that Dillinger was betrayed by the infamous woman in red.   Since that time,  it is said that Dillinger's ghost linger's in the theater and is sometimes seen in the alley behind the theater.  Although Dillinger's ghost can be quiet for long periods of time,  periodic renovations and remodelings of the theater have stirred up the his ghost and lead to reported sitings of his ghost both in the theater and outside the theater.  Other manifestations in the theater include cold spots located both inside the theater and in the alley behind the theater and sitings of other ghosts who may have frequented the theater in life.

There is some dispute regarding Dillinger's death.  Upon examination of Dillinger's body following his death,  several scars seemed to be missing and new scars were present in different locations.  Because of this some believe that Dillinger didn't die outside the Biograph Theater.  They believe Jimmie Lawrence a small time hood and Dillinger look alike was set up to take his place by the infamous lady in red.  If this were the case,  it would be Lawrence's ghost that haunts the the famous Biograph Theater.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

One of the Most Haunted Places in Alabama

Merrimack hall is tucked neatly away in the West end of Huntsville. The building itself seems oddly out of place here. It is surrounded by tacky strip malls and modern buildings that all appear a bit shabby and rundown. The road in front of it is loud and busy. Everything about this part of West Huntsville is dingy and colorless. Merrimack Hall steps out of this setting like peacock in a barnyard. It is a pretty building that has been lovingly restored to its former glory. It is inviting and before you even walk in you begin to wonder what lurks inside.


Inside, the building is just as beautiful as it is outside. The building was restored by the Jenkins who has turned it into a nonprofit performing art center and a community resource. The walls inside are covered with playbills and programs from all the performances that have shown at this community center. They are also covered in newspaper articles and stories about the way the Merrimac performing arts center has given to the community. It is hard to imagine any ghosts in this exciting environment, but the ghosts at Merrimac Hall are so active and so dark that they have turned skeptics into believers and have made brave men quake.

The Merrimack wasn’t always a performing art center, but it has always been a community center. The early part of the twentieth century in Alabama was ruled by large mills and the microcosms that grew up around them. Huntsville, Alabama’s history reflects this trend. Large mills sprang up around the area that is now Huntsville and in the shadow of these mills, villages grew and thrived. Mill owners provided their employees with housing, schools, and all of their needs.

Merrimack Textile Mill was one of the largest and most successful of the Alabama mills. In July of 1900 Merrimack Manufacturing Company of Lowell, Massachusetts, opened its textile mill in Huntsville and the first village houses appeared in its shadows. When the Mill began operations it had 750 employees who lived in 60 houses clustered around the mill. The Merrimack Mill was an instant success and demand for the Mill’s textiles seemed to grow immediately. This large demand lead to the construction of a second Mill in 1903.

So the Merrimack Village expanded and more houses were built. In order to serve the growing population of the Merrimack Village, the building that is now Merrimack Hall was constructed. This preliminary structure served many purposes. It was a community center even then and was used to house a small school for the children, a bicycle shop, a photo shop, and two barber shops. Merrimack hall served many purposes for the growing community that was bursting out of the seams around it.   Merimack hall served as a community center until the 1980's when the mill finally closed it's doors. 
Now, Merrimack hall has been given a new breath of life. It has been turned into a community center again and has rediscovered itself as a place where stage dreams are made real. But the ghosts of those that used to live in Merrimack Hall haven’t moved on. They still cling to their old community center and they don’t want to let go. Merrimack Hall has been the site of continual paranormal activity since its reopening and renovation. Those who have been to the hall have heard phantom voices, seen doors close by themselves, and seen objects move on their own. Some say that Merrimack is haunted by a little boy named Charlie Foster who worked in the mill before child labor laws had made this illegal. They say that Charlie wanders the community center that had been the center of the world in life making mischief.


The Alabama Paranormal Association (APS) investigated the haunting at Merrimack Hall. The Alabama Paranormal Association is a nonprofit group that investigates paranormal activity using technology and reason. They use instrumental readings, eye witness accounts, and history to assess and evaluate whether or not a location is haunted. I spoke with Leilani, from APS about their findings at Merrimack Hall. According to Leilani, Merrimack hall is one of the most active haunted sites she has investigated. She believes that the site is haunted by multiple spirits and that Charlie Foster isn’t the only ghost clinging to the old building.

APS reports that they were able to catch several apparitions on film. Leilani also describes hearing voices, singing, and footsteps on the stage during the investigation. She says that she had a man who was quite skeptical with her. He said that he absolutely didn’t believe in ghosts, but after they saw a full apparition of a man sitting in a chair, he changed his mind. Other evidence that APS caught during their investigation included a very interesting Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) recording. During this recording, an investigator asked if the ghosts liked the Christmas lights and a voice on the tape distinctly answered “yes”. One of the investigators had brought their iPod with them on the interview so I could hear the EVP. It was a chilling recording and the voice on the tape sounded like that of a young man or boy. APS felt that Merrimack was one of the most haunted places in North Alabama.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How to Find Wonderful Ghost Stories

As I have gotten to know other bloggers out there and read their blogs,  I have realized that I do not know the most on the world of the paranormal.  There are many others out there that know more about theories of the paranormal and paranormal research and the world of paranormal study.  Ghost Hunting Theories and Haunt Jaunts are both excellent sites for thought provoking debates over the parnormal world.  I don't have their strengths in these areas, but I have discovered my own strength is in finding new and interesting ghost stories.   Here are some tips for finding undiscovered ghost stories and finding new information about classic ghost stories. 

1.  Sign up for a paranormal meeting on meetup.com.  You'll meet new people and if you sit and listen everyone has some kind of ghost story.  Many of the people at these meetings are there because they've had an encounter of a ghostly nature they would like to share.

2.  Go to haunted location and ask questions.   If you go to a haunted location and ask nicely in a quiet area, most people love to share their ghost stories.  You may even get more than you bargained for.  Many of my favorite stories have come from people who heard me asking questions and have pulled me aside to tell me a story they've never told anyone.  These stories can be the best stories.  While investigating the ghosts of Space Camp,  three employees told me unrelated stories that were little treasures.

3.  Be friendly and open.  People love to talk and, if you are willing to listen, there are always new stories waiting to be discovered.

4. Travel.   The further you go, the more stories you'll find. 

5. Read.   Amazon.com is filled with books on ghost stories.  Many of these books are self published and they are interesting and worth reading.

6.  Browse the internet.  The internet is filled with good stories, great bloggers, and interesting paranormal sites.

7.  Go on ghost walks and talk to the people who run the ghost walks.   One of the best interviews I had was with Jacque Reeves who runs the local Huntsville ghost walk.  She was happy to tell me many ghost stories.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Phantoms of The Front Porch Cafe

I'm ashamed to say that one of the main reasons I moved away from Murfreesboro, TN was because there was no shopping and few good restaurants there.  Of course,  there were many other reasons to leave Murfreesboro.  There are so any reasons I won't even begin to list them, but the food was one of the biggest reasons.  I had eaten at The Front Porch Cafe on more than one occasion and it was one of the rare exceptions to the lack of restaurants in Murfreesboro.  It was a classic Southern restaurant in an old Victorian building.  We often went for lunch and I often brought my babies.

The atmosphere at the cafe was lovely and it had been decorated to remain contemporary with the building.  The wait time was terrible, but consdering it was one of the few decent restaurants in town, we adapted and waited.  During the many times I ate there,  I had no idea that the building was once used as a funeral parlor.   The room where I sat cradling my youngest in my arms and eating French silk pie, had once been used for wakes.   The room where the I had spent many pleasant afternoons with my lady friends had been used for embalming.   The upstairs,  where the sunlight poured in through the lace curtains onto hardwood floors had been used to house caskets.

All this darkness was a mystery to me when I dined there.  I was unaware that the Front Porch Cafe was one of the most haunted places in Murfreesboro and  that many visitors to this quaint cafe had reported seeing a young girl in a white dress haunting the building.   Others had heard noises and seen lights.  One visitor, who I spoke with on a ghost hunt,  said she had captured the young girl on film.

Not only had the building been a funeral parlor, but beneath the restaurant it's history was even deeper.  Slave tunnels, used in the underground railroad,  are everywhere beneath the old building and some say that the ghosts that haunt the restaurant climb up out of the darkness and find peace in the sunlight of the Front Porch Cafe.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Haunted Huntsville Depot

I had a marvelous day today.  My boys and I went on a ghost hunting adventure that was more fun than we had planned on.  We went to one of the most haunted places in North Alabama to take pictures for the new book.  I have been warned by my publisher not to give everything that is going to be in the book away in the blog, so I won't say much.  But I will say that the ghost stories at Huntsville Depot are thick.  It has been investigated by psychics and ghost hunters and many others who have found it to be crowded with ghosts.  I was able to interview an employee there who told me the most haunted location at the depot is the vault.  My boys and I explored the vault and the ghost stories and although I can't say too much,  here are some photographs of our wonderful adventure.  The last picture was taken from the vault.




Friday, March 19, 2010

Krampus Day

As I was wandering the internet today, I found a wonderful holiday that has been left out of American tradition.  In America, we embrace all cultures and pull their traditions into our own culture and make it our own.  I believe we should do the same for Krampus Day.

Krampus is part of Austrian and Hungarian folklore and is associated with Christams. His name, taken from the Germanic Krampen means claw.   Krampus looks like and acts like the devil.  He is a demon that travels with Saint Nickolas on Christmas Eve and while Santa delivers candies and treats to the good little children, Krampus delivers corporal punishment and horror to the bad little children.  He provides a little extra incentive for the children to be good.  Apparently in Austria, not getting presents wasn't enough to motivate children.  Satan himself had to beat the children with willow branches and carry them off to hell.

Krampus became so popular that his story and legends spread throughout Europe and became especially popular in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and northern Italy.   He became so popular that he earned his own holiday.   Dec 5 is Krampus day.  It is almost like Devil's Night in Detroit without the fire.  On Krampus day, young men take to the streets dressed in their most fearful Krampus costumes.  They roam the streets scaring children with loud rusty bells and chains.  They chase down young girls and hit them with birch branches.

Most pictures of Krampus show him carrying all the bad little children down to hell in a basket he carries on his back.  I believe halmark and party city have missed an enormous opportunity with Krampus Day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sloss Furnace

One of the most famous haunted places in Northern Alabama has almost become legend.  It is so well known that I have never blogged about.  I've assumed that I can add no more to the story than what has already been told.  I had a conversation about Sloss several nights ago and realized that there are some places you just can't tell too many stories about.  Sloss Furnace is one of the most well known haunted places in North Alabama.  Located in Birmingham, Alabama, it isn't just famous for the ghosts.  It has become a local center of activities in Birmingham.  It is used for concerts, parties, beer fests, and a million other things. In fact, the first time I went to Sloss it was for a masquerade ball.  I got bored of the party and wandered off and explored.  I didn't find any ghosts but the structure itself lended itself to paranormal thoughts.  It was dark and haunting and just wandering through it at night sent chills up and down my spine.

Sloss Furnace's website describes the furnace and its history:
"The original blast furnaces constructed by James Withers Sloss in the early 1880's served to propel the fledgling city of Birmingham into the pre-eminent industrial center of the South. For this reason Sloss Furnaces is a rich source of local pride and an invaluable part of our collective identity. But the Sloss Furnaces story doesn't end there. We are now looking to the future with plans to preserve Sloss Furnaces and expand on it's base as a cultural icon. You'll find these plans are big and bold, much like the towering smokestacks and enormous furnaces that made Sloss the stuff of legend."

Many of the legends associated with the furnace are of the ghostly kind.  The most famous ghost of Sloss Furnace was that of a man named Theophilus Calvin Jowers. Jowers came to Oxmoor in 1873 around the time that they began making pig iron with coke instead of charcoal because all of the trees around Birmingham had been cut down.  In 1887, he became assistant foundryman at the Sloss Furnace in Birmingham. One day, he was trying to change the bell on the Alice furnace. He was using a block and tackle and was walking around the edge of the furnace when he lost his balance. Both he and the bell fell into the molten iron, and he was burned up. The workmen tried to save what was left of him by using a piece of sheet iron attached to a length of gas pipe, but all that they found were a shoe and a foot inside it.

Shortly after Jowers death the stories began to spread about Jower's ghost haunting the furnace.  Jowers was not the only accidental death at Sloss Furnace, but he is the most famous ghost.  I spoke with the Alabama Parnormal Association (APS) about their investigation of Sloss Furnace and they were able to tell me several interesting stories.  My favorite of these stories had to do with their EVP recordings from Sloss.  They started EVP when they entered the facility.  At some point one of the investigators tripped and fell over for no reason she could explain.  When they played the EVP back,  right before the investigator fell you could hear a man's voice saying "I'm Sorry."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Unlikely Ghosts of Orlando

Orlando, Florida is the home of virtually every overpriced, oversized theme park available. People from all over the world fly into this hot, overcrowded city hoping to fine the happiest place in the world. They come for Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando, The Epcot Center, and SeaWorld. They go to Orlando to leave the real world behind and submerge themselves in the fairy tales and movie star dreams of their childhood.

In the midst of all this childish joy, Orlando cradles a world of ghosts that dwell in the most unlikely places. In addition to the ghosts that haunt Disney world, Orlando spirits also haunt the Back to the Future ride in Universal Studios, The Wal-Mart, The Super 8 Motel, and The Botanical Gardens. Orlando is teeming with ghosts that don’t seem to be any less active even thought they are surrounded by such commotion.

The Back to Future ride in Universal Studio’s is haunted by two ghosts. Two maintenance workers died while repairing the hydraulics on the ride. They were crushed by the cars. Their ghost have remained on the ride, perhaps they are big Back to the Future Fans. Ghostly activity that has been seen at this site is prolific. There are some large mirrors on the third floor of this attraction and no matter how many times the windows are cleaned, handprints remain on the glass. On the second floor, whistling can be heard when no one is present. The song being whistled is the same song the maintenance man who died on the ride liked to whistle. The large doors at the entrance of the attraction have also been seen opening and closing when the ride has been turned off for the night.

The Super 8 motel room 206 is haunted by a gentleman who died in this room. Visitors have described seeing a man’s ghost sitting on the bed. They also describe feeling a presence in the room. This ghost doesn’t seem that pleasant and many visitors describe feeling a sense of foreboding as if something sinister is with them. The room remains cold no matter how much you turn up the heat and the water comes on by itself.
The Wal-Mart is also haunted. This is hard for me to believe because I can’t imagine the ghost that would want to linger in Wal-Mart. I’ve spent half my life trying to escape Wal-Mart. This is the ghost of a woman who died in the local Wal-Mart and although no one can see her with their eyes, several Wal-Mart employees report seeing her in their photos.

This is just the tip of the Orlando ghost iceberg. The ghost stories in this happy city are as prolific as the tourists, making it the most surprisingly haunting city I have written about.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Hauntings of the Happiest Place on Earth


As a paranormal enthusiast who seeks to travel to the most haunted and ghostly places in the world, the first places I usually think of travelling to are old castles, ancient cemeteries, or houses with long histories and dark shadows. I think of finding the voodoo of the Caribbean islands or the catacombs of the old cities of Europe. I find myself searching for haunted hotels that are off the beaten path. Of course, my family isn't always in love with this. Sometimes they want to go to Disney World.

Ironically, this actually suits my purposes perfectly. Somewhere behind all the pink castles, smiling princesses, $50 hotdogs, and giggling children lurks the stories of the ghosts that come out in dark, when the staff is alone. As it turns out, Disney world has many resident ghosts.

The most popular of these ghosts haunts The Pirates of the Caribbean ride. He hides behind the animatronic skeletons and scares the staff to death when they are alone in the attraction. George was a construction worker who worked on the attraction in the 1970’s. He was climbing a ladder and he fell to his death. Since that time, staff members have said good morning and good night to George over the PA system. If they fail to follow this tradition, the ride will shut down and some staff members report that they’ve seen the ride shut down on the days that this ritual is forgotten.

Another ghost has been seen on the Tower of Terror. At the Tower of Terror attraction, the employees share a story about a ghost walking around during closed hours when visitors aren't around. When he's seen, he's walking in the wrong direction. When he's called, he doesn't respond. Soon afterwards, he'll just disappear.

Several ghosts have been seen at Spaceship Earth. One ghost is a small girl with long, blond hair who has been spotted riding in a car. Another is a small boy who likes to hang around the girl. He'll run in front of her and vanish into thin air. This happens outside during daytime.

So it seems that I can even turn a trip to the happiest place on earth into a haunted journey, which is good because I think this would be the only way I could endure a week in Orlando.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The White Witch of Rose Hall

 I love to travel.  Every journey is an adventure and I plan my trips carefully so that I can see as many new things as possible.  As I begin plans for our summer trip,  I have also begun looking at ghost stories and folklore from all the areas I'm considering visiting.  Jamaica is high on my list and was made even higher by the wonderous story of the white witch of Rose Hall.

No one knows how much of Annie Palmer's story is true and how much is legend.  There are some things that are certain.  It is certain that she resided in Rose hall and that she had four husbands that died under questionable circumstances.  The rest of the legend could be true, but even if it isn't many claim that Rose Hall is tormented by the ghosts of those who died there. 

Annie Palmer was born in Paris, France.  When she was ten years old, she moved to Haiti with her parents.  Shortly after the move,  Annie's parents died of yellow fever.   She was adopted by her Haitian nanny who was a notorious voodoo queen.  Annie's adopted mother took great care with Annie's education and before Annie wed her first husband, she had already become known as a voodoo queen herself.  In 1820,  Annie married John Palmer the owner of the enormous and prosperous plantation east of Montego Bay known as Rose Hall.  Shortly aftter the wedding, John died.  Legend says that she poisoned her first husband.   Annie married three more times.  And she killed each husband differently.  She stabbed one, strangled another, and pourer boiling oil into the ear oft he last.  

Her murderous hunger and desire didn't end with the  men she married.  Annie was a lusty woman and it was rumored that she took numerous slave men into her bed and when she tired of them she killed them and moved onto the next man.  Annie continued this way until one of her lovers stabbed her in the heat of passion ending her reign of terror. 

Rose hall itself is an impressive house.  It is a Georgian Mansion with a stone base and a plastered upper storey, high on the hillside, with a fantastic panorama over the coast. Built in the 1770s, Rose Hall was restored in the 1960s to its former splendour, with mahogany floors, interior windows and doorways, panelling and wooden ceilings. It is decorated with silk wallpaper printed with palms and birds, ornamented with chandeliers and furnished with mostly European antiques.

Many seances and ghost hunts have taken place at the mansion.  Psychics and haunt jaunters and all manner of people have attempted to contact the spirits of the hall and discover the truth behind the legend, but none of these activities have provided enough evidence to confirm the legends.   Despite this, the ghost stories about Rose hall continue to grow and thrive and many travellers describe seeing Annie wandering Rose Hall's darkened halls.  They see her lovers and her husbands in the shadows of the cemetery and in the soft light of Annie's bedchamber and as long as the ghosts wander Rose Hall,  the legend will continue to thrive.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

An English Cottage

I met an old woman the other night.  She was scattered and talked too much.   Her hair was disheveled and all of her clothes seemed to be slightly askew. She was the type of lady that many people ignore, but if  you stopped and listened to her, her stories were some of the most mesmerizing I had ever heard.

Years ago, this woman had a small cottage in the English country side.  It wasn't much.  It used to be a gardener's cottage.  It had been used for the servants, but this woman adored her cottage and loved everything about it.  She described it in that way that only those who truly love a place can.  She described all the textures colored by the memories of the happiest years of her life.  She spoke of her children playing in the field outside and the steal gray color of the sky.  All these memories poured out of her with utter and complete joy.

She also spoke of the ghosts that had lived with her family and she.  These ghosts had been children and they had appeared to her children first.  She had found her children playing with them and had asked her children who they were talking too.  The children had explained that they were playing with children that had lived in the cottage many years ago.  Of course,  the woman had to research the cottage's history at this point and she found out that the cottage was once occupied by a family and that their children had been lost to influenza around 1900.  This had fed the woman's curiosity and she went out and purchased a Ouija board.   Together,  the woman and her children had used the board to talk to the ghost children and the woman insists that everything that came out of that experience was positive.  She says that the board was a good thing and doesn't understand why anyone would say anything bad about it.   She felt as if her children and she were able to help the ghost children come to terms with their death and cross over.

Of course,  there was a dark side to her story.   The cottage had once been part of a larger estate.  This estate had included an enormous stable for the wealthy owners of the nearby manor house.  The woman says that every time she walked into the stable she was crushed by a feeling so malevolent she never let her children go near it.  She felt that something dark lurked inside the shadows of that building and although she loved her cottage and its pleasant ghosts, she knew that there was a dark side to the spirit world.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Night Shift Nightmares

I'm working the night shift tonight.  I don't usually work the night shift, but  I thought I'd do something different this week.  At night, when most of the staff have fled the psychiatric floor and you are left alone with two nurses and a few patients, you hear things you would never notice during the day.  They day is bedlam and all the noises blend together, but in the quiet every rattle becomes distinct.   I was doing an intake with a patient in their room when I noticed a strange and unaccountable noise that sounded like a large metal object being drug over the door and wall.  The noise was very loud and it almost made me drop my clipboard.   I asked the patient what the noise was.   They responded that the noise came and went and that noises like that have filled the room since they've been here.  The patient had assumed it was all in their head.  I assured them it was not and they were very relieved.

I had heard that noise before in that room.  I had been doing a treatment plan with another patient and I had thought it was another patient dragging something on the wall, but tonight all the other patients were in the group room.  Tonight, the halls are empty and the nurses are eating dinner. Of course,  I know that several months ago we had a sentinal event.  A sentinal even is an event that makes hospital reconsiders their policies and rewrite their rules.   We had a patient kill themself in the very room I had been sitting and listening to odd noises in.   There had been a thorough investigation into the incident and it was determined that the staff had done all they could for the poor woman, but she had been determined and creative.  I am proud of where I work.  We have some of the best staff and the best reputation in the area, but on psychiatric units, sometimes bad things happen. 

No one else here believes in the supernatural.  They are all people of medicine and think ghosts are the product of mental illness driven magical thinking.  They enjoy the stories but they would never notice the odd noises.  But sitting here alone in the dark,  I have to wonder what is in that room?    Does that unhappy woman linger in the shadows making her presence known only to the patients?  Is her ghost still here struggling to find the happiness she couldn't find in life?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Interviewing Leilani of APS and Paranormal State

Last night I was lucky enough to meet with Leilani from the Alabama Paranormal Society.  The Alabama Paranormal Society is one of many ghost hunting groups that works with the team from Paranormal State, the television series that airs on A & E.

Leilani is the founder of Alabama Paranormal Society and she is also a psychic.  She is also a very friendly woman and she did a wonderful interview with me in which she described her recend investigation of a house just East of Birmingham.  Her team's investigation of this house is part of season 4 of  Paranormal State. I was thrilled to get a chance to talk to her about her exciting investigation of this incredibly haunted house that she says is the most haunted house she has ever been in.   Another psychic that had visited the house was also present during the interview.  Her name was Judi Lynch.   Judi Lynch said that as she drove up to the house she heard screaming come from the house.  The negative energy coming from this house was so strong,  she had to sit in the car for a while before she could enter the house.

Leilani describes the house as literally throbbing when she walked towards it.  She had never seen anything like it.  The house belongs to the mining period in Alabama history in which powerful mines and mills created little communites of workers.   The owner of the beautiful mansion at the time of it's construction was one of the engineers working in the mill.   In fact, one of the first indications that the house was haunted was when the family that currently owns the home began renovations, they had the entire house rewired.   A few days later they returned to the house to find all the wiring redone to its original configuration.  Leilani says that she had a very strong feeling that the hostile spirit in this house was the engineer who used to live there.

Leilani described many of the terrifying things that happened at this house to me.  She described the spirit leaving scratch marks on one of her investigators.  At one point,  the spirit ripped a stained glass window from its metal hangings and sent it flying towards Leilani.  At another point, it knocked the tripod over.   During the investigation, they were able to catch footage of the black spirit moving slowly across the room and then darting into the next room.  When the spirit moved,  it set off the motion detector.

Leilani also said this is one of the rare houses that actually scared her.  The activity in this house was so violent and so malevolent that the family who owns it was forced to flee after only living there 18 months.  They currently live in a much smaller house and use the big house only for storage because they are too terrified of the house to go back there for more than a few minutes.

You can learn more about Leilani and the Paranormal States investigation of this Gardendale home on season 4 of Paranormal State.   You can also learn more about Leilani and her team at:
 http://alabama-paranormal-society.com/index.html

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Japanese Atrocities During World War II and the Ghosts of Unit 731

When most people think of the atrocities of World War II, they think of the Germans.  They think of the German concentration camps and the genocide that occurred within them.  They think of the inhuman Nazi experiments and the ability within the Nazis to commit acts that seem impossibly cruel.   Most people don't think about the Japanese.   The Japanese were mostly forgiven for their atrocities following World War II.  Many of the generals involved in the Rape of Nanking and Manilla lived long happy lives surrounded by wealth and their grandchildren.  Their atrocities were forgotten and forgiven.  Yet their evil was even worse than that of the Nazis in some points and made worse yet by the Japanese refusal to admit that the Rape of Nanking, the experiments at Unit 731, and their other great evils even occurred.

During the Rape of Nanking, one of Japan's most notable atrocities, they killed 10,000 a day.  Over 300,00 were slaughtered in less than six weeks.   Japanese soldiers rounded up women and imprisoned them in rape camps.   They forced fathers to rape their daughters, sons to rape their mothers, and participated in the most obscene mutilations of genitals I have ever heard of.  They cut the babies from pregnant women's stomachs and made the mothers watch them kill their babies.   In the Unit 731 Experimentation Camp in Harbin, Machuria the Japanese rounded up local Manchurians and subjected them to the most unthinkable experimentations.  They rounded up entire villages and locked them up and exposed them to anthrax, cholera, and bubonic plague. Live human vivisections were performed and logged carefully.  Torturous experiments were performed night and day and each person was given a number like a lab rat.

Despite the Japanese denials of such abomination, the evidence remains in photographs and the ghosts that linger behind.  Unit 731, not surprisingly, is considered by many to be one of the top ten most haunted places in the world.  Those that have travelled to the remains of 731 say that their electronic equipment stops working.  Flashlights falter.  Lights fade.   They describe strange noises and the sounds of crying can be heard from a distance. Ghost lights and ghosts have been seen wandering these tragic ruins.  People have seen the ghosts of men and women wandering the site.   Many say the haunting here has become more and more active as the ghosts of the dead cry out for justice.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Island of The Dolls

There is an island just South of Mexico City called Xochimico. Xochimico  is famous for its beautiful gardens, scenic canals, and ancient history.  Thousands of tourists travel through the canals of this beautiful island to gaze in wonder at the hanging gardens of Mexico.  Hidden deep in these canals, far away from the normal tourist routes is a swamp with that is thick with scraggly trees that are all hung heavy with with the broken and shattered remains of an army of dolls.

 According to travelocity,  it is the creepiest place on earth.   Although I have never seen this island,  I tend to agree.  Fifty years ago,  a little girl drown in the extensive canals that innervate the small island.  At the time the island was occupied by a man named Don Juli├ín Santana Barrera.  Shortly after the little girl drowned,  Barrera found a doll in the swampy waters of the isolated island.   A few days later,  he found another doll.   Several days later he found another doll.   Berrera became convinced that the dolls were a sign from the netherworld.  He believed that the dolls were  vessles that had been sent to keep the little girl company and prevent evil from seeping out through the swamp.   Berrera took this message seriously and began to collect dolls from all over and hang dolls from the trees. 

Berrera died mysteriously some time later and from that point the mystery grew.  Many people said that the dolls had come to life and killed Berrera.  Others insisted they had seen the dolls wandering the island at night.   Some believe that the dolls have come to life to replace Berrera as the island's keeper.  Whatever the case, the pictures of this location are terrifying.  It is an island hung with decaying, glass eyed dolls that stare out vacantly at those that pass by in boats.