Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Congressman Talks About the Ghosts of Capitol Hill



Someone sent me this youtube video that I thought was interesting enough to post.  I didn't know many of the ghost stories from Capitol Hill and this little blurb sums them up and discusses them.  In the video, a Congressman takes a reporter around the United States Capitol to talk about some of the myths, hauntings and scary stories that have been shared over the years.  The Congressman is from Livonia, Michigan and is Thaddeus McCotter.  I wouldn't comment on his politics because I try to stay as far away from politics as possible these days, but I did like the ghost stories.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Moaning Monks and Other Stupid Ghosts

 Looking for ghosts in odd places is one of my favorite pass times. This is even more fun when I am traveling. Before I go anyplace, I do a quick internet search to see what places in the area I am going are haunted. Then I do more research to try to confirm that they are haunted. While travelling to Michigan and Ohio, I noted that according to several internet sites The Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Michigan is haunted. This was curious to me. This is what Shadowlands Haunted Places says:



"At night if you are not in your room at midnight someone comes on the loudspeaker and says LOCKDOWN and the doors and the lights turn off and the TVs shutoff and then the elevators come and monastery figures come out and spikes come out of the wall and ceiling and the ceiling caves in and then its all gone in the morning."

I found a carbon copy of this statement about Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Michigan on several other paranormal sites, but I didn’t find any real information. Several things bothered me about this story. First the story itself seems more than a little unbelievable to me. Surely if someplace this haunted existed, it would be featured on every paranormal television show in existence. Secondly, after I explored the small town of Sandusky, Michigan I found there was nothing resembling a Great Wolf Lodge there. There is a Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio. It was once Bear Lodge before it was bought out by the Great Wolf Lodge chain of resorts. I decided to focus my study on the Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio.

I travelled to the Great Wolf Lodge in Cincinnati, Ohio as Sandusky was too far out for me to visit. I asked staff about the haunting in Sandusky. They laughed or gave me that I’m too polite to laugh blank stare that you get when you ask a ridiculous question. I also phoned Sandusky and no one there acknowledged any kind of haunting. After exploring a couple of the resorts in the Great Wolf Lodge chain, I have to say that this is a least likely place to be haunting. They all look pretty much the same so the photos I took in Cincinnati might as well be Sandusky or the resort I visited in Charlotte or Traverse City. They are packed with screaming children until 11pm when the magi quest and arcade close down. After this, the grownups sneak out quietly looking for the bar. I got a mudslide. If anything like described above ever happened at a Great Wolf Lodge, the reports would be everywhere. All this to say, I think that the story above is a bunch of crap. This isn’t the first load of crap internet ghost story I’ve found, but it is the most silly. What is the moral of this story? Just because someone has posted a ghost story on the internet doesn’t make it true. Although I love a good ghost story, some ghost stories are utter nonsense.



 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Many Ghosts of King's Island

It is amazing what you can find along the way when you go on a road trip.  Ghosts lurk around every corner and phantoms seem to find you when you are looking for fun.   In my past travels,  I have noted that many places devoted to fun are also haunted by sorrow.  Many of the Six Flags are haunted and Disney Land is as much of a ghost land as a wonderland.   It is, therefore, no surprise that King's Island in Cincinnati, Ohio is teaming with ghosts.  What was a surprise to me, was that I should just happen upon such a haunted place by accident.  While staying at Great Wolf Lodge, I thought I would ask the staff about the allegedly haunted Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky.   What I found was that the amusement park that I could see from my back patio is notoriously haunted.  

There are a plethora of ghosts haunting the various rides at King's Island.   A little blond girl in a lovely blue frock is said to wander the Waterworks.  Her ghost is said to be linked to a tiny cemetery located just off the grounds of King's Island.   The Eiffel Tower ride is haunted by a ghost named Tower Johnny.   He is said to have made an unfortunate decision on the night of his graduation.   In 1983, he climbed up the elevator shaft of this ride and lost his footing.  He fell to his death after being cut in half by the elevator cables.   His ghost has been seen wandering the Eiffel Tower ride and tormenting those who are seeking a more earthly thrill.  The Octopus Ride is also said to be haunted by an ill fated rider who died  on the ride and White Water Canyon is haunted by a ghost named Woody who comes out after dark and throws rocks at those who happen by. 

I couldn't go to King's Island during my trip because it was still closed for winter.  But peaking through the fence at it in its stark, lonely, winter garb made it seem all the more haunted.    The rides were quiet and the air was thick with the last breath of winter.   I could imagine ghosts wandering in the shadows of the silent park and as night came I could almost see a lonely girl in blue looking for her way home.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Strange Photos

I spent yesterday driving around Detroit. Its beauty still lingers in the shadows. Although much of the city has wilted and decayed, the architecture is still stunning in a way that would invite ghost stories and dark tales. I tried to capture a few photos with my phone, but didn't do a very good job. The last photo I took of one abandoned building was the most interesting. The picture didn't even look like a building. It looked more like an X-ray of someone's spinal cord. It is quite haunting.


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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Moonshiner's Ghost

My family is from Michigan. On my grandmother’s side, the family has lived in the farmlands of the thumb of Michigan for many generations. The Washington Township Cemetery is filled with the gravestones of my ancestors going back for many generations. The Vincent name covers the stones that fill the pastoral cemetery. Wandering through the old graveyard is like wandering through my history. In the center of the old cemetery, there is a monument that tells a different story. It tells the story of an old ghost.


The monument is known as the moonshiner’s monument. It is the largest and prettiest marker in the cemetery. Apparently, during prohibition it was used by moonshiners. The moonshiners would hide their moonshine in the old marker. The panels were easily removed and they would place their product within the tombstone. Distributers would then pick up the moonshine and leave their money behind. As was often the case, the distribution of these illegal spirits ended badly. In some kind of skirmish near the stone, one of the moonshiners was shot and died near the monument. His ghost is said to linger in the cemetery. He wanders the shadows looking for a peace that may never come.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Lady of the Lake



Huddled up against the shores of Lake Huron and tucked away in the shade of maple trees, there is a small cemetery. The cemetery is called Forester Cemetery and is the home of a lonely white lady ghost. The cemetery sits perfectly positioned to provide a perfect view of the great lake. The tombstones there are old and some have been broken and propped back up. Many of the markers have been so eroded that the names are gone. The wind from the lake has wiped away all traces of those who lie beneath them.

One of the many occupants of this quiet necropolis is named Minnie Quay. When Minnie was only fifteen years old, she fell in love with a sailor. She loved this sailor with a poignancy that only first love can offer. Her parents, however, did not share her passion. They forbade Minnie from ever seeing her beloved and told her that she could never expect to see her young beau again. Minnie was heartbroken. Her young man sailed away and died at sea. Minnie was so overwhelmed by grief she couldn’t bare it. She dressed herself in white and walked down to the shore of Lake Huron. She cast herself into the icy waters and died beneath its frigid surface. Her body washed up on shore and she was buried at Forester Cemetery. Since that time, people have claimed to see Minnie wandering the shores by Forester Cemetery. They’ve seen a tragic figure in white wandering the beaches looking out in hopes of catching on last fading glimpse of her lost love. Some even claim to have seen Minnie walking from the beach and through the grounds of the small cemetery by the lake, her cheeks stained with tears and her eyes desperate with grief.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Ghost of a Girl Named Howard

The Weedon House was built in 1817 and sits at the center of Huntsville, Alabama's historic district.  It is surrounded by constitution village and other historic structures.  It is a classic example of Federalist style architecture and was home to Howard Weedon, one of Huntsville's more renknowned female artists. Ms. Weedon was famous for her lovely and touching paintings of African Americans.  In an era when most African Americans were depicted as either animals or fools, she captured the spirit of her subjects and gave them life and humanity.  Her painting were even used as models for some of the characters in Gone with the Wind.  When Huntsville was occupied by Union forces in 1862, the Union Army requisitioned Weeden House and used it for its officers quarters.  After the war, Howard Weedon and her sister Kate lived out their lives in Weedon House.  There, Howard was able to paint and live her dreams of creation as a starving artist.  Ms. Weedon lived and died in Weedon house.  Some say she still stays there.  Weedon House now belongs to the city of Huntsville and is open for tours.

My mother got to visit the Weedon House this week.  She interviewed to be the director of the museum that now occupies the house.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for her because she has a passion for history and old houses and she would do an amazing job tending to this old house.  While she was there, she saw water damage on the walls and those interviewing her explained that the walls always weep there.   They aren't sure why and they haven't been able to stop the weeping.   Those that believe in ghosts site this as the most conclusive evidence of a haunting a Weedon House.  The walls there always weep and no one knows why.  The weeping isn't the only sign of haunting in the old house.  The old grandfather clock in the foyer is said to continue chiming even though the clock has no working parts and phantoms have been seen lingering in the upstairs window.   I hope my mother gets her job at the Weedon House, maybe I can learn more about the ghosts there and maybe I can find the secrets behind its weeping walls.



Monday, March 5, 2012

Night Shift Nightmares

This is my final post in my series saying goodbye to the Alabama State Psychiatric Hospitals.  This post is one I wrote when I was working the Night shift on a psychiatric floor.  Sadly, psychiatric floors are becoming fewer and far between these days making the closure of the Alabama State Hospitals even sadder.   I wrote this a couple of years ago when everything was quiet and the lights were out in the hospital. 

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 sentinel event. A sentinel 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.

Very few here believe 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?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Free Kindle Copy of Circe

 Inspired by the haunted hospital where I did my internship, Circe touches on my favorite parts of  what makes ghost stories intriguing.  If you would like a free copy of  Circe, email your email address to me at jessica.penot@gmail.com.

Dr. Black is a good man with a few vices. He is willing to sacrifice his career for his wife, Pria. He takes an internship at a hick institution in Southern Alabama to make his wife happy, but once he is situated in this old hospital, he finds that old habits die-hard. He is sexually compulsive and easily seduced by his supervisor, Cassie, who takes him to the bowls of the institution and shows him its tragic history. As Dr. Black loses himself in his obsession with Cassie, he becomes convinced that she is the key to Circe's mythology and magic and a series of bizarre murders leaves him convinced that she has opened the gates to another world. Madness and sanity begin to blur for Dr. Black and he becomes entangled in the mystery at the heart of Circe. A mystery that's as old as the ancient hospital itself. A mystery that could incriminate Cassie, an old god, or Dr. Black himself

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Old Bryce Hospital for the Insane

Earlier this week, I wrote about the closure of all of the Alabama state psychiatric hospitals.   I thought I should do several posts in honor of the demise of such an important part of Alabama's healthcare system. After I wrote this post, I said I would do several posts on the ghosts of the Alabama psychiatric hospitals.  This is my second post in that series.  Today, I revisit Old Bryce Hospital and I add to my original post by posting two anonymous comments I got on the hospital.  These comments were wonderful to me because they describe the experiences of those who have been to and seen the ghosts of Old Bryce Hopsital for the Insane:

Alabama Hospital for the Insane was designed to be a refuge for the mentally ill. Its architecture was designed based on the ideas of Dorothea Dix and Thomas Story Kirkbride. It was meant o be moral architecture that would contribute tot he healing process within the hospital The hospital opened in 1861 and for a while it held to the ideals of Dix and Kirkbride. The first superintendent, Peter Bryce, was an idealist and he had studied mental health in Europe. He believed that patients should be treated with respect kindness. He even abandoned the use of restraints. The hospital was later named for Bryce and it went on to be the model for progressive mental health care.


Time quickly eroded Bryce' legacy, however. By 1967, there were more than 5200 patients residing in a facility that was never meant to hold that many. Observers described Bryce as a concentration camp and a model for human cruelty. In 1970, one patient named Wyatt started a class action law suit against the Alabama's other mental hospital, Searcy State Hospital. This lead to major change in the way the mentally ill were treated in Alabama. The number of beds were cut drastically and humane treatment of the mentally ill became an absolute necessity. The landmark Wyatt v. Strickney Casee would change Bryce drastically. Old Bryce was the African American portion of Bryce Hospital and was notorious for being even more cruel than its white counterpart. After Wyatt v. Strickey and desegregation, Old Bryce was shut down entirely and other buildings were used. The African American patients were integrated into the white population.

Old Bryce still sits quietly deserted, however, as a reminder to the old days when patients were held like prisoners with no rights. It is covered in graffiti and has been vandalized many times. Its even been set on fire. Trespassing is forbidden here, but the curious have reported seeing all manner of horrors coming out of the dark around Old Bryce. Lights flicker on an off in the building that has no electricity. Phones ring in rooms with no phones. Phantom lights drift from room to room. Furniture moves on its own and footsteps echo through the abandoned hallways. The living patients may be gone, but many believe Old Bryce is still filled with the ghosts of those who once suffered in its walls.

Here are two comments from Anonymous visitors to the haunted hosptial:

"I live on the side of the river where "Old" Bryce is, and I attend the U of A where "New" Bryce is. If you're out on Highway 82 coming from town, take the left before 84 Lumber (the right after it if you're coming from Coker). You go down the road a bit, and you'll see two stone entrance things (one on either side of the road). Go down to the end of the road (or where there's a huge branch in the way like it was when I was there) and you'll be able to see the building. Word of caution, there is no sign, no markers, nothing. They've almost been trying to erase its existence it seems, so keep an eye out if you go, and it is trespassing to go inside so be careful.  As of last night, I've been out there 4 times, but only down to the end of the road once (during the day at that). The first time at night, the streetlights couldn't light up the road at all, and we couldn't see anything so I panicked and turned the car around. The second time at night, I drove just past the stone things and turned on my brights but they didn't go any further than where the light from the streetlights ended(they're yellowish, not blue) and I saw blue...things, like almost hospital gowns in a way, so I chickened out and turned the car around promptly. The last time (last night actually), I drove to where I had before and turned on my brights again. My headlights flickered (they never do that) twice very quickly, and I turned the car around. Every time, I went with a friend (she didn't see the gowns), but last night she said she saw dark hands, like the darkness was crawling toward us. We'll probably go back again, but we're never getting out of the car. Haha."

"Three friends and I went there tonight. It is a very creepy place. You walk down this long stretch road that's pitch black, and the building sort of sneaks up on you. I jumped because I looked up and we were standing right in front of the asylum, when I hadn't seen it seconds before. The front lawn is littered with debris and broken glass and empty beer bottles. We walked up to the front with all of this crunching underfoot. There's absolutely no way to walk silently throughout the building. The place is in ruin. It's completely dilapidated. The floors and stairs are littered with debris, there are wires and poles hanging from the ceiling. Every last window is busted out, and in some places there were plants growing in the building. I mean, this place was just your textbook, archetypal haunted house. The place is covered with graffiti inside and out. Paintings of devils and penises and hundreds of names smear the walls. My friends and I explored the furnace room, the cafeteria, and just about every other wing of the place. Of course we hear the creepy sounds and our flashlights sent shadows flitting across the walls, which made me jump more than a few times. And overall, the place just has an haunting atmosphere. I've heard all of the stories of ghosts and seances and Satan worshipers and cult meetings, but your biggest fear should probably be cops, homeless people, and asbestos poisoning. The cops are often on patrol, and its easy to tell from a distance that there's a flashlight shining in the abandoned building, and it's completely and totally illegal to be there. I've heard first hand stories of friends entering a room and finding a homeless man sleeping, and one of my friends personally got chased out by one. And, of course, its an old rotting building, asbestos likely abounds. However, I plan to visit again. Doing research, I hear that there are other, creepier, buildings behind it. I've read of people finding lobotomy machines and masks and even some creepy drawings. I'd really love to explore some more. Overall, it's truly a haunting place. Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, it's true that hundreds have been tortured and many killed there. And, c'mon, it's a freaking abandoned insane asylum! How much cooler can that get. Definitely check it out if you get the chance."