Weekly Yuputka: Messages from M

Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin. 

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I love a spooky Ouija board story. It’s scary to imagine that a piece of wood or cardboard can bring spirits into our world. In this story, some high schoolers accidently bring a malevolent spirit named “M” out of the board.  Today’s story is from Jezebel’s annual scary story contest. 

Like this? You might be interested in these entries:


Love, M, from user melodramallama

When I was in high school, one of my friends was very into playing with Ouija boards. She was living with her grandparents because of her family situation and I was living on my own because of mine. I really liked going over to her house, because I was very lonely a lot of the time, and her grandmother always had a full pantry. My friend and I used to hang out in her room for hours, smoking and trying to contact dead celebrities. And the Ouija board worked— the planchette moved, we had conversations with whoever (although never Marilyn Monroe as we both secretly hoped would happen).

We did talk to someone whose name started with M— actually M was the only name they ever gave. The planchette would start to move in a really fast, aggressive triangle when M showed up, and M was bad news. M’s defining feature was that s/he did not like me. At all. M would always spell out terrible things about me, about how and when I would die, that kind of thing. I know, the Ouija is subconscious (or not-so-subconscious) movement, right? But it seemed very… purposeful and real, somehow. Even if we invited other people over to play, M would show up. It was creepy. Eventually we moved on to some other pastime, and I stopped thinking about it.

A few months into our senior year, my friend and I had a falling out and stopped speaking. I didn’t have a lot of other friends at the time. Hard to believe that a manic-depressive poetry nerd with a Ouija enemy wasn’t very popular, but it’s true. After school I used to go back to my little apartment where I lived alone and listen to music and read and try to get the one channel I could get on my ancient TV.

I was bored. I wanted someone to talk to. Guess where this is going. I started to play Ouija by myself, using a Ouija board that I’d drawn. And it worked. Or I made it work. Or whatever. Eventually M showed up again with triangles and nasty words and messages of doom, and even though I was pretty sure M was some kind of creation of my self-hating subconscious, I decided not to play anymore. Things started to get a bit weird. First it was dishes clattering in the kitchen. Not constant, just occasionally. The first few times I went to check it out, but I didn’t see anything. After a while, I stopped getting up to look, but the noises kept happening. I started to get uncomfortable in the apartment. Have you ever had a bad feeling about a place? Like serious bad vibes? I felt that way in my apartment, particularly in the bathroom. But I figured I was just being silly, lonely, over-imaginative.

One night, I was doing some drawing in my sketchbook. I did some paintings too, because I was painting some props for a play I was on the crew for at school, and I was waiting for them to dry. I went to bed with everything laid out on the living room floor. The next morning when I woke up, I went out into the living room, I didn’t have my glasses on, so everything was kind of blurry. I saw my paintings and the finished props and thought “oh good, those are dry” and I was about to go get dressed when I noticed something else on the floor.

It looked like another painting. I went closer. It was a page torn out of my sketchbook, and turned over so the image was on the back. It was a message. It looked like it had been written by a finger dipped in paint, in red paint. and it just said DIE in big red letters. In the bottom right hand corner was an M. And the paper… the paper was scorched. Burnt around the edges, with big brown singes in the middle of the page. That was the worst part. Because for a second I thought “well, maybe I was sleepwalking and legibly wrote a message to myself on this piece of paper and cleaned everything up when I was done”. But the scorching made it REAL.

I stood there, feeling like someone had dropped a cold stone down into my stomach for quite a while, holding this horrible thing. And my choices were really that I had done it and couldn’t remember, that someone else had broken in and done this very specific thing and left without me hearing, or that no one had done it. All of the choices were too unsettling. And I decided to get out of the apartment. But I brought the paper with me, because I wanted to tell someone about it and I knew no one would believe me without the proof. I went to school, but didn’t go to class. I told a couple of friends about this and they agreed that the message should be destroyed, so we took it out in the field behind school and burned it. And I hung out at a coffee shop as long as I could after school so I wouldn’t have to go home, but of course eventually I had to.

There was something that looked like purple lipstick on the wall next to the door to my apartment. When I got closer, I could see it was an M. I left the apartment a couple of weeks later. I haven’t heard from M since. But 20 years later, thinking about playing ouija still makes me very, very nervous.

A Cemetery Stroll with the Wabash Paranormal Research Society

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I am skeptical of the existence of ghosts. Though, I believe in their existence enough so to pursue haunted places for the chance to see one. I believe in them enough so that I feel chills down my spine when I hear a ghost story. There is still so much left unknown, but who am I to tell others that their experiences are imaginary or a trick of the mind. I want to believe, but I want to remain objective. I move along a Mulder and Scully spectrum, where science and first-hand experience can be both strong and weak evidence. This has made my lifelong independent study of ghosts and hauntings much more challenging, exciting, scary, and fun.

Recently, I took one of my weekend cemetery strolls through Spring Vale Cemetery (a local favorite of mine). This stroll would be special, because I would be joined by James (founder/lead investigator) and Kevin (researcher/team lead/investigator) from the Wabash Paranormal Research SocietyThe Wabash Paranormal Research Society is located in Lafayette, IN with a branch location in Kansas. They offer their services free of charge to homes and businesses, taking away the financial burden from an already stressful situation for many people. While many of their clients are in the area, they haven’t turned away those outside of Indiana and Kansas. They sincerely want to help.

James said the team started in 2010 when he returned home from the Marine Corps, but he has been active in paranormal investigation since 2001. A visit to Lafayette’s old Pythian Home (an old nursing home) sparked his interest. After seeing things he couldn’t explain at the site, he became a paranormal investigator (and did it even during active duty).

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James and Kevin expressed a passion for solving paranormal mysteries. Along with offering free services, their team pays for their own (expensive) equipment and for trips to investigate haunted locations. Recently, I learned that locations with a haunted history will open their doors to paranormal investigators…at a cost. Nevertheless, such a business is important for keeping these historical places running. It’s hard to keep history alive in our economy and paranormal investigation helps keep historical structures standing, while sharing the stories of its deceased inhabitants.

They use the equipment you’ve probably heard about on TV shows: EMF detectors, IR detector, recorders, cameras, etc. One notable tool is their trigger object, or an inanimate object meant to attract spirits’ attention. They use a train as their trigger object, which lights up and makes sounds whenever a ghost is near. “It’s one of those pieces of equipment,” James explained, “that when it goes off, everyone’s excited.” Kevin agreed: “On one hand, I could count the number of times it has gone off and I’ve been here for 5 years.”

Along with their paranormal research technology, they are equipped with a skeptical and open mind.  On their website they write, “WPRS feels that skepticism, common sense and an open mind is essential when researching and investigating the paranormal and that all reasonable explanations should be ruled out prior to declaring an experience to be paranormal in nature.” Part of ensuring that they don’t confuse environmental noises for supernatural noises is taking base readings prior to the investigation. As Kevin explained: 

When you first go into an investigation, you get your base readings. So you take your K2 Meter, you take your Mel Meter, and you measure what the house gives off. So if you go by an electrical socket it’s going to go up. Or if you go by a fan, it’s going to spike up. You’ll go into the kitchen and note the hum of the fridge. You get your baseline audio. You get your baseline reading of the house. So when you start getting evidence above that, you can chalk it up to possible paranormal activity. But you cannot completely prove it, because nothing can be completely proven in this field yet.

They also said their years of working as paranormal investigators allows them to recognize familiar domestic noises (such as creaky floors). To also make sure audio data is not misconstrued, they ask all investigators to speak at their regular volumes, since whispers might be mistaken for other sounds (I’d have a problem screaming).

I was surprised by the amount of work that goes into analyzing data. For example, they place multiple microphones around a haunted house, one in each necessary room. Each microphone will capture around 8 hours of data. Analyzing, say 5, microphones’ audio is going to take a long time. And, that’s only one of the tools collecting data.

Not only do overnight investigations leave a lot of analysis work, but it also takes a physical toll on the body. Both described the dreaded “paranormal hangover,” which is a special level of tiredness one gets when chasing things that go bump in the night. Then there’s the possible risk of malevolent spirits. At one investigation, for example, an investigator got scratched 27 times in a matter of 5 hours. Another notable example happened at Black Moon Manor, where James was physically assaulted.

All of the sudden we hear footsteps running down the hallway, scratches on the wall. All of a sudden I feel two hands press down on my chest. And all I know at this point, is that I’m off the ground. And I went right through a chair, a plastic chair.

While James and Kevin shared interesting stories, I wondered if there was ever a slow night. When you watch shows such as Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures, it seems like evidence is just spilling out of the walls. James was able to clarify a few things for me:

 I use an analogy. It’s like going fishing. You cast your bobber out there and you can be out there for days until you get a bite. So. you don’t always find activity. There will be nights where there is completely nothing. There will be nights where there is the best evidence I’ve ever seen in my life. And on any show you watch, you see an hour of data, but they’ve been out there for 4 days. So they are showing you the evidence they caught over a span of maybe 4 days. And, that’s why it seems like they are catching a lot. Then you have some shows where the crew goes in before and sets up EMF pumps, so it’s pumping the air full of electromagnetic waves. So naturally you have a better chance of catching evidence.

Understandably, homeowners may be discouraged if an investigation produces little or no evidence. Kevin and James explain to their clients that their investigation was only one night, and they are willing to come back again.

***

I don’t know what I was expecting when I entered Spring Vale that day. Maybe those ghost hunters that are adrenaline junkies? But, I was surprised to meet two paranormal investigators that genuinely care for improving the lives of scared and confused families. I’m glad our community has this resource.

While I may be skeptical of the existence of ghosts, James and Kevin pointed out a phenomenon I’ve noticed since starting the blog. Oftentimes, people are quick to dismiss ghosts, but once you start talking to them about the possibility, they eventually reveal interesting first-hand experiences and family stories. And, like James and Kevin, I want to hear those stories. Hopefully one day, I’ll see my first ghost. And if it messes with me, I’ll give Wabash Paranormal Research Society a call.


Make sure to checkout their website (be careful, it screams) and Facebook page.

Their website has some detailed case studies and evidence. Might I suggest starting here?:

Weekly Yuputka: The Game

Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin. 

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This week’s scary story is one I actually experienced, but from the sidelines. The Olympics have me thinking about my own athletic memories. My entire childhood and adolescence was devoted to the game of soccer. There’s one game that still gives me chills. Simply put, I saw a paranormal intervention unfold before me. Names have been changed.


When I was about 15, my soccer team and I were traveling somewhere in the Midwest for a soccer tournament. I was always excited for these trips, because I got to have sleepovers with my best friends and play a sport I loved.

On the second morning of our tournament, my teammate Ann seemed a bit off. I asked her what was wrong over a free hotel breakfast. She was a forward (striker) on our team. She explained to me that she had a dream the night before that she was running towards the goal and had a collision with the goalie. She said that she broke her leg in this dream. Obviously, this would scare anyone before a day of big games.

Later on at our second game, we were beating the other team by many points. As custom, we decided to switch up positions to give other players a chance to score or enjoy a position they never got to play. My friend Ann was taken out of the game and replaced with our goalie, Sara.

Around center field, Sara got the ball. I was sitting on the sidelines and I was so excited to see our goalie, that plays the furthest position back, get a chance to score a goal. She was able to get through multiple players with ease. She was going to score, I was sure.

Then it was only her and the opposing team’s goalie. They collided and I heard the snap of a bone echo across the field. To this day, thinking about that sound makes me cringe. Sara, who was playing Ann’s position, had broken her leg.

Sara was hospitalized, but healed completely after quite some time. She continued to be an amazing goalie after her recovery.

Was Ann’s dream a warning, a prophecy, a coincidence? Did she avoid a broken leg, because she was replaced with Sara? I’ll never know, but it will always freak me out.

The House of Blue Lights

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Misunderstood people are sometimes feared to the point of folklore legacy. We cling to myth to avoid confronting the other, creating monsters that aren’t really there. So much of my own childhood lore was attached to that neighbor that seemed “off.” For example, “Old Man Bill” that lived down the street of my childhood home was rumored to chase dogs and children out of his yard with a butcher knife. I could, like Kevin McCallister, approach this eccentric man and dig deep into his own personal loss. But, I was always told to stay away from strangers and the alleged tales of his violence helped in doing so.

But then there were the games. “I dare you to run to Old Man Bill’s yard and stick your toe in the grass.” “No…I dare you to knock on his door.” No one wanted those games to end and we looked forward to taunting younger children with the same tale and dares.

When do these tales go to far? When do these dares become harassment? How do our fears rewrite history? Where does fact end and fiction begin?

The House of Blue Lights

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Skiles Edward Test

Growing up in the Indianapolis area, the story of The House of Blue Lights was an important part of my paranormal history.

The story begins with the tragic death of a millionaire’s wife. While the versions of the story differ from one storyteller to the next, I was told he kept her in a glass coffin in his mansion, surrounding her with blue (her favorite color) Christmas lights. Some legends say the lights were around the pool and other areas of his property. Some say you can see a woman walking the property at night, catching glimpses of her in one of the blue lights (the USC Digital Folklore Archives interviewed someone about this very story).

This man behind the blue lights was Skiles Edward Test.

Skiles Edward Test was born on October 19, 1889 and died on March 18, 1964. His father, Charles Test, made his fortune as president of Indianapolis Chain Works. Historic Indianapolis describes his childhood:

Skiles grew up, along with brother Donald and sister Dorothy, in the mansion their father Charles built at 795 Middle Drive in Woodruff Place on the near east side. The mansion still sits on a giant lot, its heavily wooded garden obscuring the carriage house set back from the street. Nearby Arsenal Technical High School wouldn’t open until 1912, so young Skiles attended Manual Training High School, located at 525 South Meridian before it was relocated to Madison Avenue in 1953. Skiles was a permanent fixture on the Honor Roll and finished in 3 1/2 years, graduating in 1908. If he had intended on going to college, he never got an opportunity. Charles Test passed away in a Wisconsin sanitarium of Bright’s Disease in 1910, leaving the eldest child, Skiles, to head the family.

In 1913, Skiles and his new wife, Josephine Benges, moved onto a large wooded and secluded property. His property was remarkable and had a full farm, large pool, small rail system, and it’s own working power plant. He definitely found interesting ways to spend his inheritance, but made sure to share it with his family and community.

According to Find a Grave:

The Skiles estate included two complete power plants and a cat and dog cemetery with headstones. Mr. Test loved animals and refused to turn away strays. At one time he reportedly had 150 cats and 15 St. Bernard dogs on his estate. After his death, albums of photographs of dogs, cats, squirrels and other animals lying in state in small caskets were found among his possessions. In spite of his reputation for eccentricity, Mr. Test was a friendly and generous man who supported many charities. He donated a large tract of land to the Lawrence Township School District that is now the site of Skiles Test Elementary School and a nearby nature preserve. A large portrait of Mr. Test is displayed in the lobby of the school.

He also, along with his siblings, constructed a building on the Monument Circle of downtown Indianapolis in his father’s honor (complete with Indianapolis’s first parking garage).

***

The tale of The House of Blue Lights popped up sometime between the two world wars. Author and former farmhand of Skiles, Garry Ledbetter, says closer to WWII. One explanation for these blue lights, according to Historic Indianapolis, was that “Skiles loved the color blue.  He put up blue lights each Christmas and hung blue bug-zapping lights around his enormous swimming pool.” And, his wife wasn’t even dead. But the story took hold and curious trespassers wanted a peek at the coffin. Historic Indianapolis describes these nightly visitors:

Throughout the Fifties and into the Sixties, the trespassers and vandals became increasingly bold. Skiles found a group of teens swimming in his pool and took their clothes and keys, only to be sued by one boy’s father. Trespassers released dogs from their pens and started fires in outbuildings.  Skiles found a teen in his kitchen drinking a Coke he’d taken from the fridge. For a while, he took to sleeping in the multi-story pool house, its cinder-block construction being more fire-proof than the house. Plagued with stress-related ulcers, Skiles began to leave each night and stayed at his girlfriend’s house, so as to not be tormented by the nonstop onslaught of lookie-loos.

It seemed that the stories of trespassing became lore. I once heard that a trespasser put one of Skiles’s cats in a cage with an aggressive dog.

***

The House of Blue Lights is a reminder that we must enjoy the tales we hear, but with a critical mind. We can become the “monster” if we get too caught up in the mystery, missing the opportunity to learn the other’s truth and wisdom.

The property and surrounding structures have been torn down since, but some still report flickering blue lights. I like to think that its just Skiles messing with us.


For more information, you might check out houseofbluelights.com.

Also, Skiles is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, a place I visited in a past post.

Weekly Yuputka: The Dead of Winter

Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin. 

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Today’s story is from Jezebel’s 2015 Annual Scary Story Contest. I chose it after a lively conversation about winter versus summer on Twitter. Apparently, people find winter a horrible experience, but it could always be worse…


The Dead of Winter, from user ElZopilote

Not mine, but here’s an old family story that comes by way of my late Great-Grandmother, a hardy rural Yugoslavian woman if there ever was one.

Back in the old country, a family member had died. It was the dead of winter, and family had gathered for the funeral. They’d conducted a nice service, and in the evening had all retired to the home they were staying at in the village. You have to understand these are small rural Eastern European villages, there are only like 30 residents to this day. I’ve visited.

Anyway, it was snowing heavily and the wind was howling as the mourners drank and shared memories of the deceased. All of the sudden, someone near the window heard knocking and went to investigate. Upon looking outside, the unlucky mourner was greeted by the apparition of the deceased woman they’d buried earlier that day! Knocking on the window and door. Everyone inside was terrified and remained huddled inside until it all seemed to stop.

The next morning, someone went outside to have a look around. The body of the “dead” woman was laying in the snow under the window, frozen solid. She’d been accidentally buried alive. She made her way out of the grave and back home, only to freeze to death pleading to be let inside. Everyone thought she was a ghost. My great grandma was in attendance as a little girl, and swore this was true until she died. Not a ghost story but horrifying none the less.


Want more scary stuff about being frozen to death? I got another blog post for you! 

The Haunted Lighthouses of Michigan

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The meagre lighthouse all in white, haunting the seaboard, as if it were the ghost of an edifice that had once had colour and rotundity, dripped melancholy tears after its late buffeting by the waves. – Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit 

Today’s post explores the haunted lighthouses of Michigan, a state surrounded by five beautiful Great Lakes. These lakes are mysterious and unpredictable. According to mental_floss, fish in the Great Lakes can get up to over 200 pounds (no thanks). And, try to avoid taking your boat out during a storm on Lake Superior, which has been called “The Graveyard of the Great Lakes.” There has been an estimated 6,000 shipwrecks there, with 30,000 lives lost.

The lighthouse, though it serves as a beacon of hope for desperate ships, can be an isolated and dark place for those managing its operations. This isolation can trap people until they pass into the next world. Some lighthouse keepers continue to watch over the Great Lakes in the afterlife.

The question is: would you rather run into one of these spirits or a 200-pound fish?

Point aux Barques Lighthouse

Point Aux Barques Lighthouse was built in 1848 on Lake Huron (on the “thumb”). People have seen a 1930s woman in an apron (most likely a cleaning lady) in a second floor window. People have also reported cold spots and footsteps.

Old Presque Isle Lighthouse

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Old Presque Isle Lighthouse

Screams of a disembodied woman can be heard in this lighthouse. Stories say it could be from a past keeper’s wife. One legend says that when a keeper’s mistress came for visits, he would lock his wife in the tunnel so she couldn’t interrupt. He eventually killed her. Another legend says a keeper locked his wife away in the tower after he went insane.

There is also the ghost of George Parris. In the 1990s, he and his wife moved there to run the lighthouse as a museum. After George’s death, the lighthouse light began to go on at dusk and turn off at dawn, even though, the light was permanently disabled for quite some time. According to rumor, the coast guard removed the light altogether, but the light still shines.

Wikipedia shares some other notable encounters with Mr. Parris:

Other accounts of Mr. Parris include a young girl who was exploring the tower alone. When she returned, she had told her parents that she was talking to a “nice old man” in the tower’s lamp room. It was later found that nobody else had been in the tower at that time. The girl correctly identified the man as former keeper George Parris from a photo kept in the adjoining cottage/museum.

One day, Parris’ widowed wife was going out to run an errand during an intense lightning storm. She was about to leave the cottage, but she claimed that some unusual force was blocking the exit. Just then lightning struck directly outside the cottage. To this day, Mrs. Parris believes that it was the spirit of her deceased husband that kept her from certain electrocution.

Seul Choix Lighthouse

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Seul Choix Lighthouse

This lighthouse (established in 1892) sits on the choppy waters of Lake Michigan and has witnessed dozens of shipwrecks at its base. Its French name translates to “only choice,” coming from French traders who stumbled upon it when looking for refuge from a turbulent storm.

From 1902 until his death in 1910, Joseph Willie Townsend ran the lighthouse. He loved smoking cigars, but his wife forbade them. If you visit the lighthouse today, you might smell Townsend sneaking in a few puffs in the afterlife.

Years after Townsend’s death, some people went down to the basement and found pieces of a dining room table. They put it together, awakening some paranormal activity. People have reported its chairs moving and utensils being put in weird arrangements.

Waugoshance Lighthouse

The Waugoshance Lighthouse is located on the northeast end of Lake Michigan and became an official lighthouse in 1851. Legend says that John Herman began his service as the keeper in 1892, and was notoriously a drunk and prankster. One night he decided to lock his assistant in the lamp room as a joke. When his assistant finally got out, John had vanished into the night. After his disappearance, strange things happened. Chairs were kicked out from under people. Chores were mysteriously completed. Supposedly, they built another lighthouse elsewhere, because John was scaring away staff at Waugoshance.

White River Light Station

On Lake Michigan (near Whitehall, MI) stands an old brick lighthouse built in 1875. The first keeper, Captain William Robinson served the lighthouse for 47 years until he died there. People believe the mysterious pacing sounds are him still overseeing the lighthouse’s operations. His deceased wife is believed to dust the place, since people have reported dust rags moving.

 

Weekly Yuputka: The Dream House

Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin. 

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Today’s story is from Jezebel’s 2013 Annual Scary Story Contest. I’m counting down the days until the next one! We have 87 days until Halloween, so we are slowly getting there…

Enjoy!


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I have quite a few ghost stories to tell. Some of them are mine; some of them were told to me by others. My favorite is the one that happened in the Most Wonderful House in the Universe. It’s my story.

I moved into the Most Wonderful House in the Universe while I was in grad school. The house had been built in 1911. It was/is a beautiful house. Two stories. Wooden floors. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms. A huge kitchen. A screened-in back porch with a washer and dryer. The backyard had room for a garden, one orange tree, one lemon tree, one lime tree, and a plum tree. The was a lovely wooden deck. The front porch had, of course, a swing. The upstairs was one large bedroom with a balcony and stained glass windows. I dream of living in a house like this again one day, when I win the lottery.

I moved in, away from a house that was a former meth house, one that had made me sick. The meth had seeped into the ground water, and I suffered for months from stomach issues and generally weakness and illness before it became clear that it was the chemicals from the meth-making of the former meth-makers that was probably the cause. I moved out immediately. I hoped to recover from my physical problems in this beautiful, perfect house. It had one flaw. A downstairs bedroom was dark, even during the height of the day, because of placement. But, I was the only renter, so I closed that room off and stored my extra boxes there.

The first few months were great. The front porch was my favorite place to be, sitting on the porch swing. I did notice some odd cold areas in the house, but I put it off to what I liked to think of as “old house syndrome.” That is, some old houses just have drafty areas during winter months. I discounted the sound of footsteps as house-settling as well. The house was so nice, and I had been sick for so long. I just refused to have any problems there.

Spring arrived early that year and was really warm, so I started leaving the front door open, in the hopes of catching cool breezes through the living room. The front door was huge, heavy thing, with a large lock that I only turned at night because it was so hard to open with the key. But, there was a screen door as well, and I loved it. It meant I could leave the door open, because I could latch the screen, while I was at home.

It started with the door. I would open the door, and then, after I walked into the kitchen in the morning for coffee, it would slam shut. I thought this was, you know, odd, but a draft. Obviously. So, I put a book in front of the door. The largest version of Chaucer is good for this sort of thing, and that seemed to work at first. Then, one day, I got up, came downstairs, opened the front door, slid Chaucer in as a doorstop, and went into the kitchen to start the coffee.

The door slammed shut.

I thought, “Huh. Must have not gotten the book in front of the door.”

I went back in the room, opened the door, slid the Chaucer book in front of it, and left the room.

The door slammed shut. Really hard.

I paused. I put down my coffee and reentered the living room. The enormous Chaucer book was in front of the television, nowhere near the door. The door was shut. And locked. The difficult bolt had been turned. I froze.

I looked around the room nervously, picked up the Chaucer book as a weapon, and then, I reopened the door. I was in the process of convincing myself that it was a friend, playing a joke. I had friends like these. I unlocked and opened the door, looking out on the front porch. No one. Then, I realized that I had just unlatched the screen door to look outside.

In moments, I found myself outside on the front lawn in my pajamas, clutching the giant Chaucer book, looking, I’m certain, like a lunatic.

My first thought was not ghosts. My first thought was crazed maniac intruder. I mean, seriously, the living are far more dangerous than the dead.

Finally, I gathered up enough courage to go back inside. I couldn’t quite get past the embarrassment of showing up at neighbor’s house in my pajamas, to call the police, who might find an empty house. So, I went back inside. I’m embarrassed to say I was holding Chaucer over my head as a weapon. I can only imagine how it looked to an observer, and this is the first time I’ve told this story and admitted to the Chaucer part.

When I got inside, I went from room-to-room, including closets, clutching my phone, which I grabbed as well, and a giant textbook. Nothing. I even looked into the basement under the screened porch. Nothing. Everything else was locked. I calmed and decided that it had been the wind. Somehow. So, I tested it. I slammed the door, over and over, attempting to get the lock to slip. No go. So, I decided it was a fluke, a weird thing that had happened. I opened the door, latched the screen door, and put Chaucer back in place. I went into the kitchen for breakfast.

The front door slammed. Hard.

I walked back into the room. The book was near the staircase this time. The door was closed. And locked. I stood there in the silence for a minute. Then, I had what can only be described as a crazed moment. I unlocked the front door and opened it. I yelled, “This is my house! I am the living person! Knock it off. The door stays open!!” As I stood there, after saying this crazy thing, the closet door in the dark, spare room downstairs slammed behind me. I walked over to the spare room, yanked open the door to the room, and yelled, “Fine! Open and close that door!!! Whatever!! But, the front stays open!” I closed the door to the spare room.

It was quiet after that. Sometimes, I swore I heard footsteps. Sometimes, I swore someone was standing right behind me, but there was no one there. Sometimes, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. But, I ignored that so that I could live in the beautiful house. The front door never needed a doorstop again.

Weekly Yuputka: The Paper Route

Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin. 

photo-1450776598040-e0dbb5665213.jpgToday’s true story is short and sweet. Buzzfeed asked their community for their scary stories and here is one of them!


Margie, The Friendly Ghost

I used to share a paper route with my brothers, and we’d deliver to a lady named Margie. Since she was old and lived alone, one of us would take the paper inside and check on her. One day I went in and she was asleep on the bed, so I put the paper on the table and left. The next day, she was asleep again, hadn’t opened the paper from the day before. The following day, I went in and Margie was awake. She said she was very happy and gave me a hug. But the next morning there were cars outside her house. Apparently Margie had died in her bed, three or four days before — I had spoken to and hugged her about 24 earlier, when she was already dead.

Book Notes: Animal Superstitions


Today, I am continuing with my notes on David Pickering’s Cassell Dictionary of Superstitions. Last time, I shared notes on general supernatural superstitions. This time, I’m focusing on animals. As Pickering writes, “Innumerable species  of animal are credited with supernatural powers, including the ability to seethe future and kingship with the spirit world.” “Belief in the magical nature of the animal world,” Pickering writes, “was once much stronger than it is now, and in many cultures animals were considered almost the equal of humans” (p.7). Below are some of the more interesting notes I found while reading this book.

Bat (p. 22-3):

  • “The appearance of a bat in a church during a wedding ceremony is considered a bad omen, and if a bat flies three times round a house or hits a windowpane this is a sure prophecy of the impending death of someone within.”
  • “A near miss when a bat flies close by is a warning that the person concerned is threatened  by betrayal or witchcraft at the hands of another.”
  • “Other traditions suggest that witches sometimes turn themselves into bats in order to enter people’s houses and that the sight of bats flying vertically upwards and then dropping back to Earth is a sign that the witching hour has come. Witches, it is said, often include a few drops of bat’s blood in the flying ointment they are said to smear on their bodies before taking off on their broomsticks: the idea is that they will then be safe from collding with anything […].”

Bear (p. 25): “According to popular superstition, bears obtained their sustenance by sucking on their own paws, and literally licked their newborn cubs into a bear shape when first delivered.”

Birds (p. 33): 

  • “Dark-coloured birds that fly around trees without ever seeming to settle are said to be souls of reincarnated evil-doers, though another popular superstition (from France) maintains that when unbaptized children die they become birds for a time until accepted into heaven.”
  • “The death of a caged bird on the morning of a wedding indicates that the marriage will not prosper, and pet birds must be kept informed of important family events or they will languish and die.”

Cow (p.73): A cow trespassing in a garden means imminent death, and 3 cows means 3 imminent deaths.

Dolphin (p. 85): Dolphins change color when death is near.

Donkey (p. 86): “[…] it is claimed that plucking three hairs from a donkey’s shoulders and placing the in black silk or muslin bag worn around the neck of a person suffering from measles or whooping cough – which sounds not unlike the braying of an ass – is certain to cure the disease, as long as the animal is the opposite sex to the patient.”

Duck (p.89): Ducks that flap their wings while swimming are warning us of approaching rain.

Eel (p. 93): “It was once said that witches and sorcerers clad themselves in jackets made of eelskin in the belief that these were impervious to gunfire.”

Fox (p. 110): In Scotland farmers nailed the head of foxes to the barn door to scare off witches.

Muskrat (p. 183): “The [American] Indians believe that the construction of the muskrat’s home can reveal much about the coming season’s weather. If the muskrat builds its home well clear of the water, heavy rains are due, but it constructs a house with thin walls the winters will be mild.”

Pig (p. 204): “According to the Irish, children suffering from mumps and other ailments should rub their heads on a pig’s back so that the disease will be transferred to the animal.”

Sheep (p. 225): “Consuming a little sheep dung in water will relieve both jaundice and whooping cough.”


Want more? 

Black Dogs and Death 

Cats and Death: A Very Brief History 

The 5 Scariest Mausoleums in America

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Recently on Twitter, I was talking with a few of you about Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction (1997-2002). For those unfamiliar with this television show: each episode shared supernatural stories, then revealed whether the stories were fact or fiction at the end of the episode.

My favorite story from the show, “The Secret of the Family Tomb,” was about a haunted mausoleum. I included a clip of the story below (8 minutes) and will tell you whether it’s fact or fiction at the end of this post.

With haunted mausoleums on my mind, I wanted to find more. I’ve always found mausoleums interesting: they’re eerily quiet, mysterious, and beautifully made. What goes on behind those doors after dark? The following stories suggest the trapped spirits are trying to get out.

The Legare Mausoleum (Edisto Island, SC)

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From Flickr 
In the mid-1800s, Julia Legare became sick with Diptheria. Her family watched as she suffocated, closed her eyes, and passed on. They laid her lifeless body on a stone slab in the family crypt, closed the door, and sealed the keyhole with wax. The family mourned and tried their best to move on.

Years later, Julia’s brother was killed in the Civil War and the family crypt was opened once again. The family moved the heavy door, only to watch bones fall out. The doors and floor were covered with claw marks. Julia didn’t die from Diptheria, but spent her last moments alive trying to escape the crypt. Obviously, her family was very distraught with this scene. They quickly placed their son in the mausoleum and left, but decided to visit him soon to make sure he was indeed dead. When they returned to the grave, the crypt door had a large crack down the middle. They replaced it, but it happened again, and again, and again…

The mausoleum has remained doorless ever since. Could Julia’s spirit be protecting her brother from the same fate?

The Hayden Mausoleum (Columbus, OH)

In Green Lawn Cemetery, there is a large mausoleum that holds members of the Hayden family. Legend says that if you knock on the mausoleum doors, a spirit will answer back with a knock. On rainy nights, people have also reported seeing a young boy leaning against its iron gates and crying. Is he buried inside?

According to a user on Find a Grave, the mausoleum is in decent condition on the outside, but is in very bad shape on the inside.

The Craigmiles Mausoleum (Cleveland, TN)

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The alleged blood stain is above the right column. From Find a Grave
In Cleveland, Tennessee stands a beautiful 37-foot high mausoleum made of white Italian marble and stained with (what seems to be) blood. On October 18, 1871, Nina Craigmiles (age 7) died in a tragic buggy accident. Her grandfather, who often took her on buggy rides, was thrown clear of the accident and survived. Her father John Craigmiles was deeply saddened by this loss and constructed a church (St. Luke’s Episcopal Church) and mausoleum in her honor. Soon after her burial, blood stains began to appear.

Shortly after Nina’s death, her brother died (name not documented). In 1899, John died of blood poisoning after a serious fall on an icy street. Nina’s mother, Adelia, died in 1928 after being hit by a car when crossing the street. They were all placed in the mausoleum. With each death, the blood stains got darker and more prominent.

Could the spirits of the Craighmiles family be the cause of the mysterious red stains or is there some chemical reaction in the marble?

The Forest Park Mausoleum (Brunswick, NY)

The Forest Park Cemetery (also known as the Pinewoods Cemetery) is now abandoned and overgrown.  According to Wikipedia, the cemetery began with big dreams that were never fully realized:

Forest Park Cemetery was first incorporated in 1897 by a group of wealthy Troy businessmen under the Forest Park Cemetery Corporation, though based on older gravestones, the cemetery had apparently been in use since at least 1856. The original area chosen for the cemetery occupied over 200 acres (81 ha) of farmland in what was then rural Brunswick. Meant to outgrow and even outclass Troy’s Oakwood Cemetery, it was originally designed by Garnet Baltimore, the first African-American graduate ofRensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Baltimore planned on the cemetery to offer visitors a park-like experience, complete with statuary, winding trails, and a large receiving tomb near the entrance.

The Forest Park Cemetery Corporation went bankrupt in 1914 and the cemetery was never completed to the original plans. The only structure that had been built was the receiving tomb, which still stands today, albeit in a dilapidated state. The receiving tomb was built from granite and featured a copper roof with a large skylight and contained 128 marble catacombs used for storing corpses during the winter.

In 1914 the cemetery was re-incorporated by New York City natives under the name Forest Hills Cemetery. Due to financial difficulty, the corporation sold all but 22 acres (8.9 ha) to the neighboring County Club of Troy, for use in the construction of its golf course. Regardless, the corporation also went bankrupt during the 1930s. The cemetery went mostly unattended except for a local man named William Christian who volunteered to be caretaker and did so from 1918 to his death in 1961. Christian kept notes of interments, which indicate that the cemetery served upwards of 1,400 burials. Burials continued in the cemetery until about 1975, when the cemetery went completely unattended.

Until 1987, control of the cemetery was in dispute. During that year, control was vested in the Town of Brunswick, at the decree of New York State. In response, the town created a Forest Park Cemetery Advisory Council in 1991, but it ended up being disbanded in 1994. Based on local obituaries, the cemetery was put back into use in the late 1990s and has been used as recently as 2005 for a burial. Employees from the Town of Brunswick made multiple attempts during the 1990s and 2000s to remove the overgrown brush and plants, which had become a major problem.

In 1988, the cemetery was featured in the local Times Record newspaper after two youths discovered a partially exhumed grave. Two shovels, a pick and several beer cans were found at the crime scene. Although police reports were filed, no one was apprehended for the crime.

According to urban legend, this cemetery is a gateway to hell. People have reported that a headless angel statue bleeds from the neck (which many believe is just moss). The mausoleum (or the before mentioned receiving tomb) was opened by residents, revealing that there were no bodies inside. People believe the bodies disappeared or walked off. Others argue it was simply a holding area for bodies to be buried, and that it never served as a final resting place.

If you need a scare, Weird US has two stories from readers that have visited the site!

Massock Mausoleum (Spring Valley, IL)

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From Illinois Ancestors
The small Lithuanian Liberty Cemetery was established in 1914 and holds less than 20 memorials. In the corner of the cemetery stands a mausoleum with the bodies of two brothers. According to legend, “The Hatchet Man” guards the mausoleum at night and chases off anyone that enters the cemetery.

As with many cemeteries, there has been vandalism. In the 1960s, a local boy allegedly broke into the mausoleum and took a skull. The boy drove around town with the skull on his dashboard. Once word got out that it was indeed real, the skull was returned and the mausoleum doors were cemented shut. In recent years, a burned dog’s head was found on the mausoleum steps and was linked to animal sacrifice.

Another legend tells of a reporter who poured holy water down the vent of the mausoleum, which caused a groaning noise from inside.

People have also reported a pale and thin apparition walking around at night.


So, is the scary story about the family tomb fact or fiction? 

This story is based on true events.