Monday, November 29, 2010

The Lost Princess of Noccalula Falls

Noccalula Falls is hidden in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on the side of Lookout Mountain.  It is hidden in the quiet green of  the forest and is buried in rich history that isn't evident when you look.    The history here is Native American history.,  There is a gorge and trails and caves thick with carvings that tell of the first occupants of the region.   The waterfall is named for one of these occupants.  It is name for a Native American princess whose beauty was legendary.  It is said that her ghost still wanders the mountain side and that her face can still be seen in the mist around the falls.

According to legend,  Noccalula fell in love with one of the braves in her tribe.  The two lovers wanted to be united in marriage, but fate was against them.  Their love was thwarted by Noccalula's father who wanted her to marry another man.  It was the costume of the Native's at the time for the parents to chose their children's mates and Noccalula was told to marry another.

Noccalula was broken hearted.   She couldn't bare it and she climbed to the top of the waterfall and threw herself over the edge.  She died in the cold waters beneath the falls.  Her father was so beside himself that he named the waterfalls for his lost princess.  Since that time,  many visitors to Noccalula falls have seen a Native American maiden walking along the top of the waterfall.  Some say they can see her face in the mist near the base of the falls.  They say she rises from the water and then fades away into the mist, forever searching for her lost love.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Am I Fester Adams?

Today was one of those days.  It was one of those days when you have to step back at least three times and take deep cleansing breaths to prevent yourself from falling apart completely.   The day started badly.  I had bought new, prelit garlands for the house and none of them lit up.  I had promised my boys that we could decorate the tree today and they woke up early with Christmas carols on their lips and joyful smiles.   I took out the new lights and tested them.  None of them worked.  I took a deep cleansing breath and drove to Pottery Barn to buy new lights.  We decorated the tree and ran some errands. They were the errands from hell.   I won't bore you with the details but I will say that you should never trust a car salesman.  After this, I was ready for something fun and relaxing.  I asked my boys what fun activity they would like to do for the afternoon.

This was where my bad decision making came in.  Never ask two brothers to chose an activity.  I was doomed.  They couldn't pick the same activity and they fought for literally fours hours over which movie to see, whether the movie was too girly, should they go swimming at the YMCA, was there another movie worth seeing.  The fighting escalated and I could do nothing.  I couldn't side with either of them as I never show favoritism.  So I just sat down.  I sat down and watched Confessions of a Shopaholic while my hair turned white.  The day faded.  The moment passed and it was too late for fun activities. My boys got over themselves and left to play outside and I was left with a moment of peace.  I took a deep breath and put up my new garlands.

As I hung the first garland over the fireplace, it lit up.  I stood there staring at it trying to understand why it lit up.  I took my hands off the garland and the light faded.  I checked the plug.  It wasn't plugged in.  The plug was still encase in those plastic things from the box.  I was beginning to feel like Fester Adams.   I probably look like Fester Adams today.  I certainly have the black rings around my eyes.  For many years now, strange things have followed me that I ignore or say, "it must be a ghost" with a laugh.  Faucets turn on by themselves.  The garage door opens and closes for no reason.  I believe there must be a rational explaination for these things, but this event today got me to wondering if it wasn't just me. Am I Fester Adams? I certainly can't think of any explanation that makes sense. I love rational explanations.  So if any of you have any explanation as to why the lights went on when I touched them please comment.  Static electricity maybe?   Maybe I just need medication?  Maybe I was Fester Adams in another life?  I guess that isn't rational.  Maybe my house is just electrically challenged.  I am open to all suggestions.  For now, I am going to enjoy the quiet while my boys play and maybe have a beer and hope I don't go to crazy tonight.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Lady in the Lake

I can't resist.  I know I should, but I can't.  I have too many wonderful ghost stories from Chattanooga to not write at least a little about one of them.  So here is my favorite.   There is an old cemetery on a mountain in Chattanooga.  The cemetery is called Greenwood Cemetery and the most remarkable ghost stories from this cemetery aren't really from the cemetery at all.  It is the quarry across the road from the cemetery that has the most remarkable ghost stories.  The quarry looks more like a small pond than a quarry, but according to local legend, this pond is deep with caverns that drift off into nowhere lurking beneath its murky depths.

There are many stories associated with this quarry.  There are tales of spectral green lights and drownings.   But the most poignant story is the story of a young woman afflicted with polio.   Apparently the disease crippled her and reduced her to a shell of a woman.   Her husband was left to care for her, but he wasn't really up to the job.   He took her out to the quarry and rolled her into the water and watched her drown.

Many tell the story of this young woman.  They say she comes out at night.   She drifts across the water dressed in white.  She is beautiful, like she was before the disease.  She comes with the mist and when the mist touches the ground, the footprints she leaves behind aren't footprints at all.   They are wheelchair tracks.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Thanksgiving Horror Movie!

For every holiday there is at least one horror movie and here is Thanksgiving's. Thankskilling is about an evil turkey turned ax murder that kills college students on Thanksgiving.  There really isn't much more that can be said about this very silly film.  It is on netflix instant view.  So happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  I hope you all have as many things to be grateful for as I do.  Now off to cook more food!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Totoro's Ghosts

This morning I watched a Japanese film called My Neighbor Totoro with my children.  Totoro is a haunted house movie, although it is nothing like any haunted house movie you would ever see in America.  As I sat watching Totoro this morning,  I got to thinking about the amazing difference in perceptions of the spirit world and the world of ghosts between the Japanese and the Americans.   Different culture's perceptions of ghosts have always fascinated me.   I  once went to a cemetery with a friend from Taiwan and he said that his mother would be furious with him because he didn't go to the temple to cleanse afterwards.  Apparently, his mother believes that ghosts can be carried with you if you don't go to the temple.  Miyazaki's movie, Totoro, and many of his other films, show a vision of ghosts and spirits that is so different from our vision of ghosts it is amazing and completely charming.

In the movie Totoro, two little girls move into a house that is known to be haunted.  In America, this is the beginning of a horror movie.  For Miyazaki, this is the beginning of a lovely adventure.  The little girls know the house they live in is haunted and they aren't afraid.  In fact, they go hunting the soot gremlins that live in the attic and when their father finds out the house is haunted he yells, in a most joyous voice, "I have wanted to live in a haunted house since I was a boy."   Clearly, the negative associations we have with hauntings are not  present.

Of course, in Japanese folklore, there are many, many spirits. Every object has a spirit and these spirits are usually good or at least neutral.   The spirit world is ever present and in Totoro the little girls' journey into the spirit world is more than fun.   I love this haunted house movie because it is the absolute opposite of everything Americans expect of a haunted house movie.  It is delightful and fun and worth watching on a sunny morning with your children.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Touring Chatatnooga with Amy of Chattanooga Ghost Tours

There is no better way to spend a lovely autumn day than on a haunted tour.  Yesterday was a beautiful autumn day.  The leaves were still dressed in their fall colors.  Deep reds and burnt umbers painted the hills.  The sun was blanketed in thick clouds which made the temperature perfect.    And I had Amy Petulla of Chattanooga Ghost Tours giving me a personal tour of Chattanooga's most interesting haunts for our new book, Haunted Chattanooga.  Having Amy as the coauthor of my next book is such a relief, not only does she know everything about the ghosts of the area, but she is also an accomplished writer.  It almost feels like this next book will be cheating and I couldn't be happier to be the author with the cheat sheet.  The last book was exhausting.  Here is a link to her website if you ever find yourself in Chattanooga . 

 Amy drove me to all of the haunted locations for the book.  Amy took me to Chattanooga underground to look for the ghosts of the lost city.  She took me to an old quarry to find a white lady  We went to lovely museums and old hotels and I found that Chattanooga is filled with a rich folklore I just can't wait to write about.   I don't want to say to much and give away all the surprises that will be in the next book, but Chattanooga is just teaming with monsters and ghosts. Here are a few pictures of our journey.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

7 Reasons Why We Love Ghost Stories by Guest Blogger Maria Rainier

People seem to feel strongly about the paranormal, and many seek it out by actively listening to or reading ghost stories. Horror films, books, podcasts, blogs, social media sites, and personal videos are all popular ways to experience ghost stories. There are many ways to access dialogue about the paranormal, and that demonstrates a societal appreciation for a good ghost story. But why is that? Why do people gravitate toward ghost stories? Even those who don’t enjoy them can’t seem to put them down or stop listening. There’s something fascinating about ghost stories – more than one something, it seems. I’ve identified seven different reasons in no particular order for seeking out ghost stories, but we’d love to hear from you, too. Do any of these reasons motivate you, or do you have your own?

1. Gaining Perspective
Maybe you just got a big stack of monthly bills in the mail, a notice from the school that your kid skipped out today, and a smaller holiday bonus than you were expecting. These seem like terrible problems until you find a good bone-chilling ghost story to remind you that at least you don’t have zombies to contend with in your everyday life. Sometimes, like many forms of entertainment, ghost stories are merely a distraction from the problems of the real world. Reading about someone who’s just lost their face to a werewolf makes your financial woes look tame in comparison. Ghost stories can be just the ticket when you need that extra dose of perspective to make it through the rest of your day.

2. Enjoying an Adrenaline Rush
Some people are adrenaline junkies, and while ghost stories won’t give you a huge dose, they’re still viable means of getting a little tingle along your spine. If you’re the kind of person who just likes to be scared out of your pants, ghost stories are probably great bedtime reading.

3. Connecting with the Past
Not only are many ghost stories set fairly far back into the past, but some are also about people directly from your lineage. Maybe you have family ghost stories that help you connect with the people who preceded you. Family histories are fun places to find ghost stories that help you feel as if you knew the people in them. Even ghost stories about well-known historical figures can be a little more intriguing than the typical variety because the time period and notoriety add interest.

4. Finding Food for Thought
Ghost stories often operate on multiple levels and are thought-provoking in their unconventional approaches to reality. For some people, ghost stories are like brain teasers – finding the weak points in the story that make it implausible can be fun, and taking the ghost story’s side by challenging reality is also a popular mind game. Those who enjoy “playing devil’s advocate” might seek out ghost stories for these reasons.
5. Figuring Out Life After Death
For anyone seeking affirmation or hypotheses about the afterlife, ghost stories can be good places to find material. People who believe that their ancestors can still influence them on earth might find comfort in ghost stories, and those who are seeking some support for the idea of something (anything) occurring after death might also appreciate them.

6. Participating in a Cultural Phenomenon
Colleges and universities, fraternities and sororities, and even some companies have ghost stories that help cement a certain community with a cultural component. In these situations, people accept and listen to ghost stories in order to be part of a group and participate in a cultural phenomenon.

7. Enjoying the Art of Storytelling
Almost no one tells stories these days, but storytelling used to be a primary form of entertainment. When it’s done right, it’s truly an art and can be a very pleasant way to pass the time with good company. For those with storytelling nostalgia, listening to ghost stories can be a favorite pastime.

Let us know in the comments if any of these reasons motivate you to read or listen to ghost stories and please add to the list as you think of more.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education and performs research surrounding online degrees. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Paranormal Leadership Award

Recently, the wonderful Courtney Mroch presented me with a paranormal leadership award.  I am deeply honored that she thought of me for this award.  I was also honored to be included in a group with Ghost Theories, Ghost Eyes, and The Weekly Specter.  You should stop by to see the rest of the wonderful blogs on Courtney's list.  Although there were no rules or expectations connected with this award,  I wanted to pass it on to some of my favorite  paranormal bloggers out there.  I have many favorite blogs but these are my favorite paranormal blogs!

1. Ghost Stories: This wonderful site includes ghost stories, haunted places, and reviews of all books and movies etc that are associated with the paranormal.  It is a wonderful blog!

2.  Southern Spirit Guide:  This blog is amazingly well researched and explores haunted locations in the South.

3.Above the Norm:  This beautiful blog features some of the best photographs of haunted locations on the Internet.  If a picture says a thousand words, this blog is an epic.

4.  Parnormel:  This blogger tells her own ghost stories and they can be absolutely chilling.  She also does posts on famous haunts

5.  Haunt Jaunts:   It wouldn't be a list of my favorite blogs if I didn't include Courtney of Haunt Jaunts.  Her blog is definitely on of the top paranormal blogs on the Internet.

6  The Weekly Specter:  This award started with the Weekly Specter and I'm sending it back.  This is definitely  a blog worth reading.  Sadly the blog will be shutting down so this is my farewell to one of my favorite blogs.  I'll miss reading your posts!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Lost Lovers of the Eiffel Tower

It is appropriate that I end my week of French hauntings with the most famous location in France.   Whenever you think of France,  this is the first structure that comes to mind.   The Eiffel Tower has become a symbol of France.   It can be seen in every souvenir shop in Paris in miniature.   If you know nothing else about France, you know the Eiffel Tower.  The Eiffel tower is one of the most recognizable structures in the world .  It was built for built for the 1889 world fair and was a marvel of modern engineering.  It awed visitors of the fair and became the golden mean to be met by all world's fairs to come.  At the time of its completion,  the tower was the tallest man made structure in the world.

It is not surprising that legend speaks of the Eiffel Tower being haunted.  Legends cling to historically ssignificant locations like moss on a rock.   The legend of the ghost of the Eiffel Tower is a sad one.   According to legend,  a young couple once met atop this romantic tower.  They met at the Eiffel Tower set on singular purposes. But, sadly, their purposes were divided.  The young woman was determined to end her relationship with her lover and thought that the beauty of the view from the tower might soften the blow.  The young man was taking his belle to the tower to propose marriage.  So the two ill fated lovers met atop the tower and declared their purposes.   The young man didn't take it well and became enraged.  Perhaps his temper was part of the reason the young woman didn't want to marry him.  He became so enraged that he gave his belle an ultimatum.  He told her that if she didn't marry him, he would kill her.  The young woman was set.  She would never marry him.  He gave her one last chance and offered to spare her life if she would consent to marry him.  The woman stood firm.

The young man pushed his belle from the top of the tower, ending her life.  It is said that the young woman still haunts the Eiffel Tower.   Her laughter can be heard atop of the breath taking structure and sometimes it is accompanied by her scream.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Chateau De Saumur and the Ghost of the Marquis de Sade

The Chateau De Saumur is a hauntingly beautiful and very haunted castled nestled in the historic Loire Valley of France.  The Chateau De Saumur  was built in the 10th century by Thibault le Tricheur the Comte de Blois.  The castle was completely destroyed in battle in 1076.  Henry II  Of England rebuilt the castle in 12th century.  Phillip II of France retook the castle as part of France in the 13th century.  The castle seems to be tightly tied to France's turbulent history.  It witnessed the wars between England in France and changed hands many times. In 1589 the castle fell into the hands of King Henry de Navarre, a critical figure in the French wars of religion and the first Protestant king of France. 

In 1621 the castle was turned into an army barracks and  later  into a prison.   It would house many notourious figures.   The most notorious figure to live in The Chateau De Saumur was the Marquis de Sade.   The Marquis de Sade is most known for his writings in which he wrote about the link between sexual gratification, torture, and pain.  His name is the origin of the word sadism.  The Marquis spent most of his life in prison.  He was inprisoned for his disturbing writings, but continued to write in prison.  He was inprisoned in many asylums and prisons throughout France during the 32 yrs he was incarcerated but his ghost is thought to linger at Chateau De Saumur.    I have been unable to find any real information on the nature of the haunting at the Chateau, but I was intrigued by any haunting that involves De Sade, a man whose cruelty is legendary.

The Chateau itself is quite lovely.  It is one of many beautiful castles in the Loire Valley and has been turned into a museum dedicated to horses.  I missed this lovely castle in my tour of the Loire Valley, but I will look for it next time.  De Sade's ghost isn't something I would want to miss.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Ghosts of Notre Dame

Notre Dame is probably one of the most famous cathedrals in the world.  It took over 200 years to built and was one of the first Gothic cathedrals to feature flying buttresses.  It has witnessed the ebb and flow of history for almost a millenia.   During the French Revolution it was desecrated.  It witnessed both world wars and many other wars.   It is said to house the ghosts of kings and many great men.   As soon as you walk in front of the doors of the great old Cathedral you can almost feel the eyes of the cathedral itself staring at you.  Stone faces carved into the door look down at you with haunting eyes.

The Cathedral was restored in the 19th century and today is one of the most striking structures in Paris.  From the gargoyles that sit on top of the building looking out with their cold stone glare to the famous rose window within the church walking through the cathedral is like walking through living breathing art.   It is also like walking though history. Coils of history are twisted within the walls of Notre Dame and pictures taken here are often thick with the ghosts of those that have walked through her sacred walls.  Notre Dame is called one of the ten most haunted places in France and it is certainly the most haunting.  Out of the many buildings I saw in France, this is probably the most extraordinarily beautiful buildings I walked through.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Week at the Haunting Chateau Larcher

I am revisiting this old post again as part of my week of France. I love to travel and I love to rent houses when I travel. I avoid hotels when possible and look for rare and interesting places to stay. When I went to France, I found an old medieval castle that had been broken up into 4 town houses. I was able to rent one portion of this castle. The castle, Chateau Larcher, was a bit of a mystery and still is. I travelled during the off season and the small village's tourist information center had been closed, so I was never able to learn much about the history of the castle. I read the plaque by the Cathedral which dated the Cathedral built into the church at around 980 and the castle itself wasn't finished until 1070. Outside of this, I found nothing to denote the castle's origins. It was located in the Poiters region of France just South of the Loire valley and would have been in Aquitaine during it's highest uses. The location of the castle must have been a sacred place at one time because the area is also known for it's dolmen. These are the types of rock arrangements that have been made most famous by Stonehenge. They are usually places in a sacred or important location.

Staying in the castle was wonderful. I loved it and I snuck away every evening to walk in the dark. One time I enlisted help to break into a roped off section of the castle and sneak around. The castle was mostly ruins and in the night as I wandered alone, I found myself chilled. There is nothing tangible I can use to prove that this castle was haunted. There was only a profound feeling that I was not alone. As I have little else to offer, I have posted pictures of the castle.  If you saw my first post on this castle,  the pictures are different from the first posting.  I have hundreds of these pictures.  T

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Poltergeist of Calvados Castle

Calvados Castle is located in Normandy in the north of France.  The castle is relatively new as far as castles go.  Especially as far as French castles go.  In France, if a castle is less than three hundred years old it seems new compared to the medieval ruins that pepper the landscape.   Calvados Castle was build in 1835.  It was built on top of some ruins that have never been described.  Perhaps this was the source of the problem because between 1875- 1876 the castle endured one of the longest sustained poltergeist occurrences ever recorded.

The family involved in this poltergeist activity requested to be left out of the stories and so I have been able to find their names and they are often referred to X.  They inherited the castle in 1865.  The haunting started without subtlety.  On the first night, objects flew around the rooms,  there were bangings on the doors and a monstrous boom filled the quite halls of the castle.  The banging on the walls continued nightly for three months.   One of the worst events occurred during a terrible rainstorm.   The entire family was awoken by a screaming woman.  The servants helped Monsieur X find the woman who seemed to be in peril, but no one was found.  The screams seemed to be coming from a room that is known as the green room and is said to be the most haunted room in the castle.  Every night the screams became worse and worse.  In fact, the poltergeist activity in general seemed to get worse as time progressed.  It heaped books in the study.  Madam X reported hearing noises like a bull bellowing while her husband was away.   It was particularly active in the children's room where beds were turned over  and toys were thrown across the room. At the peak of the haunting, as it was recorded, the ghost played the locked organ, knocked over furniture and sent water down the chimney, scattering the lit coals in the face of the children's tutor.

Finally,  in January the family couldn't take it any longer.   They called upon the parish priest to perform an exorcism.  It was a long night and those that witnessed the exorcism described a male voice taunting the castle's occupants during the exorcism.  The exorcism peaked around 11:45 pm.  Those who were there  describe screaming and banging and when the last rites of the ritual were performed they say that a demon cried out in what sounded like agony.   The haunting was over and there have been no reports of incidents since that time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Haunting of Sherrod House

This story is one I am revisiting.  I posted this early on when I had very low traffic to the blog and I don't think many people read it.  I love this story so I'm giving it a second run.  A friend of mine who lives in a small town in South Alabama sent me the most wonderful pictures. In the one too the left if you look carefully you can see the face of a ghost staring out at you.   She moved into her century old home a few years ago and when she first moved into the house it was haunted by an irritating spirit. My friend sent me the story of her haunted house and since I don't think I could possibly tell the story as well as she does I have placed it in quotes and put it word for word here.

"The house was built in 1906, and is known as "the Warren House," although there is some dispute over who built the house. The Coles or the Warrens. Because of this dispute, we decided to put the name "Sherrod House" on our historical register sign. Next door is the McCleod house, built in 1903. When we moved here, 2 elderly McCleod sisters remained. Their story varied at times, but this is the best we could come up with from them.

In 1906 the Cole family (allegedly) built the house. Sadly, they died while their children were still young, perhaps in the flu epidemic of 1918. Naomi Cole, and perhaps some of her siblings, went next door and were raised by the McCleods. When she was old enough, Naomi married a man, Mr. Warren, and moved back into her family home. When her husband passed, and her children moved, she turned the house into a boarding house, and many of the people in our town have memories of living here, or visiting their grandparents here, etc. Naomi left (died?) sometime in the early 1970's. Incredibly, the house stood vacant until we bought it in 2003.

When we first bought the house, we loved it. It needed a lot of work- but we could see it's potential. My great grandmother was just moving into a nursing home, and we were blessed enough to get her old furniture. We visited the house at least once a month, while still living in Huntsville.

Almost immediately, we felt a presence, but weren't too threatened by it. We would hear things in the middle of the night. Footsteps in the hallway, that sounded like a man's boots, slow and steady. We would groggily awaken, think to ourselves, "oh, he's just checking up on things," and fall back asleep. I don't know why we were so sure that it was ok, but we were. At other times we would hear the back door open. We would go to check it, and it would still be dead bolted.

The activity began to become more common, to the point of where Michael and I were almost too spooked to stay in the house alone. A photo frame in the living room lifted itself from the mantle and flew across the room. One night, while MIchael and I were asleep, we heard very heavy determined foot stomping, across the length of the foot of our bed. It felt strongly like the spirit was trying to wake us up. Not knowing what else to do, Michael sat up in bed, said "Stop that! You'll wake the children!" The stomping stopped, and never happened again. But on another night, Michael woke up to someone pressing down on his chest. It took him a minute or two of struggling to sit up and breathe. It felt like something was trying to get our attention.

On one night we allowed Chloe to have a friend spend the night. All 4 older children slept in the boys room, which has a closet that connects it to Lily's room. The children woke us in the middle of the night. "The ghosts are bothering us." Not wanting to scare them, we assured them that there was "no such thing as ghosts," and sought to calm them down. We all went back to bed. Early in the morning, I woke to find the kids terrified in the room. I tried to settle them down again. I looked into the mirror above the fireplace, directly beside the closet, which was latched shut with a hook and eye closure. I told them "There is no such thing as ghosts!" The minute I said that, the hook very slowly released itself from the eye, as if by an unseen hand. Then the closet door swung open and and a burst of icy air came rushing out. I looked at the kids, there was no denying ghosts now I supposed!

Soon after this incident, we moved into the house full time. Lily was 3 years old at the time. At night, before going to bed, Lily would complain that there was a "grey lady" watching her. She always pointed to the same corner of the room, and told us that the grey lady would stand there when she was trying to sleep. Finally, in an effort to calm her, we began talking to the grey lady at bedtime. We asked her to please let Lily sleep in peace. After a week or so, this seemed to work, and that was the end of all the activity.

We feel now, that whatever was haunting the house is not here anymore. The "presence" is gone. We never felt threatened, only a little spooked, and for some reason, we always felt like the spirits (one man, one woman, is what we felt) were just checking up on things. They seemed to want to know that the house would be taken care of. They seemed attracted to the children. I feel like they have accepted us here, and have moved on. We haven't seen any activity since the fall of 2005.

What we have seen is a supposed granddaughter of Naomi. She showed up unannounced at our house while I was out of town on a business trip, and Michael spoke to her. She wanted to know if we had found anything that had belonged to her family in the house. She asked Michael if he had found a box of some sort. She kept pressing the point again and again, and asked Michael if he would be willing to sell the house to her. When he declined, she left. The McCleod sisters next door got very upset over this visit. They told Michael "whatever you find in that house is yours, and she has no business coming around here and bothering you!"

We don't know why the McCleods would be so upset over Naomi's granddaughter coming for a visit. We have been all over the house, including the attic, which is almost as big as the 1st floor, and have not found any boxes. The fireplaces seem to have stopped being used at some point, there are gas lines near most of them. We don't know if there is maybe something in a chimney. We also don't know the identity of the ghosts that were here, though it seems to make sense that it would be the original owners of the house."
Although the Sherrod's say their house is no longer haunted, the picture they sent me of a lonely ghost staring out the window still sends chills down my spine

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Reviewing Paranormal Activity 2

There were moments during Paranormal Activity in which I was sitting on the edge of my seat.  I didn't know what was going to happen and there was a realness to the characters that made the events scary.  The movie was well paced and slowly built up to its inevitable climax with enough action and interest to make it a good movie.  I liked Paranormal Activity.  It did something new and it did it well.

Paranormal Activity 2 I did not like.  They tried to up the stakes and make it more compelling by putting a baby in the mix.  It was the baby's soul on the line and that should have made it more terrifying, but the build up was too slow.  The characters were realistic, but they were too realistic.  For fifty percent of this movie, I felt like I was being forced to watch someone else's bad home movies.  I can hardly stand watching my own family's home movies why would I watch someone else's?  The action was so slow I checked my ipone scrabble games while I waited for something, anything to happen.  They showed the same security camera shots of the pool, the front steps, the living room over and over again and you kept expecting something to happen, but nothing did and by the time something did happen I was so numb I didn't care.  What?  The demon finally dragged the mom off?  Well thank God for that.  I was getting sleepy.

So my final take on this sequel is that I really wasted seven dollars on Friday night.   I know some people loved this film, but it really lost me. The scariest part of this movie was the preview for Burlesque.  I'll be having nightmares about that for weeks.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Ghost Story for my Son

The greatest miracle in my life will always be my children.  They never cease to amaze me as they grow into their own little people with their own thoughts and ideas.  It is always amazing to me how much I impact my boys.  How much my interests and passions shape theirs.   Sometimes I forget that I am a role model.  My son reminds me how important I am every time he goes to the library.   He brings home a different collection of ghost stories every time he goes.  Today he announced that his favorite ghost story  is from a book called Great Ghosts by Daniel Cohen.  It is the story of The Gray Man.

The Gray Man is a ghost that haunts the Theatre Royal in London.  The Theatre Royal is one of the oldest theatres in London and is filled with plenty of history.   The Gray Man haunts this old theater dressed in clothes that appear to be around 250 years old.  He is not like other ghosts.  He doesn't haunt the theater in the dark terrifying people from the shadows.  Instead he is usually seen in the afternoon during the times when the actors are rehearsing.   The actors know the gray man well.  In fact,  he is a welcomed figure in the theater.  Apparently,  he always appears to the actors if the show they are in is going to be a hit.   He is so infamous, that if he doesn't appear, the actors become anxious.   They know that their show is going to flop if they don't see him.  The Gray Man has also been known to help actors.  One actress was paralyzed by stage fright,  but when The Gray Man put his hand on her back, the stage fright vanished.

There are many theories as to who The Gray Man is, but my favorite is the most mysterious story.  In 1860 when they were doing renovations to the theater they found a skeleton bricked up in one of the walls of the theater.   The skeleton had a knife in its ribs.  No one knows who the bones belonged to but many believe that whoever he was, he still wanders the theater.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Tragic Ghost of a Murdered Mother

In 1998, a teen named Jeffrey Franklin murdered his parents with the blunt end of an axe.  He then went on to try to kill his siblings.  One sibling was at dance and escaped the madness, but the other three were attacked with cruel brutality.  This event occurred a few blocks from where I lived.  The Franklin family went to my church.  My mother taught Jeff in religious education and was friends with Mrs. Franklin.  In my small community, this was an earthquake.  A few days ago, a Huntsville local sent me this ghost story.  I've edited place and people names for obvious reasons, but left the rest of the story as it was sent to me.  The writer said I could post the story as long as I left the place names etc. out. 

"In 2005, I was working at A. Rehab  . Well, I'd heard stories of a phantom nurse who was said to walk the halls at night, but being a veteran of several nursing homes, I'd heard a lot of stories like that, seems like every nursing homes has it's resident ghost. Turns out that this one was a little different. I was speaking to a couple of the night shift CNAs, (cna, in case you don't know, is a Certified Nursing Assistant, which I was at the time, waiting on my nursing license to come through), and they had both told me of watching a nurse they didn't recognize, walk down the hall and into a residents room, when they followed after her, and entered the room, the only ones there were the two residents that shared the room and they were sleeping, but the curtain between the beds was moving as if it had been pushed or disturbed. I dismissed it as a neat story but nothing more. The next week, I was waiting to clock out after finishing up my shift, and was standing at the time clock, with about 5 minutes to go, when I noticed that across the hall from where I was, the lights were on. The room I was looking into was the physical therapy department, it had double doors, and each had a window in the center. I thought maybe someone had just forgotten to turn off the lights, so I was going to go do that. I crossed the hall and looked into the room. Now this room is a rectangular shape, and if you were looking into it from the door, you would be looking in from one of the long sides of the rectangle, and the other side of the room was lined with windows looking out on an open area outside. It was 11:00 at night so it was dark outside, making the windows into the room very reflective and mirror-like, as I was looking in, I saw the reflection of a nurse, in front of me, slightly to my left, walking very fast, moving from right to left. Well, my initial thought was that someone was in that room and they were exiting through a side door. I saw this very clearly, it was a female, dressed in a white nurses uniform, white skirt, and top, no hat, she was about 5'5" or so, with dark hair just below her collar. She didn't look left or right, but moved straight ahead, very fast and with a purpose. I grabbed the doorknob and tried to open the door, but it was locked, upon further investigation, it turns out that someone had apparently left the lights on, and that there was no other door way to enter or exit, also, after looking in for a while, I realized that due to the windows on the other side of the room, I could see the entire room, and it was completely empty. Then I remembered the phantom nurse story and the reality of what I had seen started to set in and I got creeped out, I crossed the hall, clocked out, went home, and didn't sleep well.

What does this have to do with poor Mrs. Franklin? Here's how it came together for me. 6 months later, I was now an lpn, and I worked at another nursing home in  Huntsville, one night over dinner, i was talking to another nurse and I happened to tell her this story, when I described what I'd seen, her eyes got very large, and her exact words were, "I bet that's Cynthia!". Not being from this area, I didn't know who she was talking about. She then went on to tell me that "Cynthia" was Cynthia Franklin, and that she had known her and that they worked at A. Rehab together. She went on to tell me that her son Jeffrey had, in the late '90s, flipped out and murdered her and other family members. At the time, I thought that even if this was this Cynthia, why the heck would she hang around a nursing home she worked at after her death. Jump forward a couple years, I'm currently employed at another nursing home here in Huntsville, I was telling this story to another nurse and when I got to the part where the last nurse had told me her name, the one I was speaking with told very matter of factly, "Oh, yeah, I was working with Cynthia when it happened, I knew her very well", and here's when it all clicked. The nurse I was talking too, was a lady named Jane Doe who had been there at A. Rehab , she and Cynthia worked together and she explained to me that Cynthia would often stay at work until 2 or 3 in the morning, because she was afraid of her son  and she didn't feel safe or comfortable in her own home. Stella told me that the only place she felt safe was at work, so she stayed there as much as she could. So know for some reason, I, a complete stranger to the Franklins and for no reasons other than sheer coincidence had learned the identity of the phantom nurse at A. Rehab, and as a bonus, I even understood why she was there. It was the only place she felt safe for her, so she comes back. If you ask day shift personnel, they'll tell you they've never heard of a phantom nurse, but you ask the night shift CNAs, the long time employees, and you'll get a different story, if you can get them to talk about it at all.

I have to say, I don't tell you this lightly, and I don't know if I would like for this to be made public, after all, her kids are still alive and this would I'm sure be a very sensitive subject to them and others who might have known and loved this lady. Also, it seems that I cannot escape the Franklin case as it turns out that upon over hearing me talking to Jane Doe, one of my CNAs had currently been working Huntsville Hospital at the time and she was one of the aides that helped take care of the children there. According to her, those children were the most pitiful that anyone had seen, and everyone worked very hard to help them, but they all thought those kids' story was one of the saddest they had heard, you could hear the sadness in her voice and see it in her eyes when spoke of them. I just thought it was strange how all these details kept revealing themselves to me, and how I keep getting glimpses into this case that I have no ties to, or reason to know these things."

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Many Ghosts of Sweetwater Mansion

One of  my favorite chapters in my book, Haunted North Alabama, was a chapter about Sweetwater Mansion.  Sweetwater Mansion is a once beautiful plantation house in Northern Alabama.   At its peak, Sweetwater housed Governors and saw such famous visitors as president Franklin D. Roosevelt.   It is home to a warehouse full of Southern history and  many stories of sorrow and tragedy.

It is also home to many ghost stories.  I was lucky enough to be invited to do a book signing at Sweetwater Mansion this weekend.  I had never been able to enter this house before, so this was very exciting for me.   The house was opened up for tours this October by the people that are renovating it and trying to document its history.  The tours include history and ghost stories and legends associated with this old house.  All funds raised by the tours will be donated to the continued renovation of this beautiful mansion. The house is in significant disrepair and has seen much abuse.  In the 1970's, a portion of the house caught on fire and in 2007 vandals broke in and stripped the mansion down to the bones.  The renovators certainly have their work cut out for them and they have already worked so hard.

As I signed books, I was able to talk to some of the tour guides and listen in on tours.    I heard many stories I hadn't heard when I wrote my book.  For instance,  I heard the story of the porcelain lady whose face in the wallpaper becomes more defined with every passing day.  The wallpaper changes and grows and as the porcelain lady's face becomes more define new faces are appearing behind her.   I was also told about one employee who took and extraordinary picture.   Apparently, everyone became aware of the smell of burning one day.  They followed their noses to the old kitchen that had been burnt down in the 1970s fire.  There was no fire, but one woman took several pictures of the kitchen.  In these pictures,  the kitchen was on fire.  Everyone who worked and volunteered at the mansion had stories.  There were so many I could hardly keep up.  The mansion has too many ghost stories to be told in at one time.

The group is now working on a book to document the ghost stories of Sweetwater and I can't wait to read them.  I know I barely touched the surface with my book.  Being in the mansion,  I can say that there is a tangible presence in the mansion.  There is a heaviness in the air and stepping from the outside into the mansion the temperature drops over 10 degrees.  I shivered and I'm always hot.  The old house is not what it used to be, but its beauty remains.  Bits of wallpaper and old rooms whisper of days gone by when it was the most extravagant home in the South.  Old pictures, faded by time, show what once was.  The house feels  trapped in time, perhaps it is held there by its ghosts.
Notice the Green Orb at the Top of the Stairs in This Picture.  If you look closely, you can almost see a face.