Amityville
ghosts, The Unexplained

Revisiting Amityville 45 years later…

Happy Halloween! This month’s blog post is coming a little earlier in order to celebrate this unholy holiday.

Last year I read Jay Anson’s Amityville Horror: A True Story around Halloween. I listened to the audiobook during my commute, because I thought it would be the perfect story to get me in the holiday season.  At the time, I wasn’t crazy about it. I thought the writing was a little stilted, and the plot was far too outlandish to be within the realm of possibility.  However, I’d had no idea of the context in which this book was published. I’d had no idea that this book was originally marketed as a literally “true” story…

There has been intense debate over the last 30 years as to whether or not the Amityville horror is a hoax or the most prolific and notorious haunting that the world has ever seen.  Most of the information I have about the case comes from a riveting documentary called “The Real Amityville Horror”. It’s a 2005 documentary by Nobles Gate Production.  They interview many of the people involved, which adds an authentic personal touch.  I highly recommend watching it.  It’s spooky and informative and not a bad way to spend a cool autumn evening.

Amityville

Continue reading “Revisiting Amityville 45 years later…”

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wreck of the titanic
Curses, Mysterious Books

Cursed or Coincidence? The Great Omar Book

It’s been a while since I last posted, because I’ve been busy gallivanting across Canada for work.  One of the places I went to was Halifax, which inspired this month’s blog post.

At the turn of the twentieth century, bookbinding was an art, not just an automated process to create generic, identical books to sell at dirt-cheap prices.  Books were commissioned by bookbinders, who created masterpieces that were works of art. Some were even inlaid with precious stones and various fabrics and materials.  These books  took months, even sometimes years to create. With all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into making a book like this, it makes sense that the most infamous one of all of them might be cursed…

The Great Omar

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Ambrose Bierce
Conspiracies, The Unexplained, writer

Ambrose Bierce and the Crystal Skull

Ambrose Bierce
Ambrose Bierce with a not-crystal skull

Ambrose Bierce was an American short story writer and journalist at the turn of the century. According to Times Magazine, he’s most famous for his short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”.  His book “The Devil’s Dictionary” was dubbed one of the “100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature”.  He was said to have had a “morbid fascination with horror and death”. (Who here can relate?) (Time Magazine). A civil war veteran, Ambrose Bierce accomplished a lot in his 71 + years of life.  But it’s his disappearance and presumed death that has had everyone speculating and theorizing over the last hundred years.

Continue reading “Ambrose Bierce and the Crystal Skull”

ghosts, Haunted Libraries

Spirits on Strike: The Hauntings of Carnegie at Homestead

From 1883 to 1929, Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish businessman and philanthropist, gifted 2509 public and university libraries to cities around the world.  In the US, the third oldest of these libraries that’s still in operation today is the Carnegie Library at Homestead in Pennsylvania.  Opening in 1898, the Carnegie of Homestead features a library, a music hall, and an athletic centre.  Many have already heard of Andrew Carnegie’s infamous generosity, but did you know that this generosity may have been fueled by guilt?  Guilt that may have resulted in Andrew Carnegie choosing to haunt this library as a ghost?  And it isn’t just claims of Andrew Carnegie haunting the Library at Homestead.  There have been reports of many ghosts in this building, ghosts who just may be the spirits of those Andrew Carnegie indirectly killed.

Carnegie Library of Homestead
Carnegie Library of Homestead

Continue reading “Spirits on Strike: The Hauntings of Carnegie at Homestead”

Books on a desk
ghosts, haunted museums

A Gallery of Ghosts: The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Various Hauntings

Museums house artifacts of historical, artistic and cultural significance, providing visitors a unique opportunity to catch glimpses into the past.  The Cleveland Museum of Art, however, allows you to catch a literal glimpse into the past.  It stands to reason that a museum filled with treasured items would be haunted.  But the Cleveland Museum of Art has taken this to an extreme.  It is allegedly home to several spirits, and has been dubbed one of the US’s most haunted museums.

This week’s topic isn’t a library or a bookstore or directly related to books, but museums share many of the same values as libraries—primarily the preservation and sharing of information.  This information doesn’t have to come in the form of books.  Art, artifacts, memorabilia—all these items provide invaluable insights into the past, present, and even the future.

Now that I’ve justified talking about a museum, I can dive into the nitty gritty of the haunting.  Or should I say, hauntings.

If you stand in front of an artwork that was beautifully painted by an Impressionist, you might feel captivated, at a loss for words, and have an overwhelming desire to escape into that world of pastel shades and blurred reality. But what if it were possible that the subjects of these paintings could come to life?  No, I’m not describing The Night at the Museum, but what many visitors and employees claimed to have experienced while roaming the halls of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Continue reading “A Gallery of Ghosts: The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Various Hauntings”

Book shelf
ghosts, Haunted Bookstores

A Haunting Read at Rivendell Books

Rivendell Books, a used, rare, and out-of-print book store in Barrie, Ontario is home to a history buff who spends his days and nights pacing the aisle that shelves books on WWI and WWII.  He reads and obsesses about the Great War, often removing books from the shelves and sorting them into piles.  But he isn’t an employee that needs to be given direction, and he isn’t a loyal, yet irritating customer.  He’s a ghost.

Continue reading “A Haunting Read at Rivendell Books”

Image of a train
The Unexplained, writer

The Case of the Missing Mystery Author: How Agatha Christie Disappeared for 11 Days

Image of Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie 1890-1976

Everyone has heard of Agatha Christie.  She wrote during the golden age of detective fiction, and she’s been crowned as the Queen of the Cozy Mystery.  She’s written at least 74 books, including “Murder on the Orient Express”, “And then there were none”, and “Death on the Nile”.  But there’s one mystery that she didn’t write.  Instead, she lived it.  

On December 3, 1926, Agatha Christie went into her seven-year-old daughter Rosalind’s bedroom in their home in Berkshire, England, and she kissed her on the cheek goodnight.  Then, she got into her car and drove away.  She wouldn’t be discovered for another ten days.  Not only did she go missing for ten days, but when she was found, she claimed to have absolutely no memory of where she’d been or what she’d done.  

Continue reading “The Case of the Missing Mystery Author: How Agatha Christie Disappeared for 11 Days”

ghosts, Haunted Bookstores

The Newer Haunting of the Oldest Bookstore

The oldest bookstore in America, the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has been continuously running for over 270 years. There are some solid arguments that it’s actually the longest running bookstore in all of the world (Sullivan, 2016). Of course, a place like this would pick up a few ghosts over the centuries. There are at least two spirits haunting this bookstore—if you believe the stories, of course.

Today’s blog post is a little shorter, because I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and I’m writing an entire book in just thirty days. I don’t have many words to spare! I picked this story to dissect because there isn’t much evidence supporting or refuting the claims of the people who’ve seen strange things in this bookshop. But it still makes for a fascinating story…

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Image of a Ouija Board
ghosts, The Unexplained

A Genuine “Ghost” Writer

In 1912, a St. Louis, Missouri housewife named Pearl Lenore Curran had a good friend and writer named Emily Grant Hutchings over for a visit. Emily brought a Ouija board with her, because she was interested in the resurgence in “spiritualism” that had taken over America at this time (Carroll, 2015). They experimented with the Ouija board, but it wasn’t until almost a year later that Pearl received her first message from the beyond.

Image of a ouija board
“tonight she talks, tonight she watches” by Emily Mucha CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Pearl began to channel the writings of “Patience Worth”, a British woman from the seventeenth century. Pearl would sit at the Ouija board, her hands whipping the planchard back and forth as her husband, John, transcribed the many poems, short stories, and novels of this seventeenth century author. Patience could also take over Pearl’s mouth, engaging the many scholars who came to observe this miraculous feat in delightful conversation. She also took over her hands, as Pearl later wrote by hand with what is considered “automatic writing”. Pearl/Patience would come up with poems at the drop of a hat, given only a prompt from a skeptical onlooker. Many scholars at the time praised her work, and they didn’t know what to believe (Diliberto, 2010). Was she writing these fully composed works of fiction off the top of her head? Or was she truly channelling the spirit of a seventeenth century writer? Otto Heller, Dean of Washington University’s Graduate School said: “I still confess myself completely baffled by the experience” (Diliberto, 2010). Many books have been written about her, and some, like Edgar Lee Masters, believed wholeheartedly that she was a true medium, while others, like Harry Houdini, believed her to be a fraud (Schlueter, 2012). Continue reading “A Genuine “Ghost” Writer”

ghosts, Haunted Libraries

The Tragic Tale of Phyllis Parker

What do you do if your library has a ghost that’s so active she’s been seen floating among the stacks by numerous people over several decades? You issue her a library card! That’s  exactly what the staff at the Bernardsville Public Library in New Jersey did.  Although, their ghost hasn’t checked anything out. At least, not yet…

This post is going to dissect the story of Phyllis Parker, the ghost who haunts the Bernardsville Public Library. But this is more than just any old ghost story. This is a story of true love and high intrigue that deviates slightly from your typical bodice ripper.

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