Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Giving Advice on the Paranormal

I follow a lot of paranormal pages and belong to a number of  paranormal groups on Facebook. It always disturbs me to see the advice people give each other when it comes to certain paranormal topics. It's like the blind leading the blind. I know this is a field where there are arguably no 'experts' and technically MOST ideas are simply conjectures and theories, but we can and must do better.  I am sick of seeing advice being given that is at best, unhelpful, and at worst, both mentally and physically dangerous.

I came across this graphic today and thought that it was a pretty good way to summarize the thought process you should go through before offering up advice or commenting on a paranormal post, especially those posts in which someone is asking for help or advice.

Let's break it down.

T - Is it True? When you're offering advice regarding a field where there are very few known absolutes, it can be difficult to keep your own opinion or even what you believe to be true out of it. But, its important that you do your best to only offer up the facts. However, if you absolutely feel it is necessary to throw in a little popular or personal opinion, make sure you qualify your statements as such.  Where applicable, provide links and sources that back up your statements and give the person asking for advice a place to go for more information.

H - Is it Helpful? Do you REALLY have something to say that is helpful to the situation? Does your statement have educational value or is it just pointless chatter? Are you fear mongering or legitimately trying to help? Are you hijacking the post with your own issues that are detracting from the original poster's? Are you even qualified to give an opinion on this matter (especially when it comes to things like health issues)? Before replying to a post asking for help, ask yourself these questions, and ask yourself whether or not you would find your statement helpful if it were you who needed the help.

I - Is it Inspiring? Okay, I'll admit that 'inspiring' posts don't really fit with this scenario of offering advice.  But, bonus points if your post is actually inspiring in any way, especially if it inspires someone to do further research on a topic or to look at an issue with a different point of view. Be an inspiration to other posters by staying on topic, offering sound advice, not giving opinions on topics which you aren't qualified to give opinions on, and being polite, kind, and professional.

N - Is it Necessary? This one sort of ties in with the helpfulness of a post. Is what you're saying necessary to contribute to the post and stay on topic? Are you offering a fresh point of view, or are you just needlessly reiterating what others have already discussed at length without adding any additional value?

K - Is it Kind? It seems like many people have issues with staying kind. For those who have studied the paranormal field for a long time, it can be frustrating when people ask very simplistic questions that we assume should be easily answered or debunked. We can't forget that we're all in different spots along our journey in this field, and thus have a wide range of knowledge and experience. Further, many of these paranormal groups are frequented by members who don't actively study the paranormal---but rather come there when they are experiencing things they can't explain. It's much more frustrating when people who ask for advice obviously have already made up their minds and don't really want to hear what you have to say...especially when what you have to say is of a more skeptical nature. It is extremely common to see posters react to any type of questioning or offering of explanations that don't fit their preconceived notions to get extremely defensive. That defensiveness often devolves into some pretty rude comments and accusations. If that happens to you, be the bigger person. Stand by the facts and accept the idea that not everyone is going to see it your way. Stay kind and stay professional. Don't stoop to name calling, shaming, or any other negative behavior.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Reasons for Being Admitted to an 1800s Asylum

This image has been passed the internet for quite some time now and shows the 'reasons of admission' to insane asylums between the years of 1864 and 1889. The first time I saw a version of this was in the appendix of A Short History of Weston Hospital: Weston, WV by Joy Gilchrist-Stalnaker (2007). And as many readers will immediately recognize---Weston State Hospital was formerly operated as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, a name that the current owners have re-bestowed upon the now-closed mental health facility in central West Virginia.

A similar list can also be found in the more recently published, Lunatic: The Rise and Fall of an American Asylum by Edward S. Gleason and both books contain lists with even more reasons for admission not included in this particular infographic. Further, according to the website, Appalachian History, a published list of rather strange reasons to be admitted to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum appeared in an even earlier publication---a pamphlet from 1993 written by Marjorie E. Carr, which states that these reasons were pulled from the early log books of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum between October 22, 1864 and December 12, 1889.  So, its pretty well established  WHERE these strange reasons came from...but were people REALLY admitted to an insane asylum for things like being lazy and reading too many novels?

Yes and no. Indicating that greediness and bad company were enough for one to be deemed insane, and thus admitted to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and similar facilities is a little misleading unless you understand the state of psychiatric care in the late 1800s. The book, Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum, by Mark Stevens offers one of the most simplistic explanations for the rather disturbing nature of the list above.

Throughout the 1800s, most doctors focused less on a 'diagnosis' as we'd understand it today, and instead, would ascribe a "cause of insanity" to each patient. These causes of insanity usually fell into one of two categories: 1. Moral Circumstances, which would include things like intemperance and vice; religious excitement; being unlucky in love; anxiety; and poverty. 2. Physical Conditions, which would include fever, head injuries and childbirth.  So, just because you read too many novels in and of itself wasn't necessarily a ticket to the asylum; you actually did have to 'act crazy.' But, you weren't 'crazy' because of schizophrenia, depression, or anything else found in the DSM-IV...you were crazy because you read too much! There had to be a reason for your insanity, and eh, reading too much was out of the norm for the time period, so that must have been the cause.
Up until fairly recently, there wasn't a great deal of treatment options available in mental health and what was available was administered whether the patient suffered from schizophrenia, dementia, dissociative identity disorder, etc. And in a time where mental illness wasn't really understood, I guess it just seemed to make more sense to classify and group patients based on what triggered/caused their 'insanity.' So don't worry! Your son can get married, your husband can desert you, you can lose a lawsuit, or you can be imprisoned and it doesn't necessarily mean you're automatically eligible for a room with padded walls.

But...if you were a woman during this time period and your family or spouse wanted you out of the way, it was pretty darn easy under this system to have you put away for a long, long time.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What's New on Facebook for November

Every November 1st I go through somewhat of a Halloween hangover. Maybe the sensation is best described as Halloween withdrawals. All throughout October, I'm constantly pumped up about the big day---and then Halloween comes and goes. I always have a great month and a great holiday, but a sort of depression or melancholy sets in immediately after. As a result, I get pretty unmotivated when it comes to the blog and maintaining Theresa's Haunted History Facebook page.

Therefore, I've decided to make it a point to post some fresh content EVERY day to Facebook. I've done daily themes before with success, so I'm hoping you all will enjoy this month's round of special posting. I'll still be posting links to my new blog entries, news stories, and anything else I find interesting, but will be implementing the plan below in an effort to stay motivated and on point. Here's a look at what to expect if you follow Theresa's Haunted History on Facebook!

Weekly Posts:

Mondays:  Monday will continue to be Monday Night Debate night. Each Monday evening, I will be asking YOU to weigh in on some of the more controversial topics making up the paranormal field today. There are no right or wrong answers---I just want to see some healthy discussion and sharing of opinions.  Feel free to speak your mind, provide evidence for your reasoning (links, etc.), and share your knowledge. All I ask is that discussions remain courteous and open-minded.

Tuesdays: Tuesday will continue to be Tuesday Night Vocabulary. I will continue to share jargon from all areas of paranormal study, including but not limited to, ufology, cryptozoology, parapsychology, etc. These words will range from common concepts that every paranormal enthusiast/investigator needs to be familiar with, to really off-the-wall terms that will never come up in normal conversation---but will go a long way in making you SOUND like an expert in the field.

Wednesday: I'll be bringing back West Virginia Wednesdays! Each Wednesday evening, I'll spotlight a different haunted location within the Mountain State.

Thursday:  Thursdays will officially be Throwback Thursday. There are a lot of really cool old stories of ghosts, monsters, and all things creepy from vintage newspapers. Each week, look for a new story originally documented over a century ago.

Friday: Friday will now be Friday Film Night. Each Friday evening, pop up some popcorn, snuggle up on the couch, and get ready for some spooky films! There are so many great FREE documentaries on a variety of paranormal topics available through various places online. I'll be sharing and reviewing some of MY favorite recommendations.

Saturday: Saturdays will now be devoted to spooky quotes. Each Saturday, I'll post a quote about some aspect of the paranormal from a celebrity, scientist, paranormal investigator, writer, etc. Get inspired by what others are saying about the field.

Sunday: Sunday will know be The Sunday Skeptic. Each Sunday evening, I'll be posting some sort of article, video, graphic, or writing on the paranormal that features a skeptical viewpoint. It is impossible to receive a comprehensive education on ANY subject without examining it through all viewpoints, and the paranormal is no exception. The information posted will be designed to get you thinking and questioning.

Daily Posts:

1. Question of the Day: I want to hear from you! Every day at noon I'll be posting a generalized question asking you about your paranormal beliefs and experiences. Please weigh in with your opinions as often as you'd like!

2. Creepy Photo of the Day: Each day at 3pm I'll be posting a creepy photo for your viewing pleasure. These photos might be alleged ghost photos, photos from spooky old buildings, or anything else I find especially interesting.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Haunting of St. Mary's Church---Rhode Island


The Folklore:
According to the popular paranormal website, Haunted Places, St. Mary's Catholic Church in West Warwick, Rhode Island is haunted! The folklore, as related by the site, states that St. Mary's was the first Catholic Church to have been built in Rhode Island. This didn't sit too well with the large Protestant population in the area, and so the story goes, the Protestant congregation 'cursed' the new church, dooming the first person to break ground on its construction to an eternity beneath its walls forever.

A young woman named Mary, often quoted as being the builder's wife, was the lucky one chosen to break ground on the project. As a result, her restless ghost still remains, messing with light switches, blowing out candles, and moving objects about.

The Fact:
St. Mary's Catholic Church is in fact the oldest Catholic Church in Rhode Island. The current church dates back to 1844 and was originally operated under the name of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The need for a Catholic church arose in the 1830s when a boom in  local textile production required skilled laborers from England and Ireland, many of whom were Catholic. On September 23, 1844, Mary Doran, the wife of calico printer Paul Doran, was chosen to be the one to break ground on the construction of the new church. It would be officially dedicated on July 20, 1845.

The official church history leaves out any actual 'curse' put on the church or its members, but this WAS a time period when Irish immigrants, especially those of the Catholic faith, were not well-received in this country, and it stands to reason that there was some friction in town. And whether or not you believe any curse or not, the fact stands that Mary Doran did NOT live a long and prosperous life following her role of breaking ground on the church.

Mary and her husband Paul had two children. Their daughter Elizabeth died at the age of 11 months in May of 1849. She was followed by her ten year old brother, Edward, that December. Mary also perished that year. She passed away at the age of 33 years old, on October 1, 1849. Being that three members of the family died the same year, so close together, indicates that there was probably some illness or epidemic that struck them. In 1849, there was a major outbreak of cholera sweeping throughout the country, which would be my best guess as to what happened to the family.  Paul would live long enough to remarry and have at least one more child before he joined his first family in the family plot at the St. Mary's Cemetery. It is true that Mary will spend eternity on the church grounds...but whether or not she is actually HAUNTING the church, you can decide!

Church History
Graveyard Transcription

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mothman Festival 2015 (Day 3) and Final Thoughts

Better late than never, right? I promised over a month ago to discuss my three days spent at this year's Mothman Festival in Pt. Pleasant, WV...and just never got around to finishing it, lol. I thought I better get around to it before I had to start writing about Mothman Festival 2016. Anyway...

Like I said before, I really only planned on attending one day of festival activities, but ended up being there for all three days of Mothy fun. Since Carrie couldn't make it down on Saturday, I returned with her on Sunday, the third and final day of the festival. The main thing we wanted to accomplish on Sunday was attending the panel discussion of the event's speakers.

Rosemary Guiley moderated the discussion with guest speakers Susan Sheppard of the Parkersburg Ghost Tours, researcher Joedy Cook, cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard, cryptozoologist Lyle Blackburn, UFO researcher Stan Gordon, and cryptid researcher Bill Brock. As with the individual talks, the panel discussion took place within the historic (and haunted!) State Theater and was really quite interesting. Rosemary got the ball rolling by asking some general questions of the speakers, and then the mic was opened up to the audience.

Previously, Carrie and I had had an in-depth discussion about an issue in cryptozoology and had wanted to get the panel's take on it---but neither one of us could actually bring ourselves to standing up in front of everyone and asking our question. So, after the discussion was over, we followed the speakers back over to vendor's row. We browsed around a bit to take in all the cool art, t-shirts, books, and other paranormal/horror novelty themed merchandise for sale. We stopped by Jen's PlushyBoo booth and had a great conversation with her and her family. I was bummed that I missed my opportunity to pick up a plush Mothman (she had sold out) but she gave me a wonderful deal on a Braxton County Monster AND Man in Black plushy. Seriously, if you haven't checked out her work, go do so NOW. These little cuddly cryptids are so well made, so adorable, and just so freakin' awesome. They'd be  great gifts for paranormal researchers and enthusiasts, look great on the shelf of any collector of curiosities, or serve as a unique toy for the kids in your life. Here's her Etsy and here's her Facebook page.

My lil' cuties!

After we talked with Jen, we continued to make our way through the vendor's area...and saw Ken Gerhard at his table. Carrie and I had both been impressed with Ken's answers and his personality at the panel discussion, and since he wasn't currently bombarded with fans at the time, we decided to go have a chat...and ask the question that had been plaguing us, lol. Our question basically was about why more witnesses didn't come forward describing Bigfoot's, uh...junk. After reading several works by Linda Godfry, it seemed like several other cryptids always had their gender visible...but with Bigfoot it never really was talked about all that much.

Ken was obviously amused by our questions, but handled it like a true pro. Without making us feel too weird (we handled that all on our own) he gave some pretty good answers as to why more people aren't describing Bigfoot genitalia. And since I know you're DYING to know....basically, there are a few reasons why this phenomena is under reported. There actually have been several well documented cases of people having up-close encounters with Sasquatch creatures and they definitely reported being able to tell a difference between males and females, but generally, witnesses never get close enough to notice that detail because its not a very noticeable detail, lol. In general, primates are NOT well-endowed in relation to their body size, humans being the exception. So, in summary, people aren't reporting seeing Bigfoot junk because its too tiny to see from the distance which they are being observed.

Can you find the igloo?
After our little talk, we caught the tram tour through Pt. Pleasant and we were lucky to have Dennis Bellamy, the head guy of tourism in the city, as our guide. We learned a lot about the history of Pt. Pleasant, but a few items stuck out in particular to me. For starters, most locals still will not talk about or embrace the idea of the Mothman. After the Silver Bridge collapsed, it was like the issue was never discussed again and the Mothman mania that had gone on over the past year died down as the town mourned the loss of so many of its own. Secondly, the whole Chief Cornstalk curse thing---total fabrication. It came about as part of a play put on by the local elementary school in conjunction with the town in 1926. Still, I loved the tour, and it was a great value at only $3 a ticket. By then, though, we were getting a little tired.

However, no trip to Pt. Pleasant is ever complete without a trip to the TNT area to check out the old igloos. At one point, there were only three igloos down one little road that I knew to be open. On this trip, however, we noticed a bunch of cars parked at ANOTHER side road, so we parked the car and walked down the path to find that two igloos that I had never been in before were open. It's always a fun experience walking into those, hearing the strange acoustics, and imagining what it must have been like during the days of TNT manufacture in the area. It can definitely get a tad...spooky.

So that wrapped up our day in Pt. Pleasant, and Mothman Festival weekend for me. This year, I tried to cram in several things that I normally don't do during the festival. Every year we go to the Mothman Museum, take a tour of the Lowe Hotel, and visit the River Museum. And, if its not too busy, we eat at Harris'. All of these are wonderfully fun things to do, and I recommend them to anyone coming to the festival or visiting the area throughout the year. This year, I just wanted to do things a little differently! There are only so many hours in a day, and the Mothman Festival is so packed full of awesome activities for everyone.

I really have to congratulate Jeff Wamsley, Ashley Wamsley-Watts, and the many others who really come together to pull off such an awesome festival! As I alluded to above, there is literally so much to do that its nearly impossible to cram it all into one weekend. I also have to give the staff and guests major props---there really isn't anywhere else, and certainly no where around here, where you're going to find the caliber of speakers the Mothman Festival brings in...and for FREE! And, unlike many other conventions and festivals, the Mothman Festival allows an opportunity to really network with and get to know so many members of the paranormal community. If you haven't been, I highly recommend making the trip. Next year will be the festival's 15th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the Mothman sightings, so it's sure to be big in 2016.

Mothman Festival 2015 Day 1
Mothman Festival 2015 Day 2

Sunday, October 25, 2015

My Paranormal Education---"Fall Semester"

Readers to this blog and the Theresa's Haunted History Facebook page have probably already realized that I am a huge supporter of higher education and continuing education for paranormal investigators. In a field that incorporates so many different disciplines and is constantly changing, we need to stay informed, educated, and at the top of our game. It's a definite step in the struggle to take paranormal research from a fringe field and turn it into a legitimate and recognized area of study!

And...I'm proud to say that even though my spare time is short and my funds are tight, I have always found ways to practice what I preach! This October, I am involved in three courses that I hope will contribute to my knowledge of the field and make me a better, more informed researcher/investigator. The first two are online classes through Open2Study. They are MOOCs----Massive Open Online Courses----and are FREE!

1. Basic Physics---This class is taught by Dr. Wayne Rowlands of the Swinburne University of Technology, and as the title says, its an introductory course in basic physics. Science courses are always recommended material for paranormal investigators, but I have a specific reason for taking this particular class. Carrie, my friend and HPIR colleague, have recently discussed the merits of becoming MUFON certified. The manual and accompanying test is a little too pricey for me right now, so the plan is to wait until after the new year. Until then, I'm trying to prepare as much as possible by reading and watching everything I can on ufology and taking relevant courses. Last month I took the Open2Study Astronomy course and was quite pleased with it.

2. Early Childhood Education---This class is taught by Caitlin O'Connell and Helen Lawrence from Gowrie Victoria. Early Childhood Education might sound like a weird option for a paranormal education, but I do think it has a lot of potential. As part of our investigative field work, we often work private residences. Many of the clients for these private residences do have young children in the home and these children are being affected in some way by the perceived paranormal activity. It's vital to be able to understand how a young child's developing mind works and how they perceive the world around them so that we can offer the best advice and course of action possible for the family. This particular class heavily emphasizes developmental milestones, normal behaviors for children at various stages up to about age 5, and of course, how they perceive and learn---all areas that can be useful when dealing with our youngest clients.


The last class I'm taking this month is an actual live, in-person class, taught at Ohio University's Southern Campus. Todd Martin is the instructor of the 4-week course community education course on Paranormal Phenomenon and Local Mysteries. This course was a great value at only $35 and in addition to the class periods (every Tuesday from 7-9pm) there will be a chance to actually investigate a potentially haunted location!

This course goes beyond just ghost hunting and ghost research, however. It delves into all areas of paranormal studies, including ufology, cryptozoology, and stuff that is just plain weird---but very, very interesting! It is so awesome to have the chance to meet and interact with so many other people who share a similar interest in the field. Although thus far I have been very familiar with most, if not all, of the topics presented, I find this course extremely interesting and beneficial. It helps me see what specific areas others are interested in and what sorts of questions they have and what kind of information they are looking for. I'll be basing plenty of future blogs on conversations generated through the course.

If you missed this session, Mr. Martin indicated that there will be a spring session offered. As soon as I see more information about it, I'll share it on Facebook. Until then, check out this nice write-up on the course from the Ironton Tribune!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Weird Art: Saint Wolfgang and the Devil

Every once in awhile I like to inject a little culture into the blog by sharing some interesting and strange art that has a paranormal twist! Today's offering is a painting by Michael Pacher entitled, Saint Wolfgang and the Devil (ca. 1475). 

This painting originally appeared as an altar piece in a church located at St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut, Austria. Legend states that St. Wolfgang founded the first church in this area by throwing an axe down a mountain and building where it landed. And, as this painting depicts, St. Wolfgang even tricked the Devil himself into helping with the building labor. The Devil was promised the first living being to set foot in the church in exchange for his work.  Unfortunately for the Devil, an expected human 'offering' actually turned out to be a wolf! Pacher's work shows the Devil trying to argue his case with the soon-to-be Saint who just swindled him. 

Today, this piece is on display at Alte Pinakothek in Munich. 

*If you're wondering why the Devil has an extra face below the belt, please see my blog entry on the Osculum Infame, otherwise known as the Kiss of Shame*

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fozzie's Friday Night Funnies

Fozzie Bear shares his favorite Halloween jokes for tonight's Friday Night Funny! Wocka Wocka Wocka!

Ghost FAQs: Investigating Alone

There are many different theories and many different methodologies that are employed in the name of paranormal investigation and research. In such a dynamic field where very little is actually accepted as science, it can be difficult to discern what truly is the right way or wrong way of doing things.  However, one of the few constants in regards to rules of paranormal investigation seems to be this:  NEVER INVESTIGATE ALONE!

But why should you never investigate alone? There are two main reasons why this piece of advice is important to investigators:

1. Safety---Paranormal investigation can be a dangerous activity. Many of the allegedly haunted locations we visit have environmental dangers that are often either the result of neglect (giving the property a definite LOOK of being haunted) or are issues that might actually even cause one to perceive a haunting. As investigators, we're more likely to encounter loose floorboards and rotting foundations, mold and rodent dropping, broken glass, poison ivy, uneven walking surfaces, animal infestations, poor lighting, and the ever present threat of unstable clients or trespassers who are up to no good. These threats increase dramatically when investigating 'abandoned' properties and/or outdoor areas, even WITH proper permission from the owner. For example, a person with bad intentions hanging out at a dark, isolated park is less likely to approach a group of people as opposed to a single person. Also, if you were to fall and twist your ankle (or otherwise injure yourself), its good to have someone there to assist you. There's always a chance that your cell phone won't work or you'll be otherwise incapacitated to the point where you cannot call out for help, and thus, would need someone actually there with you.

2. Evidence Integrity and Witness Verification---Two sets of eyes (and ears and other senses!) are always better than one when it comes to tracking down and collecting evidence of potential paranormal phenomena. Two or more people can better observe and assess a situation and having more people around offers the potential for more equipment and more points of evidence collection. It's great to catch something or have an experience...but if more than one person experiences the same thing or more than one piece of equipment captures it, it makes that potential data all the stronger. Plus, having additional people around keeps you in check---you're less likely to have your imagination running wild when you have others around you remaining calm and rational.

I think as a paranormal investigator myself, I'm ethically required to advise others that investigating alone is never a good idea. It certainly is a rule that we employ in my group's investigations, especially when the public or new investigators are present. Not only does it assist with safety and evidence integrity, but its practical---we need to know where everyone is at the location at all times so that their movements aren't accidentally mistaken for ghostly activity and that they aren't inadvertently contaminating our potential evidence.

Stick with Your Buddy!
But, is it REALLY necessary to stick with a buddy at all times?  There are a lot of freelance investigators who prefer to work solo and there are many sensitives who seem to work best when they are unencumbered by the the energy of living persons surrounding them during their observations.  There is also an argument that having too many people at an investigation is a bad thing---as mentioned earlier, it can lead to evidence contamination, but it can also be intimidating to any potential presences to be bombarded with so many different strangers. So when is it okay to ditch the team and go solo?

Again, I ethically don't think I can advise anyone to ever go completely alone on a quest for paranormal answers, but as one adult to another, I just strongly urge everyone to just practice good common sense and use their best judgment. Don't go alone to a location that you normally wouldn't go to alone for other reasons. For example, if you would normally visit a safe, public cemetery during the day by yourself to visit a loved one or do genealogy research, adding in a little investigating isn't much different. However, you might not want to visit a cemetery you've never been to, out in the middle of nowhere, during the middle of the night by yourself.  Thoroughly research the area and do a few daytime visits with friends to look for potential hazards and to get a feel for the area.Whether you go to a location alone, with a partner, or with a whole team, ALWAYS alert someone who isn't going exactly where you'll be and when you are expected back. Keep your cell phone charged and accessible at all times. And, most importantly, listen to your instincts. If you feel unsafe or uneasy, or if you observe another person who shouldn't be there, leave immediately.

For me personally, I like to investigate with a small group or with a partner. That way, you still get the safety benefits without many of the problems that come with a large group. When on site, there are times when you might feel the need to be alone in a specific area, and that is usually perfectly fine. I would suggest that if you have the resources of a multi-cam DVR system, to put a camera in the area where you want to be alone, and make sure you are visible in frame the entire time. Let everyone on site know exactly where you will be working and for how long---including instructions on how long they are to wait before coming to look for you! Keep your cell phone and/or walkie talkie handy so that you can keep in touch with your partner or team the entire time and make sure that someone is always close enough by that they can reach you within a minute or so if need be.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Facebook's NEW Ghost Girl

Move over, sweetie! There's a new ghost girl in town!
It's the Halloween season and that means everyone is in the mood to get scared! Luckily for some, there seems to be no shortage of people out there willing to do whatever it takes to scare others---even if it means employing tactics that aren't exactly....legit.

In the paranormal field, Halloween season is the peak of ghost app season! Social media and even mainstream media is filled with submissions of ghost photos that seem too good to be true, and in almost all cases, they are too good to be true! Instead of the Holy Grail of apparitional photography, the overwhelming majority of these photos are nothing more than ghost apps. Sometimes the photo is a complete and utter hoax, submitted with the full intention of fooling as many people as possible. Other times, it's a joke that's gone too far---someone uses the app to alter a photo, shows it to a gullible friend or loved one, and boom! It's now being posted EVERYWHERE. Whichever the scenario, its extremely frustrating, especially for paranormal investigators.

Axe Girl?
Several years ago I posted about what I believe to be the absolute most prolific ghost app image ever used. If you've been on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter or anywhere else on the internet in the last five years, you've probably seen the little girl in plaid. She has made her appearance on trail cams, in mirrors, and on staircases. And while her image is freely available in the Ghost Capture app, she's actually based on a REAL photograph of a real little girl. Whenever she pops up, I like to joke that her descendants should be receiving royalties for her image...but over the past few months it seems like another ghostly app girl is quickly moving to the front of the pack.

While she still is no where near the popularity level of our previous ghost girl, "axe girl" has popped up in at LEAST four different photographs in recent history, including one posted on a local paranormal page, claiming it to be from West Virginia. Once I showed the image in its app menu, it was quickly removed. However, she would make an appearance in ANOTHER photo shortly after. May I please introduce you to the little lady I call Axe Girl?

Axe Girl definitely has the potential to go far, as her image is available in at least TWO different app programs. I originally found her in the app, Ghost in Photo, by Next Generation Technology for Android, but another researcher found her in Ghost Camera-Photo Editor. She even receives top billing, being shown in the app's home screen, lol!

But where did this girl originally come from? That's a question I'm not entirely sure I can answer. Obviously, the image was pulled from this photo below. You can even see the light coming in from the window, as it wasn't properly cropped out of the app image! But where did this photo come from? When I conducted a reverse-image search, I found TONS of hits. Many websites are using this image, especially websites for Halloween haunted house attractions! The earliest use of the image that I could find was for one such place in Wisconsin from 2011---but I still haven't been able to track down exactly why this photo was taken and by whom. If you have an answer, hop on over to Facebook and let us know!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Spooky Documentaries

We're well on our way to Halloween, and to get you in a spooky mood, I thought I'd share some of the paranormal-related documentaries that I've been enjoying lately! I actually haven't gotten around to too many documentaries this month since what little free time I do have is filled with cramming in as many Halloween movies as I can possibly watch, but a few little educational gems have stood out as recommend watching. Have fun and let me know if you're watching anything of interest this month!

1. Haunted History of Halloween---this is my absolute favorite Halloween documentary. Produced by the History Channel, it covers quite a bit of the history, customs, and folklore of my favorite holiday. I usually end up watching this several times in October, lol. It's available on YouTube, so you can watch it, too!

2. Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie---I am taking a Paranormal Phenomenon class at Ohio University Southern campus, under the direction of Todd Martin. This video, which chronicles the trials and triumphs of two Bigfoot researchers from Portsmouth, Ohio, was recommended as part of the course work. I found it a bit depressing and the title definitely gets it right; this is NOT your typical Bigfoot movie!

3. The Nightmare---This one is available on Netflix streaming and focuses on a group of people who all suffer from sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis, with or without the accompanying hypnagogia is one of the most terrifying things I have ever been through, so I applaud any film that attempts to get the information about this strange affliction out there to those who need it.

4. Visions of Ted Serios---Ever since I first learned of the Chicago bellhop who amazed researchers in the 1960s with his apparent ability to create 'thought photographs' on Polaroid film, I have been fascinated. I was thrilled to recently learn that there was a short film made about Ted...but then I actually FOUND the film, lol. It starts out okay, but then diverts into UFOs and gets pretty weird from there on. It's only about 20 minutes long, so its not a complete waste of time if your curiosity gets the best of you.

5. Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy---This is for the hardcore Nightmare on Elm Street fans, and is available on Netflix streaming. Just under FOUR (4!!) hours of behind the scenes interviews, history and film clips from the iconic horror flick.

*Looking for more strange and spooky documentary recommendations?*

Kent's Haunted Masonic Lodge

The Masonic Temple located on West Main Street in Kent, Ohio has been home to the Rockton Lodge #316 since 1923. However, it was built much earlier than that. The ornate brick building was originally built by Marvin S. Kent and the first brick was laid on June 7, 1880. The majority of construction would be completed four years later, and in 1884, the Kent family moved into their new homestead.

Marvin's son, William S. Kent, would eventually go on to marry Kittie M. North. Unfortunately, Kittie would meet a terrible end in the lovely home. On May 19, 1886, the 35 year old Kittie was seriously burned when a kerosene heater being used to warm the third floor ballroom exploded while she was attending to the stove. Her wounds would prove to be fatal and Kittie would pass away the next day. After her death, the third floor ballroom was completely shut off from any and all social functions and boarded up.

Shortly after Kittie's death, William moved into the homestead with his father full-time before eventually remarrying in 1901. When William died in 1923, he left the homestead to his two nieces. Due to the Kent family and the husband's family of one of the nieces, they decided to sell the home to the Rockton Lodge #316. The lodge moved in on November 1, 1923.  However, the house wasn't completely empty...


Since that time, members and visitors of the lodge have seen the apparition of a woman in an old-fashioned white dress in various locations throughout the former mansion. The apparition, believed to be Kittie Kent, is also said to be responsible for making noises in the empty ballroom area near where she died and for leaving scratch marks on the floor and walls.

Rockton #316 History     
Haunted Hovel
Kent Wired

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Book Review for UFOs in Wartime

Title: UFOs in Wartime--What They Didn't Want You to Know
Author: Mack Maloney
Published: 2011 by Berkley Books, New York
Amazon Info

Every year I say I'm going to learn more about ufology and every year, I fall short. But, inspired by this goal once again, I bought Mack Maloney's UFOs in Wartime and surprisingly, made my way through it pretty quickly!

As the title would suggest, this book is all about UFOs that were seen during times of military conflict. A big chunk of the text is dedicated to World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the early days of the Cold War (most likely because this was the time period when modern warfare really took off and new weapons, especially nuclear, would have been a great interest to those keeping an eye on our planet), but a pretty good expanse of time is represented. Beginning in 312 when Constantine I were advancing toward Rome and ending with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, this book covers a lot of ground--understandably from the perspective of United States service men and women.

At times, this book doesn't seem to go into enough detail, nor does it do an adequate job in quoting which sources were used for which pieces of information. However, this format works well for those new to ufology. A lot of information is covered in an easy to read and understand narrative that flows well and I've already marked a dozen or so snippets that I plan on researching further.

Being basically a newbie, I was pleased that I was well aware of some of the cases presented in the book, most notably Roswell, the attack over Los Angeles, and Rendlesham Forest. There was also plenty that I had absolutely NO idea about though, and was thoroughly engaged. For example, one theory put forth states that even George Washington may have had a close encounter during the Revolutionary War!

Less than 300 pages make up this mass market paperback, a handful of which are photographs and illustrations, so its a nice quick read. I do wish that some of those images were a little more...evidence based, though. So many photographs are referenced in the work, but do not actually appear in the work. But, its still a fun read and makes a nice little primer for such a broad topic.

*Looking for more of Theresa's Book Reviews?*

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

West Virginia's Top 5 Most Haunted Hotels and Inns

Are you looking for a spooky place to rest while visiting the Mountain State? West Virginia is full of historic hotels, creepy motels, and beautiful, old bed and breakfasts---many of which claim to have a resident ghost or two! Since today is the season premier of American Horror Story: Hotel, I thought I would share with you some of MY personal favorite places to stay in West Virginia where your room might come with a little more than just a mint on the pillow...Lady Gaga not included!

Lowe Hotel

Lowe Hotel---The Lowe Hotel seems to be the central point for all things spooky in the little Ohio River town of Pt. Pleasant. Its THE place to stay during the annual Mothman Festival, at which time haunted history tours of the hotel, which opened in the early 1900s as the Spencer Hotel, are given. Various ghosts haunt the old hotel, including Juliette Smith--a beautiful young woman seen dancing on the mezzanine, and Captain Jim, who causes disturbances to guests staying in Suite 316.

The Frederick Hotel

Frederick Hotel---The Frederick Hotel in downtown Huntington officially opened to the public in 1906, and until it closed in 1973, was one of the most lavish, expensive hotels in the city. Unfortunately, you can no longer stay at the Frederick, but you CAN visit one of its fine restaurants, shop in one of the retail stores, or visit/work in one of the office suites that now occupy the former glorious hotel. That still gives you plenty of opportunity to experience the ghosts, including two children who are said to frequent the site of the 21 Club Restaurant, and whatever entities that jangle keys, cause cold spots and are responsible for all manner of paranormal activity throughout the former hotel, especially on the sixth floor.

Blennerhassett Hotel

Blennerhassett Hotel---Built in 1889 by William Chancellor, this Parkersburg hotel is a beautiful example of Queen Ann architecture. It's also a beautiful example of what a haunted hotel should be! The Blennerhassett serves as the meeting point for Susan Shepperd's Parkersburg Ghost Tours, and for good reason. William Chancellor is known to frequent his hotel, emitting a phantom smell of cigar smoke, or manifesting a weird glow in his own portrait in the front reading room. Other ghosts include a man in a white tuxedo, a sobbing woman, and a little boy from the 1920s era...among others!

General Lewis Inn

General Lewis Inn---The General Lewis Inn of Lewisburg opened in 1929 and was built around an existing structure that dated to about 1834. At least three ghosts call the General Lewis Inn home, including a former slave named Reuben who was believed to have been hanged where the current dining room sits, a little girl who is heard crying or laughing in room 208 or 206, and the Lady in White of Room 208.

Wells Inn

Wells Inn---The Wells Inn of Sistersville has been in business since 1895, and was built as a luxurious hotel in response to a local oil and gas boom. Former owner Ephraim Wells is allegedly the main (and possibly ONLY) ghost to reside at the Wells Inn. Mr. Wells likes to move items around and create unexplained noises throughout the hotel. He is especially fond of room #324 and his former office on the second floor, where he can still be heard writing to this day.

*There's your sneak peek of haunted West Virginia hotels and inns, but the state and surrounding areas are full with even more haunted accommodations! Make sure you check out Theresa's Haunted West Virginia Page for more Mountain State hauntings!*

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cleveland's Haunted Agora Theater

The present site of Cleveland's Agora Theater has quite the rich history in entertainment! Construction began in 1910 under Max Faetkenheuer, an opera promoter. Known as the Metropolitan Theater, it officially opened on March 31, 1913 with a performance of Aida. Over the years, the venue would serve a number of purposes under a slew of different names before finally becoming the third and final home of the Agora Theater, a live music venue, in 1985. Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Meatloaf and Marilyn Manson are just some of the big names who have shared this space while it was a local radio station's concert hall, a vaudeville/burlesque show, a movie house, and now the premier live venue it is today.

And while that's quite an impressive celebrity guest list, probably the most famous 'performer' associated with the Agora is an unknown man seen in a yellow raincoat. This man, who local psychic Sonya, calls 'John,' has been seen all around the theater. He has been witnessed by stagehands on the stage itself and even on the stairs to the balcony. One club kid even saw the man in the yellow raincoat during a rave. A bottle of Ecstasy had apparently fallen to the floor and as others around him scrambled to scoop up the pills, the look the man in yellow gave this guy was enough to cause him to refrain from joining them! His favorite 'haunt,' however, seems to be on the catwalk. John is also believed to be the cause of strange feelings of a presence in the basement lounge and for driving the cleaning crew crazy by locking and unlocking doors.

John may have some friends, though. A photographer taking some shots of the old theater noticed a group of people sitting out in the audience, whom he thought were workers. He approached them in order to thank them for allowing him to photograph the location, but they had disappeared without a trace.

No one is really sure who John is or why he is there and he might not even still be there at all! Not long ago, Psychic Sonya allegedly conducted an exorcism of sorts in an effort to bring peace to John and the Agora. Afterwards, staff report that things did calm down, but still believe the theater to be haunted. Although it probably doesn't account for John's identity, one interesting story I found about the theater was that it was the home base for a Yiddish theater troupe in 1927. In 1928, the crew was on its way to Youngstown when their bus crashed. Too injured to perform, their company went bankrupt a short time later.

Dead Ohio
Cinema Treasures 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pettigrew House and Museum--South Dakota

The beautiful old Victorian home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota was originally built in 1889 for Thomas and Jennie McMartin. However, it would become known as the Pettigrew House in 1911 when  Senator Richard Franklin Pettigrew returned to South Dakota and purchased the home.

Pettigrew, who was born in Vermont and moved to Wisconsin with his parents in his youth, finally settled in what was then the Dakota Territory. When South Dakota was admitted as a state, Pettigrew became its first U.S. Senator. He served from November 2, 1889 to March 4, 1901. After briefly moving to New York to practice law, Pettigrew made his way back to Sioux Falls and purchased the McMartin home.

Pettigrew was somewhat of an amateur archaeologist and collector. In 1925, he chose to display his collection of Native American artifacts, natural history specimens, and memorabilia related to the early days of Sioux Falls in his own little museum in the back of the home. Pettigrew would pass away a short time later, on October 5, 1926. While playing cards with his wife in his upstairs study, Pettigrew suffered a stroke. He died a few days later in his bedroom. However, his legacy and dream would live on. Pettigrew left his home and his collection to the city of Sioux Falls under the condition that the museum be maintained. Presumably, this was the occur AFTER his wife passed away or remarried, because she was still listed as living in the home at 131 N. Duluth Avenue in 1929 and other sources say the museum wasn't opened to the public until 1930.

Whenever it actually opened, the museum has stood the test of time and is STILL in operation today! As the collection grew, an addition had to be built in the 1930s, but visitors today can visit the Pettigrew House Museum FOR FREE and view the original collection, as well as more recent acquisitions. The house itself is part of the museum, being set up with period appropriate furnishings to show how a man of Pettigrew's social standing would have lived during that time period. If one is REALLY lucky, one might also encounter a ghost among its halls!

During a 2012 radio interview on local hauntings, manager Kevin Gansz discussed the hauntings, saying that the second floor of the old Victorian mansion was known for its darker, heavier mood. The mansion is also known for possibly three different ghostly inhabitants, one of who is believed to be Pettigrew's second wife, Roberta. While working in Mrs. Pettigrew's room, Gansz experienced a phantom scent of heavy perfume, believed to have been a sign of Mrs. Pettigrew.

Mrs. Jennie McMartin, who passed away in 1908, is also believed to still be in the home. According to The Apparition Atlas by Daniel Diehl, Jennie has been seen wandering about the house, inspecting it to ensure that her home is kept in good order. The third apparition, which is mentioned in the book, appears to be a little girl wearing a white dress who appears on the staircase landing. Some her have seen her claim that she has blood on her face. Research into the house's history done by Kevin Gansz indicate that the McMartin family did lose a child while living in the home, which may account for those sightings. And, according to research I found on Find-a-Grave, Mr. Pettigrew had a maiden sister who lived in the home with the family and passed away there in October of 1922---could SHE be one of these female apparitions as well?

Apparition Atlas
Haunted South Dakota Interview
Pettigrew House and Museum 
Pettigrew's 167th Birthday Celebration
McMartin Bio

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mothman Festival 2015 (Day 2)

Saturday at the Mothman Festival was family day for me! Aaron and I took our son Luke for a day of Mothy fun. Luke, who turned six on the Monday following the festival (happy birthday, my boy!), has been to just about every Mothman Festival since he was born and loves it. He always calls Pt. Pleasant "Mothman City" and this year, he was really looking forward to having a Mothman Hotdog from Hillbilly Hotdogs.

It was a warm, sunny day when we arrived about 10:45 am and after a stressful drive around trying to find a parking spot, settled in and immediately went to the food trucks, lol. Unfortunately, Hillbilly Hotdogs must have just been opening up because we got in the fairly long line...which didn't move for at all in 15 minutes. So, we decided to just grab some standard fair fare and go down to the riverfront to eat and catch a little bit of the Mothman Pageant activities. Before settling in, Aaron stopped to get a huge mug of old fashioned soda from Wild Bill's Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Co. For $10, he got a huge collector's mug and a voucher for FREE refills all day long!

As we found our seats, we noticed that there was something going on to our left, not far from the stage and where the pageant judges were set up. There were a LOT of people milling about and a police boat in the river. An ambulance had its lights on and was standing by. Since the pageant kept going on, we really didn't pay too much attention to what was going on. Finishing up our lunch of corn dogs and cheese fries, we then went to do the vendor circuit.

Luke wanted to play some carnival games and won a few prizes and I picked up a few vintage books for less than $2! Luke and Aaron both found some treasures, as well. We checked out everything, and I was really impressed with the variety of art, books, jewelry and other items being sold, plus the array of paranormal speakers and researchers present. One of my absolute favorite booths was the PlushyBoo vendor. Jen, of PlushyBoo, was selling the coolest and cutest plush cryptid/paranormal themed figures in a variety of sizes. I really should have bought one of the three different Mothman styles she had, because by the time we came back on Sunday, they were all gone...but more on that in Sunday's blog, lol. But, if you were like me and missed her, she has an Etsy shop, too, where everything is 20% off this month! Vowing to come back in a little while to make my final purchasing decisions, we decided to drop what we had already accumulated off at the car. On the way back toward downtown, Luke convinced us that he needed to take a horse-drawn wagon ride!

My PlushyBoos

The horse-drawn wagon ride was pretty awesome, but it was a little expensive. For Luke and I to ride together, it was $8, which wouldn't be that bad, except that the ride only lasted about 7-10 minutes and simply went down the street and back. Still, it was something we hadn't tried before and we had resolved to make this year the year we did all the stuff that we usually DIDN'T do during our festival visits. As soon as we got off the wagon, though, Aaron pulled me aside. He had gone back to the riverfront to take advantage of his free soda refill just as they were closing the area. What we had seen going on at the riverfront earlier was finally explained---a man had jumped into the river and never resurfaced.  This must have happened right before we arrived and while we were on the wagon, his body was recovered. After hearing witness testimony and looking through the photos, Carrie and I can't help wondering if the man was the same man we had been spooked by the night before---the descriptions certainly matched up and it might explain why we felt so uneasy in his presence. But, whether or not it was the same man, our prayers and condolences go out to his family and friends, and all those involved who either had to witness the event or took part in the recovery efforts. Here's a short news article on the event: WSAZ

Luke at Navy Poster Museum
After that devastating news, we looked around some more, got our picture taken with Mothman, who happened to come up RIGHT beside Luke, checked out the Ghost Busters and bought Luke a Daphne pin from the Mystery Machine guy. Then we decided to check out the Navy Poster Museum. Aaron had been there last year, but I didn't go in, so I was in for quite a treat. Located where the old Mothman Museum used to be, the Navy Poster Museum is a huge collection covering a huge chunk of time in Naval history.  The lady who runs the museum is also very nice and you could tell how passionate she is about sharing that passion with others. Even Luke really enjoyed it---especially the pin-up girl posters and the puzzle that was thoughtfully laid out on a table with chairs. If you're in the Pt. Pleasant area, definitely make this a stop on your trip and go give 'em a LIKE on Facebook, too!

Immediately following our trip to the museum, we made our way down to the State Theater to hear Rosemary Ellen Guiley's talk on Spiritualism during the Civil War era. We were a bit early, so we caught the end of Susan Sheppard's Indrid Cold presentation. I'm sorry we missed the beginning, as it seemed like an excellent talk, but luckily, it was recorded and can now be found on YouTube! Anyway, I was really excited to see Rosemary this year. We are generally so busy with other things (and having an impatient child along doesn't help) that we rarely get to sit through the speakers. As predicted I really enjoyed Rosemary's presentation. I have to say, if you get the chance to see ANY of the Mothman speakers, definitely take advantage of it! There is no other place that I know of where you can see the caliber of speakers the festival brings in...and for FREE. And, even though the festival sets record numbers of visitors each year, there's still a real family reunion type atmosphere. You have the chance to get up and personal with the special guests and speakers and have a conversation with them, ask them questions, and if you'd like, buy any books/merchandise they're selling. It's just a really great experience.

But, that was the end of our experience for Saturday. By that time, we were all tired and hot and Aaron and I had some birthday party stuff we needed to attend to while Luke spent the night at my mom's, so we concluded our trip. I wasn't disappointed though....because I'd be back the next day!

Mothman Day I
Mothman Day III

Friday, October 2, 2015

Halloween Jokes

It's the first Friday in October and I'm ready for Halloween. For tonight's Friday Night Funny, I'd like to share this hilarious, yet poignant message from the ghosts, lol. Ya'll know I'm all about stopping the spread of misinformation!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Madam Violet, Vampire Queen

Welcome, October! It's the start of a new month and a new beginning---another chance to play catch-up on this poor, neglected blog, lol. It's been a crazy few days with my son having surgery AND a birthday party in the same week, plus all sorts of other stuff, like t-ball, swim lessons, etc. I promise that I will be cranking out Day 2 and Day 3 of the Mothman Festival blogs soon, but I thought I'd go ahead and share this creepy photo I found floating around on Facebook!

Whenever this frightening lady makes an appearance on social media, she's usually accompanied by the caption of "Madam Violet, the queen of the notoriously dark Edinburgh vampire hive. Voted twice as the scariest woman in England."

I can't attest to whether there really ever was an Edinburgh vampire hive or not, but even if there was...this photo does NOT show its queen. Instead, what looks like a late Victorian era photograph of a human woman is actually...

...a piece of art! As part of the 2008 series, Storydress II, this unique image was created by Christine Elfman. The photos in the series, including this one of 'Madam Violet,' are albumen prints pasted to antique cabinet cards for a very realistic touch.  But who is 'Madam Violet,'??? In this case, Madam Violet is none other than a paper mache and plaster sculpture!

For more info on this photograph and how it was made, please see Christine Elfman's WEBSITE.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mothman Festival 2015 (Day 1)

Originally, I had planned on attending only ONE day's worth of Mothman Festival festivities this year, but as things worked out, I ended up spending three days in Pt. Pleasant! In order to make sure I give every event, attraction, speaker, and vendor I experienced this weekend the attention deserved, I thought it would be best to break this up into several different blog posts.  Let's start with Friday evening....

As part of the weekend kickoff, the historic State Theater in downtown Pt. Pleasant was having a FREE screening of the documentary, Eyes of the Mothman. This 2011 documentary was written and directed by Matthew J. Pellowski and runs a little over 2.5 hours. There are a LOT of great documentaries and television shows featuring the Mothman, but you're not going to find anything as thorough and as well-researched as this documentary. It really goes in depth with exploring the Native American history of the area, the border warfare between the Native Americans and the white settlers/soldiers during the 1700s, the different sightings of Mothman, the different theories of what Mothman might be, other types of flying humanoids, Indrid Cold, etc. Anything that even remotely ties in with the Mothman mythos is covered and many different experts, professors, locals, and eyewitnesses are interviewed. I definitely recommend this movie if you haven't seen it.

Anyway, before the film even started, Carrie (my HPIR buddy), her son, and I got to town early for a quick dinner. Having always wanted to try the Iron Gate Grill and being turned away  last year, we decided to give it another shot. The Iron Gate Grill has been a fixture in Pt. Pleasant for years and we were pleased to see that they weren't too busy. We were quickly seated and had our drink orders taken. The booth we were given was extremely comfortable and unique, and the decor of the restaurant was really cool. I love old buildings, and this one definitely had a great feel to it.  The staff, including our server, seemed pleasant enough. Unfortunately, our sodas took over 15 minutes to arrive, and it would be at least another 10 before our waitress made time to take our food order. When the food arrived, it wasn't horrible---but it just wasn't what I expected. I was under the impression that this was a nicer restaurant. It certainly looks classy from the outside and the prices reflect a more upscale establishment, but the food just didn't reflect that. It wasn't bad--just very bland and very simplistic. My burger didn't taste like it had any seasoning at all, and the macaroni was straight out of a box of Kraft. I've read a lot of reviews of this place and it seems that people LOVE it throughout the year, but during Mothman Festival time, they just cannot get it together. I understand that the festival is a busy, stressful time, and being one of few nice, sit-down restaurants within walking distance, its gonna get crazy. Therefore, I wouldn't recommend trying this place any time near the festival, but it might be worth it during other times of the year.

Dinner wasn't a five star experience, but we weren't going to let that bother us. We finished up and made our way to the theater. An array of baked goods (including Mothman brownies), candies and drinks were available in the lobby for purchase, and a small food truck was set up outside with some tasty-looking options. I loved the fact that the State Theater was being used to show the movie.  Way back when HPIR had its first booth at the Mothman Festival (2007) we were invited by the people who were running the theater at the time to investigate the claims of paranormal activity. Several members of the team had simultaneously seen what looked like a shadowy form cross by in front of the ladies' restroom and we were excited about the prospect of witnessing the alleged apparition of a former employee who was said to make his nightly rounds, checking out the theater floor. We also learned that the storefront adjacent to the theater was used as sort of a staging area during the recovery efforts following the Silver Bridge collapse and that bodies were temporarily stored there.

We didn't experience any ghosts the night of the documentary, but we did experience something that was pretty darn strange. There was a really good turnout for the film, but we still managed to get good seats right in the middle section, just a few rows back from the front. After awhile, a few people around us left, leaving the rows in front of us completely empty.  It was a little under 2 hours into the film when an older man came walking down the aisle to our right, threw his stuff down, including a cane and a bundle, sat down, threw his hat off, dropped the cane, picked the cane BACK up, put his hat back on, and walked back up the aisle without the cane. He came back a moment later and sat down. At that point he began furiously writing something in a notebook, despite it being pretty dark in the theater. While this is going on, I started feeling uncomfortable. I know the Mothman Festival has the potential to bring out some...different...types of folks, but this was getting to the point where I felt personally that we weren't dealing with an every-day eccentric.

When the guy violently ripped a page from his notebook, tearing the paper almost in half in the process and then walked over and thrust it at a boy sitting with his family in the next aisle over, all three of us present gave each other the LOOK. When the guy then approached the stage and leaned over it (using it as a table, I guess, but giving him an eerie appearance from behind as if he were praying at an altar) we decided we needed to leave---immediately. I don't think I can put into words what I felt---just that I felt so uncomfortable and had a nagging feeling that we had to leave or else. As we were standing outside the theater discussing what we should do (tell the staff, although they didn't seem too concerned by the guy's erratic behavior or go back in and find different seats) the guy quickly comes out of the theater and starts walking towards us. We made a hasty retreat to the car and booked it out of town!

Our night wasn't completely over yet, though. We decided to drive out to the TNT area. When we got out there, there were plenty of other people who had a similar idea, so we chose to avoid the crowds waiting to explore the igloos and come back when it wasn't so busy. The drive back was a little eerie. A crescent moon hung low on the horizon and the clouds gave it a reddish glow, almost turning it the color of blood. It was quite the backdrop as we discussed what happened in the theater to have made all of us have the same feelings and react the way we did. Did we just overreact to someone who was a little off, or did we all simultaneously pick up on something that threw up a red flag? We might just have gotten our answer the very next day...

Mothman Festival Day 2
Mothman Festival Day 3

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Book Review: Ghostly Encounters

Title: Ghostly Encounters: Confessions of a Paranormal Investigator
Author: By Jeff Scott Cole with Johnathon Robson
Published: 2015 by Skyhorse Publishing, New York
Purchase Info: Amazon

Whenever I get the chance to attend a paranormal conference or event, or even just visit another state, I always try to find a few new books for my paranormal library. This past weekend, I attended ScareFest in Lexington, Kentucky and happened across the booth of C-Bus Paranormal, an investigation team out of Columbus, Ohio. I was initially drawn in when some information on the team's volunteer and fundraising efforts for Prospect Place caught my eye. I had the opportunity to investigate Prospect Place way back in 2007 and have always had an affinity for the history, culture, and of course, the paranormal activity of the location!

Anyway, I was excited to see that two of the team members were selling a new book they had collaborated on, and I bought a copy.

I absolutely love books written by real investigators out in the field. It's entertaining and enlightening to see how other teams operate, the places they've been, the evidence they've collected, and why they got started doing this type of work in the first place. Unfortunately, most of the books that I've picked up on this topic, while interesting, aren't necessarily very impressive.  That wasn't the case with Ghostly Encounters. I was extremely impressed, first with the quality of the book itself. This wasn't a print-to-order self published, unedited piece of work---this was a REAL book. For only $20 (less on Amazon), this professionally published, attractive, well-written work was an excellent value and an excellent addition to my personal library.

Secondly, the concept of this book really impressed me. For the most part, it reads like a normal book you'd expect from a paranormal investigator. It begins with Cole's personal journey into delving into the fascinating field of paranormal research and how he joined the C-Bus team. It's followed by some techie information, another chapter furthering his personal journey, more techie stuff, and then a large section featuring some actual investigations at various pay-to-play locations throughout the country. In addition, the appendix offers a listing of paranormal teams by state, as well as a list of alleged haunted places that offer investigation opportunities.

Normally, these types of books that feature investigations will mention potential video evidence, and refer to possible EVP data, but given the print format, all they can do is give a link and hope the reader will go check it out if interested. The authors of Ghostly Encounters really take a technological jump forward. Instead of just a mere link or a mention of their evidence, they've included QR codes directly within the text so that as you read about the evidence, you can use your phone or tablet and go directly to that evidence and see/hear it for yourself. And, if you don't feel like reading with your phone attached to you, the link is available so you can go back and check it out at your leisure.

A well-written book with a cool, modern twist featuring my favorite subject is pretty awesome in any case, but I really enjoyed this book on a personal level. I seem to have a very similar philosophy and approach to investigation as the C-Bus team, with the main difference being that HPIR doesn't do a ton of pay-to-play locations. It's always nice to see others who share similar goals and ideas, and how they are applying those ideas to the furthering this field. Ghostly Encounters was a great, quick read and I think that anyone with an interest in paranormal investigation, no matter if they are just starting out, or are a seasoned investigator, can enjoy this book. It's a great compilation of investigation experience and evidence, technical advice, and personal experience. I gave it a 5/5 stars!

Links of Interest:
C-Bus Paranormal Website
C-Bus Paranormal Facebook Page