Curious about the Ayda doll? Read my latest blog at https://www.hauntjaunts.net/the-ayda-doll/.
Curious about the Ayda doll? Read my latest blog at https://www.hauntjaunts.net/the-ayda-doll/.
The Haunted Librarian Teaser:
How did an heiress become the “Mother of Forensic Science”? Hop over to Haunt Jaunts to find the answer. Here’s the link: https://wordpress.com/post/www.hauntjaunts.net/21748.
The Thirteenth Club
Friday the 13th has a bad reputation. There are many theories on why people associate the day with bad news or bad omens. However, one person sought to change public perception: Captain William Fowler. Captain Fowler created The Thirteenth Club in an effort to remove the stigma attached to the date. His efforts seem to be made in vain—although, admittedly, he lived his life surrounded by the number.
The number 13 was prevalent in Captain Fowler’s life. For instance, consider the following:
“Leaves No Doubt” Amelia Earhart Survived Crash
On July 9th at 9 PM EST the History Channel debuts the 2-hour special Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence. The show is premised on a long-lost black and white photograph showing a Caucasian male facing the camera while a Caucasian female sits on a dock with her back toward the camera. The photograph was recently discovered by amateur historian and retired US Treasury official Les Kinney. Experts claim the photograph “leaves no doubt” that Earhart survived her around-the-world flight in 1937.
Amelia Mary Earhart (July 24, 1897-unknown) became the first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. She became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean. An accomplished pilot, Earhart sought to fly around the world in 1937. Fred Noonan, her navigator, joined her on the fateful adventure as they left from Miami, Florida on June 1, 1937. With 7,000 miles of the 29,000 miles left, Earhart and Noonan disappeared in the Pacific Ocean near the Marshall Islands on July 2.
Eighty years later, the History Channel special claims that Earhart and Noonan survived by evidenced through the clear black and white photograph. Experts compared the images of the man and female with Noonan and Earhart. They point toward a blurry object in the background stating that it is the 38 foot remains of Earhart’s plane. They make a convincing argument. Unfortunately, the photographer was executed by the Japanese who called him a spy. None of the other people involved or associated with the governments in Japan, America, or the Marshall Islands are alive. Further, the Japanese destroyed all records; therefore, the image cannot be corroborated. However, the image does not seem to be doctored.
Earhart’s disappearance has captured the imaginations of people. Human bones were discovered on a remote island in 1940. Initially, the bones were identified as male; however, they were never confirmed as male. The 13 bones subsequently disappeared. Last month TIGHAR, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, announced plans to use bone sniffing dogs to search the island of Nikumaroro for the remaining bones. The group has searched the island and waters surrounding it numerous times.
The photograph adds to Earhart’s mysterious disappearance. It may support the theory that she and Noonan died as castaways or political prisoners instead in the air. Regardless, many people continue to search. Hopefully Earhart and Noonan’s remains will be found one day and properly buried so their families and admirers may know what became of the intrepid adventurers.
Haunted Plank from the Amityville House Makes Travel Channel Debut
Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum returned last month with new episodes. The February 9th episode titled “Amityville Haunting, Ghost Army, and Fugitive Golfer” highlighted a piece of wood from the infamous Amityville Horror house. The demonic possession story was a hoax (see previous 2014 article at https://thehauntedlibrarian.com/2014/03/19/amityville-horror-hoax/); however, it doesn’t mean that this piece of wood doesn’t give off bad vibes. It means there may be another story, based on facts, that should be considered.
Interest in Amityville has not ebbed since the 1977 publication of the book, The Amityville Horror. The movie franchise alone has grossed over $170 million dollars. Add TV adaptations and books, and that’s one healthy moneymaker. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the book’s publication. Expect more media coverage.
Given the interest in Amityville, the house makes the requisite rounds on paranormal shows. This is not the first, probably not the last either, time that Travel Channel has showcased the Amityville house. Paranormal Paparazzi (2012) incorporated the house in 3 segments in 2 episodes. One was particularly insightful. Kathy Lutz’s son and George’s step-son Christopher Quaratino claimed that George practiced black witchcraft in the home, causing the paranormal activity to spike. Needless to say, expect more books and versions to emerge.
Greg Newkirk, director of the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and Occult, appeared on the Mysteries at the Museum episode discussing the plank. Greg and Dana Matthews co-founded the website Week in Weird, www.weekinweird.com, in 2007. Both Greg and Dana contribute articles, and postings are weekly. The articles are thought-provoking and quirky, while remaining true to the blog format: concise. The site has advertisements, a source of revenue; however, they don’t disrupt the reading of the articles. They’ve segued their site into 3 entities: Week in Weird (@WeekinWeird), Planet Weird (@WeirdHQ), and The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult (@theparamuseum). In 2013, they created the traveling museum to take their stories and artifacts on the road. They’ve collected artifacts from past paranormal investigations and allow the public to handle them. The museum is the modern-day version of curiosity cabinets which featured oddities and bizarre items and peaked in interest during the Victorian era. Visit http://paramuseum.com/ for 2017 dates and more information.
While it is easy to fall back on popular tales, the paranormal world has so much more to be explored. The Amityville plank is a reminder that the original story was made-up and exaggerated for profit. Instead of focusing on the heinous murders and concocting reasons for a demonic possession, readers should question whether George exploited the murders while practicing black magic. He didn’t move into a haunted house; however, he may have created the negative energy by dabbling in something beyond his comprehension.
“Feeding the Fire”
The Dead Files proffers interesting cases with unique perspectives on possible paranormal events. Nearly every episode adds to the paranormal discussion by highlighting a different possible reason for the encounters. Season 9, episode 11 “Feeding the Fire” was filmed in Kaufman, Texas. A 60-year-old man was convinced the paranormal activity ended his marriage. He lives on a large lot in one mobile home, while his ex-wife and three daughters line in another. Some of the pieces of “evidence” supporting the activity were images from phantom bruising. Phantom bruising crops up in several other TV series and movies. They are not immediate links to hauntings.
Phantom bruising are bruises that appear for no particular reason. Rather the reason is unknown to the “victim.” Rarely discussed on ghost hunting shows is that phantom bruising is explainable in most circumstances. Legitimate reasons include vitamin deficiency, exercising, affects from medication, signs from aging, and diabetes. To be clear: Most phantom bruising is caused by real world reasons. That’s not saying that all phantom bruising can be explained away.
Vietnamese people call unexplained bruising “ghost bites.” These bruises show up in various locations—on the thigh, under the arm, etc. Noting locations helps debunk these events. It is helpful to take pictures to build a case for paranormal bruising of unknown origins. As always, document everything. As with a crime scene, each piece taken together creates the larger story. See the next blog on what I mean.
Salvation for Fairyland
“You can’t put a price on history.”
Seemingly simplistic storybook-themed amusement parks popped up in the mid to late 50s. They were travel destinations for families with children. Over the years, decreased attendance and changing interests drove parks to update exhibits. Modernization was costly; therefore, many parks closed facilities and removed the exhibits. Few remain today. Some of these historically significant relics have been destroyed, thrown out, or lost. Fairyland, located in Tampa, Florida, seemed destined to the same fate; however, an auction saved the exhibits for future preservation. Preservation of these old amusement parks is vital to our American history.
Built in 1957 with private funds, Tampa’s Fairyland Park and Zoo was situated on 15 acres and free. Advertising referred to the attraction as a “storybook park for children”; however, people of all ages enjoyed the various fable-themed life-size figures and props. The City of Tampa shuttered Fairyland in 1996. All of the items were placed in an outdoor storage lot and ultimately forgotten. Twenty years later, the deteriorated figures were discovered and scheduled to thrown out. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn referred to them a “junk pile,” yet refused to donate them to a preservation group. After public outcry, the city decided to auction them off. The heated auction grossed the city $28,300.
Save Fairyland! was created to solicit donations to purchase the lots and to raise awareness. They kept Facebook group members abreast of the auction. Although two mystery bidders attempted to thwart the bids and pushed winning bids to higher than expected prices, local businessman Gonzmart won 11 out of the 12 lots. The final price shocked members who were thrilled with a figurative Knight in Shining Armor defeating the outside bidders. The group continues to post restoration pictures along with Fairyland-related endeavors. To follow the restoration process, join the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/savefairyland/.
The auction serves as an important lesson and strategy for other groups hoping to preserve the past. Perseverance pays off.
For more information view https://www.tampapix.com/zoo_old.htm. It is an excellent resource providing historical information, as well as loads of pictures.
Mothman Turned 50: Let’s Celebrate
Sightings of the red-eyed, 7 foot tall half man/half flying creature turned 50 last November. Although “Mothman,” as he was called, only appeared in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, from November 1966-December 15, 1967, he still captures the imaginations of cryptozoologists, paranormal researchers, and general urban legend fans. He has spawned an entire industry in the small town. There’s a Mothman Museum; TNT Tours to see McClintic Wildlife Management Area, where the first documented sighting occurred; evening U.F.O. sky watches; and the popular Mothman Festival. This year the festival will celebrate the 50th anniversary.
Mothman descended into the quite town of Point Pleasant on November 15, 1966. Two couples were taking a cousin out to the abandoned TNT factory for some night hiking. Upon arrival at the chain-linked fence, the five young adults reported encountering a 7’ feathery creature with large wings (possibly 15 feet wide). They quickly returned to the car and sped off into town. This begins the sightings made more popular by John A. Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies book published in 1975.
The first “Congress,” outdated word for festival, began over Labor Weekend in 1968 when Saucer News editor, Gray Barker, organized a small event. Forty-six people attended and participated in touring the Silver Bridge disaster, learning about Shawnee leader Cornstalk who was murdered in the area in 1777, and a “saucer watch,” whereby people stared up into the clear evening sky searching for U.F.O.s. Apparently, the Congress was a success. Renamed the Mothman Festival, the current event has been running for 16 years.
This year the event returns to downtown Point Pleasant, West Virginia, on September 16-17, 2017. Vendors, live music, food services, and a 5K run are planned. Admission to the Main Street events is free; however, nominal fees will be charged for the TNT tours and other additional events. According to the Official Mothman Festival Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/mothmanfestival/, 1,505 people are interested in attending and nearly 500 confirmed. Quite an uptick from the original 46.
Mothman is truly Americana. Other similar sightings have been reported, but none have the Appalachian appeal that Mothman brings to West Virginia. Definitely worth a visit.
For more information, visit: http://mothmanfestival.com/
End of Uniquely Americana Entertainment: World-Famous Ringling Closing
“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
Feld Entertainment Inc., owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, will turn down the lights one last time this May, 2017. The circus had a robust 146 year run. Kenneth Feld, Chairman and CEO, cited several reasons for shuttering the iconic circus: high operating costs, declining ticket sales, changing public opinions, and protesting organizations. Ultimately, the circus industry has lost the battle with motion pictures, streaming services, and game systems. With Ringling closing, the era of uniquely Americana circus curiosities ends.
Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum hobbled together a traveling side show act. In 1841, he bought Scudder’s American Museum, a 500+ collection of curiosities. “The Feejee Mermaid” join in 1842 with “General Tom Thumb,” real name Charles Stratton, following shortly after. Barnum expanded the variety of the show by hiring Jenny Lind, “The Swedish Nightingale,” who hypnotized audiences with her liltingly songs. However, Barnum would soon find his big act.
In 1882 for $10,000, he purchased “Jumbo” an Asian elephant, and the audiences loved him. Since then elephants became the staple of circus routines. Ironically, it was animal protesters forcing the circus to agree to retire all the elephants by 2018 who killed the business. Circus-goers love the elephants; the elephants comprised the bulk of the show. As the elephants were relocated to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, the circus attempted to reignite the show by updating acts. Ultimately, this could not sustain the circus.
Five Ringling brothers founded their circus in 1884 in Baraboo, Wisconsin. By 1907, their circus had eclipsed Barnum & Bailey; therefore, the brothers purchased the remaining stocks for $400,000. They ran two separate circuses until 1919, when it became economically advantageous to operate as one. The Ringling family owned the circus until 1967, when they sold it to Feld Entertainment, Inc. It’s been quite a long history.
Feld Entertainment released a statement that the existing animals will be placed in “suitable homes.” The company has not stated where the costumes and other props and memorabilia will be housed or sold off. Established in 1948, the Ringling Museum of the American Circus is housed on the Ringling Estate, comprised of the Ringling Museum of Art, Ca’d’Zan, The Historic Asolo Theater, and the Bayfront Gardens. Hopefully, the Circus Museum has the resources to preserve, maintain, and display this uniquely Americana collection.
The circus industry has suffered tragedies and fatalities over the nearly 200 year history. Most notably for Ringling were 1) a horrendous train wreck on August 22, 1889; and 2) a great fire enveloping the Big Top on July 6, 1944. The fire haunts me to this day.
Hung on a wall, tucked in a corner inside the Circus Museum was an old newspaper article. As a middle school-age kid, I wandered around as the article caught my eye. I still don’t know why since it was in black and white, and yellowed with age. I remember standing in the corner reading about the fatal fire. On July 6, 1944 in Hartford, Conn., the hot, stale air caught fire beside the Big Top. The fire was fast, fierce, and deadly. One hundred and sixty-eight people died. Over 700 injured. At least 50 animals were killed. The article was sad, but it was history. The pictures fascinated me. I stood there staring at them. I continued reading the exhibit documents. Some children were victims of the fire. That made me very sad. I continued to read. There was one female child, a child with blonde hair—between the ages of 6-8 possibly—who sustained fatal burns. The bodies were laid out underneath a large tent for identification. No one came to positively identify this child. This broke my heart. She became known as “Little Miss 1565.” The number was assigned in numeric order to the unidentified bodies in the county. This story haunted me.
I dreamt of being under the Big Top when the fire starts. That blonde girl haunted my dreams. She visited for several years. In my dreams, amongst the flames, she stood before me. And we run, run toward the exit. We never made it out.
Some years passed; I grew up. At some point I remembered the girl and started researching. I was relieved when I located an article where on May 8, 1991, she was finally identified as Eleanor Emily Clark. Her remains were removed; she was interred with her family. Finally, she is at peace.
I never returned to a circus after reading the article. They didn’t interest me. I don’t like carnivals, either. However, I’m sad that Ringling is closing. It’s the end of an age where people were willing to open their minds and consider the impossible. To think, well, just maybe, this does exist.