Happy Friday the 13th

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Happy Friday the 13th

According to lore, Friday the 13th is a very bad day. Here are three stories that show the 13th is not that bad:

  1. Founded in 1882, the 13th Club was created to disprove any negative connotations of the date. Male members met on the 13th day of every month, on the 13th hour, to dine with 13 members per table.
  2. During the 1930s-40s, residents in French Lick, Indiana had to affix bells around the necks of black cats.
  3. Heavy metal music was born on Friday, February 13th, 1970 when Black Sabbath released their self-titled album.

Valdosta (GA) Ring Camera Footage Captures a Reflection–Not a Partial Manifestation

On February 20, 2020, a supposed Reddit user uploaded a video he claimed to be of his Valdosta, Georgia home’s Ring security camera, hanging in his carport, capturing a ghost manifesting in his driveway. The are several large holes in his assessment.

The video clip, with extensive editing to zoom in on the light source, was posted on YouTube and, expectedly, went viral. The video has received over 18,000 views. The online account, The Hidden Underbelly 2.0, boldly states that this is a “partial manifestation.” Case closed. However, it’s not a manifestation.

Debate continues on what was captured on the footage. The security camera is set up at the back of the carport, an open garage with side walls but not a closing garage door. Parked outside the carport are two vehicles: a truck and a car. A light source shifts from the truck, on the left, to the car, on the right. Some speculate that the “ghost” is jumping from truck to car. I did not see that. I saw a light source moving from the back of the truck across to the front of the car.

In the paranormal field, a manifestation is when an image is clearly discernable. A full body apparition’s manifestation would be where witnesses can clearly make out the figure. A partial manifestation is when parts of the body are clearly visible. These are sometimes called “semi-formed ghost.” The video does not show a partial manifestation of a ghost.

The “story” told by the Reddit user is that he was notified that the security camera was tripped. He reviewed the video and found the “image.” Generally, when a security camera is tripped, lights go on. Here, the lights were already on.

The camera’s placement is also problematic. The camera is affixed to the back wall of the carport. Carports are 20-21 feet deep. (The purpose is to house cars.) The camera displays out from the back wall and shows the side door to the house on the right. It also shows the two vehicles parked in front. They appear to be roughly 10 feet past the carport. According to Ring, the security camera’s motion detection zone is a range of 270 degrees side-to-side and 30 feet forward. The image is passed the front of the cars; therefore, out of range for the motion detector to go off.

When the motion sensor goes off, Ring may push a notification to the owner. Instead of walking to the door and looking outside, the owner loaded the video. This seems odd. It is easier to look out the window or open the door to see the culprit rather than watch the video. However, the owner may not be home. Then one would question why the lights are on.

We may never know what the homeowner was thinking. I cannot locate the supposed Reddit posting. None of the articles actually link to that initial post. Instead, everything is linked to the YouTube account, whose identity is unknown; however, he does answer questions as if he was the owner.

The carport was well lit. The cars reflected community lights. This is probably a case where the camera captured a car passing, someone walking his dog, or a cat heading home. (Personally, I think it’s a deer.) It should not be hailed as the definitive evidence of a “partial manifestation.” Because…It’s not.

Abandoned Dollhouses: Collectibles for Adults

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Assemblage artist Juli Steel creates miniature vignettes using upcycled materials. Her Instagram and Etsy shop theme: “Repurposed art with a twist.” Steel’s Instagram page TwistedCopperForest, https://www.instagram.com/twistedcopperforest/, has over 17,000 followers. Instead of the idyllic dollhouse, Steel’s creations explore the abandoned. Steel’s OOAK, one-of-a-kind, creations may be considered dark; however, they’re very popular. And she’s not the only one exploring this theme.

Canadian artist Heather Benning rebuilt an old farmhouse, removed one side of the building, and installed Plexiglas, thus creating a life-sized dollhouse. She debuted the art installation June 9, 2007. Left to the elements, the house burned down March 23, 2013.

Dollhouses and dollhouse accessories are big business. Peruse the online auction site Invaluable, https://www.invaluable.com/miniature-dollhouse-furniture/sc-JLQRF480JR/, and one can see how expensive the hobby may become. More affordable pieces may be purchased on Etsy. D. Thomas Fine Miniatures, https://www.dthomasfineminiatures.com/, is more than an online miniature shop. It offers an eclectic mix of objects for sale, as well as, articles on and about the industry—an industry that dates back to the late 1500s.

Early forms of the modern-day dollhouse were meant for adults. In the 17th century, “Nuremberg Kitchens” were used as educational devices to help young women learn how to keep house. The most well-known example is Petronella Oortman’s cabinet house (or “baby house”), which was detailed in the limited series The Miniaturist. The house was a large piece of furniture where rooms were replicated from the actual house. Only wealthy families could afford this extravagance. It wasn’t until World War II that dollhouses became toys for children.

Mass production of dollhouses and furniture became more affordable after the war. Production was cheaper by using plastic instead of wood for the furniture and plywood for the structures. The ratio of scale indicates the intended audience. Dollhouses and accessories for adults have the scale of 1:12, one inch to one foot. The scale for children’s toys is 1:18 generally; however, some scales are larger.

Collecting and furnishing dollhouses are a popular hobby. Artists like Steel are re-imagining dollhouses by breathing life into discarded dollhouses and furniture. The online bulletin board site Pinterest is flush with pages showcasing abandoned dollhouses. What may have started as Halloween decorations, these abandoned houses are unique and reflect our interest in all things haunted.

AHS Teases with Orville Peck’s “Dead of Night”

American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy took to Twitter to tease Season 10, currently unnamed. The buzz circled around former child actor Macauley Culkin joining the ensembled cast. For me, it was the remix of Orville Peck’s “Dead of Night.”

Co-creators Murphy and Brad Falchuk ingeniously added songstress Stevie Nicks into season 3, “Coven” (2014). Nicks’ music aided white witch Misty Day, played by Lily Rabe, as she mixed natural remedies. Several Fleetwood Mac songs appeared during the season: most notably were “Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)” and “Seven Wonders.” Fans rejoiced, and Nicks returned performing “Gypsy” in Season 8’s “Apocalypse” (2018).

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks – Episode 310 (Airs Wednesday, January 8, 10:00 PM e/p) –Pictured: (L-R) Lily Rabe as Misty Day, Stevie Nicks as herself — CR. Michele K. Short/FX

Murphy and Falchuk have a good ear for music. Opening Season 10 with Peck’s sultry vocals (a combination of Johnny Cash and Chris Isaac) and the haunting lyrics is a stroke of brilliance.

Here’s the link: https://www.instagram.com/p/B9CSaAaJdZo/. Enjoy!

The Wyckoff Villa: Not Haunted but Still For Sale

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A 1920s image of Wyckoff Villa.

The Wyckoff Villa is not haunted. Further, stating that it is hasn’t help sell it. The abandoned structure has been on the real estate market since 2012, and still, no one bites.

Less than a mile south of the Canadian border sits Carleton Island. The island sits within a chain of islands in the St. Lawrence River known collectively as Thousand Islands. Accessible only by boat, the island has three burial grounds and 34 homes. The most infamous home is Wyckoff Villa, also known as Carleton Island Villa.

Wyckoff Villa was intended to join the ranks of other stately mansions on the other islands. Architect William Henry Miller designed the 15,000 square foot home, and building commenced in 1894. The owner was former Union Captain William Ozmun Wyckoff. Wyckoff returned from the Civil War to become a lawyer and court stenographer. Through the stenographer’s job, Wyckoff learned about a new invention: the typewriter.

The first commercially successful typewriters were sold by E. Remington and Sons in 1874. William Wyckoff began selling the typewriters on a part-time basis, eventually leaving his court-appointed stenographer position to form the Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict company. In 1886, Remington sold the entire typewriter division to Wyckoff, Seamans & Benedict, and William became the company president. Wyckoff became a typewriter tycoon.

Shortly thereafter, Wyckoff and his wife, Frances Valeria Ives Wyckoff, began searching for a location to build a summer home. They settled on Carleton Island.

However, tragedy would follow. Construction progressed through 1894 and into 1895. A month before the home was ready, Mrs. Wyckoff died. On June 1, 1895, Frances died from either cancer or a heart attack (depending on the source). William moved into the enormous home on July 11th. He suffered a heart attack that very night and died.

No one would reside in the home again. The 11-bedroom, 50 room home sits on 6.9 acres. General Electric purchased the land, seeking to demolish the home and build a corporate resort. World War II placed the development on hold, eventually tanking the project entirely in the 1940s, when the company gutted the interior. Fixtures and material were stripped from inside. In fact, the marble underneath the 5-story tower was removed, thus causing the structure to become structurally unsound. The tower was eventually torn down.

The current owners have marketed the home as a tear-down (versus a fixer-upper as it would cost a reported $10-15 million) with the waterfront land sub-divided for future homes. The realtor receives weekly enquires; however, no one seems to want to purchase. Some media sites have labeled the villa as haunted.

The villa is not haunted. There isn’t one credible story claiming that the house is haunted. It has been described as creepy and spooky, which may be the case, but there aren’t any reliable stories showing evidence that the villa is haunted. Here, the lack of evidence is clear.

What is not clear is why no one has purchased the lot with the villa or any of the other lots. The price tag may be a reason; it is listed for $495,000. Or it may be that there aren’t any year-round residents or paved roads.

Lucy the Elephant on Airbnb

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According to Airbnb, novelty lodgings are up 70%. Seems people want to spend the night in odd locations. Beginning next month, travelers can stay at the iconic Lucy the Elephant.

Lucy’s story is complicated. Lucy was built in 1881 by James V. Lafferty in Margate City, New Jersey. Her designs are even patented. In 1902, a family of 6 rented her for their home. They renovated her interior and added a second floor. Unfortunately, she endured natural disasters and abandonment.

Lucy the Elephant became a roadside American attraction. In 1969, Lucy was slated for demolition but salvaged by a group of local residents. By 1970, the Save Lucy Committee, LLC was formed, and Lucy was saved. She moved to a city-owned property and restored. Over 132,000 tourists visit her annually. Now she has become an Airbnb listing.

Through a partnership with Airbnb, which provided a generous donation as well as furnishing the interior, and the Save Lucy Committee, tourists may book overnight stays within her belly. The cost of $138 per night denotes her age. The price includes a gift certificate to a local restaurant for dinner, breakfast, and a mobile bathroom parked beside her.

Lucy truly is an iconic piece of Americana. In addition, she is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Although Lucy is not haunted, she makes for an interesting destination. Bookings begin March 5th. For more information, visit airbnb.com/lucy.

Project Blue Book Adds Roswell to the Story

History Channel’s popular Project Blue Book kicked off Season 2 on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 examining the Roswell, New Mexico UFO sighting. The incident is known as the “Roswell Incident.” To be clear, the infamous organization never investigated Roswell.

In 1995, the GAO (General Accounting Office) published The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert. The Air Force led the multi-agency investigation. The conclusion was that there wasn’t a government cover-up nor did a UFO land in the area. Further, the report supported the well-known theory that a weather balloon crashed in the desert (https://www.archives.gov/research/military/air-force/ufos). Admittedly, UFO enthusiasts were not pleased.

Americans’ views on UFO sightings have remained consistent since 1996. According to the 2019 Gallup poll, 33% of Americans believe UFOs have visited Earth. However, only 16% have witnessed a UFO. Interestingly, 56% believe that those who have seen a UFO did, in fact, see something and were not imagining or hallucinating. An overwhelming 75% believe life exists on other planets. However, “life” does not necessarily equate to extraterrestrial creatures.

UFO-themed TV shows and movies are plentiful, and Project Blue Book capitalizes on that interest. Project Blue Book showcases the work of Dr. J. Allen Hynek. (See https://thehauntedlibrarian.com/2019/02/05/5-facts-about-dr-j-allen-hynek-and-project-blue-book/ for more information on Hynek). Entering the second season, the show focused on Roswell, the number one travel destination to UFO believers. The crash in Roswell occurred in July 1947, 6 years before Project Blue Book formed. The project ran from 1952-1969. Show creator David O’Leary is giving screen time to go back to the beginning in American UFO lore. He’s hoping to bridge Roswell with Hynek’s participation. Hopefully, the series will maintain Hynek’s credibility and tone down the theatrics.

Project Blue Book airs Tuesdays at 10 PM EST on the History Channel. It will debut in the United Kingdom on Syfy Channel at 9 PM on March 12th.

Mysterious Animal Carcass Surely Not a Rhesus Monkey

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Erika Constantine set Facebook abuzz with her photographs and video of a mysterious animal carcass she discovered washed up on a popular South Carolina beach. Many people proffered suggestions ranging from raccoon to Rhesus monkey. Spoiler Alert: The deteriorated skeletal remains found on the beach at Melton Peter Demetre Park is not an escaped monkey from “Monkey Island.”

“Monkey Island” is a nickname for Morgan Island, South Carolina. Over 3,500 Rhesus monkeys live on 400 acres in a free-range environment. In 1979, 1,400 monkeys were relocated from Puerto Rico to live isolated from humans. Although owned by the National Institute of Allergy + Infectious Disease, a division of the National Institutes of Health, the monkeys reside on a portion of land leased from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to Charles River Laboratories, Inc. Humans are not permitted on the island. Visitors may travel by boat and view them from afar.

The island is 100 miles south of Demtre Park. A monkey could not have traveled or floated to be washed ashore. See the map with a black line showing the distance by air. The blue line shows the path the monkey would have taken to get from Monkey Island (south point) to Demtre Park (north point). It could not have traveled on its own.

Further, the skeletal remains do not resemble a Rhesus monkey skeleton. The skull does not match the skull of a Rhesus monkey.

Hopefully, the remains are properly examined, and an announcement made identifying the animal.