Netflix offer an original 6-episode horror series set in Cairo, Egypt. Paranormal (2020-) is based on the book series by Ahmed Khaled Tawfik and set in the 1960s. Dr. Refaat Ismail, an Egyptian hematologist, who lives by a set a laws based off of Murphy’s Law, loosely phrased “laws” of nature dating back to the 1940s. Dr. Refaat becomes the city’s “go-to guy for paranormal” activity. This low-budget series is deeply satisfying and addictive.
Netflix offers a dubbed version. Each episode features a different paranormal phenomena which links the entire season. The series works in a lot of historical references. Pay attention and try to catch them. Netflix has not announced a second season; however, this is standard for the streaming service which generally waits several weeks before making a decision. Tune in and expect to emerge several hours later.
The creator of Raggedy Ann and her brother, Andy, was John “Johnny” Barton Gruelle (1880-1938).
Gruelle applied for a patent on May 28, 1915. The patent was approved on September 7, 1915 as No. 31,073. The patent was good for 14 years.
Gruelle and his wife Myrtle had one daughter, Marcella. She was born on August 18, 1902. During 1915, when Marcella was 13-years-old, she received a smallpox vaccine. There is speculation that either the vaccine was administered without her parents’ consent or that a second dose was administered. Marcella suffered consequences from the vaccine. However, the vaccine did not kill her.
Gruell had already submitted a patent application for the famous rag doll prior to Marcella falling ill. Marcella died on November 8, 1915 in Wilton, Connecticut.
Despite urban legends, Gruelle did not create the doll after Marcella’s death. Nor did he design the doll in response to her failing health. These are inconvenient coincidences.
Marcella did not die from the smallpox vaccine. According to her death certificate, she died from heart disease. This could mean several things, and it is possible that the vaccine negatively impacted her heart. However, this will never be known for certain.
Johnny Gruelle experienced great stress and died from heart failure on January 9, 1938 in Miami Springs, Florida at the age of 57.
The family is buried together in the Silvermine Cemetery, New Canaan, Fairfield County, Connecticut.
During the Victorian Era, body snatchers dug up recently buried corpses to sell the organs. These people became known as Resurrection Men. They differed from grave robbers, who merely removed valuables from tombs. Resurrection Men stole bodies, and the practice ran rampant as medical studies and schools expanded during this time period. Often families guarded deceased relatives until and after burial. In order to safeguard the human remains, new burial practices were set in place.
Internment methods included burying humans in iron coffins. Almond Dunbar Fisk invented the Fisk Metallic Burial Case in 1844 in Queens, NY. A patent for these air-tight coffins was awarded in 1848. His father-in-law, Harvey Raymond, joined him in business to form Fisk & Raymond. These coffins proved effective against body snatching; however, they came with a high cost.
A cost-effective solution would be the installation of mortsafes across the grave. Invented in 1816, the mortsafe was a contraption of iron plates secured with rods and then padlocked. The grate system would safeguard the gravesite and coffin until the body had begun to decompose, which would make it useless to body snatchers. Churches and cemeteries rented the devises out.
Watchtowers were also built. Residents formed watch groups, known as “watching societies,” that patrolled the cemeteries; however, graves were still desecrated. Many found that a combination of constructed watchtowers and mortsafes protected the recently deceased.
The most famous Resurrection Men were William Burke (1792-1829) and William Hare (dates unknown), who found body snatching quite lucrative. Burke and Hare were accused of murdering 16 people in 1828 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Hare and his wife ran a boarding house. When a customer named Donald died on November 29, 1827, Hare and Burke decided to sell the body to Dr. Robert Knox, who taught anatomy classes. The money was great, and the two conspired to begin killing for profit. It is widely speculated that both spouses knew of and possibly assisted in the murders.
Margaret Docherty was the pair’s last victim. She was lured to her death on October 31, 1828. Ann and James Gray, guests lodging at Hare’s house discovered her body. Hare was offered a plea deal, and he turned on Burke. Interesting enough, the police did not have enough evidence to prosecute either for Docherty’s murder. Instead, they relied on Hare’s confession to press charges against Burke and his second wife Helen “Nelly” McDougal. Hare could not be compelled to testify against his wife, Margaret Laird, who was subsequently released.
Burke was tried for three murders and found guilty of one. He was sentenced to hang. His wife was acquitted, though not formally found not guilty. Burke was hanged on January 28, 1829. Some 25,000 people watched. His corpse was dissected on February 1st. His skeleton remains on display to this day at the Anatomical Museum, Edinburgh. The History of Surgery Museum, housed in the Surgeons’ Hall Museums complex, houses Burke’s written confession, his death mask, and a pocketbook supposedly made from his skin. All can be viewed online, https://museum.rcsed.ac.uk/history-of-surgery-museum.
There are no reports of what happened to Hare; his wife, Margaret; or Helen after they were escorted separately out of Edinburgh.
England passed the Anatomy Act of 1832, which essentially ended the practice of stealing corpses to sell to medical schools in England. However, the lure of stealing bodies and performing experiments still happens—though not nearly as many as back when the Resurrectionists were paid top-dollar and not asked any questions.
The History Center of Olmsted County (Rochester, MN) held a Creepy Doll 2019 Contest last year. The “contestants” were vintage, old, and well-worn. The contest was very popular, with a circa 1850’s handmade doll missing her right arm winning. (See https://thehauntedlibrarian.com/2019/10/25/creepy-doll-contest/) All nine dolls were placed on exhibit. This year offers nine new—well, technically old—dolls for consideration. In-person voting started on October 1st, and virtual voting runs October 14-24 (links below). The winning doll will be announced on October 28th and will be crowned on Halloween. Learn more about the dolls Thursday, October 22nd when Dan Nowakowski, Curator at the History Center, joins me on The Haunted Librarian Show.
Doll 1: Arsenic and Old Lace; Doll 2: Squeaks; and Doll 3: Stanley Kubrick are displayed above.
Doll 4: Bela Lugosi; Doll 5: Frankenstein; and Doll 6: Shirley Jackson are displayed above.
Doll 7: Victorian; Doll 8: Lady MacBeth; and Doll 9: Mrs. Danvers are displayed above.
Each doll sits in themed vignettes with information regarding provenance, materials, and information regarding the doll. It is quite exciting to see these dolls on display! The center has come up with a clever way to pass down stories of former residents while exposing the collection to a wider audience.
Toy dolls remain popular. According to The Toy Association, retail sales of dolls in the U.S. in 2019 topped $3.22 billion dollars and accounted for nearly 12% of the $27 billion dollar industry. Unfortunately, most dolls don’t make their way into historical centers. That’s why this collection is important. It chronologizes the history of the county.
Although last year, I had a clear favorite, this year is a challenge. I’m leaning toward one of the porcelain beauties. I look forward to voting!
Tune in every Thursday at 9 PM EST on Midnight.FM as I chat with people who are working in the strange and unique.
Instrumental Trans-Communication, commonly known as ITC, is communication with non-living creatures. The communication can be one-way or two-way, where a person converses with the non-living entity. ITC is the bread-and-butter of TV paranormal shows. Further, there are lots of devises you can use to capture this communication. One of the most popular is the Frank’s Box, named after Frank Sumption, who died of a heart attack at the age of 60 in 2014. Even though Frank is credited with inventing the modern Ghost Box, he was not the first. Ghost Boxes have captured the imaginations of inventors and investigators for decades.
Spirit communication can be captured on audio or video. Typically, paranormal investigators incorporate both in an investigation setting up infrared cameras to capture movement and sounds and voice recorders. Many teams have added some form of a spirit box into their repertoire of tools.
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) supposedly stated that he was working on a devise to communicate with spirits. Scientific American author Austin C. Lescarboura clarified Edison’s comments in the October 30, 1920 issue. Edison, much to the disappointment to the Spiritualists, was not working on a devise to communicate with the dead. In fact, he did not believe that it was possible.
In 1941, photographer Attila Von Szalay (dates unknown) recorded “phantom voices” on his 78-rpm records. Working with Raymond Bayless (1920-2004), Von Szalay published these findings in 1959.
During the same year, Friedrich Jurgenson (1903-1987) captured mysterious voices while recording bird calls. Jurgenson claimed his dead mother was attempting to communicate with him.
Jump to 1980 and the supposed Spiricom, devised by George Meek and operated by psychic Bill O’Neil. Ultimately, these “communications” were possibly debunked by Dr. Terrance Peterson. The Spiricom didn’t come to full fruition and sits unused to this day.
Then came Frank Sumption, Sr. In 2002, Frank took a radio and altered it to scan the white noise on the AM band. Frank did not realize a financial boom by making his boxes. Instead, he gave them away. Today, the 180 boxes are highly sought after.
After Frank’s untimely death, interest in ITC communication is as strong as ever. And there are legitimate researchers using spirit boxes and documenting their findings. Check out Tim Woolworth’s collaborative site ITC Voices, http://itcvoices.org/.
Frank’s work paved the way for others to build their version of a ghost box. Beware, there are some who overprice and sensationalize “communication” with the recently deceased. With that in mind, try one out. You may be surprised at the results.
October kicked off with a bang on The Haunted Librarian Show. The new owner of the Haunted Old South Pittsburg Hospital (TN), Ronnie, updated listeners on the progress of cleaning up the favorite destination for paranormal investigation teams. He has a volunteer team totaling 35 people! That’s incredible. But Ronnie had more exciting news for listeners: In 2021, the venue will open a proper museum honoring the doctors, nurses, and staff who tended to the community over the years.
A rare opportunity fell into Ronnie’s lap when the hospital was sold in a tax sale. Ronnie, a paranormal investigator often visited OSPH and experienced some of the most compelling evidence of the location’s haunted reputation. After contemplation, Ronnie decided to purchase the dilapidated hospital but only if he was able to make it part of the Old South Pittsburg community. And he has.
Ronnie and his volunteer team have cleaned and rehabbed the 68,000 square foot facility. Further, he has met with historical society members in order to obtain the true stories of events and people rumored to be haunting the location. Some stories were not accurate; others were embellished. During this time, Ronnie and the staff have spent a lot of time in the building, and the spirits have noticed.
Anyone visiting OSPH prior to its 2018 closure would remember the condition of the building and the grounds. Basically, it wasn’t kept up. Remember, it is a large building. The owner may have lacked staff or funds. No matter the excuse, Ronnie has pledged to make the location safe, inside and outside. During the deep cleans and renovations, Ronnie and the staff have uncovered objects of historical significance to the rural community hospital. A parking lot token was unearthed; a bone saw discovered. While collecting these items and verifying them with the local historical society, Ronnie with the staff developed a plan: They would create a museum to display the items, while also telling the stories of the doctors, nurses, and staff who served the community.
Currently, the museum will be housed in the back of the hospital, where the Emergency Room Entrance is located. The initial plan consists of glass cases holding the items that the volunteers are finding, along with photographs and hospital plans. Next year, 2021, is the anticipated grand opening. In the meantime, book your tickets to the many public events already scheduled or book a private investigation. OSPH is back and open for business. Find out why it is considered one of the most haunted locations in America.
Cyndi Lauper played psychic “Avalon Harmonia” in 5 episodes of the incredibly popular crime show Bones. The guest role allowed Ms. Lauper to share her passion: Tarot Cards. Lauper has read Tarot cards for decades, and she wants to use her hobby to help another passion: Helping LGBTQ youth who find themselves homeless.
In 2008, Cyndi Lauper co-founded True Colors United (https://truecolorsunited.org/), a non-profit organization aimed at helping LGBTQ youth who are homeless. “According to a recent study from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, LGBTQ young people are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ youth.” Their mission is to end LGBTQ youth homelessness. Please consider donating.
Prizeo.com is holding a raffle where one lucky winner will receive a Tarot reading from Ms. Lauper, 2 VIP tickets with a special Meet-and-Greet to one of her future concerts, and loads of merchandise. Raffle tickets with a minimum donation of $10 are entered into the drawing; however, people can purchase ticket bundles that include exclusive items. For instance, a $350 donation/entry comes with an autographed Rider-Waite Original Tarot Card Set. (Swoon) No matter the amount, True Colors United is a most worthy organization. Please consider entering, and if you win, let me know. I’ve entered and hoping many of my readers join in.
≈ Comments Off on Academic Paranormal Degrees–Yes, They Exist
Prestigious colleges across the country housed paranormal programs. One of the most famous was at Duke University, https://thehauntedlibrarian.com/2014/03/30/duke-university-what-happened/. Today, those programs have been extinguished only to re-emerge at small, independent schools. Join me this Thursday, as I talk with Heather Leigh Carroll-Landon, Ph.D. on her experience earning her degree.
As one of the panelists for the new paranormal education group Ghost Education 101, Heather shared how ordinary household gadgets can be used in paranormal investigations. No need to spend a lot of money in order to start your exploration into the unknown.
Tune in for the live show at 9 PM EST or listen via the archives on Midnight.FM.