Emert-Phyllis Raybin, Non-Fiction, ponder provoking, Random fact, True strange Happenings

#676 Ghosts, Hauntings and Mysterious Happenings by Phyllis Raybin Emert

Ghosts, Hauntings and Mysterious Happenings by Phyllis Raybin EmertGhosts, Hauntings and Mysterious Happenings by Phyllis Raybin Emert

Sometimes we cannot explain everything in the world. Sometimes a house is haunted and science cannot explain it away. Sometimes a person has the ability to tell when something is happening hundreds of miles away, without having any connection to that place. Sometimes ghostly apparitions appear at historical locations. Sometimes someone writes a book that predicts something almost exactly as it happens in the future. Sometimes someone can seem to speak to the dead.

These are all very interesting occurrences. This book holds over twenty stories about various unexplained and mysterious circumstances. Prominent haunted places mentioned in this book are The Borley Rectory, The Whaley House, and The Tower of London. Another prominent haunting mentioned is the Bell Witch. Edgar Cayce and Rosemary Brown are both mentioned as mediums.

What I liked

I love mysterious things. If I can’t explain something; it’s very intriguing. I cannot explain any of the events in this book, although I’m quite skeptical on quite a few, especially the mediums. I have a hard time believing in the idea of mediums. Maybe it’s real, but I just don’t know. This book has always fascinated me, I’ve actually had it for a long time, but I’ve never reviewed it on this site. It’s all just so interesting.

It’s a short look at each item mentioned, which gives the reader a good overview of the occurrence.

What I didn’t like

I wish the book had more meat to it. I would love to read more in-depth on some of these subjects. In fact, I have on at least one of the stories in this book. The story in this book, The House on Plum Tree Lane, is actually the subject of the book Night Stalks the Mansion, which I have read and reviewed. Because I’ve read the other book, the story in this book definitely leaves out a lot, but it’s also a little inaccurate. This book states that the house was turned into apartments, which may have been the case, I don’t remember, but the house actually doesn’t exist anymore. It was burned down. This book could have been written before the house burned down, but I have absolutely no idea if it was or not.

Overall

This is quite an interesting book and always has been.

Weigh In

Are you more skeptical or believing?

If you hear of something unexplained, what is your first response?

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History, Non-Fiction, social commentary, True strange Happenings, Zoehfeld-Kathleen Weidner

#586 Ghost Mysteries: Unraveling the World’s Most Mysterious Hauntings by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Ghost Mysteries: Unraveling the World's Most Mysterious Hauntings by Kathleen Weidner ZoehfeldGhost Mysteries: Unraveling the World’s Most Mysterious Hauntings by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Who doesn’t love debunking a good ghost story?

In this book, Kathleen mentions a passel of famous ghost stories, the stories she mentions have been debunked. She mentions the Amityville Horror and famous mediums. She speaks of ectoplasm and seances. The people in this book were all proved to be false, but sometimes reputations stuck.

Most of the things Kathleen debunks in this book are pure trickery. There are no “swamp gas” explanations in this book, even though Kathleen does mention similar causes of hauntings.

What I liked

I don’t think ghosts are “woo-woo.” This means I don’t think the idea of ghosts is out of the realm of natural possibility. Ghosts could be an actual thing as far as I’m concerned. Now, that doesn’t mean people don’t fake it. People fake ghosts and mysteries all the time. Are all ghost sightings fake? No, probably not, but are some of them fake? Definitely. People have used wires and machines that make little bumps on the underside of tables. People have made up elaborate stories and developed entirely new personas based on their elaborate stories. It’s a thing. Despite these people being frauds, it’s always neat to learn about them and how they tricked so many people. What made their stories so plausible? How did they pull it off?

What I didn’t like

Kathleen does not dismiss the existence of ghosts. She simply says some people faked it. What she fails to mention are other possible causes. Most of the people in this book, all of them probably, were faking it. What about swamp gas? What about psychosis? What about radon? What about sleep paralysis? Going deeper and darker–what about possible demonic possession because of an overall fostering of bad feelings in a location? Does a location have to have suffered a terrible death for there to be something bad there? These things are not viable explanations for everyone, but to some, they are.

I happen to know that the whole Amityville thing was a fraud, at least from what I’ve found through research, but I also happen to know that an acting crew who was doing a movie based on the original story was plagued by unexplained phenomena. Were they all crazy? Or did some bad spirit decide to feed off of the fear from the false story?

I mention these things to point out that there are further explanations besides “someone made it up.” Maybe it was just the wind and everybody involved wasn’t a bunch of big fakers. Honestly, I think these people were all big fakers, but that’s not the case with every ghost story a person comes across.

Overall

This was an interesting little book about the fakers of the supernatural.

Weigh In

Do you think false ghost stories could foster a real ghost?

Do you think some of these fakers believed what was going on?

Collected Works, History, Non-Fiction, True strange Happenings

#420 Ghosts of the Carolina Coasts by Terrance Zepke

Ghosts of the Carolina Coasts by Terrance ZepkeGhosts of the Carolina Coasts by Terrance Zepke

I recently went on a short trip to the outer banks of North Carolina. At the Cape Hatteras lighthouse visitor center I picked up a book by a somewhat local author and endeavored to read it. I mostly read this book on the ferry from Hatteras island to Ocracoke island. Ocracoke totally being where Blackbeard liked to hang out, maybe I’ll write about that later. Yes, the real Blackbeard, for real, liked to hang out there.

This is a collection of local ghost stories. The ghost stories are both from North Carolina and South Carolina. They mainly concern the coasts, as mentioned, but some of the areas mentioned in the stories are further inland.

There is an important thing you must know about books like this. You may not believe in ghosts, whatever, it’s your choice, but that doesn’t mean these stories don’t have merit. These stories are about history. Most of these stories surround a real-life event and the aftermath of that event. There would have been a record of a man burning down a saloon because he felt jilted. The story that happens afterwards may be real or it may not be real. These stories have ingrained themselves into the local lore of the areas they concern. They’re retold for their shock value and creep value, but the history of the story gets transported right along with the creepy.

Terrance has written a few of these books, but I chose this one, primarily because it was the cheapest. Unfortunately, unlike The Carl Sandburg Home, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse visitor center doesn’t have a book stamp that says you bought the book there. I was a bit disappointed.

I also bought this book because I like ghost stories.

One of the more memorable tales in this book was about Blackbeard. Supposedly, he fell for a young woman in the area. He liked her; she didn’t like him. She said she was about to be married and she loved her fiance just so much. Blackbeard was kind if irritated about this, so he cut off the fiance’s finger and gave it to this woman. The fiance was never found. The bride was upset and would wait on the docks for her fiance to see if she could see him. Later, supposedly, she did marry Blackbeard, I guess because he was there, Ocracoke island only has about 900 residents these days, I’m sure there were less back then, there probably wasn’t much of a choice. Supposedly, you can see her ghost waiting on Blackbeard or her fiance to return, sometimes.

Another story concerned the area I was staying in. The area is called Buxton and it’s on Hatteras island. The story goes that a young man went to a voodoo woman for a love potion, but he didn’t follow directions and the girl became obsessed with him. He wanted out; he told her so, but she killed herself. He became distraught and lived in the empty house of the voodoo woman for the rest of his life.

There was another story concerning the Hilton Head lighthouse. A lighthouse keeper lived there with his daughter. He got caught in a storm one night and suffered a heart attack on the steps of the lighthouse. His daughter went looking for him and also died in the storm due to exposure. The story goes that a man and a little girl can be seen on the island from time to time.

The story of Roanoke was also in the book. No one knows what happened to those people. We can guess, but no one knows. The first English child born in what is now the United States, Virginia Dare, was born on Roanoke island and subsequently disappeared with the rest of the colony. I think that’s kind of sad. Roanoke has spawned many tales and stories over the years. It’s definitely one of history’s mysteries.

What I liked

Despite the fact that this is a ghost story book, it contains a lot of history, just as I mentioned before. I liked that I was able to learn so much about the area from one little book. I could have learned more. I passed up a few books on Blackbeard. You have to consider that an area like the outer banks of North and South Carolina have been populated for a very, very long time. There are going to be strange bumps in the night and history upon history. There are secrets upon secret.

I don’t care who you are, an entire colony of people just disappearing is weird. What happened to them? Were they murdered? Did they turn native? Did aliens abduct them? Who knows? They didn’t leave a lot of clues besides the word “Croatoan,” carved in a tree. That’s it. It’s highly fascinating.

What I didn’t like

I can’t really say there was anything I didn’t like about the book. It was short, so maybe that was something I didn’t like. It didn’t have pictures, well, it did, but I was hoping for actual photographs, it has a few, but not for every story. I would like to have seen pictures of some of these areas spoken of in the stories. Like I said, a few of the stories had photographs, but not all of them. I think it would be really neat to see a picture of this place or that place, this coast line, this dock, this bay and so on.

Overall

Here is a hint for you… if you want to learn about an area you’re traveling to, buy a local ghost story book by a local author. You’ll get the local history as well as the local lore and you won’t have to spend a ton of money doing so.



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Collected Works, History, Non-Fiction, True strange Happenings, Zepke-Terrance
One-elevenbooks

Thoughts and Ponders

Validity and the Ghost Story

Yes, that is Caspar. I am aware that today’s children have no idea who he is, but let’s go on. On this particular short that friendly fox you see actually gets killed and turned into a ghost. Caspar and the ghost fox finally get to play together without interruption, but don’t you think that is kind of morbid, especially considering this whole thing is geared towards children?

Anyway, I’m not writing to talk about Caspar the Friendly Ghost, I am here to talk about the idea of truth in a ghost story. As I have mentioned before, we have a fascination with ghost stories, especially when it gets to be around Halloween time. The idea of an afterlife in any form peeks our imagination.

All ghost stories are not true. If you’re more of a skeptic you’re more of the belief that no ghost stories are true. For the sake of an argument, let’s say that there are some true ghost stories and some made up ghost stories. The made up stuff comprises the two teenagers artmake out point getting spooked by a headless apparition or something equally as stupid. Let’s say our real ghost stories are more like experiences with doors slamming on their own or some such thing. So we have two varieties of stories.

The thing both of these story types have in common is that they can both be scary. A personal story about doors opening and closing on their own can be equally as scary as something like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a short story treasure. We love the story. I love the old cartoon of it. In fact, I need to find that somewhere on the internet so I can watch it this month. Does the fact that The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is completely made up offer any difference to its value? In ways, I am undecided on this fact.

On the one hand, I enjoy when stories are based on a truth. I enjoy retellings of the truth. I like memoirs.I like the idea that these things actually happened to people. Stories that actually happen to people just have a little extra edge. Yeah, it’s nice if you write a story about a horrific murder mystery, but if you write a non-fiction book based on a real murder mystery it’s so much more interesting. I think it’s worth so much more. When I read a story that is true I can actually do research on the people afterwards. I actually do that quite often. I want to know more of the story. That is possible when the story is true.

If I happen upon a ghost story that is true I can look up the people involved. I can look up the area. I actually have info to back the story up. I do really like that I have more than just the person’s account to validate their story.

I also have to remember that this person could just be full of junk. They could be lying. Does that make their story any less scary? I think if it was real it makes the idea hit a little closer to home. If someone you know tells a story of how they saw a ghost, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. If this thing can happen to your friend it can happen to you. That makes it scary.

I have to be honest, I am more of a fan of true ghost stories over well-written ghost stories. True ghost stories are just so much more tangible even if the ghost in the story is not.

With all this being said, I do enjoy a nice spooky story that isn’t true from time to time. Edgar Allan Poe could write some amazing spooky stories. Stephen King is the master of the spooky story. Those stories aren’t real, but they’re still scary. In fact, I think in ways fictional stories can get spookier than true stories. True stories are constrained by things like perceptions, laws of physics, time constraints, and etc.. Fictional ghost stories aren’t held to those same standards. Fictional stories don’t have to stop when the sun comes up. By this I mean that more can be crammed into a fictional ghost story than in a real ghost story. Real ghost stories are often very short in duration. They are often made up of instances over periods of time rather than one continuous story. Fictional ghost stories can be continuous. There is no need to let up. The scares can just keep coming.

In the end, I’m still leaning towards favoring true ghost stories because I can back them up somewhat. I may change my mind, but for now, this is my opinion.


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Thoughts and Ponders

Witches, Ghosts and Edgar Allan Poe

It’s that time of year again. It’s the time of year when leaves fall off the trees and places of summer fun turn into creepy haunts. In the summer time it wouldn’t be any problem to go out into the night to catch some lightning bugs in a nearby field, but in the fall, the field becomes a little unnerving and all the lightning bugs are gone. I don’t quite know what it is about the fall that makes up think creepy thoughts. Is it because cooler weather is notorious for bringing death? Is it because we celebrate things like All Hallows Eve and The Day of the Dead in the fall?

Since this month is the king of creepy months, I have decided to try to focus on a few creepy things. I’ll read some books about witches, I’ll read some books about ghosts. I’m also going to really try to get some Edgar Allan Poe into the mix. It is true that Stephen King is our modern-day scare master, but back in the day, Edgar Allan Poe was your man when you wanted to read a creepy story. I actually have an entire anthology of works by Poe, which I might spotlight this month. I’m also going to try to spotlight a few creepy stories we’ve all heard, but may not remember that we’ve heard.

I’m currently reading Wicked again. It’s not exactly creepy, but it does provide a more adult twist to a traditional series of children’s books, although, I don’t think Baum wrote entirely for children. His work contained many satires about society, or maybe what he thought society should be. Witches are an interesting topic while we’re at it. I’m not going to read the Harry Potter series for the month of October. Even though it did get more adult as it progressed, it’s not really October material. I don’t actually have a lot of books about witches or characters that are witches. I did read the Physick Book of Deliverance Dane a couple of years ago. It was an interesting story that centered around the Salem witch trials with a little bit of paranormal thrown in. I also read The Heretic’s Daughter, which is about a woman accused of witchcraft and a daughter who goes along with it. There is nothing paranormal about that story other than the imaginations of the people who cried witch. I don’t know why I don’t have more books about the Salem witch trials. It was definitely an interesting period in history that has many things to consider. Ergot? Fear of the unfamiliar? What caused all the unrest?

Everyone in my family has a ghost story which probably explains why I have no problem with ghost stories. Let me differentiate here. I don’t like ghost stories like The Ring or The Grudge. I like stories that hinge more around real-life occurrences in the lives of every day people. There was a series that came on television, not sure if it still comes on or not because I don’t have cable or satellite. The series was called A Haunting. The entire show centered around the stories of families who claimed terrible happenings in one house or the other. A movie was actually based off of one of the episodes. The movie didn’t do too well. It was too Hollywood-ized for most people’s tastes, I believe. The thing about the show was that is portrayed things in a very real light. You don’t have to believe what the people said, I’m talking about the practicality of the situations they were facing. If you knew your house was haunted would you try to leave? There were several episodes where a family wanted to leave their house so much, but there was no way to afford a move. Can you imagine being in that type of situation? I would just call someone to get rid of the ghost(s), I don’t think I would leave, but, then again, I might. I think there could only be so much a person could take of living in a creepy house. So, for this month, I’m going to focus more on true life stories of ghosts rather fictional books about ghosts. You may think it’s all fictional but the group you belong to in that thought isn’t that large.

Edgar Allan Poe was weird. He married his cousin. He died very young. The situation surrounding his death is strange. He was a drug addict, but the man could write. He had an amazing gift for suspense. Poe’s stories weren’t like the scary stories these days. Today’s stories require constant blood and guts to keep your attention. Poe could do that with only a few words. Most of Poe’s works were rather short. He is credited with the modern-day short story formula. Poe was such an interesting character himself. That fact makes reading his stories so much more interesting. I know there was a terrible movie made about Poe just a few months ago. Obviously, it was horrible because nobody watched it. I do have a book about the instances surrounding Poe’s death that I am going to try to read this month.

I might also try to squeeze in a few vampires, werewolves, zombies, goblins and so forth. I’m not going to promise anything though. Honestly, the only vampire books I have are the Twilight books, well, I take that back, I do have a novel called The Historian. It’s a terribly slow novel that has something to deal with Dracula and Turkey. I also actually have the novel Dracula. Maybe I will take a crack at that again. I’ve read it a couple of times. I’m not a fan of the letter format that is throughout the book, but it is a classic. The only zombie type book I have is I am Legend. Come to think of it, October is probably the perfect month to read that novel. Maybe I’ll try to sneak it in as well. It’s a rather short book.

All, in all, October is the perfect month for reading spooky stories. It’s cooler outside so you want to stay inside where it’s warm. It gets darker earlier. You can spend hours and hours by lamplight reading stories you love.


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Thoughts and Ponders

The Fascination with Ghost Stories

It’s getting to be that time of year again. All Hallows Eve and The Day of the Dead are right around the corner. It’s the time of year when people will venture into haunted houses and corn mazes in the night. It’s the time of year when people sit around a campfire in the evening and tell ghost stories.

We’re actually pretty fascinated with ghost stories as a culture. This picture to the left is a depiction of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Irving wrote a brilliant story, but we like to tell it anyways. I especially love the cartoon version of this from way back when. I was never too into the movie with Johnny Depp.

Ghost stories are something that is passed around my family with some regularity. I know I have mentioned this before, but everyone in my family has a ghost story. I don’t know if we’re just weird or unlucky, maybe both. My family aren’t the only people fascinated with the stories of ghosts. Many people are. Lots of people are. In fact, in the early 1900s-ish, there with a large spiritualist movement. People were doing seances all the time. Some of them were proved to be big fakes, but the trend never really left.

These days there are a lot of people who consider themselves to be above the belief in ghosts, but there are still plenty of people who give credence to the idea that there are ghosts. Those people are the ones who pass on the stories. They pass on the creepy things they themselves experienced. They pass on the experiences of their third cousin’s brother. They pass on urban legends. They pass on local folklore. These are the people who keep the stories alive. The thing is, we’ve never grown out of the idea of a good ghost story.

We like to feel the chill on our skin as someone tells something especially spooky. We like to think about the idea. We like the ask why. People have different reasons for liking ghost stories. Some people just want to be scared. They just want to experience that little thrill. These are the people into scary movies. I’m not one of those people. Others have a vested interest in the idea of ghosts. If you have an eternal soul what happens to it when you die? These are the questions those people ask. Did grandma stay in the house? Is Rover haunting the bathroom? Some people are just downright curious. They’re drawn to the idea of the unexplained. Your flower-pot levitating in the air and flying against the wall is very interesting to these people.

Each of these groups of people gets something out of a ghost story. The spook-seekers get the thrill of something scary. Yes, of course it’s scary if you wake up and see a see-through person standing beside your bed. These people love the goosebumps that run up and down their arms when they hear the story.

The life-after-death crowd gets some confirmation that life goes on. Their questions aren’t answered though. Why isn’t this ghost in heaven, or hell? Why is this ghost wandering around instead of “crossing over”? Is there some unfinished business? In addition, within this group you have elements who believe that you have such a thing as bad spirits and good spirits. Which one is in your house? These are the things that are on the mind of the life-after-death crowd.

The last crowd is attracted to the unexplained. Some of these people are so into the idea behind a ghost story that they seek out the unexplained. They may hear a ghost story around a camp fire and then take off with their camera and tape recorder to try to catch a ghost. These are often the people to spook themselves out, but they will readily tell a ghost story over and over again. This is also the crowd that is likely to use a Ouija board or try a séance. By the way, using a Ouija board isn’t exactly the best idea. Call my family superstitious, but we won’t touch Ouija boards.

It’s interesting in all the different ‘whys’ concerning people interested in ghost stories. Anything that is unexplained can be very interesting. Of course there are those who would ruin your fun and say you were just seeing some swamp gas or you were hallucinating. How many presidents have seen Abraham Lincoln walking around the White House? I’ll give you a hint, it’s several.

The tradition of ghost stories has been around for a very long time. Even in the Bible when Jesus walks on water a couple of the guys are a little creeped out because they think he is a ghost. Since then we’ve just passed around more and more ghost stories. The Tower of London is haunted. The White House is haunted. The Winchester Mansion is haunted, although, Sarah Winchester was a wee bit odd. I’ve heard some creepy ghost stories from Japan. We just keep passing these tales on for one reason or another.

No matter what camp you’re in, ghost stories aren’t going away any time soon.


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