Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Resurrection Mary

Resurrection Mary is the Chicago area's best-known ghost story. Of the "vanishing hitchhiker" type, the story takes place outside Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois, a few miles southwest of Chicago.
Since the 1930s, several men driving northeast along Archer Avenue between the Willowbrook Ballroom and Resurrection Cemetery have reported picking up a young female hitchhiker. This young woman is dressed somewhat formally and said to have light blond hair, blue eyes, and wearing a white party dress. Some more attentive drivers would sometimes add that she wore a thin shawl, or dancing shoes, and that she had a small clutch purse, and is very quiet. When the driver nears the Resurrection Cemetery, the young woman asks to be let out, whereupon she disappears into the cemetery. According to the Chicago Tribune, "full-time ghost hunter" Richard Crowe claims to have collected "three dozen . . . substantiated" reports of Mary from the 1930s to the present.

The legend says that Mary had spent the evening dancing with a boyfriend at the Oh Henry Ballroom. At some point, they got into an argument and Mary stormed out. Even though it was a cold winter’s night, she thought she would rather face a cold walk home than spend another minute with her boorish boyfriend.
She left the ballroom and started walking up Archer Avenue. She had not gotten very far when she was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, who fled the scene leaving Mary to die. Her parents found her and were grief-stricken at the sight of her dead body. They buried her in Resurrection Cemetery, wearing a beautiful white dancing dress and matching dancing shoes. The hit-and-run driver was never found.

Jerry Palus, a Chicago southsider, reported that in 1939 he met a person who he came to believe was Resurrection Mary at the Liberty Grove and Hall at 47th and Mozart (and not the Oh Henry/Willowbrook Ballroom). They danced and even kissed and she asked him to drive her home along Archer Avenue, of course exiting the car and disappearing in front of Resurrection Cemetery

In 1973, Resurrection Mary was said to have shown up at Harlow's nightclub, on Cicero Avenue on Chicago's southwest side. That same year, a cab driver came into Chet's Melody Lounge, across the street from Resurrection Cemetery, to inquire about a young lady who had left without paying her fare.
There were said to be sightings in 1976, 1978, and 1989, which involved cars striking, or nearly striking, Mary outside Resurrection Cemetery. Mary disappears, however, by the time the motorist exits the car.
She also reportedly burned her handprints into the wrought iron fence around the cemetery, in August 1976, although officials at the cemetery have stated that a truck had damaged the fence and that there is no evidence of a ghost.

Burned section of the front gate bars.

In a January 31, 1979 article in the Suburban Trib, columnist Bill Geist detailed the story of a cab driver, Ralph, who picked up a young woman – "a looker. A blonde. . .she was young enough to be my daughter - 21 tops" – near a small shopping center on Archer Avenue.

"A couple miles up Archer there, she jumped with a start like a horse and said 'Here! Here!' I hit the brakes. I looked around and didn't see no kind of house. 'Where?' I said. And then she sticks out her arm and points across the road to my left and says 'There!'. And that's when it happened. I looked to my left, like this, at this little shack. And when I turned she was gone. Vanished! And the car door never opened. May the good Lord strike me dead, it never opened."
Geist described Ralph as "neither an idiot nor a maniac, but rather [in Ralph's own words] 'a typical 52-year-old working guy, a veteran, father, Little League baseball coach, churchgoer, the whole shot'. Geist goes on to say: "The simple explanation, Ralph, is that you picked up the Chicago area's preeminent ghost: Resurrection Mary.

Sign at a bar across the street from Resurrection Cemetery.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Art of Dissection

The Above images can be seen in the book Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine 1880–1930, by John Harley Warner and James M. Edmonson.

Prohibition or The Noble Experiment

In the history of the United States, Prohibition, also known as The Noble Experiment, is the period from 1919 to 1933, during which the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption were banned nationally as mandated in the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Following significant pressure from the temperance movement, the United States Senate proposed the Eighteenth Amendment on December 18, 1917. Having been approved by 36 states, the 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and effected on January 16, 1920. Some state legislatures had already enacted statewide prohibition prior to the ratification of the 18th Amendment.

The "Volstead Act", the popular name for the National Prohibition Act, passed through Congress over President Woodrow Wilson's veto on October 28, 1919 and established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor. Though the Volstead Act prohibited the sale of alcohol, it did little to enforce the law. The illegal production and distribution of liquor, or bootlegging, became rampant, and the national government did not have the means or desire to try to enforce every border, lake, river, and speakeasy in America.

In fact, by 1925 in New York City alone there were anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs.
Prohibition became increasingly unpopular during the Great Depression, especially in large cities. On March 23, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison Act, allowing the manufacture and sale of certain kinds of alcoholic beverages.
On December 5, 1933, the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment.

Martyrs - 2008

Martyrs, a French horror thriller by director Pascal Laugier, comes out on DVD today. Please do NOT rent/purchase your copy from either Blockbuster or Wal-Mart as they are only offering censored R rated versions.

Yes, this film is very bloody and graphically horrific, but unlike other "torture-porn" flicks, it has a story to tell and - if you can stomach the gore - it's an exquisitely beautiful one.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Dolls Funeral Poem circa 1899

The Doll’s Funeral
When - my - dolly - died, - when - my dolly - died, 
I - sat - on - the - step - and - I - cried - and - cried;

And I couldn't eat any jam and bread, 
'Cause it didn't seem right when my doll was dead. 
And Bridget was sorry as she could be, 
For she patted my head, and "O," said she, 
"To think that the pretty has gone and died!" 
Then I broke out afresh and I cried and cried.

And all the dollies from all around 
Came to see my dolly put under the ground; 
There was Luly Lee and Mary Clack 
Brought their dolls over, all dressed in black; 
And Emiline Hope and Sara Lou 
Came over and brought their dollies, too, 
And all the time I cried and cried, 
'Cause it hurt me so when my dolly died.

We dressed her up in a new white gown, 
With ribbons and laces all around; 
And made her a coffin in a box 
Where my brother keeps his spelling blocks; 
And we had some prayers, and a funeral, too; 
And our hymn was "The Two Little Girls in Blue." 
But for me, I only cried and cried, 
'Cause it truly hurt when my dolly died.

We dug her a grave in the violet bed, 
And planted violets at her head; 
And we raised a stone and wrote quite plain, 
"Here lies a dear doll who died of pain." 
And then my brother, said he, "Amen," 
And we all went back to the house again, 
But all the same I cried and cried, 
Because I'd a right when my doll had died.

And then we had more jam and bread, 
But I didn't eat, 'cause my doll was dead. 
But I tied some crape on my doll house door, 
And then I stood and cried some more. 
I couldn't be happy, don't you see! 
Because the funeral belonged to me. 
And then the others went home, and then 
I went out and dug up my doll again.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey (1932)

This is one of the most beautiful - and most neglected - vampire films ever made. Shot in the French countryside, Vampyr follows a student of the occult into a gauzy dreamworld where an ancient female vampire has cast her deadly shadow over a dilapidated castle, home to an elderly man and his two beautiful daughters. 

Criterion recently released this masterpiece on DVD, complete with a full restoration and a detailed booklet about the film, pricey at $40, but VERY worth it. Amazon carries slightly cheaper copies, of course.

In the meantime, you can view the film in its entirety HERE.

Victorian Beauty Tip

Kate Brewington Bennett (1818-1867) Kate was thought to be the most beautiful woman in St. Louis. Part of this owed to her haunting complexion. Unfortunately, her lily-whiteness derived from the ingestion of small doses of arsenic. Unbeknownst to the lovely lady, the poison had a cumulative effect. This led to the belles untimely death at the age of 37.

Her husband had her figure caused in repose and watched over by a mourning woman who stands at her death bed.
Arsenic was often used by Victorian women of the upper class in the forms of creams (usually also containing mercury), wafers and drops for the tongue, to produce a deathly pale tone to the skin. Pale skin was a sign that the woman did not have to do physical labor. Arsenic was easily obtained from their local pharmacists. So easily was it obtained, that it became a "trendy" form of poisoning.

San Francisco Cable Cars

San Francisco Cable Car ~circa 1918

The San Francisco cable car system is the world's last permanently operational manually-operated cable car system, and is an icon of San Francisco, California. The cable car system forms part of the intermodal urban transport network operated by the San Francisco Municipal Railway, or Muni as it is better known. Cable cars operate on two routes from downtown near Union Square to Fisherman's Wharf, and a third route along California Street. While the cable cars are used to a certain extent by commuters, their small service area and premium fares for single rides make them more of a tourist attraction.

The Elegant Ostrich

The Ostrich (Struthio camelus) is a flightless bird native to Africa. It is the only living species of its family, Struthionidae, and its genus, Struthio. It is distinctive in its appearance, with a long neck and legs and the ability to run at speeds of about 65 km/h (40 mph), the top landspeed of any bird.

Ostriches are the largest living species of bird and are farmed in many areas all over the world. The scientific name for the Ostrich is from the Greek for "camel sparrow" in allusion to its long neck.Ostriches are large enough for a small human to ride them, typically while holding on to the wings for grip, and in some areas of northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula Ostriches are trained as racing mounts. There is little possibility of the practice becoming more widespread, due to the irascible temperament and the difficulties encountered in saddling the birds. Ostrich races in the United States have been criticized by animal rights organizations; however, they continue to take place in the streets of Miami Beach.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Eerie Film Clip

Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper, the name given to an unidentified late-19th-century murderer in London, England. From Aug. to Nov., 1888, he was responsible for the death and mutilation of female prostitutes in the East End section of London. The victims had their throats slashed and their bodies mutilated in ways that revealed substantial physiological knowledge, perhaps medical training. Panic ensued, and the inability of the police to stop the crimes, coupled with the authorities' receipt of taunting letters signed Jack the Ripper, brought on scandal and eventual reforms.

Known victims:

Mary Ann Nichols, nicknamed "Polly," killed Friday 31 August 1888.

Annie Chapman, maiden name Eliza Ann Smith, nicknamed "Dark Annie," killed Saturday 8 September 1888.

Elizabeth Stride, nicknamed "Long Liz," killed Sunday 30 September 1888.

Catherine Eddowes,also known as "Kate Conway" and "Mary Ann Kelly," killed Sunday 30 September 1888 (the same day as the previous victim, Elizabeth Stride).

Mary Jane Kelly, called herself "Marie Jeanette Kelly" after a trip to Paris, nicknamed "Ginger," killed Friday 9 November 1888.

There are more victims attributed to Jack the Ripper. Two before the previous, four after. There are also claims of more victims. However, the five listed above are the only absolutes.

The murders ended as suddenly as they had begun; one school of thought is that a Russian sailor, the killer, left London. Over the years the killings have been ascribed to such varied persons as a doctor, a woman, a man in woman's clothing, a well-known painter, or a member of the nobility or even the royal family. The crimes have given rise to many novels, plays, and other dramatic works.

Tattoo girls

The popularity of tattooing during the latter part of the nineteenthcentury and the first half of the twentieth century owed much to the circus. When circuses prospered, tattooing prospered. For over 70 years every major circus employed several completely tattooed people. Some were exhibited in sideshows;others performed traditional circus acts such as juggling andsword swallowing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Recently Deflowered Girl- Part 1

A somewhat little known, and hard to find work by Edward Gorey from 1965. I will post a few snippets now, with more coming up at a later time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Something Wicked?

Fillet of a fenny snake
In the cauldron boil and bake
eye of newt and toe of frog
wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting
lizard's leg and owlet's wing.
For a charm of powerful trouble
like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double double, toil and trouble
fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Spanish Moss Effigies

Spanish moss is a common sight in parts of the South, where it festoons ancient trees with it's trailing, greyish growths.As a magical herb, this eerie-looking plant has contradictory uses: A few claim that it enhances money drawing charms, but most root workers will tell you that it is a powerful jinxing ingredient for use in evil work, for wich purpose it is added to War Water. Everyone agrees that it is the best all-purpose filling for a doll intended to represent another person, no matter whether the doll is used for good or evil works.

The cloth dolls are stuffed with Spanish moss and a blend of three or seven love herbs or destruction herbs (depending on the purpose of the doll), then the hair of the victim is sewn within the dolls of the easiest and most potent effigies one can make :)

Some love drawing herbs, roots and minerals to add to spanish moss when stuffing dolls:
Adam and Eve Root,
Apple, Lavender,
Blood Root, Mint,
Cowrie Shells, Orange,
Damiana, Passion Flower,
Knot Weed, Sweetners

Stuffings For Destruction:
Black Pepper, Needles,
Blueberry ,Personal Concerns,
Datura Seeds, Salt,
Graveyard Dirt, Vetiver

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Big Sleep ... On Film

Postmortem photography, photographing a deceased person, was a common practice in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These photographs were often the only ones taken of their subjects and much pride and artistry went into them. They were a common aspect of American culture and part of the mourning and memorialization process.

One of the reasons that postmortem photography was popular was due to the high mortality rate of babies and children. Frankly put, people died young. Relatives who had not seen their family member’s children could be sent a picture. As taking pictures weren't the norm, if a child died before a photo had been taken, this would be the only opportunity to get a picture of him or her to relatives. It was also felt that having a last picture of the deceased would quicken the grieving process and pay tribute to the deceased. During this time period, it was common to hang up framed pictures of the dead.

During 1840 to 1880, postmortem photos typically only showed the upper half of the body. This is from the idea that death was the “last sleep.” It was fashionable to make the dead look as if they were merely asleep. Those who used this style would place the body in a chair or sitting on a sofa with books, crosses or rosary beads in the deceased person’s hand. Children were placed in a stroller or cradle.

After 1880 and until about 1915, it became more popular to photograph the entire body of the deceased. These photos were usually taken of the dead in the casket. The change in trends is probably due to the practice of embalming now being possible, as well as the popular use of a lot of flowers placed around the coffin. The body would last longer and the casket setting at a funeral home made for a more aesthetically pleasing photo.

After 1880, it was common to have living family members in the photograph with the deceased. If a child died, he or she may be photographed being held in the mother’s lap. People long to have some record of the child, and that may be the only opportunity. In some photos, pictures of deceased adults can be seen lying in bed with family members sitting on the bed around them. Other families gathered around the coffin for a last photo.

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