It's that time of year again... when ridiculousness runs rampant among children and adults. Especially adults, who love to dress up as vampires, pirates, French maids and superheroes of either gender and consume mass quantities of liquor on a weeknight. And writers of all kinds feel the need to expound on the some aspect of Halloween: its origins, its contemporary manifestations, the co-opting of a child's holiday by adults, yada-yada-yada. Well, why should I fight against the current? So I herewith present the obligatory Halloween blog post.
What else? Haunted libraries of the Midwest...
Peru, IL: Washington School. Located in downstate Illinois, Washington School serves students in fifth through eight grade and apparently has a library with paranormal activity. The story goes that a disturbed school librarian (!!!) killed three students and herself April 12, 1956, in the library. Since then, students have reported hearing screams and seeing an apparition.
Apparently the standard "shush" wasn't working for her.
Peoria, IL: Peoria Public Library. According to legend (as usual), the library was built on ground that was cursed by its previous owner. In 1830, Mary Stevenson Gray, a matriarch of the city, lived in a house on Monroe Avenue. After her brother died, she took over the care and feeding of his ne'er-do-well son, who was something of a hooligan. After one run-in with the local constabulary, he had to hire a lawyer, who took out a mortgage on Mrs. Gray’s home as security against the strong possibility of nonpayment for billable hours. When the deadbeat couldn't pay up, the lawyer sued to foreclose on the home and collect his fee. Mrs. Gray was furious (and understandably so). She kicked her worthless nephew to the curb. (Not long afterwards, his corpse was found floating in the Illinois river.) Mrs. Gray promptly cursed the property and all its future owners. In 1894, Peoria purchased the property and built a library. And even though the library was built next to Mrs. Gray’s home, not over it, the first three library directors promptly died under unusual circumstances. The first, E. S. Willcox, was killed in a streetcar accident in 1915; the second, Samuel Patterson Prowse, died from a heart attack suffered at a library board meeting in 1921. The third, Dr. Edwin Wiley, committed suicide by swallowing arsenic. Ghosts and paranormal activity ensued. The original library was torn down in 1966 and a new one built in its place, but the ghosts apparently have no intention of leaving the building. Employees have reportedly heard their names being called while alone in the stacks, felt cold drafts, and even claimed to have seen the face of Prowse in the basement doorway.
There's always a cold draft in my library, but that's just because they can't seem to regulate the temperature in any public building in which I've ever set foot...
Evansville, IN: Willard Public Library. A “lady in gray” supposedly haunts this 1885 Victorian Gothic building. (How appropos!) The spook apparently doffs a spritz of her favorite perfume before undertaking her spectral wanderings because a whiff of it is often sensed near the elevator, near the rest rooms, or in the children’s room. (Apparently every woman alive and dead loves Chanel No. 5!) Occasionally staff will walk into cold spots. (See above.) Former Director William Goodrich said the lady appeared once on a security monitor placed near the rest rooms. One theory is that the ghost is Louise Carpenter, the daughter of the library’s founder. Louise sued the library’s trustees, claiming that her father was “of unsound mind and was unduly influenced in establishing [Willard] Library.” She lost. (But this begs the question: if you don't like libraries, why would you want to spend eternity in one?) The library enjoys its notoriety: it was once featured on an episode of SyFy's Ghost Hunters show. You can check out the library's ghostcams here.
Detroit, MI: Detroit Public Library, Skillman Branch. This library is apparently located on the site of a former jail where executions took place in the early 19th century. Patrons and employees claim that the library stacks sometimes reverberate with moans, rumblings, and other strange noises.
(Hmmm, no comment other than librarians are very familiar with the variation of the "Mile High Club" that some people occasionally try to achieve in the stacks.)
Cornell, WI: Cornell Public Library. Apparently, people get the heebie-jeebies in the basement where the restrooms are located and report feeling "overwhelmingly uncomfortable."
(Uhmmm, I think I will just take a pass on this one.)
No pix of house, but Hinckley is famous for buzzards
Hinckley, Ohio: Old Stouffer House. Once a private home, the building was re-purposed as a library in 1975. Not long after, paranormal activities began in earnest. The librarians, those co-ordinators of information, began to keep a file on the occurrences. They found that books left out the night before would sometimes be reshelved, while others (particularly the novels of Anne Rice) would be flung to the floor. (Everyone's a critic! Even dead people!) Patrons and staff members report feeling an "odd" presence in the second story rooms and, upon occasion, paper clips have been known to sail through the air. A tradesman in the building to repair the furnace once saw a spectral figure on the basement stairs. The ghosts are believed to be those of Orlando Wilcox and his daughter Rebecca, who during the early to mid 1800's lived in a cabin on the site before the house was constructed. In 2003, the weight of the books and mold inside the walls forced the library to move to new quarters.
Broken Bow, OK: Broken Bow Public Library. This building, built in 1998, stands on the site of a former high school. Sometimes at closing, staff members report a cold spot and argumentative voices in the southeastern corner
of the library. (Well, perhaps the ghosts are arguing over the relative merit of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles versus Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. Or maybe they think both are crap...)
News from the ALA (American Library Association): "An effort on the part of the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham, Michigan, to ban people from bringing guns into public library buildings is likely going nowhere. At its July 16 meeting, the board voted to send a letter to state legislators, asking them to consider a bill that would add libraries to the list of places that are exempt from the open-carry law. The letter was written after a pro-gun rally spilled into the library, with armed people and a film crew parading around the building. But legislators seem tepid about changing firearm regulations".... Read more in the Birmingham Observer/Eccentric
The glass half empty: "The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many." ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
The glass half-full: "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." ~Albert Camus
"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." ~George Eliot
"My sorrow, when she's here with me, thinks these dark days of autumn rain are beautiful as days can be; she loves the bare, the withered tree; she walks the sodden pasture lane." ~Robert Frost
"Besides the autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the haze." ~Emily Dickinson
“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the
hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.” ~Ray Bradbury
It's Friday...and I am one of those thousands of exhausted American teachers. After walking into a tech lab that was hotter than a blast furnace first thing in the morning and teaching Keynote throughout the day to a number of grade levels with varying levels of success, it is beyond me to produce anything sublimely creative enough to pass on to my valued readers. But I can still post the sublime creativity of others... Paradise indeed.
An addiction is an addiction... today I feel like an enabler... so I present the latest highly addictive method of wasting time... "Famous Objects From Classic Movies." It's quite a simple kind of drug... you are shown a silhouette of an object which was transformed from an ordinary, everyday sort of thing into an ICON by its placement in a hit movie. You have to guess the name of the movie. D'uh!?!? Why didn't I think of that?!?!?
If you are addicted to your iPad, it also comes in App form.
Born on this date in 1884. When in doubt, I always like to think WWED? ("What would Eleanor do?)
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”- This is My Story
"Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
"A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it's in hot
water.” - You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life
To find out more about me, click on the Not Your Average Jo tab.