25 January 2009

The Sunday Spook

In the midst of a bustling old city, there was a cozy cottage at the end of a dark and lonely street. It never used to be dark and lonely, as neighbors on either side and down the street once kept it quite busy. But that all changed after Harry died.

Harry was the original owner of this little cottage; he was the first on the street to move in. But it didn’t take long before other houses were built up and occupied by very nice, friendly people. Harry raised his kids here in this house. His wife had died shortly before he moved in; it was said he’d moved in because he needed a fresh start in a new house. He and his children had a very good life in this cozy little cottage at the end of the street.

The children grew up and moved away. Harry remained in his home, content to be in the place that had known so many happy times. In time, Harry took his last breath and passed peacefully in his sleep. The house remained, the children refusing to sell it to others who might not be as kind to this little cottage as their father had been. So it sat where it was built.

Over the next several years, the other homes began to fail. Foundations cracked, roofs caved in. The inhabitants that once were Harry’s neighbors left their homes, never to be seen again. The neighborhoods surrounding this street fought the city hall to have the houses, which had become quite the eyesore, torn down. And torn down they were. One-by-one, the walls came down, leaving slabs of dirt in their wake.

Except for Harry’s house. In the midst of the destruction brought on by aging, abandoned houses, Harry’s home remained intact. The paint looked as fresh and new as the day it had been painted, the roof as sturdy and protective as ever. The windows were glistening and the lawn manicured.

No one understood this, as the house had remained empty since the day they took poor Harry’s failed body away. The kids hadn’t returned to clean it, nor was a single workman ever seen on the property. Yet the house stood proud, surviving the wrecking crews that destroyed its companions.

Life in the area went on. Though once a bustling city, it is now a quiet little town. And on the rare occasion when a stranger visits, the residents make sure to tell the story of the house that refused to die: The cozy little cottage at the end of a dark and lonely street.

18 January 2009

The Sunday Spook

The cemetery at the end of the street was much loved by the neighborhood residents. Most people are scared of cemeteries at night, but not the folks on Kline Road. They found something peaceful about the small parcel of land, housing the remains of the founding family of the area. Until the night of October 30.

It was one night before Halloween the year the things changed at the beloved cemetery. See, the cemetery was lodged between two homes on the east side of the street. On this one night, as the resident of the corner house was walking past the cemetery to get to the house on the other side, he was spooked by a sudden, momentary silence, followed by a howling wind which was followed by an eerie screeching sound coming from the center of the cemetery. Unsettled by feelings of fright at this normally peaceful site, he hurried on his way.

An hour later he was returning home. Before he reached the edge of the cemetery he paused, thinking that maybe he should cross the street and walk past from there. “Oh don’t be ridiculous, it was your imagination”. And he proceeded to walk past. But just as soon as he crossed the edge of the cemetery, he was spooked by a sudden, momentary silence, followed by a howling wind which was followed by an eerie screeching sound coming from the center of the cemetery. He bolted home, locking the door to his house. He hurriedly called the emergency line, stating that someone was being swallowed up by the once-calm cemetery.

When police arrived at his home he recounted his story. The police were annoyed by this man, calling emergency services for an imaginary spook. Still, the officers decided to check it out. As they reached the edge of the cemetery, they stopped for just a moment to glance at each other, and then proceeded to walk past the cemetery. They walked by several times, together and one-by-one, but nothing out of the ordinary occurred. “In fact”, the officers told the resident, “if I felt anything at all it was a sense of peace as I crossed the path adjacent to the cemetery”.

The next morning he walked by the cemetery the same as he had the night before, but nothing was amiss. Still, he was leery. He put up signs on either side of the cemetery, knowing it was Halloween and all the neighborhood kids would be traipsing by to seek their sweet fortunes. The signs said “Warning! Spirits are upset. Cross the street before passing!”

He noticed that not a single child or adult paid any heed to his sign as they walked past the cemetery with no ill effects. About halfway through the evening, when there was a break in the trick-or-treating, he decided to walk past the cemetery. As he reached the edge, he was spooked by a a sudden, momentary silence, followed by a howling wind which was followed by an eerie screeching sound coming from the center of the cemetery. He ran back home to safety.

As the night progressed, children and parents paraded across the path between his and the house on the other side of the cemetery. As one group left his house, he asked if they could join them as they walked along, and they agreed. As they approached the edge of the cemetery, he was spooked by a sudden, momentary silence, followed by a howling wind which was followed by an eerie screeching sound coming from the center of the cemetery. “STOP!” he yelled, as the group stopped and stared at him. Though not one of the others in the group heard or felt a thing, they looked in horror at the man standing in the path in front of the cemetery, his hair straight in the air and shirt blowing in the wind.

Looking at each other and noticing no one else feeling the effects of any wind, they turned and ran, never crossing the path of the cemetery again.

15 January 2009

Ghost in the Graveyard

I spent some time tonight researching the search terms "Ghost In The Graveyard" Childhood Game. I was trying to remember the exact way we used to play this game.I remember the way the game was played: First we gathered up as many kids in the neighborhood as we could. Then we outlined the boundaries of the game: usually our house and Barry's next door. Our lots were about 3/4 of an acre each, so this gave us plenty of room. We identified "home base", which was usually a patch in front of Barry's house just beyond the clothesline. Finally, someone was chosen to be the "Ghost". The non-ghosts would sit in a circle at home base and begin a little chant while the ghost went to hide. When the chant was finished, the non-ghosts would go search for the ghost. When one spotted the ghost, one would run back to home base, yelling "Ghost in the Graveyard" which would in turn prompt the other kids to run back to home base. Anyone touched by the ghost became a ghost themselves and thus you had more obstacles to home base. It was a very good thing to be the first one to spot the ghost (unless you didn't spot him/her until he/she touched you!).

The part I do not remember is the chant. All the websites that described this game just say it was counting the clock: One O'Clock, Two O'Clock, Three O'Clock, etc until midnight which was the cue to start searching. Ours was a bit different in that some of the times were replaced with rhymes adding up to the final line signaling the start of the search (anyone catch the rhymes in that description?):

One O'Clock, Two O'Clock, ______________________
Five O'Clock, Six O'Clock, Ghost is almost here
Ten O'Clock, Eleven O'Clock, GHOST APPEAR!

I can't for the life of me remember the exact chant. Anyone around here know?

12 January 2009

Memorial Marker?

The above marker is important to me for a few reasons. Yes, it belongs to an ancestor of mine (my first cousin once removed; my great-grandfather John J. DOYLE's grandson). Yes, it was of a soldier who'd died during war (WWII). It is also, however, the photograph that gave me my start in genealogy. The story is relayed in an early post of my Oracle of OMcHodoy blog, and can be found HERE.

While back in my early research days I was intent on figuring out the subject of this marker and his relationship to me, tonight I ponder other things about this photograph. Such as: Where is it? Is it at the site of his death? What is that structure behind it? Who took the photograph and when?

Hopefully, the Blogger "Click-Photo-To-Enlarge" feature is working (it often doesn't) and you can click on the above image to enlarge. Engraved on this marker is John's Name, Rank, Serial Number, and Place and Date of Death. I really don't know what the information under the serial number is, though I suspect it has something to do with the unit he was with during his service.

I also know some basic information on how John J. DOYLE died in Chenkung, China on 18 Nov 1943, thanks to a preliminary report of the incident causing his death, obtained from Accident-Report.com:

INQUIRY NUMBER: 07-431118-513
DATE: November 18, 1943
PILOT: John A Visk
LOCATION: Chingkung, China
REMARKS: Dove into ground
TOTAL PAGES OF REPORT:10 (Usually includes routing slips and other memos)

I could order a full copy of the report for about $26.00, and I really should. I think it would be fascinating.

At any rate, I know of two other markers for this same John J. DOYLE. I believe they are both at St. Mary's Help of Christians Cemetery in Pittston, Luzerne County, PA. In fact, I'm almost sure they are, but why would he have two? It looks like the one on the left is newer; was it placed in much more recent times to preserve his memory and the information on it in anticipation of the gravestone's ultimate demise? Or is it in some other place?

The answer would probably be very easy to find if I could remember who sent it to me! I think the one on the left was sent by a cousin in NJ who travels to Pittston often and the one on the right was sent by a cousin in Pittston, but am not sure. I'll email them to find out.
But that does remind me: It's time to start my next major project: Reviewing every entry in my genealogy data base and attempt to re-create the sources of my information. My earlier entries were not carefully cited, I'm afraid.

11 January 2009

My First Feature!

You will note by the post earlier today that I created another of our alliterative post titles: The Sunday Spook. This will be a regular feature here on The R.I.P.PERS. I hope to post an eerie story, folktale or even a scary joke weekly. I think it will give us all a little boost as we prepare for a new week.

I invite my readers, bloggers or not, to submit to me an article to be featured in future editions of The Sunday Spook. It can be fact or fiction, serious or funny. Articles need only be eerie or spooky, relate to the topic of graveyards, ghosts, or strange occurrences, and be respectful of the topic. I do reserve the right to decline to publish an article if it doesn't fit the scope of this blog.

To send in a submission send an email to me at omchodoy-at-comcast-dot-net with the following information:

Put "Sunday Spook" in the subject line
Your name as you wish to be credited in the publication of the article
The URL to your website or blog if you have one; if you have multiple sites, choose either your GYR site or main site.
A simple statement as to the truth or non-truth of the submission.

Photographs and/or graphics are welcome.

The Sunday Spook

There was a hotel off the beaten path that travelers often found to crash at after a long day of driving. The hotel was always booked full but for one room. That room was actually booked several times per night. How can that be? Well, no body ever managed to stay a full night in the room. The story goes that this one room was haunted by the ghost of a traveler who'd died in an old closet of some sort right next to this room.

One night in late October, the room was booked in its normal fashion. A traveler booked the room for a good night's sleep. As he was drifting off, he heard a voice: "It's a coming, It's a coming, It's a coming". He got up and searched the room: The bathroom, the little closet. That's all there was to the room, but nothing was found. So the man went back to bed.

"It's a coming, It's a coming, It's a coming." The man got scared and bolted out the door, demanding a refund of his money.

The room was booked again a short time later. The woman laid down to sleep when she heard a voice. "It's a coming, It's a coming, It's a coming." The woman searched the room over and returned to bed.

"It's a coming, It's a coming, It's a coming." She left as quickly as she had come.

The night clerk was very used this behavior, so was shocked when the third renter this night did not come in demanding a refund. That person, upon hearing the voice "It's a coming, It's a coming, It's a coming.", searched the room, and finding nothing, returned to bed.

"It's a coming, It's a coming, It's a coming." She searched again and returned to bed.

"It's a coming, It's a coming, It's a coming."

"That's it" she said. She got up and went into the hallway. She forced the night clerk to come over and inspect the hall with her. She could see a very faint light in the little closet next door, so she stormed over there and threw open the door.

What she found had the night had the night clerk in stitches for hours: There in the "closet" -- which turned out to be a small bathroom -- was an old man sitting on the toilet with a strained look on his face: "It's a coming. It's a coming. Dangit It's a COMING!".

05 January 2009

Myth or Truth: The Answers

I suspect many will be surprised at the results of the kick-off quiz! All sources are from Snopes.com, though the first one I checked other places to be sure and all had the same information. Ready?

Myth or Truth?

Walt Disney’s own images is projected onto one of the busts in the theme parks’ Haunted Mansion?

Myth. The images projected belong to Thurl Ravenscroft (voice of Tony the Tiger), Chuck Schroeder, Bob Ebright, Jay Meyer, and Verne Row, the voices in the rendition of “Grim Grinning Ghosts” that plays in the attraction http://www.snopes.com/disney/parks/busts.asp

Myth or Truth?

Toy manufacturere Coleco sent death certificates to those who returned defective Cabbage Patch Dolls.

Myth. There is a theory that the myth got its start after a rock band reportedly destroyed Cabbage Patch Dolls onstage and later proclaimed the band would start a graveyard for the Dolls. http://www.snopes.com/business/consumer/cabbage.asp

Myth or Truth?

Some 5,000 wreaths are placed on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery every year at Christmas and are provided by a florist from one of the poorest areas in Maine.

Truth. http://www.snopes.com/photos/military/wreaths.asp (Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine). Check out the link; it's an interesting story!

Myth or Truth?

France once demanded that the U.S. come and get their dead soldiers buried within its boundaries.

False. http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/garbage.asp

Myth or Truth?

The number of hooves on equestrian statues indicates how the rider died.

Myth. http://www.snopes.com/military/statue.asp

Thanks for playing. Stay tuned for more fun as time goes on!

04 January 2009

Given the Boot

For those who do not know, I am living in the desert southwest, in Tucson, Az. That is about an hour and a half away from today's topic.

Boothill Cemetery is located in Tombstone, Az. It is well-known for it's inhabitants, some of which were victims and/or perpetrators of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. How many Corral-ers are buried there? Well, certainly no more than three, as that is the number of people killed in that infamous gun battle between the Earp group and the Clanton group. Those killed were all of the Clanton group, and were: Billy Clanton, Robert Findley (Frank)McLaury, and Thomas Clark McLaury. Contrary to popular belief and the favor of the old west movies, no Earp brother is buried here. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunfight_at_the_O.K._Corral)

One can find many interesting things at the Boothill Cemetery, only a few of which I will share here, since I wouldn't want to spoil all the fun of those who may visit this cemetery. One area was reserved for the Chinese and another for Jewish people buried there. Below is the section for the latter group:
Another area cleverly pipes in old west tunes through a speaker disquised as a rock:
Once upon a time, I thought Tombstone, Az was nothing more than an amusement attraction used solely as a movie studio and tourist attraction. After moving to Arizona, I learned that it is indeed a legitimate town where people live, work, and play. I myself wouldn't mind the opportunity to visit one of my all-time favorite headstones more often:

There is much information on the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral on the web. I used the handy source of Wikipedia, of which I'm becoming a bigger fan.


My first order of business today is to be sure I give thanks and credit to Terry Thornton, footnoteMaven and Denise Olson for their assistance with this blog. Terry for encouraging me and for all the work he's done managing the Graveyard Rabbits, fM for her help in sizing my original graphic, and Denise for creating the graphic that I currently have. I hope my blog does the GYRA proud.

03 January 2009

Kick Off Quiz

To kick off my new blog, I give you a "Myth or Fact" Quiz surrounding death, cemeteries and/or other pertinent GYR topics. Questions posed today. Leave a comment with your answers. Real answers posted when it looks like enough people found this blog and bothered to answer :). That could be tomorrow or next week, so better get "Commenting"! (Put your death savviness to the test: Give your first guess as to the answer as opposed to researching it!).

Question 1, Myth or Fact?: Walt Disney’s own images is projected onto one of the busts in the theme parks’ Haunted Mansion?

Question 2, Myth or Fact? Toy manufacturer Coleco sent death certificates to those who returned defective Cabbage Patch Dolls.

Question 3, Myth or Fact? Some 5,000 wreaths are placed on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery every year at Christmas and are provided by a wreath company from one of the poorest areas in Maine.

Question 4, Myth or Fact? France once demanded that the U.S. come and get their dead soldiers buried within its boundaries.

Question 5, Myth or Fact? The number of hooves that are raised on equestrian statues indicates how the rider died.

02 January 2009

Welcome to The R.I.P.pers

One of my few New Year's Resolutions is to adapt a more positive outlook on life. Last year was very stressful at work, with the loss of a major contract and a 30% loss of workforce to go with it. I was fortunate to survive the cuts, and I took that as a sign to "lighten up", as things will work out.

Once I decided to adapt a more positive attitude, it only seemed natural that I start a blog about after-death. I mean, as long as I'm able to write about death customs I'm not dead, right? And what more positive attitude can one have than to be glad to be alive?

This blog is intended to honor those that Rest In Peace beneath our land, across our oceans, or inside our vases. At times posts will reflect history, at times geography. At times it will express sorrow, and at other times, it will elicit laughter. I see nothing wrong with humor in any situation, so long as the humor is respectful and acceptable to the audience who receives it.

I hope that you will find this blog worth a read, and that you can always find some humor in any situation. As Truvy Jones (Dolly Parton) said in "Steel Magnolias", "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion".