Crimson Ghosts

Halloween season also happens to be football season, specifically college football. Where I originate from, the great state of Alabama, the latter season is sacred.

Most colleges have their share of ghostly tales. But the multi-national football champions from the University of Alabama could claim another national title…most haunted campus!

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Crimson Tide Ghosts – Hauntings at the University of Alabama

To anyone who even remotely follows college athletics, if you hear “Roll Tide Roll” you know exactly who and what it means. University of Alabama. More specifically, Bama sports. And more likely than not, it’s associated with Bama football. The university and the team are quite famous. After all, they won seventeen national football championships. Most of the country’s college football fans either LOVE the Tide or HATE them. For purposes of this article, I will refrain from expressing my own opinion.

But do you know what else Bama is famous for?

Ghosts!

Since its inception in 1831, the hallowed campus grounds in Tuscaloosa, Alabama have experienced trauma and bloodshed (and not always related to football rivalries gone bad).

In the early days, it was common for gun fights to break out on campus. Later on, the university was turned into a military academy to train Confederate soldiers for the Civil War. After the war, it reverted back into an institute of higher learning, but violence still marred the land and gave rise to numerous reports of paranormal activity.

The Little Round House, also known as Jason’s Shrine, was a cadet guardhouse during the Civil War. Three Union soldiers still reside there after their grisly murders. The legend tells that two Confederate cadets stayed behind while the Union army burned the buildings on campus. One cadet was accosted by Union soldiers looking for whiskey. He directed them to the cadet guardhouse where the other cadet ambushed the soldiers and killed them. The soldiers’ boots can be heard stomping around inside the building. When someone ventures in to check out the cause of the sounds, no one is there.

The shadow of a young woman who committed suicide by lighting herself on fire still wanders the 13th floor of Tutwiler Hall. Others experience feelings of foreboding and of being watched in the basement of the same building.

The tramping of horse hooves can be heard throughout the main floor of Smith Hall, located on the Quad, where there is an exhibit of its namesake, Dr. Eugene Allen Smith’s carriage. It is accompanied by the sounds of disembodied horses neighing and horse whips cracking. There are also reports of voices, and when someone investigates, they find desks that had been arranged neatly just moments ago to be in disarray. The room where this phenomenon occurs happens to be a former boiler room where a boiler explosion killed several students.

Marian Gallaway, former theater director, still roams the Gallaway Theater in Rowand-Johnson Hall. Some theater students claim a person can call forth Mrs. Gallaway by standing center stage (alone) and asking her, “How’s my blocking, Mrs. Gallaway?” Her ghost also voices her displeasure if students are not working hard enough by slamming doors to get their attention.

One student claims that after the opening night performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the main theater, one student came up to a group gathered in front of Mrs. Gallaway’s portrait. He remarked that he saw Mrs. Gallaway in the audience and she appeared to thoroughly enjoy the show. When the group laughed and stated that was impossible, he pointed to the portrait and affirmed that was the woman he saw in the audience. He was shocked to discover Mrs. Gallaway had been deceased for some time.

An interesting side note is rampant speculation that Mrs. Gallaway was the inspiration for the character of Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire.

What’s a college ghost story without a haunted library? The University of Alabama is no different. The Gorgas Library is still overseen by its namesake, Amelia Gorgas. She mostly haunts the fourth floor, so much so that the elevators have been programmed to NOT stop on that floor. However, students in the library late at night have experienced the misfortune of the elevator stopping and the door opening on the fourth floor.

Mrs. Gorgas is not alone though. Her husband, former University President and Confederate General, Josiah Gorgas, haunts the Gorgas House where he lived and died. Reports include claims of the sound of his sword banging against the walls.

Most colleges have a center of campus, commonly called a quad. Well, Bama students are wise to avoid the Quad on foggy nights. If one is unlucky enough to have to traverse the Quad on such a night, walk fast. Otherwise, you may bear witness to up to three ghosts – a Confederate soldier in full military garb of a Commandant, and two deceased professors whose bodies were cremated and their ashes scattered across the campus.

Following college football as closely as I do, I am surprised to find there has not been a reported sighting of the ghost of the legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. If anyone happens to come across him, please let me know. There are a hundred plus football coaches that would like to pick his brain for game day strategy. Perhaps that is how Nick Saban is such an amazingly winning coach – is he channeling the Bear? Maybe there’s a Crimson Ouija Board in the field house? (see previous articles on ouija boards)

Whether you love Bama or hate Bama, one thing is clear – even death can’t stop Bama faculty, or students from hanging around campus for their Crimson Tide.

 

Happy Hell Gate Hopping This Halloween

Six more days of Spooktober! If you’re not into trick-or-treating, how about a little Hell-Gate hopping?

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Don’t Pass Through the Seven Gates of Hell

seven gates of hell pic

Urban legends abound, but none are quite as terrifying as this one originating out of a tiny rural are in Pennsylvania. The legend goes that if you pass through the seven gates, all located in a wooded area of Hellam Township off of Trout Run Road (formerly Toad Road), you go straight to Hell. A variant of the story states that you have to pass through the gates in order after midnight for the road trip to Hell.

Others say there are seven gates to Hell in Illinois where a portal to Hell opens and the person will be confronted by hell hounds; or if done in reverse order (end at Gate 1), you can see through the portal into Hell but are not transported there.

Another legend states that on Halloween night if you pass seven black gates (any seven black gates), you will see the seven gates of Hell. But let’s stick to the Hellam Township’s seven gates to Hell for now.

Two versions for the Pennsylvania gates exist. One – a mental hospital burned down and to keep the surviving inmates from escaping, law enforcement put up several gates to close in the area. These inmates were brutally beaten and most killed. The psychic echo of that heinous night cursed the land. Two – an eccentric doctor constructed the gates along a wooded path on his property.

Both stories agree that only one gate can be seen by daylight, and the other six gates are only visible at night. So far, no one has passed the fifth gate. Truly, who would want to?

Historically, according to Hellam Township, there was never an insane asylum there, and the doctor in question put up one gate on his personal property to keep trespassers out. The best evidence of remaining Hell gates are gnarled tree trunks throughout the forest that give off the impression of gates.

Even the reasoning that the gates to Hell exist here led to the name of the town, Hellam, is inaccurate. The name comes from Hallamshire in South Yorkshire, England. Most importantly, the township is adamant that the rumors are false and state on their website that “This area is private property. Trespassers will be prosecuted.”

So how and why does this legend persist? Over the years there have been many adventurers willing to test the theory – although, as reported, no one has made it past the fifth gate. Some claimed a sense of evil and the stench of death are so overpowering many don’t make it past the first gate. These explorers tell of piercing screams through the otherwise silent night and shadow figures stalking them along the path. Many are simply run off by law enforcement since it is private property and the owners don’t like trespassers (who does?). And even if someone did make it to the seventh gate, how would we know whether that person got a fast-pass to Hell if that person doesn’t return to tell the tale?

For now speculation runs deep as to the authenticity of the seven gates of Hell in Hellam Township, Pennsylvania. Plenty of locals will attest to the evil aura of the area. Some will even regale you with tales of their own adventures into the woods when they were devil-may-care teenagers. Regardless of the township’s own statements to the contrary, there simply isn’t enough evidence to convince this writer either way. But honestly, I’d rather not take the chance to find out the truth for myself.

If there is someone out there brave enough to seek out the seven gates and pass through them (remember the “No Trespassing” signs), AND you make it back out alive and well…I’d love to hear your story and share it with the world.

Happy Hell Gate Hopping!

 

 

Author Shout-out to the lovely Charlene Namdhari on her latest release: Reigns to Her Heart (Fire & Ice Book 2)

Image may contain: one or more people and text

HAPPY RELEASE DAY to my dear friend and an amazing author, Charlene Namdhari!

❤️ Release Day ❤️ Reigns To Her Heart (Fire & Ice Book 2) is Live ❤️
Trigger warning: Domestic Violence

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2orqsbA

Smashwords: bit.ly/2pviCOY

Reviews on Goodreads: bit.ly/2mw5sQu

Blurb: She’s afraid to love. He’ll teach her how.

Reece Bentley is a self confessed playboy. He dictates the rules of how when and why. That is, until a one night stand with a sexy, sassy stranger leaves him mystified, breaking his own rules and craving more.

Three years ago, Aria Singh finally walked out on an abusive husband. Her retribution ended in a one night stand with a fiery stranger. Now, with her past safely behind her, she’s built a new life solely for her and her daughter. Fate, however, has other plans in store for her when a blast from her past, rocks up at her door with the wrong set of cabin keys.

Firmly of the opinion he’s in cahoots with her husband, she isn’t prepared to accept his explanations, no matter how sincere he appears.
Baffled by the stirrings of his own heart, Reece isn’t prepared to lose his mystery woman a second time.

Will Aria give in to the sexual storm brewing amid the Wyoming icy blizzard? Can Reece make Aria believe that this playboy can love deeply and be the one to reign as king of her heart?

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Ouija Board – Family Fun or Demon Portal? (Part 2)

We started out the month of October (SpookFest) with an article I wrote for Paranormal Rag (an online magazine) about Ouija Boards. Below is the follow-up article…because honesty, ouija boards are fascinating…scary, but fascinating.

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Last time we discussed the history and a possible scientific explanation of the popular board “game” – the Ouija Board. It started as a simple board game for family entertainment, even though its origin was more supernaturally inclined.

Now I want to share true stories of just how dangerous this seemingly innocuous game can be.

A Ouija board, also known as a spirit board, is a flat board with letters of the alphabet written across in big arches, numbers 0 through 9 listed on a straight line underneath the letters, two words in the top corners of the board (“Yes” in the upper left; “No” in the upper right), and the words “Good Bye” centered at the bottom (sometimes the board also has “Hello”). A small triangle, sometimes heart-shaped piece of wood or plastic, called a planchette allows the participants to place the tips of their fingers on it and it guides them to spell out the answers to their questions.

Currently, Hasbro, Inc. (a toy manufacturer) owns the trademark and you can find the board game in the non-electronic games section of Walmart, Target, or even order online from Amazon. After researching for this article, I found there’s even Ouija apps for phones.

Can something so widely distributed and touted as a family game since its commercialization in 1890 actually be quite sinister?

In addition to being the basis for the possession of a little girl in the movie, The Exorcist, (which was based on a true story), there have been numerous reports of spooky, and even dangerous, encounters with the Ouija board.

One Reddit user’s experience was posted in Cosmopolitan magazine in 2016. She and her now ex-boyfriend used an Ouija board to attempt contact with a friend of his that had recently died. They got more than they bargained for when the spirit was more than anxious to speak with them. They stopped the session which seemed to anger the spirit. The planchette began moving on its own very rapidly, not even spelling out words. The atmosphere became heavy and oppressive, making the living persons in the room exhausted. The woman fell asleep for a few minutes. When she woke up, a dark shadow figure rushed at her and was screaming. She claims it felt like the apparition was trying to get into her body. After running from the house, the woman has sworn off Ouija boards forever.

One woman in West Virginia retold a story of using an Ouija board with her mom one night when she was just a pre-teen. She swore her mom was moving the planchette, although her mom equally swore she wasn’t. The spirit identified itself by a name neither recognized. When they asked how the spirit died, it did not answer so her mom attempted to say “good-bye.” The planchette moved to the word “No.” Her mom again said “good-bye” and the planchette moved to the word “good-bye” as well. However, that’s when it started to get weird. The woman (young girl at the time) began to hear growling in a corner of her bedroom at night. Her father did not hear it, but her mother did. Also, the mom’s cigarettes began to have a rotten egg smell (Sulphur smells like this and is commonly associated with demons). A few days later, her mom became very ill and was hospitalized with a nasty infection. After that, the growling stopped.

A couple teenage girls lost almost ten hours of their life using the board. They started a session with the Ouija board around 9 pm and after a few questions…it was 7 am. Neither recalls what happened after the first couple of innocuous questions.

People have reported shadows, voices, strange knocks and other sounds after using an Ouija board. However, some have also reported being assaulted – scratched, pushed, choked, and held down unable to move.

Doesn’t sound quite such an innocent game now, does it?

There have been countless stories of people throwing away, destroying, and even burning their Ouija boards and/or the planchettes (or homemade devices used as planchettes), but then the items turn up again, and along with it – dark shadows, disembodied voices, and a general sense of heaviness in the air.

Regardless of your own personal opinion of Ouija boards, and possible scientific explanations to how it works, there are enough reports of negative experiences both during the use of the board and long after the session is over to make goosebumps rise on even a skeptic’s skin.

For those of you daring individuals who break out one of these boards for any reason, please take care. Some safety precautions include:

  • Close out the session by saying “good-bye” and waiting until the planchette responds by moving to the words “good-bye” on the board (never leave a board open);
  • Do not leave these boards around for children to find;
  • If the spirit becomes aggressive, end the session quickly and include a statement to the effect that you do not give the spirit permission to remain – remember, you are in control, but you must wait until the planchette also moves to “good-bye” before walking away (otherwise the spirit will remain and could cause trouble);
  • Do not leave the planchette unattended on the board;
  • Do not ask the spirit to make a sound or touch something or someone to prove it is there. This will only invite trouble;
  • If the planchette begins making figure-eight designs on the board (either backwards or forwards), SHUT DOWN the board immediately (as described above). Same goes if the planchette moves forward or backward across all the letters and/or numbers. Both are signs the spirit is attempting a spell to cross over into our world;
  • Play the game with respect. Don’t curse at the spirit or call it fake. You’ll just piss off the spirit and then bad stuff follows;
  • Do not attempt a session with the Ouija board alone;
  • And this may sound nonsensical, but do not play with an Ouija board in a cemetery.

Just a few easy steps to make your Ouija board experience fun and safe. If you don’t, you may want to avoid it altogether. Don’t risk what happened to those persons whose stories are above happen to you.

 

Safe and happy Ouija’ing, folks!

Spirited Performances in a Haunted Opera House

Continuing our haunted tales series for the month of October, how about an opera performance from spirits of the early 1900’s?

DOWNTOWN_ALBEMARLE_HISTORIC_DISTRICT__STANLY_COUNTY

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Ghostly Concerts at the Albemarle Opera House

Although closed for over one hundred years, the building that housed the grandest theater in Albemarle, North Carolina has also experienced the highest level of paranormal activity in the state.

The Albemarle Opera House opened in 1908 and closed seven years later in 1915, shortly before the greatest flu pandemic of the twentieth century struck in 1917. Although vacant, many report that the building is not exactly uninhabited.

An apparition of a tall man in a dark suit and hat appears on the stage and in the balcony of the old opera house.

A lady in a white flowing dress graces the stairs going up to the balcony. Shadows of people dance across the stage.

Voices of a little boy and a little girl can be heard in the balcony, with the little boy confiding that he likes to play tricks – according to the owner of the building, the little boy does just that quite often.

Locked doors unlock themselves and open, much to the chagrin of folks looking for privacy in the bathroom of the jewelry store now located on the first floor of the building.

The sound of footsteps in the balcony and in other parts of the building when no one is there.

Once during a rare performance in the opera house for the local historical society, a female singer felt someone brush against her on stage while she was singing.

All point to one conclusion…the Albemarle Opera House is one of the most haunted sites in North Carolina.

The building was constructed in 1907 with the opera house opening in 1908, along with Huneycutt’s Furniture Store, Starnes Jewelry, and Hall’s Pharmacy. All of the various businesses there have experienced some form of paranormal activity.

The opera house’s claim to fame is that Thomas Edison visited the theater and provided a music concert with his first phonograph. The current owner, and grandson of the original builder and owner of the property, confirmed that there was a musical performance using one of Edison’s phonographs, but there was no evidence that Thomas Edison himself was present at the time. Regardless, the building hosted traveling shows, including magic shows, plays, and even comedic operas until it closed in 1915.

However, the building itself has its own intriguing history. During the pandemic of the Spanish influenza from 1917 until 1918, there were so many deaths that Huneycutt’s was used as a funeral home. And when space ran out, they cut out a wall from the mortuary and used the theater as a morgue. Some of the deceased awaited burial while stored just off the stage of the opera house.

According to the building owner, one of the fun aspects of working in the building has been the playing of music from the vacant theater. Albemarle citizens report you can hear the band from October until March, what would have been a typical season for musical performances in the theater.

The ghostly happenings aren’t limited to the opera house. Disembodied voices can be heard in Huneycutt’s Furniture Store and sometimes items move by themselves. Employees refuse to be alone in the building at night. The jewelry store computers and other electronics cut off and on; store merchandise (and personal belongings) are moved and hidden; and the store clocks chime in unison, but not on the hour. Hall’s Pharmacy was turned into a restaurant where employees and patrons claim items move on their own. An apparition similar to the well-dressed man in the opera house has been reported to be seen in the restaurant as well. When an employee followed the man upstairs to tell him no one was allowed there, he found the space empty.

Several paranormal investigators have been in the Albemarle Opera House. They’ve captured orbs on camera (a common indicator of spirits), picked up sound waves in response to questions, and experienced up to thirty degree drops in temperature. The most convincing experiment by a paranormal group consisted of twelve flashlights on the stage. While the investigators sat over sixty feet away and asked questions, the flashlights were turned on and off in apparent responses to their queries.

No one has ever complained of sensing anything evil in the building. Several paranormal investigation groups have conducted hunts there, and none reported anything malevolent. The building owner also stated that, at least in his experience, all the ghostly encounters have been associated with the opera house, nothing to do with the vast number of deaths from the flu. This was also the conclusion of the paranormal groups who have visited the opera house.

The Albemarle Opera House may not be open for business any longer, but that doesn’t seem to stop the musical performances. If you’re lucky, you may catch a ghostly concert walking by the building, having some good food in the attached restaurant, or perusing the sparkling jewelry in Starnes Jewelry Store.

Haunted Halls of Queens University

Another spooky tale. This time let’s study the school spirits haunting Queens University in Charlotte, NC.

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The past few years I had opportunities to visit college campuses across the southern United States as my oldest son looked for his “home” for the next four (at least) years. I adore the older campuses with the weathered brick buildings and towering tree-lined quads. While my son was more interested in the sports teams and what his social life would be like, I soaked up the atmosphere and listened to tour guides regale us with the school’s history. Sometimes that included a ghost story or two. Now, being so inclined to cling to every word of a ghost tale, it got me to thinking – universities have some of the best ghost stories and those stories should be told to a much wider audience. So…I decided to dedicate at least one article an issue to haunted universities. Let’s face it – what college over two years old doesn’t have some rumored paranormal activity?

Queens University was founded in 1957 in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s a small campus that you may miss driving by if you blink. But it is prestigious and a bit pricey. Initially, it was established as the Charlotte Female Institute            and then changed to the Seminary for Girls from 1891-1896. The university then merged with the Presbyterian Female College. In 1912, the new college moved to its current location in the Myers Park neighborhood. After World War II, the college admitted its first male students.

Long before Queens University was founded and much earlier than its move to its current location, the land experienced events that scarred it and led to tales of Civil War ghost battles playing out in the student courtyard at the center of campus. Students have reported blood-chilling screams and sounds of gunfire out on the courtyard and at Burwell Residence Hall.

Checking into the history of the land, there were no reported battles fought at the site. However, two facts support the claim of possible Civil War ghosts haunting the campus. First, the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, fled to the area when the Confederate capital of Richmond was overtaken by the Union army. Second, the Confederate Naval Yard was moved from Portsmouth, Virginia to Charlotte in 1862. Either incident could account for the ghost soldiers.

Due to no actual reported fighting on the land, I sought to verify the claims by asking some current students, who wish to remain anonymous. Most have never been in the campus courtyard after midnight and thus had not heard any ghost battle noises. However, one enterprising young man, did venture out there after my inquiry. Although he did not see anything, he did hear muffled yells. Whether this was rebel soldiers re-enacting their grisly deaths or real people off in the distance, he refused to speculate. But he also said he would not be going out to the courtyard after midnight ever again. There have been enough reports of the phenomenon to grant it some credence so we won’t rule out the possibility of Civil War ghosts in the courtyard just yet.

Some past students at Queens University have reported seeing a dark apparition of a man hanging from a tree in the courtyard. Initially, this was attributed to the Civil War era as well. New information contradicts the timing though. As most of the other ghost stories of the college, it revealed that a student hung himself. Since the school was not co-ed until after World War II, his death – and subsequent ghost – would not be connected to the war.

Aside from the “ghosts with a rebel yell”, Queens is plagued with ghosts of suicide victims. The most frightening haunt being a young woman who slit her wrists in the Albright Residence Hall in the 1800s. Rumor has it that she was humiliated and distraught after her family discovered she was having an affair with another woman. Being the time period, that behavior was more than frowned upon so the family wasn’t quite understanding of the situation. The poor woman killed herself in her dorm room. There have been reports of loud knocking sounds inside the walls of that particular room and the door flies open of its own accord. It is even said that the lover’s name, Julie, appears on the wall above the bed as if written in blood.

Another chilling ghost tale of Queens University residence halls involves Room 303 of Hall Brown (also known as Overcash Hall). A student woke up during the night to see her roommate slumped over the desk. She tried to wake the girl only to realize her roommate was actually still in her bed. The figure at the desk sat up, looked at the girl, and promptly vanished when the resident screamed.

In the Belk Residence hall, a student was shaken awake. When she looked around the room, the desk was violently vibrating back and forth. It stopped when she got out of bed to check. About an hour later, the same shaking disturbed her sleep again. The student did what any self-respecting person would do – she made to run out the door. But this prankster ghost had other plans. The woman stared in shock as the door locked by itself. Then the face of a young girl manifested on the closet door. Three years later, another student reported seeing an apparition of a girl peeking out from the same closet door.

Wallace Residence Hall also has reports of strange things happening in a particular dorm room, including banging sounds and cold spots. However, to prevent students being scared of their room assignments, the room number has been kept secret.

It’s not just the dorm rooms at Queens University that house ghosts. Students often go to practice their musical performances in the Suzanne Little Rehearsal Hall underneath Dana Auditorium. Many have reported seeing a well-dressed ghost lady pass them and then vanish.

Queens University has a long history of paranormal experiences, easily making it one of the most haunted places in North Carolina. If you visit the Queen’s City of Charlotte, be sure to take a tour, especially if you have a child looking for a fabulous university and you don’t mind forking out over $32,000 a year. The student guides won’t unveil all the ghostly secrets of the university, but feel free to ask any students roaming the courtyard. Just make sure those students are corporeal.