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Posted on Monday, April 03 - 2006

Ghost - Caergwrle Bridge

Spirits, believers say, are around us at all times. They watch us and sometimes guide us. On occasion, they make themselves known through a thought, a dream, a fleeting shadow, or perhaps even an EVP. Rare is the moment they materialize.Willowdean Vance says she and some friends were witness to such an apparition – of the spirit of no less a personage than the great Benjamin Franklin! Is this just a flight of fancy? Or was Willowdean indeed honored by this ghostly celebrity – an event that not only suggested her own reincarnation, but opened the door to other, more personal ghost encounters? This is Willowdean's story.My Methodist Church upbringing did notprepare me for an apparition contact of any kind, much less the visit of so great a Founding Father as Benjamin Franklin. However, a chance invitation of old time friends, Lester and Roberta Minder of Santa Ana, California, to attend a Metaphysical Meeting in Santa Monica one evening resutled in the miracle visit of Bejamin Franklin before a group of eight shocked and delighted guests, including me. The eight of us were seated in a study listening to the Rev.

Don Cooper explain "afterlight" by candlelight. Suddenly, the ceiling of the room lit up with a large silver and pink cloud that whirled around the ceiling with great energy, like a lightning bolt. It came nearer and nearer the floor in the center of the room for some spellbound minutes.
Each of us sat huddled, speechless, watching this colorful cloud aboutfive feet in diameter settle in the center of us and change colors in the form of a stocky-built man. He stopped in front of my chair, looking directly at me. The cloud that he appeared in vanished and revealed the exact physical image of Benjamin Franklin. He looked straight at me as he sadly said, "Don't you remember your ole friend?" The Bible says, "Test the spirits," and I was so concerned this was a trick, my reply was, "If you are Ben, how and why do you know me?"

Past life revealed "I knew you as Katy," Ben replied, "but your name was Catherine Ray, and you were my favorite correspondent. Your letters to me are on file at the University of Pennsylvania, if you forgot our happy friendship. You adoptd my young sister, Jane Mecom, in Massachusettsdu......

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Posted on Tuesday, September 26 - 2006


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It's a fact that Blackbeard, also known as Edward Teach, was killed in a gruesome battle in 1718 off Springer's Point, a wooded Eden that lines an area by Ocracoke Inlet called, aptly, Teach's Hole. It's not a fact, as legend would have it, that his headless body swam around his ship Adventure five times before giving up the ghost, so to speak.Nor is there a shred of evidence that the buccaneer buried his treasure beneath the dunes on Ocracoke. As part of a documentary he is filming about Blackbeard, Raleigh filmmaker and historian Kevin Duffus thought it would be interesting to dispel, or - who knows? - confirm, the legends at the place of his undoing, where it's saidthat his beheaded body still roams at night. "One reason I wanted to conduct the paranormal investigation is if we were able to contact Blackbeard, I could have saved a lot of time in my research by speaking to him myself," Duffus said with a grin.

"On the more serious side, I wanted to attempt to put an end to the legends, or myths, of his headless corpse walking the lonely beaches along Teach's Hole channel."
When Rodriguez, who runs East Coast Hauntings Organization in Washington, N.C., reached the shore by Teach's Hole, she and para psychologist Sonya Holley, holding detecting equipment, scanned the spartina grass between the windswept cedar trees for any spirit energy. "Did you lose yours - he still with you?" Rodriguez asked Holley. As they searched,the sinking sun spilled deepening shades of red and purple onto the water. Jumping mullets occasionally flung themselves out of the water in search of bugs or menhaden. The gentle lap-lap of the water on the beach was marred by the incessant buzzing of mosquitoes alerted to dinner. "It feels hinky," Holley responded. "He feels like he's right here." That means, she said, that there's a sense that something happened at that spot. While the sky darkened, the women moved further down the beach, eventually finding a total of eight spirits, a least two of whom were "running" around them, they said. The presence is akin to a feeling under the skin, or a pressure, Rodriguez said, and males and females exert different types of energy. "There's some interaction between sensitivepeople,&......

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Posted on Tuesday, May 24 - 2005

Mae West

When Brooklyn-born actress Mae West [1893-1980] wasn't occupied with a play or a film, some of her favorite activities were organizing a sťance, consulting a psychic at Lily Dale Assembly, or penning a book about ESP. [This title -- Mae West on Sex, Health, and ESP (237 pages) -- was published in London by W. H. Allen in October 1975, ISBN: 0491016131.]Mae was also gathering material for a biography of Reverend Jack Kelly, who died in 1966 and who had been her favorite Medium from Lily Dale, when the actress died in Los Angeles, California twenty-five years ago. In case you're unfamiliar with Lily Dale, this is a community dedicated to the religion of Spiritualism. Nestled rightnext to the lake near Cassadaga, and located in the heart of Chautauqua County, this bucolic Dale was founded by the Laona Free Thinkers Association in 1879, when spiritualism was an obsession of Americaís elite. Mae West, whose photos at Lily Dale are displayed in their museum, was not the only celebrity who made the journey up north.

Among the well-known names who visited Lily Dale were Harry Houdini, Mahatma Gandhi, Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Susan B. Anthony, Russian Countess Alexandra Tolstoy, and many others.
Even from the noisy belch of The Big Apple, Mae West tried to tune into the unquiet dead up and down Broadway. According to Whitney Bolton, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, a week after the Italian-born actor Rudolph Valentino died [1895-1926], Mae West and her friend Texas Guinan arranged for a sťance in aManhattan loft. Suspicious that the 31-year-old heartthrob was secretly poisoned by a rival, Mae summoned an Italian Medium to officiate. At the table sitting opposite Mae were Texas, her brother Tommy Guinan, and the gangster Owney Madden who owned The Cotton Club, a man remembered more for violence than his spiritual side. The one outside interest that Mae devoted herself to was the occult and spiritualism, according to Thyra Samter Winslow, whose interview with the author of "Diamond Lil" resulted in a lengthy New Yorker profile in 1928. And the rendezvous with Rudolph in 1926 must have been memorable because two years later Mae was holding sťances in the smoking room of the Royale Theatre to communicate again with him. Visiting New York to see "Diamond Lil" on Broadway, the actor Jean Hersholt was invited backstage and pulled into a darkened room where a Medium waschannel......

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Posted on Tuesday, September 28 - 2004

From in front of the Houghton Mansion at 172 Church St. in North Adams, a peaceful and bulky Victorian facade disguises the massive structure swallowed by the darkness behind it. The building, now a Masonic temple, once belonged to Albert Houghton, mayor of North Adams in the late 1890s. On a Saturday night some 100 years later, the story of Houghton's final days was being revisited -- perhaps literally. Interest in the building's previous inhabitants was stirred a few months ago when Nick Mantello, a Mason at the lodge for 15 years, was contacted by Cheri Revai of Massena, N.Y. Revai wanted to include the story of Houghton Mansion in her latestbook, "Haunted Massachusetts: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Bay State." Revai, who was not present Saturday night, has gained popularity in her home state with two previous books in a "Haunted New York" series.

Mantello said that based on what he had heard from Revai and others, the building was supposedly haunted. "Everything is 'supposedly,'" Mantello said, shrugging. "We've all heard noises. I'm open to it. I didn't believe in this stuff, but I thought, 'what the heck.'" Mantello discovered the New England Ghost Project online and contacted its founder, Ron Kolek. Kolek, a self-proclaimed skeptic, started the group of paranormal researchers and investigators six yearsago along with his wife, Janet, and their son, Ron Kolek Jr. Also making the trip from Dracut for Saturday's investigation were Maureen Wood, a psychic, and Marc Lemay, a video cameraman.Wearing matching navy blue collared T-shirts with their compass star logo on the breast, The Project, as they often refer to themselves, set up their base camp in a room just inside the building's main entrance. Then they were briefed on the history of the building by local historian Paul Marino.Lights blazed in several rooms while cameras, monitors, and other equipment were assembled on three tables. At first glance, the scene appeared more like a low-budget movie set than a ghost hunt. But as the equipment was checked and tested, word got around thatthe. ...

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