Haunted Travels


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Weird New Jersey

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 I grew up in coastal South Carolina – a little town called Georgetown – where ghosts are almost as ubiquitous as the tourists who flock to the beaches. Ghost stories were passed around among us children like so much candy, and there was always the (sort of) hope that one of us would actually see one. None of my schoolmates ever claimed to, although we all knew of people who had…

One family whom we all knew lived in a house reported to be haunted by three Revolutionary War soldiers, and had strange thumps and floating silverware. I babysat in that house as a teenager, but never saw or heard anything; frankly, I think any ghosts would have been scared off by the kids who lived there. Another haunted house was beside the graveyard of Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church, which was pre-Revolutionary War as well. My mother taught the girl who lived in the house and told me that the young lady reported that there were frequently footsteps on the stairs and such ghostly noises. Another friend of mine lived in an old rice plantation house that was haunted. His stepfather was said to have seen the ghost of a woman in colonial dress calming the children when they cried at night, but my friend never saw anything. My fourth grade teacher lived in a lovely old plantation house on the North Santee River that was supposed to be haunted. I never experienced anything there, but there is reported to be a ghost that haunts the grounds and chases people.

Some of the local ghosts were well known; the Grey Man was said to warn people who lived at the beach about impending hurricanes, and there was Alice of the Hermitage who still pined for her lost love and lost ring – her grave always had a path worn around it where people tried to see her ghost. I never saw them either, although one story of Alice looking for her ring was said to involve an acquaintance of mine. I didn’t ask her about it because I was afraid she’d say she never had anything to do with it, and even as a child I appreciated a good story.

Then there was a bit of urban legend told to me by a classmate – the story of the Plat-eye, a sort of monster who would visit people along one of the local rivers and if you didn’t have jelly donuts to feed him, he’d “get” you. Since we had a cabin on the river, this one really spooked me; but no matter how much I begged, Mom wouldn’t buy jelly donuts to take with us to keep me safe from the Plat-eye.

My parents had a strange experience on the river once, though. My father was an avid photographer and would take his camera out in the boat to take pictures of autumn foliage on the river banks – I still have boxfuls of the slides he took. In one of the pictures, there is a white shape on the river bank. It looks rather someone wearing a sheet standing on the riverbank except that when Dad snapped the photo, they didn’t see anything unusual. The image showed up when the slide was developed. They liked to scare me by saying, “Here’s the picture with the ghost in it!” whenever they showed the slide.

I thought I saw something when I was about four, in my own house, but since we were the only ones who had lived there, I don’t know. I was walking down the short hall from my room to the den, and passed by the door to the living room. The sofa was along the wall by the door, so I could see it in profile. I was surprised to see a man in a striped t-shirt sitting on the sofa in the dim living room, with his arm up along the back of the sofa. We rarely had visitors, especially ones I didn’t know. I proceeded another two steps to the den where I asked my mother, “Who’s the man in the living room?”

My mother grabbed me in a panic, saying, “What man?!” – no doubt thinking there was a burglar in the house. She carefully checked, and seeing no one there, told me I must have imagined it. Maybe, but I can still remember the sight of him to this day and my surprise at seeing him there. Our sofa was plain, with no print on it, so it couldn’t have been that. (He hadn’t scared me, but my mother’s reaction certainly had!) This was the same house where my father rang the phones after he died.

Later on when I was in high school, I began going out to the home of my history teacher who was also a friend of my family’s. (He was also the school librarian, and therefore my boss, since I was the library assistant.) He and his wife and daughter lived in an historic rice plantation house and I became a regular visitor during my last two years of high school. (He also told the story of the picture that I have posted on this site.) The house had changed hands several times through the years, and one of the former owners had been buried near the house and an addition had eventually been built over his grave. He had loved the house very much, and from the stories I was told, still stayed around the place. He was said to have caught a guest who was falling down the staircase, and floating lights were frequently seen in both the bedroom in which he died and the family room, which was in the addition built over his original gravesite. Some friends of the family who had been guests there declined a second invitation to stay the night and chose to stay in a motel instead – apparently the ghost was a little too friendly for them.

Only on one occasion did I have a ghostly experience out there. We had been talking about the ghost, and I went over to a chair to sit down. No sooner had I placed my posterior on the chair than the light on the table beside the chair went out! I hopped up very quickly and the light went back on. I found a different seat, joking about sitting on the ghost. It wasn’t much, but it was a little bit freaky!

For someone who grew up in a highly haunted area, I had a rather ghost-free childhood. Maybe that’s a good thing…

She Wolf (c)2007

As you plan your next vacation, you may wish to consult the Directory of Haunted Places which has listings for international as well as U.S. hauntings. If you live in or plan to visit the U.K., then you may find The Headless Horseman Online Guide to Ghosts of interest.

Wherever you go, safe travels……..bwahahahahahah………

Jeremy Bentham was an interesting guy who advocated for things like equal rights for women,  the abolition of slavery and many other great and important things. 

Among those things, I learned, Jeremy Bentham had written into his Will that his body be preserved, stored in a cabinet and brought out for special board meetings.

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University College, London England

Then one day his head, which was not preserved well…fell off. So they made a wax one and stuck his real head between his feet ( see picture above) .

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Jeremy Bentham’s Head

I’m sorry to say I couldn’t have made this stuff up.

God, I wish I had.

 

Jeremy Bentham (26 February [O.S. 15 February 15] 1748) – June 6, 1832) was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. He was a political radical and a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law. He is best known as an early advocate of utilitarianism and fair treatment of animals who influenced the development of liberalism.


What I write here, I am simply tossing out for your consideration.  This is an account of my own experience accompanied by photographs.  Both are open for whatever interpretation you care to give them.

The Queen Mary, the Cunard luxury liner that cruised the North Atlantic from 1936 to 1967, is now dry-docked in the harbor at Long Beach, California. She is a hotel, a conference center, a museum, and a “genuine haunted ship” (with her own paranormal research center).

It is said that the ship is home to about 150 separate ghosts, though I fail to see how anyone could actually ascertain that. But that factoid does add to the ambience of the ship. Actually, the ghosts legends have been turned into an on-board “Attraction,” complete with special effects and dramatic re-enactments of the hauntings. It is oh-so-Hollywood and has spoiled the place for real ghost-hunters who need peace and quiet to “feel the presences.”

Even though I am not a ghost-hunter or psychic, personally, I don’t care for the Attraction much either. There’s so much to be said about engaging the imagination and scaring yourself silly with a good old fashion ghost story —which is what I think happened to me a few years ago when I took one of the ship’s old “Ghost Tours” (before they made it an Attraction).

These tours (sans special effects and weird music) were simply a tour guide taking guests to all the supposedly haunted areas of the ship. There are certain areas of the ship where the hauntings are particularly pronounced. For example, we were taken to Cabin B340, which is no longer rented out by the hotel, because the cabin is subject to frequent poltergeist activity. When our group was toured through, I didn’t observe or feel anything unusual.

Another place of ghostly activity is the First Class Swimming Pool. It has been empty of water for more than 30 years, yet women and children in 1930’s bathing attire are frequently seen and heard around the pool. While we were taking the tour, we stood on the balcony overlooking the pool, in the dark, while the guide shared the spooky stories. (If you go to this image of the pool, you can see the railing where we standing). One of my friends, who is a photographer, had her camera with her. For some inexplicable reason, the flash unit on her camera unscrewed itself and fell from her camera over the railing and onto the deck of the pool. As you can see from the image that is quite a drop. The guide fetched her flash and amazingly it was not broken. Maybe she didn’t screw the attachment on properly? Maybe something broke its fall? We amused ourselves by speculating on the notion that a playful spirit was having fun with us.

However, the mood changed for me when we entered the Engine Room. The Engine Room had been completely gutted and was simply a huge empty space with a catwalk over it. During our tour, the guide stopped us on the catwalk and began to explain some of the history of this area. For example, during World War II, the Queen Mary had been used as a transport ship. It collided at sea with another ship resulting in the deaths of over 300 people. It is said that the ghosts of the dead sailors can be heard screaming in this area. Also, in the early 1960’s a young engine room technician had been crushed to death by the closing of a water-proof door. It is said that he is frequently seen walking to and fro on the catwalks in this area. As the guide was explaining this too us, I felt myself becoming more and more anxious. Perhaps it was just the power of suggestion, being in a dark creepy room hearing tales of gruesome deaths. All I knew is that I needed to get out of there fast and the guide was just taking too long!

Shortly after this the tour ended, but I still felt disconcerted and anxious. We left the ship, and proceeded to the Skorpion, an old Soviet Foxtrot submarine, also a museum, dry-docked and adjacent to the Queen Mary. (See the photo above). We started the self-guided tour of the craft, but shortly after we entered, I became overwhelmed with anxiety and had to leave the vessel. Did an entity follow me from the Queen Mary or was I merely having a claustrophobic episode caused by being on a very tiny submarine with a lot of tourists?

On another trip to the Queen Mary, just this past year, I and several friends went to Sunday Brunch in the Queen Mary’s Grand Salon, another reportedly haunted area. A “White Lady” is often seen dancing by herself when the Salon is empty. I brought my camera this time and took several pictures. Most of the pictures in the Grand Salon had orbs floating about. Below you will see some of the better one where I have circled the orbs in red. You might explain the orbs as pixilated dust particles or reflections from all the glass and brass; however, in the picture with the harpist at the far right you will see a beautiful brilliant blue-white orb—that just doesn’t look like dust or light.





So, a haunted ship, a tourist trap, overactive imaginations???— I leave it up to you to decide.

Happy Halloween, one and all!

Images and text: Lori Gloyd (c) 2006, revised 2007