Archive for the ‘Tales across the US’ Category

I’ve mentioned time and time again how I want to visit haunted locations. In the past, I managed to visit the Paris catacombs, where I saw plenty of skulls but no paranormal phenomena, and last year I visited The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, where I caught my first paranormal evidence on video. And over this weekend, I had the opportunity to visit another one, one that’s in my home state of Ohio that I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time: The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. And wouldn’t you know it? I saw plenty of stuff that can be considered out of the ordinary (besides me, I mean).

Some context first: for a while now, my dad’s side of the family have been planning an “Ungarfest,” where the whole family gets together and hangs out. It’s a chance for all three of the families–my dad and his family, his brother and his family, and his sister and her family–to see each other now that most of the next generation are grown and there’s a chance our lives will take us all over the place. Currently all three families still live in Ohio and Michigan, so the majority of us were able to come together and see each other. And guess where the family ended up spending the afternoon after spending the morning at a nature garden in the morning? You guessed it, the Ohio State Reformatory.

Now some of you may know the reformatory, or OSR for short, as the place where The Shawshank Redemption, among other famous films and a few TV shows, were filmed. However, the OSR is also famous for being something of a paranormal hotspot. Plenty of deaths have occurred there over the years, and of course stories of hauntings have popped up over the years. With that in mind, I bought my own pair of dowsing rods so I could speak to the spirits there (the ones at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast worked so well for me).

Me protesting my guilt with a cell-door on the lawn.

Me pretending to shank my stepsister for some reason.

So once we got there, we went in (two of my sisters decided not to go in because they found the whole thing too freaky), and met JD, our tour guide, who was honestly just the best tour guide we could ask for have (I’ll get into why in a bit, but for now, just know that if you get to come here for a tour, you can’t go wrong by asking for JD). He took us around for the first half of the tour, talking to us about the history of the prison and what it was like for a prisoner during the prison’s heyday.

How can one describe the prison accurately? Well, it’s big, I can say that. Metal and drywall and brick and stone are everywhere. The paint on the walls and every other surface is peeling all over the place, and you can smell the building’s age and paint everywhere. In various rooms, you’ll see original artifacts from when it was an active prison, such as the original electric chair that was used there, products made in the shops the prison ran, and much, much more.

You also got to see a lot of the locations where The Shawshank Redemption and other films used as sets. Warden Norton’s office is perfectly preserved for the most part, as well as the door that the guard broke the window in that one scene of the movie. And apparently Brooks and Red’s apartment was filmed in the prison too. It was cool to see that piece of film history on display there.

JD (left) and his fellow tour guide Michael (right) talking to us in the room where a scene from Air Force One was filmed.

Me at the foot of the stairs where Andy Dufresne and Warden Norton talked about budget issues in getting a library.

I’m at Warden Norton’s desk. There’s a bit of “blood” still on the window.

Me doing my imitation of that guard from the movie. Also, this is my new author pic.

And so was Rami

But definitely one of the best parts of the tour was JD. He was friendly, funny, and a really cool dude with a voice that reminded me of musicians I’ve seen in movies and TV (and that description is how you know I’ve been writing for a long while). I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out he was a musician, he seems like the kind of guy who would enjoy playing some guitar on the weekends. But he was also very inspiring. You see, JD was an inmate for a short time at OSR back in the 1980s. During the tour, he took us by the cell in the west block where he stayed while there, and how his experience at OSR helped him turn his life around. It was really inspiring to hear. A lot of people think of people who have gone to jail, and it isn’t usually a positive image. But JD was able to give us this personal story of how his stay affected him. Combined with his friendly and very humble personality, it really made his story all the more powerful. You couldn’t help but like him, not just as a tour guide but as a person. And on top of his personal knowledge of what it was like to be a prisoner at the Ohio State Reformatory, it just made for an excellent tour.

JD in front of his old cell, telling us how being at OSR changed his life.

If it’s not obvious, I highly recommend JD as a tour guide. On a scale of 1 to 5, a definite 5. If you get him as your tour guide, you won’t regret it.

Of course, you’re curious about the paranormal stuff I witnessed. First off, the dowsing rods had an excellent first time out. I got a lot of communication from spirits, some of which made it onto video and then onto YouTube. One of the first places we visited was solitary confinement, where the spirit of Frank Hanger, a security guard who was murdered by three inmates in that area, is said to hang out. Here’s the video of that particular encounter.

Something you should know: that question Jay threw out about the electric chair was a trick question to make sure we were actually talking to a spirit and it wasn’t random movements on the part of the rods. Turns out it wasn’t random movements: those three convicts committed suicide, so Officer Hanger’s “no” was a point for the I-was-communicating-with-spirits side.

The other major spirit I spoke to was that of James Lockhart, an inmate who killed himself by immolation. His cell is notoriously haunted. I got to speak with him as well, and learned some interesting things.

Sorry about the vertical filming. You can only do so much with your cell phone.

I also had a lot more communications, some of which I got on video. But these are the best quality, so I wanted to make sure people got to see them. You can draw your own conclusions on what happened while at OSR that day (just don’t leave vitriol-filled comments for me to read), but I like to think that I got some communication from the other side that day. And a lot of people who witnessed me using the rods, including this one family I kept seeing around the east cell block (they’re the ones asking me to ask Lockhart if he burned himself), probably believe me now (I think they took video footage of some of my communications. There may be footage of that floating around the Internet somewhere).

Oh, one more thing I want to mention. This isn’t so much explicitly paranormal as it is weird, but it’s worth a mention. You remember that photo of me at Warden Norton’s desk? Well, this may have just been an issue in the transition from my camera to Instagram, but it’s still weird and kind of freaky.

I have no idea what happened here. The photo of me at the foot of those stairs seems to have been overlaid with me at Warden Norton’s desk. Not sure how that happened, but it is pretty cool. Even if it isn’t exactly supernatural.

All in all, the Ohio State Reformatory was an amazing experience. It is a beautiful building, filled to the brim with history, pieces of culture, and a few spirits. I’m so glad I got to go, as well as to test out my dowsing rods in such a great venue. And now that I have my driver’s license, I may be able to go up again someday very soon and perhaps get some more proof of the paranormal. In fact, you should bet on that happening (Zak Bagans, call me). Until then, definitely consider making a trip to the Reformatory and seeing the history and hauntings yourself. Guaranteed you won’t regret it.

And thanks to JD and the folks at OSR for hosting my family this weekend. We enjoyed ourselves immensely while there. I hope you’ll see us (or maybe just me) again soon.

The Ungar clan, AKA 40% of the reason I’m as messed up as I am.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you enjoyed my little travelogue. I’ll be seeing you all again very soon. Until then, pleasant nightmares!

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I swear, this is the last time I’m posting about my Boston trip. Unless I actually did capture ghost voices (or EVPs, as believers prefer), in which case there will be another post. Don’t worry though, that’ll take a while to accomplish, so don’t go to the unsubscribe button just yet. Also, this post will be a quick one…I think. I’m saying that while still writing it, so who knows?

Anyway, as you can tell from the title, this is about the souvenirs from my Boston trip. On Instagram I broke these down by type of souvenir (book, toy, etc), but here I think I’ll separate it by day or location. Why? Just makes more sense that way, it seems.

Independence Day souvenirs.

As I said in my last post, I went into a Harry Potter shop and a comic book shop on that day. I’m a Slytherin (mostly because I’m pure evil), so I bought some Slytherin gear from the Harry Potter shop. Specifically, a sticker and a tie.

The ancient and noble House.

I’m wearing this the next time I wear a tie.

From the comic book store I went a little crazy. In addition to some more stickers, I bought a couple of those Funko Pop dolls. Those who know me won’t be surprised which franchises I bought dolls from.

You know it’s true.

Looks great on my laptop.

My first, and probably my favorite Doctor.

Moonies forever!

Including all the anime figurines I’ve been collecting, I’m building quite the doll collection. And I’m not ashamed to say that.

Salem souvenirs.

It won’t surprise you that most of the souvenirs here are witch-related. They’re also all books. Well, there is a print of the House of the Seven Gables under a creepy moon, but it’s copyrighted, and the last thing I want is a copyright lawsuit on my hands, so forgive me if I don’t post a photo of that here.

Looks cool.

I’ve always been curious.

You knew this was going to be coming home with me.

This will make a great reference material.

I swear, it’s another reference book. I’m not going to do anything evil…probably.

At least you can’t say I won’t get bored or go without reading material for a while.

Lizzie Borden souvenirs.

Luckily, I went easy on the souvenirs here. And of course, they are so totally me.

Because I’m on a true crime kick lately.

 

Not going to lie, this doll creeps even me.

So that’s all my souvenirs. Pretty cool, huh?

That’s all for now…on Boston, anyway. I probably won’t post anything new until the weekend so you don’t get sick of me, but if something big comes up, I’ll probably have to talk about it. In the meantime, I’m going to work on Rose for a little while. Wish me luck, and good night, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares!

Boston’s Old North Church.

Yep, I’m on this topic again. After giving a detailed account of the highlight of my trip, my stay at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, I decided to just do what my friend Kat Impossible does when detailing her week while traveling in Canada, and just go through each day in a paragraph or two. After all, I’ve got a lot of editing on Rose to catch up on, so better not waste any more time, right?

So without further ado, here’s a breakdown of my trip:

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017: Independence Day

So my dad picks me up a little before seven, and we drive off to the airport. The Columbus airport is normally pretty quiet, and today it’s even quieter because of the holiday. We get on our plane and are in Boston by eleven, so we head to the hotel using Boston’s subway system, the T. We get to the hotel, the Eliot, which is this really nice building with a marble lobby and cookies left for you in your room. We head out after dumping our bags to go on a Freedom Trail tour, in which someone in 18th century garb takes us on a tour of the areas of Boston associated with the Revolutionary War (and on America’s birthday, that’s really special). The tour is pretty interesting, and we learn some amazing things about America’s war heroes (turns out, Paul Revere isn’t actually the hero we think he is).

After that, we go on a Duckboat Tour, which is a tour of Boston given on a WWII-era amphibious vehicle that goes on land and in water. Our tour guide calls himself Harley Davidson, and he dresses just like a biker, but he tells hilarious stories, ranging from an actual flood of molasses in Boston’s streets, and how he once gave a tour to the New York Yankees, nearly costing them the game while he was at it. He also tells us some interesting facts about Boston, including how the town was the sight of many firsts in medicine, but he peppers the stories with plenty of puns. After the tour ends, we head to Newbury Street, a street near our hotel with all these trendy shops and restaurants. My dad and I grab Vietnamese, and then I go a little overboard on souvenirs at a Harry Potter shop and a comic book shop (can you blame me?).

Abba and I by the cannonss.

We go back to the hotel to rest before meeting a friend of ours for Boston’s Independence Day Celebration, which is this huge outdoor concert with all these famous singers: Bryan Stokes Mitchell, Leslie Odom Jr, Melissa Etheridge, and Andy Grammer. Our friend gets us seats with the military families, so we’re right near the front of the party, and we even see some of the performers up close (I actually got to shake hands and talk with Leslie Odom Jr and Bryan Stokes Mitchell, and even take a selfie with the latter). It’s all topped off with a performance of the 1812 overture with cannons, and my dad and I were so near the cannons that we felt the full blast every time one went off. Finally we saw the fireworks, and then we went home to sleep.

Wednesday, July 5th 2017: Salem

Abba and I get up the next day and head out to Salem, home of the famous witch trials. After a ride on a commuter train, we get to Salem, which if you didn’t know the history of the town, could be any little seaside resort town. We find the visitor’s center, and head out to the Salem Witch Museum, which recreates the trials and presents them in the framework of how fear and a single event can cause massive persecutions. After I again went a little overboard on the souvenirs, we walked to this cafe for lunch, and on the way there we found the famous Bewitched statue, at which I took this gem of a photo. We then took the time to see the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, which uses fences and open spaces to emphasize the fates of the accusers and the accused, before heading on to the Salem Witch Village, where modern Wiccans tell you about their belief systems.

I’m hanging on for dear life!

After that, we took a break from the witches and headed to the famous House of the Seven Gables, which was immortalized by the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was pretty cool to see this famous house in real life rather than just in my imagination, and to see that it actually had secret passageways! After that, we headed to the Peabody Essex Museum, which is this beautiful building filled with all this amazing artwork, and where we viewed an exhibit about steamliners, which was as educational as it was entertaining and beautiful.

After the musuem, we decided to head back to Boston, and after a rest in our hotel room, we headed to the North End, which features some of the best restaurants in Boston, as well as some of the best Italian you’ll have outside of Italy (if you don’t eat there, you’re wasting a trip to Boston). We ate at Giacomo’s, the #2 restaurant in the North End, and enjoyed the cuisine. We then stopped in Mike’s Pastry shop, which features the best cannolis in Boston, and enoyed a devilishly good desert before heading back to the hotel. We had a drink in their bar, and then headed off to bed.

Thursday, July 6th, 2017: MFA and Fall River

Me imitating Washington’s pose.

Very brief: we went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which was frankly lovely, and full of the most beautiful paintings and sculptures, some of which with real historical significance to America. After that, we picked up a rental car and headed south to Fall River. We grabbed lunch on the way, and tried to tour John Adams and John Quincy Adams’ childhood home, but all the tours were booked, so we just continued on to Fall River. After that, you know what happened: Lizzie Borden!

Friday, July 7th, 2017: Last Day

Being on a massive warship.

After checking out of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, Abba and I checked out Battleship Cove, a museum featuring actual warships from WWII, and Fall River’s other big tourist attraction. As this was what I studied in college, it was really cool to see these up close. After that, we headed back up to Boston, where we dropped off the rental car and got on the plane home.

 

So that was my time in Boston. I’ve got one more post planned, and unless I didn’t get any ghost voices on my digital recorder, that should be the last post on this trip for a while. I hope you enjoyed hearing about my trip, and that I haven’t bored you to death on the subject.

Until next time, Followers of Fear!

The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast (and my new profile pic on Facebook).

So I decided to go a little out of order with recounting my recent trip to Boston. Why? Because this was probably the highlight of my trip, because extraordinary things happened to me while I was at this location, and because, like a freshly-cooked meal at a restaurant, this is just too hot to leave lying around. So, without further ado, I’m going to recount my recent trip to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, complete with photos and videos.

So if you’re unfamiliar with the house and its namesake, Lizzie Borden was a woman who in 1892 was accused and tried for the horrific axe murders of her stepmother Abby Borden and her father Andrew Borden. Plenty of things made Lizzie a good suspect: there were numerous inconsistencies in her statements to the authorities, she had an odd demeanor even before the murders, and the timeline of the murders as well as her proximity to them while claiming not to have heard anything. However, the authorities made some major mistakes during the investigation and trial, which lead to Lizzie being found not guilty. To this day, the case remains unsolved and there are a number of theories as to who killed the Bordens and how (Lizzie is still a popular figure for the acts). The house where the murders occurred has since become a bed & breakfast noted for paranormal activity.

Does it not surprise you that I wanted to stay there? It’s even on one of my lists for haunted places I want to visit! And when my dad and I decided to go out to Massachusetts for our vacation, I knew I had to go here. Somehow I managed to convince him to try the house out, and before I knew it, we’d made reservations.

Lizzie Borden’s room, where I slept in the house.

Emma Borden’s room, where my dad slept.

On July 6th, we left Boston in a rental car to head about an hour south to Fall River, a former textile town on the Massachusetts coast. We got in a little after four, and checked in at the B&B, this old three-story house with brown paint and a parking lot and barn used for business and souvenirs in the back (I bought a couple of souvenirs, believe me). We then dropped our stuff of in our room (I stayed in Lizzie’s bedroom, while my dad was in the adjoining room that belonged to Lizzie’s older sister Emma), and took a little time to explore the house before too many guests arrived. One of the tour guides, Rick, told us where to find Lizzie’s home after the trial and where she was buried in the cemetery, so my dad and I decided to go find those. The house, Maplecroft, is now a private residence, so we couldn’t go very close, but the cemetery was open to the public, so we were able to get up close and personal with the grave (only I would enjoy that!).

Maplecroft, Lizzie Borden’s home post-trial.

Lizzie Borden’s grave. People left some very interesting tributes to her.

After dinner, we returned to the house, where other guests were checking in and getting ready for the evening tour. It was at this point that I noticed the house kept its own set of dowsing rods. And I had to try them.

Which led to the video below:

I may need to get my own set of dowsing rods for future explorations of haunted locations. They’re very good at picking up responses from the dead. And as for what my later paranormal experience was, I’ll get into that in a minute.

Anyway, the last of the guests checked in, and we had a pretty diverse group, with folks from as far away as Canada and California joining us. Our tour guide Rick did a great job of taking us through the house, reconstructing the lives of the Bordens, the murders and the subsequent trial, and the hauntings (this last one he backed up with testimonials and even some really creepy photography of shadow beings and weird faces in windows).

During this tour, my dad actually left once or twice because he suddenly had to use the bathroom. The only reason I’m bringing this up now is because Rick mentioned to us that prior to the murders, many of the Bordens were dealing with vomiting and stomach issues, possibly because their food was bad or because Lizzie was poisoning her family (there’s evidence for both). Were the ghosts, despite our requests, affecting my dad? He did mention feeling a cold presence at one point during the tour, right as Rick mentioned a cold presence.

Or it was just something he ate with dinner affecting him. But I hope, for my own reasons, that’s it the former.

Also, during the tour, Rick pointed out a very weird feature of the basement: if you look at the below photo, you’ll notice what looks like a face in the brickwork in this small section. That face is supposed to look like Andrew Borden, Lizzie Borden’s father, leaving his presence on his home. Weirder still, there seems to be another face within the face in my photo, though what that is nobody knows. Actually, nobody knows what that bigger face is supposed to be, but the second face is even weirder.

Do you see the faces?

After the tour, some of us stuck around on the first floor to snack on cookies, talk, and even try recording sessions. I went to bed around 11:30, and dozed off pretty quickly. And that’s where my other paranormal experience occurred:

I woke up in the middle of the night, and it felt really cold, like someone was blasting an air conditioner right in front of my face. And I heard a woman’s voice shout, “Go to sleep and DIE!!!” And I just knew it was Lizzie, though it would be another minute before I realized that she was probably angry for asking about her hand in the murders earlier. And I simply said to her, “I wish you peace, Lizzie.” I hear a scream, and the cold air is gone, and I know Lizzie is too. Later I would remember seeing a blue room for a short second, which I think may have been Lizzie’s room as it looked back then (remember, the house has been restored to look like it did in the 19th century, but there’s no way to know if it was exact down to the paint and wallpaper). And then I’m back in the room, and I’m alone again.

I realize that it was possibly just a very vivid dream, but there’s still a possibility that Lizzie was trying to communicate with me in a dream. And it wasn’t sleep paralysis, because I’ve experienced sleep paralysis, and this was very different. In any case, I’ll take my paranormal experiences where I can get them.

Me imitating Andrew Borden as he was found in 1892. I couldn’t resist.

I should also mention that during the night, my digital recorder ran out of battery. Most likely it wasn’t properly charged before I went to bed, though it’s also possible the spirits drained the battery to use its energy. Either way, I don’t know how much was recorded that night. When I have a chance to investigate, I’ll find out.

To wrap up, the next morning my dad and I had breakfast, and we talked with the other guests about our experiences last night (people were really impressed with mine). Then my dad and I packed up, checked out, and left, my dad saying the whole time how creeped out he’d been staying in that house. I just exalted in the fact that I got to stay in the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, and got to bring back so many great memories as well.

So yeah, I highly recommend going to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast if you get the chance. Even if you can’t or won’t stay overnight, doing a day tour is pretty awesome and edifying. And who knows? Like me, you may get a paranormal encounter that’ll stay with you for years to come.

That’s all for now, Followers of Fear. I’m going to try to get out the last couple posts about my trip in the next few days, so hold tight. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Boston from the air.

Did you miss me? You didn’t?! Well, that’s mean! I thought you guys liked me!

Anyway, if you haven’t heard, I recently took a trip to Boston, Massachusetts with my dad. We went from July 4th through yesterday, July 7th (I kept the dates of the trip vague because I am slightly paranoid of burglars and/or stalkers). I went with my dad, as we don’t get to see/hang out with each other that much these days, and the last couple family trips to cool locales, everyone but I was able to go. And how was it?

One word: Amazing! This is probably the best vacation I’ve ever taken in my 24 years of living (in this dimension, and in this incarnation). I got to see and do everything I was hoping I’d get to see and do, and then some, and everything was just so much fun. What made it even better was that I got to take quite a few photos and souvenirs home with me (possibly more than I should have bought, but whatever), and I even got to meet some really amazing people while on the trip (more on that later).

And I even got some evidence of paranormal activity from one of the places we stayed at, which I’d been desperately hoping would happen. I’ll be showcasing that in another post. Just as soon as I edit the video.

So, now I just have to decide how best to relate all that happened to me. I was originally planning on doing several posts, breaking down each day (or in some cases, parts of each day) so you get the full-scope of my vacation. However, I do have a friend who’s been breaking down her experiences in Canada with week-by-week snapshots, where each day is broken down into simple paragraphs. Some version of that may work for me, as I have a lot of travel to talk about, and there’s only so many hours in the day (especially when you’re working a full-time job and trying to get writing and editing done too). And should I do things in order? I’d like to get the paranormal stuff out sooner rather than later.

Well, while I’m deciding that, I’ll just let you know some of my thoughts of Massachusetts:

  • Boston is nothing like I expected it! I’m so used to Columbus, which is very flat and the buildings either look very old or somewhat new. In Boston, it’s extremely hilly, and even the newest buildings incorporate something in their architecture that looks like it belonged on houses two or three centuries ago, as if to remind us always of the history in that city. That really surprised me, and I found it so beautiful. On top of a beautiful city, to boot!
  • Dunkin Donuts are everywhere! My dad and I were surprised by how many Dunkin Donuts were around Boston, even just a hundred feet from one another! We were like, “They have Dunkin Donuts like we have Starbucks!” And I think I only saw three or four Starbucks outside of airports and malls while we were there. We’d later find out that Dunkin Donuts originated in Massachusetts, so of course it would be everywhere in its home state. Which, as it turns out, was very lucky, because we very nearly didn’t have a Boston cream pie before we left (and that would’ve been a sin if it had come to pass). Thanks for fixing that, Dunkin Donuts!
  • Everyone was so nice! I think we Midwesterners have this impression that everyone in East Coast cities are snooty and rude (especially in New York), so I expected as such in Boston Not so: everyone was so nice! From cabbies to salesmen to random passersby who gave us directions, everyone was kind and courteous. That’s sometimes hard to get, even in the Midwest, where everyone is supposed to be nice (trust me, they aren’t always). I wonder if I just missed all the rude people or if they went on vacation this past week.
  • Never drive in Boston! It’ll drive your stress levels up. Use public transportation if you can. Also, be prepared, because that city is super-expensive! Worse than I expected, actually.

My dad and I off on an adventure.

That’s all I got so far. I’ll tell you guys about Salem and Fall River another time.

Anyway, that’s what I got so far. I’m going to see what I can do about that video footage. Hopefully I can upload a decent YouTube video and amaze you with my paranormal proof. And I appreciate you being patient with me while I try to figure out how to present this extraordinary vacation of mine (any suggestions you have would be most welcome).

Until next time, Followers of Fear!