Posts Tagged ‘Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast’

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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Hill House is a great example of Gothic fiction and a Gothic location.

You’ve probably heard someone describe a work of fiction as being “a very Gothic work,” or describing a place they visited as “having a Gothic feel” (which now that I think about it, could be said of The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast). But what actually is “Gothic horror” or “Gothic fiction?” And why does it still appeal to us after more than two-hundred and fifty years?

Surprisingly, Gothic fiction has very little to do with Gothic architecture or with Goth fashion and music (for more on that relationship, check out this brief YouTube video). And while most of the genre do take place in haunted houses, not all haunted house stories are Gothic, or vice versa. As this very helpful Tor.com article points out, “Some genres build the house. Others come along and decorate it. Gothic horror is a very decorative genre.”

So what is Gothic fiction? Well, to be honest, it’s a genre that arose out of another genre that was a response to a popular movement. In the 18th century, the Enlightenment movement emphasized discarding superstition in favor of science and reason. Some artists didn’t care for this philosophy and turned to Romanticism, which emphasized emotion and the self, as well as a veneration of the past, nature, and in some cases the supernatural. Gothic arose out of Romanticism, with artists and authors combining elements of the latter with horror, death and the supernatural, starting with The Castle of Otranto in 1764 by Horace Walpole, and followed by the works of Poe, Mary Shelley, Byron, and many others.

To put it simply, Gothic fiction could be considered the love-child of 18th and 19th century Romance stories and horror stories.

But that’s how Gothic fiction came to be. How do we identify it? Well, the horror novel Kill Creek by Scott Thomas (which I highly recommend), itself a Gothic novel, gives a great run-down of some of the common elements of the genre (I hope Mr. Thomas doesn’t mind me using them):

  • Emanation from a single location. The source of the evil is often a single location, usually a house. A great example of this is The Overlook Hotel from The Shining. It is the book’s main location, and it is the source of the evil in the story.
  • A sense of forbidden history. There’s a dark history associated with the location or something related to it. Again, a great example is The Overlook, which has been the setting for murders, suicides, and all sorts of horrid deaths and events, all of which have been swept under the rug for the sake of the hotel’s reputation, and later gets drudged up by Jack (and the hotel).
  • An atmosphere of decay or ruin. Things are rotting or falling apart, or seems to be anyway. It’s in the very air, almost. And it doesn’t have to be physical; it can be mental too. Just look at Jack’s mental state as The Shining progresses, if you need an example.
  • Corruption of the innocent. This one speaks for itself. The evil wants to destroy good and innocence and replace it with evil. Dracula, a great example of Gothic fiction, has the titular character turning good and innocent people into bloodsucking vampires. This is corruption of the innocent in its best example, and why vampire fiction is often grouped with Gothic fiction (did you expect another Shining reference?).

Dracula is another great example of Gothic literature, even if it’s not confined to a single location.

But those features aren’t universal among Gothic stories. They’re common features, but not there in every one (Dracula doesn’t just kill in one single place, after all). So what else makes a Gothic story? Well, there’s something I’ve noticed about Gothic stories: along with the atmosphere of decay, there’s also a veneration towards the darkness and to beauty. Remember, Gothic fiction rose from Romanticism, which venerates nature, emotion and beauty. So while we’re feeling an atmosphere of terror, there’s also this sense that the author has a respect and love of the darker elements along with the Romantic ones.

Of course, this is just scratching the surface of what constitutes Gothic, and I could go on for days on the subject if you let me. The best summary I can do for this post is to say that Gothic fiction are horror stories with a particular group of tropes, a veneration of darkness and horror, and Romantic appreciation for aesthetic and the fantastic world. And even that feels incomplete.

So what appeals to us about Gothic fiction, and has allowed it to survive and evolve whereas other niche genres like Westerns went out of style in less than sixty years? Well, there’s no easy answer there either. The Tor article says that the rules and expectations of the genre can be learned and make it appealing to readers. I’ve heard some people say good Gothic horror has an atmosphere unlike other genres, and that keeps them coming back. My opinion is that, in addition to those theories, Gothic can evolve because its main tropes are relevant no matter what age we’re in, especially the houses. But on a deeper level than that, most Gothic literature takes the childhood idea of home, a big place we feel safe in, and turns it inside out into a giant house of fear that is still somewhat beautiful and appealing. That is a strange inversion that can be attractive to readers, and may explain why we keep writing and reading Gothic stories over two-hundred and fifty years after Walpole started the genre.

However you define Gothic fiction or whatever its appeal is, there’s no doubt that it is a popular and influential genre that we’ve all experienced at lest once in our lives and remember. And perhaps by understanding it better, we can keep Gothic horror going for many more years to come. And I certainly wouldn’t mind that.

What elements of Gothic fiction did I miss here? What about it appeals to you?

What Gothic stories would you recommend for anyone interested in the genre?

I’m not going to lie, 2017 was a tough year in a number of ways. In some ways, it even rivals 2016, which everyone agrees was kind of a shit year, pardon my language. We dealt with really horrible terrorist incidents, learned that some of our most beloved figures in entertainment and other industries were secretly monsters, and saw terrible devastation from hurricanes that left communities without good food, water or electricity. This and a whole lot more affected so many lives, and definitely not in a good way.

However, there were a lot of good things about 2017 too. Many of the things I described above caused people to come together and fight. Not too long after the bombing at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester, she and several high profile artists put on a charity concert to raise over ten million pounds for the families of the victims. After the shooting in Las Vegas this October, thousands rushed to donate blood at the Red Cross, with lines reportedly snaking around city blocks and lasting up to six hours, and millions were raised for the families of the victims! Plus in response to the shooting, Massachusetts banned bump fire stocks, which were used in the attack, and several bills were introduced into Congress to hopefully prevent attacks like this from happening again.

Throughout the year, men and women came together to protest sexism and the treatment of women in America and abroad, with marches throughout the year. The revelations of Harvey Weinstein led to dozens of women and men to open up about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment, catalyzing the #MeToo movement and leading to the ousting of several serial abusers from a variety of industries for their crimes which, up till now, they could get away with, and started a conversation that is continuing today about how to combat sexual assault by powerful people who use the system to get away with it. Heck, voters in Alabama came together to keep a man who has been accused of assaulting multiple teen girls from becoming a Senator despite widespread support for him. That’s huge!

A Red Cross station post-Las Vegas shooting.

And while Puerto Rico and other areas of the world are still recovering from natural and man-made disasters, a lot is being done online and offline to help. Thousands are still sending money, supplies, and even solar power equipment (looking at you, Elon Musk) to help Puerto Rico out of the rubble. Despite the United States pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, many corporations, cities, and even states have said they will continue to abide by the agreement’s guidelines in order to combat global warming, which likely contributed to the many hurricanes we saw this year. And plenty of people each day are pressing for relief to peoples in trouble, both at home and abroad, from their leaders. It’s amazing to see that happen.

I could go on (I really want to speak about the entertainment industry’s positive contributions this year), but I fear this post will go on too long if I do, and there’s quite a bit I’d like to talk about. I’ll just summarize by saying that there was a lot of positive things that happened this year. And while the bad stuff does sometimes seem to overshadow the good, it’s important to recognize the good and cheer ourselves for what we accomplished, as well as what we can accomplish in the coming year. Which seems to be plenty, if we put our minds to it.

On a more personal note…

2017 was a pretty good year for me. Yes, the things I listed above, good and bad, may have affected me at times (they affect everybody, don’t they?), but in terms of my own personal life, I had a very good year. A lot of positive things happened to me , and if you don’t mind, I’ll just highlight some of the big ones:

  • My health seriously improved this year. I lost about thirty pounds of unneeded weight, which means I’ve had to take fewer sick days and I’m less likely to develop certain diseases. My back pain has also lessened tremendously, thanks partly to weight loss and to seeing a chiropractor. I can now move as I used to pre-back pain, and while I’m still working on improving my back and my health, the fact that I’ve accomplished this much already is a great motivator for me.
  • This was a good year for writing for me. I got halfway through the first draft of Full Circle (still on break from that until I feel ready to tackle it again), finally pushed out a new draft of Rose, and even wrote and edited some short stories. I also published two short stories, the science romance novelette Gynoid, and the LGBT fantasy romance story What Happened Saturday Night. Not only that, but over sixty new people started following this blog, putting me within striking distance of the thousand-follower milestone! For me, that is huge, and I can’t thank you guys enough for making that happen.
  • As many of you know, I work for a supply organization in a role that involves getting disabled employees accommodations and organizing events to highlight the diversity in our workforce. As of December, I’ve been with the organization for eighteen months, and it’s been great. I’m doing work that helps people with a great team around me, and I get great pay and benefits too. What’s not to love?
  • I went on the best vacation ever to Massachusetts with my dad back in July, and it culminated with a night at the famously haunted Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast. I cannot even begin to tell you what a big deal that was for me.
  • All the movies I was super-excited to see this year were awesome, as I’d hoped. Especially the new version of It. That was the It we deserved.

And those are just a few of the highlights of 2017 for me. Yeah, it was a good year. And I hope 2018 goes just as well or even better. Especially if any of these happen:

  • More good news on the writing front, particularly with a fourth draft and maybe the publication of Rose, as well as several new stories and hitting the thousand-follower mile marker.
  • Continued improved health.
  • Continuing to do well at work.
  • Maybe a bit of travel, and definitely a bit of fun, whether that be going to shows or seeing friends.

And that much more.

So guys, I want to wish you a Happy New Year, and to remind you that, as hard as 2017 is, it’s 2018, and there are endless opportunities to have a better year. You just have to be brave enough to try and make a change.

And again, thank you all for being my Followers of Fear and reading my work. I’ve grown so much over the past couple of years, and you guys have been there for every accomplishment and lesson I’ve experienced. I hope you’ll continue to support me for this year too as I try to accomplish all my dreams and scare people silly.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares.

Ever since I stayed overnight and experienced paranormal activity at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast back in July, I’ve kind of become a bit obsessed with the case and the hauntings that occurred because of the murders. The latest manifestation of that obsession is reading the latest fictional retelling of the events (of which there are several, believe me), See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt, who says she was inspired to write it after recurring dreams of Lizzie’s spirit visiting her. I first came across a review of this in Entertainment Weekly, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to read it.

See is a fictionalized account of the story of Lizzie Borden, who in 1892 was accused of murdering her stepmother and father with an ax and was acquitted due to lack of evidence and investigator bungling. The story is told from the perspectives of Lizzie herself, her elder sister Emma, their live-in maid Bridget, and a violent drifter named Benjamin, all of whom tell what they were up to on a hot, fateful day in August 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts.

I have to say, See is not the usual sort of historical fiction I read when I delve into that genre.

Firstly, the four narrators are each given a unique personality and desires, so that it doesn’t entirely sound like just one person narrating four different people. Lizzie is a spoiled youngest child with a hell of a lot of quirks (to say the least); Emma is an older sister who has become constricted by her responsibility as Lizzie’s older sister and as a Borden and wants to run to a new life; Bridget is overworked, and is trying to leave for her homeland of Ireland, despite Mrs. Borden’s attempts to keep her; and Benjamin is a man who sees the whole world as his enemy, and can’t wait to take a swing at the world. Working with one first-person narrator and making them unique is hard enough, so it’s great that for a debut novel, Schmidt distinguishes them so well.

I also liked how flawlessly she manages to weave these four narratives, especially Lizzie, Bridget and Benjamin’s narratives, together on the day preceding and the day of the murders. Telling overlapping storylines, where several characters are in the same place and experiencing things at the same time, has always struck me as a monumental task which requires skills I’m not sure I have yet (if it’s actually easier than I think, let me know in the comments below). Schmidt did it like a pro, to which I applaud her.

But my favorite part is the descriptions Schmidt has her characters use. I’ve never seen descriptions like what she uses. She turns nouns like “termites” or “critters” into verbs (is there a word for that?), and…you know what, let me quote from the first page:

I breathed in kerosene air, licked the thickness from my teeth…My heart beat nightmares, gallop, gallop, as I looked at Father again…Pear skin crisped in my mouth…

How different was that? I have never heard any of these things described this way in fiction, and it’s kind of refreshing to hear. And Schmidt does this throughout the book, particularly with food. She goes all out to describe the food and the sensations of eating in a variety of ways. You really have to read it to believe it.

Now was there anything I disliked? A few things. I was kind of hoping going in that this would be a thriller of sorts that revealed an interesting take on an old theory or even better, a new scenario for the still-unsolved murders. What I got was more of a dissection of the Borden family, showing through several different eyes how grating these people have become on each other, and how it might have been a factor in the murders. And while the portrait painted is beautiful and quite telling of both the author’s vision of and what the family might’ve really been like, I thought the ending where the killer is revealed rang a bit hollow. Like I said, I wanted a new scenario or an interesting take on one of the standard theories for the case, and the way it was eventually portrayed fell a little flat for me.

And as much as I liked the unique descriptions in the book, some of them are used repetitively throughout the novel. I can’t count how many times things, especially fingers, are described as sticky, or how many times heat “itches” at someone. To quote some of my editors, variety in words and phrases throughout a story is important.

And what was up with the dislike for Lizzie and Emma’s uncle John? I get why Abby and Andrew Borden dislike him, he’s probably a bad reminder of Lizzie and Emma’s deceased mother, but why do Emma and Bridget dislike him so much but Lizzie adores him? There’s a lot there that I would’ve liked explained.

But all in all, See What I Have Done is an excellent debut for a new novelist. Putting a score on this book on a scale of 1 to 5 was difficult, but my head kept coming back to a 3.8. Engaging, atmospheric, and full of wonderful prose. Check it out, and ax yourself if you’re ready to dive into Lizzie’s madness.

And yes, I intentionally made that pun. And I stand by it. Goodnight, everybody!

Today I’m doing something different, and showcasing one of my favorite things: collect dolls and figurines! I’ve mentioned it maybe two or three times on my blog, but I have a growing collection of these, coming in a variety of styles and themes, and from a number of franchises. Why am I showing this off, when this is a blog about a horror author? Read on, I might get into that later in this post.

First off, plenty of anime figurines. As many of you know, I’m a huge anime and manga fan, so it’s no surprise I have figurines based on anime characters:

From left to right: Homura Akemi from Madoka Magica; a cutesy chibi Christmas version of Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion; and Madoka Kaname, also from Madoka Magica.

Hatsune Miku, a famous Japanese music persona; Nina Wang from My-Otome; and Asuna from Sword Art Online.

Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion, outitted in a Gothic Lolita style (this one partially inspired a novel).

Except for the Nina Wang figurine, which I bought on Amazon, all of these figures were purchased at Akiba Arcade, a local place that caters to the Japanese game, manga, and anime fans in Columbus (which are many). They have a ton of Japanese games and merchandise, and I visit as often as I can. Yeah, they can cost a lot (most of these cost between $40 and $60), but they’re well worth it.

Of course, not everything I have that is Japanese in origin is anime/manga-related. For example:

This is a maneki-neko, or a lucky cat statue. In Japan, these babies are supposed to bring good luck, especially financial luck. I don’t know if it has, but I’ve noticed my life has improved bit by bit over time, so maybe it’s having an effect?

Of course, not everything I have is Japanese. True, a lot of it is, but not everything. Like these:

Ninth Doctor Funko Pop doll

Sailor Moon and Luna Funko Pop dolls.

Jason Voorhees Funko Pop doll

Lizzie Borden bobblehead doll and a raven statue. Nevermore! Thwack!

The barfing gnome from Gravity Falls; a Grinning Jak from The Nighmare Before Christmas; and Waddles the Pig from Gravity Falls

Yeah, the Sailor Moon one is technically Japanese, but Funko is American, so it evens out. And you’ll notice, a lot of these are related to franchises or pop culture properties I’m a fan of. The exceptions in this group is the Lizzie Borden bobble head doll and the raven. The former is related to an amazing experience I had earlier this year, while the latter is just a fun Halloween decoration that I have out all year because for me, every day is Halloween. Not to mention, they’re creepy.

And now for some of my most recent acquisitions:

 

These are Sally and Jack, and they’re pixified versions of the Sally and Jack characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas. In fact, you can see them holding doll versions of their namesakes in their arms. These are first-edition figurines made by the Hamilton Collection. There are two more figurines in the series, and I hope to collect those two in time. For now though, I’m really happy with these two. Thy’re very pretty, based on a truly awesome movie, and I just love to see them when I walk in the door each day.

And finally, here’s the oldest figurine I own.

This is Zero from the anime Code Geass, which is still one of my favorite animes ever. I made it in art class back in high school, because I couldn’t afford figurines or dolls at that time, and not for several years afterwards. Zero was my way of saying that one day, I would be able to own these sort of things I’d always wanted. And I think I can say I’ve accomplished that goal.

And my collection is growing every day. I’m probably going to get the other two figurines in The Nightmare Before Christmas series from Hamilton, as well as many more figurines from various anime (including an actual Zero figure), and maybe even some of the more traditional kinds of dolls, the ones that wouldn’t look out of place in Victorian England, among others. I’m saving up for them, and for a cabinet to put them all in so they don’t get dusty. And when that happens, maybe I’ll post about those new editions too. We’ll see.

That’s all, Followers of Fear. Just wanted to post about my weird hobbies and show you all how proud I am of them. Until next time, 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!