Monday, March 2, 2015

Springfield: The Lake Club

The Lake Club was a popular nightclub in Springfield, Illinois in the 1940s and 50s. It featured well-known entertainers including: Mickey Rooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Hope and Nat King Cole.

This nightclub was also popular because it ran an illegal gambling operation located in the back part of the building. Patrons enjoyed billiards, card games and slot machines.

In December of 1958, the police raided this gambling operation and shut it down. After this The Lake Club slowly declined until it closed down in the early 1960s.

One popular employee at The Lake during its heyday was a bartender by the name of Albert “Rudy” Cranor. With the gambling operation he made a good living. Successful gamblers often tipped him well.

Interior of The Lake Club
With the decline of the club it was said Rudy also declined. He was found in the club’s office one afternoon--he had shot himself in the head and was dead.

In 1974, when this building was opened as a rock/disco nightclub it was believed that Rudy’s spirit haunted the building.

Bill Carmean and Tom Blasco co-managed this new club. They, the other employees and the customers all encountered Rudy’s ghost.

Shortly after opening the new nightclub Carmean was in the building alone one night when he heard a piano playing in the next room. He never discovered the cause.

When his partner, Blasco was brought in, he experienced strange sounds, whispers and cold spots. One night he saw the apparition of Rudy. He exited the building so quickly he left all the lights on. After this, he always carried his rosary for protection.

One waitress at the club, Barbara Lard also heard a phantom instrument. One afternoon before the club opened she heard a trombone playing. She assumed it was a band member until she discovered that none of them had arrived yet.

Lard also saw the apparition of the tall man. He had white hair and a white moustache. Later she identified this man as Rudy from an old photograph.

Rudy’s ghost spoke to her in the club office. He told her that one of the owners of the building was going to die. His prediction turned out to be true. One of the building’s landlords died shortly after of a heart attack.

One customer, a salesman, was sitting with Carmean one night when he saw a glass on the bar fly off--he ducked as it headed for his head.

Blasco in 1979, after attending a class reunion, requested a former teacher of his, Father Gary Dilley come in and cleanse and bless the nightclub.

Father Dilley and two other priests, Father John Corredato and Father Gerald Leahy were successful for after this the activity in the club settled down. It was felt Rudy was finally able to move on.

In 1992, the building that housed the nightclub burned down.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cornish Knockers

In other posts on this blog stories about American western mine spirits known as Tommyknockers are shared here and here.

The belief in these mine spirits originated with tin miners in Cornwall, England. Cornish miners called these mischievous spirits Knockers because they were heard
Cornish Knocker
deep within tin mines knocking.

These Knockers lived in the darkest part of a mine and were described as thin-limbed, two feet tall and had long hooked noses. To miners they liked, they would appear. They were described as wearing miniature versions of miners’ clothes.

Cornish miners to appease these spirits would share part of their meal with them. In Cornwall, miners ate pasties, which are a spiced meat and potato mixture enclosed in a pastry. Often at one end, an apple mixture was placed inside as well--making the pasty a complete meal.

This pastry was turned over and crimped at the edges. It is said the miners would touch their pasty just along this crimp with their dirty hands--thereby keeping the rest of their meal clean. They would then thrown the soiled crimped part down for the knockers.

Cornish Pasty
When it was time to eat “Oggy Oggy Oggy” would be shouted down the mine shaft by a maiden above, then the miners would call back, “Oi Oi Oi.” Oggy means pasty.

When the knocking was heard in a Cornish mine it was believed to be of help. For
Tin Miners in Cornwall
Cornish mine knockers knocked to show where rich new veins could be found or to warn miners of impending danger.

One Cornish story told about a Knocker was about a man who bought a home in the mining district. It wasn’t long before he began to awake to the sounds of heavy boots walking up and down his stairs. When he looked out of his bedroom he saw no one.

When these noises persisted he questioned his servants. One young maid told him what he was hearing were just Knockers. They were alerting people to the fact that there was a lode under his house that needed to be worked. This turned out to be true for under this man’s house was one of the richest tin lodes found.

One Cornish miner working deep within a tin mine was wielding a heavy hammer. He heard a sharp voice calling his name between each stroke he took. When this crying became urgent he threw down his hammer and walked in the direction of the noise.

After he had taken a dozen steps he heard a loud crash behind him. In the spot where he had been hammering a large amount of rocks had fallen down.

One superstition connected to Knockers is if a person hears them outside a mine it is a warning a death is about to occur.

A night watchman was working at an accounting house in the village of Breage in West Cornwall when he heard the distinct sounds of knocking. This was followed by what sounded like someone turning over a rubbish or trash bin.

When this worker looked out he saw nothing disturbed. When he told his friends about this the next day they listened and nodded their heads gravely. Within days this night watchman fell ill and died.

Geevor Tin Mine
With the decline of tin mining, reports of encounters with Knockers have diminished. But people believe even today that they still reside in the deepest parts of abandoned mines.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Haunted St. Joseph College

Elizabeth Ann Seton--better known as Mother Seton-- established the American Sisters of Charity. She founded what was to become St. Joseph College in Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1809. Originally, it was a charitable Catholic women’s academy. Mother Seton was later made a saint.

St. Joseph's College 1923
This Catholic academy evolved into a liberal arts college for women. St. Joseph’s College was closed down in 1973. The U.S. Government then bought the property to house the National Emergency Training Center.

This old campus is haunted, most believe because it was used as a Civil War field hospital. Field hospitals during this war were crude at best. Most severe wounds to
Daughters of Charity
at St. Joseph
the limbs became infected with gangrene and the only treatment was to amputate.

The one shining light of hope at St. Joseph during this war were Mother Seton’s Daughters of Charity who earned the nickname, “angels of the battlefield” for nursing both wounded Union and Confederate soldiers.

During the years the campus was still St. Joseph’s College numerous strange encounters were reported by the students--including both sights and sounds.

Numerous students stated they heard the screams and moans of the wounded Civil War soldiers across the campus. Some accounts even mentioned some witnesses who saw the old field hospital with its bloody surgeries--while walking across the campus at night.

Another account mentions several female witnesses who saw a nurse carry out a bucket of amputated legs and arms. Students also reported the putrid smell of blood throughout the area.

One apparition that was seen at night was a friendly Civil War soldier that stayed close by as female students walked across the campus.

Another ghost seen often was Mother Seton. Reports state students spotted her on campus, she would smile at them and then rush off. It was believed she was in a hurry because she needed to tend to injured Civil War soldiers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Gypsies’ Cemetery

South East Grove Cemetery
South East Grove Cemetery is located in Indiana near the town of Crown Point. This old cemetery sits near a country road. There is a legend connected to this cemetery that has been told since the late 1800s.

It is said there was an injustice done here over 180 years ago which resulted in the area being cursed. Others feel the strange activity experienced at South East Grove is because this small cemetery is haunted.

The most common story told involves a band of gypsies that were passing through the area in the 1820s. They stopped and camped on the land that was later used for the town cemetery.

Some of the townsfolk found the gypsies fortune telling and the jewelry they sold fascinating but most of the locals were not welcoming. They were suspicious and felt these strangers were there to rob them.

The leader of the band was approached and ordered to gather his group and move on. But it was late fall, and before the band could do this several members where stricken by influenza.

When several members died the Gypsy leader approached the local doctor. But the residents were afraid the disease would spread so the doctor refused his assistance.

Now angry, the gypsies did pack up but it is said before they left the area they buried their dead on the land and then cursed the town for being so unwelcoming.

Two men from Crown Point checked out the Gypsy campsite after they left. They noticed several freshly dug graves. When they returned to town they were disturbed to find blood on their shoes and the bottom of their pants.

After this, a rumor began that the Gypsies cursed the area. This belief persisted for when this small plot of land was later used for the local cemetery many nicknamed South East Grove-- The Gypsies’ Cemetery.

This rumor was kept alive in part because more witnesses claimed they found a sticky red substance on their shoes that appeared to be blood, after visiting this area.

Most residents of Crown Point today dismiss this old curse but others feel regardless of whether there was a curse or not this cemetery is haunted.

One prevalent report is that strange lights are seen. It is said that a large ball of light has followed cars after they left the cemetery. Other reports state this light also follows cars that just pass by.

Many report feeling extreme cold spots while in this cemetery--even on warm days. People report that dogs will not enter the area--often barking incessantly.

One modern day Gypsy family visited South East Grove, at night, recently. The father walked to the back of the cemetery where the Gypsy graves are located. He then rushed back to the rest of his family and announced he wanted to leave.

He told them he had gotten the feeling something evil was watching him. He sat in their car until the rest of his family was ready to leave.

Mist forming a face, click to enlarge.
Others have backed up his statement. While visiting the cemetery they felt as if someone was watching them the whole time they were there.

Witnesses have also reported seeing mists that slowly take on human forms.