Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Unseen Guardian Angel

It was the early 1930s in Chicago during the Great Depression. A doctor told this story to his brother…

Dr. Brown late one night was awakened from a sound sleep by the phone ringing. He groggily groped for the receiver trying to find his glasses on the nightstand.

A husky voice on the other end pleaded, “Is this Dr. Brown?”

The doctor reassured the caller that he had reached the right number. The male voice became more desperate, “Can you come quickly? It is a matter of life and death.”

Again the doctor reassured the caller, “Yes, of course, where do you live?” The voice mumbled a number and street as the doctor found his pencil and pad of paper, he asked the man to repeat it. “It is 17 Alan Street, please hurry.”

State Street Chicago 1930s.
Since it was the middle of the night, the doctor drove across town quickly, not having to fight the regular traffic. He drove into a neighborhood that was in a poorer section, that was run down. He knew many who would not venture into this area even in the middle of the day.

He found the street and then the house number, but oddly no lights were on at the address. He hesitated, then grabbed his bag and walked up to the front door. He rang the bell and waited, no answer, so he rang once more. He tried a third time--still no response.

As he turned to leave he heard a gruff voice, “Who’s there?”

It’s Dr. Brown, someone called for medical assistance.”

“Nobody here called you. You best leave.”

The doctor retraced his steps to the car looking to see if he might have read the number wrong. He had written the number “17.” He looked around, but none of the homes on the block had lights on. He headed home wondering if it had just been someone’s idea of a prank.

He did not receive a follow-up call that night or the next day, so he soon forgot about the incident. Several weeks later he received a call from the hospital requesting he come to the emergency ward immediately.

A nurse at the reception area told him that a patient who had been involved in a severe accident had begged the staff to call him. She told him the man did not have much longer to live.

She escorted him into a large ward where a man heavily bandaged lay in a corner bed. Dr. Brown glanced at his chart, but he did not recognize his name.

The man looked up at him, “Dr. Brown, you don’t know me, but I have to talk to you. I need to beg your forgiveness.”

Puzzled, the doctor moved to the side of the bed and nodded to the nurse to leave. The dying man continued.

“Several weeks ago I called you late one night.” He hesitated and then continued, “My family, …I have been out of work for months, there was no money, I couldn’t feed my children…”

As his voice faded, the doctor leaned forward to hear his words. “I need your forgiveness.”

More confused, the doctor shook his head no and stated, “You don’t…”

The man gripped his hand stopping him, “Yes, I do. You see that night I had planned to kill you. I was going to take your money and instruments.”

Horrified, the doctor managed to reply, “But you didn’t kill me.”

“I intended to, but when I saw the big powerful young man standing at your side I was afraid. So I sent you away. Can you forgive me?”

“Yes, of course.” Dr. Brown replied in a daze. The man’s grip loosened and fell from the doctor's hand. He had held it the whole time. He took one last gasping breath and died.

As Dr. Brown recounted this story to his brother he paused, "I suspected it was just a prank. I came close to death and didn't even know it. I didn't know that my guardian angel had saved my life that night." He shook his head in wonder, "he only appeared to my assailant."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Cursed Busby’s Chair

Today this chair can be found on display at the Thirsk Museum in North Yorkshire, England. It hangs on the wall five feet up in order to prevent anyone from sitting on it. Legend states this infamous chair is cursed--if anyone “dares” sit in it they will shortly meet their death.

This curse began in the 18th century. In 1702, Daniel Awety, a coin-forger bought a farm and named it Danotty Hall in the rural area of Kirby Wiske. His son-in-law, Thomas Busby who partnered him in crime was a thief, drunk and bully who owned an inn 3 miles from Danotty Hall.

One day, Busby drunk as usual returned to his inn to find his father-in-law sitting in his favorite chair. He demanded Awety move immediately, but the older man refused. The two men got in a heated argument and Busby kicked his father-in-law out of the inn but not before Awety threatened to take his daughter back with him to his farm.

Later that night, Busby sneaked into Danotty Hall and murdered Awety, he then hid his body in the nearby woods. But when it was noticed Awety had disappeared the local police organized a search. Awety’s body was found and Busby was arrested and sentenced to death by hanging.

On the day of his execution, Busby drunk had to be dragged from his favorite chair. As he was led to the gallows, at the crossroads near his inn, he cursed the chair vowing, “that anyone who dared to sit in it would die a sudden and violent death.”

Busby Stoop Inn
In the years following Busby’s threat, the inn was renamed Busby Stoop Inn. The new owner at first not believing in this curse kept the chair out on the floor for use. As news of the curse spread curious visitors started to flock to the inn.

There were also reports that Thomas Busby haunted the inn. Reliable witnesses announced they had seen Busby’s ghost wandering around the second floor. This drew even more visitors to the Busby Stoop.

A chimney sweep who sat in the chair in the late 1800s was found dead the next morning. He was found hanging from a gatepost near where Busby was executed. This incident sealed people's belief in this curse.

Friends would often dare friends to sit in the chair--although very few did. The few who were brave enough to take the dare all met untimely ends.

During the Second World War across the road from Busby Stoop an airfield was built that the Royal Canadian Air Force used. These men would often partake of the inn’s ale. Several crewmembers were dared to sit in the Busby chair. Those who took the dare never returned home from bombing sorties over Germany.

One previous owner tells how two airmen dared each other to sit in the chair. Both sat in the chair and later that day their car hit a tree and both men died.

A group of builders having lunch at the inn dared a young worker to sit in the chair. This young man obliged and after returning to the building site he fell through a roof and died. After this death the landlord locked the chair away in the cellar.

In 1978, a deliveryman sat in the chair in the cellar. He told the landlord it was a very comfortable. He suggested that such a fine chair should not be locked away in a damp cellar. Within hours after this, his truck veered off the road and crashed, killing him.

There are many more stories connected to this cursed chair. An Air Force pilot was killed the day after sitting in the chair. A motorcyclist died on his bike shortly after leaving the inn, a hitchhiker was knocked down and killed two days after visiting the inn. A local man in his early thirties died of a massive heart attack the night after he sat in this chair.

At a recent innkeeper’s request the Busby chair has been moved out of harm’s way. The chair had been in this inn for over 275 years.

It is the most popular piece on display at the Thirsk Museum. Visitors still ask if they can sit in the chair but it is never taken down off the wall.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Haunted Object--The Wedding Dress

Although most people associate hauntings with buildings, spirits can also attach to objects. 

In other posts, I have shared information about-- Haunted Mirrors, a Haunted Doll called Annabelle, a haunted portrait at Shirley Plantation and recently, The Scorched Bed. In future posts, I will share more stories about objects that are haunted.

The Wedding Dress

Baker Mansion Museum
In 1849, Anna Baker was the third child of a wealthy family who lived in Altoona, Pennsylvania. She had the misfortune to fall in love with a worker without means. 

Her father, Elias Baker, who made his fortune as an ironmaster, refused to give his consent for the two to marry. He then used his power and influence to have this man kicked out of Altoona.

Anna angry refused to marry anyone else. As the years passed, she became a bitter old maid. When she died in 1914 she was still living in the family home.

Before her father’s refusal, in happier times, Anna had picked out a beautiful wedding gown that she intended to wear at her wedding. Within the year another Altoona debutante, Elizabeth Dysart * then bought this gown. She gloated for she knew Anna had hoped to wear it.

Years later, this wedding dress was given to the Blair County Historical Society, who eventually donated it to a local museum. This museum is housed in what was once the Baker home.

This gown is displayed in a large glass case in a second-floor room that was the dressing room off Anna Baker’s bedroom.

Witnesses have seen this dress move of its own accord--especially during full moons.

People have seen this gown swaying from side to side. One witness stated it is as if a bride is holding this gown out in front of them as they admire it in a mirror.

The dress has also been seen shaking violently to the point where staff feared the glass case would shatter and harm the old gown. **

Investigators have searched for a draft in this room or any other possible cause, but nothing has been found to explain why this dress moves.

Some feel this dress moves because Anna Baker has just reclaimed what was supposed to be hers.

* Elizabeth Dysart’s maiden name was “Bell” her father was also an early Altoona ironmaster.

** According to the museum, the dress is no longer on permanent display because of deterioration caused by exposure to sunlight and air pollutants. But one has to wonder if this is the real reason.

Here is a brief summary of the history of the Baker family.

1st Person Account: The Scorched Bed

My mother bought an antique bedroom set from a neighbor for a good price but there was one catch. Our neighbor told my mother that it was haunted.

We soon discovered that a ghost named Jonathan now resided in our home. Jonathan’s antics included: unlocking doors, opening our kitchen cabinets, moving spoons and cups around and walking up and down our hallway.

The only time Jonathan bothered me was one morning as I used the master bathroom. I saw the lock on the door turn and then it opened. Annoyed since I sat on the “throne” I told him I was busy at which point the door closed and I saw the lock turn again.

Jonathan spoke to us once--through my father. One night my father retired early having gone on a long hike with the unit he was training. Surprised we saw him up and about shortly after this. He told us that when he lay down the sheets on the bed were warm but no one had been on the bed.

He sat in his favorite chair and watched television with us. This is when we heard Jonathan’s voice. He told us his name and that he had died from grief several months after his wife had died. He mentioned that he had owned slaves.

He told us that one night his bed had caught on fire when the bed warmer tipped over. The hot coals spilled out setting the linens on fire. Later when we examined the bed we found scorch marks in the lower left corner near the foot.

Months later Jonathan alerted my sister and myself to the fact there was an intruder attempting to enter our home. Jonathan turned on the back porch light and we saw a face in the sliding glass door as he tried to jimmy the door.

My father entered the room and turned on a light. We watched as the intruder jumped two chain-link fences to get away.

When my father was transferred overseas we lost Jonathan for my parents sold the bedroom set. Most of my family’s experiences with Jonathan were positive. Sometimes I wish we still owned that bed.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Japan’s Tsunami Ghosts

An article written this month recounts several stories about recent encounters the Japanese have had with ghosts that they feel were victims of the terrible 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. This disaster killed 20,000 people.

One Zen temple priest from the northern part of Japan, Reverend Kaneda states he has had to exorcise several people who have been invaded or possessed by the spirits of tsunami victims. He also shares several ghost stories that he has been told.

Skeptics point to the fact that many Japanese still practice the unspoken religion of traditional “cult” ancestor worship. They still keep memorial tablets for the dead--the ihai, which they consider to be alive in some way. So these skeptics feel these recent stories are a result of these antiquated beliefs.

Regardless whether they are believed or not they are very disturbing and scary.

Here are a few stories Reverend Kandea shared with one writer, Neal Colgrass, Bizarre Tsunami Ghost Stories Haunt Japan, published on

A fire station located in Tagajo kept receiving calls to places that were demolished by the tsunami. These only stopped when these firefighters prayed for the spirits of the people who had died.

A Sendai cab driver picked up a sad-looking lady. She requested to be taken to an address that was swept away in the floods the tsunami caused. When the cab driver looked in his rear view mirror his passenger was gone. But out of respect he drove to the area near this address and opened the door for the ghost.

Another man, a builder by trade in comparison showed little respect as he stood eating an ice-cream cone near one tsunami site with his wife and mother. His wife described his terrifying behavior after this. He jumped around on all fours and licked the furniture. He bellowed loudly and kept repeating, “everyone will die.” 

The Reverend Kaneda performed an exorcism to get rid of this resentful spirit. This saved this builder's marriage because his wife was threatening to divorce him. This man stated he had no memory of his behavior while possessed. **

The Reverend also exorcised one woman who was possessed by 25 separate spirits that had entered one after another. One of these spirits stated he was a father trying to find his daughter after the quake struck. He stated that he and other bodies were all trapped at the bottom of the sea.

As stated above many skeptics discount these stories. In contrast, one has to wonder why people would question the possibility of hauntings after such a devastating disaster.

Before and after satellite photo.

One book publisher, Richard Lloyd Parry--who is a skeptic; arranged for several gatherings at Japanese community centers where readings of ghosts stories were shared. People were encouraged to share their own stories as a form of therapy or healing.

** In an essay Parry wrote for the London Review of Books he shares how Reverend Kaneda performed his exorcism on the builder who was named Ono.

Kaneda beat the temple drum as he chanted the Heart Sutra:
“There are no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue,
 no body, mind; no colour, sound, or smell;
 no taste, no touch, no thing; no realm of sight,
 no realm of thoughts; no ignorance, no end 
to ignorance; no old age and no death; 
no end to age and death; no suffering, 
nor any cause of suffering, nor end 
to suffering, no path, no wisdom and no fulfillment.”
Ono’s wife told him that he pressed his hands together in prayer as the priest’s recitation continued, she saw him raise his arms high above his head as if being pulled from above. The reverend then splashed him with holy water. Ono suddenly returned to his senses and found his hair and shirt covered in water. He stated he was filled with a sensation of tranquility and release.