Travel Log…Investigating Vs. Tripping

 

by Natalie Crist

 

I didn’t know what to expect. This really isn’t one of my areas of expertise.

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Listen to the Tripping on Legends episode about it…

This was a friend of Christopher’s whom I had never met, and being my normally socially awkward self, I was especially nervous about coming into a stranger’s home with the intent of removing a ghost.  Going into someone else’s living space is so very intrusive, so up close and personal to the situation. Rarely do we experience a first hand account when Chris and I are on our trips, so this was a completely different animal.  However I rationalized the event by at least being able to offer an outside perspective and maybe just a shoulder to lean on for this obviously scared and shaken up woman.  

IMG_4291The story has been told so I don’t need to go into those details, but the short of it is that Chris’ friend hadn’t actually experienced anything but her family had. Being only a few months post-newborn, she had those newly created mama-bear instincts kick in.  She wanted this spirit gone, mainly to protect her infant. It was slightly overwhelming to think that she was placing her trust and her family’s safety with us.

The odds were stacked against us for my first real investigation.  Honestly, I had never met Nicole (the psychic/medium Christopher discovered) and knew nothing of her genuineness.  Chris is a super brilliant scholar, but I’ve never actually seen him be effective in investigating/removing a spirit.  And me, well I hadn’t even been successful in removing my own ghost. So there was definitely a thought of, “Why are we even here? This is hugely out of our pay-grade,” and, “We should be calling a priest.”

IMG_4258.JPGAfter we actually got set up and began to build a rapport with the family, my natural soothing nature kind of kicked in.  I wanted to fix it. I had to fix the situation. The friend was out of her mind with worry. But this isn’t my thing – although I naturally try to assert myself whenever there’s an issue and take charge – there really wasn’t a tangible solution.  How DO you remove an unwanted ghost, or psychic recording? How do you actually cleanse a space of what you consider a negative or draining energy?

Nicole and Chris obviously took the bull by the horns and each began their own methods of trying to figure out the story and achieve a result. Chris’ approach was one I was slightly familiar with, setting up a camera aimed at the room in question, setting down the recorder in the room, taking a bunch of pictures, and then getting the facts about the experience. Although I learned later that he didn’t actually do everything he had wanted, I thought it was a pretty standard setup.

IMG_4264.JPGNicole on the other hand walked around and got a feel for the room(s), trying to, I assume, soak up the energy and get an idea of what was there. I had messed up in the car on the way over and told her what we had discussed prior to going over there, about us believing it may be an old man that had once lived there – the idea that she clung to. She tried to describe the man, guessing at “old man’s sounding name,” telling us she felt like he was drunk or woozy all the time, and that she felt like he was searching for the wife who had obviously stayed in the room. I tried to talk to the spirit, and asked “him” to leave. Nicole said that confused and upset him.

It was at that point that she “helped” him moved on. She stood in front of the bed, eyes closed hand outstretched at one point, and spoke to the man. She told us she brought him to Archangel Michael, and he helped him go. That the space was now clear.

IMG_4276I wasn’t sold on Nicole’s whole moving the spirit along with the assistance of Archangel Michael. The sick feeling was still within the bathroom, and then seeing the ‘kiss’ in the mirror I was freaked. I just observed after that, trying to determine whether the friend and her family were assuaged by Nicole’s actions. There seemed to definitely be a weight lifted, even if partially, on the family’s faces. Relief and hope. Nicole performed Reiki for each of them which aided in that relief too.

Nicole was essentially done with her part of the investigation by this point, and took a backseat while Chris continued.  He directed the friend on how to change the atmosphere. Lighting candles and spraying a salt and water mixture within the rooms. At one point he too had a conversation with whatever was there.

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We had done really all we could at this point I suppose. Doing an investigation into activity isn’t the difficult part.  I’ll bet you could realistically find paranormal activity everywhere if you’re looking for it. But that’s just my idea that the other worldly lives amongst us, just in a different dimension coming thru.

Getting rid of that activity is extremely difficult and almost impossible to determine success immediately. Only time was going to tell whether or not Chris and NIcole’s actions actually did anything. But at least Chris’s friend was calmer. That’s all that mattered. Maybe she was able to finally get a good night’s rest that evening (the tequila probably helped, too).

After hearing that there was still activity that evening in the form of a Christmas snowglobe’s song I was disappointed, but not shocked.

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Listen to the Tripping on Legends episode about it…

It’s probably a very rewarding career or hobby to investigate and assist in matters such as these.  Of course, that’s if you’re successful.  However, to disappoint something who has trusted you is a bit crushing. I wouldn’t consider ever taking this type of activity up on the regular, at least not with the intention of removal. The experience was neat, but mostly I just felt badly for not being able to be useful.  

 

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Travel Log…Oak Ridge Cemetery: Arcadia, Florida

Natalie investigating the difference between traditional Mary hair and the statue's

 

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Listen to the Tripping on Legends episode about it…

Some legend trips are about the excitement of the moment or the depth and mystery of the mythology behind the story.  Others are about the anticipation of being in the dark with the weight of what has happened there breathing down your neck and making your hairs stand on end.  At the heart of all of them is the hope that there is a connection between the history of the location and the ghostly stories that develop around them.  As we look into the stories what’s looking back at us are lost moments waiting for someone to pick them up again and share with the world.  They become more than legends or ghost stories.  They become a way for the dead to live again and for lost history to dust itself off.

As we started looking into legends throughout South Florida to begin our journey, we sent out e-mails to historical societies and libraries in the area asking for insight into their hidden treasure other people may not have heard about yet.  We didn’t get many responses, but one came from the coordinator of the DeSoto County Historical Society’s Research Library with a reference to an article in the September/October 2016 edition of Gasparilla Magazine.  One of the locations writer Marcy Shortuse explored in her Haunted Arcadia was Oak Ridge Cemetery in Arcadia, Florida.  Arcadia was a little over an hour away, not too far for a quick drive and a perfect training ground for Natalie’s first official, researched, legend trip, especially given its proximity to what we thought was a primary location for the Singing River legend.

What drew us in were stories that came out of the location.  The first was a talking Mary statue located in the cemetery.  According to Shortuse’s article and further research we conducted into the story, people had talked for years about a stone woman looking over a patch of graves who spoke to people who stopped to pay their respects or just spent time around her.  The article spoke of people having entire conversations, but most of the other accounts online were sporadic occurrences, happening randomly and with no specific connection to people or times.  This was of interest to me as I had researched haunted statues throughout the country.

img_1653The idea was to try and find the statue and get her to speak with Natalie.  Many of the reports involved woman speaking with Mary, so we hoped that whatever was talking to people would be more drawn to her empathic, almost psychic side.  Our plan was to also record the whole session with a digital recorder to try and gather some EVPs if we couldn’t hear anything with our own ears.

The second legend was more connected to the history of the town and drove us into research mode before we arrived in Arcadia.  The real centerpiece of the cemetery is a memorial to the British Royal Air Force pilots who trained and died in Florida during the World War II era.  This was a part of Florida history neither of us knew anything about, and as we have spoken to more people over the course of the last year, we discovered most outside of Desoto County haven’t either.  In reaction to the Lend Lease Act, FDR decided to allow British pilots to train in the United States because the sky over their own country were a bit too dicey to allow new pilots to get the experience they needed.  Arcadia petitioned to use Carlstrom Field which had been opened during WWI but had closed after peace had been established and the need for American war pilots had decreased.

img_1635The first class of RAF pilots graduated in 1941 but were not without their issues.  Many of the foreigners were not used to the hazing which was a vital part of American troop training and that damaged their moral.  As explained in Wing Over Florida, many of the trainees also suffered from homesickness and overindulgence.  It seems the young men had come from a land of war into a land of plenty, and many became overwhelmed with how much food and Florida oranges they were able to get at a moment’s notice.  It would also seem they were distracted by the number of Florida women with “loose morals” in the area they also could find at a moment’s notice.

Even given the distractions, many of the airmen went on to distinguish themselves in combat.  23, however, died in training in or near Arcadia and are buried in Oak Ridge along with their commander who requested to be buried with his men 40 years after he helped to train them.  The cemetery is their final resting spot, along with a memorial commemorating Arcadia and the fallen pilot’s, contribution to history.

The stories coming out of the memorial are traditional haunted folklore for soldiers’ graves.  People are seen standing before the headstones and then disappear moments later.  A dark figure is said to move from grave to grave mourning each and leaving memorials, much like the legend of the man who leaves flowers at Edgar Allen Poe’s grave in Baltimore.   There are also reports of phantom planes, seen but mostly heard above the cemetery, maybe explained away by airports nearby, many of whom host airshows which feature older, WWII planes.  If these stories are not merely legend, it might make sense.  Part of the mythology of the paranormal includes spirits being at rest.  These pilots would be more likely to walk their graves because they are not buried in their own country but in a foreign one far from home and they may not be able to find peace or find their way back home.

img_1636One of the other unusual stories we unearthed mentioned the Union Jack flying at the memorial.  People have reported the flag sometimes disappears although no one is there to remove it.  According to reports, the flag was taken down and put up daily, but that no one currently moves it.  The flag is supposed to fly at all times.  In addition, many of these reports involve the Union Jack disappearing or being moved to half-mast while they are visiting although there is no visible caretaker present.  I noticed while we were there, however, that in certain locations on the grounds the pole was obscured by trees, perhaps giving the feeling it had temporarily disappeared.

We arrived at the cemetery a little after noon on a fairly windy Sunday.  We entered through the wrong gate, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it allowed us time to explore the cemetery as we searched for Mary.  One of the things we noticed was the seemingly segregated nature of Oak Ridge.  A large field separated the main part we entered through and a large section towards the back.  As we walked the graves it became clear that African American were buried in one part of the cemetery, separate from what might be considered the main section.  As a Northerner, I also was taken aback by the colored graves and how many graves had colored pictures built into the stone, something I had never seen in the hundreds of cemeteries I had spent time in while living in New England.

And all the time we kept our eyes on that Union Jack to make sure it was still there.

By the time we made it to the RAF memorial, the wind had mostly settled and it was a bit after 1:00 PM.  We had seen several stone statues of women but narrowed down which one we believed was the one from the story based on the description and the picture from Shortuse’s story.  First, we wanted to pay our respects to the airmen and see if we could touch some of the stories attached to them.  We spent some time reading the headstones and the memorials.  We said each airmen’s name and left a penny on each grave, a British military tradition.  To try and spark a response, Natalie read the poem In Flanders Fields, written by Canadian poet and soldier John McCrae, which has a deep connection to British veterans of both World Wars.  We also played the song “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn about English soldiers and pilots going off to WWII.

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Nothing unusual happened while we were at this part of the location, although the rope on the Union Jack, which never disappeared the entire time we were there, went crazy clanging against the pole even though the wind had basically died down.  On the recording you can hear it, but no wind.  When we read the poem, every noise, including the birds and the rope, stopped entirely.

After spending time at the memorial, we moved on to the statue, which seemed to be looking over a plot dedicated to the Hollingsworth family, who we researched later and found to be an important family in the history of Arcadia.  We determined, based on its location to the fence (some reports came from people who had played near the fence as children when they heard the voice) and the mere age of it, that this had to be the woman from the stories.

The first thing we noticed was how cold the statue was, especially in relation to the other headstones and statues we had touched.  The other was an abandoned wasp’s nest, which in at least one of the stories we had read was used as an explanation for the voices heard.  It was clear that the statue was not of the Virgin Mary based on the way she looked and was wearing.  Natalie, trying to get in touch with her sensitive side, got the name Agnes and went with calling her that, although an Abby Hollingsworth was one of the dominant graves in the family plot.  We spent about a half hour at the location, recording about 26 minutes of audio before leaving.  Natalie felt she heard some unexplained noises she was unable to account for, but nothing that felt like a voice speaking words to her.  She also was overcome at one point by the smell of incense.

 

It was not until we got on the road and listened to the recording that we fully understood just home much Mary may have been talking to us.  Even through the speakers of the car with no enhancement we could hear unexplained voices and noises on the tape.  Several times we hear an odd honking, more of a train whistle or harmonica or accordion than car horn.  It also sounds a bit like bagpipes, and there have been reports of ghostly pipes being heard at the RAF site.  The noise also seems to be deliberately interrupting what Natalie is trying to say.  At the time we heard nothing that resembled this, as we make a point to speak about noises we hear as they happen.  This could be attributed to the sensitivity of the recorder itself, as we have been amazed at some of the things we have heard from a great distance with it.  At several moments we also hear the recorder being played with although neither of us moved it.

Throughout most of the recording there are voices under what we are saying or under other noises from the cemetery.  At one point Natalie asks who is speaking to people and a voice is heard saying something like, “I’m a Hollingsworth” or a first name followed by Hollingsworth.  We also heard someone saying “Hey” trying to get our attention.

Please listen to the audio yourself to find out more…

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Listen to the Tripping on Legends episode about it…

We found some other connections in the research we did after we went, but nothing that was able to explain who might be looking over the graves or talking to people who spend time around the graves.  Of course, that’s the nature of the beast when it some to trying to track down a legend.  What is clear after being there and looking the history of the town and the cemetery is that Oak Ridge Cemetery is a crucial link to heritage of Arcadia.

And a damn good ghost story for them to be proud of.

 

UL: I-4 Dead Zone

The Witching Hour

Not far from the tourist capital of Orlando, Florida where the fairytale castles of Disney enchant hearts young and old, and the racing roller coasters of Universal’s Islands of Adventures leave riders white knuckled with exhilaration, lies a quarter mile stretch of interstate called the Dead Zone.  Along the palm tree bordered stretches of asphalt, there seems to be a mystery afoot.

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Mini Lights, Minnie Lights, Come Out Tonight

 

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The Mini Lights of St. Petersburg ended up being one of the most interesting legend trips we’ve done, not because of any evidence we got, but for the rich insight it gave us into the community and the challenges it provided for trying to figure out where things happened and what the straight story might be.

Ends up there isn’t one location and there isn’t one story.  You can spend your time trying to straighten out spaghetti or you can devour the bowl and ask for some garlic bread and meatballs.

Check out the episode we did on the way and after…  http://triplegend.hipcast.com/deluge/triplegend-20170326103541-9630.mp3

As well as some follow up on that case and the Devil’s Tree in Port St. Lucie…  http://triplegend.hipcast.com/deluge/triplegend-20170327012736-6406.mp3

…and hear the show where we first talk about it…http://www.hipcast.com/podcast/HtJFN9GQ

…and more about the Devil’s Tree and the mysterious draw to the ruins.  http://www.hipcast.com/podcast/HQRrNrBQ

 

Subscibe to the full show at http://triplegend.hipcast.com/rss/tol1.xml or search for us on Sticher, TuneIn and Itunes and Google Play.

 

For more content, also follow us on Twitter at @SpookyBalzano and @NayNayMyFriend and on Faceboook at https://www.facebook.com/TrippingonLegends/ and YouTube.

 

Tripping the Devil’s Tree

Natalie Crist and Christopher Balzano went out in search of the Devil’s Tree at Oak  Hammock  Park in Port St. Lucie.

We’ve got a full write up of the context and what happened coming later this week, but you can catch the two podcasts they did on the topic.  The first is a trek down different Devil legends and the second is their field report on the Devil’s Tree.

Epsiode 7…Tripping the Devil

Epsiode 8…Tripping the Devil’s Tree

 

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