Sunday, August 24, 2008

New theory on the "gunshot?"

In the Florentine Room on the tour last night, a 9 volt battery was found on the ground near the door to the hallway where the noise was heard (see previous post). It appeared to be somewhat damaged, as though it had fallen. It made a pretty good noise when dropped. Could the sound we heard just have been a battery falling?

It's possible, but not likely. For one thing, the sound was much bigger than you'd expect from a battery, and dropping it tended to result in it bouncing around quite audibly. For another, there's no way to tell if the battery was there on Thursday; if it was, we didn't notice it - and we looked around pretty carefully. Since Thursday, tables had been set up for an upcoming function in the room - the battery more likely fell out of someone's pocket (or something) during the setup. If it had been there Thursday, the setup crew on Friday or Saturday probably would have picked it up.

Most importantly, batteries usually don't just randomly fall out of nowhere. Nothing battery powered was mounted to the ceiling.

So, as a skeptic, I was quite willing to say that the noise had just been the battery, but, frankly, the pieces don't fit. Still working on this one!

(note: there may not be many entries this week, as I'll be blogging from Denver at the DNC over on my normal blog as part of the "bonus material" for my upcoming SMART ALECK'S GUIDE TO US HISTORY (Delacorte Press, 2010)).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A really scary night on the tour.

This may have been the scariest thing that has yet happened to me on a tour.

I was feeling a bit more spooked than normal myself. Someone was reporting that the batteries that she'd just put in her camera were already drained - a common occurence at supposedly haunted places, though I've not known it to happen at the Congress before. Earlier, on the second floor, there were weird lighs flashing on the ceiling. Maybe they're always there, but I couldn't figure out where they were coming from and don't think I've seen them before. I brushed them off as reflections and moved on.

And the congress HAD been "active" lately - at least, I've been feeling more spooked there normally. One night in he Florentine Room, the third floor ballroom generally regarded as the spookiest of the old ballrooms by the staff, I thought, for jsut a second, that I heard a harpsichord playing. Probably just my imagination.

Shortly after we wandered into the darkened ballroom, I felt as spooked as I'd ever been in that room. Enough that I quietly even broke out of a keychain to try Hector's "pendulum trick," at which I normally scoff. Suddenly there was a huge BLAM coming from one of the service hallways off to the side - the sound of a gunshot! A loud one. I honestly thought someone had fired a gun in there!

There were no footsteps following it. No scream, no sound of a body hitting the ground. And, when we opened the door to the hallway, no one there. Many of us thought something heavy had been dropped in there, but there was nothing. No bullet holes that we noticed. There were other doors in the hall, but none that were very "slammable."

We spent the next several minutes scouring the area, trying to see if there was any way to explain the gunshot sound. There were some people who thought they detected some movement in the door to the hall itself, as thought it had been cracked ever so slightly ajar, then shut at the time of the door, but there wasn't nearly enough movement to cause anything like the noise we heard. Even when we SLAMMED the door, it sounded more like a door slamming than a gunshot. The slight movement could have just been impact from the noise (which, again, was REALLY loud).

And, anyway, the whole floor seemed to be deserted.

When we ventured out, I went down and spoke to security, who insisted that they hadn't faked us out. Certainly no one had been patrolling the area at the time.

As a skeptic, I keep trying to tell myself they - or someone on the staff - must have done SOMETHING. I never, ever say outright that anything that I see is actually, without a doubt a ghost. But, if someone was pulling a trick on us, they sure did a hell of a job. There was no trace of anyone there, no evidence left behind. This was no "fill a rubber costume with roadkill guts and stick it in a freezer" kinda hoax, if it was a hoax at all, not the echo of some long ago gunshot fired just outside of the old ballroom.

The moment after that noise was probably the most freaked out I've ever been on a tour. Of course, much of that is just that I thought someone had fired off a gun!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tornado Update

Well, here it is: the morning after.

It looks like the reports of tornadoes are being disputed, and no news report is saying anything about severe damage in Midlothian, the town where Bachelor's Grove is. So it was probably nothing.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tornado at Bachelor's Grove Cemetery?

As I type this, a severe storm with some tornado sightings is ripping through the Chicago area, including downtown. The worst of it seems to have passed me (about half a mile West of the loop) a few minutes ago, but a few tornadoes were reported, including as close to me as Logan Square. Not sure about damage yet, but it looks like downtown is out of the danger zone.

However, the news just mentioned something about a funnel/tornado sighted near 147th and Cicero - right near Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, the abandoned cemetery that is reputed to be among the most haunted locations in the world.

I can't imagine the storm could damage it too much more than the vandals already have, but we'll keep you posted if we hear anything. Could some underground energy or ley line or somesuch business have attracted the tornado to the area? I'm no expert on that side of things, but something tells me they might be talking about this storm in paranormal circles for some time.

We'll keep you posted if there are any updates on damage in the area.


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