Monday, October 27, 2014

Walking with the Dead - Almost?

Jacks of the Lantern
J and L have been fortunate enough to travel extensively to bring stories and photographs back for our readers to enjoy but with Halloween just around the corner we thought we may add our own idea about this peculiar horriday.

The origin of Halloween as we know it today is still a bit of a mystery as many scholars refer to it as All Hallow's Eve or the Eve of All Saint's Day, it is the time of year we mere mortals use humor to confront the power of death. Most of these historical experts believe October 31st was tamed by the Christians to take away the power of the Celts and their Gaelic Samhain feast day (and was actually celebrated on a different day altogether). Why allow the Druids (the original tree huggers) a day of visiting strangers and demanding cakes (the original treat), candy or anything else of value from strangers when anyone could get into the mix and nix the pagans.  Of course, with any theory, there are skeptics who believe it was Christian all along - very few but they exist and doesn't the sound of Druids, Celts (kelts), Gaelic, and Samhain give a better ring for Halloween? Sounds almost spooky and ancient.

Druids - original tree huggers
 Well, maybe not ancient but pretty darn old since the first mention of All Hallow's Eve didn't show up in the Old English language until 1556. In geologic time that may not sound ancient but when it's hard to remember sometimes what one had for lunch yesterday it is indeed a long long long time ago.

Whenever the term or terms became part of the yearly festival of dressing up like ghosts, ghouls, zombies and ex-spouses it has stuck and became part of a worldwide culture. Billions are spent each year for this one special day around this globe and grows more every 364 days until the next neighborhood haunting.

It's truly a day to go out, for both adults and children and dress up to try to give the person next to you a heart attack and then laugh when the defibrillator doesn't function properly. Probably just another trick to obtain that elusive Snicker's Bar.

On a serious note - if there is one here - we at J and L tend to be a bit suspicious about supposed hauntings since we've visited countries such as France, Spain, Italy, England, the Caribbean, South America  where legends abound of ungodly things happening within the walls of houses, castles and cemeteries. Nada. Not even the creep of a hair on our necks.

In San Diego, California we visited the Whaley House (supposedly the most haunted site in California) but yet when John jumped up and down on the stairway where the most 'feelings' were of other worldly spirits the only feeling he got was he would be exited from the building. Though, to be completely honest as written in another blog we did have an uncomfortable feeling and the photographs showed 'something' unusual in a downstairs room that we could not explain. Stairs batting zero and room batted us almost out of there in a hurry - even got a cold chill.

Whaley House San Diego - Nice digs for a ghost
But nothing could have prepared us for the 'night ghost walk through Dublin'. Sure, it was almost dark, the sky glistening a long lasting sunset in the summer but as our tour guide (yes, sometimes you have to take a tour to see certain things) moved us from place to place visiting ancient Viking residences to the more mundane things of only a few hundred years ago we knew there was something special waiting for us.

No not that - ghostly sighting!
Sure enough we found that 'special something' where a poor lass named Darkey Kelly who had become involved with a married man of some note in Dublin in the 18th century and ended up pregnant. Now, Darkey Kelly didn't have a pristine past since she was once a girl of the night turned madame of her own business but nonetheless she was pregnant, single and coming from the darker side of Dublin. The father of her child fearing for his reputation (whatever that meant), was terrified others would find out declared that Kelly was in fact a witch (that being enough to seal anyone's fate, especially during such a superstitious time in society). That was all it took to have Kelly dragged by the hair up forty stone steps to the churchyard of St. Audoen's where she was summarily tried, convicted and burned alive along with her unborn child.

Laureen scared - not really - just a cartoon
Rumors, myths and tales tell of people hearing a young woman moaning in the night about the loss of her child or others say they have seen her spirit walking the churches grounds in search of something that no longer exists - her child, her innocence, her lover, or the people that murdered her on a lie?

We listened and took photographs and felt sorry for her. But upon returning home to the states and looking at the downloaded pictures something jumped out at us. While taking multiple photos of the area where this poor woman was mercilessly dragged to her ultimate death we had shots of an empty pathway, an empty gate and then suddenly two photographs taken a split second apart were totally different. One was dark showing the gated area and the next one showed the same gate but eerily there seemed to be an orb of light to the right of the gate. We put it down to a number of things but always coming back to it we quite couldn't put our finger on what we were looking at.

Research began. Don't take anyone's word for something - research first! Other blogs that referenced what we may have photographed.

3/13 - 4girlsandaghost - "I took a photograph from up on the churchyard steps, looking down towards the entrance gate. Not being a big believer in orbs, I disregarded it for the moment. Very shortly after I took the picture, the tour guide went on to say that the apparition of Kelly was often spotted just inside the gate."

6/09 - ghostcatcherie - "Upon analyzing my photos from the tour I found a very unusual shape in one of the photos taken on the 40 steps. I brightened this to see more detail and shape seems see through. I initially thought it to be a shadow, as it is transparent, but the colour and positioning seems odd. It was also taken with no flash in very little light. Although I cannot say this was a ghost, it is still a very interesting photo indeed."

A Dark Corner
A Darkey Kelly?

Compare the photos we took of the place Darkey Kelly was brought and you decide. We're open to any explanations but the hairs did stand out on our necks on that tour, and what was a rather warm day for Dublin suddenly turned very cold as we stepped through the gate where many years ago a young woman was dragged to her death.

So, Happy Halloween and remember the ghosts, goblins or whatever visiting your doorstep may not be mere humans dressed up for the night but could be those who haven't decided if it is their time to leave this blue planet?

Who knows for sure but isn't that the haunting fun of such a night?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Homage to Family - Sort of

Tino Luciano aka Doc Holliday from Tombstone Legends
Members of the Tombstone Legends have been live on the stage, filmed a television series, and even full length movie. So, when J and L decided to meet this talented group of actors and dear friends at Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino, California recently, it was an event which the two intrepid explorers knew must be made to fit into their habitually busy schedule.

As members of the Legends, the theatrical group who revisit the days when Tombstone, Arizona Territory, reached its height in fame or infamy depending on your point of view, or more precisely the late Fall and Winter months of 1881 and 1882. We try to keep the spirit of the old west alive. The time when men were men and they lived by a more chivalrous code. Well, for the most part. A time when the gentlemen and ladies truly did wear the latest in Paris fashions in the dust and heat of the Sonoran desert. Ah, but a figure they cut. And, yes, this is the era of the most famous gunfight in the 'old west' even though it lasted only about thirty seconds.
Tombstone Legends meet a few of their namesakes 

Wyatt Earp and Ike Clanton (actually three Earps, Doc Holiday, two Clantons and two McClaurys ) met not far from the OK Corral for a duel. Almost mano y mano except there were a lot more than two men facing each other. There were a couple who ran away from the fight before it started (not on the Earp side) and even Ike Clanton decided once the bullets started flying that it was in his best interest to skedaddle. He lived through that gunfight but ironically was gunned down and killed two years later by another law officer (Jonas L. Brighton) when he refused to surrender after a robbery and thought a horse could out run a bullet.

Obviously Ike never bothered to study physics. 

Back to the topic - the Legends were invited to the event by well known historian and author Nick Cataldo of the San Bernardino County Sun Newspaper. What event? The first annual (love saying that since it's the first) stroll through a cemetery that definitely is a piece of local historical value and what better narrator to lead over one hundred visitors than Mr. Cataldo. He is probably the utmost authority of history in San Bernadino and that is one large county in the United States to know as much as he does.

One of the points J and L always tries to stress is to go and investigate what is near a person's own backyard. There are so many wonderful and exciting venues, historical sites, and just plain interesting places to visit that one does not need to be a jet setter and explore the word for excitement and insight. Just take a few moments and do some local research and that very researcher will find enough items to last a life time to dig into.
The good, the bad, and Behan

So, again why visit a cemetery?

Because that's where the stories are of who was here long ago and not so long ago.

The Legends have never let the remembrance of that gunfight go to the wayside. That fateful and  controversial afternoon of October 26 of 1881 was and is still one of the most defining moments of western lore - good or bad. The troupe decided this event was for them and there was no way they were going to miss it.

Where's this going?

Simple fact - James Earp was the older brother of both Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan  Earp who worked in a saloon in Tombstone on the day of the tragic shoot-out but was not personally involved in that or the vendetta that Wyatt pursued after the younger brother, Morgan, was murdered while playing billiards in March of 1882. James passed away of natural causes in 1926 and is buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

A quiet moment
Alvira Packingham Sullivan Earp (Allie) is also interred at the same cemetery close to where James lays in rest - she is the long time common-law wife of Virgil Earp who moved to Colton, California in early 1882 (after Morgan's murder) to recuperate from his nearly fatal own assassination attempt back in December of 1881 in Tombstone. He recovered but never regained the full use of his left arm for the remainder of his life.

Paying respects
Hmmm - who pulled off the attempted murder of Virgil and the successful murder of Morgan? It's pretty well known the Clanton's (especially Ike) were behind the bloodshed but no one was held responsible and the crimes went 'unsolved'. CSI wasn't around just yet.

So the Legends paid their respects to the Earp family members but still stayed with the crowd as Nick Cataldo spoke about various important people from the past who were residing within the gated cemetery. The list is long so only two will be mentioned here but if the reader is interested in the rest please refer to the cemetery or the articles well written by Mr. Cataldo in the newspaper.

Randy Rhoads: gone but not forgotten
Consider carefully your mode of travel
Sunny Sue Johnson was an actress who appeared in both Flashdance and National Lampoon's Animal House just to name a coupe of her credits. One of the saddest mausoleums was erected by the family of Randy Rhoads who died in a plane crash in 1982 at the age of 26. He was the lead guitarist for  Ozzy Osbourne after leaving Quiet Riot in 1980. He was on the way to eclipse Jimmy Hendrix as the best guitarist known (according to the records kept at that time) but since he died at a young age as did Hendrix those competition results will only be known by the angels. Rhoads, according to Osbourne at the time was going to give up the rock and roll life and finish his Master's Degree in Classical Music to become a full time music teacher. He believed the life led by most rock and rollers (he didn't drink much, do drugs or smoke) was not to his liking with his Christian upbringing. An errant joy ride in an ill gotten airplane by the band's bus driver ended his and many of his faithful followers future.

What one can learn visiting a graveyard! More than you would expect - go visit, read and mainly enjoy the art of exploring.

It's fascinating what you learn only a few dozen miles from your abode.