Six Down, One to Go: the Tragic Curse of Oak Island

The mystery of Oak Island is so divinely intriguing that any soul with the tiniest sense of curiosity will be captivated by it. It’s been one of my favorite mysteries since I first read about it in junior high school. It all started one dark night back in 1795 when a teenage boy named Daniel McGinniss witnessed ethereal lights winding their way amongst the trees on a little island across the water from his family’s home in Nova Scotia, Canada. His interest aroused, he rowed out to the island the next day to try to figure out the source of the lights. He may not have not found that, but what he did find was a circular depression in the ground, about a dozen feet across. And above the depression were indications that a pulley system had been used in the trees. Daniel was excited by his find for good reason….a hundred years earlier in that very location, it was well known that pirates had used the scantily populated shores of eastern Canada to hide their illicit treasures. Continue reading

Haunted Happenings at Work: Largo, Florida

My sister Reenie is a mammogram and x-ray technician in a facility in the Largo area of Florida.  Reenie has had her own personal experiences with the paranormal, so while she isn’t a gullible sort, she does keep an open mind.

One of her co-workers, Maddie, started complaining during the down time in their work day that she thought her adult son, from whom she is estranged, was breaking into her home and moving her things around to mess with her. My sister and the other technicians pooh-poohed this idea and told Maddie that she was probably moving the things herself and just not remembering where she put them.  Maddie was adamant, however.  She lived alone, without even any pets, and she was a  bit OCD about putting things back in their assigned places throughout her house.  For instance, her remote control went on a small end table that was between her sofa and her recliner. Her keys were kept on a hook in her kitchen. Maddie explained that her son, a former Special Forces member, knew how meticulous she was, and that she would notice the small changes that occurred whenever she left the house. Early in their estrangement, he had broken into her previous home just to prove to her that he could. It had been some time since those days, but apparently he was back to his old tricks, she said. Sometimes, she was only gone a half an hour to run to the store, but when she returned, something was typically out of place. Reenie just told her  it sounded like she had a ghost. Maddie was not amused. She vowed to catch her son in the act. Continue reading

Update for Haunted Happenings at Work: New England

Please see my original post for the background to this true account: http://4girlsandaghost.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/haunted-happenings-at-work-new-england/.

I have already shared the story of my sister Dee’s (now former) workplace, a preschool in Hampstead, NH. The original part of the building was constructed about two hundred years ago and went through a devastating fire in the 1870’s which left a small girl named Agnes dead. Though other teachers had experienced some pretty telling evidence, such as toys found in the middle of a recently tidied room, after-hours when the children were long gone, my sister had only experienced “circumstantial” evidence. While she was there after hours, she would occasionally hear movement in the older parts of the building, or sometimes a toy would start when she walked through an empty room. This was nothing that Dee couldn’t convince herself was coincidence or overactive imagination. Continue reading

Wasted Lives and Wasted Dreams–The Truth of “Forever 27″

Talk about a club where people are dying to get in….(yeah, that WAS pretty lame).

The 27 club or “Forever 27 curse” is a rather morbid curiosity in rock and roll folklore.  While it technically was many years in the making, it is actually more a product of the entertainment TV/Internet age.  According to rock and roll biographer Charles Cross in an article published at Seattle PI  (February 22, 2007), a comment made by Kurt Cobain’s mother shortly after his death sparked much of the concept.  In her grief, she spoke of telling him not to “join that f***king club” which in turn sparked several websites, stories, and further fascination to this fabled group.  The only requirement to join was to be a somewhat influential musician and dead at 27.

It makes for a fascinating story.  The lives of popular musicians are often romanticized up to and including their deaths.  The members of this “club” are in and of themselves interesting albeit self-destructive characters in their fans idealized tragedies.  From that, it is not hard to see how an apparent bump in rock star deaths at 27 would lead to speculations of a curse.  After all, what more fitting way to glamorize self-defeating behavior–give it a pre-destined ending.

The club is often referenced as though it is common factual rock and roll knowledge.  However, the results of a study published in the British Medical Journal (December 20, 2011) by statistician Adrian Barnett illustrate popular music artists may have a propensity for a shorter life span, but it isn’t exclusive to age 27.

The study, conducted by Barnett and several colleagues from Queensland University of Technology, collected data for U.K. popular musicians that died between the years 1956-2007.  A slight spike for age 27 was noted as well as comparable spikes for ages 25 and 32.  What was observed from the data collected; popular musicians were 2-3 times more likely to die in their late twenties to early thirties.  Those spikes correlated with self-destructive behavior and reckless lifestyles, not a “curse” or a club.  “Death by misadventure” appears often.

The air of mystery that surrounds the passing of several “Forever 27″ musicians compounds the plot of this tale.  Certainly there were prominent ones whose deaths are short on definitive answers and long on speculation.  The Doors front man, Jim Morrison’s death certificate is extremely vague, his manner of death still a question for many.  Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones seemingly drowned in his swimming pool, but so many questions remained due to persistence of certain witnesses that the Sussex police did consider reopening the case in 2009. Members of Jimi Hendrix’s band, especially Noel Redding, had questions about Jimi’s official cause of death (overdose).  Conspiracy theories still run rampant with Kurt Cobain’s suicide.

Sadly, the only real connection lies with what people want to see.  Morrison’s and Jones’s deaths are mysterious because the witnesses were in altered states of mind.  Hendrix was a known heroin addict and addicts run the risk of pushing it too far no matter how experienced they may be.  Kobain surrounded himself with people who enabled his habits and were not equipped to help him with his pain.  In absence of real evidence to the contrary, the mysteries are in what people want to create.

There can be no doubt that the death of anyone with their whole life ahead of them is a tragedy, especially when there is so much promise.  We as a culture love our celebrities, and many people identify with their favorite stars as though there is a personal connection.  This, along with our brain’s tendency to see patterns (and a wider definition of an ‘influential’ musician) has gotten quite a list together of artists that will remain ‘forever 27′.

The deaths of people in the prime of their lives should not be fodder for an imagined curse or some  pre-destined club.  We should instead remember the magic they brought us with their talent.

For list of those who have been placed in the “27 Club”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27_Club#People_identified_as_being_in_the_27_Club

For further reading:

http://www.forteantimes.com/features/articles/6250/the_forever_27_club.html  (Fortean Times article)

http://www.history.com/news/curse-of-27-or-is-it-only-rock-n-roll (History.com article)

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/P-I-s-Writer-in-Residence-Charles-R-Cross-1229072.php  (Charles Cross article)

http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d7799  (link to Barnett study)

*Cascading Curses* James Dean: Destined to Die Young

When one unfortunate event begins a series of tragic coincidences it has the tendency to evolve into a curse. The more coincidences that are involved, the more likely people are to believe otherworldly factors have come into play– the circumstances are just too unwieldy to be anything but the result of a curse!

A series of tragic events that link back to the death of a young up-and-coming actor have managed to achieve a level of curse that only a series of coincidence of this magnitude can afford.

James Byron Dean lived life in the fast lane, so it comes as no surprise that this “Rebel Without a Cause” spent his last moments of life behind the wheel of a car.
Continue reading

Mysterious New Mexico: Miracles, Magic, and Monsters in the Land of Enchantment

Author: Benjamin Radford

New Mexico’s twin traditions of the scientific and the supernatural meet for the first time in this long-overdue book by a journalist known for investigating the unexplained. Strange tales of ghosts, monsters, miracles, lost treasure, UFOs, and much more can be found not far from the birthplace of the atomic bomb. Huge radio astronomy dishes search desert skies for alien life, and the world’s first spaceport can be found in this enchanted land; in many ways New Mexico truly is a portal to other worlds.

Mysterious New Mexico is the first book to apply scientific investigation methods to explain some of New Mexico’s most bizarre lore and legends. Using folklore, sociology, history, psychology, and forensic science–as well as good old-fashioned detective work–Radford reveals the truths and myths behind New Mexico’s greatest mysteries.

Review:

Let me start by saying I recommend this book highly no matter what level of interest one may have in paranormal legends and claimed experiences. Ben Radford’s writing style is conversational, taking the reader along for the ride as he researches the mysteries and cultures of this historically rich state.

I enjoyed all the accounts in this book, such as when a miracle staircase and its story are investigated with a critical eye. Analysis of the legends and scandals surrounding the “crystal skulls” is fascinating enough to be the start of another book. Those are just a couple of examples, as even more stories of UFO’s mystery birds, and alleged haunted locations are examined. New Mexico through Radford’s eyes is a land where mysteries are simply a window that, when opened, lead to facts that will hold a reader’s interest until the end.

For the skeptic, this will be a fresh look at analyzing claims of the extraordinary without succumbing to easy sensationalism. For the believer that is open to critical yet respectful examination of popular myths and hauntings, there is much to learn and appreciate. For this reader, my borderline cynicism about researching this area of interest has softened a bit. After reading this book, I now see that there are still true investigators into legends and perceived experiences. It is an excellent example of how research into such topics should be conducted–with an open, analytical mindset that references facts rather than “specialists” in fields that don’t exist. A genuine thumbs up.

A Quick Q from Jadewik

My dear readers, I have a huge backlog of topics to keep me busy writing for years to come– finding time to type it all up and share is the trouble. As I find time to write around my new work schedule, being a mom, and “life” (in general) I want to make sure that I put my time and effort into things the Witching Hour readers want to read. Please let me know which of the following topics interest you the most.

Thanks for your understanding and Happy Haunting!

~Jadewik