Chicago’s Most Haunted: Bachelors Grove

Another trip many ghost hunters of Chicago made back in the day and still do, was to Midlothian, Il on the edge of Rubio Woods forest preserve, the infamous Bachelors Grove Cemetery. The cemetery sign is long gone and the small burial ground is surrounded by a high link fence. Many throughout the US believe this is the most haunted cemetery in the country. And the road outside of the cemetery has also seen its share of ghosts.

Over the years, after trips, once again, to catch a ghost I think the area is a great place for vandals more than ghosts though ghost experts claim that vandalism is the reason for so many hauntings. I have taken pictures and found nothing unusual after developing my different types of film,video but those that have visited Bachelors Grove feel that using an infrared camera is the best way to see apparitions.The latest haunting took place in 2016.

The Midlothian Turnpike, the road outside of the cemetary, folks claim to have seen ghostly cars causing accidents. The pond, located outside of the cemetary in late 1970’s, was reported by the Cook County Forest Preserve officers to have had apparitions of a horse emerging from the waters. The animal appeared to be steering a plow driven by an old man and the rangers did not know that this was actually a legend connected to the pond according to Living History of Illinois

You tube offers many videos providing images of shadows, possible ghostly figures and white streams of light after taking pictures. You can judge for yourself if these have been photo shopped or the real thing.

According to Prairie Ghosts.com, the vandals first discovered Bachelor’s Grove in the 1960s and, probably because of its secluded location, began to wreak havoc on the place. Gravestones were knocked over and destroyed, sprayed with paint, broken apart and even stolen. Graves were opened and caskets removed. Bones were sometimes found to be strewn about the cemetery. Maybe ghosts rose to fight destruction.

The site saw its first official burials around 1840 and contains 82 plots, many of which were never sold or used. The site is often reported to have been a dumping ground for victims of Chicago’s organized crime families of the 1920s and 1930s, but no evidence of this has been proven.

Hauntings escalated in the 1970’s and 1980’s including a woman sitting on a graveyard that I remember which ran in the Sun-times taken by Jude Felz, which has been the most famous,a phantom farmhouse, the black dog, and the lady who carries an infant during the full moon.

The Ghost Research Society has conducted many investigations and does claim activity. The greatest number of claims include orbs of light. Bachelors Grove has been featured in a program called Ghost Adventures.

If you are planning a trip to Bachelors Grove, make sure you follow the Forest Preserve hours which are generally from sun up to sundown.  It is best to park at Rubio’s Woods, and on foot, cross 143rd Street South towards the power substation, head east a few feet to the closed sign, go around that and follow the path back a couple blocks.

Take a lot of pictures…..many continue to find a weird haze or fog after they have captured shots of the cemetery, pond and road.

Hope’s Front Door: Financial Literacy program changes lives

By Janell Robinson:

Kim was pregnant, unemployed and homeless. She came into Hope’s Front Door because she needed help obtaining medication and transportation vouchers for a job search, but found a resource that would not only change her life, but that of her unborn child, Noah, as well.

“I have never been a saver. I was like, I need some help here. I thought to myself, I am here anyway, maybe I should meet with bank counselors. During my sessions with the bank counselors, the bankers helped me create a plan to pay off my debt. I just started paying the smaller ones first and then putting the larger ones on a payment plan as they suggested. My credit score is now at 735. I also started a savings account at that time with the help of the program. I wanted a rainy day fund.”

“Noah knows I was homeless before he was born. So, it was important to show him that we were saving money. Each time I would get a receipt from the bank after making a deposit I would show Noah and tell him, ‘Look! That is what we have now in the bank.’ When he saw the amount growing, Noah decided he wanted learn how to save too. So, we went to the bank and they gave him his own little piggy banks, which he filled for his college fund.”

“Noah has been saving since he was five years old; he just turned 10 years old last month. He likes going to the bank. He likes to collect change from everyone’s pockets. The bank tellers’ print out the receipts with how much has been put in the account and how much money we have. He likes to tease me saying, ‘I have more money than you, Mom!’”

“I have taught him about saving and budgeting his money using Legos which are his favorite toy. I ask him, does he want to save his money to buy the big Legos that he really wants or spend right now for the smaller ones. He is very disciplined with his money. I hope that he realizes the more you save, the more you can get, and the more self-sufficient you can become. At his age, I would have just spent all of the money I could have saved!”

“Basically, by going through the financial literacy program, I wanted to share with him some of the things I learned. I wanted to show him that if you spend everything you won’t have anything, you will have to be dependent on others and no one wants to live like that.”

Kim and Noah’s journey from being homeless to becoming financially secure started with help from the community.

HOPE’S FRONT DOOR (HFD) often acts as a “first responder” to neighbors who are facing financial and/or medical crises. They serve the homeless, as well as those seeking assistance in the communities of:

  • Darien
  • Downers Grove
  • Lisle
  • Westmont
  • Willowbrook
  • Woodridge

Hope’s Front Door will be hosting The Traveling Feast fundraiser on October 5, 2017. Guests will be tasting delectable food offerings from five downtown Westmont restaurants before traveling down the road to their next culinary destination. We’re looking to raise to raise $20,000 that will be used in support of our Financial Literacy Program – helping area residents, like Kim and Noah, gain financial self-sufficiency through baseline financial literacy including budgeting, savings and credit repair.

For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, please visit www.hopesfrontdoor.org or call 630-322-9804.

Chicago’s Most Popular Ghost: Resurrection Mary

As a lifer in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, I have taken many trips along the roads, Resurrection Cemetery and the Willowbrook ballroom to find Mary…no luck so far but continue to do so when I hear there may be new sightings.

Who is Resurrection Mary? Just outside Resurrection Cemetary in Justice, Illinois a few miles southwest of Chicago, Mary, a young ghostly hitchiker has been seen along Archer Avenue between the old Willowbrook Ballroom and the cemetery since the 1930s. Mary has been picked up by drivers and then suddenly disappears by the cemetery as the driver passes by. Sightings have described her as having blonde hair, blue eyes and wearing a white party dress. The first sighting of Mary was actually from Jerry Palaus asking Mary to dance and when they touched, she was so cold.

Where and when has Mary been seen? Over the years, Mary has been seen a number of times. She showed up in 1973 at the Harlows nightclub on Cicero Avenue and since recorded sightings include one in 1976, 1978, 1980, and the last being in 1989. Janet Kalal and a friend were out in October of 89 and they were out for a drive ending up at Resurrection Cemetery and claim that Mary stepped right in front of their car. They were moving and felt no bump , seeing a stream of white.  Just this year, a movie was made about Resurrection Mary.

What and who do I believe?

Ursula Bielski, a Chicago historian and lover of ghosts, met her on a bar stool at the tender age of vie, drinking a Shirly Temple at Chet’s Melody Lounge on a Wednesday morning. According to Ursula the research that connects Mary to a real person that is the most solid is that Mary is Anna Norkus who was born in Cicero in 1914.  As a young girl, Anna used her middle name Mary, because of her devotion to Blessed Mary. Anna  loved to dance and her father took her to the famous OHenry Ballroom (Willowbrook) and  on the drive home they were passing Resurrection cemetary and was in a car accident. Anna was killed.

Ursula talks more about her research of Mary She is the author of: Chicago HauntsMore Chicago HauntsGraveyards of ChicagoCreepy Chicago, and the forthcoming book, Beloved: The Lives and Afterlives of Resurrection Mary. With her husband, David Cowan, author of To Sleep with the Angels (on the tragic Our Lady of Angels school fire) and Great Chicago Fires she owns and operates Chicago Haunting’s Ghost Tours. She has been awarded as one of the top ghost tours in America and provides different tours that you may enjoy such as Gothic Chicago Tours, The Devil and the White City, and the Classic Chicago Ghost Tour that includes the site where the Eastland disaster occurred. You can visit her Web site at: www.chicagohauntings.com.

As a Downers Grove resident today, I still wander over to Justice and Willow Springs. Just last year, the Willowbrook Ball Room was destroyed by fire. However, a nonprofit foundation plans to re-build with therapeutic dance programs for seniors and the disabled including a ballroom.

I wonder if there are more ghosts than ever walking along Archer Avenue. It is a beautiful day today….I might just take another cruise.

America’s haunted tourist attractions

Beginning this trip on the West Coast and making our way across the country, to a once famous ship who boasted five dining areas, lounges, two cocktail bars and swimming pools, grand ballroom and even a small hospital. The Queen Mary was the only civilized way to travel carrying celebrities such as Bob Hope and dignitaries such as Clark Gable. As World War II started, the ship was stripped of its luxury, returned to passenger travel after, and departed on her final destination. She is now a floating Hotel, attraction and event venue that hosts. Dark Harbor, a unique haunting experience that offers an unforgettable scare.

Midwest:

Erebus, located in Pontiac Michigan, is considered one of the largest venues with crushing walls and bottomless pits. The four-story haunted house tells a story of Dr. Colbert who actually built a time machine for the government. He broke away. Did it in secret in this building downtown Pontiac. And every time he put someone in his time machine, the time period looked at them as a virus and wiped them out. Obsessed with trying to make this thing work, he sent more and more of his people into the machine. Eventually he ran out of personnel and ran out of financing. But then he had a brilliant idea: disguise the time machine as a haunted house. Now he had an endless supply of human guinea pigs willing to go in, but also to help finance the program.

East

One of America’s scariest is Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania consistently ranked in the top ten of haunted attractions. This is a massive haunted house in a real prison. Real stories are brought to life in the famed Cell block 12. Visitors have options: they can explore the prison and watch or they can opt for interactivity which includes being grabbed, held back or even removed from their group. Many do believe that the Penitentiary is haunted. Officer and inmates have reported visions or strange experiences.

South

The 13th Gate in Baton Rouge, is one of the largest haunted houses in the South and have been scaring guests since 2002. The areas are both indoors and outdoors which are regularly switched out. They opened a second attraction in 2011 and doubled their size with hundreds of zombie filled crypts and their incredible attention to detail.

 

The Haunting Begins at Home Depot

For me as a child, with the exception of a pumpkin carved for the family’s dining room table, outdoor decorations weren’t as popular in the 1960’s. Indoor Halloween parties consisted of bobbing for apples in a tub set up in the neighbors basement and, of course, orange and black streamers draped with a few occasional flying bats and maybe fake spiders. However, in the 1980s/90s, outdoor decorations were the spooky rage.

Our home for my children was decorated with unique gravestones with family friends names on them, lots of hanging spiders, flying ghosts,  a witch who slammed into a tree, a mummy, lots of pumpkin signs and scarecrows which have now became early Autumn ornamentation. My best selection of scarecrows over the years were from Good Will, handmade.

Now Halloween is bigger and better than ever with even more fall glitz and scary glamour than decades before. Strings of lights outdoors frame the trim sidings of homes and windows in orange and black. Fog machines are in motion at night and larger than life decorations, some motor activated, stand with creepy pride on your front lawn.

Halloween is just around the corner and many Americans, like me, are looking forward to decorating their homes during this spooky season. Consumers have many choices when it comes to décor, and the experts over at The Home Depot are predicting some interesting trends that will take the fright factor to a whole new level, all while keeping it fun:

  • Rise of the skeleton animals: Skeletons are more popular than ever! Add pizazz to both indoors and outdoors with ponyspider and dinosaur skeletons such as the 9ft standing skeleton T-Rex This dinosaur is perfect indoors or right out on the front lawn. Make a statement and create your own skeleton family – adding more animals will be sure to give a friendly scare to your guests and trick-or-treaters–many options feature motion-activation and LED lights.  
  • Larger than life spook-factor: Size matters for Halloween décor, and trick-or-treaters will love walking to your house when they see a huge 9ft Gargantuan Spider, a 16ft Colossal Serpent that that will give your entire neighborhood a fright or the Motorcycle Riding Reaper.
  • Themed decorating: Experts predict simple decorating to be a trend for Halloween this year and The Home Depot category experts have categorized product into themes – scary skeletonscreepy cemeterywicked witcheshaunted housemonsters & zombies – to make it easier than ever to deliver the fright both inside and out of the home. Add eerie fog to your yard with the Fog Tube Accessory Kit hooked up to your fog machine.

If you opt to keep things even more simple, but don’t want to lose out on the “WOW” factor, Halloween lighting decor is easier and spookier than ever with the new WindowsFX Plus Projector exclusively from The Home Depot.

  • Why is it a top pick? The Window FX Plus Projector is the newest and easiest way to decorate any home for Halloween and beyond.
  • How it works: Simply hang the screen, position the projector at the window, select a video and press play to enjoy your fun-filled motion pictures. Animated videos will be seen from outside the home. And the new Plus version also has a HDMI port, so consumers can use the projector with wireless streaming media devices for a bigger and better outdoor movie night and even a football viewing party!
  • Great extras: Remote control , tripod stand and 12 pre-loaded videos

For more information visit http://www.homedepot.com/

The light on Quiet Harbor

In the early 1990’s, it began at the Clipper Ship Gallery in LaGrange, home to Charles Vickery, a local artist who showcased his work with paintings of the sea. His eyes lit up as we walked through the store admiring the beautiful work of clipper ships and Charles Vickery’s ability to make water come to life. I knew then what Kevin Sullivan’s next birthday gift would be. So my Mom, young Kris and Kaleigh returned to choose a Quiet Harbor, a limited edition print, framed with a light to highlight the respected artist.

As the print became a new highlight in our home, with a picture taken of Kevin and his children sitting on the couch in front of the new painting, Charles Vickery inspired others and through the years, has become a renowned artist for tall ship collectors. He passed away in September of 1998.

Until death do us part, Quiet Harbor remained in Kevin Sullivan’s life until he passed away almost a month ago. Kristopher, his 30 year old son, displays the Vickery today on his own wall and shares an email sent to the Charles Vickery Clipper Ship Gallery.

I remember my Mom buying Quiet Harbor for my Dad and admiring the models the Clipper Ship Gallery offered. I was just a kid then and we were in your shop alot back in the early 1990s 

Charles Vickery has touched me as well  considering he, myself and my Dad shared a similar passion for the sea and sails. Since my Dad and Mom divorced, the Charles Vickery print has always been on my father’s wall; Quiet Harbor print number 321/950 for over 20 plus years. When they were married, it had a light on it and he even asked me if I remembered the light not long before his own death just a few weeks ago.

It has been through many homes and yet pristine, he cared about it as he cared about his own children. My father had a passion for the sea and the tall ship. He was an avid sailor, I, his son, was his first mate. Toward the end of his life after being diagnosed with stage four cancer, he didn’t have much time but he did have time for the Vickery which still hung by his bed when he passed away on August 17th.  He was only 58 years old.

 Its one of the few things he had left and something I can appreciate and remember him by. Recently I bought a plate to commemorate the picture ….the same print which seemed to be difficult to find.

What am I trying to say?

I hung that picture the day after he passed away in my own home. I cried as my lighting lit it up for the first time in over 20 years.  Charles Vickery art touches more people in ways you can never imagine. For me, its sailing, its my Dad. I just wanted you to know.  Thanks, Kristopher Sullivan

And you know my personal feelings about the light for those readers that truly know me……a beautiful world beyond this earth without pain, suffering. A quiet harbor with peace and tranquility, a place to go home to the light.

Early beginnings in Chicago land movie theaters

It was the Chicago theater where I went to see my first movie. Though only three, I remember sitting on the right side of theater only a few rows from the front; fascinated by the colors, magic and amazing action presented in Sleeping Beauty. It was also at the Chicago Theater that I remember seeing Mary Poppins in 1964 and Sound of Music shortly after.

Chicago was known for having majestic theaters that included the Avalon. For me, on the South side with over 2,000 seats and I remember seeing IT’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Avalon was located on 79th street and I always felt like I was going on an exotic vacation designed in Middle Eastern style. Additionally, there were five huge murals in the lobby, which were made of tiny inlaid mosaic tiles, and a giant stage, which was guarded by four menacing gargoyles. The theater also once contained a 3/15 Wurlitzer theater organ. It is set to re-open next month as the Avalon Regal Theatre. 

Another favorite for southsiders was the Jeffrey theater on 71st in South Shore with a vertical marquee that could be seen up and down the street. In addition, The Hamilton Theater was opened in 1916, for the Cooney Brothers circuit, in the heart of the South Shore neighborhood’s 71st Street retail district.

Evergreen Plaza in Evergreen Park was a place we could hang out with our friends and Evergreen Theater was added in a separate building located on the malls south side in 1964. I remember seeing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Originally Evergreen Plaza, the shopping center opened in 1952 as an open-air mall, with Jewel, Lerners, Kresges,Carsons, Chas. A Stevens, Lyttons, and Walgreens being early anchors. The mall was enclosed in the early 1960s, becoming the nation’s first suburban indoor mall.

Now called Westfield Old Orchard, it was here we would travel to enjoy the open air mall that offered some of the first luxury stores in Skokie that were located downtown Chicago such as Marshall Fields and Lord& Taylor; the latter the oldest luxury department store in the United States. Old Orchard hosted a movie theater which is now called the Regal Gardens where I saw the 1967 movie, Thoroughly Modern Millie.

It was at the Ford City Mall Theater that I saw the Exorcist becoming one of the highest grossing films and the best in horror along with Jaws a few years later, of course, being released in the summer. Actually according to statistics, Jaws was the highest grossing film of all time until Star Wars was released in 1977.

After living in the south suburbs, the original one screen River Oaks Dimension 150 Theater was opened May 30, 1969 by ABC Great States Theaters. It had 1,600 rocking chair seats, a large curved screen, auditorium lights on the sides of theater that were dimly lit during intermission, and a giant curtain that opened from both sides at the middle. It was here that I saw the GodFather somehow remembering the horse head the most.

Opening at the Biograph,was the Rocky Horror Picture in 1975 which probably gets more attention now than ever before, always accompanied by a live cast.

Throughout the early 1980’s, there were many others that included the 400 on Sheridan Road in Rogers Park and the Genesee theater in Waukegan which opened into a huge lobby with a large chandelier. The stage was created for live theater and movies. In 1982, the Theater stopped showing movies due to economic decline and the rise of major movie cineplexes. And in 1989, it officially closed and went up for sale.

The City of Waukegan purchased the building in 1999 and began renovations at a cost of almost $23 million with the help of over 120 volunteers. The Genesee Theatre reopened on December 3, 2004 and still a host to many old time favorites that include Huey Lewis, Gordon Lightfoot and REO Speed Wagon.

What was your favorite game?

Unlike today’s’ children and young adults whose family room entertainment consists of computers, DVDS, androids, Nintendo Wii, and 900 cable TV channels, Baby Boomers and their parents spent childhood hours indoors with less sophistication and a lot more imagination.

As rain diminished hopes of playing outside, you called your neighborhood friends to come over using the single household phone; some families had two. If the line was busy, you could be delayed for awhile since call waiting and voicemail were not a luxury. You had to wait or walk. If your telephone line was a party line, you could amuse yourself by listening to total stranger conversations but watch out if your Mom or Dad caught you.

Once the troops gathered and if you had a basement, you could play Blind Mans Bluff where you turned down the lights, blindfolded the selected member and the one who was it, chased everyone around the room. But this game was more fun with a lot of people.

If a girls’ home had a blackboard, playing teacher was always a choice. Younger girls played in their cardboard or metal kitchens making plastic food entrees while ironing with their fake iron and ironing board; we wanted to be just like Mom.

If you were older and competitive, you could play your pinball machine or ping pong if you were lucky to own these. If you didn’t have a basement but a garage, it was a great time to be creative and pull all the garbage left over from Dad’s workshop. Build the neighborhood scooter that was shared by all or the clubhouse you always wanted.

If space was an issue, then it was time to pull out the board game collection which could take an hour of argument to decide which one you wanted to play.

Monopoly and Life could be the most time-consuming while Yahtzee, Clue and Sorry was less complicated and available today for the computer generation. Of course, let’s not forget Probe and Scrabble if you wanted to really show off your intelligence and Operation if you were planning on being a doctor, had a steady hand or just liked to watch the patient’s nose light up while buzzing. Booby Trap was another game for strategic moves. I loved Mouse Trap but always had a problem setting it up correctly.

Some of my all time favorites were Mystery Date, Miss Popularity, Concentration, Lie Detector and Password the later a TV game show with Betty White and husband Allan Luden.

As a younger child, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders , Go to the Head of the Class made a stormy Saturday more appealing; we all wanted to fantasize about hillsides filled with chocolate and being rewarded for our good deeds.

If you were a young card shark, then it was Old Maid or Go Fish. Returning champions played Poker, Canasta, Gin Rummy and Pinochle.  

Picture courtesy of Time Warp Toys