Ghost hunting: Mother Rudd

By Caryl Clem:

Halloween Night legends, rumors

Next door house, forbidden territory

October 31,1958, perfect time to explore

Myth or truth about ghost luminosity.

Uninhabited upper floor floating, flickering light

Spied as I press face against window at night.

Clothesline Northern Star quilt swinging

Nobody home, windless day, unhinging

Constantly looking for clues

“Are there ghosts ?” I muse

 

Five kids, huddle on the walk there

Look for ghosts, taunting friends dare

Mix bravery with  natural curiosity

Stay behind after Trick or Treat

Check out the barn as we hit the street.

 

Barn’s looming shadow swallows me

Wooden slats apart like missing teeth

Stepping inside a visible gap in the wall

Suddenly swirling, pushing cold air squall

Terrified, I run  away from the barn,

Temperature change, the air warms

Above in a second floor window, a bright single light

Shining a path home through the dark night.

 

Across shared narrow driveway

Neighbors Halloween Flashlight Treasure Hunt underway

“Why are you so late?”

“Nothing, bathroom stop”, I state.

Still no concrete answers to  my question

About Mother Rudd’s apparitions

Until paranormal investigation

McHenry Paranormal County Research Group

Documented findings ,the real scoop

Electromagnetic meter readings support

Paranormal activity claims, proven

Fogged then clear picture images taken

Shadows within a room report

Spirits refusing to be forgotten.

 

Temperance Tavern-Gurnee Stagecoach Inn

Under a woman’s management in Gurnee, a Temperance Tavern opened in 1843 replacing alcohol with popular beverages such as coffee, tea, milk, ginger beer, lemonade, peppermint water and raspberry vinegar.  Widowed business woman, Wealthy B. Harvey with several local women managed the kitchen and lodging accommodations. The inn was within sight of the intersection of two major roads by a river crossing bridge. Meals and a bed were conveniently located for travelers going in any direction.

She was considered a lady of influence, supporting community affairs using her inn as Town Hall for elections, and meetings. In 1856, Wealthy married Erastus Rudd who managed the farm land surrounding the stagecoach stop. As the reputation of the inn grew, residents fondly called the House-” Mother Rudd’s”. Customers raved about winter sleighing parties or her fancy Christmas dinners featuring rare oysters and specialty pastries.  As Union supporters, Rudd’s assisted The Underground Railroad by hiding slaves.  Stone boulder foundation framed with two story red barn slats. During the restoration of Mother Rudd’s, hiding cervices between walls and a secret door by a waiter’s station support Underground Railroad claims.

The barn was leveled filling in the ground around it for safety in the early 1960’s.   In the 1950’s while living in back of Rudd’s House, the barn with partial board walls and barricaded barn door looked to me like a great place to search.  Stories of fugitive slaves were whispered at the grade school within sight of spooky barn.  To stop my curiosity, Dad and I walked to the barn. Holding my hand, eyeing several deep caving in holes in the floor, he said, “You can’t play here because you could fall in and never be found.”

Since 1984, The Village of Gurnee maintains the land and building while The Warren Township Historical Society runs the museum, tours and collection of pertinent materials for the historical landmark.

Investigators claim ghosts haunt Gurnee house by Abby Scaff  Daily Herald Corresponden

“ the ghost meter” is one of the tools Tony Olszewski of the McHenry County Paranormal Research Group used while investigating Mother Rudd Home for spiritual presence…mysterious jagged streaks of light appear in some photos…images of the 170-year-old..residence appear blurred while the next shot is clear…other photos show luminous orbs appearing in different shapes. over 1,200 photos were taken…recordings can hear a sigh or a whisper…within the barn ..energy that is fear, hope, warmth….. …feelings of a runaway slave.  “

Ten of the most haunted colleges in Illinois

Loyola University:    A little over a decade in the early 1900’s when the Chicago Jesuit-affiliated school was known as St. Ignatius College, were the beginnings of a relationship between a nun and Jesuit priest. Apparently, the nun fell pregnant and, the devastated sister reportedly hanged herself on the 14th floor of what is now the school’s Mundelein Center for Fine and Performing Arts (previously Mundelein College). The priest later discovered the nun’s body and was so upset, he committed suicide by jumping out of a window. Students have since reported a flickering glow from the same window. Some have also heard strange sounds like a humming from the room where the nun had hung herself. Others after taking pictures have seen glowing orbs in the photographs.

Benedictine University:  In Lisle, at one point, the University was closed because of so many haunting s. One ghost is a boy in a blue shirt and shorts who wanders the campus and then disappears. According to sources, Jaeger Hall is haunted with children. Two ghost children were actually photographed in Neuzil hall. The campus was originally an orphanage and a girl had drowned in a lake on the grounds.

Rockford University(College): Like many colleges, there are several places on campus that are haunted. Clark Art Center, which is home to two theaters, have had witnesses see lights flicker in the back stage areas as well as hear a bell in the prop room chime on its own. The Adams Arch is actually the doorway to the old Adams Hall building, which was built in 1891 and is another famous place to hear the ghostly laughter of a girl when you are standing under it.

Morton College: In Cicero, just outside of Chicago, many claim that the college is haunted by a young girl who was killed on the Laramie Bridge, not far from the college. According to sources, security have actually seen the ghost of Emily on various rooftops of the college. Others have heard her cry out in the theatre.

Western Illinois University: Numerous hauntings have taken place due to many who committed suicide at the University. Ghosts have been found at Bayliss Hall, Simpkins Hall,Tanner, Thomson and Washington Hall. In 1972, a young man fell down an elevator shaft and his image has been seen today. Many students have observed flickering lights, cold spots, strange noises as well as floating images.

Southern Illinois University: Many books have been published about the hauntings in several buildings of SIU. Wheeler Hall, which was once the university’s library, and Shryock Auditorium are haunted as well. It has been named one of the top 50 haunted colleges throughout the United States. A former mental health institution and nursing home was purchased by the school in 1957. After being called Building 207, it was demolished in 2013 but click on the link for more information concerning the graves that exist today.

University of Illinois In Champaign, the library has been haunted which moved to its current location in 1928. Many believe the main stacks are sinking and images have been seen within them. The Lincoln building has a ghost located on the third floor which is next to the English building which used to be a women’s dormitory where a lady committed suicide. Flashing lights and slamming doors have been seen as well as ghostly visits in the Psychology building.

Milikin University:   James Milikin received a charter to build the Decatur University in 1901 and was to be an off shoot of Lincoln College in Lincoln. It is said that its theater has a ghost called the rail girl probably one of the colleges most popular ghosts. There have been numerous reports of strange sounds and footsteps in the theater. Stagehands and set designers have dealt with disappearance of props used during productions. Generally, tools are missing all the time.  There are also hauntings at the Old Gymnasium that was established in 1911.

Lincoln College: In Lincoln,  the college is rumored to have ghosts in the University Hall that was built in 1866. Mist forms on windows and an actual face was seen in the bell tower. A boy and girl passed away in the late 1800s and many feel that their ghost images remain at the college. In Olin Sang Hall, electronic equipment has been tampered.

Illinois College: In Jacksonville, Illinois was founded in 1829. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mark Twain were lecturers at the college during the early years. Illinois College was also known as a station for the Underground railroad and there were many famous graduates over the years such as William Jennings Byan. Beecher Hall claims to be haunted today with the footsteps of Bryan or Abraham Lincoln since he spoke at the college often. Effie Smith often haunts the Smith house. There are many other buildings on campus were lights turn off and on without explanation and images vanish in closets.

 

 

After the impact: Thoughts on 9/11

Thirteen-year old Richard worked on his model train and listened to his favorite radio show which was interrupted with an alert that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. At first, actual witnesses at Pearl Harbor thought it was a training exercise.  As if it happened yesterday, Richard still remembers the day. It became his first exposure to the true definition of terror. What would happen next?

For Richard and the next generation better known as the Baby Boomers everyone knew exactly where they were when John F. Kennedy was shot. When first announced, some thought it was a mistake; the President would be fine until the second fatal announcement that confirmed his death. I was in the grade school library when it was announced over the loud speaker. I even remember the agonizing cries followed by a deafening silence that stifled the country.  It was the first time school was dismissed early without the sounds of celebration. No one knew what to do, what to say but they moved through the days ahead with caution; immobilized by fear. I remember watching nothing else but the dramatic events of our President’s death unfold on television. At the scene of JFK’s shooting, Governor Connelly’ wife, had cried out, that they would kill us all. What would happen next?

Ironically, both American tragedies mirror the perfect responses and actions of the American people years later as they witnessed the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001.

While remembering my own place in time when the Twin Towers fell, I decided to ask others about their memories of 9/11. One recalls sitting in a Freshman English class in college and someone running into class to say that the World Trade Center had been attacked. Class, too, was dismissed for the day. And another was asleep but awakened by his hysterical father who was telling him to get up and watch the news, that the country was doomed.  What would happen next?  But then someone who overheard my curiosity about remembering 9/11 spoke three quiet but penetrating words, “I was there.”

She began her recollection of 9/11 describing a gorgeous, cloudless day on Church Street in New York City, visiting a friend from school, when she  saw the first plane crash and thought it was an accident. And for a brief second, I remembered that one moment the President was still alive. When the second plane hit, she knew that it was not an accident.  A fireman grabbed her and her friend, having them hide; protected underneath a fire truck.  It seemed like time had stood still under that truck…would they kill us all? She listened to the desperate screams, sirens blaring but then an eerie silence along with the smell of sulfur. Days later, it was like a disaster film as people wandered the streets of New York. It changed her life, her dreams and she joined the police force because of its effects

Though many feel that Pearl Harbor or the assassination of John F Kennedy  cannot be equalized to the events of 9/11, any American tragedy leaves a lasting impression; creating nation-wide emotional pain  encompassed by mortal fear; always prompting the question where were you that fateful day. Unless your memory has been altered or too young to develop those mnemonic skills, we all get a perfect score when answering that question.

However, as we remember the 17th anniversary of 9/11, will we express thanks for our own and be grateful for the ones who continue to fight for us today? Can we give ourselves high marks for reflecting on the lives lost, families stricken and the brave responders who didn’t think twice about their own welfare but tried to create calm within the storm?

If we can always remember exactly where we were at the time tragedy claimed our attention, we can take time to increase our participation grade and honor those whose lives will be forever impacted by the tragedy of September 11, 2001.

(Originally published in the Chicago Tribune)

Grand Power

By Caryl Clem:

As indispensable as a backup flashlight battery

When life darkens, ahead difficult navigation

Love and wisdom shine in body form

Action centered supporting family

A search light offering a brighter platform.

Transportation to school

Bedtime requests, tuck in stories

Searching birthday gift “cool”.

Spend a 24/7 hour weekend monitoring children

Claiming their company, part of your vacation.

Flip any traumatic tragedy

Reversed by smiles and humor

Into a laughable comedy.

Events spun inside out

Removing personal doubt.

 

Grandparents, living source of family history

Legendary, bridging time

Discover what is mine

Building links to our ancestry

Linking past, future into a living story

Depending on your reliability.

Not important if one’s memories blur

You will always be honored for who you are.

Happy Grandparents Day

Silver lining

By Caryl Clem:

Grandparent images, time bound perception

Colorful aprons, housekeeping armor

Sunday worship wear, high style hat fashion

High laced, freshly shined cleats, echoed on the wood floor.

Sunday dinner, family secret food traditions

Lively family issue deliberations

Sprinkled with storytelling sensation.

Heirloom handmade game board covers the table

Betting chips pair with the wild card shuffle

Game on, all out competition.

 

Later, embracing hugs soothed the pain

To a question without an answer, move forward

Believe in yourself, believe it’s yours to obtain

Passionate patience shaping every word.

A domain ruled by the theme, Welcome

Our door and hearts are always open

 

Pictures in weathered family album

Gray hairs shinning in the sun

Figures responsible for my surviving

Truly, my life’s silver lining.

 

 

Gifts for Granddad; Ties, tacks, clips and cuff links

Over the decades, ties have always been the if all else fails gift to Dad, Granddad, Uncle and any other man in your life that wears the occasional suit. But what ever happened to the elegant pin or shiny tie clip to go along with it?

Actually called tie tacks, the pin has a 300 year history and pins were made in solid gold decorated with pearls, onyx and opals. The problem with buying a tie pin along with that tie you purchased for Granddad’s special occasion is that little hole that got bigger and bigger in the expensive silk you spent hours picking out for him.  Unfortunately, the new tie wins out over the pin to keep it in place.

So how do men avoid getting their tie caught in the desk drawer at work or worse yet, landing in the mash potatoes and gravy at that family dinner? Actually, a lot of men seem to spend a great deal of time smoothing their tie in place as they were work, eat and drive seemingly reacting to a pain in the gut.  My father always liked the tie clip that he would receive with his new tie at Christmas but again, unless you were careful about placing that clip in the same place every time, you could damage the tie. In recent years, tie bars have become more popular and less likely to cause chaos. Isn’t it better to ruin your tie with an attractive clip or bar than with spaghetti sauce?

And what about those beautiful cuff links; another great gift for Dad. Some of you may not even know what cufflinks are; the decorative little fasteners that were placed on two sides of the cuffs of men’s long sleeved shirts and women’s dress blouses as well. You could actually have a set of cufflinks monogramed with your Uncles initials. Eventually, buttons began to replace the need for cufflinks. But shirts are still made today with a French cuff that do require cuff links. Generally, young men may be able to experience cufflinks with the first Tuxedo they rent for prom or even for their wedding. And like everything else, the Internet can easily show how all these male accessories can be used efficiently.

As jewelry for women tends to define their personality and tastes, tie clips and cufflinks do the same for men. When I would observe my father dressed to kill, the type of tie, clip and cufflinks identified Father’s character and said something important about his feelings on life, love and business. He would always claim that his accessories were messy and my mother and I would always admire his ability to suit up in elegance.

So if you need a gift for that special Granddad, think about purchasing a tie clip, cufflinks and shirt instead of just a plain old tie.  Maybe that stainless steel clip or rose gold links can be engraved with just a few letters reminding your Grandfather what he really means to you.

The Tie Chest   an Ebay store, offers a great collection of vintage tie accessories.

Gifts for Grandmother; the royal charm bracelet

All my travels, hopes and dreams as a child were recorded in my charm bracelet; a mechanical wishing well that opened and closed for good luck, a pineapple from Florida, a sail boat since I dreamed of having one someday, the Eiffel tower from my uncles trip to Paris, the golf bag symbolizing the days of miniature golf with Dad, the grand piano I was to play as a concert pianist along with the tiny heart you could open though too small to add pictures. Though tarnished and just a little too small, I still smile and dangle the tinkling memories of the past. Though I could never sell, children’s vintage bracelets from the 1950’s and 1960’s can command a solid price at auctions and on Ebay today.

After digging deeper into my jewelry box mess, I found my Mothers charm bracelet which was started by my Dad in the 1940’s; a gold link chain entwined with pearls that fits me perfectly. My father was responsible for the bracelets exquisite remnants; his gift to her to satisfy every occasion. Her first charm was a flat heart of gold with a tiny ruby in the corner engraved with her certificate of marriage to my Dad in 1949. Her second was shaped like a box with her scripted name, the third was a rose placed on a gilded background for her birthday and finally the fourth was my little Queen, their only child, with my name and birthday.  Unfortunately, my father died when I was twelve and that halted the tradition of adding to the bracelet. Though as the years progressed into adulthood, my marriage and own children, Grandma received a necklace with charms including pictures of her grandchildren; still a great gift idea for those that favor neck jewelry.

By the 1970’s charm bracelets lost their luster but became quite collectible in the 1990’s and now in the 21st century, charm bracelets have regained their royal status. Craft your own bracelet by building a family legacy of miniature frames for Grandma’s wrist or create a bracelet that identifies Grandmothers personality. My personal design would  have to include trinkets of books, pens, maybe letters of the alphabet and computers just to name a few.

And while you decide on the perfect gems for Grandparents Day on September 9th, I will be admiring an addition to my tired jewelry collection while wearing my Mom’s classic bracelet, in memory of her, that showcased her charm and the ones she loved. I also found her watch for the other wrist and since that is also supposedly in style once again, my accessories of memories are complete.

The little engine that could

I think I can….I can…I can. The values of today as well as yesteryear have not changed. Because the boys and girls are still reading the little engine that could. Some are still reading the original that was published in 1930 stressing optimism and hard work.

This was also a book that encouraged me to become a better reader. Reading was a struggle in first and second grades but it was the little engine that could that told me I could do this too. And I did…I did.

I began to think about the little engine while watching a student in my class follow the words being read out loud on his starfall iPad reading app. But this was a tale of two little engines that together, they could do it. The book talks about the  little red engine who trys and trys while a similar blue little engine helps push the cars of toys over the mountain. Other engines also pass them by.  This version focuses on true teamwork.

The student was excited about the story adding the types of childhood inflection repeating words as I did decades ago. He read it over and over in class. The same week that I noticed him become entranced in little engines, another student selected a book from the wide variety in the classroom. The original Little Engine that could.

And she did the same with the small, hard copy book. She decided to read it outloud while others listened. Later that day we had an assembly with a few members from the Kane county cougar team supporting are reading program.  Once again, one baseball player said that his favorite book was …guess what? Three times. … a charm.

So, of course, after school that same day, I went to the community library. I had saved many of my childhood favorites in a bookcase at home but not this one. There were many editions of the book as I discovered through the digital card catalog  including , a DVD, and a movie. But copies were checked out and the librarian said that it was always like that with The Little Engine That Could. Would I like The Little Engine That Could Gets a Check Up?

No, that is fine. I will just have the students read to me the copies at the school I assist,  whenever I need to be reminded of my childhood..my beginnings of academic success. Whenever I need to know,today, that I still can!

 

 

 

 

 

Summer road trips

WRITTEN BY CARYL CLEM:

The travel bug bites again

Packing suitcases, phoning friends

Destination selection conversations.

Cheap gasoline fills tank for less than a five

The open road, 2 lanes with sparse road signs

Mom and Dad, navigators

John and I, back seat observers

Maps, snacks, Mom’s daily journal

Wallet ready, a cash withdrawal

Inked map messages bold dots

Time to buy gas town stops.

Cool cotton throw covering hot vinyl seats

Hours pass, I’m waiting for a place to eat.

Mom and Dad listening to radio fame

John reads, I play the alphabet game

Real ice cream milkshakes, fries, cheeseburgers

Truck stop diners to delivery done by roller skaters

Foamy root beer floats, dogs Coney Island style

Lunch was savored for many a mile.

Next surveying the landscape for Mom and Pop motels

Stark white buildings stick out, is there a place to dwell ?

Ready to call it a day sense of urgency

We felt lucky to spy signs flashing vacancy

61,000 motel choices

No credit cards, only green back dollars.

Today, guesswork replaced by internet options

Road trips remain an American pastime passion.

 

 

 

Back to school

I don’t remember the beginnings of kindergarten though I do remember that my teacher, Mrs O’Brien, at Hoyne School on the South Side of Chicago. She was kind, patient and always encouraging. I had a favorite friend that she would let me sit next to while we sang songs. I loved to watch her play piano and she said I had the hands of a musician. She would tell me that when I would become frustrated with writing. Yes, Mrs. Obrien, I taught and played piano for many years probably because of you.

I do remember beginning first grade because it was at a brand new school that had just been built in 1962 because of overcrowding at Hoyne.  We were the first class at Kate Sturgis Buckingham school; in the second picture (currently closed because of just the opposite problem).

The school was to offer kindergarten through fifth grade. I remember sitting only two rows in the back from the four long windows on my left that hung over the built-in bookcases and heating vents. I remember watching the new playground being built and my teacher Mrs. Fox who invited her entire class to her wedding at St Marys in Chicago. After, she was called Ms. Boz and though I liked her, I was scared in first grade.

In the early 1990’s, when the school bus came to pick up my son in Downers Grove for kindergarten at Indian Trail School, he got on but cried… seated in the first seat. My husband put him on because I was too busy crying too. And my daughter who was next in line, could not wait for the bus to arrive on the same spot to take her to school.

Currently, I am assisting in a new kindergarten classroom. Parent and student orientation was on Tuesday morning and how wonderful it is when parents and students from previous year come to find out what class you are in. So many families found me; telling them how they missed me over the summer, sharing their fears and concerns for a new school year.

Wednesday was the first day of school without Mom and Dad. And I wait by the main door to help monitor bus and parent drop off. That is when amazing things begin to happen. As soon as they exit the bus, many come running and that’s when I hear my name called out like never before. There are several ready to give me my hug for the day; sometimes I have one on either side excited to know that I am here for them anytime, any day and any year. Today, I had parents snapping pictures on their cell phones of little ones beginning kindergarten for the first time and asking me to stand with them. How proud it made me feel!

As teachers, administrators, assistants and all staff within a school environment, we inspire hope, establish trust, ignite imaginations and establish a passion for learning. But most of all, we demonstrate love… genuine love for the children, families and the staff that surrounds us.

And when we stumble out the main door at the end of the day, bleary eyed, muscles aching, voices and thoughts strained after the struggles we will encounter as the year progresses, we can never forget those first days we celebrated on the playground.

And that is why we do what we do!