Which Witch??

By Caryl Clem:

From the earliest Greek and Roman myths and legends, servants to these gods and goddesses were witches of either gender. For example, Italy’s witch, Aradia, daughter of Diana the moon goddess and Lucifer, is sent to local people to teach magic to improve their lives against tyranny and poverty and crushing authority. She is beautiful and images of her show long hair, youthful facial features and flowing gowns.

Witches were the superwomen and super nannies before Christianity. Every king wanted his military power restored after a defeat, advice on spells to guide his path with competing powers, and a home based safeguard for his children for a few hundred years.

After seeing a picture of the Princess Anne of Denmark, King James of Scotland proposed.  King James VI spent time in Denmark with his new wife observing the witch hunts and witchcraft trials during a time when over 1,000 witches were burned. A Lutheran bishop, Peder Palladius, is accusing any woman who acts as a Catholic to be a witch.  King James and wife faced life threatening storms traveling home. He blamed his misfortune on witchcraft. He sought counsel and was advised to eliminate any witch who could be a threat to the community His own witch hunting and trials forced confessions by torture. He published James VI and I’s book on the subject of witchcraft, Daemonologie, published in 1597.

Germany and France were purging devil witches by the thousands.  According to Suzanne Lipscomb in her book on witches, one town in Germany was left with no woman. According to records, over 40,000 were executed.  The hysteria spreads overseas to America in New Salem, Massachusetts.  The trials suddenly cease when the name of the wife of a governor is given as a witch.

Since the late 1800’s, witch images are shown flying through the skies on brooms with wide brimmed hats. Again, witches represent mystery and magic.  Post cards and nursery tales show old woman with unpredictable powers to change lives. Several male authors have published guides explaining and disclosing spells and witchcraft magic such as Gerald Garner and Aleister Crowley.  A new era of witches is born going back to natural and lunar influences.  A religion based on harmony and doing no harm by witches is recognized in 1986 as WICCA.  Present WICCA is a nature based spiritual movement with both male and female witches spread through several sects.

The boiling cauldron with women in a peaked brimmed hat and a cat in the doorway were beer brewers, another form of liquid magic. To indicate when a brew was ready, broomsticks would be placed in the doorways of alehouses. Images of frothing cauldrons full of ready product and six-sided stars to indicate the quality of the brew also abounded. Lastly, out of manifest necessity, cats would be kept in the brew houses to protect the grains from mice.” Interesting that in Latino and African cultures, the woman made brews. Brew Witches made high spirits available here on earth.  A witch can be anybody who practices mind over matter.

The Addams family: Through the decades

Morticia was my favorite Halloween costume and growing up in the 1960’s, the original series was just fun. Watching madly in love, Gomez, speaking in Italian, kissing his wife’s arm, was my first opportunity to watch true love between a wealthy monster couple. Far more realistic than the Munsters. Gomez and Morticia,along with their children, Pugsley and Wednesday, were human with crazy cousins and horrifying looking servants like Lurch. In 1964, a live-action television series, starring John Astin and Carolyn Jones, premiered on ABC , only airing for two seasons.

Subsequently, the series inspired a 1977 television film with the original cast. Another Addams Family movie was created in 1991;  American supernatural black comedy film based on the characters from the cartoon created by cartoonist Charles Addams and the 1964 TV series produced by David Levy. Directed by former cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld in his screen directing debut, the film stars Angelica Huston, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance as Morticia Addams. In 1993, Adamms Family Values was another sequel film featuring many of the same cast members as in 1991. Both received nominations for Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Hugo Awards. The films inspired a second animated series (1992–1993) set in the same fictional universe but with Astin reprising his role as the voice of Gomez. It was nominated for four Daytime Emmy Awards, including one for Astin.  In 1998, the Adamms Family Reunion was launched. In 2010, The Adamms Family also become a Broadway musical.

Currently, an Adamms family video is creating a stir among millions of little ones. The video is sponsored by Go Noodle, a collection of videos for children recommended by child experts that engages movement and mindfulness; at home or at school. My current kindergarten class absolutely loves the Adamms family video and asks for it constantly; following the dance moves they see. That is where Wednesday and Pugsley dance to the same silly song as I did in front of the television set, snapping their fingers. My group really tries to snap along with them; some choose clapping instead but they do show me when they are successful snappers.

On October 11th, The Addams Family (2019) will be available; an upcoming American 3D computer-animated comedy horror film based on the comics of the same name by Charles Addams. The film is directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, and will star the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, and Allison Janney. Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley and Uncle Fester square off against a reality television show host.

Prairie Avenue ghosts

I love to walk up and down the historic avenue. I have read many historical novels such as Prairie Avenue by Arthur Meeker.  Its always a new field trip to walk with the ghosts on Millionaires Row and to read about them. Residents of the street have influenced the evolution of the city and have played prominent national and international roles moving there after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. By 1886, the finest mansions in the city, each equipped with its own carriage house, stood on Prairie Avenue. In the 1880s, mansions for George Pullman, Marshall Field, John J. Glessner, Philip Armour and Kimball. Mansions were located between 16th and 22nd streets.

A few of the mansions do remain such as the Glessner House which is a active museum and the Henry B. Clarke house, also a museum. The Marshall Field, Jr. Mansion at 1919 South Prairie Avenue, now condos, is marvel of preservation and sensitive reuse. And many say that Prairie Avenue is haunted.

Glessner House was designed by noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1887. So different from the Victorian houses that were being built at the time and eventually those, for the most part, were torn down. The House is a National Historic Landmark and offers wonderful tours with many of the rooms accurately restored to their original appearance and decorative objects and furnishings have been added by the Glessner family. John Glessner lived there until 1936 and thousands tour the house every year.

Henry Hobson Richardson never got to see his creation built since he died after he completed the blue prints. Many have seen him walk the halls. Even during the time the Glessner family lived there, Haunted houses.com  claim that many family member felt a cold presence moving through the mansion,even today.

The Glessner House Museum offers haunted tours of historic Prairie Avenue. Director of the Glessner House has admitted that there is a strange feeling that has been experienced on the street. The Keith House, privately owned by Marcy Baim, is another on the street. It has been restored, at 1900 Prairie and offers special events such as weddings.

The Kimball House: The house was built in 1890–92 for William Wallace Kimball, a piano manufacturer. I still have a Kimball upright that was built in 1949.  Kimball reportedly spent $1,000,000 on the home. The house is located at 1801 Prairies and though some feel that the outside design is cold, the inside is beautiful with maple floors and 29 rooms which have been sub- divided though many have stayed the same such as the library, huge drawing room, and dining room that housed Mrs. Kimballs massive silver collection. She also collected many paintings by such artists as Rembrandt, Millet, and Monet including many others. But when Mrs Kimball died in 1921, the house was converted to a boarding house which eventually failed and was bought by Daisy Hull for 8,000 in backward children. But finally, the house, along with the Coleman house at 1811 were acquired by R. R. Donnelley in 1973 who donated them to the Chicago Architecture Foundation in 1991.  They leased and then sold the properties to the U. S. Soccer Federation for use as their national headquarters, which is how the building is used today. Mrs Kimball still walks the halls. Noises have been heard along with apparitions seen as well as the feeling of being watched.

The Marshall Field Jr House: According to Curbed Chicago, Designed by architect Solon Spencer Beman, the home sold to the son of one of Chicago’s most famous 19th century entrepreneurs for $65,000 in 1890. After a stint as a psychiatric hospital, the structure was sold to the Chicago Architectural Foundation in the 1970s before being partitioned into condominiums in 2007. There are six million dollar condos with a private courtyard in the back. In the past, there have been claims to hear footsteps and strange cries.

Find out more about the Shadows on the Street: Haunted Tours of Historic Prairie Avenue Glessner House 1800 South Prairie Avenue Chicago, IL, 60616 United States.  During this 60 minute walking tour through the Prairie Avenue Historic District, learn about the mystery surrounding the death of Marshall Field Jr., the tragic events that plagued the Philander Hanford house, the lingering ghost of Edson Keith, and more.

Halloweens spellbinding customs

By Caryl Clem:

As summer ends on October 31 and fall begins November 1st according to the Gaul calendar, the boundary between the living and the dead dissolves freeing spirits of the past to roam free. Unknown whether a visiting spirit is friend or foe, your logical defense was to dress up like a ghost spirit to camouflage that you are still alive. Food is served for all visitors to spread the message of goodwill. Samhain was the most important holiday for Celts in pre-Christian times.  Later, medieval poor of all ages go door to door begging for “Soul Cakes”, in exchange for praying for the family’s past relatives on the Catholic Church’s All Saints Day.

In Scotland and Ireland, the youth dressed up knocking on neighbors doors entertaining the door opener with a heartfelt song, poetry, or telling a funny story. After a brief performance and review of the costume, a reward of fruit, nuts, or coins would be given. During the potato famine in 1846, over 300,000  people from Ireland and Scotland headed for North America .

The influence of Scottish, Irish and British Halloween customs started to spread across America. By the late 1800’s, it was a common practice. Wealthy families competed by hosting elaborate Halloween parties offering food, games, dancing, and drink for costumed guests. Churches offered parties for the young and old that my grandmother, born in 1885 and mother born in 1908, remembered.

Apples were sacrificial fruit in pagan times.  By 1800’s in the northeastern states. apple bobbing meant  male guests diving for previously marked apples secretly coded by ladies. The coupling between these women and men is believed destined to occur. If a young lady can peel an apple in one long strip, she throws the strip over her right shoulder to glance at the letter the apple peel forms on the floor. The initial formed foretells of a lover nearby with a name of that letter.  At midnight, a maiden can look between a lit Jack O’Lantern and a mirror  to find an image of her future husband.

Halloween is less scary as chubby faced  kids appear celebrating Halloween fun in 1904  by artist Grace Drayton, Campbell Soup kid creator. The postcard craze postcard craze to celebrate Halloween lasted from late 1890’s until 1918. A delightful sample is in this link Brave this bounty of 27 beautiful and bizarre antique Halloween… 

The Depression and a sugar ration dampened Halloween giving until the late 1930’s as communities started to sponsor family/kid friendly activities.

 

More ghosts in DuPage County

Tivoli Theater: According to Ursula Bielski, in Chicago Haunts, Downers Grove’s Tivoli theater was the location of a tragic fire set by a pyromaniac many years ago.  According to the story, the subject set the fire but was trapped in the backstage area and died. However, the remains were never found and the worker never was heard of again. People have seen a strange mist rise by the curtain in front of the movie screen. To this day, they have no logical explanation for the mist.

Emmets Brewing Company: Nick Vogel from the Suburban Life shares a story of a janitor who worked after hours at Emmets, located on Main street in Downtown Downers Grove. The man accidentally fell asleep in a booth and something woke him grabbing his leg and then something touched his arm. He saw an apparition that moved to wall which is bordered by the cemetery next door. He hears noises and doors slamming all the time and he feels it is a spirit from the Main street cemetery which began in 1859, interring many war veterans. However, all interments are not known, but those which are,  they are mentioned in the booklet “Voices That Are Gone” by the village Historical Society, and for sale by them.

Country House: One of my favorite burgers on dark rye while enjoying a rustic atmosphere and a beautiful fireplace in the bar area is served at the Country House in Clarendon Hills; a family friendly restaurant I have frequented for over 30 years and even their website talks about the famous ghost.

In 1974 during a meeting with a contractor to renovate the restaurant, the men were sitting in the bar and shutters on the windows opened without human contact displaying shafts of light. Other workers have seen dishes move and have heard moaning in the walls. Others have actually seen a woman who they call the lady in blue.

The Country House has gone through a number of ownership changes over the years and is currently owned by two local residents who purchased it in 1974 according to the Clarendon Hills Historical Society.  It’s the late 1950s, and the story begins like so many others – with a bartender and a pretty blonde. On this particular evening, the woman visited her regular establishment. After a few choice words with her lover, a fight erupted that greatly upset her. The woman was so hurt by the exchange and the actions of her lover that she left in huff. Unfortunately, the roads were as uncaring; she collided with a tree or a telephone poled a short distance from The Country House. While she might have perished in the accident on that fateful night, she lives on through her daughter and the legend of The Country House.” Some say she had a daughter with her And the lover went after her.

Leland Tower:  In Aurora, Leland Tower was built as a hotel in 1926 and even had telephones in the rooms. It was a twenty two story building; one of the tallest outside of Chicago. Topping the skyscraper, was the Sky Club, a dinner and dancing club outfitted with elaborate decor and furnishings of the highest quality. But in the 1960’s is became an apartment building. Many suicides have occurred over the years with jumping to ones death in the Fox River. According to Ghost Stories World, elevator banks are very mysterious at night. Eerie moaning sounds are heard from there sometimes. Foul ghastly odor smells throughout the building on those spooky nights. Some of those folks who lived there admitted that Aurora is haunted. They felt weird several times. Always sensed like being watched by uncanny presences or have seen a mysterious cat who really scared some of them.

Old Copely Hospital: The hospital was established in 1888 and had about 25 beds. In 1995, the new Rush-Copley Medical Center was constructed and the Old Copley Hospital closed. The hospital currently is in bad shape due to a poor asbestos problem and massive decay. According to sources, some who had stayed at the hospital, it is rumored to be haunted. Some have seen apparitions and the guest visits of a nun. In the news this week, developers would like to bring the hospital back to life instead of demolishing it forever. What about the ghosts then?

 

What was your best or worse Halloween costume?

For me, it began when my son was only two and hated being a clown. That’s because the face Mom had painted on his delicate skin was way too scary for Halloween. He scared himself when he looked in the mirror and trick or treating was just out of the question. Mom’s first costume attempt was not too good and thought he would forever be damaged by a poor holiday experience. But it did get better when the following year he liked being a beggar, carrying his stick of wrapped clothes in a scarf though when I think about it, maybe that wasn’t a good choice either.

As a child, I loved autumn with the breathtaking color of the season, pressing leaves in scrapbooks, spending hours selecting a costume and, of course, carving a pumpkin with, for me, Dad. It was his job to cut but I scrapped away the innards. The only time I liked kitchen duty. And I remember being a gypsy, Little Bo Peep with a crooked staff that eventually gave way to the wind on Halloween, and a date girl wearing a beautiful wide skirt with mini calendars attached. Among the many dressed as Super Man, witches, Bat girl, Sleeping Beauty and Minnie Mouse, cowboys and Indians, and of course, Casper, with silly masks to match our attire back in the 1960s. Dressed in a white sheet or a Frankenstein mask was about the extent of what was scary. Maybe a devil took you by surprise as well.

And the neighborhood was packed with children trick or treating; knowing the adults that answered their doors. If we didn’t have an appropriate trick or treat bag, a pillow case would do and besides the candy bars, suckers and bazooka gum with comics, we would get even more like a popcorn ball. Sometimes we would worry about the occasional razor blade showing up in our candy but candy being spiked with chemicals was rare.

In the nineties, as my son and daughter celebrated the season each year, costume decisions improved after the first fiasco to include Robin Hood and a court jester, a baby. a Power Ranger instead of Super Man and a nerd with a huge dictionary….not a computer… Though there was one Halloween, that costumes were trash bags since the rain was incessant for trick or treating. That didn’t stop us. We also decided that a carved pumpkin was not enough so the house was dressed with lovely rust and yellow floral arrangements and a yard filled with ghosts, signs, funny gravestones, and spider webs throughout.

Now, though there are no grandchildren, nothing has changed with the exception of less children knocking on the door on October 31st. Though the signs have become faded and the gravestones totter, new additions such as a family of scarecrows have been added, floral arrangements refurbished and my 20 plus daughter coming to spend a pre-Halloween weekend, carving the best pumpkin ever, while munching on roasted pumpkin seeds and home-made pumpkin bread.

Once a child, forever a child and another year of adding more pictures to that scrapbook or should I say, Facebook page instead.