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HAUNTED LOCATIONS:  Pere Cheney

HAUNTED LOCATIONS: Pere Cheney

Just southeast of Grayling, Michigan, down a dirt road and two-track and along the railroad tracks, lies an old, all but forgotten cemetery. This is the Pere Cheney Cemetery. Many myths and legends surround this place. From ghost sightings and a witch's curse to mysterious lights and figures, it is an area with a mysterious and somewhat sad history.
Pere Cheney was an old lumber town located about midway between the towns of Graying and Roscommon. It was established in the late 1800s and was abandoned a little more than 50 years later. Legend has it that at one point the population was around 1,500 people. It is believed that diphtheria swept through the town twice in a span of fewer than five years which caused the town to fold. According to one of the more popular legends, the diphtheria outbreak was the result of a curse by a witch that had been banished to the woods.
We decided to venture out to the cemetery to have a look around and then see if we could find where the town used to stand. As someone not all that familiar with the area, I called on a few friends who happen to live in that area to see if they might be able to help find the place.
After a quick stop in Grayling for dinner at a place called Dead Bear Brewing Co., we headed out of town and made our way south towards where the old town is believed to be located. After traveling down a paved road, then a dirt road, then a two-track along the railroad tracks, we reached the cemetery.Pere Cheney 02 / Image: Richard Francis
The cemetery itself is well maintained and quite large, and although vandals have stolen and destroyed quite a bit, it is apparent that there are quite a few gravesites there. We spent a bit of time wandering around, looking at the remaining headstones and trying to decipher the weathered names and dates. Based on what we saw, there seem to be quite a few children buried there. One of the few standing markers bears the names of three siblings, all under the age of ten, that died within days of each other. This alone lends some credibility to the story of some sort of outbreak.Pere Cheney 03 / Image: Richard Francis
Pere Cheney 04 / Image: Richard FrancisAs the sun started to set, we made our way back north along one of the many trails in the area and searched for the location of the town itself. We parked in a small clearing next to a creepy old tree and cut through a small patch of woods that lead to a larger clearing. Here we found some large ditches and mounds of earth that may have been where buildings once stood.Pere Cheney 05 / Image: Richard Francis
As we wandered further into the clearing we found several small pieces of foundation in one area which lead us to believe that we were in the right location. We also noticed that there were peculiar patterns in the growth of grass around where we believed buildings once stood. It was kind of depressing to know that an empty field is all that's left of a once bustling town filled with people.Pere Cheney 06 / Image: Richard Francis
Overall, our experience was rather quiet and uneventful. The only excitement we encountered was a Conservation Officer, a State Police Officer, and a local cop out on the two-track looking for a guy in a Jeep, and the only spirits we encountered that evening were of the bottled variety.Pere Cheney 07 / Image: Richard Francis
Posted by Richard Francis in ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, 0 comments
HAUNTED LOCATIONS:  The Hippie Tree

HAUNTED LOCATIONS: The Hippie Tree

Not far from the old State Hospital in Traverse City lies the graffitied remains of an old willow tree that is known as the Hippie Tree. The tree gets its name and graffiti from the multitude of people who have made the journey there to meditate under its branches in an attempt to gain some otherworldly insight and leave their mark on it.
Many legends and stories have been told about this tree and the surrounding area. Some say the spirits of former patients from the nearby abandoned mental hospital haunt the area. Some say the area is inhabited by the ghost of a young boy murdered there by an escaped mental patient. There are even some people who claim that the area itself is the gateway to Hell if you walk a certain pattern around the tree. The true story of the tree and its origin are probably lost to time amongst the tales and legends.
After reading about the Hippie Tree online, I decided to try to locate it and see for myself what all the fuss was about. I assembled my team of crack ghost hunters (myself, my girlfriend, and my thirteen-year-old son) and we hit the road in search of spirits and adventure.
After a quick stop for lunch at Taco Bell, we made our way past the old asylum and parked near a school across from the hiking trails that take you to the Hippie Tree.
The hiking trails are well maintained and clearly labeled in the area and the tree itself is even noted on the main map when you enter the trailhead, which is kind of nice, although somewhat disheartening as I imagined the place to be crawling with tourists. We hiked up the trail a bit and took what we thought was the first right and promptly got lost. Actually, we weren’t lost, we just took a wrong turn and ended up making a big loop instead of the more direct route to the tree.
Hippie Tree 02 / Image: Richard FrancisAfter realizing our mistake, we oriented ourselves and continued on the trails through a beautiful forest and across a few trickling streams. Well worth the extra time in the woods in my opinion.
Hippie Tree 03 / Image: Richard FrancisThe trail leading down to the Hippie Tree is hard to miss, with all the brightly colored graffiti everywhere. It’s quite beautiful to see in person. Normally I’m not the type of person that enjoys graffiti. In most cases, and particularly in nature, I feel it detracts from things. But in this case, it seems to fit. You could wander up and down that tree for hours taking in all the little details. The bright, vibrant colors seem to tell their own story of the area.
We all sat there for a while taking in the surrounding and seeing if we could feel some presence of the spirits that are said to inhabit the area.
Nada. The only presence we felt was that of the couple that came down there to sit on a branch and eat their lunch, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t spirits. Unless spirits like to stop by the drive-thru at Wendy’s on their way to a haunting.
We walked around the Hippie Tree a few times like we were told to do in order to open the gates of Hell. Nada there, too. The only thing that opened the gates of Hell that day was the Taco Bell we had for lunch.
Maybe we just aren’t that in touch with the spirit world, or maybe spirits weren’t that interested in us. Or maybe Saturday is a day off for ghosts. Maybe we caught the ghost during the shift change and they were busy. It doesn’t really matter to me because it was a good day to be out in the woods, enjoying nature and I’m glad we went. Maybe that’s what the spirits wanted me to take away from the experience. A beautiful day enjoying the wonder of nature with the people I care most about.
If you’re ever in the Traverse City area of northern Michigan you should check out the Hippie Tree.Hippie Tree 07 / Image: Richard Francis
Posted by Richard Francis in ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, HALLOWEEN, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, 2 comments
URBAN LEGENDS: Slender Man

URBAN LEGENDS: Slender Man

slinderman-playground / Fair use doctrine.No matter how many stories you have heard or photos you have seen, Slender Man is a fictional character. Mind you, he is a very popular monster, but he crept out of the mind of Eric Knudsen aka Victor Surge as recently as 2009. The black and white photos you have seen are edited. Very good Photoshopped pictures.
Slender Man is, of course, an amazing creature and a gripping, frightful man. I love the enthusiasm people have when they tell their Slender Man experiences! He was such a brilliant creation! He lurks; therefore. I love him!
As the name suggests, Slender Man is extremely tall and very slim. He has a blank face, wears a black suit, and sometimes even has tentacles coming out his back. Sometimes he is portrayed as having unusually long fingers that he can uncoil and use like tentacles. Slender Man kidnaps and traumatizes people - usually children. He appears in one of two ways. He may creep up, or he may suddenly appear in the distance. Slender Man, of course, is mute, seeing as to how he usually has no mouth. Neither does he have a nose or eyes for that matter. He has a completely blank face; nothing there but skin.
He is popular enough to have his own video games: Slender: The Eight Pages and Slender: The Arrival. Slender Man pops up in Minecraft as well.
There are some pretty good Slender Man sightings on YouTube, some not so good. Here is my favorite.

There are even some pretty creepy costumes of him! (I am an affiliate for halloweencostumes) Check out the Slender Man costumes here.
~~ Keep on creeping 😉
Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR HEROES, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, 0 comments
Urban Legend: Polybius

Urban Legend: Polybius

By Margeaux DeMott 

 

Polybius

In 1981 a couple of Portland Oregon’s arcades received a new gaming cabinet. This gaming cabinet was called Polybius by Sinneslöschen. People who played the game said that it was anything from an abstract, fast action game with puzzle elements to a shooter, puzzle game with mazes or even a combination of both. The gaming cabinet quickly became popular despite the awful side effects that the game caused. There were reports of kids experiencing amnesia after playing the game and that’s not the only thing this mysterious cabinet caused. Players could have suffered a litany psychoactive effects like insomnia, stress, and night terrors. Along with these disturbing side effects were reports of men in black coming into the arcades that Polybius called home and collecting data from the cabinet. They never asked for the coins that Polybius took from its unsuspecting players. No one really knows what kind of data they were collecting. Rumor has it that the game was built by a military off shoot group for behavior modification purposes. Wouldn’t be the first time the government tested something on the public. Two months after the Polybius cabinets were installed they were gone; never to be seen again. Some of the people who played the game stopped playing video games completely and one even became an anti-video game activist.

Polybius cabinet

The first appearance of this urban legend online is from coinop.org. The entry was made August 3rd 1998 and was last updated on May 16th 2009. The original poster claims to have a ROM image. For those of you who don’t know a ROM image is a computer file that has the data from a read-only memory card. The only information that they have pulled from the image were text: insert coinpress 1 player startonly© 1981 Sinneslöschen

The non-believers

Brian Dunning of Skeptoid believes that Polybius never existed. He claims that the legend of Polybius came from an early release of a game called Tempest. The early release of this game caused the player to experience vertigo, motion sickness and caused issues with photosensitive epilepsy. On the same day in Portland in 1981 in the SAME arcade two people fell ill after gaming. Michael Lopez was playing Tempest which caused the him to develop a migraine. The second person was 12 year old Brian Mauro who suffered from stomach pain after playing Asteroids for 28 hours straight. Brain Mauro was trying to break the record while local television crews looked on. The combination of too much soda and anxiety probably led to the young boy's stomach ache. Brain Dunning points out that only ten days after those two incidents the FBI raided some video arcades in the area, however, they weren’t there to collect data they were there to investigate reports of illegal gambling.

Snopes believe they have debunked the Polybius in a way that is reminiscent of how a tired parent tells their kid there is no monster in the closet or under the bed. Lazily. They just throw it at the bottom of a “hoax round up” article.

Posted by Alan Smithee in MYTHS AND LEGENDS, 0 comments
Urban Legend: Squidward’s Suicide

Urban Legend: Squidward’s Suicide

Squidwards Suicide

 

Squidward's Suicide and Red Mist

By Margeaux Lauren

Originally a Creepypasta story, Squidward's Suicide did not take long to reach urban legend status. For those of you who don't know, a Creepypasta is a horror story written online to strike fear into its readers. It is basically the new wave of campfire tales.

There are different types of Creepypastas like entities, paranormal, killers, locations, and lost episodes. Squidward's Suicide/Red Mist fall into the category of lost episodes.  Squidward's Suicide was the first of the two stories and was written from the point of view of an intern at Nickelodeon studios. Red Mist is sort of a sequel/retelling that cleans up the unknown part of the story. In my opinion the story is better without Red Mist.

The Urban Legend Squidward's Suicide

The story takes place in 2005 and is a story told by a former intern of Nickelodeon studios. He was working along side the editor one day when a video came in that would change his life. It was supposed to be an episode of Spongebob Squarepants, but what they got was a horror show. The begining of the episode starts off like a normal episode with Squidward trying to play clarinet while Spogebob and Patrick are running hijinks outside.  After Squidward asks them to knock it off things start to change. Characters in the audience at his concert are drawn with hyper realistic eyes, the audio cuts off and suddenly begins again with the sound of wind through a forest. Intense focused shots of Squidward have spliced in pictures of mutilated dead children. That's right, mutilated dead children. Read all the gritty story details here.

The Urban Legend Red Mist

The Red Mist story goes almost the same as the original Squidward's Suicide tale. Instead of Spongebob and Patrick interrupting Squidward's playing it is a Scottish sales-fish. Squidward slams the door in his face and the fish knocks again with an ominous warning that the red mist is coming. I believe the point of this Scottish sales-fish is to lend an answer to a tale that was better off without one. At the end of the retelling the writer of the Red Mist reports that a man named Andrew Skinner was the maker of the episode. Skinner is allegedly a disgruntled animator from Scotland who is also the one who killed the kids in the video. He is supposedly in jail for child murder. The end of the story also accuses the writer of Squidward's Suicide of making a copy of the tape and trying to distribute the film through online auction websites. --So whoever wrote the Red Mist hates loose ends that were designed to add to a stories mystery and has some jerk grudge against the original story teller? Honestly I hate the Red Mist.-- If you have the desire to read the retelling and bow tying you can find it here.

It's not hard to see how this Creepypasta became an urban legend, it  has all the great elements for a lasting story. Spongebob Squarepants has been on the air since 1999. As of this writing that is 16 years. That allows for a larger audience to be captured by the urban legend. The original story leaves off with a bunch of questions that could have been open to debate. --Again another reason why I hate Red Mist-- To those who say a Creepypasta can not be an urban legend I say this to you - what is so different once the story has been circulated enough that it has people asking if it is real or not.

Posted by Alan Smithee in ABNORMAL MUSINGS AND FREAKISH FACTS, 2 comments
CROPSEY: URBAN LEGEND

CROPSEY: URBAN LEGEND

CROPSEY

By Margeaux DeMott

 

The legend of Cropsey comes from New York and is now closely associated with Staten Island. Cropsey's affiliation with Staten Island is because of a documentary made in 2009 by Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, titled Cropsey. Their documentary briefly covers that urban legend and purposes a man named Andre Rand could be the aforementioned boogeyman. However, the legend of Cropsey is older than the disappearances of the children that are attributed to Rand. Started as a spooky tale that campers in boy scouts, summer camps, and groups of teenagers would tell around a campfire, Cropsey shares a similar tale common to most boogeymen. Cropsey lives in the woods and preys on the young; from children to young adult campers. The story varies slightly from campfire to campfire. Sometimes he has a hook for a hand, some times his face is burnt, but most often he does his killing with an ax. I have read of people being told the legend going all the way back to the 1950s, and the tale of Cropsey is still being told around campfires to this day. 

The Urban Legend, reprised

Cropsey was a man that lived in a cabin in the woods with his family. He had a wife and two children. He was an upstanding pillar of his community and had an all around good life. Until one fateful day.  A group of campers in the woods started a campfire that they could not handle. The flames spread through the woods and caught Cropsey's home ablaze. His children and wife found themselves trapped inside the house. He tried to get them out but failed. He fell into a deep rage aimed at careless camp goers. Insanity soon took over, and Cropsey moved into the woods to hunt people with his ax. He swore his deadly vengeance on any and all campers he could get his hands on.

The man that became the Urban Legend

The man who would become Cropsey

In their documentary, Zeman and Brancaccio match a man to the myth and put a face to the boogeyman in the form of a person we know as Andre Rand. Throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's strange occurrences  transpired. Several children, and one young adult, on Staten Island went missing. Rand was the prime suspect in these disappearances due to his criminal record involving crimes against children. In 1972 Alice Pereira, nine years old, went missing. She was last seen playing in an apartment lobby with her brother. Her brother said he left Alice alone for a moment and when he returned she was gone. Coincidentally Rand was employed as a painter at this apartment building. In 1981 Holly Ann Hughes, seven years old, never returned home from going to the store with a friend. Her friend reported that Rand drove up in a Volkswagen and pulled Holly into the car. In 1983 Tiahease Jackson, eleven years old, was reported missing after she failed to return from going out to purchase food on her mothers request.  In 1984 Hank Gafforio, twenty-two years old, was reported missing. Hank Gafforio was born with an IQ in the seventies. His last sighting was with Rand in a local diner. In 1987 Jennifer Schweiger, twelve years old, was reported missing and was last seen walking with Rand. Schweiger's body was found on the grounds of the former Willowbrook State School.

Andre Rand was convicted of the kidnapping of Jennifer Schweiger (1988) and later the kidnapping of Holly Ann Hughes (2004) -concurrent sentences of 25 years-to-life. As of the time of this writing he is still living, and will be eligible for parole in 2037 at the age of ninety-three years old. Considering the areas in which he hunted his prey, and the vivid imagination of a pre-internet society, one can easily see where people made the connection from Rand to the legend of Cropsey.

Posted by Alan Smithee in ABNORMAL MUSINGS AND FREAKISH FACTS, 1 comment