Saturday, December 20, 2014

9/11 Shanksville Angel Story

Flight 93 crashed on a Pennsylvania field in 2001. This flight was a target during the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Lillie Leonardi was a “Community Outreach Specialist” with the Pittsburgh Division of the FBI in 2001. She arrived at this field shortly after the crash.

In her book entitled, Shadow of a Badge she recounts an amazing sight she saw that day.

A Field of Angels

“ As I looked across the immense field I saw a shimmering light by my left shoulder. It was almost blinding.

It evolved into a foggy white mist. This mist began to move and grow--swirling in patterns of spectacular white light.

Then the mist took shape. It was to the left of the crash site. A legion of angels appeared.

There were hundreds of them standing in columns--an entire field of angels looking at the debris.

They were dressed in what appeared to be warrior garments. They stood at the perimeter of the site. Their faces glowed brightly as one--both intense, beautiful and gentle.

One angel stood at their lead before them--he was calmly in command.”

Pennsylvania Crash Site

Reinforced Faith

Leonardi, a Catholic, believes this lead angel was the archangel, Michael--the guardian of enforcement.

She states that this sight is forever etched in her memory--she calls it a “spiritual event.”

She watched in wonder as these angels then started to guide the deceased away from the crash site.

She notes some of the deceased accepted “their help” readily and chose to go with these guides while others remained behind.

Leonardi states this confirmed her belief that humans have free will. They can move on or not but it was apparent to her that day everyone was welcome.

Lillie Leonardi's book can be found here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Long Distance Advice

As 2014 draws to a close I decided to clarify my role on Seeks Ghosts.

Periodically, I get requests from readers for help with a haunting they are experiencing.

I don’t even give advice to local clients until after I have investigated their home or business etc. Often this means more than one visit on my part.

For those of you that contact me requesting help--understand that I never presume to give advice long-distance--this would be irresponsible on my part.

I always suggest that people seek help from a local ghost investigation team, clergy etc. They would be able to offer more valuable help than I.

Having stated the above--know that I care but without first hand knowledge of people’s individual cases my advice would be in the realm of just speculation.

My group and I are semi-retired --these days we rarely travel long distance to do investigations.

There are plenty of investigators out there to take our place--LOL

Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

First Person Account: Highfield Hall

In the 1950s my uncle, Dewitt TerHeun owned a 500-acre estate in Upper Cape Cod, Massachusetts where he spent his summers.

The Beebe family--4 siblings, heirs to a mercantile fortune-- had this 3-story mansion named Highfield Hall built as a summer home in 1878.

It was one of the first summer retreats on the Cape.

This mansion’s architecture is Stick-style Queen Anne--the only one of its kind in the northeast.

The Hall was originally surrounded by over 700 acres of woodland.

My uncle bought the property in 1949 when the house was almost 70 years old. He had a plantation style front added to the Hall.

During my college years I had two frightening experiences in this home. I did not believe in ghosts but after these experiences I changed my mind.

I rarely talk about this because I am a rational person and I do not want people to think otherwise.

First Encounter

One weekend I invited a lady friend to the mansion while my uncle was away.

My friend and I were making out in the front room just off the formal parlor, with the door closed, when we heard footsteps descending down the main staircase.

We listened frozen in place as a lady’s heels clicked down these steps.

These footsteps stopped as they reached the front room door. We saw the entities shadow hover under the door for several minutes before we heard its footsteps turn and head back up the stairs.

When we finally got up the nerve to open the door, we searched the entire house but we could find no one.

This experience had a chilling effect on both of us.

Second Encounter

Several years later I had an even scarier ghostly encounter at Highfield Hall.

A major hurricane had hit Cape Cod and my uncle asked me to drive down and inspect the property damage.

The whole cape was without electricity and I arrived after dark. The wind was still howling and the night sky was just beginning to clear.

I unlocked the front door, walked in and was astonished to see a woman’s apparition hovering above the staircase landing.

This ghostly figure started to move toward me. Scared, I fled the mansion and didn’t return until the next day.

I was so shaken up that when I returned I brought someone with me.

Since the 1950s

Others believe that Highfield is haunted as well. People have reported seeing a female apparition in a second floor window at night.

Witnesses have heard eerie noises in the mansion while they were alone.

These local witnesses state that this apparition is probably Emily one of the four Beebe siblings.

Mansion’s Fate

When TerHeun died in 1962, developers planned to clear the land and built 500 homes.

However in 1972, Josiah K. Lilly lll purchased the estate and generously donated it to be used and preserved as “green space.” The building was donated to a local arts organization.

After 1977 the mansion experienced 20 years of neglect. Windows were boarded up and the home’s original beauty was marred by water damage and vandalism.

In 2002, a multimillion project was in place to renovate this mansion and grounds. By 2012 the restoration of the building and gardens was complete.

Today Highfield is a historic landmark with miles of walking trails and gardens. Since it opened the estate has welcomed over 125,000 visitors.

Renovated Highfield Hall and gardens.
Click to enlarge

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Legend Tripping: Gates of Hell

Ghost stories are sometimes told to inspire “Legend Tripping.” The Gates of Hell is just one tale of many told in the United States.

Most communities in the United State large and small have at least one Legend Tripping tale if not more than one.

Teenagers tell these tales about a supposed haunted area, house, cemetery etc. where “scary” activity has been reported.

They are told to one’s peer group in order to “set the stage” or scare the listeners before they visit the haunted area themselves--preferably at night and alone or with a small group.

Legend Tripping is often done “on a dare” and means these teens have to go into abandoned places at night. Often they have to “trespass” to get to these locations.

I talk about a scary place in my state where many teens have Legend Tripped here.

This can be dangerous. While in High School, one of my nephews Legend Tripped at an old abandoned asylum in our area. Years later, when he told me about this, I was upset.

This is the former Insane Asylum
where my nephew Legend Tripped.
This location has several basements and now they are just covered up by rotting boards. He could have fallen through one of these and gotten seriously injured--especially in the dark.

The following is a classic tale told to inspire Legend Tripping.

Pennsylvania’s Tent Church Road

Gates of Hell
Along this rural road located outside Uniontown are two steel gates known as the Gates of Hell.

At one time a house stood further back from these gates. The story goes that a man and woman that lived in this house died.

In one version this man killed his wife and then set fire to the house--he then killed himself. This property is considered haunted because of this.

It is said, if a person dares to park their car near these gates at night they will hear unexplained noises.

People have heard: children’s laughter, the sounds of voices all talking at once, whispering and growly sounds near the gates. Others have stated they saw shadows and strange balls of lights flashing.

Inspiration for Legend Tripping

These tales are always told with a personal connection--my friend or relative saw or heard this…

My cousin Brent and a group of his friends decided to drive down to the Gates of Hell one night.

The gates have a large chain lock
on them to prevent trespassers.

After they arrived Brent got out of the car and walked up to the gates. He then yelled out, “Hello, is anybody there, we just came to chat.”

He then got back into the car. When nothing happened the group started to talk and laugh.

A short while later, Brent thinking he heard something shushed his friends. As they listened they heard several voices all talking at once.

These sounds were coming from behind the gates as well as just outside their car.

One member of the group spotted a blue ball of light moving around the gates--he pointed it out to the rest of the group.

When this ball of light headed for their car Brent decided it was time to leave. As he started the ignition and hit the accelerator the car hadn’t moved ten yards before the front end crashed down.

The group exited the car and discovered that the front right tire had fallen off--its 5 lug nuts were missing.

Brent retrieved a flashlight but he couldn’t find these lug nuts anywhere.

The group now scared decided to high tail it out of the area. It was before cell phones so the teens walked to a nearby house where they called a tow truck.

None of them wanted to return to the car to wait for this truck.

The following group seems to be part Legend Trippers and part ghost hunters. If the viewer can get passed all their fanfare at the beginning they do come up with some results while at the Gates of Hell.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Considerate Hosts

December issue 1939.
Thorp McClusky wrote The Considerate Hosts. It first appeared in 1939 in the December issue of the pulps’ “Weird Tales.” McClusky was a free-lance writer who published 40 short stories in the 1930s and 40s.

His stories were often published in The Pulps, which I write about here.

McClusky wrote in the horror genre and most of his stories were about zombies, vampires and ghosts. He also occasionally wrote westerns and mysteries.

His most well-know titles include: Loot of Vampires--published in book form in 1975, The Crawling Horror, 1936, The Considerate Hosts, 1936, and White Zombies Walked, 1939, which the film Revenge of the Zombies, 1943 starring John Carradine was based upon.

I first read The Considerate Hosts in Bennett Cerf’s Modern Library collection of ghost stories entitled, Famous Ghost Stories. I share some of Cerf’s quotes from this book, here.

McClusky avoids the “flowery language” that many of The Pulps writers indulged in.

The Considerate Hosts is a story that the reader remembers. McClusky’s writing is effortless which reflects a writer who mastered his craft.

Stranded in a Storm

Marvin, the main character in this story is driving home at midnight in a torrential rain. A patrolman stops him and tells him the bridge up ahead is washed out.

He then takes a detour on an unknown dirt road that has turned to mud. His car engine dies and he is forced to seek shelter.

He spots and old house with its lights on and knocks on the door.

There is something odd about the couple that answers, their cold rudeness, their antiquated phone, and then their confession...

What ensues next is a story with many plot twists, which includes: ghosts seeking revenge, redemption and a surprise ending that provides justice for all.

This story has been published numerous times. It can be found in the following two collections:

The Big Book of Ghost Stories, By Otto Penzler, here.

Short & Scary Thrillers, by Rebecca Rizzo, here.

The Bennett Cerf collection Famous Ghost Stories published in 1944 is still available for purchase but it is costly.