Monday, October 29, 2012

Final Spooky Story for 2012: The Lemp Mansion

Want to know where one of the most haunted houses in the world is? The Lemp Mansion right here in St. Louis is listed in the Top 10. The once powerful Lemp family created a beer brewing empire, only to have their company crumble from Prohibition and a string of family tragedies.

Johann Adam Lemp (pictured right) came from Germany and started a grocery store and grew that business into a beer brewing company. It used to stand near where the Gateway Arch is today.

After his father’s death in 1852, William Lemp continued the tremendous growth of the brewery – which took up five blocks in downtown St. Louis. In 1876, William bought the mansion his father-in-law built and renovated it from top to bottom. From the basement of the mansion, William built a tunnel that led through caves to the brewery. Caves were often used as refrigeration centers, but later William built a grand theater, concrete swimming pool, and a bowling alley down there.

In 1901, William’s favorite son Frederick died at the age of 28, William became a recluse. After losing his eldest son, William was never the same. His mental and physical health began to fade. On February 13, 1904, William Lemp shot himself in the head with a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson. Tragically, Frederick’s sister Elsa later committed suicide with a revolver in 1920, but not at the mansion.

William Lemp Jr. took over the company. He fathered a son from one of his extramarital affairs, and he kept this illegitimate son locked away in the Lemp Mansion’s attic. The boy had Down’s syndrome and was kept away from society, and the family referred to him as “Monkey Boy.”

After Prohibition, the brewery was shut down in 1919. William Jr. seemed to fall into a depression, like his father, and on December 22, 1922, William Lemp II shot himself in the heart with a .38 in the family mansion. In 1943, his son William Lemp III died of a heart attack at the age of 42.

Charles Lemp, William II's brother, eventually moved into the family home. Charles (pictured right) also took care of his brother’s illegitimate son that had been kept in the attic. “Monkey Boy” died at the age of 30 in the mansion, and Charles’ mental health continued to deteriorate. On May 10, 1949, Charles Lemp shot his beloved dog in the basement with a .38 revolver, and then shot himself on the staircase to his room.

Edwin Lemp, William Jr. and Charles’ brother, had lived a quiet life in Kirkwood, MO. He didn’t move into the mansion, and he died of natural causes at the age of 90 in 1970. His butler, acting on Edwin’s final wishes, burned every single Lemp artifact.

With all this tragedy occurring within the walls of the Lemp Mansion, it’s understandable that subsequent owners and employees would experience paranormal activity. When the mansion was first made into an inn and restaurant, workers reported seeing apparitions, a feeling of someone watching them, objects being moved when they weren’t looking, and strange sounds. People would quit immediately, refusing to return to work.

There are three areas of the mansion that seem to be “hot spots.” They include the attic, the staircase, bedroom, and the basement – now called “The Gates of Hell” by locals.

Here’s a quick list of just SOME of the reported activity:
The attic is haunted by “Monkey Boy.” People have reported seeing his face in the windows, objects moving, and footsteps. (Notice the picture of the attic on the right - the middle of the floor in that narrow attic is very worn. You can almost imagine the poor child pacing back and forth up there).

The downstairs women’s restroom used to be William Jr’s study. There, women have reported a man peeking over the stalls, only to find the restroom empty.

In William Sr.’s room, people have reported hearing someone running up the stairs and kicking the door. It’s said that when Sr. shot himself, William Jr. came running up and kicked the bedroom door down to get to his father.

A tour guide heard horses neighing and galloping towards his window. It was just a parking lot, and there were no horses there. When the lot was expanded, they found evidence that the area just outside that window had been used to tether horses.

Childrens’ voices have been heard throughout the house. One guest heard a child say, “help me” over and over again. And another visitor heard, “Come play with me” several times.

The bar area has had several incidents as well. Workers have witnessed glasses lifting into the air and moving on their own, voices coming from nowhere, and the piano playing by itself.

As you can imagine the “Cherokee Cave” running underneath the mansion is also quite haunted. Sounds of weeping and strange sights have been reported. Long before the Lemps built their mansion, it’s said that a young American Indian couple, hid in the cave and starved to death – and that story was verified when white explorers did find bones of two people in the cave (near Jefferson Ave. and Arsenal for you St. Louisans).

Cherokee Cave
There have been many ghost hunters and researchers visiting the mansion and trying to find evidence of it being haunted. Needless to say, they don’t have to work very hard to find it.

Other links and spooky ghost pictures of researchers visiting The Lemp Mansion:

Missouri Ghost Hunter’s society
Beck M.’s experience at Lemp
Lemp Mansion Tour
Cherokee Cave
Visit the Lemp Mansion Restaurant and Inn

Monday, October 22, 2012

Laura Eno's Wish, The Awakening IS HERE!!!

Laura Eno is one of the first writing buddies I made when I returned to blogging last year. After reading a few of her novels, I loved how she stayed away from cliches and wrote lots of jarring action. Laura also doesn't stick to one genre - she's always testing herself and trying new things.

I admire and appreciate that.

Her latest work is available today. Wish, The Awakening is a YA dark fantasy

Most residents of Pine Hill shy away from seventeen-year-old Lelah without knowing why. It's the Djinn magic surging through her blood. She lives in a world where wishes are really curses, dark power meant to twist and deceive in unimaginable ways.
When a fit of temper exposes Lelah for what she really is, she must flee to a sanctuary only whispered about, before her family is exposed and enslaved by their ancient enemy. What she discovers is a treacherous path filled with power, lies, and betrayal – a path that's destined to ensnare her and destroy a civilization.


About the Author
Laura Eno lives in Florida with a very tolerant husband, three skulking cats and two absurdly happy dogs. After spending years immersed in college but never figuring out what she wanted to be when she grew up, she now writes novels late at night with the help of muses from the underworld. And, no, she still hasn't grown up but that's okay.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Did I Notice Your Book? Blog Hop

Thanks to Alex and Ciara for hosting this fantastic blog hop.

When I had to choose a book that I recently read that just blew my mind, the first one that came to mind was Slipstream, by Michael Offutt.

This science fiction book's blurb was the first thing to hook me:

Jordan Pendragon is crazy good at fixing situations that have gone bad. It's a talent prized by his high school ice hockey team. However, when a car accident puts Jordan in the hospital, he wakes up with more than just an amazing slapshot in his toolbox. Jordan can manipulate space-time and in just a few weeks, he'll depend on it to save his life.

I normally breeze through books, but I really had to take my time with Slipstream. It is just jammed packed with all kinds of stuff. The science behind this book was just incredible. Michael must have done hours and hours of research into theoretical physics. But the science is so imaginative and central to the story - it grips your from the very beginning.

I'm not sure what kind of magic pill Michael is taking to enhance his imagination - but the details in this book are so vivid and creative. The world building was immense and fantastic. Slipstream's setting is three-dimensional and you feel like you're there.

Finally, I found myself caring about the characters. They were so real, and as a reader, you could feel their struggles. The hero, Jordan, is such a dynamic character. He's a total jock, a big physics geek, oh...and he's gay. I applaud Michael for breaking the mold of the typical science fiction hero. In the beginning, I didn't really like Jordan, however. He was pretty self-centered and emotionally detached. But as the story progresses, Jordan matures and grows emotionally. 

Although the hero is a teenager, this is not a typical YA book. It's much heavier and cerebral. And the love story is believable and natural. I often get irked at how quickly characters fall for each other in typical YA novels. Romance is often idealized and just not so real. If you love action, intelligence, really good sci-fi, and on top of all that, just a great story - you'll love Slipstream too.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Spooky Story #3: The Ghosts of the Isle of Wight

The following spooky story was submitted by fellow blogger Nancyrowina back in 2005. She lives on the Isle of Wight, a picturesque, diamond-shaped island south of Southampton, UK. The Isle of Wight is well known as a perfect holiday getaway and England's most haunted spot. Here, you can attend several "haunted walking tours" and go hunting for ghosts. Being a resident of the Isle, it seems having a ghost story or two is the norm. If her story were to happen to someone here in the States, I believe witnesses wouldn't be as calm as Nancy was during her experience. Here is Nancy's story...

One morning at about 5am I was walking home from my friends house. I was nearly home with just one more corner to turn before I was on my road.

I immediately noticed a man walking towards me. He was quite odd looking - his clothes appeared Victorian and he had a walking cane he was flourishing as he approached. I wasn't aware of any costume ball or carnival near here or anything of the sort. I thought to myself, What a strange old man. Wonder where he got those clothes from? and carried on walking towards him.

Then it got weird...

He was ignoring me and not attempting to make eye contact at all as he got closer, but I wanted to talk to him or at least say good morning as he looked so eccentric I wanted to know why he was dressed that way. I looked directly at his face and smiled when he was about 3 meters away from me. When his eyes met mine he looked frightened, and I felt bad. I didn't want to scare the old guy, but before I could assure him that I wasn't going to mug him -

He vanished!
He disappeared right before my eyes. He had looked so real that I questioned my sanity for a minute, then wondered if he was a ghost. I wasn't scared as much as I was shocked and didn't know what to think, so I carried on walking to my house.

I rounded a corner and there was a family walking down the road. I thought it was extremely strange - bear in mind it was 5 AM. They were all blonde - a mum, a dad, and 2 kids - a boy and girl. They saw me straight away and started smiling, and laughing, but there was no sound coming out of their mouths at all. They all looked very real to me, just as the old man had moments before. Though they were visibly laughing and trying to say something to me, it was as if they were in a silent movie or something.

They walked right up to me and separated politely to let me pass. As I was walking through the path they made for me and saw them all around me...

They vanished too!

I walked in my house, went to bed and thought, I need to get some sleep. I was exhausted and decided that sleep deprivation must've caused me to hallucinate during my journey home.

Perhaps ghosts are always walking among us, I'm not sure. Maybe sometimes certain circumstances create an environment more conducive to bringing the spirit world into our realm. It could also be that there are individuals that are somehow "more sensitive" and the spirits are attracted to them.

I don't know, nor do I care to investigate.

Was Nancy just 'seeing things' because of her lack of sleep? Or maybe Nancy is just one of thousands to have encounters with apparitions on this Isle. They believe that underneath the ground, the "ley lines" charge the electromagnetic field, thereby increasing psychic energy. Isle of Wight is also home to a large ghost investigation team. Encounters with ghosts in taverns, hotels, churches, homes, and even the jail and zoo are simply what everyday life is like for the residents of Isle of Wight.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Spooky Stories #2 - The Mothman

I have no idea why I have a fascination with the Mothman phenomenon. Maybe because it's the very first case that introduced us to The Men in Black. Or perhaps it's because so many people in the area reported things to the police and the media. I'm thinking because it's an interesting mix of the paranormal, something alien, government cover ups, and prophecy. 

Below is the first post I did on the Mothman back in 2006. Enjoy!

What is the legend of The Mothman?

On November 12, 1966, five workers were preparing a grave at the cemetery near Clendenin, West Virginia. As they were digging, they spotted something flying over their heads. They described it as manlike with wings.

Just three days later, two married couples driving near an abandoned TNT plant in Point Pleasant, West Virginia had an encounter with a winged man creature with glowing red eyes. They described the creature as being tall, 6 or 7 feet. It's red bright eyes were "hypnotic." The witnesses panicked and sped away, only to see this thing again on a hillside. They watched it rise into the air and follow them. Their car was traveling at over 100 mph and "That bird kept right up with us," said one of them to Deputy Sheriff Millard Halstead. The creature easily followed them down Highway 62 right up to the Point Pleasant city limits.

That same night, several other Point Pleasant residents nervously spoke with local authorities about seeing this strange creature. What made it even more weird was the other phenomena that coincided with this winged monster. Televisions went out, electricity and motors stopped, strange and wild high-pitched screams accompanied sightings. One dog, Bandit, went missing as his owner slept with his rifle in his bed.

On November 16, Deputy Halstead held a press conference at the courthouse. So many law abiding and normally reliable witnesses came forward with their experiences. Deputy Halstead had grown up with these people, and he believed them. Reporters worldwide came to Point Pleasant and dubbed the creature The Mothman.

For 13 months, there were extraordinary sightings and scary incidents...The Mothman was making his presence known to the people of Point Pleasant. John Keel, a New York writer, chronicled the testimonies. He interviewed over 100 individuals that had witnessed The Mothman from November 1966 to November 1967. People also reported stories about strange lights in the sky and the infamous Men in Black visiting Point Pleasant residents. Keel's book, The Mothman Prophecies, became the basis for the movie.

As if UFOs, Men in Black, and The Mothman wasn't enough, many residents told Keel that they were experiencing strange psychic phenomena. Several individuals told himm of nightmares they had of The Mothman's red eyes followed by visions of tragic events. These events supposedly include the stabbing of the Pope, Robert Kennedy's assassination, and something terrible happening where many lives were going to be lost in Point Pleasant.

Unfortunately, on December 15, one of "The Mothman Prophecies" came true. The 700 foot bridge between Ohio and West Virginia in Point Pleasant collapsed. 46 people lost their lives that evening. One of the strange reports that evening prior to the bridge collapse was the sighting of lights in the sky. It was such a tragedy, and Keel reported that many of those that died were first-hand witnesses of The Mothman.

As quickly as encounters with The Mothman started, they ended shortly thereafter. There have been sporadic sightings in the area since then, but nothing paralleled those 13 months in Point Pleasant. The mystery and tragedy of Point Pleasant is far from forgotten, and many people associated with the incident and investigations have died in very sudden, tragic, and mysterious ways.

Just one story is that of Mothman investigator Susan Wilcox of Columbus, Ohio. Susan reported that she had witnessed a creature with wings near her home in 2001. She visited Point Pleasant often during 2001 and 2002 to do her research, but was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of brain tumor that mostly strikes children under 12. Ms. Wilcox passed away two months later. Her son, Brent Fair, was also a budding Mothman researcher had a sealed envelope with her research logs Susan had given him ten months prior to her passing. She left a note on the envelope that read, "B.R., Do not open until December 2002."

Susan Wilcox had died on December 8, 2002. The envelope contained her investigative logs of the Mothman phenomenon she collected from 2001 until her death.

Many say the land where Point Pleasant stands today is cursed by a Shawnee chief. On November 10, 1777, he lay dying from gunshot wounds from soldiers and said, "For this, may the curse of the Great Spirit rest upon this land. May it be blighted by nature. May it even be blighted in its hopes. May the strength of its peoples be paralyzed by the stain of our blood.” A monument in Point Pleasant to commemorate that time period was later errected. In 1909, lightning struck the crane that was to place it. And on July 4th, 1921, the monument was destroyed by yet another lightning strike.

What exactly happened in Point Pleasant from November 1966 - 1967? What did all those people see? Was it a giant owl or crane as skeptics suggest?

Or is The Mothman real?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Spooky Stories #1 - The REAL Exorcist

I love Halloween! And for the month of October, I will bring you my very BEST Spooky Stories going back seven years. I might even throw in a new one in here. Below is one of the very first spooky posts I did back in 2005. The movie, The Exorcist, remains one of the scariest movies of all time for me.

The freakiest part of it all - it's based on ACTUAL events that happened here in St. Louis. I hope you enjoy this!

* * * *

William Peter Blatty's 1971 novel The Exorcist and the Warner Brother's film from 1973 have etched the term "exorcism" forever within our everyday vocabulary. For most of us, images of a demented Linda Blair spitting pea soup, her head spinning around, and all kinds of spooky scary stuff.

The novel was based on eye witness testimony and a 26 page diary (once thought to be 16 pages). Eye witness testimony includes first hand accounts from Jesuit priests, various professors, family members, friends, hospital workers, and even construction workers.

What exactly happened? What is Blatty's novel based on? Here are the facts in timeline form that have been confirmed by various investigators, and many details have been clarified and corrected:

>The family involved remains anonymous to this day [2012], so we'll call them the Doe Family and the boy that was allegedly possessed we'll refer to him as Rob Doe. The Doe Family was from Cottage City Maryland, not Mt. Rainer, Maryland as previously believed.

>January 1949, strange things began to happen to 13 year-old Rob. He was being scratched and attacked by something unseen. His parents witnessed his blankets flying about on their own, the bed shaking violently.

>Februrary 26, 1949...The Does were Lutheran, so they turned to Rev. Schulze. Rob spent the night in Shulze's room. There, Schulze witnessed paranormal phenomena, such as a rug moving by itself across the room. After taking Rob to the Mental Hygiene Clinic of the University of Maryland, Rev. Schulze recommended the Doe Family consult Father Hughes of St. James Catholic Church in Mount Rainer.

>End of February, 1949...blessed candles would fly across the room, tables moved, and an attempted baptism went wrong. Rob would curse and act violently. They moved him to Georgetown hospital where Father Hughes began an unsuccessful rite of's unclear if it was authorized by the Church.

>Early March...Rob is released from the hospital, and Mrs. Doe decides to go back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. She thought maybe the "hauntings" would stop. As soon as they arrive, family members witness various supernatural occurances surrounding Rob.

>March 9, 1949...One of Mrs. Doe's cousins requests the help of her priest professor at St. Louis University, Father Raymond J. Bishop. He sees the scratches on Rob's body, floating objects, and the mattress vibrating on its own.

>March 11, 1949...Father Bishop calls in Father William Bowdern of of St. Francis Xavier Church (at the corner of Grand and Lindell here in St. Louis, pictured left; Fr. Bowdern is pictured right). These two priests and a Jesuit scholar, Walter Halloran, witness the scratches on Rob's abdomen, the bed shaking, Rob speaking to them in Latin and possibly Aramaic, and the 13 year-old boy's violent and strange behavior.

>March 16, 1949...Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter gives Father Bowdern permission to begin the formal rite of exorcism. That night, accompanied by Father Bishop and Walter Halloran, Father Bowdern begin reciting the ritual prayers of exorcism.

>March through April, 1949...Rob's "seizures" become more violent and often is held down by as many as ten people during the exorcism or prayer sessions. He would tear the sheets and even broke Halloran's nose. During this time, Rob is taken back and forth between his relative's house and Alexian Brother's Hospital. Numerous priests, students, and hospital workers witnessed many of the supernatural occurrences in his hospital room .

It was a stressful and scary time. Father Bowdern was known to have lost 40 pounds during the ordeal.

>April 18, 1949...The Final Exorcism...Fr. Bowdern places various religious medals around Rob, and instructs him to hold a crucifix. Rob starts to become possessed, and screams that the medals were becoming hot...soon, he is in full demonic possession and starts hissing and flicking his tongue like a snake.

>The rite continues when suddenly, in a different masculine voice Rob says, "Satan! Satan! I am St. Michael! I command you, Satan, and the other evil spirits to leave this body, in the name of Dominus, immediately! Now! Now! Now!" Rob has one last spasm before falling quiet and witnesses reported hearing a "gunshot sound" throughout the hospital at that moment.

>Rob told the priests of a vision that he had of St. Michael holding a flaming sword, and that the demon was gone.

>Twelve days later he left Missouri and returned to Maryland.

>The story made headlines, and several family members told the story to news reporters. Rob grew up, had a normal life, had three children, and resided somewhere in Maryland. Rob, if still alive, would be 70 years old today. Other than that, we know nothing of Rob [2012].

>Walter Halloran (pictured left) became a priest and often talked about his experience with others. He passed away in 2005

>Fr. Bowdern passed away in 1983. He never publicly talked about his experience. With his report to the Church, he received 41 signatures from those who testified to witnessing paranormal phenomena with this case.

>Following the exorcism, the hospital staff at Alexia avoided the room. The smells and cold air still emanated from under the doorway. No one ever used the room again. The entire wing of the hospital eventually was sealed off, and was demolished.

Before demolition, the crew found a copy of the exorcist's diary, which was given to hospital administrators. The diary was William Blatty's basis his book.

2012 Update: A local radio show did a contest that included having the "winners" do an investigation at the ACTUAL HOUSE in Bel-Nor (suburb in St. Louis). The trees near the house grow inwards towards the room where "Rob" stayed. You can listen to the radio broadcast of the investigation HERE. This group was the first and still only investigation at this house. The homeowner refuses to allow any further investigations.