Maugham: Rain in the Face

DATELINE: Somerset

Willie Maugham was one of the most successful of writers in the 20thcentury. He wrote one short story, “Rain,” that made him over one million dollars in the 1920s. You could say he was the rich man’s Truman Capote.

A short documentary gathers together some rare photos and film clips of his high-living. It’s called Revealing Mr. Maugham. But it is mostly apologetic for his transgressions and motive to write for money.

Maugham suffered from a stammer that made him less media attractive—but like Capote, he wrote about the gossip he heard, transforming the mud in novels. He was no great writer, like many contemporaries (James Joyce, Virginia Woolf or even Noel Coward) but he made big bucks and commanded movie versions (The Razor’s Edge).

Being secretly gay, he never played out or up his personality like Capote. Yet, he was notorious in his world travels to seek gay pleasure spots around the world. His “secretary” was actually his lover and procurer.

Maugham learned about human nature at medical school where he studied with Dr. Bell, the model for Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. And, his understanding of sexuality was scientific and ahead of its time.

He was scarred by his brother Harry’s suicide over a homosexual scandal—and it may have sent Maugham into the closet for the rest of his life.

His companion Gerald Haxton helped him create Cap Ferrat, the idyllic “Fairyland,” that Edna St. Vincent Millay declared one visit. Her insight is not in the film. Nor does the film tell us of the monkey gland injections to maintain his masculine vigor in old age to host boys, boys, boys.

The documentary tries hard to give Maugham literary chops, but he was interested only in fame and money, whether as a playwright or as a story writer. Yes, he wrote spy stories before LeCarre and Greene, and he was an actual spy for the British government.

Yet, he became in senility a rather unpleasant, vindictive and manipulated old fool of his new “secretary,” who managed to steal everything through poisoning Maugham’s old mind.

The documentary shows how one can outlive his own standards.

Best Agatha Christie Bio

DATELINE:  Mystery Maven

You have to delve into the Britbox archives to find the 1990 biography of Agatha Christie done a dozen years after her passing. The thinking at the time was that she was a surprise to have her popularity survive her death.

Indeed, one interviewed critic dared to say he thought she had great staying power and would keep her fame and interest alive well into the 21stcentury. Imagine that!

This is, perhaps, a highly intelligent portrait called An Unfinished Portrait.It is based on the title of one of her nom de plumeworks that passed unheralded for years. Her furtile and creative mind is boggling.

This delightful film is narrated by Joan Hickson (who played Miss Marple several times) and features appearances by David Suchet (the definitive Hercule).

Using archival interviews with the grand Dame, you have an understated genteel woman who fairly much is dumb-founded when an interviewer asks her if she likes crime. She retorts, she likes detectives and puzzles.

She worked as a pharmacist during World War One, and learned all about poisons. The documentary uses words from her novels that parallel her personal feelings and biographical events.

IN one creative period from the 1920s to 1950, Dame Agatha wrote about 35 classical titles, all still known. Several include plays like The Mousetrap  or Witness for the Prosecution.

 

We could list 30 titles here that you’d recognize.

 

The film is unflinching in examining her strange, staged disappearance in 1926 that cast a murder charge over her philandering husband, Col. Christie. She set him up, or so it appears. She later married an archaeologist, 14 years her junior, who gave her many plot ideas.

Miss Marple was based on her grandmother, and Dame Agatha always maintained good manners in her personal life and in her storylines. She just enjoyed giving people a good mystery to figure out: chess on an entertainment level.

What a refreshing look at the great mystery writer.

Titanic’s Marconi Radio & a Spirit’s Reaction

DATELINE: Titanic Spirit

 New Book: Titanic’s Forgotten Movie.

You may have noticed the latest Titanic news: a judge’s ruling that violates the graveyard sanctity of shipwrecks in the name of historical preservation. The Titanic will now be drilled open like a can of sardines, and the Marconi radio will be extracted.

The arguments in favor of this are that the ship is collapsing and, if salvage does not occur immediately, all these historical items, lost for over 108 years will be lost forever.

My own personal interest in the topic may be tied to a couple of books I wrote about the Titanic (if you are interested, the latest is TITANIC’S FORGOTTEN MOVIE,which details the attempts to have Greta Garbo and Alfred Hitchcock join the movie manifest).

I also have a personal interest in that my home once belonged to several victims of the White family, who died during their first-class voyage to destiny.

Richard White was a 21-year old Bowdoin student coming home to graduate in 1912, but he only made it there for a memorial service. His body was recovered among the 300 or so, and he was brought home to a cemetery one mile from where I live and he lived. I often visit him there.

Some time ago, I discovered he was hanging around in spirit. Never believing in that stuff, I went to various psychics who confirmed he selected me to write his biography. I have done so, and he continues to visit me from time to time, a grateful spirit friend.

The preferred method of communication with someone on the Other Side for me is divining rods. He always responds quickly for me, and so I asked him what his opinion might be about the retrieval of the Marconi.

Richard’s response on the metal sticks was surprising. He is often strong in his responses to me, but there was a great great deal of ambivalence about this going into the ship for the Marconi. He had strong mixed feelings. I think he feels helpless to react to it.

His answer reminded me me of my own reaction to the coronavirus. What can we do? Profiteers want their profit.

As far as Titanic is concerned, I do think this opens the door to retrieving safety deposit boxes and the like. If you decide the ship is collapsing, they will take all they can out with that excuse.

By the same token, there is not much an oldster can do when the doors are open to ending social distance. Victims are always victims. Old people may be susceptible to the virus, but the greater need to have society continue on its merry way supersedes those whose lives are nearly over.

Richard White could surely empathize with a death that causes respiratory failure: fluid in the lungs killed him too.

Now the place where his father’s body was never recovered will be violated for profit and the higher motive of historical value. Those always take precedence over the life of an individual.

Richard White and I can only shrug at the latest turn of events.

 

Shatner & Shakespeare on Oak Island

DATELINE: Shatner Returns to Treasure Hunt

 Cold Day in November!

We know how much everyone enjoyed William Shatner on Oak Island, but he must have also enjoyed it because he has come back for the final night of season 7.

His theory is worthy of the UnXplained,and we fully concur with him.

There is a fairly sharp start that indicates that Shakespeare may have been borderline literate: his father and mother were illiterate and only middle-class. His own education was fair, not royal and not comprehensive.

So, Shatner takes some relish in debunking the Bard and suggesting the real writer was a man with credentials, like Sir Francis Bacon, member of the Elizabethan court. There may even be several authors, as Shatner hints.

Cyphers in the original folio have intrigued researchers that there is something that matches Nolan’s Cross on Oak Island. In fact, Bacon was connected to Knights Templar through Rosiecrucians—and he may have known of the secret vaults on Oak Island—and chose to bury his Shakespeare originals there.

One can find that The Tempest may be confessional in terms of Bacon burying “my booke.”  If overlaid on the final page of The Tempest, you find a spot that would correspond to the Eye of the Swamp on the Island.

We were amused when Rick Lagina called Bacon the Michelangelo of his day: if history is correct, they were almost contemporaries as Michelangelo’s death crossed the date of Bacon’s birth. Technically, he was right.

Parchment was found over 160 feet below the earth. Bookbinding material was found near the Money Pit deep down.

Even the Laginas seemed intrigued that Shakespeare’s first folio is there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cold Warrior Spy: Richard Burton

DATELINE: Don’t Make’em Like This Anymore

 Dazzling Burton!

The extraordinary 1965 film of John le Carré’s classic,The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, has been listed on Prime as an action thriller. Of course, it is neither. It is a bleak, sober, cold and dreary film about moral turpitude among the espionage community.

John le Carré himself was an agent of MI-6 who turned into a novelist.

This was a seminal Richard Burton performance: and no one ever, even today, can convey the dissipation and ennui as he can. To watch him staggering around (as a double agent) in rainstorms and walking around bleak streets, avoiding a tail is in itself remarkable. We even see him in a Volkswagen, as an M-6 agent pretending to defect to the East.

George Smiley, the most famous of all the LeCarre agents, is here in the form of an unimpressive figure (actor Rupert Davies) working for Control. We believe it is the first Smiley appearance in a movie, as he later became known for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spyin several movie incarnations (Alec Guinness and Gary Oldman, notably). Here he is a plot key, but mostly as a spoken name.

Claire Bloom is the female lead. It was one of the few movies that Elizabeth Taylor simply could not play with her then husband. She would not make a convincing demure librarian—and had to pass on the role when director Martin Ritt put his foot down and said, “NO!”  Bloom is perfect. Burton was peeved and Taylor hung around the set causing mischief.

Oskar Werner has the other smallish but central part as the nemesis to the British secret agent. He is the elusive and dangerous East German spy that has hamstrung MI-6—and must be discredited to the Soviets.

That’s Burton’s job: not glamourous or exciting, but could mean his life is up for Cold War grabs.

Climax is at the Berlin Wall where double-crossing takes on a double meaning.

 

Burton’s angry speech near the end is worth the entire film.

 

 

Trump as Movie Critic &/or Norma Desmond

 DATELINE: Old Time Movies!

At a campaign rally this week, Donald Trump showed another facet of his koo-koo bird presidency. He started attacking Hollywood’s Oscar choice of The Parasitefor best picture. It seems he does not care for South Korea’s movie industry.

 

If it had been made in North Korea, he might have been more tolerant. Perhaps he just has an intolerance for parasites, or movies that attack and ridicule rich people.

We firmly believe that Trump never watched The Parasitebecause of its subtitles. We all know that he is a dyslexic reader and has trouble with big words and fast scrolling of verbiage. His own notes are large block letter words that are monosyllabic.

However, he did cite 1950’s Sunset Boulevard as his idea of a great movie. We presume his followers have never seen it, and young people would never watch a black & white movie.

You may not recall the Billy Wilder-Charlie Brackett movie from 1950. It was a dark satire extravaganza about the dissolution of a silent screen siren.

Gloria Swanson took the role that Garbo refused and said the immortal words of Norma Desmond who is accused of once being big in movies: “I am still big. It’s the pictures that got small.”

Trump may well paraphrase the famous line: “I am big. It’s the White House that got small.”

You know that Trump is always ready for his close-up—and in fact, demands it every day. He is about ready to have the police and men in white coats come and take him away, just like poor old Norma Desmond.

 

Ossurworld’s William Russo just published a book on producer Charles Brackett who made Sunset Boulevard. It’s title is TITANIC’S FORGOTTEN MOVIE, available in softcover or ebook for smart readers.

Blue Book Invasion & MK Ultra

 DATELINE: MK Ultra

  More Malarkey 

Project Blue Bookcontinues to leave loose ends on the cutting room floor. The latest involves the blondie beauty who is some kind of Soviet agent, or was, now she has been dispatched after failing to stick Captain Quinn in the rear end with a hypodermic bigger than a switchblade.

Those nasty Commies don’t fool around—and she has been replaced by a dragon lady who is even more 50s butch with lipstick on thick.

She seems to travel with her own batch of Men in Black, Soviet style.

Blondie was  putting the make on Dr. Hynek’s wife Mimi, but that didn’t fly with the audiences, so they have given her a nerdy UFOlogist for company.

It may be the government is faking an alien invasion to gain more power in the new Einsenhower administration, but the ever-vigilant and heroic CIA (well, it is the 1950s) now has started a group of remote viewers called MK-Ultra.

You know things are changing when house villain Neal McDonough now is having doubts about UFOs.

Our clairvoyants can see the tea leaves and read them too. Only Dr. Hynek and his spit and polish liaison (Mike Malarkey looking spiffy no matter what costume they throw on him) can save the world.

How can Malarkey’s character smoke, drink bourbon and eat junk food and look like that? We think he may be the extra-terrestrial. The episode tries to open him up as a soldier with lots of PTSD, which doesn’t help with UFO, MK-Ultra, CIA, no matter what color you call your book.

When you end your episode with a three-ring circus, metaphor becomes reality.

 

 

 

 

‘Orb’ Watches Titanic Movie Again!

DATELINE: Insider Viewing!

According to my housemate and ghostly companion, orbs or spheres are small balls of light energy that are used by spirits to go through vortices or to find pathways for time travel.
Sometimes, they just want to watch a movie on tape without using a VCR or DVD player. They simply fly into the tape.
For example, twice in the past few weeks, the spirit of Richard White has knocked a videotape off the bookshelf in my home library. It is the same videotape each time:Titanicfrom 1953, starring Clifton Webb and Robert Wagner.
I suspect he likes this version of the luxury ship catastrophe (where he died) because his brother Percy knew the producer and writer, Charles Bartlett. They. were a couple of Harvard guys. Percy was a Madison Ave. type who advertised movies. He may also have given Bartlett a leg up on his Oscar screenplay with some insider details about his father and brother who died on the ship.
It seems the movie featured a main character named after the ad man’s brother—playing his father who died on Titanic. “Richard” was a version of Percy White, Sr. He was lost on Titanic, his body never recovered. The actor hired to play this victim was Clifton Webb who just happened to look like the real Percy White, Jr.
In typical happenstance in my life, the actor who played a version of the real Richard (a college student on Titanic) was Robert Wagner, whose acquaintance I made 15 years ago by sheer coincidence—or was it Richard White’s ghostly intercession?
Why did the orb knock this film off the shelf again? The film mentions family secrets of Percy and Richard White that no one except close family would know. I was made privy by Percy’s grand-daughter.
It may be too that the ghost went into the film, as a doorway to the past, to re-live or to re-watch the film.
It intrigues me that the second time, the film is out of its plastic case and both tape and case are face down in front of the wall-to-ceiling books shelving.
What message is being conveyed to me this time? I am not yet certain—but these points become apparent in time.
So, my ghost, Richard, has sent me another message, not in a bottle from the Titanic wreck site, but from a bookcase in my library.
Dr. William Russo’s new book is called SPOOKY GEOLOGY & TITANIC, featuring 25 unusual details about the geographical ties to Titanic. Available on Amazon in both softcover and e-book.
Videotape on floor.

Rachel Carson of Silent Spring

DATELINE: DDT & Radiation Conjoin

  Carson Takes Them ON!

American Experience presented another brilliant and important biography a few years ago: on Rachel Louise Carson, who saw the horror and dangers of DDT in the years before World War II.

A reclusivse, scholarly woman years ahead of the curve, she started off by calling herself R.L. Carson because she thought a genderless male would be received better in a science field as writer.

She was unable to complete her Ph.D. in biology, owing to family responsibilities, and also suffered a set-back when Reader’s Digestrejected her warning about the poisonous chemical, DDT. After all, killing mosquitos and ticks was more important than any health issue.

Carson was horrified when the US government sprayed DDT down the pants of Italians after the war to kill lice. Some even sprayed it on their food to prove it could be digested.

She also began to see a parallel to radiation poisoning from fall-out after H-bomb testing. Yet, a better world through chemistry was America’s mantra. You even had Nixon and Kennedy eating tainted cranberries during the 1960 campaign to show how business owned government.

The lonely woman who lived mostly an internal life without close friends, loved the ocean, lived on the shores of Maine and worked at Woods Hole. She managed to place two best-sellers at the same time on theTimes best-seller list.

Silent Spring was not initially well-received: perhaps it was American hubris, or disdain for scholarly women, but Carson was dedicated and knew what she had to warn the world.

In one of the first corporate targets, every major chemical company went after her with one of the earliest attacks by media publicity. Their unfair and bizarre defense of pesticides is today horrifying.

Rachel Carson still is the patron saint of climate abuse—and still is hated by the political money-grubbers.

 

 

 

 

 

Murnau & Max: Life & Death Struggle

 DATELINE: Noserferatu-too much?

Has it been twenty years since Willem Dafoe took on the role of Max Schreck as Nosferatu? And, John Malkovich played the great German director. Shadow of the Vampireis meant to be film history, horror in cinema, and ultimately docudrama to end all vampire tales.

It was like watching Burton and O’Toole in Becket in some kind of twisted duo version of clash of titans. They quibble like Fredric March and Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind.Yes, their screen confrontations are on this level.

Is it comedy, satire, or history? Perhaps it is all rolled into one silent screen classic, as the original depicted shadows over substance. You may laugh at the foibles of movie makers.

Unable to film Dracula, Murnau, the Herr Doktor of cinema, filmed on some remote location where an unknown actor, of Stanislavski Method, turned himself into a real vampire. Or did he?

The conceit of the movie is that Max was no actor, but a real creature of death whom Murnau located.

The film is looney in its hilarity. When Max misbehaves on the set, F.W. Murnau denies him makeup.  When Max Schreck begins to eat the cameraman, the two come to one of their marvelous argumentative scenes. Dafoe clicks his fingernails like a castanet and watches sunrise on film, moving us behind the hideous makeup. You can’t have a film like this without Udo Keir as well.

Two temperamental creatures want to make a movie to last for all time: and they do! Nosferatu’s spirit is captured in this behind-the-scenes account, however falsified or dramatized.

The ending is spoiled, purely preposterous, with Murnau directing the ultimate mass murders.

It’s koo-koo bird stuff, but dreams can be made of that too.

A Tale of Two Titanic Survivors

DATELINE: Never Told Story?

Emilio Portaluppi.    &     Charles Joughlin

One of the segments of the recent TV series UnXplained featured the mysterious survival story of Charles Joughlin, the chief baker on the Titanic. It went so far as to suggest that supernatural forces were at work when it came to this man’s miraculous escape from death.

The story of Joughlin was made famous, or infamous, on the movie A Night to Rememberwhen notable character actor George Rose played him for comic relief. When he discovered the ship was sinking, baker Joughlin started drinking heavily and was totally drunk as the ship went under.

He spent his last minutes aboard ship, in his chef’s white smock, throwing objects into the ocean for those in the cold water to hold as buoyant rafts. He himself went into the frigid waters that killed people after ten minutes. Only he did not die.

After a short time in the North Atlantic among chunks of ice, he was pulled aboard the lifeboat of Officer Lighttoller and lived.

How miraculous was that?

Not quite as amazing as the story of Emilio Portaluppi, a second-class passenger who lived in Milford, New Hampshire, and worked there as a stonemason. He too was tossed into the ocean as Titanic sank, and he too survived being in the frigid waters that killed so many so quickly. Yet, his story has not really been told.

What’s the difference?

Perhaps, the key ingredient was nationality: Joughlin could readily speak to journalists and told a tale that bemused even other survivors. Portaluppi was an Italian immigrant who moved to Milford, New Hampshire, likely spoke poor English and returned to a small New England town and lived unobtrusively for years. No movie character ever depicted his intriguing story.

Joughlin was older by eight years, and he was in his mid-30s, married with two children, when he was chief baker on the White Star Lines. Portaluppi had no listed famiy in America. In fact, he was on a holiday in Italy to see his parents when he booked passage on Titanic in France to return to America.

Both men lived years after Titanic became folklore, but Joughlin was British and managed to find his tale in Walter Lord’s famous book, A Night to Remember.Portaluppi, by that time, had left New Hampshire to work in Brooklyn for a contracting company. Though Joughlin died in the 1950s, Portaluppi lived until 1974—and was available to talk to anyone interested in Titanic.

Apparently, he never did. The few news stories about him seem to offer details and dismissive skepticism. He said he was in the water for about two to four hours, and he floated among dead bodies until a rescue vessel came by after dawn and found him. He was one of four still alive in the waters. This superseded Joughlin by many hours!

How did Portaluppi survive the hypothermia? There are no tales of his drunkenness being the root cause. The officer who led the rescue claimed he never spoke to those whom he saved, and they never spoke to him even after being fished out of the water. No thanks, and no explanations. One could presume they were half-dead, in shock, and perhaps Portaluppi knew little enough English.

Thus, Portaluppi’s tale was truly supernatural, but for over fifty years, he lived quietly, even as films were made and TV specials passed him by. Perhaps he blacked out and did not recall what happened. Perhaps he suffered from post-traumatic syndrome and never wanted to discuss it. He went into a kind of seclusion usually afforded New Yorkers like Greta Garbo. He was in the biggest metropolis of media for 35 years, and when he died, his body was sent to Italy for burial.

You mean no journalist found a story here worth telling?

UnXplained Ends Too Soon?

 DATELINE:  Shatner Show Sort of Ends…

 Survivor Mysteries!

For the first batch of the UnXplained series, Shatner hosted a bunch of tales of survival and unusual, perhaps supernatural, abilities that caused people to overcome the worst odds. Now, the most extraordinary of these survival oments came when a commercial interrupted the series, and William Shatner himself promised us that the series is not done, after all, and will return “soon.”

Such a threat actually became a delight.

The series brought its limited run to another intriguing close with an episode that again brought disparate episodes into a kind of cohesive pattern.

We saw a six-year old boy, lost in wilderness, who walked 18 miles overnight to find a road to safety. He felt something was following him: coyotes, or something else. How he chose to make the right turns is something inexplicable all right. But he did it.

One of the hosts ofAncient Aliens recounted his boyhood experience, also unusual, when time stood still and he was able to rescue a 13-year old friend from going over a waterfall to certain death.

Another tale, close to our heart and chilling to our personal experience, related to a Titanic survivor, one of the bakers, whose story is often recounted in movies as an episode that many would call fictionalized. The wonderful scenes are from A Night to Remember!

Yet, the baker who was soused, inebriated, managed to survive in below freezing water for two hours when most others who fell into the Atlantic died, of hypothermia, in ten minutes.How did it happen? Why? No one can explain.

There was the tale of the man whose parachute did not open, and he fell three mile—defying all physical laws to end up with a broken spine (that also miraculously healed) and he was able to walk away from what should have been sure death.

And, one of the other tales told a weird, extra-sensory experience about a British woman, Clare Henry, whose avoidance of a foggy car crash that should have killed her was owed to a casual friend who had recently died in a car crash.

Yes, that friend was Princess Diana who appeared before Clare and directed her to pull off the road before she would have been killed in multi-car pileup.

 

The moments gathered together all featured some rising above physical laws and physics to areas of puzzling survival. There are hints of guardian angels and directive spirits, protective forces, and other dimensions, yet as some of the experts note:  these things have not been studied by science enough to figure out if there are forces in the universe that transcend our world.

 

Yes, we want old bill Shatner’s show to return.

 

 

 

 

 

Séance at Spring Village

DATELINE: Titanic Spirits Beckon Us!

 Five Who Dared!

Apparently, we are the first ones to hold a séance at Spring Village since the Titanic sank.

You would think that someone around here might have done conducted some kind of paranormal event—considering that two of the residents died on Titanic. And, also, considering that the neighborhood has been rife with ghost tales for nearly two-hundred years, we are ripe for supernatural activity.

Good heavens, even those two who perished on that ill-fated voyage of 1912 were well-aware they lived in a haunted house. It’s a point hard to ignore when orbs and bumps in the night are everywhere.

It seems to us that what goes around comes around.

If you live over a natural mineral spring that Native Americans felt was some kind of ancient vortex and miracle cure for what ails you, you may have a good site for reaching other dimensions.

Since the Titanic went down in the frigid Atlantic, Albert Einstein theorized that wormholes and other tunnels warped time and space, making it even more likely that beings from another time and place might go wherever they wished.

And, wouldn’t two who died on Titanic make an appearance at the ancestral home?

Since moving here, I have been an advocate that something odd and decidedly paranormal has been taking place in the vicinity. It became more imperative when the activity seemed to center on me personally, as if one spirit wanted me to write his life story. Well, I did: it’s called Tales of a Titanic Family, and then I followed it up with something more about his life and death, entitled Chess-Mate from Titanic.

Perhaps even that has not been enough. So, we have arranged a séance here in the house where a library is dedicated to Richard White, a college student whose graduation gift was a first-class ticket to oblivion and infamy on Titanic.

Oh, he has been hanging around me for decades, but I never paid it no mind until something brought me to a place that I learned was his home. No, I had no idea when first I came here.

Recently, we had a group of ghost hunters, led by Susan Allen and Eric Metzler, and capped off with a special assistance from Kadrolsha Ona, the celebrity Queen of Paranormal.

Unlike Houdini, and his 100+ seances that he usually debunked, we had two video cameras and a plethora of audio tape recorders for the standard EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon to you novices).

Call us ready or not. The séance went off with plenty of hitches: It was not what I expected—we developed sea sickness, mal de mer on the deck of Titanic, and one spirit went hysterical on us, looking for her husband who was not allowed on a lifeboat with her.

Have we learned a lesson from this tampering with the unknown? Not really, as we plan to do a follow-up in September.

 

Dr. Russo’s books on Titanic are all available in print and e-book formats. The latest is Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle. A book on the seance will be available before the 2020 New Year.

Haunted Bowdoin College: Ready for a Closeup

DATELINE: No Ghouls Here!

Bowdoin class of 1912 Class of 1912.

With deep interest and fascination, we awaited a chance to read the insider study called Haunted Bowdoin College by David R. Francis, senior techie over in the Brunswick, Maine, area.

We found a general overview of the tours often conducted (over three hours) along the various sites of the campus. Since the College goes back to the start of the 19th century and has maintained its historical integrity, we found the breakdown done by various locations.

Our main intention was to see if graduate Richard Frazar White (who died on his graduation gift—a first-class trip on the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic) might have encountered some of the spirits during his time at the College.

Alas, the book is short on example: often taking the reader off-campus to ancillary paranormal history. There are a few nuggets, such as the Hubbard Stacks, a darkly unchanged library haunt.

Richard White loved libraries: he likely spent much time at the library dedicated to illustrious grads, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The book recounts their thematic work but does not indicate they learned first-hand about supernatural at Bowdoin.

Richard White came from a haunted background. He was born and grew up in Winchendon Springs in the family manse that was a house of many gables (and at least one murdered peddler). His family renovated an old tavern along the carriage route where murder was most foul in 1826.

Richard’s great-grandfather, Zadoc Long, wrote a poem in the Longfellow mold about the family’s haunted house. So, Richard had a long background in ghostly encounters—and perhaps was not much impressed with Bowdoin’s resident spirits.

Oddly enough, many of the reported ghosts are women—at an all-male college until the late 20th century. It seems girls of the town couldn’t resist the Bowdoin men—and paid an eternal price for it.

The work is slight, but the author has peppered the tales with his research photos—and those who matriculated a century ago may be still there. Each year the classes had their photos taken on the steps of the art museum, but we didn’t find any ghostly takers—except for Richard who has returned to Winchendon Springs.

At least one former exchange student from Bowdoin, now living in Brazil, told me that he traces his own haunted life from his days in Maine and the fatal attraction spirits seem to have for the ivy-halls.

 

What’s an Orb? Five in One!

 DATELINE: Ghostly Images!

We see many weird incidents in our library, dedicated to the Titanic and its victim who was born and lived here on Mill Circle. We have even written his biography and a couple of follow-up books on the paranormal activities.

This week provided us with a lesson in orbs. Believe it or not, these two images are exactly the same spot on two successive nights.

We set up the security camera for a 2 a.m. view on two subsequent nights. We never touched the camera, moved it, cleaned it, or otherwise altered the image sent to us. What you see is what came through. A friend with skepticism noted that there were atmospheric differences: we cannot vouch for the barometric pressure and how it altered the camera image. We think it unlikely. Some orbs are like shooting stars or Fourth of July fireworks. We did not see those this time.

So, what have we got here?

The first image is completely hazy. And, strange lights give off halo effects. One elongated vertical light moved from one side of the closet door to the other. Two orbs, one quite misshapen and another more perfect and higher toward the ceiling, dominate the traditional orb style.

Some kind of ray or laser (perhaps two) seem to emit from alongside the camera, where a portrait also hangs and cannot be seen. These lights cast a spotlight on the opposite wall.

The most dominating feature of this image is the cloud that takes up the entire window seat and a chair near the chessboard, which is about center in the image. One paranormal expert told us that it was a ghost trying to materialize.

A sharp white light is reflected in a glass over a painting on the opposite wall from the camera. It does not change in either photo.

The photo also features some curvatures on either side of the room, which seem to be distortions of the lens. However, there is no such distortion or shape in the next night’s crystal clarity.

We find the second night photo all the more amazing for its focus, unimpeded, and its lack of cloudy mist or residue around the entire room.

What happened? If the spirits showed up to hold a gathering of Titanic ghosts, or throw a party in the hereafter, they did so with upright silence and good behavior. Nothing was amiss next morning.

What you see in the second image, chessboard, bookcases, bric-a-brac, all remained in place. Sometimes there is a spill, or knock-over, but generally the spirits are well-behaved.

We count five different styles of orb in one picture. Over the course of a video, the cloud seemed to be dissipating, but unlike smaller rocket orbs, the large ones simply hung in mid-air.

We always are willing to defer to experts who may tell us these are angels, archangels, and beings from another dimension. We are also willing to hear the argument that it is an anomaly of no importance.

Whatever, we know that activity continues in the library—and it is a safe haven for spirits who wish to congregate together for a time.