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.

Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle

DATELINE:   Paranormal Book on Titanic!

new kindle mystery cover Richard White (picture from college yearbook).

When you live in a haunted house and create an enchanted library, you may end up with some paranormal mysteries to explain.

That is the premise of William Russo’s latest book about the spirit of a Titanic victim who shows his host both devotion and protection.

You may question why a college student who died on the Titanic would follow a retired college professor, but the overriding sense of being haunted is not demonic according to a new book about Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle.

Psychics hint that there may be a reincarnation involved, or merely crossed wires of time and space. Whatever the cause, the effect is exhilarating:  messages and orbs fly all over the library. Russo’s path to his spirit guest crossed the lines of attending the same high school, but fifty years apart, and being members of the school chess team.

Whether you can accept DVDs thrown off shelves and other bizarre coincidences as regular daily activity, there is something definitely happening beyond normal. 

Dr. William Russo often contends that where he lives, the normal is paranormal. You may become convinced along with him.

A long-time skeptic of occult and paranormal, Russo cannot fight the barrage of evidence in his own home’s library that he has now turned over to a victim of the Titanic.

Richard Frazar White has taken up residence here and happily accepts his library as a gift. When he was a young man in 1912, he was a budding intellectual who spent time at his Aunt Julia’s library at Waikiki (the largest private library on the Hawaiian Islands in 1900). He is photographed, at the end of his life, two days before Titanic sinks, in the First-Class Reading Room of the grand ship.

And now, he has taken possession of a memorial library dedicated to him. Included in the volume are the weird anecdotes about Richard White’s ties to the art world, how Russo found Richard’s 1912 Bowdoin Bugle Yearbook, and how the orbs and noises of the library respond to his every request.

Other haunted people contact him with their own tales of connections to Richard, including a young lawyer from Brazil who was an exchange student at Bowdoin.

You may not believe it, but you cannot turn away from this page-turner.

Now available in soft-cover and e-book format on Amazon. Titanic Mysteries on Mill Circle is the final volume of the Mill Circle series, and the third volume of the continuing tales of the Titanic by the author!

William Russo’s other works include: Tales of a Titanic Family, Chess-Mate from Titanic.    Dr. Russo will teach a course on Titanic: a Local History at the CALL Program at Keene State College in the Fall term. He also will give a guest lecture at Monty Tech Continuing Education program in Fitchburg, MA, in October.

Andrea Doria, Sinking Slowly into History

DATELINE: End of Luxury Ship Travel

doria

The List of Andrea Doria.

An Italian documentary, it may be suspect as having some prejudice in favor of the Italian liner that came to its doom in 1956. The Sinking of the Andrea Doria may be the opposite of Titanic’s helpless 1500 fatalities, where 1200 lived off Andrea Doria and a few dozen unfortunates met their deaths.

The film is an abject lesson about what might have been recorded on Titanic if the accident occurred during daylight to see the sinking, and if there had been modern media. Andrea Doria seemed also quaint in its destruction in a technological age. Yet ships still did not directly communicate, and radar in fog seemed unreliable. The real problem again is human error.

On its 101st voyage across the Atlantic, with an aging captain ready for his last trip, in summer, there could not be any icebergs. It was far worse when a direct impact slice into its side. Slower to sink, with more rescue ships nearby, the death toll was nowhere as bad as 50 years earlier.

Indeed, if you are waiting for parallels to be drawn between this luxury ship, believed the height of technology in 1950s futuristic mechanics, and its counterpart, the unsinkable Titanic, you may wait a long time.

RMS Titanic is mentioned but twice in regard to lifeboat numbers. The connection is never more than: Andrea Doria had enough lifeboats to save everyone; they just were listing so badly that half of them could not be launched. That was the panic and horror.

This ship, like Titanic, was an art museum on water. Each was meant to be a playground for first-class elite. And, each kept other classes separate and discrete: indeed, third-class was now “tourist class.” And, they had their own swimming pool, but never would the big money gentry meet the under-privileged.

The likes of Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Ty Power, Orson Welles, and other grand stars often took the slow, luxurious week-long sail across the ocean. The film never mentions the only big star on board: Ruth Roman who lost her jewels, not her life.

Unlike Titanic, Andrea Doria’s demise likely put the cap on all luxury ships. Jet aircraft became the safer rage.

The Stockholm hit the Andrea Doria like a can opener on a can of baked beans. It killed over 50 people in the collision. One girl was thrown off her bed in the ship into the open hole that was the offending smaller ship.

If you were looking for blame, try the old chestnut term: “cover up.”

Both ships were represented by Lloyd’s of London who conspired to hush up everything they could. Worse for the Italians, they didn’t know how to handle media—and the Swedes put their story out, blaming the former allies of Hitler for the problem.

Not until recently did the story come out fully: and the Swedish third mate, Carstens, may have been at the eye of the trouble.

The Andrea Doria took a dozen hours to sink, giving media a chance to film its demise into 76 meters of ocean. Unlike Titanic, this modern ship was dangerously dive-able—and no one mentions the idiots who died trying to salvage the Italian liner.

As telling as this documentary is, it seems to miss out on much information.

 

 

Oreo Cookies Not on Titanic Menu

 DATELINE: You Need a Biscuit?

Oreo biscuit 1912 1912 Version!

With Oreo Cookies in the news this week, another one of Trump’s “stable genius” appointees mixed up the distinction between an REO and an Oreo.

It came to our attention that the Oreo was invented and launched to the public on March 6, 1912, while the RMS Titanic was launched on April 12, 1912. So, we checked our First-Class Titanic menu for April 14, and learned that British-style biscuits were not proffered to passengers among the fancy pastry tray items.

The elite on the voyage had a choice of apple meringue, custard pudding, or assorted pastry. We think Animal Crackers were not on the docket.

Our spirit of choice, who stays in our haunted home, never had a chance to partake of an Oreo Cookie from the National Biscuit Company. He was a teenager during the years that the American cookie revolution hit:  oh, you would find Fig Newtons, Graham Crackers, Animal Crackers, and even Saltines, all invented in the first decade of the 20th century. Oreos came on the tail end.

In all likelihood, Richard White—who died on the Titanic at age 21—never heard of an Oreo Cookie.

Oreos have since been sunk into a billion glasses of milk by children, while the Titanic sank but once as it steamed into oblivion.

When first on the market, the Oreo was sold as an elegant, first-class “dessert sandwich.”  They came in a tin box to prevent dampness and water from turning them into soggy spoils.

Snobs of America, those lovers of all things Anglophilia around 1900, likely preferred ‘biscuits’ to ‘cookies’, in language terms. The cookie was a term around since the American Revolution, derived from a Dutch sounding word for little sweet cakes.

Since the Titanic was of British registry, you would not find a cookie aboard, though unkind people might have referred to Titanic passengers, artist Francis Davis Millet and his friend Archibald Butt, as a couple of sweetcakes.

By 1912, American children who had been introduced to snack-food cookies began a journey that would bring them to an epidemic crisis of diabetic proportions 100 years later.

And we have not even dunked our blog cookie into the racist use of the term Oreo.

 

 

Stead Fast in the Titanic Library!

DATELINE:  Bookworms?

W.T. Stead & booksW.T. Stead, Spiritualist

Over 100 years ago, W.T. Stead was a big name in spiritualism.

He was one of the foremost proponents of life after death, and he used his pulpit of investigative journalism to publish many books and articles about the paranormal world. He was a man of steely gaze and intense demeanor.

Some historians credit him with being one of the founders of tabloid writing, in order to dismiss him as one of the age’s séance masters. Like Conan Doyle, he was an authority with the power of public support—and public ridicule.

So, what happened?

He booked passage on a ship across the Atlantic from his British home to lecture in New York about the occult topic of ghosts and spirits. Alas, the voyage was not a happy one: his accommodation was cabin C-89 aboard RMS Titanic.

Among the reports after the tragedy, his last night’s dinner table companions insisted that Stead told them how a medium friend had warned him that there was a chance of trouble on this trans-Atlantic trip.

Later, the witnesses to the comments were disparaged as exaggerating the story, though one wonders why anyone who survived the Titanic disaster would feel compelled to exaggerate their trauma or misremember a single detail of their vivid night to remember.

Among the survivor accounts, there was the stunning image: people saw W.T. Stead calmly sitting in the First-Class Reading Room of Titanic, smoking a pipe and perusing a book as it sank into the cold briny deep.

The image of the old man facing another world with singular and peaceful demeanor is striking amid chaos and panic of others unprepared to meet their destiny.

Like young Richard White, the elder writer loved the ambiance of a library—and chose to spend his last moments in such a haven. It is likely that Richard and Stead crossed paths, if not exchanged pleasantries at some point. They were both denizens of the Titanic library.

Poetic Richard may have been the only young man among the first-class passengers who might agree with Stead that the library provided a special comfort.

Years later, the daughter of Stead—herself a spiritualist—contacted a medium to conduct a session of automatic writing (Ouija board stuff) in which they contacted W.T. on the other side to give the particulars of the final moments of Titanic’s destruction.

He also provided a glimpse into the Blue Island, a dimension he called “beyond the veil”: a double metaphor for the Great Beyond, another part of the universe.

The saffron yellow sofa in the Library of the Titanic washed up on the shores of Nova Scotia several days after the sinking of the ship. Apparently, someone thought it might make a good life-raft.

Stead’s body was never recovered, like so many hundreds of his shipmates and fellow passengers who booked a date with destiny on Titanic.

Titanic Leap from Shelf

 DATELINE: Shocked in the Library!

leap from Titanic   Side by Side on Shelf: DVD titled Last Mysteries of the Titanic, next to photo or Richard White in Titanic’s Reading Room.

Oh, poltergeist generally are puckish spirits who have a tendency to throw items or create havoc with a brazen sense of humor.

We have posted a video on YouTube that shows a DVD named Last Mysteries of the Titanic, sitting next to a photo of Richard White in the First Class Reading Room of the Titanic, that took on a life of its own—and jumped from the shelf leaving me speechless.

Maybe the headline for YouTube should be “Ghost Throws Book at Writer.” My spirit guardian Richard and I would receive more hits, searches, and bingo moments.

In my Titanic Memorial Library, where my roommate spirit Richard spends some time, several psychics have noted that he always has a playful sense of fun.

The library is a commemoration to him, as he lived here once long ago, and then he died on Titanic, celebrating his college graduation on a maiden voyage of a luxury ship.

Earlier my security camera had mysteriously fallen down from its perch in the library where it had been completely secured with duct tape. It provides a late-night glimpse into the space where orbs, noises, and things that go bump tend to congregate. No one really wants to be there after dark.

However, around 8pm, still with dusk at hand, the camera had fallen onto a cushion on a chair. It could be re-secured before total blackness fell. Yet, later in the early morning hours, the camera fell again. I was not going in there at that hour.

Having an early morning cup of coffee to bolster the latest visit around 6:30am, we headed over there to restore the camera and face it directly at the floor-to-ceiling shelving of books and videotapes.

Once there, we accomplished our mission and stated aloud to the spirits present that we would check on the other memorabilia and souvenirs to see if they had fallen too.

Walking to the books, we were ginger in our steps, keeping an eye out for oddities. Upon looking at the books, we were startled when one of the DVDs came off the shelf just as we asked, “Has anything else fallen?”

You can see the incident caught on camera here.  It is posted on YouTube.

The movie in question on the shelf was a documentary on Titanic, of course. What else would jump off the shelf like a passenger trying to disembark a sinking ship?

As you can see from the footage captured, your host was clearly startled. It must have amused Richard and the other resident ghosts of the library.

It’s just another day at home when your housemates are spirits from another era.

Library of Dreams!

DATELINE:  Magic on the Bookshelves?

end table of Titanic   Brenda Duval’s Titanic End Table

We all know the famous baseball story by W.P. Kinsella, Field of Dreams, in which a man is inspired by a spirit of Shoeless Joe Jackson to build a baseball field in his cornfield.

As a result, he finds himself at the epicenter of spirit life.

We never presumed to be the builder of a “Library of Dreams,” yet it appears to be our role late in life. It was easy to change part of the house, the north wing, to a library to honor all the people who lived in the Spring Village area since 1800, but in particular we had a push by the main spirit who has reached out to us:  one of the passengers of the Titanic who met his end at an all-too young age of 21 years.

For decades, without knowing why, compelled by unknown forces, we have collected many items somehow associated with the infamous tragedy at sea that killed 1500 people: RMS Titanic.

Our part has been minor, pointing out only one more benighted victim of the arrogance of luxury and money in 1912. He is our spiritual chess-mate from Titanic.

Richard himself was privileged by birth, but also never had a chance to realize his potential as a poet and philanthropist.

Richard too loved libraries. The final library in his life was the First Class Reading Room on the Titanic. There is even a photo of him, back to camera, reading while his father was on deck, also photographed, looking for his son.

Within two days, they would drown.

Richard’s other favorite library belonged to his aunt, Julia White Castle, who married the Hawaiian pineapple king, James Castle. They had the largest library in Hawaii in 1900 in their Waikiki Diamond Head mansion.

Richard lived there for a year. While his brother went out to enjoy the climate and people, Richard enjoyed the hundred magazine subscriptions that arrived regularly .

Almost in irony, after Richard died, his brother Percy wrote over 25 books: they too adorn our library shelf.

Local artist Brenda Duval, painted a picture of Titanic at full steam atop an end table. It is a labor of love, as she has all four funnel stacks billowing dark smoke. Only three were functional: the fourth was for show. It was the one that fell off the ship after the iceberg hit. It smashed into the frigid water atop dozens who had jumped—and were struck by a lethal force before hypothermia killed them. Richard likely was one of these unfortunates.

All of this is part of our library of dreams, giving the spirits of Mill Circle their safe haven. Based on photos of the original First Class Reading Room, we proudly note that we have more books! We will maintain it as long as our own spirit holds out.

 

Decorating a Titanic Memorial Library

DATELINE: Happenstance Happening!

numbers

Two Newspaper headlines, one Puzzling Puzzle

When you do not expect surprises in the memorial library of the Ghosts of Mill Circle exhibit, you will most likely find them. We have been putting together a memorial to Richard Frazar White, who loved libraries, and spent his last day in the First Class Library on Titanic before it sank from a destiny with an iceberg.

As part of our decoration plan for the library’s ambiance, we are collating together all the various items or collectibles we hold from our research on several books: Tales of a Titanic Family and Ghosts of Mill Circle.

We knew we had somewhere in storage a jigsaw puzzle of the New York Times front page that announced the sinking of the great super-liner. We first put it together in the early 1980s.

We had to rummage around boxes of never-unpacked belongings that we brought to this house where the Titanic victims once resided.

To our utter amazement, the puzzle we put together in 1980 turned up in a large bag. But it was not the one we sought. Forgotten long ago, we had bought and put together a second puzzle. The alternate puzzle was 1000 pieces of a dark night with a listing Titanic near an iceberg.

Not only were we surprised to find this item, but we had no recollection of ever putting it together. Yet, the box contained a puzzle that had been worked on—sometime in the past, likely the 1970s.

Deeper in the bag was the puzzle we sought: the New York Times headline page. It was not what we recalled at all: it had a wide black border and a smaller image than we remembered. We dusted it off and brought it to the library where it fit neatly on a shelf.

We looked at the box cover with its image—and a sidebar of “1500” which referred to the number of pieces and complexity of the puzzle.

When we turned around to look at the opposite wall, there we placed a front page of the Boston Globe of the Titanic disaster.

That headline read: “1500 Dead.”

It was a mirror or a parallel to the puzzle box that was on the opposite side of the room. We had never made the connection that 1500 pieces corresponded to 1500 lives: each a piece of disaster.

How eerie and uncanny it seemed to us. Others mentioned that it was all part of the mystery and mystique of our library, in a house once owned by two of the victims of Titanic’s catastrophe.

A Lump of Titanic Coal

DATELINE:  Fool or Ghoul?

lumps  Real or Fake?

When we chose to buy a small (and we mean small) piece of coal salvaged from the Titanic wreck site, we never expected to be excoriated as either a “fool,” or a “ghoul.”

Yet, here we are.

We purchased a rather expensive piece of coal with a certificate of authenticity, which may or may not be worth its weight in coal dust. Internet scams are made of such stuff.

Friends called us the victim of a scam, and others called us a grave robber. We point out that we have written extensively on dead people, even those who were our friends: is that exploitation too? Honoring those we admire and making a profit motivated people from Shakespeare on down the line of writers.

Those who know us well understand that we have lived in a house once owned by two victims of the Titanic’s sinking: the father and son Percival and Richard White. In fact, our home is haunted by these disembodied presences, likely ghosts or spirits.

As a result, we have dedicated ourselves to their memory—and have turned our library into a shrine of sorts, a Titanic Reading Room of First Class Order.

You see, we have discovered a photo of Richard in the Titanic library two days before it brought him to a watery grave. The picture was taken by a priest who disembarked at Liverpool with a camera full of first-class denizens on their way to doom.

As for the coal, it is legally the only object that can be retrieved from the Titanic debris field and sold.

Courts ruled it was not personal property. In fact, the Titanic Foundation uses the money to bring museum shows to the public.

The salvaged coal from a 1996 retrieval operation has been chopped into tiny pieces, about 400,000 of them. We cannot figure out why anyone wants a chunk, but we decided that our spirits might find the psychic energy in the coal to be helpful to manifesting themselves.

We may be opening up a Pandora’s Box in our home library, but orbs gallivant there nightly, and things go bump all the time. Richard is here too, guarding us from any miscreant of mischief.

So, we will provide regular reports on whether the lump of coal is residual or has caused intelligent hauntings. We await the noise in the library from a safe distance in the other wing of our house.

A security camera will give us insights and in-sounds. We expect to keep you, dear readers, posted.

If this light-worker is a bad boy, my lump of coal has arrived.

 For those interested, a website for GhostsofMillCircle.com provides information on visits to the Titanic Library at Mill Circle and walking ghost-hunter tours of the neighborhood on a limited basis. See the website for all details.

 

Seeing Cat Eyes in Darkness!

DATELINE: What’s New, Pussycat?

cat eyes-1

A short time ago we took a security camera into the library of our haunted house and set it up to learn what goes bump in the night. We never go into the library after dusk.

So, when the security camera app rang on our cell phone at 5am, telling us there was movement and heat activation, we gulped hard and opened up the image. No burglars were stomping around.

We saw shooting fireflies. In ghost-hunter business parlance, these are orbs, the electrical impulses and energy of spirits going hither and yon.

Two orbs shot up from the floor on either side of the room. Our attention was distracted. It took a trained ghost hunter, Eric Metzler to see more orbs and a couple of flashes.

We asked the attending spirits, Richard and Addie, to show an orb, they often obliged, though I was distracted and did not see them.

Richard is our mentor spirit from Titanic, and Addie Horton was head housekeeper of the family mansion. She lived next door most of her life but seems to have taken up residence in our study off the library in the after-life.

The only spirit in the house that has appeared to me is Richard’s cat. And, this large tom-cat black-shadow walked out of a wall next to a bookcase and blithely pranced into the kitchen. I ran after, but it evaporated.

I know it is Richard’s cat because one of the light-worker psychics who visited my home sensed a ghostly cat. Three psychics were in agreement that he belonged to Richard and served as his proxy, reporting back to my guardian spirit when he was apparently elsewhere.

They did not know his name, only that it was odd and began with a “G.” That made sense because Richard and his elder brother Percy made up a language—and the cat name was likely part of it.

When my friend Jose watched the video I sent, he called to my attention two bright almond eyes in the dark. He said they flashed or blinked on and off instantly gone.

I thought it might be a reflection off the bookcase.

I went to the library in daylight to see the approximate height of two shelves—the same size as the cat I had seen several years earlier. What is even more peculiar is that pro ghost hunter Eric Metzler used filters to try to bring the image out of the dark.

He found it alien-like. When I checked what that bulbous nose could be in the animal face, I saw that it was on the book binding—a round red circle that just fell under the cat eyes.

The book was written by a friend, Susan Kelly, on the Boston Strangler. It was a small photo of Albert de Salvo in a red circle. How amusing that it seemed to be the cat’s nose.

Not that I needed a reason to avoid the library at night, but now here it was.

 

 

 

Lost at Sea: USS Partridge

DATELINE: Death on the Diamond!

USS PartridgeUSS Partridge.

My life seems to be surrounded by sea disasters.

Each person must reach a point in life where they have to take stock:  it may be time for me to sell some of the most cherished items that I have held in my safeguard for years.

Though I may hope my home will be a modern pyramid, taken care of by survivors, kept in pristine condition as I have set it up, that is not likely.

Things will be sold, or worse, thrown away and thought to be worthless by those trying to liquidate the property quickly. Oh, there is some vanity in thinking that my home, once owned by the victims of the RMS Titanic and haunted by their associates (Richard’s cat and his housekeeper Addie), deserves to be kept like Lizzie Borden’s house, in historical decoration forever, frozen in timelessness.

It would be pretty to think so.

The reality is something else, and I have put up for auction on eBay one item that particularly strikes me as precious in a lost, sad way.

I have a rare first-edition book, not even signed by author Cortland Fitzsimmons. It is his 1934 baseball murder mystery, made into a charming little movie with Robert Young that same year.

The book is special, not because of its American subject of baseball, but because of its own survivor history.

Stamped on the inside cover in fading blue print are the words “DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, Bureau of Navigation.”  Under that is another stamp, “Library, U.S.S. Partridge.”

That ship was commissioned in 1919, but never knew what heroism would be asked of it. During World War II, the ship became a mine-sweeper, fairly dangerous duty. Indeed, it was hit by a torpedo in 1944, and was brought to an ignominious end. En route to Normandy, France, after D-Day, a German E-Boat fatally attacked the ship.

The Partridge sank in 35 minutes on July 29, 1944. Thirty-five of 90 crew members were killed, and many others were seriously injured.

We don’t know who saved the book from the ship’s library, or why. We don’t know how many sailors on that boat read the book for pleasure and escape during their dangerous duties of the War. We cannot say that the spirits of heroic men are attached to this item. We know only that for a time, it fell under my protection.

Now, I must find another home for it and another who will care as much as did I. It does leave me with an empty feeling, which seems to be a bittersweet aspect of growing old.

Commemorating Titanic after 107 Years!

DATELINE: Connections to the Past?

Harper & Clifton Father & Son Face Fate on Titanic (1953 version).

The 1953 version of Titanic and re-telling of the horrific night that is unforgettable and must be remembered was pure Hollywood spectacle. It had an all-star cast, and it ended with masterful special effects for its age. It had to be a black and white movie to heighten its impact literally with the iceberg and figuratively with the horror.

The central family of the movie plot bears a startling resemblance to the real family that became subject of my biographical history, Tales of a Titanic Family.

Rich Americans, the father is a prig played by Clifton Webb, and his stunning wife is Barbara Stanwyck. They have two children, the younger a boy (Harper Carter) at odds with his father. Their mettle would be tested by an iceberg.

So, not having seen the movie in dozens of years, we were not prepared entirely for what other coincidences and frightful similarities might turn up. The theory did not take long to prove itself.

The 1953 movie was released in April, on the 41st anniversary week of the Titanic’s sinking. Almost immediately upon introducing the mother figure in the movie, played by Barbara Stanwyck, she was identified as Julia. This stunned me a bit, as Julia was indeed the name of Richard White’s grandmother, and the name of his aunt, his father’s sister (His father died with him on Titanic).

Then, Clifton Webb showed up as the father: his name, of course, was Richard Sturges.

They have two children also on board the ship. The elder here is a daughter, and the younger son is only about 14. However, in a key moment, Stanwyck recites the A.E. Housman poem, “When I was one and twenty,” about fate. Richard was 21 when he was aboard the ill-fated ship.

Clifton Webb cannot buy a ticket in first-class because it is all sold out: which wasn’t true. White Star Lines tried to give away cabins that remained empty.

Though he was a world traveler, a man among many New York millionaires. Clifton Webb’s character has greetings for all his friends, from Guggenheim to Strauss to Astor.

Robert Wagner played a 21-year old college man from Purdue. He is a Richard White stand-in.

Among the delightful actors in this film are Richard Basehart as a defrocked priest, and there is also Thelma Ritter as the hard-talking, unsinkable Molly Brown. Brian Aherne seems to be ship’s captain in every movie version. Director Jean Negulesco is adept at weaving together an hour of soapish stories before the heavy business of sinking the liner.

In a key moment Barbara Stanwyck tells her husband that their second child is not his. They plan to divide up the spoils, each child going with one parent. It is a haunting parallel to the real family.

The final minutes of the ice-berg’s damage and sinking of the ship is done quickly and without any noticeable panic among the men left without lifeboats. They are all gentlemen, singing as the ship seems to blow up and rapidly spirals into oblivion.

There is no bad behavior, or messy deaths, as occurred in real life. We think the smoke stack fell from the ship and onto those who jumped off the ship, like Richard White. The unbilled narrator at the end of the movie is Michael Rennie.

Seeing this version of the story seemed to be fitting, as it became tailored to Richard White’s actual life experience. Watching was not easier, and not pleasant, no matter how purified the events. Richard apparently jumped off the ship, like Wagner’s character. Richard may not have been his father’s son, and Richard haunts this writer.

The ghost of Richard Frazar White brought me face-to-face with Robert Wagner a dozen years ago—and only now do I know why. Richard

 

Death in April at Mill Circle

 DATELINE: Mr. Ralph Arrives at Stage Depot in Sky.

 

A weekend In mid-April in Boston can be overwhelming:  the calendar will fill up quickly with Boston’s Marathon weekend, Boston’s Patriots Day when the British evacuated Beantown. There is also the anniversary of Wilkes Booth shooting Abe Lincoln, and the commemoration of the sinking of the Titanic. Throw in Palm Sunday, and your datebook is overwhelmed.

Our burdens increased at Mill Circle on this 107th anniversary of Titanic’s meltdown, and the 154th year after Booth killed the President at Ford’s.

We noticed on the cold, rainy morning that Mr. Ralph, the giant shire horse who lives in our Great Barn, did not emerge with the other four stablemates.

The shire horse is bigger than a Clydesdale. Mr. Ralph clocked in at 2000 pounds and 32 years of age. Earlier this week, he had fallen down in the corral and took nearly half-an-hour to regain his footing. He kept resting his head back on the grass.

We know he was overworked even in retirement. Earlier that morning, he had been saddled and ridden for an hour.

Now on a day that we usually only make a short trip to Riverside Cemetery to visit Richard in his grave and his mother Edith in an unmarked area next to him, we had commotion next door.

We had never seen a super-large horse ambulance, brought in from some visiting town, vets, rescue workers, and assorted onlookers. A dozen cars and pickups clogged our small Mill Circle. It took a while for them to put straps on Mr. Ralph, put a stretcher under him, and have a truck drag his body out of the barn.

Yes, it was undignified for the glorious old beast. Yet, it was better than being stewed up for glue or gelatin. The other horses in the corral were agitated by the event.

As much of respect could be found when a gray tarp was put over his massive dead lump of mottled golden brown hide.

When we returned from our pilgrimage to Richard’s grave, they were taking each of the other four horses over to Mr. Ralph to show them their fallen comrade. The tarp was lifted, and each horse spent as much time as he wanted at the body. It was a strange ritual: one horse wanted nothing much to do with it.  A mini-horse mate spent considerable time looking and nodding.

Two others kept bending down to sniff him and raise their heads. It was a repeated action.

Later we learned that Mr. Ralph would be buried behind the Great Barn of Mill Circle, perhaps near the grave of the unknown murdered peddler of 1826 whose burial spot remains unknown. His ghost haunts the barn. Perhaps Ralph saw him during his tenure at Mill Circle.

Ghosts of Mill Circle

chessmate plays

Mill Circle Tours of a Haunted Neighborhood where Paranormal is Normal

For many years, people interested in paranormal and spirits have asked to visit my home on Mill Circle. There, we have experienced many spirits, including Richard who was born in Winchendon Springs and died on the Titanic in 1912. His presence has served as my guardian and protector. Some psychic visitors have insisted that we knew each other in a previous life, or that I am a reincarnation. Richard’s body was recovered several days after his drowning, and he is buried a mile away at Riverside Cemetery. Whatever is happening, it is mysterious and fascinating. Now I am ready to share my connection to another plane with visitors to Mill Circle.

 

Highly Qualified Educator & Tour Guide

Your host and tour guide is a former college professor, Dr. William Russo, from Curry College in MIlton, MA. There for thirty years he taught a variety of writing and film courses, including Ghosts in Film and Literature.

Dr. Russo noticed in 1980 that one of the classrooms where he held his lectures contained a plaque dedicated to the heroism of a Titanic victim named Richard White. He learned a few details, but not much else. No one could explain why the plaque was there (from the 1950s when the school was used as a private Catholic school). He knew only that the victim was a 21-year old traveling first-class with his wealthy businessman father.

With an interest in Titanic history, he was shocked to learn that the house he purchased for retirement was once owned by the Titanic victims. Then,  he discovered strange activities in the house. He learned that Richard was born here and was buried nearby.

Psychics visited the house on several occasions. Three told him Richard was present, was happy that Dr. Russo had moved here, and wanted to play chess with him.

Soon thereafter, chess pieces on a board in the library began to move on their own. Inexplicably.

Russo studied the local history and wrote several books on Richard and his family. These include Tales of a Titanic Family,  Haunting near Virtuous Spring, and Chess-Mate From Titanic.

Tours expect to commence in May.

If you wish to visit Mill Circle and have a private tour, you should email  wrusso@curry.edu to make arrangements. Cost is $50 per person, and a complimentary book will be given. Accepting the tour conditions is required

 

Hours

Sunday afternoon at 2pm to 3:30 pm

Saturday – evening at 7pm to 8:30pm

other times may be added.

Tours include a walk around Mill Circle (weather permitting) and time in the library and upstairs of the private residence where psychics insist a spirit vortex can be found.