Black Butterfly in the Yard!

DATELINE:  Noir Papillion?

Our summer of paranormal messages continues its barrage of weekly activities.

The latest visitor to our little corner of spooky alley is a black butterfly.  It might have piqued our interest in normal times, but over the past few weeks, it has become a culmination of strange events.

According to some experts in mythology, Irish and Celtic legends say that black butterflies are also the souls of deceased people who are unable or unwilling to move on to the afterlife; they may return to the place they once lived or somewhere they were fond of visiting when they were alive.”

If you have followed our adventures, you may recall that three days in a row, we had a visit from a gold finch. We had never seen one around here previously, in person, but to have it show up for an afternoon tea break for three separate visits was fascinating. The totem mythology of gold finches is their spiritual impact, sending positive vibrations.

After a tropical storm not a few days earlier, we discovered a white quartz rock, flat and unusual, next to the car that also seems to have positive predictive qualities if you follow the buzz on the Internet.

So, should I be surprised when a few days ago a black butterfly sat on my car’s windshield before I could adjust my eyes and grab the camera.  A few friends told me it was bad luck and not to drive the car for a while.

A Haitian friend who knows his voodoo told that the black butterfly is feared as a portent of death to come.

This morning the black butterfly returned, and he sat on my white garden chair. He stayed long enough for me take a video.

Investigating its meaning, I discovered the old Celtic legend about a spirit returning to its old home for a visit.

None of this would matter much except for the long history of my home, once the residence of two victims of the Titanic in 1912.  Now, one of them has taken up regular stays in my library where paranormal experts and psychics have been in ecstasy over the ghostly presence. We have had more than a few seances!

Now, a series of physical and totem experiences has made the theory more concrete for me. Gold finches, white crystals, and black butterflies. It is a summer to remember.

Dr. William Russo is author of several Titanic books: Tales of a Titanic Family, Chess-mate from Titanic, Spooky Geology & Titanic. All are available in print or ebook format on Amazon.com.

 

Author, Author: Go Away!

DATELINE: Unwanted Gifts

 Latest Affront to Gifting.

A friend kindly scoffed at me for a bad habit.

He claimed how I had a tendency to give away gifts to people who did not necessarily want them. He was referring to my bad habit to bestow a copy of one of my books to people who have been nice to me.

I usually inscribe them with thanks for some generic kindness. It is, I am told, not appreciated because I have given people something that they cannot repay or reciprocate.

Well, okay. I realize that not everyone can write a book and return a copy to me in standoff fashion. However, I thought that providing a free, gratis copy of a personal creation would qualify as an act of generosity, not as a slap with my velvet glove.

However, my friend argues that it is not that at all: it is a brazen show of ego.

Well, you can knock me over with a dust-jacket. I would never have thought that giving a personal gift would be construed as an act of selfishness. In fact, I always thought the creative process was something to be shared.

Alas, if you share it with those who have no appreciation, no interest, or no good manners, the writer of a book may well deserve to have the gift accepted without thanks or acknowledgement.

I often note that I give away my book as a token of my gratitude and not as homework assignment. I will not quiz the recipient on the book’s message or contents. If I did, we know the result would be a failing grade. We’ve seen enough of that in the nation’s body politic.

As a resolution, I have now promised my old friend that I will be more circumspect in sharing my books. Never give a page away that is not requested, or at least has some kind of interest expressed by another. It means I will save money on copies and postage.

It is an age when reading is a chore, not a pleasure, and the disrespected writer is a prophet without honor in any country.

 

Dr. William Russo is too prolific for his own good, and he has written many movie history books and biographies.

 

 

Super Senses on UnXplained

DATELINE: Best Series on TV?

 Eric Plays!

William Shatner is in wry form again as the series UnXplained  actually tackles another unusual subject with some interesting insights. This time the show’s topic deals with how several individuals have made up for a lack of one sense (blindness, deaf, etc.,)with enhanced other senses.

This is more than someone learning to rely on what’s left when Nature has denied them the full range of sensory perception. The handful of interview subjects are not your usual subjects—and that gives the series yet another fresh approach.

A blind man who lost both eyes as a child to cancer make clicking noises, a form of sonar, to locate objects around him—and can makes a drawing or map accurately as to what is in his world when he walks around or ride a bicycle. It’s called echolocation, and some may disparage it as luck, he clearly has a new sensory approach that is nothing short of paranormal.

Another example, from the deaf world, is called synesthesia or synesthetes, people who may not hear noise or sound, but experience colors, and strange noise, to make up for their lacking. It is amazing to think that sound has color to define it.

Old-hand experts from our usual History Channel shows, Dr. Michael Dennin and Dr. Travis Taylor, are around again to discuss the physics of cross-connected senses. And, it is ground-breaking when it comes to these show topics.

Another victim of lack of senses, who feels no pain, explains the dangers of daily life when there is no pain sensitivity, which is called a genetic malfunction. He also explains he has so many injuries since childhood that it is now a blessing to be pain-free. To have it restored would mean he would not function at all.

Another premature infant named Eric Paravicini given oxygen in abundance to survive turns into a musical maven who at age 5 had memorized thousands of songs and now can play the piano like a virtuoso. The drawback and price for these “talents” is that forms of autism deny a full and satisfying existence.

Shatner is clearly in awe of this episode’s subjects—and we have to admit this was a startling and fresh approach, again putting UnXplained  at the top of the heap of History series.

Ozzie Nelson & Family

DATELINE: Minor Director

 Ozzie Directed His Troupe.

While on a TV bender, we saw that an old series from the early 1950s was showing on the classic sit-com channel: it was called Here Come the Nelsons, or The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.  We could not recall if we saw it originally (doubtful) or in some rerun return years later.

What a curio it was back then. It featured a rich Hollywood family (the Nelsons) as themselves, imitating a middle-class suburban TV version of themselves in some kind of antiseptic style.

They were pleasant and dealt only with blemish-less problems. They seemed so real that people thought the set was actually their home. What an innocent age that was!

Ozzie Nelson wrote, directed, produced and starred in these shows. He was no Orson Welles, but he gave America a kind of template of sit-com heaven. He wrote the shows with his brother Don, and Ozzie himself played some kind of retired gentleman. He had no job, but lived well and was always home to chat with his two sons. We presumed he was himself, a retired band-leader living off his royalties.

We were struck at how small he was: truly! He was short and small-boned, almost like a child. It was something we had never noticed over the years.

It was the forerunner of Leave It to Beaver,  but far more successful and lasted many more years. The episode we saw was about the two young brothers wanting separate rooms in their tiny little suburban home. Their parents seemed to eschew that in real life their palace likely had a dozen bedrooms.

Harriet, the mother, is ubiquitous in an apron, but she never does housework—and we kept wondering where her black maid was (Louise Beavers anyone?). Every show seemed to be the servants’ day off. Only the nosy neighbor, Don DeFore, showed up not playing himself.

The sons were charming and pleasant too, and Ricky would grow up to be rival of Elvis on a weekly TV show! For a season or two they did a radio version each week, live, separate from the filmed series. David tried his hand at playing movie villains in subsequent years, but ended up being an executive producer.

This was either delusion or illusion at its worst or best. They came across as so real that it defied all Hollywood backdrops.

Ozzie Nelson directed, created, and oversaw, this production for decades: he was the master of a disrespected art form, the family sit-com, but he turned out his miniature artwork faithfully and tirelessly. We should give him some credit.

 

 

 

Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer

DATELINE: Not in the Movie!

  Gomes has an ‘S”for scandal.

Despite the salacious title, you will see the male ballet dancer, but not much of his on-stage anatomy. And, you will not hear about the sex charges made against him.

Marcelo Gomes is one of the foremost contemporary dancers, and he does allow an inside look at his life, but you will not be going into his most private life.

His name is pronounced or mispronounced all too often: he is Marshelo Gomess, not like the Marchello Gomez.

He professes a hope to fall in love one day (on the backside of his career as a dancer in his 30s, we may think time is running out.

By all accounts he is the most proficient, modest, technically correct dancer of the age. Ballerinas love that he only performs to make them look better.

Marcelo has all the problems you might expect: he was an oddity, the only boy in ballet school growing up. He was clearly talented from the get-go. He is a genius in his work, and in his personality. He grew up in Brazil and never spoke English until he was 17. He sounds like he was born in Poughkeepsie.

His father and he are alienated, though they meet pleasantly in the film. However, the elder will not attend any performances, and the reason is not explored.

He studied in Paris and picked up French instantly. His great problem nowadays is injury. When he dances at St. Petersburg, he is overwhelmed to see Nijinsky’s rose petal costume from Spectre de la Rose,but he hears a bone crack when he dances Giselle.

He knows that his career is on its last legs, and he is already preparing to become a choreographer in his post-dance days.

As a personable and most untemperamental man, he came out on magazine covers, still shocking to many even today. He has a pet dachshund, and there is no boyfriend to be seen in this film. If you think you have a chance with him, this is your time for a pas de deux.

Apart from the creepy title, we thoroughly enjoyed this marvel of the modern dance world—and the film too. Alas, shortly after the film’s release, Gomes was accused of sexual harassment and resigned from the ABT. Nothing in the film indicates this issue.

One Last Trip to Greece

DATELINE: Literary Road Trips

 Steve Coogan with Rob Brydon.

With great sadness we are saying goodbye to the highly intelligent, witty, charming series of movies with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Their last is The Trip to Greece,all four civilized comedies were directed by Michael Winterbottom.

These have been four rarities of the modern age: witty as Noel Coward, beautifully locations, with amusing company. And they aren’t even gay. Two performers whose competition extends to out-imitating the other are sent on a fictional outing. Their job as journalists is to visit fine restaurants and write reviews.

The actors sort of play themselves in Brydon and Coogan (notable Oscar nominee for Stan and Ollie, as he was Stan). You often cannot tell where the fiction starts, as they play versions of themselves blending over into plot contrivance. Their litany of impersonations (Brando, Hoffman, Olivier, Caine, Pacino, Jagger) makes for a variety of dinner companions.

Four films feature hilarious riffs and impersonations over dinner and while driving around luscious countryside in Greece. Brydon sings the tune from Grease, and he crunches it to fit the country. Coogan is dutifully appalled.

They transform imitations of Laurel and Hardy over lunch into breath-taking jokes: Oliver Hardy morphs into Tom Hardy.

These little forays to gourmet restaurants have a price in this film (350 Euros).

The bittersweet last entry in the series showcases the performers to their greatest wish: Brydon becomes the epitome of the light comedian—and Coogan, as he likes, becomes the tragic actor of Shakespearean levels.

Their frictions and battles are nothing short of delightful wordplay. You don’t see that much anywhere in movies nowadays.

After visits to England, Italy, and Spain, this lap around the Aegean ends with a whimper. Brilliantly done, and hopefully there will be one more trip.

 

 

Isn’t It Romantic? Yes, We Need It.

DATELINE:  Rarity, Rom-Com!

 Charming Cast!

Oh, my, a mere trifle, a little movie satire of rom-coms.

It isn’t brutal, but is gently sweet and it manages to convey its cynical attitude through the big girl Rebel Wilson as a wall-flower overlooked by friends, coworkers, and society as a whole. She grows up learning she is not Julia Roberts.

We kept waiting for a new version of the classic tune Isn’t It Romantic,that was the key song in its own movie in the 1930s and in Sabrina in the 1950s. Well, it never shows up, though there are several hilarious and giant musical numbers that give the entire cast a chance to show off skills not otherwise employed.

She is unlucky in love, and then is mugged: banging her head, to awaken in an alternate universe of romantic comedy, the film genre she despises so deeply. It’s a movie stage version of her life, complete with musical interludes, a gay sidekick, and a wardrobe for the big size.

Throw in Liam Hemsworth as a billionaire playboy in counterpoint to the average nerd who adores her at work, and you have all the ingredients for a classic silly comedy. She fears she will end up in a slo-mo climax—and indeed, what she wishes not for.

Everything is right, not overbearing, and the sweetness is within the cursing cynicism of Rebel Wilson who decries this romantic version of the Big Apple and all the lovely people in it.

If you need a diversion nowadays—and who doesn’t with coronavirus and masks everywhere—then this ditty will hit the spot more than ever before. We might have disparaged it a year ago, but today, we embraced its escapist charm.

Depending on how bad the news becomes, this movie will be nearby for a second viewing, the only antidote to the horrors of a pandemic.

Just Friends is Just Marvelous!

DATELINE: A Sleeper to Wake You Up!

 New Stars!

We had the pleasure of watching a Dutch movie that was not insipid, nor overly obvious. Just Friends is a gay movie with a light touch.

Subtitles are secondary to the beautiful production and images, and Josha Stradowsk is stunning to look at, and he meets a Syrian played by Majd Mardo. They have chemistry and are delightful in their growing friendship.

The usual angst over coming out and family conflict are truly not part of the sophisticated tale. They are sexy, chic, and well-to-do. There are other conflicts that impede their relations, but Majd takes a job as housekeeper at Josha’s grandmother.

She is a delight too, as matchmaker and wise old lady.

These are intelligent young men, and their maturity makes for a story that appeals to all viewers. Josha is the one who has a hobby with his drone, and he sees Madj surfing from above. It is intriguing how connections are made.

Without a doubt, you seldom meet people in character movies that you really would like to spend time with, but these two are pleasant dinner companions.

What impediments to their friendship that must be overcome are not melodramatic and work out, making your time with this story fly like the drone, over the Netherlands and its beautiful world.

If you’ve been stung by horrible gay-themed movies of all stripes, you need your faith in a good film restored. This is the antidote.

Captain Kidd Returns to Upstage A&C

DATELINE: Unexpected Slapstick

  Laughton & Costello!

Almost ten years after his low-budget pirate on the bounding sea as Captain Kidd and 20 years after Bligh’s Mutiny on the Bounty, Charles Laughton jumped at the chance to reprise Captain Kidd. He had also the opportunity to reprise Henry VIII in a movie with Bette Davis as his daughter, Queen Elizabeth. They famously greeted each other as “Father,” and “Daughter,” off screen too.

Now, the irascible Laughton would poke fun at himself and his performance as Captain Kidd confronting scene-stealer emeritus Lou Costello. Perhaps that was the true challenge for Laughton and his Oscar-level talent. He was about to show he could play vaudeville with the best of them.

Abbott & Costello Meet Captain Kidd was another in a long series of features in which the comic duo came across monsters of cinema, historical figures, and pratfalls of comedy.

Dignity knows nothing of being a performer with an audience eating out of their backhand of talent. Laughton was a comedian at heart and could steal a scene before Costello could roll an eye.

We were surprised at how many pratfalls Lou Costello gave. Any barrel he hid within was blown up. The big surprise was Laughton: he took the falls without a stuntman. Chairs were pulled out from under him and he plopped onto the floor, and he fell face first into sand in another. It was noteworthy.

If ever there was something unseemly, it was that this comic version of 1953 was in Technicolor, which was never the case for the earlier Laughton masterpieces. If there was a silver lining on the silver screen of the 1950s, it was that garish color fit the bill. There were plenty of explosions among the song and dance routines.

If ever there was a chance to make a side-trip to Oak Island and bury a treasure, this little pirate satire gave us a vision of outright lunacy. A map in the opening credits could be Oak Island.

You start off with a musical introduction to Laughton as the crew sings and dances on their ship, and Kidd sneers at the mention of women. Yup, Laughton had to love this.

We were mostly appalled.

 

 

 

 

 

Tenth Victim: Futuristic and Dated

DATELINE: Murder in the 21st Century

 Andress in Undress?

The expiration date on using The Tenth Victim probably ended in the 20thcentury.

A social satire about murder in the future, this Italian film has all the earmarks of Fellini and Antonioni. It is excessive, flamboyant, and beautifully filmed. Its main conceit was that in the 21stcentury America, violence would be rampant and institutionalized as a game.

You would have hunters and the hunted. Alas, nothing racial or insulting to minorities occurs. In fact, there is not a minority to be seen in a colorful landscape meant to be the United States.

The male victim is a highly successful hunter with a dozen kills to his credit, but now the computer system has turned the tables and sent a stunningly beautiful woman out to get him. He does not know her identity, and that is part of the game. Everyone dresses in eye-popping fashion, and the future is squeaky clean, streets bright and cheery.

The cast is exemplary for the time: Marcello Mastroianni bleaches his hair blond (it was big that year as Terence Stamp did it too), and he is pursued by the American killer Ursula Andress. Hunh? You mean it’s not Anita Ekberg? Or Sophia Loren?

The sets are spectacular, and the music is jazz out of the classic Fifties mode, what you’d expect in a Euro-entertainment of the period.

As for the plot, it is neither violent enough, bloody enough, or shocking enough to make it controversial. It is played for light-hearted satire, and there is not a drop of blood to be seen.

Other touches indicate that comic books are great literature in America in the 21stcentury, collected like first-edition Francis Bacon.

In 1965, this flashy film grabbed them at the art house. Today it is more akin to a flash in the pan, though we are reluctant to pan something that is original, singular, and cute.

Every Act of Life: Terrence McNally

DATELINE: Surviving Show Business

 Terry McNally & Eddie Albee back when….

In all my connections to Broadway writers, Terrence McNally never came up much.

Now James Kirkwood would talk about everyone in show biz! We gossiped about them all. Yet, there is no memory of him mentioning McNally.

Oh, they knew of each other: gay writers winning friends in great theater. Kirkwood certainly knew Edward Albee who was McNally’s first important boyfriend, but McNally may have been too openly gay for Jim Kirkwood. It’s the only conclusion to make.

Every Act of Lifeis a documentary on the life of McNally who worked with every actor imaginable since the death of Jim Kirkwood in 1989, and that may be the survival of your reputation in show business. Richard Thomas, Nathan Lane, Rita Moreno, F. Murray Abraham, Angela Lansbury, all share memories of their careers and personal ties to McNally and his funny and varied plays.

All Jim’s closest actor friends, like Sal Mineo, are long gone. One young writer once said to me: “Wow, I didn’t think any of Kirkwood’s friends were still alive.”

McNally survived, though people like Robert Drivas, his tempestuous and exotic actor boyfriend after Albee, died of AIDS in 1985 in the first wave of notable show business deaths. Drivas was a closet case, and yet it was open and flamboyant McNally who still lives nearly forty years later.

There is no accounting for survival, but you have to admire it when it shows up at your door. The film on the life of McNally is likely a tonic and a fizz for gay people who need superior role models. If you die too soon, you can’t be much of a mentor. If Jim Kirkwood were here, I might say you should never have told me to write your autobiography and play coy about your gay life. Yet, he did.

McNally, had I known him, would never have said such a thing, but those plays and characters never quite grabbed like Jim Kirkwood’s creations.

Oh, it’s too late now to do much about it, but we can celebrate the life of Terrence McNally, albeit a tad on the late side.

 

Dr. William Russo wrote Riding James Kirkwood’s Pony, available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.

King of the What?

DATELINE: Jesus Express to Penthouse?

 A Wailing Wall!

There was a time in history when it was not a politically smart move to be called The King of the Jews. It could end your career, but Donald Trump is delighted to be given the title by a Jewish supporter: there is no word yet whether this guy is a Pharisee, or just an idiot.

Jesus found the title a little onerous when the governor of a local province took issue with it.

As for Trump, he has no worries that King Herod or his son Herod Antipas (no, not antipasto) will take umbrage. Trump thinks his political opponents are the antipastos.

 Herod, as you may recall from your history, murdered the Innocents, killing newborn babies. Trump merely puts kids in dog cages and denies them flu shots. How many die is yet to be determined.

Herod Antipas was the womanizer who like young girls, like Trump’s dear friend Jeffrey Epstein: you may recall that Antipas asked pre-adolescent Salome to dance without her seven veils—and then gave her the head of Barrack Obama, or someone like that.

So, the latest king of Israel would rather be a kingpin in Greenland where he denies he would build a gaudy skyscraper along the glaciers. He has even cancelled talks with Denmark because Erik the Red wanted Trump towers all over his island; sort of a thousand year old Green Plan.

We thought there was a law against American presidents accepting foreign titles of royalty, but no matter when it comes to Trump: he may not be president much longer if the insanity clause of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution is invoked.

Any Jew who votes Democratic is a traitor to God and Country if you hear the King of Jews in his latest tirade. Bernie Sanders, son of a Jewish immigrant, takes issue with the comment that all Jews who vote against Trump ought to be shot at sunrise by white supremacists.

Jesus denied he was King of the Jews, but Trump is not having any second thoughts. He revels in the notion that he can walk on water and change Greenland’s ice water into gold.

Digging Deeper into Ben Franklin’s Past

DATELINE: Electrifying Discovery

Franklin Re-enactor Not $50, Counterfeit Ben!

The first episode of the first season of Secrets of the Dead did not disappoint. Called “Ben Franklin’s Bones,” this historical documentary examined a horror story that seemed to emerge in the 1990s when excavators started to dig in the cellar of a Westminster house where Ben Franklin lived in for fifteen years.

Located in London, where he was an ambassador to Parliament for the colonies around 1760, Franklin rented rooms from a “second family” as he called them.

Police and detectives were called to the cellar where workers discovered a treasure trove (if that’s a bonanza) of many human bones. They needed a medical examiner to tell them how old these were, and if they died mysteriously.

Of course, the bones dated from the time that Franklin lived in the house. The noted Renaissance American was active in all kinds of research, membership in the Royal Society as part of his life of scholarship in London. However, no one thought he could be a serial killer. Call in the forensic experts.

And he wasn’t. The bones belonged to people (men, women, and children, birds and turtles) that were already dead. The bones were finely sawed—including the tops of skulls.

It seemed a bit creepy that Franklin could have anything to do with this: yet, the daughter of the household had married a doctor named Hewson who was a noted surgeon. He had presented papers on his research using mercury and turtles—both of which were in the cellar hole. The house, once renovated, became a museum to Franklin’s years in London.

Franklin was a close friend of the doctor and had sponsored his entry into the Royal Society. It would seem that even Ben Franklin had been connected to “Resurrection Men,” the notorious body snatchers of the era of Enlightenment. They provided cadavers stolen from cemeteries to medical men.

It wasn’t a crime to steal a body, only its clothes or jewelry.

The tease of indicting Franklin made for an alarming, if not suspenseful, study of life on Craven Street where the great man resided. All in all, this was a delightful look at a little-known facet of Ben’s amazing life.

 

 

Moment of Definition: Republican!

DATELINE: Republic Con Job?

 Really, Republicans?

This is definitely not the week to be a Republican in Baltimore.

Without a doubt, this is not the week to be a Republican in Maryland.

We suspect this is not the week to be a Republican if you are black.

You are not a Republican if you are among the rat-infested in Kushnerville, Baltimore.

You probably don’t want to call yourself a Republican if you are a decent, kindhearted person who likes people.

You probably don’t want to call yourself a Republican if you are not a white nationalist neo-Nazi .

In all likelihood you are not a Republican if you believe in democracy and free elections

When Trump claims he is not a racist, you likely believe him if you are a Republican.

If you know anything about history, you may not call yourself a Republican.

If you believe Abraham Lincoln would be ashamed of the Republican party today, you are likely not a Republican.

If you believe Donald Trump is the most corrupt president in American history, you are definitely not a Republican.

If you don’t think Trump is a lockstepping, goose-stepping Nazi, you are definitely a rank and file Republican.

If you are a white Red Sox fan, you likely are a Republican.

If you think Shakespeare’s Richard III is not about Trump, you are a Republican.

If you feel like you are being drummed out of your party by racists, You are probably a Republican with a conscience. But chances are, you’re about to switch your registration to anything with human decency—And that definitely means you are not a Republican much longer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.