Bela Lugosi – Dracula

Lugosi as DraculaBela Lugosi as Count Dracula in 1931 with co-star Edward Van Sloan as Dr. Van Helsing

Photo courtesy of Universal Studios.

After waiting a number of years for me to watch his movie, Bela Lugosi graciously provided a stream of commentary as I watched his 1931 performance of “Dracula” in the title role.

It wasn’t the first time I had spoken to Bela. Initially he showed up in reference to a friend who had known him in a past life. I had no idea who he was. At first, I thought I was being punked when a dramatic figure showed up in full Dracula costume. When my friend stopped laughing she explained that was the role he was known for.  Oh.

Fast forward about a year later and I was poking around a Goodwill. I found a never opened VHS copy of Lugosi’s “Dracula” for something like fifty cents. Bela popped in and made me a deal. He would give me his take on the experience of making the movie while I watched it if I bought the tape. How could I turn such an invitation down? I bought it.

It wasn’t until this Halloween, (10/31/19) that I actually watched the film. Bela kept his word, so now I am keeping mine and writing down what he had to say.

Bela’s first observation was to note he had fun drinking off set with the actors who played several supporting roles from the terrified villagers to the sanitarium nurses.

When the movie was made Bela had no idea how big a hit it would be. Of course he hoped it would do well, but it was just a job at the time. He was perfectly happy to be playing the monster Dracula. He showed me how he painstakingly practiced his lines in front of a mirror at home. I had read in an article years ago that his native Hungarian accent made mastering formal English a challenge at that stage of his career. He confirmed that. His measured and rather halting delivery suited the role perfectly.

In an early scene a horrified  female villager places a rosary around the neck of the cocky Renfield before he sets off for Dracula’s castle. Having been raised Catholic I knew that must have gone over like a lead balloon. Bela also raised Catholic, chuckled as he admitted, “We got fan mail about that.”

It is always interesting to me which details actors focus on in retrospect. As Renfield made his doomed way to the castle of Count Dracula, Bela told me the gold paint on the coach had to be redone in gilt so that it would pick up as much light as possible in the dimly lit scene.

Bela gave every indication of enjoying his walk down memory lane as he followed along with his early dialogue. For me this created a stereo effect hearing Bela’s voice both on screen and in spirit form in unison.

Some of the most dramatic images of Dracula featured light focused on Bela’s eyes to make them look intense. Bela said the effect on screen was great but in real life the light blinded him for a few a moments so that he, “Couldn’t see a thing.”

His first female victim, an unfortunate girl selling flowers had to be re-shot as the actress dissolved into giggles. When I commented on the high camp factor in the movie Bela reminded me it was 1931 movie technology on a low budget film. He quipped that the sound Dracula made in bat form was created using a squeaky dog toy.  Bela thought one of the reasons his iconic Dracula role became so wildly popular was that “The audience supplied their own shock and dismay.”

Since it was my first time watching the film, I asked Bela if his lines ever included, “I want to bite your neck.” He stated he never said that in the film, “I just did it,” in terms of biting the necks of his lovely victims. Turned out he was right. Dracula never says that line in the film.

As I was trying to work out the role of wolves in the movie. Bela told me that the wolves,were the “Heralds and servants of Dracula.”

Bela noted in order to make the vampire infected characters eyes more dramatic they used glycerin based eye-drops to make them glisten for the cameras.

He showed me a full color image of Nina’s bedroom as his Dracula stalked toward her sleeping innocence. The carpet was burgundy but Nina’s comforter was pink. Bela conceded that in real life the effect was “garish”.

In the climactic scene that has Dracula, Nina and the slavish Renfield positioned on the open staircase of the abbey, Bela commented that “Dave had trouble with the the stairs.” Apparently actor Dwight Frye was afraid of heights and prone to get dizzy the higher he went on the staircase. Bela said the scene when Frye goes tumbling down the stairs to his death  had to be done a few times due to Frye’s swimming head.

The fact Bela called Dwight Frye “Dave” threw me at first. Then I looked up Dwight’s full name. Sure enough it was Dwight David Frye.  It is always fun when little details like that line up.

I thank Bela for his patience and generosity in finally being my movie date as I first watched the cult classic he became famous for. I couldn’t ask for a more appropriate Halloween.

 

Blessings,

Lynne

 

(c) 2019. Lynne Sutherland Olson. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Elijah Cummings Final Comments

 

Elijah Cummings

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., speaks during a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, in August.

Patrick Semansky/AP Photo Courtesy of NPR.

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings died this morning (10/17/19) at age 68. Much to my surprise he not only showed up shortly after I saw the first news reports of his death, he had a lot to say.

He showed up to me the way he had been seen in countless news clips, in a suit with a tie, his large frame and shambling gait same as usual. Death has not reduced the fire of his convictions in the least.

Cummings told me, “Don’t you worry about me. Worry about yourself. Worry about our children, who is going to eat today and who is not.”

When I asked him about the cause of his death he said, “My heart gave out on me.”

Like many newly dead his thoughts had turned to his family but he was the least concerned about them of anyone in spirit I have talked to to date. Don’t mistake that for lack of care. In his words regarding his family, “Will be okay. They know where I am going and I will be here waiting when they come.”

Always a passionate orator Cummings final comments were for those he spent a lifetime trying to help via public service. He said to all his fellow citizens, “Fight. Don’t be quiet! Don’t sit back and wait for others to do the job. Fight for your freedom, fight for jobs and education. Fight for equality, dignity and doing the right thing.”

His final comment was, “Leave my bones in the ground and go fight for your future.” With that he simply turned around and walked away.

Blessings,

Lynne

 

 

(c) 2019. Lynne Sutherland Olson. All Rights Reserved.

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Silk or Broadcloth? New Glasgow, Nova Scotia Warehouse Worker Never Left

MacGillveay Building Photo

I was recently a guest at the MacGillvray Industrial Centre Lofts in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. As my hostess and some friends chatted I repeatedly noticed out of the corner of my eye, a brown haired man walking up and down the length of her apartment. Since my hostess had two grown sons at home I assumed it was one of them. It wasn’t. As the conversation progressed, she turned to me and said, “Is there anyone behind me? I honestly replied, “Not at the moment, no.”

Then the penny dropped. “Oh, you mean the guy who keeps walking up and down the hallway?” I asked. ” Yes, ” she replied, “I have sensed someone, a male walking back and forth since I moved in here. ” A chat with that gentleman in spirit ensued.

Thomas was a warehouse worker for over thirty years. He was among the many laborers who unloaded freight that came in from the port, from all over the world. He showed me the warehouse as it was in the 1830’s with rough scarred dark wood floors and red brick walls. (My hostess confirmed the loft units at the ends of the building boast original red brick walls. Another friend who was there noted we were in the oldest part of New Glasgow.) I saw wooden crates nailed shut and huge bundles of cloth sewn into sail canvas to protect it during shipping. Apparently the warehouse did some trade in spices as well but the textiles were big business. Thomas’s era was a bit later in the 19th Century as he said warehouse workers would “make a bit on the side” prior to The Great War, a common reference to World War I (1914-1918), but the authorities “cracked down” after the war. I think the side business was bootleg booze.

Thomas worked both the warehouse and the docks loading and unloading the ships that came up the river. Sometimes he worked the docks, other times the warehouse. He simply followed the work as it was available. That remains a well established work ethic in Nova Scotia and the rest of the Maritimes along Canada’s eastern coast.

Thomas was a bit coy about his name. He said he was Thomas Timothy, then held back on his last name. He winked at me and asked, “Now would you believe me if I said I was related to the M family who owned the place?” He said the owners in his time has a last name that also started with M but wasn’t the modern MacGillvray name . Subsequent online research showed the warehouse was owned by a McGregor family at one time. I told Thomas he wouldn’t have spent his life lugging cargo if he had been a part of the owner’s family. He laughed in agreement but didn’t tell me his last name.

I asked Thomas why did he still roam the warehouse? He told me as he got older he had been in a retirement home in nearby Stellarton, but didn’t like it there. So after he died he returned to the warehouse. Where he walks in the modern apartment of today was part of his common path taken during decades of warehouse work. My hostess confirmed there had in fact been a mental hospital in Stellarton that was converted to an elder care home about the time Thomas would have ended his working life.

Another friend who was part of the conversation asked if Thomas was cute? The ghost didn’t particularly like that question as he felt it was disrespectful to his late wife. It was the only time he referenced a wife. I think she died many years before Thomas did, probably in early middle age. I didn’t get any sense of children from the marriage. Thomas told my friend she “wasn’t his type.” I had to laugh at such a familiar rejection I might hear today. My friend was none too pleased, but I warned her the dead tend to tell the truth with little varnish. She was lucky he turned her down because if he had decided she was cute in return she would have had a whole different set of problems than a polite refusal from the shade of a man who pre-dated her grandfather.

Blessings,

Lynne Sutherland Olson

(C) 2019. Lynne Sutherland Olson. All rights reserved.

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Pictou, Nova Scotia Ghost Walk

An impulsive decision to join a local ghost tour resulted in one of the best evenings I have had in a long time. My friend “Lisa” and I both grew up hearing the ghost stories of Pictou. Lisa was born and raised in town and I first started visiting well before my first birthday.

The tour was lead by Pictou’s real deal psychic Dolores Dagenais. We had not met before, but both Lisa and I found her end of tour tarot readings spot on.

The tour started on the replica of The Hector, a bedraggled ship that dropped 189 Scottish settlers in Pictou in 1773. The replica ship is less than 30 years old, but has managed to pick up some creepy occurrences nonetheless. There seems to be the shade of a man who likes to rattle around the lower decks, moaning and generally making a nuisance of himself. One interpretation is it may be the ghosts of some of the craftsmen who built the ship and have since passed. I got a different impression. I think the ghost is there periodically but he is tied to the land the Hector Heritage Quay is built on. I think in his era he was both a sailor and worked at the shipyard so many generations of Pictou families have poured their working lives into. The ghost told me he had seen many a ship launched into Pictou Harbor in his time. Now he just likes messing with people.

Visible from the deck of the Hector was Brown ‘s Point the alleged original landing spot of the Hector. It became the lavish residence of Edward Mortimer, a timber merchant of means who showed up in the late 1780’s. Mortimer lost his fortune and died destitute. The story goes a modern man was walking his dog along the Jitland trail (previously railroad tracks) when he saw a despondent old man seated in a park bench morbidly staring out into the harbor. The old gent was wearing a coat with tails. The dog walker was worried enough about the old man to approach him and ask if the old fella was okay. However as he approached the figure, it was gone. Dolores’s take on it was the old man was the shade of Edward Mortimer who was still grieving the loss of his fortune and palatial home. I agreed with her on this one as Mortimer told me he “had been foolish” with his money and lost it to “speculation”.

Sometimes locals report hearing the cries of an infant as they walk the shoreline of Pictou harbor. In the 1800’s the body of an infant was found floating near the shore of the harbor. It was never identified, nor determined who the baby belonged to. The additional information I got about that incident was that a young girl from town had gotten pregnant by a married man. She hid the pregnancy, had the baby, a boy and exposed him at low tide so that the shame of the pregnancy wouldn’t ruin the lives of all concerned. I think the baby boy started crying when the cold water of the incoming tide reached him.

It was an all too common tale. Today few people would experience that level of shame around an unplanned pregnancy. It was a completely different story 100 years ago in Pictou. There is well known story about one of my great aunt’s who got pregnant at age 19 by one of many brothers of a particular family in town. She met the man at work. We know who the father was and anyone of that generation knew which family the resulting child came from by observing a strong resemblance to his uncles. Nonetheless, he was never acknowledged by that family. The depth of shame brought to my family was so severe that both the 19-year-old mother and the baby boy were locked up in the attic of the family home for a full year as punishment for the shame her pregnancy and child brought upon the rest of her family. Astonishingly by modern standards, that was considered a just punishment. (I am only sharing this sans names because the major players are long dead.)

Our next stop was a wooden gazebo at the base of a grassy slope that lead to the street above the waterfront. It has long been used as a bandstand. Roll back time about 100 years and it was an octagon shaped farmers market. At the top of the slope I did a general scan of the space and asked to be shown how it was when the market operated. At first all I heard was the chatter of commerce and community. Then floated out the plaintive strains of a violin. It was played by the same bony old man each week. He always perched in the same spot and played. Imagine my surprise when Lisa told me of an archival photo of the old market published in the local paper years prior that she had saved. There was an old man playing a violin and the blurb of text below the photo said he played every week. Confirmation is seldom do quick.

A tour member was sent down the slope with a K2 meter. She heard something she didn’t recognize, but the meter didn’t register anything. However Lisa had felt a non-existent hand grasp lightly at her arm on our way up the slope and asked me if anything was going on next to a particular tree. Well yes, the 30-something shade of a man from 1952 was puking his guts out, supporting himself with one arm against the trunk. The ghost was quite unsteady on his feet, so the idea he may have reached for Lisa’s arm made sense. Like many places Pictou has a long history with the demon drink. Plenty of rum running in the history of the town. A few stories about bathtub gun and illicit whisky sales also come to mind.

Our next stop was the former Lorraine Hotel, which has been the private residence of the Porter family since the early 1800’s. In it’s hotel days it was the terminus of the stage coach service in town. First thing I picked up from outside the building were the sort of bordello activities that seemed focused on the third floor of the home. When I eventually made it up to the third floor I stepped into a cramped attic room whose ceilings confirm to the original roof line. At one time it was full of three metal crib beds often seen in poor men’s whorehouses. Last time I saw beds like that was in the sweltering attic room of General Lee’s headquarters during the battle of Gettysburg during the U.S. Civil War. Rounded metal head and foot of the bed with flaking white paint. The process was sped up by the athletics of the ever shifting clientele.

The Porter family home had clearly belonged to Roman Catholics for a long, long time. Beautiful old wooden crucifixes in many rooms, pre -Vatican II books about the Catholic faith and a tiny holy water font affixed to the door trim of the former crib room. Consequently I burst out laughing when the ghost of one of the working girls informed me in no uncertain terms that the family could put up as many crucifixes and splash around as much holy water as they wanted but it wouldn’t rid them of her or her colleagues.

Since ghosts tend to make themselves known more easily in rooms with only a few people in them instead of large groups Lisa and I hung back and chatted with current owner Dave Porter both on the ground level and the second floor. Before going in we had been told a paranormal group had evaluated the house last fall and some of what they had come up with. The ghost of a female piano player likes to tickle the ivories and then cross the hall into what now serves as a dining room. Dave confirmed that in the past that room had been a parlor. Funny thing though I saw the spectral piano player as a man. Oh, that would be one of Dave’s great uncle’s. The piano still plays itself sometimes regardless of the lack of any visible occupant in the room. Back when it was the stagecoach stop the piano room was a bar. The crabby old ghost of a man deep in his cups wasn’t pleased with our presence.

Up on the second floor things got more active. As I entered one bedroom called the orange room for the color of it’s walls the middle aged ghost of a maritime commander who had just removed his blue uniform coat and stretched his legs out on the bed was downright peeved I had barged into HIS room. He started yelling at me. ” What the hell do you think you are doing in here! Get out! ” Not very original, but absolutely sincere.

Dave told me during the rooming house days of the home many soldiers had stayed in the orange room. He mentioned both World Wars but I saw mostly young, scared soldiers from World War I. Suddenly it was like flipping the pages of a book very quickly and each page had the face of a young man heading to the trenches. It was rather overwhelming.

One of the well-known tragedies of the stagecoach era was when a 17 -year-old girl died outside the front door in a stagecoach accident. Her ghost told me she had been coming to town to wed her fiance. That little detail was later confirmed by Dave’s wife Ann.

It is well known that the ghost of a little boy likes to play with living children in the Porter House. Prior investigators determined he was not affiliated with the house but had lived in the surrounding neighborhood. After the investigations last fall a small child’s hand print showed up above a fireplace in a second floor bedroom. The thing is a child young enough to have such a small hand, wouldn’t have the height to reach the spot on the wall where the hand print appeared. I saw the little boy. He was certainly from a different era as he was dressed in a sailor suit with short pants. He is harmless and liked to play with Dave’s uncles when they were young boys.

The old 1895 Pictou post office has seen a number of private tenants come and go. Honestly the place has not had much luck being re-purposed in recent years, but there is currently a lot of major restoration going on. One interesting architectural feature of the building is it’s huge chimney that has a window in the middle of it. It is the only building in North America that boasts one. At least this time I finally figured out the male presence I have been sensing behind that chimney for years was that of Pictou’s first postmaster whom Dolores generously described as a serious person. Try a humorless, grim curmudgeon whose desk looked out of the window in the chimney at the top of the list office. His ghost scolded me as if I was interrupting very important work by observing him through time.

Our tour wrapped up in the current gravel parking lot that in years past hosted The Wallace Hotel. Dolores recounted the story of a fellow best known as “The Prince of Pictou.” William A.H. Villers Mansel was a flamboyant character that threw around a lot of money from an unknown source until he managed to drink himself to death at age 33 in 1811. Rumor had it he was the illegitimate son of King George IV of England. The locals of the era figured Mansel was full of hot air. Then an English ship arrived in Pictou Harbor a few months after his death. Officials came ashore and installed an iron fence around his simple grave. Dolores pointed out in iron lore such a fence was intended to keep the dead in their graves where they belonged. It didn’t work with old Billy. He was seen 70 years after his death roaming the halls of the Wallace Hotel on numerous occasions. Fast forward to the last couple years and Dolores had an encounter with him herself, 200 years after his death. I was entertained by the vision I had of him trailing a languid hand along the fine wooden wainscoting in the hallways of the hotel. He was also making disparaging if knowledgeable comments about other decor details. I suppose the finest Pictou had to offer simply couldn’t impress a dissipated bastard prince.

Blessings,

Lynne

(c)2019. Lynne Sutherland Olson. All rights reserved.

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Penny Marshall Says Goodbye

Penny Marhsall as Laverne

Penny Marshall in character as Laverne DeFazio. Photo courtesy of ABC/Wikipedia.

It rarely seems to fail. Within moments of reading a celebrity has died, if they are going to show up, they do. Nonetheless, I was surprised to see Penny Marshall appear in my kitchen on 12/18/18.

She first showed up as she looked in her later years. I asked her if she was okay. She said, “Oh sure, I am fine.” She didn’t seem to find the dying part difficult but said the complications from diabetes make her feel awful prior and that diabetes was a “terrible” way to go.

Quickly realizing she could change her appearance she flipped back to her “Laverne” look from the show that made her a star. She noted her slim waistline with approval and quipped, “Easiest diet ever!”

She seemed eager to see her brother Gary again. Gary died two years prior to Penny in 2016.

Like so many others I grew up loving “Laverne and Shirley”. I thanked Marshall for her lifetime of stories and great entertainment. She accepted the compliment but with a certain amount of innate modesty. “It was fun,” she acknowledged.

Overall Penny Marshall seemed to be in an excellent mood and was looking forward to whatever adventures came next for her.

Blessings,

Lynne

 

(c) 2018 Lynne Sutherland Olson. All rights reserved.

Posted in Personal Blog, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

Northern State Hospital Farm, Sedro-Woolley

Cow Barn Northern State Thendara M Kida-Gee

Cow barn at Northern State Hospital. Photo courtesy of Thendara M Kida-Gee

Insane asylums are not pleasant places in any era. Our investigation picked up on assorted assaults, two attempted murders and more than a few cover ups.

The Northern State Hospital Farm allowed the Northern State Hospital for the mentally ill to be self-sufficient. With a 700-acre spread combined with lumber and quarry operations it essentially became a profit center for the State of Washington with involuntary labor in the form of forcibly committed “insane” patients. It opened in 1909 and ran until 1973 after which it was turned over to Skagit County.

Although a wide range of ages were committed to Northern State most of the ghosts I saw there were in their teens and 20’s. That makes sense if you consider the buildings we toured covered the dairy farm and commercial kitchens that put out assorted foodstuffs year round. Able bodied workers (patients) were a necessity.

This was one of the AGHOST events open to the public and once again I found myself wandering through long empty buildings with Sam and Al, with Al and I usually picking up on a lot of the same things. Because it becomes nearly impossible to separate our real-time impressions, this account will be written as a melding of our respective experiences. Thus far I have only found a handful of people I can do this with, but Al happens to be one of them.

NS Harvest Celebration Barn 10.21.17

Harvest Celebration cow barn at Northern State Hospital October 2018. Photo by Lynne Sutherland Olson.

Our experiences started out at one of the remaining cow barns, although by October 2018 the overhang had completely collapsed. First thing I saw was a harvest picnic buffet set out under the veranda roof. The white covered table had bunches of brightly colored dried leaves and a few small orange pumpkins. Most significantly on the far right end of the table was a glass bowl of pink hued fruit punch someone thought it would be fun to spike with alcohol.

The consequences of that prank played out in the dairy barn across the road from the one pictured above. I saw a blond 14-year-old girl cornered and beat up by two or three fellow male patients who were a handful of years older. It read more like an attempted rape, but she fought and the worst didn’t happen. It was bad enough. She was wearing a scoop neck, peter-pan collar cotton print dress with small flowers in the pattern. It was her party dress, made by her mother and put on with excited anticipation for the harvest celebration. The older teen boys ripped it in their attack. She was upset about both the attack and the destruction of her dress. She fought them off and ran, humiliated and bleeding from the nose with some facial bruises already showing.

The events Al and I saw unfold in the adjacent dairy barn didn’t end as well. At the far end of the barn close to the rear doors we saw a  male staff member rape a Native girl, another teenager. It was pretty much every female’s worst nightmare including violation with a bottle in addition to unwanted genitalia.  I think that was the first time. It happened again, but a subsequent rape included multiple men. She fought like hell but there were too many of them and they had her isolated. Both front and rear doors were closed at the time and the cows were out to pasture, so didn’t kick up a fuss at the disturbance. Her ghost told me she became pregnant after repeated rapes, delivered a child and died of a subsequent childbirth induced infection. She was only 16 or 17 years-old.

NS Rape barn 10.21.18.jpg

Cow barn where Al and I saw assorted past sexual assaults unfold at the former Northern State Hospital. Photo by Lynne Sutherland Olson.

In the first third of the barn another sexual assault occurred, this time a teen boy attacked by a male staffer. The boy wasn’t able to stop the attack but he managed to noticeably damage his rapist. The story flew around the farm like wildfire. Everyone knew what had happened, but the victim was not punished because it was known that staffer routinely did such things. The rapist was the head dairyman at the farm at the time and the boy we saw him assault was not his first nor his last victim. More on him later. The teen boy was eventually released from Northern State and came back when he had grown into his full strength. He cornered his rapist in the same barn and nearly killed him. No charges were ever filed. At first I questioned what I saw because a bullwhip straight out of an “Indiana Jones” movie was involved. However Al independently saw the same thing. Unlike the famous movie prop this one was the natural brown shade of the hide it was made of and broke off into two long whips with knots tied into them at the tip of the whip. The knots increased the damage by ripping out chunks of skin on top of the brutal lacerations.

NS Rape barn interior 10.21.18

Interior of the cow barn where assorted assaults took place at the former Northern State Hospital. The first assault I saw took place in the rear left corner, the second about a third of the way in also on the left side of the structure. Photo by Lynne Sutherland Olson.

A few hundred yards away was another cow barn but this one had a grain silo attached at the end for cattle feed. This was the site of an attempted murder, but I doubt you will find it in any history books because the intended victim survived. Both Al and I saw a teen boy intentionally trapped inside the silo as it was being filled with dried wheat. The  victim was shoved in there by three other boys, also patients. Two of the three were the real instigators. I saw the wheat pouring in around the victim. He curled up into the fetal position to try to protect his face from the stinging surge of kernels. This created an air pocket that allowed him to breathe shallowly for a few hours. The third boy affiliated with the attack came back around sunset that day, dug out the would-be victim and helped him crawl out.

The intended victim not only survived being entombed in the gain silo, he made it out of Northern State Hospital and lived to old age He did not let the incident slide. When he was free of the hospital he lived a full and successful life as a businessman with lots of connections in the community. He used those connections to get even. The primary would-be murder applied to a regional bank for a loan many years later. His would-be victim had a talk with the branch manager and the loan was denied. A second application for a loan from the same bank a few years later was not only denied, but resulted in the aggressor loosing his financial shirt. The aggressor’s wife left him, he lost his house, his job, everything. The shade of the teen who survived being buried alive made sure of it. He remains proud of it to this day. The second would-be murderer was also tracked down and made to pay for his crimes. The third accomplice was spared the victims wrath because he walked away, wouldn’t be part of the matter and came back and dug his friend out, saving his life.  I think the shade of the survivor would have spent all afternoon telling us about his successful payback, but we had to move on.

NS Grain Silo 10.21.18

Grain silo next to a dairy cow barn at Northern State Hospital, the site of an attempted murder among patients. Photo by Lynne Sutherland Olson.

Revenge seemed to be an ongoing theme in the course of our visit to Northern State Farm. The dairyman who raped a male teen patient in one barn showed up several other places doing the same thing to other victims over the course of our visit. One of his preferred locations for such attacks was the barn that held cows waiting to be milked. It was attached to the milking room the equipment for which remains in place today.

Many of the attacks of this particular dairyman happened when he was a single man and lived in the private room and bath attached to the main milking barn. Eventually the dairyman married and a home was built for him and his family across the courtyard from the milking barn. The home was a dark gray shingle sided cottage with a covered front porch. It sat beside two more of the massive cow barns, long since gone. Today all you can see is part of the concrete floor of one of the structures. Not surprisingly marriage did not cure this fellow’s predatory practices. He and his wife had two children, a girl and a boy. At some point the rapist did something to his son that was the final straw for his wife. I wasn’t given the details and was relieved to not have to know after an already full afternoon of witnessing past rapes and assaults. This is the dark side of mediumship few talk about for obvious reasons. It is always horrifying to witness even as a past event and unfortunately negative events tend to stick to locations. I have seen such things endlessly at all kinds of institutions, former hospitals, nursing homes, insane asylums, prisons, military bases etc… bottom line, sometimes man’s inhumanity to man becomes overwhelming.

Once the rapist dairyman’s wife decided enough was enough she started planning. One night he crawled into bed in a long old-fashioned cream-colored men’s night-shirt and a matching hat to keep his mostly bald head warm. Once he was asleep, she emptied the contents of kerosene lamps over him, smashed the glass globe of the bedroom lamp into the floor and lit a match. She made sure the kids were safe and raised the alarm. The cottage burned. Her husband survived, but just barely. Horrific burns covered his body that healed into permanently twisted flesh. He was never functional again and spent the rest of his days in a different hospital, out of sight and no longer able to harm others. I am not sure he could talk after his “accident”. His attempts sounded garbled at best. Once again, the staff knew what really happened but the wife was never turned over to authorities. Instead she was quietly shipped out-of-state with her children and never returned to Washington. The hospital certainly didn’t want the scandal nor the years of abuse by their former employee to come to light.

The commercial kitchen and attached refrigerator room is similarly crumbling over time. I saw all female workers in the kitchen. A great deal of equipment remains in the building from lockers for the girls to stash their personal items in to rusted out rolling trays for the preservation of perishable foods until they could be picked up from the loading dock at the back of the kitchen. First thing Al and I saw were chickens being processed. Just like my own grandmother told of such tasks in the family deli growing up I picked up on a similar lack of enthusiasm among the female patients pressed into such jobs. I saw two 1920’s era delivery trucks could pull up to the concrete deck of the loading dock. One of the deep dual ceramic sinks survives as does the built-in work benches along the walls. I saw apples, berries and choke cherries being made into preserves and I think sold to local grocery stores in addition to supplying Northern State and the two other mental hospitals in Washington.

The types of fruit I saw being made into preserves was partially confirmed by the long neglected remaining apple trees nearly growing into the building at this point. As Al is a landscape architect by trade he pointed out the choke cherry bushes to me after we left the building. Al alarmed another member of the group when he picked a few of the apples off the trees and bit into them. Being aware he knows his stuff when it comes to plants I didn’t blink and munched on a few he offered me. If those trees were properly tended today the fruit would be amazing. (I grew up in a family where wasting food was considered a cardinal sin, so my mind still rebels at wasted bounty.)

As our group made its way back to the parking lot Al stayed on the far side of the road. It didn’t take me long to realize why.  I saw and heard some of the more disabled patients rosted out of bed at night and taken to the barn that they called “the hospital”. It was no hospital, it was a site for punishing patients that drove the staff nuts. I am sure it did not happen throughout the entire history of Northern State Hospital. Based on the garments the patients were wearing I would guess the early years of the institution’s operation which depending on different sources commenced in either 1909 or 1912. Both male and female patients were sprayed down with water in winter cold barns. I couldn’t go any closer, I had seen and heard enough for one day so we headed for our vehicles with the screams of past patients ringing in our ears.

Blessings,

Lynne

 

(c) 2018. Lynne Sutherland Olson. All rights reserved.

 

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What Graves?

Our current political discourse isn’t the only time I have encountered “alternative facts” formerly known as lies. In my work as a medium I have repeatedly stumbled across graves official records or administrators swear don’t exist. Since I have not had permission to dig up such locations in search of evidence it is always a conversation I lose with my easily dismissed psychic impressions. That doesn’t even take into account the wishes of the occupants of the graves who often want their stories told, but are not keen on the idea of being dug up. (For example I have yet to meet a mummy on public display who is happy about being an object of curiosity.)

A recent trip to Wellington, WA was yet another experience of having detailed  information about the location of a graveyard that official sources insist never existed. When my friends and I arrived at the trail head parking lot we learned the US Forest Service was conducting an amateur forest archaeology dig with interested members of the public. The painstaking work of searching for artifacts took place next to the trail not far from the first Cascade tunnel built in 1900 for the Great Northern. Only an hour or two in strips of rusted metal and bits of shattered glass were already stacked next to the work site.

The Party You are Trying to Reach Doesn’t Exist
One of my friends managed to talk a retired Forest Service historian at the dig into addressing our  collective impressions of an abandoned pioneer cemetery in the long defunct town of Wellington. Her take on it was no such cemetery ever existed in Wellington, wasn’t reflected in the town records, nor had ever shown up in pictures of Wellington before it was intentionally burned and torn down in 1929 when the Great Northern railroad officially left the area.
Just one problem, the occupants of that officially non-existent graveyard complained to myself and another medium with each visit that many people come to view the site of the 1910 train wreck but nobody ever visits them. My August of 2018  visit resulted in full color visuals of what the graveyard looked like in the years it was maintained. I saw a double row pf identical rough-hewn blank tombstones. My perspective may have been of the back of the stones, which could have explained why I couldn’t see names and dates carved into them. Or perhaps the markers were never inscribed, but records of who was buried were kept separately. (That was certainly the case in the pauper’s graves many generations of my family sleep in. No markers at all, but the local parish office had the records of placements and internment’s going back generations.)

The unmarked tombstones were short. They only reached mid-shin on a man of average height. The tops were rough-hewn arches and sides with smoothed faces front and back of the stones. The stone used was the same mottled granitic boulders that litter the old railway grade. (The Cascade range is largely made of  varieties tonalite and granodiorite. Geologists call these types stone granitic because such rock looks a great deal like granite.)

Simple Granite Tombstone
Simple tombstone similar to those I saw at the lost Wellington cemetery. Photo courtesy of Franklin Granite Works & Heath Memorials.
Although it was possible to walk through the ruins of Wellington back in 1984 when I was taken on a high school field trip through the abandoned town, all such paths have become hopelessly overgrown in the three and a half decades since. There is no visible path to the cemetery whose occupants keep begging for visitors. At this point we would probably need a drone to search for it. Even then it would be tough to find the stones among a century worth of unchecked Pacific Northwest growth which can easily obliterate an open clearing in two or three years.One thing I have learned as a medium is that being a ghost is frequently a wretchedly boring occupation. So I was not surprised the dead in the officially non-existent pioneer cemetery felt left out by the hikers and explorers who flock to Wellington each year.
One of the things the retired Forest Service historian told us was the Great Northern Railroad used a lot of Japanese labor in building the Wellington track. There was a documented hospital in Wellington. So my question was, what did they do with the laborers or the hospital patients who died, let alone the townspeople? The only answer we got was that Wellington’s dead were buried elsewhere during the heyday of the town. Where that elsewhere was located wasn’t volunteered. That didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Every Civil War battlefield, prison, insane asylum or TB sanatorium I have visited, including the one smack dab in the middle of colonial Williamsburg had a graveyard in close proximity to it.
Waverly Hills Graves
Seven or eight years ago I made a couple of trips to investigate the notoriously haunted Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky. My first time down the “death tunnel” where staff rolled the bodies of the expired TB patients down to a train track behind the hospital for shipment home I was greeted by a group of ghostly children, still wearing their early 20th century hospital gowns. They really wanted me to know they were buried not far from end of the tunnel. Yet when I talked to the Waverly Hills front office about it, the daughter of the man who managed the acknowledged mass graves on site told me point-blank there were no human graves down by the old train platform. The occupants of those non-existent graves begged to differ.
Unsuspected Graves
In the course of doing client work I have found more bodies than I can count on private land that officially are not there. One notable case was that of a Native American guide whose grave ended up half under a huge boiler below the cement floor of a farm-house in Eastern Washington. The people who built the house and generations of the same family who have lived there since had no clue there was an undocumented grave under their foundation. I only came across it because the grave was unsettled and had attracted a dark entity that was causing problems for the current generation in residence. The dark entity had been feeding off the negative energy emanating from the unsettled grave of a murder victim who was still mad as hell about his death. Once the dark entity was dispatched and the occupant of the grave crossed over all the problems stopped.
A recent investigation of the park that once housed the Martha Washington School for Insane Girls had similar bodies and haunts, although the park service will tell you no such graves exist there today.
Considering how many billions of people have lived and died in the history of human life on our planet, good luck finding any piece of land that doesn’t have some human remains in it. It is folly to think all graves are documented. What gets annoying  is to be repeatedly told they don’t exist when their occupants are incredibly insistent they do. Living or dead, nobody likes to be forgotten.
Blessings,
Lynne
(c) 2018 Lynne Sutherland Olson. All Rights Reserved.
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