Shadow People Exposed!

Of all the supernatural entities I’ve encountered, I’ve encountered shadow people the most. That seem rather fitting since I love things that are dark and mysterious, writing about and exploring the unknown since I was seven years old. Just recently, I gave a presentation at the haunted Exchange Hotel in Gordonsville, Virginia, in which I spoke at length about the different types of shadow people that are believed to exist, legends and folklore throughout the ages, and various theories we have about them today.

Below is an online version of that presentation:

 

I began this presentation with my own account of my first encounter with a shadow person which occurred when I was only about eight or nine years old. This story was featured in the first volume of Encounters With The Paranormal, and Adam Tillery drew a fantastic illustration representing what I had seen.

As a special treat, here is an excerpt from that book, the chapter “The Shadow Person” in its entirety:

Encounters With The Paranormal

I was young, very young, the night I was scared speechless. I’d like to put an age on it, perhaps seven, eight, or nine. I can’t be sure other than it wasn’t the first time I had witnessed something paranormal in nature. That honored is reserved for “the blinking gorilla” I saw at my grandparent’s house when I was perhaps five or six.

I was lying in bed in the front upstairs bedroom of their house built by my great grandfather in the 1920s when my eyes traveled to the doorway. Beneath the Fenn College sticker affixed to the door there stood the ghostly apparition of what my child mind deduced was a gorilla. I can’t say for sure what it was – a short, squat man, perhaps – but it glowed white and faded in and out in the doorway. I called for my parents who came rushing upstairs and I told them of what I saw. Of course, what I saw was simply excused as a dream or my eyes playing tricks on me, but the blinking gorilla did become a part of family lore, more like a side joke, for years to come.

A couple years later I was, again, in bed, but this time it was my own. Something had awoken me out of a dead sleep. It was the middle of the night and the house was deathly still, dark save for the light from the street lamp coming through the window and the soft glow from the Peanuts nightlight against the far wall. My eyes adjusted to the dim lighting and looked down the length of my bed. That’s when I saw it.

In the corner of my bedroom, between my closet door and the window to outside, stood a shadowy figure. It was as tall as a man with vague features of a face, but nothing else discernable. I couldn’t even tell if it was wearing clothes.

For a long while we stared at each other, I at it and it at me. Part of me hoped it would just go away, perhaps slide into the open closet doorway and just disappear. Then, perhaps, I could just chalk the incident up to a strange dream in the middle of the night. But that’s not what happened.

“The Shadow Person” by Adam Tillery

The shadowy figure approached me where I lie and hovered over me. Its presence blocked out the light the filtered in from outside and the world around me grew dark and heavy. I still could not see any features the shadow may have borne. It was dark and ominous and as quiet as the dead. Then it reached for me.

I tried to scream, but couldn’t. My mouth gaped open and all my muscles tightened as I struggled to let loose with a cry to my parents for help. My body failed me while shadowy hands took hold of me. I was frightened out of my mind not knowing what this creature had in mind to do with me. I was absolutely helpless, but its next actions made no sense.

The shadow grabbed my arms and pulled them across my body, yanking my wrists up to my neck. I continued to try to scream, but still nothing came out. What was this thing going to do with me? Why had it crossed my arms? I almost felt like I was choking.

It let go of me then and rose from my bed. It turned from me and exited my bedroom door, which was directly to my right. I rotated my head and watched as it suddenly ran down the hall to the linen closet, opened it, and then darted inside, closing the door behind it. I lied there motionlessly for a long moment, arms still crossed, mouth still gaping open trying to scream over what had just happened to me.

Finally, I was able to climb out of my bed and shuttle over to my parents’ bedroom directly across the hall. I woke them from their slumber and told them what had happened, but like all good parents they were comforting and reassuring and told me it was all just a bad dream. I slept with them the rest of the night.

Years later others would try to tell me that what I experienced was sleep paralysis and that upon waking my mind was still in a bit of a dream state and hallucinated the incident while my body… my body. Sleep paralysis requires complete muscle atonia, the complete weakness of the muscles while one sleeps. With my mouth open, my arms crossing, and my head turning to watch the shadow person run down the hall, I was able to move. I just wasn’t able to scream.

Since that time I’ve seen many wisps of shadows darting to and fro at other haunted locations, peaking at me from around a corner, or darting into an open doorway. I’ve even seen one dart across a room and slam into a swinging metal door, producing the sound of the slam but not actually moving the door. However, after countless paranormal investigations and visiting scores of active locations, I have never again seen a full figure shadow like that nor has a shadow person touched me in such a way ever again.

Encounters With The Paranormal is available from Haunted Road Media: http://hauntedroadmedia.com/index.php/books/5-encounters-with-the-paranormal

Saw A Ghost? You’re Not Crazy!

Almost everyone has a ghost story.

Encounters with the paranormal and the supernatural by the living have been occurring since the beginning of recorded history but have often been relegated to local folklore, legend, and superstition. Those with their own personal story were often seen as being crazy or, at least, a little bit off their rocker. Thus, many people kept their experiences a secret, whether that experience had just been a chance encounter or something absolutely terrified them. After all, one who started talking about seeing or hearing things often found him or herself institutionalized. How many of the spirits that haunt old insane asylums were originally placed there in life after reporting their own paranormal experience at home?

One of the most satisfying experiences for me as a writer and as a paranormal investigator sharing my adventures with the world through Haunted Road Media is when someone contacts me through social media and thanks me for helping them. Many times I’m initially confused, but then he or she explains that by sharing my experiences I have helped to ensure that this person is not, in fact, crazy.


Fortunately, with the modern explosion of paranormal television all over cable and the internet the stigma against those that have experienced something otherworldly has begun to wane, and those people that previously feared telling their tales have now found a more accepting atmosphere in which to come forth. For many, telling their stories has been a relief, years or decades worth of weight lifted from their shoulders. No longer are they shunned and the burden of their experiences can be released from the shackles of (obscurity). Most of society is now willing to listen and explore these tales with a sincere curiosity and an open mind to a world that is usually hidden from us.

It’s quite telling that those that are coming forth with stories of paranormal encounters come from all walks of life. Having an interaction with a spirit is not something reserved for the ghost hunter you see on television or those that travel across the country to a myriad of haunted locations and write ghost tales, but anyone can experience the supernatural. It doesn’t matter who you are. Many of the stories in Encounters With The Paranormal are just that – tales from everywhere by anyone.

I have also found it quite interesting over the past few years the number of people that have told me, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but I did have this one experience…” and he or she suddenly launches into reciting what amounts to a full-fledged ghost story filled with intimate details of shadows, unexplained moving objects, and full-bodied apparitions. So you don’t even have to believe in ghosts to start telling tales of one! Amazing.

I find each person’s experience quite intriguing. Some seem to coincide with local history or legend while others stand on their own as a completely unique encounter. Some are familial in nature, even heart-warming, while others are a step into someone’s scarred past and can be rather heartbreaking.

If there’s one thing to take away from the work that we do at Haunted Road Media, it’s that if you have had a paranormal experience or have witnessed something you can’t explain, you are not alone. There are many others out there who have experienced the same phenomena as you. Reach out and find those people, and take comfort in the fact that you are not crazy!

The Legend of Lavinia Fisher

Is this really a painting of Lavinia Fisher?

I always find the evolution of legends to be fascinating. How did they become the way they are today?  What have been the different variations along the way? And, of course, what was the original truth?  Over the years as a Ghostorian, I’ve had the pleasure of digging into a number of these stories, including the Skirvin Hotel and the “Gore Orphanage,” and this has cropped up yet again while researching a topic for a recent episode of Friday Night Ghost Frights. This time, her name is Lavinia Fisher.

It is said that Lavinia Fisher was America’s first female serial killer, that she and her husband, John, murdered over 100 people, and that when she was hung at the gallows she was wearing a white wedding dress. The legend includes a trap door bed in and inn that they ran in which sleeping travelers would meet their peril.  One version of the legend has the trap dropping the victim onto a bed of spikes and impaling them.  Another version of the legend as the trap dropping them into the basement where John killed them with an axe. It is also said that Lavinia would poison the tea of unsuspecting travelers.

That’s the legend. So what’s the truth?

The truth is that Lavinia Fisher and her husband, John, were two members of a gang of outlaw highway men who were convicted and sentenced to death for highway robbery, at that time a capital offense. The elusive gang would stop wagons traveling into and out of Charleston, South Carolina, and steal their goods and money, thereby damaging the Charleston economy. They worked out of the Five Mile and Six Mile Houses, the former of which was burned to the ground by a cavalcade looking to bring the gang to justice. At the Six Mile House, the occupants were evicted and a man named David Ross was left to guard the premises while the cavalcade returned to Charleston. The next morning, the gang arrived and assaulted Ross, including Lavinia Fisher who Ross looked to for help, but she answered his pleas by choking him and smashing his head through a window.

One legend had stated that John Peoples thwarted a murder attempt at the inn of the Fisher’s by sleeping in a chair rather than the trap door bed, then escaped and turned the Fisher’s into the authorities. It’s true that Peoples did identify members of the gang, including Lavinia and John Fisher, but this was after a hold up near Six Mile House when he stopped to water his horse, far from the legend that had him escaping a death trap. Unglamorously, the Fisher’s and several other members of the gang gave up without a fight after the Sheriff arrived at Six Mile House with a warrant for their arrest for highway robbery.

No one was ever charged with murder as the legend frequently claims. Two bodies, one of a white man and one of a black woman believe to have been deceased for about two years, were found about 200 yards from Six Mile House. It was impossible at that time to deduce who had killed them and nothing ever came of it. There were no accounts of 100 murders.

At the gallows in 1820 just outside of the Charleston city limits (not at the jail) following their conviction of highway robbery, John and Lavinia Fisher wore loose-fitting white robes over their regular clothes. This likely grew into the legend of the white wedding dress supposedly worn by Lavinia — imagine “they were wearing white” morphing over time: “she was wearing white” … “she was wearing white as if she was at her wedding” … “she was wearing a white wedding dress.”

To their deaths, John went peacefully, claiming he had found God, while Lavinia was dragged up to the gallows kicking and screaming, launching a tirade of obscenities at the crowd. One part of her legend is true — Lavinia’s final words to the throng of spectators: “If you have a message you want to send to hell, give it to me — I’ll carry it!”

Since her death, stories about Lavinia Fisher’s ghost being seen at the old jail have surfaced as well. It’s possible she haunts there, although it’s not where she died. Perhaps she developed some sort of attachment to the location while incarcerated there, however, Lavinia doesn’t exactly strike me as the sentimental type. There are plenty of other reasons for the jail to be haunted. Not only did it operate for 137 years, but prior to its construction in 1802 the location served as a workhouse for runaway slaves, as a makeshift hospital, and even as a holding area for criminals, a foreshadowing of its future use.

Catherine Maria “Kitty” Fisher by Nathaniel Hone in 1765

A final mystery of Lavinia Fisher’s legend… is the painting that is commonly associated with Lavinia Fisher truly a painting of the notorious highway robber? After all, when would she have had time to sit for this painting and the money to commission the work? Alas, a little digging reveals that the painting is titled “Kitty Fisher and Parrot” painted by Joshua Reynolds in 1763. Kitty Fisher was a prominent British courtesan who died at the age of 26 in 1767, only fours months after she was married. Any relation to Lavinia Fisher is extremely doubtful and it seems the use of the painting is an advent of the legend continuing on today in modern times, as someone likely searched for paintings of a woman named Fisher to use as a substitute for a Lavinia article. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened in history, after all… since there are no known paintings of Elizabeth Bathory, substitutes close to her likeness have been used to represent her. Did Lavinia Fisher resemble Kitty Fisher? It is yet another mystery of the legend.

On a final note… the band All The Little Pieces has a  haunting album specifically themed for Lavinia Fisher titled “The Legend of Lavinia Fisher.”

Music from this album can also be heard on Enigma Underground Radio, and is regularly featured on its Friday Haunting Hour at 9:00 PM Eastern / 8:00 PM Central.

 

Join Us for the March 25th Watch Party!

Come join us! Celestial Entertainment Presents… a watch party with Mike Ricksecker at Montgomery’s Steak House in Spiceland, Indiana, to watch the March 25th Season 14 premiere episode in which I was a special guest of Ghost Adventures to discuss my paranormal experiences at the haunted Stone Lion Inn! Starting at 6:00 PM, there’s going to be a meet & greet, book signing, and we’ll watch the show! Come join us!

Haunted Bellaire House (Part 1)

The haunted Bellaire House in Bellaire, Ohio.

The haunted Bellaire House in Bellaire, Ohio.

The Bellaire House is innocently nestled into the hills alongside the Ohio River across the water from Wheeling, West Virginia. A beautiful early 20th Century colonial home, it’s outside appearance is pleasant and inviting for a happy family. However, it’s owner, Kristen Lee, will not let the house fall into the hands of another unsuspecting family under her watch because she does not want them to suffer the same terrors as she.

I have now investigated this house three times for paranormal activity, including this past weekend the day after it was featured on Paranormal Lockdown, and I continue to find its history and the history of the town of Bellaire quite compelling. For someone simply looking to experience paranormal activity, this house will not disappoint. The moment I walked in the door this past time with my friend and colleague, “Copperhead” Greg Graham, we felt the heavy energy upon us immediately, heard noises coming up out of the basement, and heard footsteps overhead when no one else was in the house. But there is more to this house than just simply a supernatural thrill.

As with most places I investigate, there is a living story that accompanies it, living both in this life and the afterlife. From the original landowner, to those who worked the mines underneath it, to those who have lived in the house, each have a narrative to tell. Some are told through historic records while some told through other means from the world beyond.

Below you’ll find some pieces of our most recent investigation of this storied home when we sent Facebook Live throughout the night and The Edge of the Rabbit Hole preview that preceded it, but in the coming weeks Haunted Road Media will be releasing a full documentary on the Bellaire House. Stay tuned!


 

Facebook Live videos:

Investigation Introduction: https://www.facebook.com/mricksecker/videos/10210461174518279/

Master Bedroom investigation: https://www.facebook.com/mricksecker/videos/10210463227689607/

Altar Room Investigation: https://www.facebook.com/mricksecker/videos/10210464145472551/

Attic Investigation: https://www.facebook.com/mricksecker/videos/10210465148737632/

 

Haunted Road Media production schedule (full-length videos):

Return to the Goldenrod Showboat
Bellaire House
Guthrie, OK

Happy New Paranormal Year 2017!

Happy New Year! This past year, 2016, proved to be quite and adventurous and eye-opening year, and I’m almost sad to see it gone. However, that just means 2017 is shaping up to be bigger than ever, and we at Haunted Road Media and Society of the Haunted have a lot in store to share! But, first, let’s recap 2016…

It was a dynamic year, both professionally and personally, with a lot of traveling, investigating, and major life changes. I met my soulmate, moved back to the land of my birth, and discovered an even bigger realm of the paranormal and supernatural. Haunted Road Media has grown, especially on the YouTube channel, with the new Friday Night Ghost Frights and all of our investigation videos, Paranormal Roads, et al, featuring the revamped and resurrected Society of the Haunted, originally founded in 2011. For a full recap, watch here:


The biggest spotlight of the whole year has been the Goldenrod Showboat. That fantastically haunted piece of history is what finally brought Shana Wankel and I together, and I’ve never felt more complete in my entire life. She’s my twin flame, my partner in crime, the one true companion of my life, and I can’t wait for the new adventures that await us. The showboat itself has some wonderful haunts and history associated with it, and even some additional supernatural activity that we have yet to detail in full, and we featured this former National Historic Landmark in the latest Encounters With the Paranormal: Volume 2, of which a portion of the proceeds with go toward the restoration and preservation of the Goldenrod.

In other ventures we brought The Edge Of The Rabbit Hole radio show, the paranormal talk show I co-host with Vanessa Hogle, to an actual video Livestream on YouTube, which has received a very positive reaction from fans. Vanessa and I are looking at possibly going to a weekly show in 2017 rather than every other week. We also launched Enigma Underground Radio this past year, which is a streaming hard rock radio station with a paranormal theme that specializes in spotlighting independent bands while also mixing in some mainstream favorites. Shana does a fantastic job as our “Procurer of Music” in reaching out to the bands for our weekly lineup on Thursday, including the fan favorite show Chicks Who Wail, and our media mogul, Paula, keeps up on our Facebook page and creates some great show banners.

I keep saying that the latest “big” Haunted Road Media videos will be the Ferry Plantation, the return to the Goldenrod, and the haunted Guthrie, Oklahoma, tour — so be on the lookout for those in the near future. Of course, we’ll be bringing you more Friday Night Ghost Frights, Paranormal Roads, Ghosts and Legends, Edge of the Rabbit Hole Livestreams, the new Time Channeler Chronicles episodic supernatural adventure with featured illustrator Adam Tillery, and more, so keep check backing on all of our social media outlets for the latest and greatest to come.

Finally, I want to thank everyone that has been tuning in and watching all that we do and also supporting our Haunted Road Media authors. While we would continue to do what we do because it’s our passion, we are so greatly appreciative of all of you for being there throughout our adventures. It’s really humbling that you have taken an interest in us, but we also consider you a part of the team, that extra set of eyes and ears as we investigate. We’re looking forward to you continuing the ride with us in 2017!

 

Elizabeth Bathory | Friday Night Ghost Frights

Elizabeth Bathory, most noted in history for her brutality toward young women, was a Hungarian noble woman born in Transylvania on August 7, 1560. As had been the case with Vlad The Impaler, her people were in constant war with the Ottoman Turks, a very violent time in history in that part of the world.

She was born into extreme wealth and privilege, her family’s control over the surrounding area complete. In fact, her husband appended her name to his own when they were wed. However, her family was also known for its brutality, a collection of Hungarian and Transylvanian princes that would kill their opponents and peasants who fell out of line in the most brutal manner. The torture of servants was part of everyday life.


Although her marriage had been arranged since she was three years old, she actually got along quite well with her husband, Ferenc Nadasdy, right down to torturing people together. One such recorded account was in covering a naked servant girl in honey and making her stand outside for a full day while she was attacked by bees and ants.

While her husband was away at war, Elizabeth was left to rule the empire on her own, and by all accounts did so quite well. But when Ferenc died in battle when she was aged 44, Elizabeth spiraled out of control. Her obsession became sexuality, youth, and power.

With the help of a few favorite servants, including a deformed male dwarf she called Fizgo, Elizabeth is said to have murdered over 600 people. She took to beating, biting, and burning her victims, but she also had an array of mechanical devices that she would use, including cages that would shoot out spring-loaded blades and cages with spikes that would slowly spear the victim while Fizgo yelled out sexual obscenities at them. There were times Elizabeth would fly into a rage and kill her victim instantaneously, but she also enjoyed killing her victims slowly through an assortment of means, including stripping girls naked in the dead of winter, throwing them outside, and pouring water over them to watch them literally freeze to the ground.

Of course, there are the infamous legends that gave Elizabeth Bathory her moniker – The Blood Countess – stories that she bathed in the blood of virgins, believing this would help her retain a youthful visage. Some of these legends claim that she was a vampire. The story goes that a servant girl who was brushing her hair pulled a little too hard with one particular stroke, and Elizabeth smacked the girl so hard that she bled. Some of this blood dripped onto Elizabeth’s hand and she noticed it had a rejuvenating quality to her skin. Thus, she took to bathing in blood… as the legends goes. But there is little evidence to support that she actually did bathe in blood, even with all the atrocities she committed. However, she did take to biting victims during her torture sessions, even to the point of drawing blood.

Elizabeth’s downfall could either be contributed to carelessness or her own ego after having gotten away with murder for decades. Bodies were carelessly discarded around the land, near rivers, or simply thrown over the castle wall, but she also upped the ante when she started running out of local servant girls to prey upon. She began luring the young daughters of nobility to Cachtice Castle to learn etiquette, and when they started disappearing, the noble families wanted answers.

One of the portraits used as a stand-in for Elizabeth Bathory.

One of the portraits used as a stand-in for Elizabeth Bathory.

When an investigation was launched by King Matthias of Hungary, the investigation’s lead, George Turzo, wrote that immediately upon entering Cachtice Castle the murdered body of servant girl was discovered. In all, nine girls were discovered in some state of mutilation.

Elizabeth was arrested and testimony was collected against her, but she was never put on trial. Doing so would have put her in line for an execution. Such was not the case for her loyal servants who assisted her, three being executed and the other serving life imprisonment.

Although some called for her torture and execution, Elizabeth Bathory was still a noblewoman, after all, so instead she was locked away in a room in her castle and fed through a slot in the wall. She eventually died there four years later in 1614.

There’s a lot we don’t know about Elizabeth Bathory. Many documents that were compiled at the time were destroyed in an effort to hide the atrocities that happened, to cover up the blemish of this Hungarian society. There is also no known image of Elizabeth, the paintings that are used to depict her are actually of other women who have been said to resemble her appearance. And then there are the legends and stories that have cropped up over the centuries, eventually making it into Hollywood to further murky the facts of her life.

Today, the ruins of Cachtice Castle, abandoned in the 1700s, still exist as a haunting visage and may be visited, and a local winery uses the basement of a Bathory manor house where many of the tortures were committed to store barrels of wine. They do sell an Elizabeth Bathory-themed wine, which is, of course, blood red.

Haunted Road Media Summer Recap

Welcome to autumn, what I like to call the haunting season, although any season, any day can be one for hauntings. Fall, however, offers a mystique that the other seasons do not. Perhaps it’s the briskness in the air, the changing colors of the trees, the aroma of the first fires that are lit, the sweet, delectable taste of pumpkin pie, or the recounting of ghost stories around the campfire as Halloween approaches. Whatever that combination may be, it is truly magical.

With that ahead of us, let’s recap the season that just concluded: summer. It’s been a busy few months for me and for Haunted Road Media, with a plethora of trips, excursions, and paranormal investigations. Shana has been along with me for much of the ride, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner… and partner in crime.

So let’s recap where the summer has taken us — this is not all-inclusive, just a few highlights — and then take a look at where we’re headed this fall.

Kampsville Grade School Raw Footage #1 (June): This was actually the second time I had investigated this mysterious grade school with Shana, but it’s the first “raw footage” video of the series. Phantom footsteps are heard overhead…

Paranormal Roads: The Exchange Hotel (June): A wonderfully preserved historic location in Virginia that has once been used as a Civil War hospital

Paranormal Point of Interest: The Great Valley House (July): A little known historic location in Pennsylvania that contains the only known type of stone sink of its kind in the United States. Walkthrough plus an EVP session with Shana at a crypt embedded in a stone wall near the house.

Friday Night Ghost Frights 14: The Second Life Of John Wilkes Booth Conspiracy Theory (July): A detailed look at the interesting “conspiracy theory” about the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, read from Ghosts And Legends Of Oklahoma.

Abandoned Kampsville Lock Urban Exploration (July): Exploring the woods near the Illinois River for the historic Kampsville Locks.

Making A Murderer Season 2 Sneak Peek (July): Take a look at what to expect in the second season of Making A Murderer, the docu-series covering the Steven Avery case.

Haunted Kampsville Grade School Raw Footage #2 (August): Shana and I conduct a deeper paranormal investigation of the school that possibly reveals an apparition caught near the basement stairs.

Zombies Teach You Grammar! Grammar Police #1 (August): Hilarious video using zombies to teach the difference between there, their, and they’re, plus more!

Ghost Stories from CIL-CON (August): At the Central Illinois Conference, Shana and I collected ghost stories from those who visited the booth.

Haunted Cemeteries of Ashmore (August): During one of our cemetery excursions in Ashmore, Illinois, Shana and I each experience supernatural activity.

Paranormal Roads: Haunted Farrar Schoolhouse (September): Road trip to investigate a haunted school house in Illinois, meeting up with Haunted Road Media author and illustrator Adam Tillery.

Helltown Preview (Mike’s Morning Mug #66) (September): Grabbing some coffee and heading out to “Helltown”, Ohio, in search of its mysterious legends.

Friday Night Ghost Frights #18: Monster In The Closet (September): A look back at this supernaturally intense episode of The Haunted in which I appeared.

Much more coming the autumn, including an investigation that Shana and I conducted at an undisclosed historic home which saw a great deal of paranormal activity surrounding the family dog, the FULL Helltown exploration video, investigating the Ferry Plantation in Virginia, and an all-new funny Grammar Police video. Plus, all your favorite Morning Mug coffee videos and Friday Night Ghost Frights… and you never know what’s in store for Halloween!

Also… thank you for helping us his 2000 subscribers! Drawing for the giveaway will be held on Enigma Underground Radio on September 29!

Goldenrod Goodbye More Than Just Ghosts

The Goldenrod Showboat awaits its demise on April 1, 2016.

The Goldenrod Showboat awaits its imminent demise on April 1, 2016.

It’s so much more than ghosts. To gaze upon a relic is to infuse yourself with everything that relic has come to represent: the people, the era, the ambience. History in today’s society has been relegated to the monotonous memorization of names and dates of people to which we believe we have no connection. We have forgotten the world as it once was, lost in the grind of our breakneck society while traversing what had once been countryside through concrete monstrosities and lifeless asphalt. And so, when one of those relics is greeted with the demise of a scrap pile death, such as the historic Goldenrod Showboat, most don’t even bat a manicured eye at its imminent destruction.

It was a jewel on the Mississippi River, the largest and most luxurious showboat ever constructed. Red Skelton got his start there and other famous talents performed on its stage, such as Bob Hope. Do those names even resonate with people anymore? For nearly 100 years the Goldenrod provided laughter and life for thousands along the old waterway, providing a means of escapism from life along the river, but now it rests on shore, a rusting hulk replete of its previous grandeur. Must we allow ourselves to forget all that has come before us?

Stand still for a moment and listen to the lap of the water against the shore and the breeze gently caress the leaves of nearby trees. Open your eyes and stare not at your cell phone but at the gentle ripple of a wave or the delicate veins of a leaf. For just a moment lead not with your persuasive techniques or heavy hand in the corporate boardroom, but lead with your senses. Where does it take you? Does anyone look at the stars anymore or have they become so blotted out by the false light of our street lamps that no one even bother to look?

From the deck of the Goldenrod I finally understood why the ancients so revered the celestial heavens. That night, the darkest sky I have ever experienced produced the brightest stars in the highest abundance I have ever seen. For the first time I saw the constellation Orion in its full glory flanked by so many other brilliant twinkling skylights that I almost couldn’t discern it. One word describes the moment and even it doesn’t do that moment justice: amazing. The night sky greeted me with a sensuous kiss that I have longed to return.

Vintage Goldenrod

Vintage Goldenrod

Make no mistake that I enjoy having my car to travel from place to place and my computer is currently making this article possible, but having modern conveniences doesn’t mean we should forget the past and the world around us. Locations like the Goldenrod Showboat are a time capsule, a vessel to take us to a place we’ve left behind. The encompassing energy when one steps inside its main doors instantly whisks you away to that forgotten era of ragtime and authentic melodrama, making you drunk on escapism within escapism if you allow it. It’s a pure looking glass into that time of American history without the overzealous pandering of modern commercialism.

Soon the Goldenrod will be gone. Whatever doesn’t get salvaged for scrap will be burned, adding further insult to injury as longtime owner, Captain Bill Menke, pieced a significant portion of the boat back together by hand after a fire in 1962 when he was more than 80 years old. To this day his spirit still roams his life’s passion, literally going down with the ship.

In the end the Goldenrod Showboat will be a footnote in history, relegated to a few paragraphs on a dusty webpage with a few museum items kept on-hand by those who truly cared for it. Hopefully, it will be remembered for a bit more than just a few names and dates — for the best history teachers are storytellers. And its ghost stories that they tell.