Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I noticed a lot of activity on this blog of late. I use this for story storage. Instead I use Blue Island Ghost Stories as my current blog. You can find it here:

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Forge

Candy has been a fixture in our lives since she and her brothers participated in the old Thanksgiving Food Drive. I’ve written about her sensitivities, and how she channeled someone in the warehouse our organization uses at Christmas. She also followed around our friends’, Faith and Crystal, when they investigated the apartment of a Blue Island notable.
Well, Candy and friends, Carmine, Anthony and Mitzy, started their own paranormal group, South Side Paranormal Research, and have come up with some surprising results. Recently, the group was invited to visit the Forge, which is located at 127th and Homan, and they invited me to join them.
We arrived as the regulars were leaving. The main room is an older, comfy barroom, complete with ceiling fans, dim lights and warm paneling, sports banners, etc. It was obvious even to me that there was nothing notable here. The others claimed to feel activity elsewhere.
Upstairs are two apartments that are approached by a flight of stairs rising from the pool room behind the main bar and right next to the exit to the beer garden. The basement and kitchen are entered from behind the bar.
Our host, Gus, asked one of the tenants to join us. We asked him if he saw anything or felt anything in his apartment. Well, he said, he awoke one night when someone touched his arm, but that could have been a dream.
Gus explained the building was built in the 1880‘s. It was always a bar, and had served as a brothel for many years. During the Depression it housed a hardware store, but then reverted back after the repeal of Prohibition. A few years ago, the front part of the building was lopped off when the railroad built an underpass.
We split into two teams. Carmine and Anthony investigated the basement while Candy, Mitzy and I went upstairs. We visited a tiny, four room apartment. It opens onto a porch, which leads to the other apartment and down stairs to the beer garden. Candy wandered from room to room, and out onto the porch. At last she declared the apartment to be ‘clean’.
We returned to the inside stairway. Candy paused and glanced around. “This isn’t clean,” she said. Apparently, we had interrupted someone’s business.
“What kind of business?” I asked.
“I’m not sure, but it isn’t legal. He wants us out of here now.” Candy doesn’t take ‘no’ easily, and I knew he hadn’t seen the end of her.
“What era?” I asked.
“1940’s, maybe.”
While we were upstairs, Anthony and Carmine went downstairs. That staircase is tiny, steep and twisted. One look at it, and I decided that even promises of great wealth wouldn’t entice me down those steps. The basement is used for storage, although there isn’t much stored there, and the floor is unfinished. They sat at the bottom of the stairs. One took photos while the other asked questions. “Who are you?” “Why are you here?” and so forth.
“It’s creepy down there,” Carmine commented when the guys returned. A little later, the girls took their place.
Meanwhile, Gus showed me photos he had found tucked away in a rafter. They were from the early part of the twentieth century. There several professional school photos and just as many taken at funerals. I copied the names from the photos, but couldn’t find anything about them online. I’m still checking. The one funeral took place in St Casimir Cemetery, and was very well attended. The man turned out to be a tavern owner from Cicero.
“You know," Gus said, “If you’re interested, we could have a public reveal."
We finished the evening in the barroom. Mitzy claimed her entire side was submerged in cold, cold air. We quieted down so Mitzy could ask questions. When she said the feeling had left her. Anthony said it had come to him.
We agreed that we would meet again two weeks later. We wanted better recording equipment and hopefully a camcorder. We discussed trigger objects. A suggestion was made that since the man on the stairs was ‘doing business,’ maybe a good trigger would be coins or a dollar bill. We listened to the audio tapes from Carmine and Anthony’s cell phones, and we downloaded the photos. We picked up very little.
Gus called at about 6PM on that day we agreed to meet next. “Forget it,” he said. The electricity went out. We caught our collective breaths. The ghosts were playing with the electricity. No, Gus explained later. Bad storm blew the power out in the immediate area.
About two weeks passed and Gus called to say, “Come.” We grabbed our bags and took off. Candy said she wanted to concentrate on the stairway leading upstairs, as well as to the basement. She was confident that she would find the  ‘business’ man in the same place because he seemed to be rooted there. In the basement she said she felt two presences. One was a dominant male while the other was subservient. She wasn’t sure of the gender, only that he or she was afraid of the other man. There was someone in the kitchen as well, but she didn’t find that person as interesting as the others.
On arrival, we rechecked our meager equipment. One by one, the cell phones shut themselves off, and the camera and flashlight batteries died. Thank God we brought more batteries. With a little encouragement and a lot of banging, we did get everything working again.
Their first move was to set trigger objects on the step where the man conducted his ‘business.’ Anthony went to work laying out a buck with coins on top as Candy set up and aimed the borrowed camcorder. “Is he around?” Anthony asked. “I can feel him.”
“He’s right behind you,” Candy responded. “He’s watching.” We left the room immediately. I retreated to the bar where I sat while the others took turns staking out the basement.
After a while Candy decided to check on the back room. She shut the doors dividing the barroom from the pool room. After a couple of minutes she returned, asking Mitzy to come with her.
They lit several flashlights and a candle, and directed the beams at the stairs. They returned a few minutes later, this time quivering from head to foot. “The temperature dropped about twenty degrees,” Candy said. “There’s a gust in the room and the candle is flickering like crazy.” She wanted the guys to join them, and yes, bring more flashlights.
”The flashlights are fluttering just as badly as the flame from the candle is,” Mitzy said.
 “It got really creepy,” Carmine said at the end of their session, “The only open door is the one leading from the stairs. Yet there’s a breeze and it’s cold in there.
“I swear,” Anthony said, “I saw the money I set on the stairs flutter.”
Later, Candy told me that she could see the man stomp up and down the stairs. At the bottom step, he’d pause and peek at her from around the corner.

A few days later Anthony charged into my house calling, “You’ve got to hear this. He’s calling my name!” He pulled out his phone and played an audio recording. During our last visit, he and Carmine were in the basement, asking for a response. Just beneath a question pertaining to whether the ghost knew he was dead, we heard a male whisper, “Tony....” We passed it around the room while Candy dug out the digital recorder. She was reluctant to listen, I think because she’d be devastated if she found it recorded nothing at all. When we played the recorder, and listened, and we heard very little. I made a point then to pick up a pair of earphones the next time I went shopping.
With the public reveal coming up, we put together a program. We were told to explain who we are and what we were doing, and we should bring along some spooky photos Candy had taken over the years. Even if we hadn’t caught much at The Forge, the older photos would provide us some credibility. And we wanted to take all the information, the recordings, the photos and the videos, and lock them into one file. So we began reexamining the evidence, watching the videos and sorting through the photos, and yes, relistening to the audio portion. Let me just say that it is amazing the difference even a cheap pair of headphones makes. Not only did we find new stuff on the recorder, but on the cell phone recorders as well.
On the night of the reveal, Candy introduced her team members. She explained a number of photos they had taken were of orbs, which are thought to be balls of energy left after someone passes. Of themselves they are not considered evidence of a haunting because water droplets, dust, whatever, take the same shape in photos. Used in conjunction with other evidence, they makes a stronger argument for the existence of the paranormal. One set of photos the group found compelling was of the staircase leading to the upstairs apartments. No matter what direction they photographed the stairs, up or down, to one side or the other, an orb maintained one spot not far from where Anthony stacked the money.
They also had EVP’s, or electronic voice phenomena, which is what Anthony had caught on his cell phone. Some were hard to understand, and a few were quite loud. They caught several sets of simultaneous footsteps, too. When the group left the pool room with the camera running, they caught a ball of light moving quickly down the stairs and out of the room. Candy showed off some of the more creepy photos taken at home and around a north side landmark. Finally, they closed out the program with one last EVP. As the group members were packing up on the second night, they caught a voice telling them very loudly, “GET OUT!”

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Reading

It's been a long time since I wrote an entry to this blog, and I possibly would not now if not for the need to place this down somewhere where I can refer back to it. So here goes.

Last night I was invited to a lady's night out. It was friends meeting to enjoy a break away from our responsibilities, and a night to enjoy each other's company, My friend, Lucie, invited me.She is my oldest friend, and although I've met the other three ladies involved, I did not really know them. One lady was graduating with her bachelor's degree in psychology tonight. Another lady was a wife and mother and was enjoying a day away from work as well as and evening away from the family. The last lady was a wife and mother, as well as a medical transcriptionist. She's also a psychic medium, and she hosted the evening.

We enjoyed ourselves. We had a few giggles, a little to drink and a little to nibble on.

And then our hostess pulled out her tarot cards.She didn't ask me to shuffle the deck or even cut it. In fact she turned to me and asked if my mother had passed. Of course, and just like most other people, it was a hard passing. She wanted to know where the rift was. That really caught my breath. #1. because I had spoken of my sister earlier and not with loving regard. #2. because I'm really terrifically bothered by this so called rift. And it doesn't end with my sister. My response was simply "Everywhere." My new friend said that my Mom sees more now that ever before. That made me think that maybe my Mom realizes I'm not as bad as I always felt I was, or even where the feelings of inadequacy comes from. I wanted to scream out, "See it was all their faults. I had nothing to do with it." I've thought about that more since then and I have to realize that in the situation we were in, we all struck out at each other, making selfish demands on each other, and making life worse than it should have been. We couldn't be blamed for my father's drinking, but we could be blamed for our own selfish reactions. All of us, including my sister. Ma said she's happy that I'm learning to deal with this. I'm at a point where I can talk about it without dwelling on it or getting angry all over again. She said that the others would have to find their way, but at their speed. She wanted to know who I was concerned about. I said it was my second brother. I don't see him enough. What I have seen concerns me because I wonder if his life isn't coming apart. I'm concerned that he might do something desperate. My new friend didn't give me an answer, but she did point out that she hadn't received a red flag. We talked about my sister. I'm concerned about her sobriety. Where my friend didn't respond to that so much, she said that I have good instincts and that I tend to second guess myself. When I make an assessment, I need to stick with it. I agreed. She's right.

Lucie, at one point got up to get a glass of pop. We were only feet from each other when my new friend said something that kind of blew both of our minds. I just wish I could remember what it was. It will come to me later, I'm sure. What I remember was turning to Lucie, because I knew she would recognize that thing our friend said. Lucie was watching me and rubbing goose bumps away. At that point my friend asked me where my grandfather was and why wasn't he in our lives. Then she asked me about two families. At that point I had to catch my breath. There were things we talked about throughout the evening that she could have expanded on if she were a fake. Not this time. This is not something that comes up in conversation ever. Two things came of that. First my Mom said it was okay to talk about, and secondly, I declared my feelings on the subject of not talking about it. My Mother had a hard life. Her childhood was far from ideallic, and her marriage was pretty bad. When I needed her the most, she took a very hard step in order to help me. In my eyes the woman was a hero. To pretend that the difficulties she lived through didn't exist is to deny a huge part of the woman she became. I'm glad that subject came up as my nieces approached me a couple of weeks ago about my maternal Grandmother's side of the family. They had questions about what happened to my Grandma. It was a medical situation that my mother had to deal with. Most of the family is aware of it, but at the same time embarrassed by it. I was concerned if I told the girls the truth that their Dad and my other siblings would be angry. I went ahead anyway. As I said, to deny parts of Ma's life is to deny the person she became. Then again, I wonder if their Dad didn't send them in my directions anyway. My friend, though, told me that Ma is okay with telling her story, and that the problem with my Grandmother was misdiagnosed.

My friend went on from there. She pointed out that earlier I mentioned learning about my Native American heritage not very long ago. My my material Grandmother was half Menominee Indian. My friend said that the artistic streak we all enjoy comes from that side of the family. Also, that we enjoy a gift for the mystical. She asked me if my daughter was artistic. "Oh, wait," she said. "It's your daughter going to art school." Yes, Becki has a year and a half to go before earning her bachelor's degree in commercial art. My friend pointed out that even though my Mom didn't know Becki well or for long, she had a connection with her. She comes to see Becki and she brings the little girl with her. I have no idea who this little girl would be unless it could be that I had a miscarriage a year or so after we were married. I lost it when my Dad died. I know that Becki has seen Mom. She hasn't said anything lately, and when I asked her last night, Becki kind of shook her head as if unsure. My friend said I inherited that mystical streak, and that I could do what she does. Yes, I said, I'd like to. Sort of. I told her how I used to read palms. I gave it up when I came across a palm of young family friend had a short and weak lifeline. It was very hard to ignore.

I asked if my most cherished dream would happen. She said that Mom told her to tell me that I have to take care of my health first. I'm eating wrong. I need to revert  back to my Native American ancestors and eat what they ate. That maybe I need to go to a powpow. I don't know about the powpow, but I do know this. Refined food plays hell with my digestion. I pointed at the Italian bread on the table. It was crusty and rustic. I told her, "I can eat this, but force me to eat Wonder Bread and you couldn't pry me off your toilet." I found out accidentally that I am allergic to gluten. If I can stay away from bread, pasta and potatoes, I'd be a lot healthier. She said make small changes and everything will fall into place. But I have to concern myself with my health first. She asked me if I enjoyed reading. That's the understatement of the year. (This might be where Lucie and I shared that look.) I don't enjoy reading. I am obsessed with it. When I was little, I used to take a flashlight to bed so I could continue to read. I was thinking about it before going last night. Ma once said that when I got married, she expected to find my husband as well as books, kids and animals in my bed. A, yep. If it isn't a dog, it's a cat. Or two or three. She asked if I were into e-books. Yes, I got a Kindle for Christmas. She said she didn't see me publishing my stories in the paper version, but as either e-books or a blog of some sort. Tried that. At its best, this blog fostered 19 followers. It's been so long since I wrote anything I'm not expecting readers now.

I asked about my Uncle, Ma's brother. He's in hospice and he's hanging on. I asked why he hasn't left yet. Why is he still hanging on. Ma said that someone is holding him here. He needs to be given permission to leave, but that one of his care takers sees that their lives are intertwined, and that person couldn't survive without my Uncle. I understand that. She also said that he had help breathing. He's dying of lung cancer.

I asked about my Dad and if he is all right. She asked me if he drank hard liquor. No, he drank beer. Well, he and the one who drank hard liquor are up there together, drinking and smoking cigars. When he comes to me, I smell cigar smoke. She's right. I do. The one who drinks hard liquor has to be his younger brother.

I think I got it all down. She said that she would let everyone go at that point. Oh, she asked whose birthday was next, and she said that I should get him yellow Mylar balloons with cars on them. That person is car crazy. No, that person is Mustang crazy. I have to remember this. I can see myself handing Jon the balloons, I'd say I could buy the balloons,, "Happy birthday. This is from Grandma Jane."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy New Year's – 2011

The Year of the City Worker

as published in the 03/22/11 issue of The Blue Island FORUM

by Jude Coyle

If you listen to the fat cats in Washington, you'll hear them refer to the fat cat union workers that saturate every part of government. They're making all this money and it's killing the American economy. It has to be stopped.

I've been searching my memory for a name I can blame as the cause of all of the discomfort America has felt of late, and frankly I can't come up with one. Instead I think of those individuals who patrol our streets, fight our fires and dig ditches in an effort to stop the flow of water main breaks. I think of the guys who fill the potholes, and the employees at City Hall who do the paperwork required in running a City the size of Blue Island. None of them are living in mansions, and if you read City Council News, you'll know that these are the same people who were asked to give up half their regular pay for the months of October and November because property tax bills went out late. They were to be repaid after Christmas.

Yet it was these people who on realizing that An Angel's Touch needed extra help this year because of the economy, dug deep to help us. For that reason, I am calling Christmas, 2010, the Year of the City Worker. To all of you, thank you so much.

An Angel's Touch is an organization that was created by friends to help other friends who ran into emergencies that threatened to wipe them out financially. We've grown from there, doing our best to help anywhere we can with emergencies of every kind. Over the nearly twenty years of operation, we've helped several hundred families with food, Christmas gifts, clothing and other necessities. This year alone we helped 43 families. What we do though, doesn't come from just us. It is because people like the City workers of Blue Island, the churches who have partnered with us, the Library, the Park District, Calumet Township Senior Center and other organizations, through their donations, allow us to help others.

This year it seemed that we would have to turn away families for the first time in our history as we just didn't have enough food. I begged at churches. I begged at City Hall. I begged on Facebook. I spoke to anyone who took the time to listen to me. At the last possible minute, Bernie Perryman donated huge stack of canned goods. So did Betty Nagle, Nancy Shultz, Raymond Guray, Charlene Finn, and John and Marsha Rauch. After that it seemed that I had to pick up canned goods every couple of days from City Hall. The very same people I referred to above, helped us out in spite of their own needs. I also picked up donations from the library, Calumet Senior Center, Lincoln, Oak Ridge and Beverly Cemeteries, Memorial Park and from various churches. Rose Rita, who has been ill, collected cereal for us. Tony from the Doubleplay Lounge, the Calumet Park Troublemakers and the Blue Island Professional Firefighters each provided five Christmas dinners. The Rickerson family made a huge donation. Again, thank you.

As I said, this year was harder than usual because of the economy, and a lot of our calls came from people living in odd situations. One woman called from a hotel room. She had two little boys, and had lost her home and her car. Could we help her? We did our best. We also helped a gentleman and his lady who were living in their car. There were too many others in similar situations. We did the best we could and we turned no one away. Better yet, we were able to pass on food to St. Benedict's Parish St. Vincent de Paul Society pantry and to the Salvation Army. As I've always said, donations end at Christmas. Hunger doesn't. We were also able to pass along coats to Reverend Rod Reinhart for veterans in need.

Our only disappointment was that we weren't able to pass along a full 240 gloves or mittens and hats to the CEDA preschool. We bought enough gloves to go around, but not hats. The boss saw mittens on sale right after Christmas this year, and purchased 200 pairs. So when next year comes along, I will be begging for 240 hats. A very big thank you to Jim Reihel who made that purchase possible because of the can shake he sponsors each year on our behalf.

Thank to the following. If I forgot your name or spelled it wrong, please accept my apology now, and know that you are in our prayers. Mayor Donald E. Peloquin, his office; City Clerk Pam Frasor and her office; City Council, particularly Aldermen Rose Rita, Leticia Vieyra, Jan Ostling, Marcia Stone; the Police and Fire Departments, and Professional Firefighters Union; the Building, Public Works and Water Departments; The 911 Center; the Chamber of Commerce; Metro South Hospital; the Blue Island Park District; the Public Library; the Calumet Township Senior Center; St. Rita High School, DDE Key and Leo Clubs; Veteran's Memorial Middle School; Paul Revere Intermediate and Primary Schools; Reverend Judy Jones, and Christ Memorial United Church of Christ; First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Grace United Methodist Church; Lori Campione and St. Walter's School; Accurate Perforating; the Kiwanis; the Calumet Park Troublemakers; Tony and the Doubleplay Lounge; The FORUM, Bob Jones and Beverly Bank, the Simborg Family, Temulac Boat Club and Windjammers Marina of Chicago, Beverly, Lincoln and Oak Ridge Cemeteries, Korbakis Liquors, T&G's, Iversen's Bakery, Blue Island Video, Carr Gardens, Harry's Long Bar, Gene's Dry Cleaners, A&R Security, Jim and Carol Reihel, American Legion Post #50, Charlene Finn, Bernie Perryman, Ron and Tracy Rickerson, John and Marsha Rauch, Betty Nagle, Nancy Schultz and Raymond Guray. Thank you to my sort crew who not only show up for me, but bring new people each year. Katherine Matthis, Chris Rondinella, Gloria Zaper, Ed and Grace Diaz, Matt Hess, Amber Sullivan, Stephen Gerez, Lisa Woodrich, Bob O'Connor, Ed, Jon and Becki Coyle. A special thank you to Bob, Roseanne and Kevin Moran and friend, Nicole. Every donor and every gift is very much appreciated, not only by the members of An Angel's Touch, but by the recipients of your love as well.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blue Island Ghost Stories

Blue Island Ghost Stories
As published in the October 21, 2009, Blue Island Forum
by Jude Coyle

Ursula Bielski has visited Blue Island several times as a guest of the Library. She is a writer and researcher of Chicago ghostlore. She has written Chicago Haunts: Ghostlore of the Windy City, More Chicago Haunts and Grave Yards of Chicago, all of which are available at the library. She
has been featured on A&E, the History Channel, The Learning Channel, The Travel Channel, PBS and on Chicago TV and radio shows. Her company, Chicago Hauntings, conducts tours and holds special events exploring Chicago’s haunted history.

On September 18th, Ursula, sponsored by the Blue Island Public Library and THE FORUM, visited Blue Island to meet with three Blue Island homeowners, and to hear of their experiences with ‘other worldly visitors.’ (For several months, THE FORUM advertised for residents willing to tell Ursula their story.) Greg Lochow of the Chamber of Commerce, Dan Carroll of the Library, sensitives Faith and Crystal, and myself followed a cameraman to each location.

Before I go any further, I need to point out a couple of things. First, this story in not about Ursula, but about the ‘sensitives’, their feelings and what happened behind the scenes. Keep in mind though, that this wouldn’t have happened if Ursula hadn’t visited us that day.

Now our sensitives, Faith and Crystal, not their real names, asked not to be identified. These women come from a long line of sensitives, and have known about their abilities since childhood. Neither have felt comfortable with them at first, and it wasn’t until the last twenty years that they have begun to use them. In casual conversation, the subject of Burr Oak Cemetery came up. Faith said she had driven by it a few years ago, when she saw images wandering about the fence. They looked displaced.

The first home we visited was a grand painted lady, complete with stained glass windows. We sat on a huge porch with the owner, who told us about an experience she shared with her granddaughter. Soon after her husband had passed, she and her grandchild were in the living room when they heard several notes sound from the piano. They were stunned as they stood within feet of it and neither had touched it. A moment later her daughter descended the stairs. She asked if her daughter had heard the notes. “Yes,” the daughter said. It was her father letting her know that he was doing well.

The on camera interview began soon after. The homeowner told of more experiences as Ursula, the homeowner and the cameraman moved about the house. Off camera, Faith and Crystal roamed about. We could see them, each traveling in a separate direction and neither conferring.
Faith calmed the dogs and Crystal took to the stairs. I came across Faith at one point. She told me that the interview should move towards the piano. I thought I would sneak in and direct them there, when they moved on their own. Faith said, “See, they’re being directed there now.”

After the interview I asked the ladies what they saw and felt. Both claimed to see activity on the stairs. They said that an older man resided there, as well as an older woman who was a family member of the owner. They also described a girl. Faith said that when she exited the car, she felt like running. That she was happy to be home, just like a young girl would feel. That let Faith know to expect the spirit of a child. In the living room Faith said she saw the girl playing the piano. She was dressed in white in the style of the ‘30’s. Not far away, visitors sat about the dining room table listening to the music. It was a Sunday afternoon, Faith said, and
the group members were enjoying themselves.

Inside the house, Faith saw a candy bowl and wanted a piece. She visited a room where she noticed the photo of a woman in a blue dress. The walls were painted the same color as the dress. She had a calming feeling. This particular room had a wicker chair where she saw the image of a woman taking comfort. In the side yard Faith came across a bench which sat next to a carved angel. The same lady also takes pleasure there.

The homeowner said that her mother preferred the type of candy in the candy dish, and it was her in the photo. After her Mom had passed, a neighbor gave the homeowner the bench that Faith described, as Mom had always admired it. Faith also described a spot in the yard where she saw the homeowner’s husband. The homeowner said that she had sprinkled some of his ashes right there.

I asked Crystal about her impressions. She said that she doesn’t see things the same way. Where Faith had feelings, like that of the girl glad to be home, or visions in her mind’s eye, Crystal saw energies, orbs, or flashes of light. She might hear a voice or come across a smell. It depended on how the entity wished her to experience it. Sometimes, she said, she might pick up a message. When she approached the first house she saw someone at an upper window watching her. She saw a great deal of energy in the home, more intensely on the stairs and the front portion of the living room, and again in the side yard. The homeowner confirmed that most of the activity occurs in those areas.

We moved on. The second house was not far from mine, so I parked at home and walked. When I met Faith next she was leaning against a tree outside the house. “There’s something wrong here,” she said. “Look. There’s no birds or squirrels. There’s something wrong with the entire block.” She was right. It was unnaturally quiet. There were no bird calls or chattering squirrels, nor was there anything in sight. Faith described how when she stepped out of the car, she felt that her legs would be knocked out from under her. Something didn’t want her there. She leaned against the tree, hoping to use it’s sturdiness as a way to ‘ground’ herself.

I didn’t hear the stories the second homeowner had to share, only that sometimes she sees an African American child in her bedroom, and she didn‘t understand why. He seemed out of place. I asked Faith later if what the homeowner saw in the house was related to what she described on the outside. “No,” Faith said. The house had a completely different set of issues.

We moved down the street to the third house. I walked with several others while others moved their vehicles. Faith and Crystal immediately reacted as they approached the property, and both in different ways. Faith asked to see the homeowner’s dog, who was barking in the background. She walked the dog during the interview, which took place outside. Crystal exited her car, and started walking towards the yard. Three or four steps later, she turned around and returned to the car where she stayed throughout the interview. Later, Crystal told me that something in the yard bothered her so much she couldn’t be there. I’ll leave this here. To find out what happened at the third house and to talk to Ursula, the homeowners and to hear stories, please call the library. Tickets to the airing of the interviews are available at no charge. It will take place at the Historical Society, 13018 Maple, at 7PM on October 27th. The film will be broadcast later on WDDE. Watch your listings for details.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dewey's House

Dewey's Home

(as published in the Blue Island FORUM on 11/3/10)

by Jude Coyle

I love writing, history, and telling good old fashion ghost stories, and a town as old as Blue Island is a great resource. So each year I try to provide the FORUM one Blue Island ghost story at Halloween.

Last year was incredible. Ursula Bielski, in cooperation of the Library, the Historical Society, the FORUM and the Chamber, spent one September afternoon interviewing residents about activity in their homes. Ursula is the founder of Chicago Hauntings, Inc., and the author of several books about Chicago ghost lore, including Chicago Haunts, More Chicago Haunts and Chicago Haunts 3. I had the honor of tagging along and recording the behind the scenes activities for the FORUM.

I also got a chance to meet two born and bred Blue Islanders, whom I called Faith and Crystal. These ladies are sensitive to their surroundings, and were quite helpful in establishing what the homeowners were experiencing.

Candi also participated. She's taken some unusual photographs which were used in the special filmed that day for WDDE.

This year I wanted to tell another great story, but there was no way to top last year's program. After several false starts, I asked Sandy, my editor, if I could interview Faith and Crystal again. She suggested that I contact a man I'll call Dewey. He had recently hosted a paranormal group in his home.

He said, “Sure. But I'd really love to have Faith and Crystal check my home out.” So we made arrangements.

Faith, Candi and I arrived simultaneously. Where Candi and I met on the sidewalk, Faith passed us by and continued on towards the church next store. She stopped half way between the two buildings, and then waved us over. “I'm being called over this way,” she said. “There's energy here.”

What kind of energy?” I asked as I dug in my purse for my tape recorder.

I feel like there are a lot of people here, both Black and White. And they're trying to tell us something.” She went on to explain that they came from two eras, the 1950's and the 1800's, and they came to spread joy, as there is too much negativity in the world. I asked if this was something that the world is experiencing now, or were they addressing negativity in general. “Some are saying the negativity is of today's world and others are saying in general.”

The people wearing '50's garb were the descendents of the older people. They were members of a church community, and their love was radiating outward, towards their neighbors. They were attached to the church property, although not the church itself. They belonged to a universal, all inclusive church. In fact, Faith told me that she saw a different building on this property.

I handed Candi a camera and told her to stick with Faith. If she felt something, please take a photo.

Let me qualify my beliefs. Anyone can make claims, but that doesn't make anything true. I was skeptical upon meeting Faith and Crystal, but vowed I'd keep my mind open. I talked to Faith mostly. Without going into details, let me just say that there were two incidents that morning last year when she told me things about my life that she couldn't have known unless she lived in my house and dealt with me on a day to day basis. Both incidents were jaw dropping experiences. So I believe her when she says there are spirits standing between a church and a home, trying to spread a positive word about God.

I've had little contact with Crystal. I trust her because she and Faith are sisters. But there is something else. She radiates light and love, particularly about her eyes.

Back to the story.

Faith passed on Crystal's regrets. She couldn't attend because something came up. Then Faith took the tape recorder, and she and Candi walked to the back of the building.

Our target was not the church, but the apartment building next store. This is one of those big, brick two flats from the twenties that are situated all over Blue Island. Dewey, a tall gentleman who should be familiar to most Blue Islanders, joined me at the sidewalk. His coworker, whom I will call John, joined us as well.

At that point, Faith turned back, pointing at the rear of the building, she said. “There's a man standing up there, watching us. And I'm hearing something about Suzy and Dan. Does that sound familiar to anyone?” We said no, and she and Candi continued on.

Dewey lives on the second floor, and he hears footsteps in his hallway. Also there is a bedroom where he spends as little time in as possible. “It raises the hackles on my neck to be in there,” he said.

He has lived there for about eleven years. When he first moved in he had friends over for pizza. One of the ladies stepped into the kitchen in order to help herself to a glass of water. She saw a woman in period clothing standing at the sink. “My friend is very sensitive,” Dewey said.

He had showed me how the paranormal group had set up their instrument board outside on his porch. He escorted us into the building and up the stairs. Inside we found a wonderful example of 1920's style architecture, complete with plaster walls, crown molding and wainscoting. It was neat, and evidence of his love for reading was everywhere. Books and bookcases were pressed into every available corner and against every empty wall.

They set up two cameras,” he explained. One was in the living room, pointing at the hall where he hears footsteps, and the other was in the kitchen, pointed at the sink.

They didn't spend much time here.” There's a coat rack in the kitchen. Dewey wondered if his friend had mistook it for the lady. The members of the paranormal group expressed the same concern. They spent most of their time outside shining flashlights up, through his windows and into the apartment to see if they could make the coat rack look like that. In the end they said they had no evidence of a haunting. That doesn't mean there isn't one, only that if he shares his apartment with spirits, they chose not to make an appearance that night.

We sat down in the living room to wait. We talked about the neighborhood, about his experiences, and John and Dewey discussed work. A few minutes passed before Faith and Candi arrived. They wandered about the apartment, going from living room, to hall, to dining room, to the kitchen. They stopped at the center bedroom last. I saw the flash from a camera.

There's a lot going on here,” Faith said when the pair joined us. In the backyard they came across several boys, about the ages of ten to twelve playing baseball. A man inhabits the upstairs portion of the back porch. He and the boys are related, maybe not in life, but spiritually. They aren't grounded to the property. It's just that the man feels comfort in Dewey's presence, and in fact, when Dewey cooks, he often stands by the stove. He said he really misses eating, particularly hot dogs.

Faith asked, “Do you hear running in the halls?”

Running?” he asked. I could see it in his face. Dewey had one of those jaw dropping moments like I had when I first met Faith. “Well, no. Footsteps.” Mind you she barely talked to him when we arrived. When he explained his experiences, she and Candi had already started exploring and were well out of ear shot.

Pitter patter?”

Well,” he said, “Maybe that. It isn't heavy, but it's definitely there.”

That's the boys running in the hall. They don't mean to harm anyone. They're boys. They're having fun.”

There's someone in your pantry,” she continued. “A woman, and Candi feels like she's trapped. I agree. I don't think she can leave.” She turned towards the hall again.

About your middle bedroom.” She had him again. “There's something in there. I can feel it.” She went on to explain that whatever it was was holding back on her as she wasn't sure even of its gender. “It's in the closet, but I feel it is attached to something in the bookcase. It came in with a book maybe.” She had told it to go into the light and it refused. “Do you have holy water?”

He picked a cruet off the mantle and handed it to her. She led the way to the middle room. She approached the far closet and Candi waited behind her. She began with a silent prayer. Then she sprinkled holy water in the closet. After that she closed the door and using holy water on the tips of her fingers, etched a cross into the wood.

I had to leave at that point because I had a City Council meeting.

I caught up with Candi later. She took seven photos, and was disappointed to find only one tiny orb located on the closet door. “That's him,” she said. “And he was pissed.” She explained that Faith wasn't able to shake the thing, so she, Faith and Crystal would return. “Crystal does a lot of cleansings.” I asked her what she felt in the bedroom. “You were in it, right?” she asked.

No, I waited at the door.”

There were actually two things in there. I could feel it. There are two closets, one on either side of the room. I could feel the one shrinking as Faith prayed over it. The other one though, got really sad.”

A week and a half passed before Faith and Crystal could return to Dewey's. Candi and I didn't join them, although Faith and I talked on the phone later. Asked about the entity in the closet, Faith explained that it had shrunk, and it changed in texture. It still stubbornly clung to the closet although the anger had subsided. She said the closet needed a psychic airing of sorts.

We discussed what it was that brought the creature into the apartment. “You know when I first entered the room,” she said, “And I felt him in there, my eyes went directly to the top row of books on the one bookcase in that room. There's a collection of books pertaining to UFO's. I think it came in with one of those.” I thought it odd that she brought that up simply because I had a hard time focusing on anything else in the room. In fact I never noticed the second closet.

I asked about the other entity Candi had described. “It isn't so much of a spirit as it is a memory. The energy is sad. Dewey says it feels to him as if a child had been locked in there for punishment.” She explained that often times when someone pulls an odd feeling like this out of the air, it is correct.

Crystal identified the spirit of an older man who said his name was Stephen. “He wanted us to know that he spelled his name with a ph rather than a v,” Faith said.

They talked to the neighbors. The names Dan and Suzy came up when Faith and Candi first toured the property. A neighbor told her about a man named Dan who had passed while still in his twenties. His sister's name was Suzy. Faith thought Dan might be the man on the porch.

That of course led to a discussion about the boys. “We toured the basement.” It seemed to be clear of activity, except for a path directly in line with the path in Dewey's apartment where he had heard footsteps. She said that the boys might be spending most of their time in the basement, although their movements were psychically connected to Dewey's apartment.

I spoke to several people about her connection to the land next store. Mike Kaliski of the Historical Society explained that the Church was built in 1956. Richard Bauer said he remembered when, but thought the land was vacant. Mike confirmed that it should have been. Prior to 1919 it was part of a dairy farm. If there were any buildings located on that plot, they would have to be outbuildings.

I mentioned earlier that Faith had provided me with two jaw dropping moments when we first met. Officially, let me say now that I have had my third at her hands. I thought there was nothing else to report or to learn about the church property, so I focused my research on finding Stephen. I returned to the library and began looking through directories from the 1900's through the 1930's for someone living at Dewey's address with the name Stephen, Stephan or even Steven. I wasn't successful again. I'd have to go elsewhere to look through later directories.

Instead I picked up the library copy of The First Hundred Years, and began thumbing through it. A section on the establishment of Blue Island churches caught my eye. I read through explanations of the beginnings of our older churches. Most of them began by meeting in residents homes, so I hoped maybe I'd find something about one group meeting in a barn. Then I came across a denomination called The Universal Church. They came to Blue Island for a short time, and met in homes. When Faith originally pointed out that space between the Church and the apartment building, she said several times, “They belong to a UNIVERSAL church.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Halloween - 2010

Happy Halloween

As printed in the 10/20/2010 Blue Island Forum

by Jude Coyle

If you read my Halloween story last year, you'll remember that I spent a day with two Blue Island born and bred sensitives, whom I called Crystal and Faith. Along with Ursula Bielski, a WDDE film crew, representatives from the FORUM, the Chamber of Commerce, the Library and the City, we visited homes that were reported to be haunted. It was an incredible experience with wonderfully perceptive individuals, and an eyeopener to say the least.

Another young lady joined us at the end of the day. Where she didn't appear in the film, she offered some insight. Her name is Candi, and I know her because she belongs to an organization that my family belongs to. At Christmas time particularly, we work to help the less fortunate enjoy a good meal, gifts and clothing at what can be a painful time of the year.

Candi was in kindergarten when she first joined her brothers during the Boy Scout Food Drives. She passed out fliers and later picked food off of porches. Over the years she's sought out volunteers and organized food drives at her schools. And now that she's out of school, she continues to help.

Candi is a psychic photographer. Both she and I have taken to carrying a digital camera, partly because I need it for work, and partly because she used it to take some really unique photos. I don't know how many times she'd point and tell me to take a photo of a bush, a door, or even a fence post. I'd do it, giving into her fancy, as I would indulge a spoiled child. Only when downloading the memory card, I'd find a shot of a huge orb. “I just felt him watching me,” she'd say as the hair follicles on my arms stood up. Other times, she would just show up at my door with creepy photos she took all over town. One is a shot of several faces constructed of mist.

I should point out that paranormal investigators use digital photos as corroborating evidence and not as the evidence itself. They will pick up dust and water vapor in the air, and unless Candi can eliminate those things, she won't declare it to be proof of anything.

Now Faith is an integral part of our group. If you haven't guessed by now, this is a story of something that happened last Christmas.

Each year, an area realtor provides us with work space. Last year we worked out of a food processing plant, which must have been empty for quite some time as our directors spent many long hours cleaning. In spite of that it was still dusty.

There was a huge factory floor, with equipment still in place. We stacked clothing and canned goods along the walls and between the equipment. There was a lunchroom, a sales office with cubicles, and a couple of executive offices. The outer offices were painted bright, lime green, and was basically empty except for some beat up office furniture. We called it Santa's Wonderland. New toys were stacked on tables, waiting to be wrapped, while the cubicles held wrapped gifts.

The big hauncho had once occupied the last office. It was still occupied by a wrap around desk and credenza. Except for a thick layer of dust, it looked as if the owner had just gotten up to refill his coffee. Framed product labels hung on the walls, and sales propaganda, photos and trophies adorned the furniture. The walls had been painted the color of orange juice.

After dropping off several food drives, I asked Candi to please organize a work crew to sort our haul into boxes by kind. She and her brothers drafted their friends, including one young man I'll call Sal. Sal is also sensitive.

We had barely started working when Candi declared, “There's someone in here.”

Excuse me?”

A spirit or something.” She took off with Sal at her heels.

A few minutes later Sal returned. “Candi wants you.”

I followed him into Santa's Workshop, and past stacks of wrapped and unwrapped gifts.

There's someone here,” Candi assured me when I entered the orange juice colored room. She nudged Sal, who agreed wholeheartedly. I nodded and left to get my camera.

Once she had it, she snapped away. Finally she lowered it and turned to leave. “You know,” she said, “That desk is really cool. I wonder if anyone would notice if I figured out how to sneak it out of here. I really like it.” She stopped suddenly and turned on Sal and I. “Oh my God. Someone just kicked me in the shin!” It wasn't us. We weren't even that close.

That night I downloaded her photos, and sure enough, huge orbs saturated every photo. “It's too dusty.” she reminded me. In her eyes it wasn't enough to prove what she saw and felt.

Well, vindication comes in unusual ways. A week or so later I dropped in to visit with the Boss. We discussed our schedules, volunteers, and the amount of work still to be done. I mentioned Candi and described our experiences in the back office. “Oh, my God!” the Boss exclaimed. “That was Candi?”

Yeah, why?”

You know Faith, right?”

Faith, the sensitive? Sure. Why?”

She was wrapping presents in Santa's Wonderland. She said that there was someone in that back office. He told her that no one was going to take his desk!”

Next month I hope to bring you another story. Faith, Crystal and Candi are going to visit the home of a resident, and report on what they see. And, with luck, we'll bring you more stories in the future. Faith commented that she would enjoy spending alone time in some public buildings in town. Hopefully we'll have that to look forward to as well.