This episode is chock full of summer camp ghosts, haunted schools, and too many cemeteries. Eric makes too many ranch dressing related jokes. Julia becomes incredibly jealous of a ghost hunting club. Amanda is once again confused by narwhals.
This week, Amanda recommends the Essex County Trilogy by Jeff Lemire.
Content Warning: This episode contains conversations about food, Manifest Destiny, starvation, animal death, death, animal attacks, hanging, and institutional racism.
- Skillshare is an online learning community where you can learn—and teach—just about anything. Visit skillshare.com/spirits2 to get two months of Skillshare Premium for free! This week Amanda recommends “Freelancing for Creatives: From First Leap to Finances” with Margot Harrington.
- HelloFresh is a meal kit delivery service that shops, plans, and delivers step-by-step recipes and pre-measured ingredients. For $80 off your first month of HelloFresh, go to HelloFresh.com/SPIRITS80 and enter SPIRITS80.
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Spirits was created by Julia Schifini, Amanda McLoughlin and Eric Schneider. We are founding members of Multitude, a production collective of indie audio professionals. Our music is "Danger Storm" by Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com), licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0.
Amanda: Welcome to Spirits Podcast, a boozy dive into mythology, legends, and folklore. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.
Julia: And I'm Julia.
Amanda: And this is episode 141, your Urban Legends, Part 25.
Julia: Yes, we recorded this one right before we left for Podcast Movement, and if you're listening to it, I believe tomorrow ... Nope.
Amanda: Yeah, Thursday.
Julia: I forget how time works. Tuesday, you're listening to this the day after, it's Eric Schneider's birthday, so happy birthday, Eric Schneider!
Amanda: Oh, I thought you were going to say we have a meetup in Orlando at Half Barrel Brewing Project, said that like a Midwesterner, Half Barrel Brewing Project, which we are so excited about, and that's on Thursday. It's tomorrow.
Julia: It's two big momentous occasions right there.
Amanda: It's true. We are extremely excited to spend Eric's birthday with him, and to just swim in the pool a lot, and take some poolside meetings, and it should be fun.
Julia: You know who I want to take poolside meetings with all day, every day?
Amanda: Is it our newest patrons, Tamara, Mia, Abigail, Tyler, Araceli, Madison, and Alexis?
Julia: Of course, obviously.
Amanda: And I know I can absolutely count on our supporting producer level patrons to carry not just several types, but also several levels of sunscreen. So, if my tattoo needs tapping up, or if my face ... I need that really delicate, no-grease sunscreen, because otherwise I'll break out, my supporting producer level patrons will have it, Julia.
Philip, Eeyore, Skyla, Mercedes, Samantha, Marissa, Sammy, Josie, Neal, Jessica and Phil Fresh.
Julia: And you know, Amanda, who's got the level of your preparedness bag to go to the beach with?
Amanda: It's our legend level patrons, isn't it?
Julia: Yeah, it is.
Amanda: Mark, Ayla, Cody, Mr. Faulk, James, Jess, Sarah, Sandra, Audra, and Jack Murray, never forget that extra bag to put the wet bathing suits in on the way home.
Julia: So smart.
Amanda: So smart.
Julia: So, Amanda, I mentioned in the episode, our drink this week is Summer Camp Beer from Two Beers Brewing Company. It's very, very good. I actually think I picked it up for the first time when we were in Seattle for PodCon two, and it just reminded me of summer, and I really wanted to break it out because we do have a lot of summer camp-related stories this episode.
Amanda: It's true! It's a very good pairing. As is actually, Julia, the Essex County Trilogy, which is a set of graphic short stories set in Essex County, Ontario that I want to recommend this week. It is so wonderful. You know that I love graphic novels, I saw this one peeking out at me at a bookstore, and having family in Essex County, New York, I picked it up. Even though it was a different Essex County in a different country, I still loved it.
Julia: I love that you ... It was looking for a home and it found you.
Amanda: It did. It was absolutely wonderful, and I think it's a very good summer time read.
Julia: Yeah. Pick it up if you need a summer time read. We're wrapping up summer real quick, but still, enjoy those last couple weeks.
Amanda: And speaking of summer time, road trips, stories, if you're hanging out with your friends, your family this summer, ask them about their spooky stories and then email them to us, please.
Julia: Yes, I think now is a good time to ask. We're going to do some very, very scary stories for October, so if you want to think about yours and really ruminate about just how much you want to give us a good, good scare, think about it. Send us those stories, we want them. I want to scare the crap out of Amanda and Eric, please.
Amanda: Yes, and please put, very spooky in the subject line, because I'm not sure I want to stumble across those in our regular Urban Legend Roundups, but we are so excited. We're going to try to pack it as full of stories as possible, and bring you a super, super spooky Urban Legends episode for October.
Julia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Amanda: That's at spiritspodcast.com. You can click the contact form, send us an email right there.
Julia: Yeah, do it.
Amanda: All right, without further ado, enjoy Spirits Podcast Episode 141, your Urban Legends Part 25.
... like I'm still getting to know mustache Eric.
Eric: Oh, you're all going to really get to know Mustache Eric, because I'm shaving off all of it ...
Julia: Oh no.
Amanda: Oh my God.
Eric: ... just for Podcast Movement.
Amanda: Oh my God. Are you maintaining that for my wedding as well? I just want to know how to be prepared.
Eric: Well, let's start the episode.
Amanda: Oh, I'm in it. Yeah, we're rolling.
Eric: Oh, we're in it? We’re in the episode ... Listeners to the show don't know because I am only a voice-
Julia: It's an audio medium.
Eric: ... in podcast form. I recently shaved off my large beard, and now just have a very, very short beard; the shortest it can be with the clippers I have, and a full mustache. I had to give my girlfriend significant warning that this was going to happen.
Eric: And she said, "Your body, your choice. I don't like this, but you can do it, as long as it's not a permanent forever thing." And so, at Podcast Movement, because she will not be in attendance, she's not able to come, unfortunately, I'm going to shave off the entire beard, just have a mustache, let it grow back a few days, so she doesn't experience the change at all in person. For your wedding in July, I plan on still having mostly full mustache, very short beard, but then we have a wedding for Kelsey's friends at the end of September So, at that point, I do need to have a more full beer because she refuses to take pictures with me at the wedding-
Eric: ... if I just have this situation going on.
Amanda: I get it. I get it. I'm glad your beard is not being shaved this time as the result of being kidnapped by a ghost. Yes, that's-
Eric: That's true, it did happen once.
Amanda: It did happen once.
Eric: It was bad.
Amanda: It wasn't fun, but then we visited again in person together on elective terms, and made our peace with it.
Julia: Yes, we did.
Eric: Yeah. I will say, it's very nice the summer stash, because the beard doesn't get terribly itchy or scratchy or anything during the summer, but my face has really gained that nice summer air, and I like it. I like that a lot.
Julia: Well, speaking of summer, I have grabbed us all a couple of beers. It is from Two Beers Brewing Company, it's called Summer Camp, because I picked some interesting stories for this hometown urban legends. But it's actually a Blueberry Kettle Sour IPA, which normally I'm not a huge fan of IPAs, but it's got that tart blueberry flavor with it, which I think is really fantastic, and reminds me of picking berries during the summertime. So, please enjoy everyone.
Amanda: Delicious. Thank you.
Julia: You're welcome.
Amanda: I would love in fact, to take this beer with me to a story which is so fitting, Jules, not just because of the summer camp, but also because of bisexual purple. For this story is titled Magic Tree House Yosemite Forced Spirits and My Bisexual Awakening.
Julia: Beautiful. I'm so ready for it.
Amanda: This title is so iconic, that in fact I thought that I had done it already, because it was just imprinted in my memory. So, this comes from Clark and he writes, hey y'all, Eric included, because he is part of the Spirits team.
Julia: Yeah, he is.
Eric: It's true.
Amanda: "I've been a listener for six or seven months depending on when you read this, and I love the show. I've been debating whether or not to send this email. As always, send it, excellent. I have a feeling y'all are going to like it. So, my brother and I are only 14 months apart and we've been very close since childhood. When I was younger, my family and I would go on trips to Yosemite National Park a lot, sometimes two or three times a year, but often it was only once per year, and there's some of my fondest memories. I'm not an outdoors person by any stretch of the imagination, but I've always loved the view and the atmosphere is really good for my anxiety. And now, I would like to give a content warning here for Schneider feeling old. Are you ready?"
Eric: I'm ready. I have very recently turned 31. So, I'm prepared.
Amanda: "This happened when I was around eight, so 2009."
Julia: No, what?
Amanda: We love all you babies who listen, but good Lord. All right.
Julia: Oh my God.
Amanda: "Please know going in, that my parents were the opposite of helicopter parents, so they let my brother, Carter and I do whatever the heck we wanted most of the time, probably because Carter's parents are our age." Jesus, okay.
"On our second day, my family and I decided to hit up the cafeteria for breakfast as we were hungry, and it's a lot closer than the one we'd gone to for dinner. Also, cafeterias in national parks, that's awesome."
Julia: I like that a lot actually.
Amanda: "I don't remember a ton about the place except it was pitifully outdated and off to the side of the sitting area. Near a fireplace, was a giant stuffed bear, not in the taxidermy sense, which would have been terrifying and gross, but in like the life-like model sense Carter and I being rambunctious children without supervision, immediately charged toward the bear, but much to our dismay, it was already occupied. That is where we met Jack and Annie, and I shit you not, they were actually named Jack and Annie." Is this a reference to something I don't understand?
Eric: Jack and Annie?
Eric: I don't know of any Jack and Annie content.
Amanda: Maybe the kids do and we don't.
Julia: Oh, oh, because it makes reference to the Magic Tree House series later, so it's magic tree house.
Amanda: Okay. They did indeed know the irony of their ... oh well, Julia, I could have saved you a Google, because they were adamant about the fact that they weren't named the Magic Tree House characters.
Amanda: They were twin-
Eric: What is the Magic Tree House-
Julia: You never read the Magic Tree House as a kid? It was a series where these two kids-
Eric: Well, you must remember I am old, so it might not have been around when I was-
Julia: No, they were older. The Magic Tree House series is a book where these two children have this magic tree house and when they go into the magic tree house, it transports them into another period of time, and then they learn about history while they're there.
Eric: I know Liberty's Kids.
Eric: Were those kids time traveling, or they just-
Julia: No, they just lived during the revolution.
Eric: They were just around during the revolution. That’s the wrong thing.
Amanda: "They were twins around my brother's age, and I had huge crushes on both of them, which should have been clear to me that I wasn't straight, but alas, it wasn't. Much to eight year old me's pleasure, the four of us hit it off, and Jack and Annie's parents were just like ours, the opposite of helicopter parents. So, we agreed to meet up later in the day as not a single one of us had anything planned. Then again, eight and nine-year-olds usually don't come up with complex plans about how they're going to spend their day. We spent the day around the cabins. Jack and Annie surprisingly had a cabin really close to ours, and like our parents, theirs were off exploring. We spent the day hitting each other with stick swords as I fell more and more madly in love with both of them, which in eight-year-old terms, means I wanted to hold both of their hands." So relatable.
Amanda: "Later that date, my parents got a picture of the four of us sword fighting with our sticks. We spent a lot of time with them around the park during our trip that year, and by the end, we'd exchanged emails, adamant to stay in contact. But the story isn't really about the trip itself, it's because two or three years ago, I brought up Jack and Annie with Carter, and surprisingly, he remembered them too. Except when we brought it up to our parents, they had no idea what we were talking about. According to them, there'd never been a Jack or an Annie that trip. Carter and I had spent all that time alone."
Julia: But they had a picture.
Amanda: "Well, we didn't believe them, we thought they had been pulling our layer just forgetting, but no. Remember that photo our parents took of us? They showed it to Carter and me, and sure enough, it's just the two of us, our stick swords locked in mortal combat."
Julia: What the hell?
Amanda: "But I wasn't going to give up that easily. I brought out the email. If they hadn't really existed, how had we exchanged emails? And then I remembered, the time when I had first tried to email them, it hadn't worked. There had never been an account with that email address, and Carter confirmed the same thing had happened to him. Now, we were really confused, and both of us being very into myths and legends and all that spooky crap, we created a theory; ghosts. Jack and Annie were ghosts and recent ghosts at that, and it does make some sense, why would both of us remembered the event the exact same way down to where even that stuffed bear was placed? I tried to look up deaths in Yosemite between 1992 when the Magic Tree House was first published, very smart, and 2009, but nothing came up that sounded like them. Still, that's the theory I believe. Could Carter and I have imagined it? Maybe, but I still can't get over how much our memories matched.
So, that was the story of my encounter with ghosts and my bisexual awakening. I hope you enjoyed my creepy encounter."
Julia: Oh Man. I don't like that. I don't like that at all.
Amanda: It's so interesting. I love the email, I love the sense memories, I love the photo. It really, it feels so much like a short story, then the last line is like, the photo showed only two children, and I found it really exciting.
Julia: I mean, thing that could have happened is they went through the plot of back to the future, but they didn't end up getting their parents back together, and so they disappeared from time.
Amanda: Oh, that's true.
Eric: I mean, that's why when you send an email, and there's the wrong account name-
Amanda: It bounces.
Eric: ... a mailer demon.
Julia: Oh my God. Embarrassing.
Amanda: Oh shit, that's very good.
Julia: Amanda, speaking of summer vacations, and specifically summer camps, I have a story from Orion that they titled Summer Camp Where Question Mark Wolves.
Amanda: Love it.
Julia: So they write, "Hey, you said in a recent episode that you super local stories, so here's one specifically set at the summer camp I went to as a kid. On the trails not too far from the epicenter of camp, there is a long overgrown garden and a foundation of a rotted house that used to belong to John and Alice Madden, or so the stories go. It's not technically haunted, but still incredibly creepy to be around, especially as a little kid. I went to this camp for eight years, and someone different told the story each time. So, there's many different variations of the story, but here's the amalgamation of all of my favorite elements. John and Alice grew up, met and married on the East Coast, where exactly, it doesn't matter. They tried to settle down in the city, but both of them longed for something more secluded, so they decided to head west. I'm not sure exactly when this is set, but it's definitely pre-transcontinental railroad, heading west was a big deal.
The journey was long and hard, and it only brought them closer together. They wound up in Everett, now a city about 30 miles north of Seattle, then a Homey town that Alice and John found much more agreeable than their crowded hometown. John and Alice stayed in Everett for about two years. They loved their home there and made good friends, but again, they got restless. They wanted somewhere even more remote. They asked the Everett locals if they knew anywhere, and learned about eight tiny town about 15 miles away called Hidden Valley. John and Alice set off, but when they arrived in Hidden Valley, they found not the happy little town they'd expected, but a settlement half baron and stricken with fear. "What happened here?" They asked, and the only answer they could get was the wolves."
Amanda: Oh no.
Eric: Could I guess what happened?
Eric: Like more details?
Eric: I think what happened is that these wolves ... I was going to guess before the wolves, but now I have to incorporate wolves into my-
Julia: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Eric: I've been prompted now. I'd have a prompt now-
Julia: Go for it.
Eric: ... I should go. Here's what happened. These wolves got an insatiable taste for-
Julia: I knew you were going to say that, Jesus.
Eric: ... and they attacked the town.
Julia: That's very good. Okay. "So, John and Alice decided not to stay in Hidden Valley, which sounds almost like a sensible choice, except that what they did-
Amanda: What would they dip their carrots in, Julia? What?
Julia: "Except what they did decide instead, was to build a house in the woods nearby, living mostly off Alice's garden where they probably had carrots." All right, cool.
Eric: That seems like a worse place, because there's already wolves. So now, you've got into the woods where the wolves are more likely to be. You've moved closer to the wolves, not farther away.
Julia: They're also living off of John's hunting and trade with Hidden Valley.
Eric: Wait, when is this taking place?
Julia: Sometime before the Transcontinental Railroad.
Eric: Okay, that makes sense, because I missed that, because I was like, this was a quest at Red Dead Redemption 2. I'm pretty sure.
Amanda: Ranch had not yet been invented, that's how we know.
Julia: "This works surprisingly well for them for a surprisingly long time. The winters were hard, so in late autumn every year, John and Alice made a trip back to Everett for supplies, and to catch up with their old friends, until the year they didn't." Scroll, Scroll, Scroll.
Amanda: Done, done, done.
Julia: "A week after their usual arrival, the townsfolk of Everett started to really worry about the Maddens. Winter had come early this year and especially harshly, maybe they hadn't made it in time. Two weeks after the sheriff and the deputy set out towards hidden valley to check up on them. On the way there, they found John stuck underneath a fallen tree and so frozen, they couldn't guess how long he'd been there. The cart was nearby, containing hardly enough food for the journey to Everett. The sheriff and his deputy held out hope that Alice hadn't been with him, and that she was at least alive and pressed on. They arrived at Hidden Valley to the same scene John and Alice had found all those years before, villagers mourning and afraid, and again, the only answer they could get was the wolves, the wolves.
Now thoroughly unsettled and with the knights starting to fall, they pressed on. They came to the Madden's little cabin, and it looked it hadn't been maintained in months, the garden teamed with weeds and one window hung broken in its frame. Hope that Alice was still alive in there, was fading fast. The sheriff dismounted and instructed the deputy to search the area for any signs of Alice. The deputy trotted off, and the sheriff grabbed some food he brought and opened the Madden's door. The inside stank of rotting meat, and when he stepped a foot inside, his boot crunched against the floor. He looked down to find it was nearly coated in ... here we go, "dead mice and squirrels."
Julia: "Dead mice and squirrels, not ranch, in different stages of death, he swallowed back his trepidation and looked back in to the living room. In a rocking chair, sat Alice, her beautiful red curls were now a wiry, gray, mane, her shoulders boney under her worn out nightgown, and her hands resting on the arm rests looked more like claws than hands. Slowly, the rocking chair moved back and forth, back and forth. "
Amanda: No, no, no. I thought it was just a body.
Julia: This is some great writing right now. I'm very excited. "Alice", said the Sheriff, "Alice." But she didn't respond, just kept rocking back and forth, the chair creaking as she did. Slowly, the sheriff move to see Alice's face. She stared with glassy eyes into the distance, not focusing on him. Her skin was as gray as her hair, her cheeks sunken deep, her mouth hanging open. A spider crawled across her cheek.
Amanda: Mm-hmm, Mm-hmm.
Julia: "Alice", the sheriffs said again, "I brought you food." Jesus, the spider crawled over Alice's lips and with a sudden breath, she sucked it into her mouth. Cool, cool, Alice. The sheriff left the food in Alice's lap and went to wait for his deputy. Good smart choice.
Eric: I would argue not a smart choice. I would argue the smarter choice would be to not have left the food or got close to the creepy ghastly lady.
Julia: Yeah. Okay. "So, he was hardly out the door before he heard a horse scream. I don't know if you've ever heard a horse scream, but it's a terrible grating piercing sound. The deputy's horses galloped into the garden eyes wild, breathing hard with a set of three deep scratches running across its face. The deputy was slumped over its neck with matching scratches on his chest. "They're coming", he said. "What's coming? Who's coming?" But he just kept saying, "They're coming, they're coming, they're coming." And then the sheriff heard the low growl of a wolf. He turned to a hill not so far away, where a massive, bulky wolf stepped to the peak. He lifted his head and held ... I'm going to do a wolf howl as written down here. And as he stepped back, a third wolf took his place. There was one, this one was smaller, and wiry gray, her shoulders boney, and even at a distance, the sheriff saw that her claws looked more like fingers than claws. She lifted her head to the moon and she screamed.
So, that's a story that haunted my nightmares for three weeks out of the year from the ages eight to 15. I feel the need to clarify that I've never heard a horse scream. The first two versions of the story I heard, one was told by the writing staff, and that description is so vivid that it stuck with me for nearly a decade. More to the point, the story is really ingrained in the camp culture. We mentioned Alice in our camp song, in our trail names, and of course, in frequent visits to the remains of the Madden household. Also, in campers making wolf noises in the middle of the night for several days after the story is told. At least, I've always hoped it was campers."
Julia: Anyway, I hope you like my yearly terror. Love the show. Thank you, Orion. That was very well written.
Eric: Does that mean we're getting another one of these in a year?
Eric: Because it was very good, but I also, am fine. Never hearing so haunting again.
Julia: All right.
Amanda: I feel like I'm good out here.
Eric: I have a story titled the Axe Murderer Buried in My Elementary School Playground and other tales.
Julia: I like this one.
Amanda: Watching your dog yawn over your shoulder as you said, that made it a little bit less creepy.
Julia: That's very sweet.
Eric: This comes to us from Riley, and she writes, "Hey everyone, a friend recommended spares to me, and I've been playing catch up on your backlog at work since I started listening. It got me thinking about my creepy cool experiences growing up in the eensy weensy town of Jamestown, Tennessee. For a bit of background, the place is definitely in decline. Jamestown's heyday has long come and gone, leaving lots of buildings and homes empty. This gives the whole town a sad forgotten feeling. Even my high school is built around the old high school, which is now just an old crumbling pigeon infested place with mostly forgone construction trusses around it from an abandoned restoration project. The town ran out of money before it ever really got started. As a high school student, we walk past this creepy ass building that we were absolutely forbidden to enter, every day as it sat in the dead center of the new campus.
What a wild way to build your new high school? Whoa, literally surrounding the old decrepit high school.
Amanda: Wow. I mean, probably it was what cheaper to just build around it than to demolish it, but no.
Eric: I also have to imagine we're talking quite a large campus, I would guess. Although it sounds like the town doesn't have a huge population.
Amanda: I don't know.
Julia: Yeah, but sometimes they spread things out. Our high school was multi-floors, but I think in some areas, they only do one floor and it's just a lot of walking.
Amanda: Or the old one was super small. I do remember it now that our old high school was shaped like the number eight, and there were two little courtyards in the holes of the eight that we were never left to go in. And they were so nice, why didn't anyone let us in?
Eric: We had the exact same thing, and apparently, it was supposed to be designed to be like this vortex cooling thing, where the air would go into these court yards and feed out into the ... It did not work. We were also rarely, if ever allowed into those courtyards, so what the fuck high school administrations never letting kids into the court yard?
Julia: They just didn't want us to ruin it.
Amanda: There's an urban legend that I spread because my mom went to our high school about 26 years before me and told us about it, that there was once a science experiment back in the early 80s, where they would breed rabbits, which sounds like they wouldn't allow us to do now ... or was it turtles? I think it was rabbits actually, was it turtles?
Julia: I think it was turtles, because we had that turtle pond.
Amanda: That's right, and they put them in the turtle pond, and then the turtles were so happy and reproducing so much that they ended up having to take care of the problem over a school break. Yeah, and looking back, it's less urban legend, more just like sad, unthinking science experiment, but Cool. That was my story.
Eric: Riley continues, "I could ramble on about it, just like we are-
Julia: There you go.
Eric: "However, I think the creepier location in town is actually my elementary school. So, kids love to make up creepy stories, but we didn't have to stretch our imagination too far at York Elementary. Every day, there's a 30-minute recess, and all of the students would be released onto the playground, which faces a few things; a thicket of woods, a house and a cemetery."
Julia: Oh, you know, like you do, just release the children into the cemetery. Sounds good.
Amanda: It's dream.
Eric: They release them onto the playground, which faces a cemetery. They now release the children onto the ... I'm sure there's a fence, Julia. Like a rod iron fence because that's what you need-
Julia: There's probably a gate that one could open, that's all I'm saying.
Eric: Oh, here we go. "The only border between the playground and the cemetery is a barbed wire fence, because the scariest punk aesthetic has to be complete, I guess."
Julia: What? Barbed wire? That's really not trusting the children. I don't appreciate that.
Amanda: No, it sure isn't.
Eric: Well, maybe it's not trusting other people.
Julia: All right.
Eric: You know, you don't know.
Amanda: Is it stopping someone from getting in or someone to getting out?
Eric: Oh, oh.
Julia: I did like Eric's statement there, which was, you know, you don't know.
Eric: It's true. "Also, as a 20-year-old in college, I am now deeply conserved by the proximity of a bar player versus to children." We really need to stop reacting to this email, like the sentence before the thing is explained. "About seven or eight feet from said barbed wire fence, is the grave of Cal Logston, the last man to be hung." Now, they wrote hanged, hung, huh? What? I'm not sure which one's correct either.
Julia: Amanda knows.
Eric: Because it's the worst verb as far as I'm concerned.
Amanda: Hang, it's hang.
Amanda: It's the one that sounds wrong.
Eric: Yeah. "In Fentress county for murdering a family with an ax. There's some info and pictures about Cal on his grave ... Not on his grave.
Julia: I was like, on his grave?
Eric: Very great technology they have like that to have post a photo right out the grave. "There is some info and pictures about Cal and his grave online."
Eric: ... "easily googleable. His grave is in plain sight from the playground, literally reads Cal Logston, hang 1872. To make this whole thing even spicier, his grave is enclosed with some sort of rought iron fence." I called it rought iron, I said it earlier. I said rod iron earlier. "That looks incredibly cage-like. As an adult, I assumed this was to keep out vandals, but as kids, the only logical assumption which has become a bit of a local legend was this. On Halloween night, Cal Logston arises from his grave, pulling himself free of the dirt to go on another killing spree. Anyone who did not pay their respects to his grave at some point between this Halloween and the last, would be murdered via an ax while they slept, and so would their entire family. Desperate to protect the townspeople, town officials had installed the cage around Cal's grave. So far, it has held, but who knows for how much longer?"
Eric: "Anyway, my friends and I grew up telling each other stories about this grave, usually sitting about 10 to 15 feet away from it. We would imagine how we would escape Cal if he ever came for us, but also sometimes imagine that he was wrongly convicted, and it was our responsibility to save him from an unjust death." Probably too late for that situation-
Julia: Yeah, a little late, sorry.
Eric: ... since he has been hanged already. "One year we even set up a Cal inspired haunted trail in the thicket behind the playground, all to say that Cal's grave really fueled our imaginations as kids. That I know of, none of us have ever had a direct experience with Cal, but every year for eight years, we left behind little offerings for Cal on Halloween just to be safe. Maybe that's why we never saw him."
Julia: So, I did a little research while you were finishing up the story, and it seems as though they've since removed the iron cage around his gravestone. It's still-
Eric: And the murder rate has skyrocketed the town-
Julia: Yes, it's small town, everyone's dead now. No, but it seems interesting. I really, really like that.
Eric: That's cool, that's great.
Amanda: Well, speaking of offerings, why don't we head down into the kitchen, and get ourselves a refill?
Julia: Sounds good, let's go. So Amanda, you know that I, besides doing wonderful podcast things with you, I also freelance on the side?
Amanda: Yeah, yeah.
Julia: And you are a business expert, but sometimes I want to feel like I know how to do things too.
Amanda: It's important. Everyone should know everything, now it should be free.
Julia: Yes, exactly. So, I started taking a course on Skillshare called Freelancing for Creatives From First Leap to Finances, and boy, I need that finances part real bad.
Amanda: It sounds like a really good course, did you learn some good stuff?
Julia: I did, I did. It was really, really informative, but also the person teaching it has your kind of fashion sense, which made it easier to pay attention.
Amanda: Oh, thank you. I love that so much.
Julia: But yeah, it was all because of Skillshare, and Skillshare is an online learning community for creators. They now have over 25,000 classes, and they are there to fuel your curiosity, creativity and career.
Amanda: And Julia, I heard that skillshare.com/spirits2, the number two, will get you two free months of Skillshare premium.
Julia: That is absolutely true, Amanda. If you go to skillshare.com/spirits2, you get two free months of Skillshare. You can take classes in social media marketing, mobile photography, creative writing, illustration, and of course, freelancing for small business owners and stuff like that. That's nice.
Amanda: We love Skillshare. It is a wonderful place to discover a new passion, start a side hustle or gain new professional skills. That's skillshare.com/spirits2. So Jules, I am here in my new apartment, and it is ... Well, I'm in the studio right now, but I just came from my new apartment where I have had a little hell, I'm not going to lie, a little bit of trouble falling asleep the last few nights because new space, you have new noises, you have new lights on the walls from the stop light outside, and it just takes time getting used to. So, I fell asleep last night to the wonderful dual set tones of Calm. Calm is the number one app for sleep, it's for relaxation, meditation, mindfulness. There are so many ways that Calm can help you, and I genuinely love it as a part of my routine, helps me sleep better, helps me be more focused, helps me come into work refreshed and ready to go.
Julia: Yes, I can always tell when you've had a good calm night, because you're just like, you're ready to hit it, you're ready to get up the day.
Amanda: Thank you. And you can actually get 25% off a Calm premium subscription at calm.com/spirits. That'll get you access to all of Calm's sleep stories, their soundscapes, their daily meditations, everything Calm has to offer.
Julia: Yeah. So, that's C-A-L-M.com/spirits, and then 40 million people have downloaded Calm. So, you can find out why today at calm.com/spirits.
Amanda: I'll be hanging onto Calm when we're in the airport tomorrow as a recording for Orlando.
Julia: And then, I work from home most of the day like you do.
Amanda: And yet Julia, you get dressed every day, and I really appreciate that about you.
Julia: I do, I always put on clothes because otherwise it just wouldn't work.
Julia: But a big part of it is, even though I work from home, it's really hard to get myself to leave the house and go buy ingredients for dinner. And I like to cook quite a bit, but sometimes it's just like a bit of a hassle, you know what I mean?
Amanda: Totally. You don't want to interrupt your flow to get in the car and go get groceries necessarily.
Julia: Exactly. So, I am forever grateful for HelloFresh, which is America's number one meal kit. You get easy seasonal recipes and pre-measured ingredients delivered right to your door. All you have to do is cook and enjoy, and gosh, I love that so much.
Amanda: I love that HelloFresh is so customizable, like they give you everything you need to make the recipe, but if you want to throw in some hot sauce or omit one ingredient, if like me, you have dietary restrictions, it's really easy to do. Nowhere else can I make pasta that is both dairy free and garlic free, which is impossible, but it can with HelloFresh.
Julia: Yeah. And the really nice part too, is it's really flexible and it fits your lifestyle. So, you and I, we travel a lot, so when I get HelloFresh and I know I'm going to be gone for the week, HelloFresh is really, really easy to be like, oh, you don't want this week? Okay, no worries, we'll pick it up next week. Thank you, HelloFresh. That makes it so much easier and I don't have to worry about stuff going bad in my fridge.
Amanda: Absolutely. And at hellofresh.com/spirits80 and with the code SPIRITS80 at checkout, our listeners can get 80 bucks off your first month of HelloFresh.
Julia: Yeah, that is hellofresh.com/spirits80 and enter the promo code SPIRITS80.
Amanda: That's like receiving eight meals for free as you're getting $20 off your first four boxes for a total of 80 bucks off your first month of HelloFresh.
Julia: HelloFresh, just giving it to our listeners. We appreciate you.
Amanda: Thanks y'all. And now, the full time and full drinks, let's get back to the show.
Julia: Full time, full drinks, can't lose. Amanda, I've got a story for you-
Julia: ... that is titled Ghosts and a Narwhal Versus a Danger Noodle and A Hippo.
Amanda: Oh, so many things I like.
Julia: And it's also EriC safe, so that's good. All right, so this-
Amanda: I will tell you, Julia ... I'm sorry to interrupt. I met the conspirator the other week at the American Museum of Natural History, where I went to see a performance of the musical Moby Dick.
Julia: Oh, my God.
Amanda: Which I am so fucking excited about. The moment it goes on sale, I mean, Linda Mo Miranda was sitting three rows in front of me, and I was like, okay whatever, lean, "Vanessa, your hair looks so good." Her hair always looks amazing. Anyway, while I was there, we were walking in and cuing in the hall of aqua life, whatever, oceanic life. And I did see an art wall. My first thought was, why is that here? Why did they put a mythical creature in this museum? And then I realized. So, we're improving slowly.
Julia: Oh, Amanda. Great. This comes from Alex, and she writes, "Love you all, and I have a tendency to ramble so I'll try, and get straight to it. I have a few stories to tell, two creepy real things that happened to me this year, and one cool instance of origins of a camp folklore." Again, going for that summer camp vibe. Creepy instance number one, in parentheses, ghosts. "I've been bartending on and off through college at this one place in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of DC a few years ago. The Arlington is an old city and home to one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. I can't say there's any history or background of death in this specific bar asides from a few ghosts of people's dignities and livers that haunt all bars. I like that, it's a good vine. For this thing to have happened to me the last May, I was working on our main floor one warm Wednesday night and is 10:00 PM rolled around, I only had about four or five customers because everyone was hanging out on our rooftop bar, so my manager let me close up early.
I locked the door to the main bar, broke down and began rolling silverware in a booth facing the only open entrance and the elevator up to the roof. That's when I heard a woman behind me say, "Alex." It was so clear that I immediately responded, "Yeah", out loud as if my coworker, Julio had been there. The problem was, I had closed up everything else behind me, locked the doors, Julio was upstairs on the bar, and at the time, I was the only female on staff. Obviously, I freaked out a little, finished my side work ... Finished your side work? Go [inaudible you, fantastic ... "and went upstairs to spook Julio, and some of our regulars before I left for the night. To my knowledge, nothing else spooky has happened there since.
Creepy instance number two, also ghosts. This one actually happened just last week. I've been a camp counselor over the last six summers, this will be a theme in the next story too. This year with our teenagers, my girls had I particularly rambunctious night and had a hard time coming down from the camp dance fields. The teens tend to cry a lot because they've been at camp since they were all eight and everyone feels like it's the end." Oh, that's sweet. "Anyway, I'd come back to the cabins from a late night meeting and they were all still up writing letters to their crushes or whatever weird things while my co-counselor was down for the count asleep. So, I went around shutting lights off, reminding them that we were hiking in the morning. I finally got them all in bed lights off asleep, when I finally went back to my little room in the cabin to fall asleep myself.
Just as I put my head down and the room stilled so I could hear the cicadas outside, something blew in my ear hard. I shot up saying, "Jenny", the name of my co-counselor, but she was still asleep dead to the world. There's something different about feeling our hair tickle your neck or thinking you hear something and feeling something that's so distinctly came from a force outside of yourself. The room was empty other than Jenny and I, and I checked to make sure that all the girls were back in bed, and I had no choice but to go back to sleep and tell everyone in the morning. I want to convince myself that it was a bug, but spending six summers in the woods tells me otherwise."
Julia: Yeah, don't like that. And we finish off with a cool creation lore, which is Norwell Versus That Danger Noodle. So, this is the main story I want to write about. One, to possibly confuse Amanda more about if narwhals are real or not, and two, because it's a cool example of oral tradition and the creation of a creation myth. Onward, I like that. Onward, dot, dot, dot.
Amanda: Love it.
Julia: The summer camp I work at is nestled in the Shenandoah mountains of Virginia, right on the West Virginia border. It has a long, complicated history. The main structure was completed in 1873 and ever since, people have been venturing out there to drink from the pure mountain springs. It was run by a family with the last name of Muma, and is home to the only completely outdoor cathedral. It is also home to the Shenandoah Musical Festival, which usually has local orchestras, or some other random bands old people come to see." But that's where I saw a Smash Mouth, Front & Center and the Beach Boys played there just this past weekend.
Amanda: I like smash mouth.
Eric: Very nice.
Amanda: It'd be cool to see them in live.
Julia: "At the camp, we have a lot of odd traditions like dressing up and scaring children, and taking their teeth if they lose them at camp and leaving them with a popsicle, and any random thing we can find, and letting campers sentence their counselors for committing crimes, and dumping food on them when they are found guilty, and they are always found guilty. All in all, it's a quirky place. So, an old counselor of mine who later became my coworker and boss, created an origin story to tell around the campfire every year right before the alumni versus staff ultimate Frisbee game." This sounds like a real fun camp.
Eric: Sounds like a great camp.
Amanda: Congrats on your choices.
Julia: Yes. "It goes a little something like this ... it goes a little something this. Anyway-
Amanda: Hit it.
Julia: "Once, when the land was flat and the trees were short, the entire area was ruled by a giant snake. The snake was by the name Squadoosh. Now, Squadoosh was bad. He was one bad Mama Jama. He was better than bad, he was better than bad, bad Leroy brown bad, but he was the caretaker of all the small creatures and the environment of the area. He kept everyone calm and peaceful and loving. So much so, that some of the other creatures became jealous. When one day out of the Dead Sea, which is just a small lake on the property, swam a Narwhal named Alfonzo Everett III." This is incredible naming mechanisms here.
Amanda: This is also making it more difficult for me to discern whether this was an animal or a mythical creature.
Julia: Now, Alfonzo Everett III was bad. He was badder than bad. He was better than bad, badly Roy Brown bad, and once he landed, he yelled out, "Squadoosh, now I hear you're pretty bad and I've been looking at the land you've gathered and I'm pretty sure that it should be mine. So I challenge you to a game of ultimate Frisbee." And as we all know, that was the way battles were decided long ago. But these two creatures were masters of the game. They could whip a Frisbee with their tails and catch it themselves on the other side of the field. So, squadoosh took Alfonzo Everett III's challenge, and the battle raged on. People came from miles around. The Mumas set up the camp and built some buildings around for the spectators. As the game went on, Squadoosh was worn out, but Alfonzo Everett III was exhausted and decided it was time to cheat.
When Squadoosh came close to catch the Frisbee, he was speared by Alfonzo Everett III's horn and thrown to the side. When Squadoosh hit the ground, a mountain arose, and it has been there ever since. As he laid there, a spring broke from the mountain and from it, arose a hippopotamus." Obviously, of course. "Her name we learned, was Barbara. And again, now Barbara was bad, she was badder than bad, she was badder than bad, bad Leroy Brown bad, and as she arose from the spring, Alfonzo was celebrating his victory where she latched onto his tail and threw him off the new mountain. As he flew back, the Dead Sea receded with him and has been low ever since. Once they were sure Alfonzo was defeated, Barbara returned to the spring. She now sleeps in the lake by the hotel where her snores are often mistaken for the sound of bull frogs. Squadoosh healed and made his way back to the camp where he has made a home underneath the boys latrines where he waits in case Alfonzo ever returns."
So, this was a long but very cute story that I always found neat to think about. While we tell lots of creepy stories at the camp, we can also create an oral tradition for campers that is fanciful and similar to creation stories from other cultures that explain the environment they find themselves around. I think that's really sweet, creating your own creation stories and starting your own oral traditions. Not Everything has to be super creepy all the time. Sometimes it can just be cool.
Amanda: I love that, and I now picture ... or I don't know, here David Ryan's Jim's voice whenever I hear repetitive folk tales like that, and it is a wonderful improvement to my life.
Julia: I really, really liked that. And I like having certain beats to stories like the bad, bad Leroy brown bad segment is adorable in my mind.
Eric: Very good.
Amanda: Well, my next email from Kiersten, combines that school to graveyard proximity with the idea of very local origin stories. So, I would love to tell you a little bit about the haunting of Fordham University.
Julia: Ooh, tell me about it.
Amanda: So, Fordham is just a few miles north of the Multitudio in the Bronx, New York, and Kirsten writes that she went to Fordham, which often is on lists of the most haunted universities in the country. The hauntings are actually infamous and notorious there to the point that the ghost hunting club puts on ghost tours several times a year.
Julia: Oh man, why didn't my school have a ghost hunting club? I'm so annoyed about that.
Amanda: I would also be very glad to be a guest speaker. Basically at any university, we would love to go visit your adorable college towns and drink at your breweries, but particularly, ghost and paranormal related places. Please have us.
Julia: Yes, please invite us. We'll travel.
Amanda: So, here are the top three hauntings that Kirsten wants to tell us apart from Fordham. One, the Ghost Priest. This story could only happen at a Catholic Jesuit University.
Julia: That's true.
Amanda: The story goes that a student was studying in the library for a Latin final late one night. Again, Jesuit University. He was struggling with a difficult passage of the Odyssey or the Illiad depending on who tells it, and was incredibly frustrated. Suddenly, an old Jesuit priest appeared by his side, helped him with the translation and then helped the students study all night. After he did well on the final the next day, he went back to the library to thank the priest. However, the librarian on duty didn't know who that was. The student turned to leave thinking it was a fluke. He then saw a painting of the priest who helped him on the wall who had died years earlier. I'm sure you can guess it. The priest and the painting was the one who had helped him on the exam.
Julia: It was a ghost.
Amanda: What a helpful ghost, what a-
Julia: I do love a helpful ghost. We had that other one that helped the girl study or made sure she stayed in school.
Amanda: Yeah, and the ones that saved the girl scouts from the fire.
Julia: Yes. Helpful ghosts, love them.
Amanda: Here is the ghost of Eddie's Parade. Fordham's quad is named for a former faculty member at Fordham by the last name of Edwards. He ran the ROTC program and would march students around that field. Now, when students are running around, they feel someone pushing them along during the toughest parts of their run. They say it's Eddie helping a new generation of students along.
Julia: Why are all these ghosts so helpful?
Amanda: I don't know. Well, this one is also in my opinion, the definition of chaotic good. I love it so much. So, The Fake Cemetery. This is not a haunted place on campus, but just a really fun, spooky story. Robert Moses .... the asshole, wanted to run a highway straight through campus. The Jesuits weren't going to have that, so they threw a building up really quickly, not caring for the dimensions and such. So, you get floors that don't match doors that go nowhere, et cetera. This building is currently home to the philosophy department, which always struck me as fitting.
Julia: Of course, it is. Who else?
Amanda: That wasn't exactly enough for Moses to stop the highway, so the Jesuits added a cemetery behind the building. The names on the headstones are real, but there isn't anyone in the graves. It was a move that did a lot the Jesuits to keep the campus intact and beat Moses at his own game, which is definitely cool.
Julia: So, one of my favorite things in architecture are spite houses, which are like, this person wanted to buy my land, but I told them, fuck you, so I built a house on it, and it's only eight feet by five feet or something like that.
Amanda: I love that so much. We also just get those in New York in lots of bizarre little slices of property, and they're my absolute favorite. Actually listeners, if you have any oddly proportioned homes or spite homes in your town or in your photo album, I would love to see them.
Julia: Yes, please. But the idea of a spite cemetery is so good, I cannot.
Amanda: It's so wonderful. And despite Robert Moses who talked a big game and did a lot of destructive things to New York, particularly to low income communities in the Bronx, and that sucks.
Julia: He's the worst.
Amanda: Except for Jones Beach. I know you did it for the wrong reasons, but it's beautiful. Thanks.
Eric: I mean, I don't know anything about the guy.
Amanda: This is the guy who is the subject of the power broker. It's actually very, very interesting, a way that he amassed power. He had basically a meaningless job in New York city government, and then manage to, through a lot of extortion and favors, and just basically money laundering from one agency to a different one, amassed power such that anyone who wanted to build a building, build a bridge, build a park, get a permit, had to go through him. So, he very much in the style of succession in Game of Thrones and other shows about power, invented this, I am the broker of power in New York City, and if you want anything, you come to me.
Julia: Yeah. So, you have our story to finish this off?
Eric: Yeah. I have a story that bookends thematically really well Amanda's story that started the episode. This email is titled, I Lost My Friend in a Ball Pit.
Amanda: Oh no. I don't like this.
Julia: That would be a good episode title though.
Eric: This comes to us from Mariah, and she writes, "Hello friends, thank you for making this amazing podcast, which has kept me awake on long college commutes and focusing during big illustration commissions. I especially have appreciated the Garth Nix novel references. I have a few hometown spooky stories. I'm from the woods of Kentucky, it's back country out here."
Julia: Oh boy.
Eric: "So, I'll probably write in a couple of times." Please do. "This is just the first one that came to mind. It is very clear in my memory, and my mom has retold it and many times as well. Okay, so when I was six my uncle got married in Arizona and my family flew out there to attend. I don't remember too much about the wedding besides a ton of Seeger playing, but I do ... What a specific memory, but I have a very clear memory of the last day of the trip. We had checked out of our hotel and stopped at a McDonald's nearby before heading to the airport. While the grownups ordered the food, my mom let me play in the outdoor ball pit by myself. Hello 90-
Julia: Outdoor ball pit?
Eric: Yeah, this is definitely a thing. This is definitely a thing in some places, and Arizona definitely makes a lot of sense.
Julia: Yeah, doesn't really rain there. It's always hot. All right, makes sense.
Eric: Luckily, a kid my age was already playing out there. I've already ... Let's do a ... what's that book? The Westing Game, where there's the mystery that you try to solve throughout the book.
Julia: Right, sure.
Eric: Let's see if you guys can mystery solve what the big twist of this story is, and it doesn't have to do with names that are cardinals-
Julia: The child doesn't exist.
Eric: Julia has said the child doesn't exist. Amanda, you can chime in at any point now or in the future-
Amanda: Thank you.
Eric: ... when you think you have solved the case. Luckily, a kid my age was already playing out there. I've always been able to remember exactly what this kid looked like. My height, brown hair, green shirt with a big gray stripe across the front.
Amanda: Okay, the kid is actually an animal, and they only transform in to a kid, like a crow who can become a kid and the kid jumps and it becomes a crow.
Julia: Oh, you know, like those crow people.
Eric: Like the children and the crow. We both climbed into the pulpit and started throwing the plastic balls at each other while I told him about the wedding and riding in a plane. I'm not sure how long we're actually out there, but my friend suddenly said, hey, watch this, and then dove into the ball pit in front of me. As I was waiting through and trying to find him, my mom came out and told me to come back inside so we could eat and get going.
Julia: Child disappeared.
Eric: I got upset and told her I couldn't leave until I found my friend. My mom laughed, moved a couple of balls around while pretending to look for him with me and started to lift me out of the pit. I became even more defined to the point where my mom put me down and asked me about my friend and where they went. As I told her about the boy, how we had been playing next to the store window in the pit and him disappearing, she suddenly got very pale and took me inside. We packed up the food and ended up eating it on the way to the airport.
Julia: Don't like this.
Eric: I cried the entire way home.
Julia: Don't like this, don't like the mom's reaction.
Eric: It wasn't until years later, that my mom finally told me what had upset her. She and my family had actually been sitting on the other side of the window waiting for the food and watching me play alone.
Julia: Yeah, called it.
Eric: Julia gets the points.
Amanda: See, but what if the child was just turned to a bunch of germs?
Julia: But child crow though.
Eric: But the adults have never saw a crow child or any other fantastical form of a non-existent child. No one else was ever out there with me. I had been laughing, talking, and throwing the falls in the empty side of the pit-
Julia: Oh, my God.
Eric: ... which is just a funny thought, this parent just watching their child just throwing balls at absolutely nothing, just aimlessly. My mom had come outside to get me because my solo conversation was starting to freak her out and thought that maybe I was talking to some random creepy adult.
Julia: Oh, good. I mean, good parenting, solid A+.
Eric: And that's all. You don't leave your six-year-old out in the outdoor ball pit alone, mom.
Julia: Yeah, mom.
Eric: So, that's the first personal ghostly experience, and one of my favorite stories to tell at parties to see who the cool kids are. Wishing you all the very best, and keep up the good work.
Eric: Lot of just disappearing kids-
Julia: Yeah, I know.
Eric: ... in this episode.
Julia: I'm liking that though.
Eric: But like are not terrible.
Amanda: Yeah, and not tragically.
Julia: I want more adventures with ghost children, but not where they're haunting you. Just like, oh yeah, I had this good friend, but they didn't exist. What I just described there was imaginary friends, I realize that now.
Amanda: But it's wonderful, it's all right for storytelling. We have covered, I think, creepy kids, flesh and blood kids who are very creepy. So, now let's do some ghostly kids who are great.
Julia: Well, there is a lot of positive ghost experiences in this episode and I appreciate it.
Amanda: I know a lot of you listen late at night, so hopefully, that was a little nice thought to send you to sleep on.
Julia: And remember listeners, as you hang out with your ghostly friend, to stay creepy.
Amanda: Stay cool.