I remember seeing this episode of Unsolved Mysteries when I was a teenager and being really, really freaked out by it. Some little thing about it just got into my head and scared the crap out of me. Thanks to the magic of youtube, I can see it again now. I really don’t see what I found so scary about it now, though sometimes I wonder how I managed to go from having a terrible fear of cemeteries barely a decade ago to being a professional ghost buster today.
I’ve always been on the fence about Mary; there are more documented sightings of her than many local ghosts (some of which have only ever been seen by one particular tour guide), but it seems more like an urban legend to me. Variations of the vanishing hitchhiker story are seen all over the world, going back in recorded history over 2000 years. Oddly, while I’ve had eyewitnesses to many Chicago ghosts on my tours, I’ve never met anyone who had a good Mary encounter to share. The story has gone around so much by now that it’s difficult to know who to believe. But, one way or the other, it’s a great story that has captured the imaginations of generations of Chicagoans.
NOTE: Jane Addams of Hull House once made a speech about Archer Avenue in the Florentine Room of the Congress Hotel – a regular tic-tac-toe of Chicago ghost stories!