Breaking Dead Body News

Troy just sent me a news bulletin about a bunch of bodies being dug up from a pit in an Alsip cemetery.

While running across dead bodies is hardly unusual in Cook Country, this seems somewhat different from the usual case – most of the time, the bodies found are bodies who weren’t moved along with their gravestones when a cemetery (such as City Cemetery, alias Lincoln park, or the many between Lincoln Park and Chicago Avenue). This, however, appears to be a case of bodies being dumped by a crooked cemetery. More details when we have them!

Return of the Shadow?

Back in November, we presented the now-famous Shadow Picture from the Florentine Ballroom, which has, thus far, held up to scrutiny. And this week, after months of inactivity (nothing’s active all time; places go in and out of active periods), the ballroom has seemed active again. We’ve heard footsteps in the room more than once, and the guards have heard it, as well (one has even heard a person humming in there).

It almost seems only natural that we’d get another shot remarkably similar to the one from November – this was taken by Krissy M, a guest on the tour:

As with most pictues of a back wall in a darkened ballroom, the light quality isn’t great. But, given the size of the silhouette and the position of the flash, it DOES seem like the shadow must be of someone standing right in front of the wall (this is the other side of the same wall from the November shot) My initial thought when seeing the pic on a camera lcd screen was that turning up the exposure, brightness, etc, would reveal it to be just a person from the tour standing against the wall. But this wasn’t the case. While it’s not as clearly defined as the November shot (it’s a mixture or red and black), it doesn’t seem to have been a person. After all, the flash should make a person look front-lit, not backlit. And, even more unusual, while his does seem to be the torso, neck and head of a person, it looks, in the closeup, as though it may not be a FULL silhoutte – there’s some space between the shadow and the table. Here’s a close-up (with the exposure turned up:

It’s tempting to look for faces or shapes in it (like, say “it looks like a woman looking up” or “the red and black makes it look like a person in a red hooded cloak” or “it kinda looks like Admiral Ackbar”), but I don’t really recommend that. In a shot this vague, trying to assign a gender or personality to the thing is just letting your imagination go nuts (nothing wrong with that, normally, but we’re doing SCIENCE here, folks!)(sorta).

So, is this a ghost? Is it the SAME ghost as the last one? Could this still be a person’s shadow? Obviously, there’s no one standing between the photographer and the wall. The flash on the wall COULD come from another camera held by a “second shooter” who was taking a picture of a person standing to the side, but I don’t think this is the case.

As always, we’re not saying this is truly a ghost – there is no such thing as good ghost evidence, only COOL ghost evidence. BUt this is shockingly similar to the November shot, and was noticed during the tour (albeit not until a few stops later), so it’s pretty much impossible for the photographer to have faked it digitally.

The Hand of Drywall Dave – Update!

This is the infamous “Devil’s Hand” at the Congress Hotel, which is visible through a hole in the wall in a back closet at the congress hotel. We found it on an investigation of the place back in 2006.

We first blogged about it over a year ago.

Since then, while we’ve joked that it was a mysterious, ghostly hand of Drywall Dave the (probably mythical) worker who was walled up inside the place, or supposed-resident ghost Teddy Roosevelt carryin’ a big stick, or (Willie the Driver’s favorite) Jimmy Hoffa, we always assumed it was, in reality, a glove that got plastered over by a construction worker with a weird sense of humor.

The other night, though, I went to take a look at it for the first time since 2006 (it’s out of the way and a pain in the neck to get to). It’s deteriorated a bit since then – enough that we can see that it was never a glove. We’re not sure what it IS, or why it looks so much like a hand (it does seem to have four fingers and a thumb). It probably isn’t anything paranormal, but it’s certainly not an old glove!

Our Lady of the Underpass

A staple of our tours from Day 1 has been the infamous Virgin Mary Salt Stain – the salt stain on the underpass near Fullerton and Damen that some claimed was a visitation of the Virgin Mary, which they claimed it resembled. The traffic jams to see it died down a few weeks after it’s “discovery” in April 2005, but the shrine around it – featuring candles, wreathes, and (I’m not making this up) a headless Jesus statue remained.

(update: I’m no longer with the company I worked for when this post went up in 2009, but as of 2012, I still pass by it occasionally on certain routes for Chicago Hauntings, my current company, and even if the stain is gone, the shrine remains – it was rebuilt shortly after this post went up). 

Ken just called from the tour and told me that it’s gone. There’s nothing left, from what he’s told me, except for some burn marks. Basic detective work leads us to believe that it was set fire to by some weirdo, and the rubble was hauled away by the city. The fire could also have been started by one of the candles, I suppose. There are a LOt of candles set up most of the time – candles plus plants are probably an accident like this waiting to happen.

The stain has fallen on hard times lately – some months back it was covered by a spray-painted devil face, and has since been covered with a portrait of Mary. It was only a matter of time until it joined the House of Crosses in the ranks of “Great Tour Stops Gone By.”

It was a tricky stop for me, since I always felt that I OUGHT to be fairly respectful of it. As a paid, professional smart aleck (see my upcoming “Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History,” due early next year), there were some jokes I just couldn’t leave out…

– I was never sure what people were seeing in the stain, exactly. Apparently Jews can’t see it.

– I’d like to be a fly on the wall at Mary’s meeting in which God says “Mary, I need you to go be a salt stain in Chicago. That’ll send a powerful message. I know you’re already appearing on a sandwhich in Dubuque, but hey, I’m EVERYWHERE. You can’t be two places at once?”

– The “shrine” around it changed all the time. One time we went out there and found a pyramid of Dr. Pepper cans – perhaps a reference to the scriptural “Thou art the pepper of the earth*…would not thou like to be a pepper, too?” I believe it’s in Paul’s Letter to Mr. Pibb (which opens “yo, Pibb…why you always gotta be a pepper hater?”

So long, salt stain.

Leon Despres dies at 101

Former alderman Leon Despres as often the only alderman in town with enough guts to vote AGAINST Mayor Daley the First. For those who aren’t from Chicago, aldermen are like the mayors of neighborhoods. They’re about as well known for corruption as any other local politician, but Despres was the exception. When columnist Mike Royko found out that Depres rode a bicycle instead of a cadillac, he didn’t believe he was an alderman at all. But Despres’s staff assured Royko that Leon was going to hire someone else to work the pedals.

We were fortunate enough to speak with Despres at Bughouse Square a couple of years ago – the interview as recorded on the Bughouse Square episode of our podcast

Link: Alderman Despres dies at 101.

KFC wants to fix Chicago potholes?

Folks, we do have a LOT of pot holes around here. Sometimes they’re pretty interesting for a historian – you can see layers of city history in them. Some go deep enough that you can see the bricks that used to pave the road (sometimes more than one layer of them) and the old streetcar tracks pop up pretty regularly. Others go so deep, though, that I think you can actually see all the way to Carbondale.

Driving around this time of year can be like getting the magic fingers on an old hotel bed – well, that’s a NICE way of putting it. Another way of putting it is that after a drive down Grand Avenue, you might look at your tonsils and think “hemmorhoids.”

So now KFC is saying they want to fill the pot holes themselves. That’s right. Kentucky Fried Chicken.

or so says Consumerist