Maybe you don’t believe in ghosts or evil spirits. The folks mentioned in this column, though, definitely do.
DEAR MR. MYERS: Have you ever heard of a ghost called “Resurrection Mary”?
ANSWER: Sure. Far beyond the spirits of gangster Al Capone and serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who reportedly haunt Chicago, “Resurrection Mary” may be the most famous and oft-seen ghost by residents of the Windy City.
She’s been spotted in nightclubs, taxis and floating about the sprawling Resurrection Cemetery, where she is believed to be buried.
Never miss a local story.
Resurrection Mary is particularly interesting because, unlike her departed brothers and sisters, she’s relatively talkative and outgoing. Experts on the paranormal say that most dead souls who refuse to leave their earthly confines typically are silent and seem very sad or angry.
Though accounts vary, the first sighting of Mary appears to have occurred in 1939, when a handsome young man spied a beautiful blonde in a flowing white dress inside a local ballroom. He had a delightful conversation with her, they danced together, and the man offered to drive her home as the evening came to a close.
She accepted the ride, and the couple headed to her mother’s house. But abruptly, she told the gentleman to instead turn onto Archer Avenue — the main drag that leads to Resurrection Cemetery. When they got to the graveyard, she asked the driver to stop ... and then promptly vanished into thin air.
The next day, the young man went to the house where Mary said she lived. The old woman who answered the door informed him that Mary was her daughter, and that she had died in a hit-and-run car accident five years earlier, and was buried in Resurrection Cemetery.
Suddenly, all the pieces to the puzzle seemed to fall into place. The man, who had briefly worked in a mortuary, had enjoyed dancing with Mary the night before — but just couldn’t forget how she felt so icy to the touch.
Renowned ghost-hunter Richard Crowe says that he has collected more than three dozen “substantiated” reports of sightings of Mary, dating back to the 1930s. Her spirit typically shows up dancing in various ballrooms across Chicago, and then hails down a taxicab before disappearing when the fare comes due. She also has been spotted at night on Archer Avenue and roaming the cemetery itself, in the same flowing white dress in which she danced and was later buried.
Many witnesses say her spirit gives off an eerie, incandescent glow before going into the fog or cloudy mist that often covers the graveyard at night.
DEAR MR. MYERS: Do you believe that there’s really a “portal to hell”?
ANSWER: Dunno, and I hope to never find out.
The “portal to hell” theory is attributed to Mike Maginot, a Catholic priest in Gary, Indiana, after he got a call about a strange-acting boy who was just 9 years old, in 2012.
The boy, his two siblings and his mother were being tormented by growling noises from the basement in their new home from an invisible source, and would wake up with bloody noses and bruises the next morning in their beds.
The boy was then thrown into the basement’s freezer by unseen hands, but survived.
Government authorities were called. Indiana records from the Department of Child Services show that during an observation in the presence of a doctor, a psychologist and a social-case worker, the boy walked up a wall and did a 360-degree backflip over his grandmother, who was sitting in the room.
In another instance in a doctor’s office, the boy was supposedly lifted into the air and thrown into a wall. Records say that nobody had touched him.
A subsequent investigation by the Catholic Church determined that the mother was likely the first to be possessed by the devil, who perhaps gained access to her soul through the stairs leading down to the basement ... a “portal” for Satan to claim those who struggle between good and evil.
After three exorcism ceremonies, in front of a church full of cops and other people, Father Maginot says the “demon” was released from the mother and her kids.
The family never returned to the house, and the current homeowners have not reported any problems. But Father Maginot issued this warning in an ABC telecast, appropriately on Oct. 31 of last year: “There is a danger,” Father Maginot said. “Because I did have to, in fact, perform an exorcism on someone that went in there. It will become one of the most notorious sites in America.”
DEAR MR MYERS: What do you know about the “Devil’s Backbone” in Texas?
ANSWER: It’s the nickname for about 4,700 acres of scenic land in southern Texas that’s filled with mountains, ravines, woodlands and — many swear — ghostly apparitions.
The first reports of unearthly visitors in the area apparently date back to the 1800s. That’s when cowboys who were riding the range began telling friends that they often were shadowed by a number of mysterious figures, including apparitions of Native Americans, a squad of spirits dressed in the full armor of Spanish explorers and even a Catholic Monk.
Experts note that the area has one of the bloodiest histories in the entire U.S. They speculate that the restless Native American souls may have been slain by American frontiersmen, or perhaps by the Spanish explorers.
The Spaniards, who often took a monk or friar with them as they fought brutal battles to expand their empire, may have been killed by the Natives during combat, or simply died from the new types of diseases they encountered as they moved north from Mexico and South America into the U.S. around 1690.
Local folks like to swap their most recent ghost stories at the rustic Devil’s Backbone Tavern in Fischer, Texas. The saloon apparently has a humorous spook of its own, whose shenanigans finally prompted the owner to post a sign in the bar.
Here’s how it reads, unedited by your humble correspondent: “Ghost Warning — If Doors and Windows Open And Close By Them Selfs, Just Ignore It. It’s Just Our Ghost Trying to Get Attention. He Thinks It’s Funny.”
David W. Myers’ column is distributed by Cowles Syndicate Inc.