Ushering The Dead To The Other Side

In Savannah, the ushering of the dead to the other side, isn’t always an easy process. It’s a mish-mash culturally thing of European Christian belief from settlers, Native Americans, and African descendants.

Christians make it easy. Put the dead body in the graveyard, the soul goes to heaven or hell and that’s the end of that. The living are welcome to visit the marked grave, but don’t talk to the dead. Leave them in peace.

Native Americans send the dead off on a journey which requires a departure ceremony. They’re buried with items necessary for travel; foodstuffs, hunting tools, and of course trinkets of personal value. Have a nice trip!

The Africans put the dead in unmarked graves surrounded by a fence, but no gate. This is a sacred place and once a person was buried nobody was to disturb them. No visitors allowed. (Over time, people forget where the dead are buried and this is one reason why so many graves are accidentally discovered)

Of course, as everyone knows, the dead in Savannah don’t necessarily stay dead. So to be safe people had to come up with a back-up plan.

They put Haint Blue paint on a house to keep malicious spirits out. Or they make a Spirit Tree by hanging colorful glass bottles on branches that make noise in the wind which keeps the unwanted spirits away. Rich folk could have a house built with curved corners so a spirit would come in then follow the curve out. Having Mahi Mahi fish drain spouts pour spirits off the roof, down the drain, and into the streets where they can go bother somebody else.

And, if none of this works, perhaps a good o’l housecleaning exorcism might be what’s needed. Call in a priest, a shaman or a root-doctor and if that doesn’t work, call a realtor.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Shrimp Factory

The Shrimp Factory on River Street in Savannah is the-place-to-go for some delicious local seafood. Today it’s decorated with coastal art displayed on old Savannah brick walls, but in 1823 it was a cotton warehouse.

The story goes that slaves worked all day in poor conditions pushing and hauling bales of cotton from the warehouse to shipping vessels. It’s understandable that perhaps a few might’ve died in the building and their spirits might be haunting The Shrimp Factory. Muted voices and rattling chains and unexplainable sounds are often heard on the top floor (where the slaves were kept) and when investigated nobody is there.

During the summer the staircase leading to the storage room is hot, but sometimes in the evening, about halfway up the stairs there is a blast of cold air.

Some employees believe the cold spot is the ghost of a former employee named Joe. Although Joe was in good health, for some unknown reason he dropped dead on the staircase in August 1977. Joe also likes to hang out in the liquor storage room and, upon occasion has been known to knock over a few bottles of rum. He’s also been thought to be the mischievous culprit responsible for flickering lights and shutting down of all things electrical.

So if your in the mood for some popcorn shrimp, oysters on the half shell and want to enjoy watching the ships go up and down The Savannah River, then this might be a good place to go for dinner.

And if the ghost sitting at the next table asks for the hot sauce, please have some respect for the dead and pass it on over. It’s the polite Savannah thing to do.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Do You Think You’ve Seen A Ghost?

Have you ever asked yourself, ‘What the heck was that? Was that a ghost?’

It helps to know a little about ghost characteristics to figure things out if what you think you saw was indeed a visiting spirit from the other-side.

First possibility that it’s a ghost would be if you were in a place with a haunted history. Second would be if the image you saw was dressed in out-of-date clothing. (not an actor in period costume). Another clue would be if it does strange unusual things like walk through walls, or if an unexplained figure shows up in a photo you took, or if there’s a weird mist or an orb floating around.

If you’ve witnessed one or more of these events, then perhaps you’ve encountered a ghost.

Most ghosts reported are deceased family members. They can become visible, speak, make noises, touch you or omit an odor like cigarettes to let you know they’re there. They show up to give you comfort, provide important information or they want you to know they’re nearby.

Perhaps you’ve seen a swirling grey, black or white ecto-mist hovering about three feet off the ground. They’re usually seen in graveyards, move quickly and sometimes morph into a full-blown apparition.

Maybe you could’ve experienced a poltergeist which is a fancy name for a ‘noisy ghost’. They can knock things over, move things, throw things, turn lights off-on, and just cause a whole bunch of unwanted nonsense.

Cold spots and swirling funnels are spirits who hang around a house because, as living souls, they once lived there and don’t want to leave.

Orbs are just wayward souls traveling around who like to have their photos taken. Some even make it into videos.

If you’re confident that what you saw was a noisy, ecto-mist, cold, ghost orb that smells like grandma and goes through walls, then the next question would be ‘what the heck does it want?’

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Lucas Theatre

The Lucas Theatre, on the corner of Abercorn and Congress Street, in Savannah was built in 1921. It has a definite Italian Renaissance atmosphere which ghosts must especially love to haunt.

Back in the day, the theatre showed the newest silent movies, featured first-rate vaudeville acts and, best of all in 1927 it was air conditioned (which is a much needed commodity on a hot Georgia night).

In 1928, according to local legends, a group of gangsters did a drive-by shooting with Tommy Guns and blasted the outside with bullets.  The ticket taker was shot in the back during the shooting.  According to local legends, he dramatically stumbled out the ticket booth, staggered into the lobby, fell to the floor and vanished.

His ghost, trapped in residual energy, repeats this event from time to time. But there is no record of a drive by shooting, which makes you think it’s make-believe theatrics instead.

The theatre closed in 1976 and became a Savannah eyesore until it was saved and renovated. Naturally during the construction there were reports of paranormal activity; unexplained mechanical malfunctions, light from an empty projection booth, shadow people, and applause being heard in an empty theatre with no audience.

The Lucas theatre opened again in 2000. Today people can view classic films, enjoy operas, orchestras, and cabarets.  It’s the center for cultural events like The Savannah Film Festival.

And hopefully The Lucas Theatre won’t become the real scene for a modern day drive by rampage by Gangsta Ghosts!

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Haint Blue

 

“Haints” are what some folks in the low country of southeast Georgia call “spirits”. Haint Blue is the paint color some superstitious folks put on their house’s porch ceilings, shutters and doors to keep unwanted ghostly visitors from entering their homes.

The history of the paint color comes from the Gullah people who were brought to the area as slaves. They believed haints could not cross water and they decorated their houses with blue paint to protect themselves.

The paint was a mixture of purple dye from the native indigo plant, lime, clay and water. The indigo plant is poisonous and lime is an insect repellent. With such a toxic combination painted on a home there were definitely dead bugs on the outside.

Visible evidence of the dead on the outside and nothing dead inside reinforced the belief that the dead could not cross the water represented by the Haint Blue paint.

Haint Blue paint can be seen on homes all along the Southeast coast and it does give a pleasant cool appearance to a house. Although the toxic ingredients are no longer included in the mix, one can only hope the ghost protection can still be applied with a touch of voodoo magic on the brush.

My book, Wicked Haints, is about what happened in Savannah when Haint Blue paint is removed from a house and troublesome ghost come in. It’s a quick fun read and guaranteed to make everyone laugh…. even the dead!
Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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A Grave Mistake

In Savannah Georgia there’s an old burial ground, Colonial Park Cemetery, that has over 10,000 dead buried in it, but less than 1,000 grave markers. You might think it’s a grave mistake, but not necessarily so.

The shortage of markers is because many of Savannah’s dead were buried in mass graves due to yellow fever epidemics and others were placed in family recycling tombs. It was common practice that, when pappy died, he was placed in the family vault until he rotted away, then his dusty remains were shoveled into the family urn and space was then available for the next deceased family member.

The cemetery covers 6 acres of prime historic downtown real estate. It was established in 1750 and dead folks were put there until 1853.

When General Sherman’s yankee troops came through town they used the grounds as a campsite. The soldiers had fun rearranging the grave markers and changing the birth and death dates of the dearly departed. There are date mistakes everywhere!

But in Savannah it ain’t so smart to go messing with the dead because everyone knows Savannah is haunted, especially old cemeteries! Duh!!! And naturally, Colonial Park Cemetery is a hot spot for ghostly activity.

Who haunts the old cemetery? Perhaps one of the “dueling ghosts” who got shot in the dueling grounds next door, or a yellow fevered southern belle, or maybe the 7-foot murdering beast-man, Rene Rondolier (see my blog Rene’s Playground) or maybe just the usual restless dead who will always call Savannah home.

Colonial Park Cemetery was made a park in 1896. Today visitors can walk among the dead and perhaps encounter a spirit while sitting on a park bench. It is after all Savannah, and it’s a grave mistake to think the dead stay in their graves.

Be careful where you tred… you walk upon Savannah’s dead.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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The Willink House

Henry Willink built his little house south of Oglethorpe Avenue at the corner of Price and Perry Streets sometime around 1845 or maybe it was built in 1851 when he returned from New York having learned more about the ship building business. (He built the C.S.S. Georgia Ironclad for the Confederate Navy and The Ladies’ Gunboat Association thought it was too ugly so he had to build a second one, which was just as monstrous, heavy, stinky and it leaked. The Confederates sunk it themselves in 1864).

His shipyard business and his life was going pretty well until a fateful day when he invited his wife to join him at the shipyard. Poor Mrs. Willink tripped, went over a ship’s rail, and drowned. She couldn’t swim and her heavy skirts dragged her down.

Needless to say, Henry was quite upset that he couldn’t save her, and spent much of his time at the shipyard to forget the tragedy… until another fateful day when he saw his wife’s ghost standing on a ship’s deck. He was so stunned to see her that he tripped, went over the ship’s rail and fell into the Savannah River. He didn’t drown, but was saved and went home safe. He was so mad at her for frightening him that he slammed the front door on his way inside.

And so… now the ghost of Henry Willink opens the front door and closes it with a loud bang just to make a statement, but for some strange reason he can’t get out of the little house he shared with his dearly departed wife.

The house was also rumored to have been used as a school for African American children where they were taught secretly by a white school teacher. She would reward the children for doing their school lesson by bribing them with candy treats. It is said now the living encounter a ghostly Candyland as sugar treats are randomly found in the house and the house smells of sweet spirits.

The house was moved to 426 E. St. Julian Street and is privately owned. If you take a walk by perhaps you will find a candy treat or get a door slammed shut in your face. Will you get a trick or a treat? It must be Halloween at the Willink House all year long. Trick-or-Treat!