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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The Haunted Poet – Conrad Aiken

Some hauntings don’t necessarily take place in a house, a graveyard, a brewery or a hotel room. Sometimes a haunting occurs within. Such was the unfortunate case of Savannah born poet, Conrad Aiken.

His father and mother moved to Savannah from “up north” and settled into a nice brick home. Dr. Aiken was a brain surgeon and his wife a popular socialite. But the Aiken house was not a happy home. Conrad’s parents fought a lot and as time went on Conrad’s father turned dark and volatile.

One night, as the eleven-year-old Conrad lay in his bed he heard his parents arguing. He heard his father count to three, followed by one gunshot, and then another. Conrad ran to his parent’s room to find them both dead. His father had killed his mother, then shot himself in the head.

Little Conrad was sent “up north” to live with family. He graduated from Harvard and eventually became an American Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, short-story writer, novelist, and a critic. But the tragedy of his youth would haunt him and his writings forever. He was fearful he’d be afflicted by the insanity that his father had succumbed to. His poems were sometimes dismal and hauntingly sorrowful.

In his later years, Conrad moved back to Savannah, and morbidly odd as it may be, he bought and lived in the house next door to the family home. He spent many days in Bonaventure Cemetery by his parent’s graves.

One day he saw a ship named Cosmos Mariner pass by. When he inquired about where the ship was going he was told “destination unknown”. He decided that would be the perfect epitaph for his own grave. Being a true Savannahian, he selected his grave stone made in to a seating bench to invite visitors to sit down and share a drink with him.

I have in fact visited Conrad Aiken’s grave in Bonaventure Cemetery. I sat upon the bench and raised a glass of wine to toast The Haunted Poet to bid him a peaceful journey home.

Because we are all Cosmos Mariners sailing among the stars to unknown destinies.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Deathbed Confession

If you were to give a deathbed confession what would it be? What would you want your loved ones to know before you died and went off into the great beyond? I doubt you would tell them about the person you kilt-and-buried-for-dead in the wall of your house. Well, that’s what Honoria Foley did on her deathbed… she fessed up about murdering of one of her guests.

The Foley House Inn on Chippewa Square in Savannah Georgia was owned and operated by Honoria Foley. As the story goes she had an unwanted suitor who would not leave her alone and, much to her displeasure went so far as to book a room in her Inn. He proceeded to make inappropriate advances and snuck into her bedroom one night for a visit. She fought him off and eventually beat him in the head with a candlestick which resulted in his untimely, but seemingly necessary death.

Much to her dismay, Honoria found herself with a body to dispose of and she did what every proper southern lady would do; she called in a few “favors”.  The next day a brick mason friend came over to seal up the dead man good and tight in a wall. The murderous secret was kept a hidden until 1989 when workers, doing a bit of reconstruction, were surprised to find a skeleton in a wall at The Foley House Inn.

Hononia had no explanation for how a dead person could’ve ended up in her wall. She said she knew nothing about it and was just as surprised as everyone else. And as for who the gentleman was, she had no idea about that either.

People dismissed the matter as being just another Savannah unsolved mystery and they saw no reason to purse the matter further. It was not until Honoria died that she confessed to killing Mister Guest in the bedroom with the candlestick.

And today they say Mister Guest, having been disturbed from his resting place in the wall, haunts The Foley House Inn.  There are no records of who this ghostly guest is (Honoria left that bit of information out of her deathbed confession). The owners affectionately named him Wally. His ghostly shadow is a harmless presence and he doesn’t seem to have any ill feelings towards Hononia for killing him. Perhaps it’s because she made a sincere confession on her deathbed, or perhaps it’s because none of this is true and somebody just said that Hononia confessed, although that somebody didn’t hear it all personal from the source, but heard it from somebody who knew somebody who heard it from somebody who told them that’s just the way it happened.

A deathbed confession. True or false? Ask the dead.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Aargh! Ghosts In The Pirate House

The building for The Pirates’ House Restaurant in Savannah Georgia is over 250 years old. And so, it only stands to reason that a place being that old, and also being in Savannah, can mean only one thing…. it’s haunted!

During the golden olden days, when Pirates sailed off the Georgia coast, it’s understandable they’d drop in to the old tavern on the bluff for a tankard of rum. (Savannah has always been a hospitable friendly party town.) Rumor has it that not only did pirates come to town, but upon occasion they’d Shanghai a few drunken sailors into a secret tunnel under the tavern and make them join their pirate team.

With so many pirates coming and going it’s possible some notorious evil-doers died here and never left or they just decided to return to haunt the old tavern.

They say shadow ghost pirates can been seen lurking in the corners, and the thump-thump-thump of a peg-leg sailor can be heard stumbling across the wood floorboards. Photos taken outside of the inside capture the flash a golden pirate toothy grin. While dining people sometimes get the sensation of being watched… by a ghostly one-eyed pirate with a black eye patch perhaps?

It’s believed Captain Flint, from the book Treasure Island, died in The Pirates’ House and he haunts the place, which would be appropriate considering he’s a fictional character.

There’s no doubt there were deviant pirates pillaging off the Georgia coast and also believable they’d sail into Savannah for a good o’l Pirate-fest, but all I know is; I’ve dined at The Pirate House and although I did see a creepy skeleton bone display and a gift shop, I did not see, hear or sense any paranormal pirate activity.

But perhaps on that particular evening the ghost Pirates were sailing on the high seas, raising the black flag, slitting throats, walking gangplanks and collecting treasure. Or could it be the ghost pirates are just waiting offshore for favorable winds so they can return to The Pirates’ House and order the shrimp gumbo?

The Pirates’ House is a location in my book Zombies Y’all! There’s lots of excitement happening in the underground Shanghai tunnels when they’re filled with hungry zombies!

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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Fort Pulaski’s Dead

Fort Pulaski was built in 1847 east of Savannah on Cockspur Island where it guards the mouth of the Savannah River. Some people believe it’s haunted by soldiers who died at the fort. Entities of Union and Confederate soldiers have been seen in and outside the walls. Perhaps they’ve decided to reenlist in the afterlife.

An unseen presence is often felt standing near the living, calling a person’s name. Feelings of sickness, fear, despair and misery overcome ‘sensitive’ people. Visitors have reported hearing odd footsteps in a stairwell, strange unexplainable sounds, and the disembodied sound of a little girl crying. There seems to be an unusually large amount of spooky orbs captured by cameras.

Fort Pulaski must’ve been a government oversight because it wasn’t really equipped as a serious fort and, at the start of the American Civil War it was easy-peasy for the Confederates to take it over. They held for over a year until Union forces snuck over to Tybee Island and bombed the crap out of the fort with cannons and mortars.

After 30 hours of bombardment, the Rebels surrendered and the Yankees held the fort for the remainder of the war.

In 1864, 592 of the original Confederate prisoners from Fort Delaware, known as the ‘Immortal 600’ who became political pawns in the Battle of Charleston, arrived at Fort Pulaski, where they suffered in retaliation for the South’s poor treatment of Union prisoners.

After the Civil War, Fort Pulaski, was abandoned and forgotten until 1906 when it became a National Monument. Cemetery sections were found for many of the Confederate and Union soldiers, but just because the men were buried, doesn’t necessarily mean they were sleeping peacefully in their graves.

One of the most documented accounts of the fort being haunted happened in the 1980s during the filming of Glory. A group of Confederate soldier extras, dressed in their uniforms, were surprised when a Confederate lieutenant officer reprimanded them for not saluting him. He ordered them to fall into line because a Union attack could happen at any time. They humored him and followed his orders to get in line, but when the officer gave the order to face about, he vanished!!

Yep, that’s what they say; he just faded away like cannon smoke on the battlefield. He’s an officer of the dead and y’all visitors might want to be careful when wandering about the parade grounds or you might just get recruited into the army of the afterlife.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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It’s only fitting that Savannah, one of America’s most haunted cities, would have a haunted theatre. The Savannah Theatre located on Chippewa Square (the site of the famous Forrest Gump bench scenes) is as haunted as haunted can be.

People have seen a ghostly woman in costume at the left of the stage and they’ve seen the ghost of an irate director giving stage directions to nonexistent actors while using not-so-nice hand signals. There’s a projectionist, who died in the projection booth and refuses to leave. A little boy haunts the balcony playing pranks on the living, a woman spirit sings in the lobby and in the hallway a man’s voice says “get going” as if he wants to encourage the living not to miss the opening act.

Savannah Policemen have often reported hearing applause and ruckus as they drove by the closed theatre, and when they went to investigate the noise, nobody was there.

The theatre opened in 1818 and played host to some of the world’s most beloved performers like Tyrone Power, Oscar Wilde, Sarah Bernhardt, and W.C. Fields.

It has been remodeled many times and suffered damaging fires in 1906, 1944 and 1948. The Drayton Street wall is the only part of the original building. The theatre was rebuilt in 1948 and struggled to operate until in 2002 when it received new life as a live music and dance show stage.

The Savannah Theatre is the oldest continuously operating theatre in the US and yes, it is open today for business. You can stop in for a show, but the ticket does not come with a guarantee that you’ll only see a live show because the dead might be waiting backstage to perform a creepy sideshow act.

Nobody know who haunts the theatre, or why they would hang around unless the spirits firmly believe “the show must go on” and they’re in Savannah to make sure the show goes on… and on… and on…

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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At the pub on 21 West Bay Street in Savannah you can get some Boo! With Your Brew at Moon River Brewing Company where a ghostly crew is mixing a paranormal brew.

There’s a shadow ghost child named Toby who likes to steal billiard balls and play tricks. Women in 19th-century clothing walk the stairwells, a Union officer wanders the hallways, and the third floor is haunted by a phantom lady dressed in a white gown.

The building was constructed in 1821 by Elazer Early to be the city’s first hotel, understandably named; City Hotel. In 1851, Peter Wiltberger bought it and put a live lion and lioness on display to draw attention to his business, or perhaps to eat unruly guests. During Yellow Fever Epidemics the top floors were used as hospital space. In 1864 the City Hotel closed when everyone went to fight the Yankees. Later the building was used as a coal warehouse and an office supply store until Hurricane David blew the roof off in 1979 then it remained empty for 16 years.

16 years is plenty of time for the ghosts to settle in and make themselves at home.

The Oglethorpe Brewery took over and began major renovations, but the presence of restless spirits made them run away without finishing the job. The current owners of Moon River Brewery don’t seem bothered by bottles flying off shelves, silverware sliding off dining room tables, and shadowy figures roaming the restaurant. In 2009, Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures visited and recorded weird footsteps, peculiar knocking, scary dragging sounds, and creepy disembodied voices.

Some believe it’s the violent history of the building that attracts paranormal activity. In 1832 Dr. Minus shot James Stark who was in the City Hotel drinking and spewing nasty remarks against him. The good doctor was acquitted of all charges because every town needs a good doctor more than a loudmouth drunk. In 1860, Mr. James Sinclair from New York City, came for work, but locals didn’t react kindly a Yankee taking their jobs. They politely asked Sinclair to leave, but when he refused, he was dragged out of the City Hotel and almost killed. There is after all a limit to Southern Hospitality.

Perhaps the evils of the past create a dark place for a demonic entity in the basement to linger in the shadows. Maybe bad vibes opened a door for a hostile spirit who likes to push people down stairs. Or maybe there are ghostly guests of the old City Hotel who just want have a glass of Moon River Brew because it’s deliciously evil.

I’ve dined in Moon River Brewery and drank the tasty brew myself. I highly recommend the Beer Sampler. I’ve never encountered a spirit sipping a drink at the bar or had a billiard ball tossed at my head, but there’s definitely a disturbing ambience that makes me glance over my shoulder from time to time. Because, in Savannah, ya just never know if you’ll be served some Boo! With Your Brew that makes you do something embarrassingly stupid that’ll haunt you the rest of your life.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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