Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ozark Horror: True Horrors

They say every story has some truth in it, somewhere. Well, in the Ozarks, there have been sightings of ghosts confirmed by several people. These spooks have been seen in theatres, hotels, churches, and even out on the road.

The Landers Theatre in Springfield, Missouri has had several ghosts spotted. One has been seen watching performances from the balcony. One has been spotted looking out the window of a dressing room when no one was up there. From reports, it seems to be an actor dressed in Elizabethan-style clothing. Perhaps an unfortunate Hamlet? Other ghosts have been seen and heard in the seats when there is no performance being held. Other ghosts have only been seen out of the corner of the eye.

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas seems to be as haunted as it is majestic. Guests have reported waking in the middle of the night and seeing unfamiliar people in their room. People have seen mysterious nurses, men dressed in the style of the early 20th Century, nurses pushing trolleys, and college girls dressed as if they were in school in the 1930's. They have felt presences, seen what they claim to be paranormal energy bolts, even heard and recorded strange voices. Many of the ghosts have been blamed on the fact that the hotel was once a phony cancer clinic that only gave their patients false hope of a cancer cure.

Other reports include lights turning on and off by themselves, guests feeling as if someone was trying to push them out of bed, windows and doors opening and closing by themselves, and hearing footsteps. One night, a clerk heard the toilet flushing and footsteps in room 218. Realizing the room had not been rented, he checked it, only to find it empty. The Crescent is considered America's most haunted hotel.

There are some people who say they can see and feel ghosts, or "spirits," as some prefer to call them. These people have reported sightings or feelings in schools, public buildings, even churches. In one case, a husband and his wife visited an old church, and the husband was told by a disembodied voice to leave, while the wife was told to stay. Gifted people have felt ghosts of children and teenagers who were murdered, killed by accidents, or committed suicide.

One of the most famous "spooks" in the Ozarks may or may not be a ghost. Some eleven miles southwest of Joplin, Missouri, a mysterious glowing orb is seen sometimes. This phenomenon, whether natural, supernatural, or paranormal, goes by the names of "The Joplin Spook light," "The Hornet Spook light," and "The Devil's Promenade." It has been claimed that the light is the ghosts of a disturbed Indian burial ground, or a ghost of an Indian looking for his lost lover, or that it's just swamp gas, or caused by reflections from car headlights, though reports have predated the heavy use of automobiles. People have seen the spook light moving like someone carrying a lantern. Others have seen it simply float in the air, though some claim that when they try to approach it, it vanishes and reappears elsewhere. Still, one unique report claims that the light approached their car, split and passed the vehicle on both sides, and rejoined on the other side.

One of the strangest true ghostly tales happened at a tourist attraction in Branson, Missouri. An employee for the Showboat Branson Belle, a recreated riverboat that goes on short trips into a lake while entertaining guests, claims she came into work late, and entered the main room of the boat. She found the room completely empty, a strange emptiness that made her feel very uncomfortable, so she left. When she told her managers and coworkers about the experience, they told her they had been in the main room at the time. Had she somehow stepped into an alternate dimension or time? No one knows.

In my childhood home, my mother claimed she heard a baby crying one night. The sounds came from the back of the house, which had been added on while we were living there. At the time, we had no babies. Even more strangely, once my sister claimed she saw a strange girl in a blue dress walking through the laundry room.

I may have once seen a ghost. I was looking out the new back door, and saw what looked like a mist floating towards the window of the screen door. As I watched it, the mist turned into the image of a skull with a red glow from the eye sockets. It seemed to begin to form a body as well, but I lost my nerve and ran to my bedroom.

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