Spooky NC: Robert The Doll

Hey-O! I am back after a brief break thanks to my company’s annual review which sure did suck the fun out of October. I swear, it’s like they conspired to have this during my favorite time of the year just to say, “we still own you”. But I smoked it and now for these final two weeks of the season, I am all yours.

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Today we begin with an eerie doll that is world-famous for giving people the creeps. It even went as far as to inspire the character Chucky from the film Child’s Play. Now that is something! Clowns never bothered me but a doll will take this thirty-six year old veteran and have him walk backwards out of a room holding a broom for defense. I am not joking.

So, back in 1906 a Bahamian servant was practicing black magic and voodoo in the home of the well-to-do Otto family and was let go. In her disdain she made a doll in the likeness to the child, Robert Eugene Otto, and gave it to him before she was dismissed from the property. From that point on, strange things kept happening around the home of the Otto’s. Robert changed his name to Eugene at the bequest of his new friend who he named Robert. His parents could hear conversations from Eugene’s room but when Eugene stopped talking, a much lower and sinister voice would answer. When they barged in his room, only Eugene and his doll, Robert, would be in there, sitting on the floor as if they were playing perfectly normal.

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As the years went on the Otto’s finally had enough of the doll and took it away from Eugene, locking it up in the attack. People walking past the home would report that a childlike shape would pace in front of the windows and even use profanity and giggle at them. The Otto’s were well aware of the presence but chose to keep it a family secret until after the parents death and Eugene was old enough to purchase the house.

It gets better. Eugene married and moved in to his childhood home. Shortly after, he found Robert in the attic amongst a number of boxes. It was as if time had never stopped between the two. He kept Robert at his side at all times and this creeped his wife out something severe. In fact, she wrote in her journals that she could hear giggling with footsteps all over the house. She even said that the face of the doll would twist and morph into a demonic expression. When she demanded Eugene get rid of the doll he would fly into a rage and then snap out of it, as if it was Robert acting through him. Finally they compromised and Robert was sent to live in the upstairs terrace with a view. But that was not the end.

Eugene’s wife slowly descended into madness and eventually died from unnatural causes. Eugene soon followed but Robert stayed in the terrace. Then a few years later another family moved into the house and Robert became active again. The new tenants had a little girl who quickly took to Robert, even though the parents where not too thrilled with the new playmate. Almost the exact same phenomenon started again. The parents would hear chatter but with an unrecognizable voice. Footsteps would pace above the dining room and even the little girl would become frightened of her new friend. In fact, she is still alive and doing interviews, claiming that Robert would get up and attack here at night. The family did not last long in the home and now that Robert is removed, it’s a cozy B&B. FUCK THAT.

My favorite story, was the one from the museum. It is a detailed police report from a plumber who was working in the home alone. When he went to “Robert’s room” he felt uneasy around the doll. It wasn’t until he was almost done that he heard footsteps running behind him only to find the doll in a different location. When he finished up and headed down stairs he heard it again and when he turned around, Robert was on the floor in a different position. He stood in silence and right behind him erupted a chilling laughter which had him sprinting for the door.

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Today, Robert is safe in a glass case and is residing at the Ft. East Martello Museum right next to the Key West Airport. But even though he is in a glass case, employees and lots of visitors claim he is still up to his tricks by turning off lights, giggling and even touching people.

When I was there, I took a number of photos of the doll. Before I could get up to the case one of the museum’s guides damn near bit my head off for not asking for permission. I thought he was talking about himself but then the guide pointed at Robert. Apparently if you don’t ask for permission, not only will all the photos come out blurry but he might put a curse on you. And by the tone of the museum’s guide, he truly believed in it.

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Before I asked Permission. Can you tell?

In fact, all my pictures turned out blurry until I asked for his permission. coincidence? Possibly but I am not messing around with it. That is one scary little doll.

Here is a quick little video where you can see what I am talking about. Truly the creeps!

 

The Headless Horseman In My Office

I have a weakness for CVS Halloween decor. During late August I pop into a CVS at least every other day to quickly traverse the aisles in hopes that some proactive manager gets an early jump on Halloween. I don’t know why I bother because they never start until the first week of September and all I really look like is a meth maker checking out the supply of cold medicine. I don’t like getting the suspicious eye from a twenty year old CVS clerk with a crossed out name tattooed on his neck.

What I was really looking for was a replacement to the Grim Reaper I bought last year who, unfortunately, did not survive and broke in half. I did not find him BUT I found something so much better. In fact, I will be hard pressed to find anything better this Halloween season.

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Introducing The Headless Horseman himself from the famous folklore tale of Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It is not only a great Halloween display but it just so happens to be my favorite horror icon of all time. Ever since I was a young kid, that story captivated my imagination and chilled me to the bone. Even the Disney version! From the creepy autumn setting of a superstitious northern New York town to the belief that at night no one would venture in the woods because that is where ghosts and specters lurked. I love it all even though that sort of thinking back then led to witch hunts and burning at the stake. Oh well.

This guy is pretty big with a height just under six feet. Not bad for a price tag around $60! You will see in the video he doesn’t move around but his pumpkin lights up and he says a few witty phrases that are either activated by pressing his hand or motion sensing. It’s a pretty neat addition but I really wish he had a Robert Goulet voice. RIP Bobby!

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It was pretty funny when I bought this guy at CVS because he kept going off in the box which was half the size of my car. Of course the clerk took a year to ring me up with all sorts of questions like, “Are you a CVS card member? Would you like to be? and “Is this for Halloween?”. It’s hard for me to tone the sarcasm when people throw me softballs. I was nice and said no.

Well, I won’t ramble on too much about this Halloween decoration that makes me want to sing a verse from “Putting On The Ritz” in a Peter Boyle style Frankenstein voice. I will just let you watch me ramble on about it and you can hear him for yourself. I must apologize for my appearance, I’ve been operating on a couple of hours sleep a night thanks to this place that gives me paychecks. I like paychecks.

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Also! This is just one of a couple Sleepy Hollow type posts that are coming your way. I have a special treat with an artist who isn’t far from me who art-ed this commission just for me! It’s a special so be excited! (Art-ed does not sound as smart when said aloud)

 

Spooky NC With Bayou Babylon

Hello my friends. Today is a special day here at the Spook Show because I can share with you my amazing trip to visit my buddy Travis who you might know as Bayou Babylon down in the Gulf of Mexico, Mobile Alabama. Both he and his wife, Crystal, are some of those most amazing people I have ever met and together we had a blast. From the history to the food to the 300 beers, I will say Travis is a lifelong buddy who is stuck having an semiannual guest crash his pad.

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This trip, Travis took me to a creepy and the notoriously haunted Church Street Graveyard where certain legends rest. Or sort of rest. This is also the burial spot of Joe Cain who is of super hero status to the people of Mobile, Alabama. After the Civil War ended, the Union soldiers banned many Southern cultures and celebrations. In defiance, Joe Cain dressed in Native American garb, wore beads and drunkenly drove his horse and buggy around Mobile starting up the celebration of Mardi Gras. To this day, the start of Mardi Gras begins from the grave of Joe Cain where his unknown “widows” gather to weep over his site and then dance out of the cemetery starting the celebration. Pretty awesome!

Later we visit the Boyington Oak which took forever to locate. Thanks to smart phones, we found the spot where Charles Boyington is buried. In 1835 he was quickly accused of murdering his friend Nathaniel Frost and was hung. Right before he was executed he stated that a mighty oak would spring from his heart to prove his innocence. Well, he is buried on that spot where a pretty large oak now resides. Locals claim to hear cries from the tree and the cemetery nightly so…that’s crazy!

To wrap up the night we attended a beer crawl which probably shaved off a few years of our lives. So much beer. So much beer. You’ll see.

I hope you enjoy this Spooky NC: Mobile, Alabama! The next one will be mostly myself chatting about the experiences on an abandoned railroad track. The footage isn’t the best but it was absolutely terrifying. I’ll just have to show you.

EDIT

Just to clarify a bit, Joe Cain is credited with bringing Mardi Gras back to Mobile post-Civil War. Mardi Gras has been celebrated here, in one form or another, since 1703, but was cancelled during the Civil War and banned by the occupying Yankee troops. – Travis aka Bayou Babylon

Fall Is For Cookies And Coffee And That’s Good Enough For Me

I don’t know where you live but here, Fall has arrived in a fantastic fashion. In what feels like an overnight assault, the trees are bright red and orange, the air is cool and dry and little pumpkin patches are springing up all over, each vying for the most sincere. Over the weekend I wasted no time drinking enough cider to safely say I ingested a bushel and watched Halloween 4 at least four times. Needless to say, we are in the season when you freeze in the morning and have a heat stroke by noon. I love it.

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Besides the great weather and horror movies airing on primetime, lets not leave out festive cookies. I am not one to eat a lot of sugar so rarely do I indulge in cookies but this time of the year, how could I not? The entire Nestle Toll House package is a thick sheet of glorious dough, filled with orange and brown chocolate chips. I can’t help but bite at the package leaving teeth marks up and down the dough. It’s a weight x girth/cube size equation for me. If all numbers align, I bite.

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Perfect little squares are a weakness of mine. It makes me want to peel these apart and build the talking prism from the show Out Of This World. There is nothing that you cannot do with building blocks of cookie dough if you can get past the salmonella. That’s the only show stopper for me. I know millions eat raw cookie every hour but the chances are still not in my favor when Lady Luck has anything to do with me, numbered odds and a toilet. I will bake these cookies and scrub my hands as if I am engaging in exploratory surgery.

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While those magnificent cubes are baking let me wax poetry to you about Fall coffee that is NOT pumpkin flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin flavoring this time of the year but it’s nice to see a contender who brings it with straight beans. The monopoly of Starbucks has come out with a “cozy” blend for the nice price of $12 a bag. And by nice I mean stupid. But it’s not the price or the obvious repackaging of Springtime blends in a Fall bag but when you say the word “cozy” on a coffee bag, it is coming home with me.

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Back to the cookies! Well, after a few minutes at 350•, we have Halloween cookies which are no where near as impressive as the cookie on the package. But after all these years writing on the same topic, you would think I would know this by now. Or at least not frown when I stare at two limp-dick cookies. I mean, look at my dog’s face! You wouldn’t know it but he has a pretty refined palate, aside from chewing his butt.

And the coffee?

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They were right. Completely cozy and perfect for early Autumn mornings by the fire. Especially when you grill bacon and sausages in beer. Life could be worse, my friends. Life could be worse.

Also, I built a bar. Sorry about the eyesore trashcan in the frame.

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I know this post was weak but I have a few including a video tonight staring guests you very well may know! I am showing my love for some of the most fantastic TV horror as well as ramping up the Halloween Spook Show with prizes and discussions! Be afraid, it all starts tonight!

OCTOBER IS NOW! Watch Horror Shorts!

Hey, remember that “October Sunday” thing I did a while back? Now it is totally okay to do that on a Thursday because it’s October everyday! I swear, folks, these are the days we need to roll around in like a dog on a dead squirrel. I know that if you have been a fan of this site you are aware that I have been baby stepping to this day since June so now that it is here, LET’S PARTY DOWN!

I love, lurve, loooove YouTube horror shorts. They are some of the most brilliant and thought-provoking in cinema entertainment. Sometimes I spend an entire night cruising YouTube on the TV for these little ten to fifteen minutes of terror. Everyone has a potential for being as disturbing as the sloth scene in the movie Seven.

“Don’t Move”

Let’s start with the first one from the UK production team, Bloody Shorts. These should get Emmys. “Don’t Move” is the latest and is a great lesson on why to not play with a Ouija board. The friends unintentionally invite a demon who plays a deadly game of “Redlight Greenlight”. The person who moves first dies and only one can be left alive. What a game! The ending, though, is worth the wait. Enjoy!

“Tea Time”

What the what? We all go a little mad sometimes but this old lady takes her madness to another level. This was shot in such an amazing way I can’t even describe it but it feels like an old BBC advertisement for dementia. The piano score is also very fitting. Poor cat.

“Upstairs”

Okay, this is one that is pretty realistic to me. What a “fuck that I’m out” performance! This one is about a realtor who knows what lurks in the house he is selling.

“Lights Out”

I know lots of you have seen this one especially if you are fans of The Strange Kids Club but if you have not, turn off the lights, and crank the sound. This one will get you spooked. It does a great hub with shadows and sounds to the point you need to look over your shoulder a few times after watching this. This poor lady had a terrible night.

“PLAY TIME”

Well folks, I think I’ll save my favorite for last. This one gave me chills and in such a great way. I love these shorts for this very reason. There is no sense or long story, just pure horror. This one did it right and the strobe lighting of the TV with quick ghost images made me bite my finger with anxiety. I loved this. My fingers do not.

So, you can spend a little under an hour getting completely creeped out! It’s such worth your time and try it tonight with the sound high and the lights low. Sleep tight!

 

Spooky North Carolina: The Lawson Family Massacre

Hey! So, uh, September happened. How about that? I started this “Spook Show” and then got sidelined with work trips for half the month. Well, I am back and for the rest of this Halloween season I promise not to disappear again. To be honest, I had planned on this happening so fear not, this ride has only just begun.

Today we start the “Spooky North Carolina” series with a doozy and to my shock, right next to where I currently reside! You will see as the month of October progresses we will travel to many states, not just North Carolina (even though that is the name of the series) so when I learned of this being right up the road, it HAD to be the first one of the Halloween season.

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In 1929, one of the country’s most profound tragedies happened in Stokes County, North Carolina about ten miles or so away from where yours truly lives. On Christmas morning the Lawson family were gathered together celebrating the day when the father, Charlie Lawson who was a wealthy tobacco farmer, shot and bludgeoned his wife and six kids excluding the oldest son. He had sent him on an errand into town earlier in the afternoon. The crime was brutal and without logic or reason to the locals. In the report, the wife was shot at pointblank range along with his oldest daughter while the young children were bludgeoned to death with a club. All their bodies were placed in the barn with their arms crossed and stones under their heads. When the gravity of what Charlie Lawson had done sank in he turned the rifle on himself. Those who found him say he had worn a circled path on the ground from pacing.

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When news broke about what had happened it became a national story that attracted thousands to the little county. The massacre shocked and horrified the country but also fascinated as many. How could such a well-respected farmer slaughter his entire family? It had to be premeditated otherwise why would he spare his oldest son? And the fact it was on Christmas day only added to the sadness of the atrocious crime.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 8.18.16 PMThere are a couple of theories to why Charles Lawson murdered his family. One theory was that Charlie suffered head trauma from a work accident leaving him with terrible chronic headaches. Much like other cases of temporal lobe lesions or brain damage, he suffered from rage which ultimately led to the murders of seven and his suicide.

The other theory, and far more sinister, was that Charlie had been molesting his oldest daughter and impregnated her. Not wanting to live with the shame he decided to end everything before the community found out.

So, why does this make the “Spooky NC” list? Well, just like any unanswered event like the Amityville Horror, the locals claim to hear children laughing and playing in the woods at night near the Lawson farm. Most of the locals aren’t very willing to talk about the history of these events and get really evasive when asked about any strange occurrences since. Maybe they didn’t like my shirt or perhaps I am just another dumb city dweller who is there to trespass and make mischief? You never know what idiots preceded your visit to make the local people interrupt your questions with, “Are ya’ll ever gonna buy something’?”. I guess you can’t blame them.

In the video we travel to a bridge which was made from the floor boards of Lawson house that was dismantled after too many trespassers made it impossible for the land owner to keep privacy. After that, and with a whole lot of trial and error, we found the mass grave of the Lawson family. It is said the reason so many ghost sightings happen there is because of the way they were all buried together. I guess it would be pretty unrestful to be under with the dude who put you there.

Regardless of whether or not paranormal happenings are present today, it is still a real shocker to find out one of the worst crimes occurred right down the street from your house. Even if it did happen nearly one hundred years before.

 

The Haunted Barn 1988

I grew up in Marietta, Georgia just north of the city of Atlanta. Back in the 1980’s and 90’s it was one of the biggest suburbs which was about as close to a Tim Burton version of middle class America as you could get. Every house was similar, the grass was cut on Saturday mornings while the kids watched cartoons until eleven o’clock or when high school academic game shows came on. That was a sign to get outside to ride bikes. The ball games were always on an outside radio and errands running families crowded Sears or whatever was on their lists. It was an awesome place and time to be a kid.

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One of the Saturday staples was the Chattahoochee Nature Center located right on the bank of the Chattahoochee river. It was a place of many great childhood memories for me ranging from a five-year old to a young soldier at home on leave. The Chattahoochee Center was the place I spun around so fast on a tire swing, I puked in the parking lot and Mom made me take off my pants in front of my preschool class and lay down in the backseat of the car on the way home. Which, of course, resulted in more puking. A place where my best friend Simon teased a goose causing it to chase him around the park, instantly transforming him from a manly seventeen year old boy into a screaming twelve-year-old girl. A place where my other buddy Johnny got so high he went to pee in the river, lost his footing causing him to uncontrollably slide down the embankment into hip deep into the water resulting into the infamous cry of desperation, “OH NO!”. (I still laugh at that today) And it was also the place where I took a long walk with my Dad the night before I headed back to base to be deployed to a combat zone. The discussion we had that night I would not like to have again.

I think my fondest memory of the Chattahoochee Nature Center would be on the month of October, 1988. That was a pretty magical Halloween season for a number of reasons. One, I was finally dressed as something for Halloween my parents invested more that twenty dollars on. I was a knight with full body armor, shield and a sword and aside from the LA Gear sneakers, I was pretty convincing. Also, that year I was able to trick r treat alone without the parental supervision. Looking back, I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal because the neighborhood was barely a mile long.

Just about every weekday night during the month of October, the family did something Halloween-ish. Whether it was carve the jack-o-lantern or decorate the yard, as long as the homework was done, we celebrated. This is probably why I am thirty six with a Halloween Spook Show. Just a theory.

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One fateful night, Dad read in the paper the Chattahoochee Nature Center had a haunted attraction featuring the “Haunted Barn” which was run by the local Walton High School. In those days, I regarded high schoolers as grownups so right away I knew this attraction was going to be something of the serious note. My Dad, however, thought much the opposite. In fact, he thought that this was more of a fun and family attraction which possibly had nature conservatory lessons mixed in with a ‘Trick or Treat” motif. That was far from what we would be experiencing.

The Nature Center was a Saturday morning place where every morning Dad and I would drop off bottles and newspapers to the recycle center and feed ducks. That Thursday night the mood was much different. I can still remember pulling into the gravel parking lot with lit jack-0-lanterns spacing the lot. There was hardly anyone there and for good reason because it closed at 9:00 sharp and at 8:30 on a school night most kids had been through the attractions and on their way…to therapy. I had homework and Dad’s work ethic would never allow for fun before responsibility. Makes you wonder what happened to me?

We paid a “donation”, I think. There was no fee that my Dad can remember (we talk of this often every fall season). Just followed the path on the candle lit road which led to the barn. That barn, which was always a place of discovery and cuteness throughout my elementary days with field trips and summer camps, was transformed into “THE HOUSE OF SATAN”.

I shit you not, in Marietta Georgia, The Chattahoochee Nature Center named their barn, “THE HOUSE OF SATAN”.

I have yet to meet a peer or a long time friend who remembers this but I have family who can validate. And for whatever reason had no problem taking me into “The House of Satan”.

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I will say, looking back on this event, the high schoolers did it right. They recreated the famous Exorcist scene when the priests read rites which makes a rotting girl screech in horrific tones. The next room had a person rocking in the corner as a defiled and chopped up corpse lay on the floor. After that, a room where a wondering girl kept trying to pull me from my Dad to come with here into the heavens. Holy shit, I remember this with such detail I even remember her shoes. Her shoes!

Dad laughed. That is what I remember but for me, this was horrific. Every room led to more nightmares my brain was not ready to comprehend. That is until we met the stairs. The stairs went up to the loft of the barn and at the top stood a figure.

We didn’t know if we were supposed to proceed up and I remember looking at my Dad. He studied the figure long and hard then looked at me with a shrug. I grabbed his flannel shirt and we head up. But then the figure spun around and bolted down the stairs as if it too was being chased by something horrific.

We miracled ourselves straight through the back door and was chased by a hooded figure almost halfway to the car. I can still to this day remember screaming without care. When you scream without care it is something you never forget. As a child it is something to possibly look back on with a smile but never as an adult. It is animatistic in a way. My Dad stopped, laughing hysterically and so did the hooded kid who removed his said hood and thanked us but said that was where the attraction ended. He didn’t mean to scare us so badly and made an attempt to assuage my fear with a high-five.

I will never forget that night. Forever will Halloween be that barn with jack-o-lanterns lighting the way of a path and the orange illuminated barn filled with monsters and demons who scared me so badly the adrenalin put my feet to sleep. We dumb down so much in today’s society. I feel bad for the kids who will never get to experience something that made me a forever-fan of Halloween. That night forged a connection and even tough it scared me to down to the marrow and I loved it.

Thank God I didn’t have an easter experience. Those people are freaking weirdos.

 

 

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