Hallowe'en of Years Gone By

OCTOBER 31st, 2014


Happy Hallowe’en

Hallowe’en, the night when the veil between the world of the living and the land of the dead seems to thin that little bit extra and where everyone’s belief in the supernatural is a little bit stronger. This is by far my favourite holiday and I would normally find myself dressed up handing out candy to the wee ones before watching scary movies or heading to a party/dance of some kind or even having a few friends over to crowd around a Ouija board for some spirited conversation. This year I am sitting at work unable to do any of the above. Luckily, I do have one outlet to keep me in the holiday mood. I thought I would write about one of my favourite memories of the creepiest night of the year. Please keep in mind that this was a long time ago and I have matured immensely since the time of these events.

I lived in a small town where there wasn’t much to do for those of us in our late teens/early twenties. We did have the good fortune of having a local bowling alley/pool hall with a young owner who didn’t mind if we hung out and played board games or similar activities as long as we bought the occasional pop or snack. With his help we had made some extra special plans for Hallowe’en.

It was well known that I was interested in the paranormal and a few of my friends had become curious as well. We had started using a Ouija board with enough success to keep us trying. Some of our other friends would say they were interested as well but would always begin fooling around by deliberately pushing the planchette or disrupting our sessions in some way. We decided to teach them a lesson. We were going to hold a Hallowe’en Ouija night at the bowling alley and all our friends were invited.

We set to work making plans with the owner trying to find ways to scare the others. The night finally arrived and we were ready. A table was set up for us and we commenced right away. We decided that we would give everyone a chance but if anyone started their usual shenanigans we would put our plan into affect. To their credit, I do think they acted appropriately for the first half hour and we did start getting some movement. Then the distractions and obvious guiding of the planchette started.

I excused myself to go get a beverage from the snack bar where I told the owner we were going to have to use the plan we had devised. I no sooner rejoined the session when the jukebox started. Now this wasn’t out of the ordinary as it was set on a timer to entice customers to play their own songs. We asked the owner if he would mind if we turned it off just for a while which he was fine with. About 15 minutes later, another song started playing. I asked one of our targets…I mean friends if he hadn’t flipped the switch to turn it off. He turned it on and back off pointing out that the lights went out when the machine was off. Another 15 minutes pass and it plays again. We accused him of messing with us but he swore it wasn’t him but to make sure he unplugged the unit. Some minor questioning took place but we resumed our communication attempts. I’m sure you can guess what happened after the 15 minute mark. Yes music was coming from the jukebox once more but this time it didn’t go off. Our cocky friend was sitting there with the unplugged cord dangling from his fingers with a completely stunned look on his face. It was at that very moment where my best friend,  Micah Leythe, began mumbling something seemingly to himself. it started as a soft whisper but grew louder and louder as he repeated it. “Must wash hands…must wash hands…MUST WASH HANDS…!!!”

Seemingly in a daze, he rose to his feet and attempted to walk towards the washroom by taking the most direct route possible even if something stood in his way. As everyone followed to see if he was okay, I did the one thing that, to this day, I do regret. It is at this point I would like to advise anyone reading this to NEVER do what I did in regards to the Ouija itself. While everyone was distracted, I covered the bottom side of the planchette with fake blood so that if we resumed I could flip it quickly and have the blood splatter across the board.

I gave my friend the signal and he returned to the table as if nothing had ever happened. We all returned to our seats after some reassurances that all was fine. I turned the planchette over even more quickly than I had intended and it slammed down onto the Ouija sending fake blood everywhere. A couple people jumped back and the planchette rose from the table (with a little help of resting on our thumbs as we lifted it in the air) and then dropped. Once more there was a need from my cohort to wash his hands but this time he followed people at a methodic pace, his chant gradually changing to “Join us”.

It was at this moment that 3 of our number ran out the door, barefoot mind you, the 2 blocks to their apartment. A fourth the one who had unplugged the jukebox, played along to the point of even using the early line of washing his hands to get close enough to the exit to bolt out the door. This time my best friend gave chase and, by the time I reached the door, was climbing on the hood of our fleeing friend’s truck. I could hear the yells of “It was a joke…just a joke”.

We got our main target back into the bowling alley and though he was still uneasy as though he wasn’t sure we were truly just messing with him or if something really had happened, he stayed long enough that we were sure he’d be okay to drive. We were about to leave, considering that it was well after closing hours, when we heard a knock on the door. Our runner friends had returned and, with frightened tears in their eyes, asked if they could “please have their shoes back”.

From that point on, my friends who were always truly interested in the supernatural could continue on in peace. Those who had only wanted to toy around or even purposely interfere never bothered us again. I look back and realized I made some huge mistakes that could have had some nasty consequences and would never do this again but I must admit that I did take pleasure in it at the time. My story ends here (along with my night at the office) and am so grateful to have this outlet. I hope you enjoyed my tale and had yourselves a HAPPY HALLOWE’EN!!!

Our Inaugural Journey - Part 1

OCTOBER 17th, 2014


Our blog begins by remembering a road trip in the summer of 2013…

[John] To end our 2013 summer, we decided on a mini-holiday in the form of a road trip around parts of Ontario, over the course of a few days.  The drive took us through Prince Edward County, Port Hope, Port Perry and Peterborough (I promise we didn’t plan it according to the letter ‘P’!).

[Lana] Prince Edward County - This quiet area (to anyone who hasn’t been there during the summer tourist rush) is a perfect mix of outdoor enjoyment and quaint small town feel.  A beautiful day will grant you the opportunity to visit the much regaled Sandbanks Provincial Park.  This is a great place for a relaxing walk or bike ride, a classic family picnic or to indulge in one of the best beaches in the region.  Alternatively, if wine tasting is something you find inviting, there are a multitude of wineries that offer tours which allow you to sample their wares. Speaking of the finer things in life, another attraction that one can partake in is following the Arts Trail.  Artists of all types have their work on display in galleries, many of which run from their own homes (which makes me wonder if it is mere coincidence that the Arts Trail follows the same path as the Taste Trail). For people like John and I, who enjoy ALL of the above, places like this truly speak to us.

Funnily enough, on this particular trip, we did none of the above.  Instead we found ourselves in an antique shop in Bloomfield with one of the best, not to mention appropriate, names I have ever heard… Dead People’s Stuff.  I find anything like this fascinating. Were these artifacts of days gone by simple daily tools or did they mean much more? What kind of emotional importance did the previous owner place in these random objects?  Were they the physical representations of the love between a man and woman, mother and child or, on the darker side of things, an item to be feared… or perhaps much worse? If these ties are powerful enough, is it possible that the energies or even spirit of the former possessor could remain attached even to this day? While there were a few interesting items, the most interesting was the pin that John found with her mother’s name on it…

[John] Dead People’s Stuff… This is a shop I had heard of many times but had never made the time to check it out until this day. On our way to the shop I was talking with my mother who, upon hearing we were heading to Dead People’s Stuff, remarked “Just don’t take any ghosts home with you”. If only she had known what was about to happen…

We arrived in Bloomfield and aimed for the antique shop. Walking into Dead People’s Stuff I noticed the air to hold that musty scent often associated with old objects but mixed with it was the freshness of country air and freshly cut grass – lingering in the air as though a mist. I was left feeling caught between wanting to stay and feeling oddly out of place and unsure of my decision to be there.

We looked around and perused through the various items – old postcards that had been through the mail, a decent stack of old 45’s, a small pile of sets of Marshall McLuhan’s (“The Medium is the Message”) playing cards (“Distant Early Warning”), and a host of objects from other people’s pasts.

As we eventually walked towards the exit I noticed a small table against the wall and felt drawn to it. As I drew near, my eyes were pulled to stare amazingly at a small broche sitting towards the front of the table. The brooch was shaped as a white Scottish terrier with my mother’s name hand-written on it in black marker. It was as though the Dead People had heard her telling me to not take any of them home and decided to personally call her out. To say I had chills upon finding the brooch would be a severe understatement. I fought deep temptation to purchase the brooch. For as much as I felt I needed to take it home with me I had a similarly strong feeling that taking it home was exactly what I was not to do.

So there it stayed… and my mother was beyond grateful for that fact when I told her what had happened. My mother is fully aware of the strange things that happen to me – since birth I have felt things and known things and seen things so the last things my mother would want hanging around me lest gifted to her, would be the unseen from Dead People’s Stuff in Bloomfield, Ontario.

[Lana] So, nothing came home with us from Dead People’s Stuff this time (at least, not to our knowledge) but it was an interesting stop along the way to the next location on our weekend excursion.

Port Hope– Instead of the normal meander through small towns we usually take when we travel, we had to be careful we didn’t lose too much time as we had a lot of ground to cover. One of the goals on this trip was to take John to one of my favourite stores… Primitive Designs.  If you are looking for a unique piece of art, furniture, clothing or jewellery from around the world, then you will absolutely love this store.

[John] Set against highway and farmland, this is an impressive store where I must admit I had my first ever encounter with a 23-foot tall Optimus Prime. 

[Lana] … and a 10 ft Bumble Bee. 

Having grown up in the ‘80s, the Transformers were a huge part of John’s and my Saturday mornings.  To see these impressive heroes in the (metallic) flesh was like a dream come true and well worth the trip all on its own…and we had not even entered the building yet.  A quick tour of the outside gave John a hint of the diversity that could be found here as we viewed totem poles, tiki hut style gazebos, gargoyles and a large wooden crocodile sculpture.

We finally made our way inside.  I glanced over to John and the look of amazement on her face made me smile.  Cultural masks, driftwood tables, ornate light shades, paintings and antique furniture were everywhere. 

[John] …and door knobs… so many door knobs!!

[Lana] We didn’t know where to go first… and this was only the first floor.  After looking around for over an hour, I snuck away to pick up a little gift for John.  She is quite the music lover so I knew I had to get her an instrument of some kind.  I found an interesting looking string instrument made of bamboo that had that esthetic appeal I thought would be a great conversation piece as well as fun new musical experience.  In researching it after the fact, I discovered it is an instrument from India called an ektara which is used during devotional singing.  I doubt that it will have her singing Kumbaya anytime soon but I do hope she enjoys it.

[John] No hesitation on that… I love it completely.

[Lana] We were actually extremely lucky that we left with only one unexpected purchase considering we wanted basically everything in the store. Perhaps next time we will try to spend a little less time in the store and get to see more of Port Hope while we are there.  For now we bid adieu to Primitive Designs and make our way to the town that I called home for over 15 years.