Monday, January 30, 2012

A Local Legend





Legends, We've all heard them. Sometimes, they are nearby to us or we may have experienced something that supports them. This is one that has been circulating around S/E Michigan for longer than I have...


The Legend of Morrow Road
Written in 2009 by Francis J. Sampier, based on extensive research acquired for the film Morrow Road in 2005.
The Legend of Morrow Road, one of Michigan's oldest legends,  spans back to the late 1800s and is primarily about a ghost that haunts the road to this day looking for her lost child.

    Morrow Road is a southeast Michigan rural road that until recently was entirely a dirt road.  The 2.5 mile road's southern portion rests in Clay Twp (on the outskirts of Algonac) and northern portion rests in Cottrellville Twp (on the outskirts of Marine City).  The entire road is a straightaway and has very few citizens living on it.  Recently more citizens have moved into its southern half.  The road began as a cow path in the 19th century and later became a narrow dirt road, which was eventually widened.
    The road also has two creeks that run under it, one on its north end and one near its center-point, just south of where the only other fully intersecting road is.  Hence, there used to be two small, simple-railed bridges.  Both of these were tore down and converted into culverts.  As with most back roads, Morrow Road started out with no electricity running to it and had one two-story house.  An old house was torn down recently, although it may not have been the original house.

    In the late 1800s a woman supposedly with the initials "I.C." apparently died a tragic death searching for her child boy.  Many believe that the death was so tragic that her ghost spirit remains haunting the road to this day, still searching in an eternal frustration for that impossible to achieve answer of what happened to the boy.

    What makes the legend more interesting and startling is the different beliefs of what exactly happened to the mother & child.  Research shows there are about ten theories as to how this occurred and each has slight variations.  Nearly every version of the legend has these common denominators:  A middle-aged woman died in her nightgown searching for her child, and that her spirit remains as a vengeful ghost to this day--still searching for the young boy.  Here's where the versions alter:  (See if you've heard any of these :)

    Many believe the boy was kidnapped and that the mother searched in desperation, and died searching.

    Some believed the boy drowned when the mother took her eyes off him for a moment.  This version is a rare version where she apparently did find the boy face down in a nearby creek.  In despair, the mother hung herself.

    Some believe that the two-story house they lived in was burglarized and that they were murdered.

    Some believe that when the mother last saw the child not too far away from a fire...and then he was never seen again.  The mother searched for the boy around the fire, fearing for the worse.  Never finding the child's remains, she died searching for the boy...some believe she even died in a fire herself.  (This is why you see her face in a fire if a fire is lit near the bridge--explained below).

    Others believe in an entirely opposite type of death:  That they both froze to death.  The boy wandered out of the home, the mother unaware.  When the mother realized he was gone, she searched frantically for the boy during an unprecedented winter storm, and froze to death in her unsuccessful search.

    Still others believe in a simple theory:  That the boy was murdered, which led to the mother to search for the boy near the bridge they lived near.  The murderer (motive unknown, possibly rape) waited for the woman to search near the bridge and kidnapped and murdered her.

    Early versions of the legend actually didn't involve a mother!  This radically different (and unpopular today) theory involved a monster that ate babies/children!  It was called "The Morrow Road Monster" by locals, and was a popular theory in the 1950s.  There is no evidence to support this theory.*

    Contrasting, a hugely popular theory involved local Natives.  Some believe that local Natives savagely attacked the mother while she was searching for her missing child.  Some believe she haunts the road to this day because a nearby Indian burial ground may have been near the death site of the mother.  There is no evidence to support this theory,* but local Natives of the time included Algonquin, Huron and Erie.

    Finally, one of the most popular theories was that the mother had the child out of wedlock.  Simply not wanting the baby, she went to the bridge and left the boy under the bridge--abandoning him.  Feeling shame and remorse on her way back home, she decided she couldn't go through with it and upon arriving at the bridge the baby was gone.  This was the beginning of years of searching, until she finally gave up.  Upon her early death, many believed she was cursed for her actions and her eternal punishment is to haunt the road searching for the lost child.

    A startling fact is how many people claim to have seen the woman, heard the child, or witnessed other paranormal occurrences on or near the road.  These include many witnesses to seeing the ghostly woman herself, always wearing a light blue nightgown (believed by many to be the outfit she wore on her death) searching with bloody hands for the child.  Many claimed she has morbidly asked or screamed "Where's my baby?" as driver's drove past.  Others claim she has slammed her mysteriously bloody hands on their car window in addition.
    Many locals have claimed "if you start a fire on the road where the southern bridge was, you will see her face in the flames."  (That is illegal by-the-way, so don't try it).  This supports the theory that something tragic happened to her and/or the child on or near the bridge and their lives ended in flames.  Currently this element to the legend hasn't had an eye-witness account in many years.
    Many believe that if you honk your car-horn three times on the bridge you will hear the baby cry.  Also, many claim to have vehicle trouble when driving down the road.
    There are more eyewitness claims to seeing "orbs" on the road and in the woods than any of the above.  Many other people also state the orbs went as far as to chase their vehicle.  Most claim the orbs were light green, but some say they've seen them red, purple and light blue, all in small, varying sizes.
    Naturally, local police have had many "false claims," that turned out to be young adults playing pranks.
    All accounts are claimed to have been seen or heard only at nighttime.

    Channel 4 Local News with Carmen Harlan did a news report near turn of the century on the legend, and the TV Show "Unsolved Mysteries" had a filler-feature on an episode, watering down the legend to be a filler between the episode's two major features.
    Paranormal research has been done many times, always with interesting results.  The legend has been all over the Internet and an independent feature film based entirely on the legend is in the works.  For more information on the film and legend, visit www.morrowroad.com.

*A legend by definition is something that cannot be proved or disproved.  (facts can be proved, myths can be disproved.  This can be disproved by the fact that there were no reported deaths of babies from the area in that time.
**The Indian burial ground portion can be disproved by the fact that there has never been an Indian burial ground near the area.  However, it is conceivable that Natives were traveling through the area and a crime or ritual could have occurred.
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Here's some facts for you...
The nearest town to this infamous road sits at the tip of a peninsula. It's an out of the way kind of town. Not "on the way" to anything. It was the hometown of CrissCraft boats for many years. And has a large number of cabins for people from the Detroit area, most of which were built in the 50's and 60's. It's close to the city, yet just far enough for a quick get-a-way. Most of the land is swampy. To the point that all of the graves that we dig out there, are shallow, since we hit water only two or three feet down. It has become an area known for young adults to move to when they don't want to go to college. They only want to hang with their friends, smoke and drink. We often joke that on your twelfth birthday out there, you are handed a pack of smokes and a bottle of beer.
That being said, it only stands to reason that rumors of this legend would be so prevalent. Morrow Road today is in the middle of no where and can be very creepy at night. Over a hundred years ago when this state was new to the union, and many cities had not yet been established, this would have been an area that would take weeks to get to. Life out there would have been pretty rough and who knows what sorts of things might have happened and never been reported. Judging from the many versions of the story, I think we'll leave this one as a legend and won't put too much stock into it.


So, do you have a local legend or experience that you'd like to share with us?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rumors

Rumors happen when people don't bother to get the facts.

Rumors are almost never correct.
Rumors should be avoided.
Unless Rumors is a Neil Simon play.
We have a small off/off Broadway type theater here in Mt.Clemens. Audience seating is less than 100 people. In fact I doubt there is room for 50.
We saw that  they were putting on this play when we were in town for New Years Eve and decided to invite our friend Jack for a night out. Jack recently had his knee replaced and was itching to get out of the house and try it out. Since our favorite french bistro is only a half a block from the theater, we quickly made reservations for Saturday night.


I really love this small little town that we live in. It has a completely relaxed feeling to it. Quite the contrast to Detroit which is only 20 miles away.
We enjoyed cocktails and dinner at Bath City Bistro before strolling over to the theater. Once again, the food was amazing. But more important, the warm and friendly company was a much welcomed break from our busy schedules. It was great to catch up with Jack.

The play was hilarious. If you haven't seen it, it is based on a group of people that assume the worst in the situations that they walk in to and then try to hide the "facts" from each of the next people that enter the story. Each one makes up something worse as they go and thus have more to cover up.

While the whole story seemed a little far fetched, it's easy to see how something like that can happen. Often people will jump to conclusions without having all the facts. And when the truth does come out, it really is nothing like what they thought. I believe that most people create 99% of the drama that happens in their lives. And unlike this play, it's not funny. Don't take on other's problems, they'll figure it out. What you do with your life, has little to do with what's going on in the world. And everything to do with what you see as possible.
And guess what.....
It's all possible.
So stick to the facts and enjoy the show.


Friday, January 27, 2012

One Last Look

I've been under the weather all week. Mostly a sinus infection that has affected my ability to speak. Good thing this blog only requires typing.

Today was my first day back to work and I barely made it through.
Tomorrow, the movers will be at my Dad's apartment early in the morning to finish moving the big stuff.
So tonight was his last meal in the restaurant on the first floor of the senior living community.
When I told the chef that today was going to be the last, she told me that she had something special planned for him. You see, it is rare that someone moves out of there and actually gets to walk out.
He's been quite lonely since my mother passed in May and is looking forward to being around his family every day. Sitting in that apartment that they shared together was eating away at him and he really needed the change.They have lived there for almost 4 years, which is longer than most residents. It was a beautiful apartment. Considered "the Penthouse" by all that live and work there. It is on the top floor at the end of the building. Slightly less than a thousand square feet with two bedrooms with walk-in closets and kitchen and large living room. Each room has an amazing view of the small lake and island that is a city park. All the windows face East and afford spectacular sunrises over the city skyline. At night the lights from the condos across the lake reflect and dance on the water.  On this day, a light dusting of snow had fallen and coated the frozen lake.
 It is a view that we will miss as we enter this next chapter of my Dad's life.


But for today, as we entered the dining room, we were greeted with a champagne toast. Then a pianist started playing classic tunes from the past that had everyone tapping there toes and dancing in their seats.

My Dad ate up all the attention that everyone was giving him as well as the fresh lemon pepper white fish that the chef prepared only for him. For desert he was presented with the biggest bowl of strawberry ice cream with four huge strawberries on top. The woman that sits with him at dinner each day, sat there crying the entire time and couldn't eat her dinner because she was so upset to be losing her dinner buddy. My Dad is not one to show a lot of emotion but it was difficult for him to hide what he was feeling. There was sadness, there was gloating (the fact that he was getting out of there on his own two feet). I quite enjoyed when he said to one woman..."Do you know that I'm 88 years old?" Her reply was "Are you complaining or bragging?.... You're a young one.... I'm 94!" She then kissed him on the lips, he turned red and she walked away.

Since I had a little more packing to do anyway, I suggested that he go and play bingo after dinner. I finished up what I could, packed an overnight bag and we left to go to the new house. But not until he took one last look at that amazing view. He's spending the  night in the guest room because his things won't be delivered until tomorrow sometime.

This is going to be a good move.

Here's Dad at his 88th birthday party just last week....


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stalemate

We were scheduled to arrive at the small town cemetery at the same time as another funeral home. The grave yard has two entrances. One off the coastal highway and the other off the road that ends at the shore. So we verified with the sexton that he wanted us to enter off the highway and the other funeral home to enter off the crossroad, coming from inland. We should not even see each other, as there is a creek and a wooded area dividing the two sides with a small bridge adjoining them.

The family of our deceased, lived just two blocks from the cemetery and upon learning that we would be traveling up the coast, wanted us to take the procession past their home. This request meant that we would make a left, crossing on-coming traffic off the highway, only to circle around and bring the line of cars back across traffic to re-enter the highway and continue our trek to the cemetery one block later. This in itself would prove to be a difficult task.

Then (stay with me here) we needed to make another left (crossing traffic again) into the cemetery. I felt sorry for anyone trying to drive down the coast. We managed to accomplish this seemingly impossible task without too many problems.

When we pulled into the cemetery, I was directed by the workers to the grave. As we approached the graveside, we noticed that the family did not follow us. They instead, turned the opposite way and headed across the narrow bridge to the other side of the cemetery.

WE WERE AT THE WRONG GRAVE!

Meanwhile, the other funeral home is on the other side of the bridge trying to get to where we are. Half of our procession continued across the bridge forcing the other funeral home back out on to the road. We then had to loop around and go back out on to the highway, make a right and pass the other procession, who was waiting for us to clear the way for them. But we couldn't move until they were clear of the driveway. It was a stale mate. All the while, we have traffic stopped on both the road and the highway.

We finally were able to get everyone moved far enough for them to get in to their side of the cemetery. We then were able to meet up with our family on our side.

A simple mistake made by the sexton effected hundreds of cars and made for one confusing day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Statistics

This is from National Geographic...

When you are born, you will share your birthday with 17 million people.
During your years in school, you will have an average of 17 friends.
By the time you are 40 that number will have dropped down to 2.
You will grow 950 km of hair.
You will laugh an average of 18 times a day.
You will walk the equivalent of 3 times the circumference of the Earth.
You will eat 30 tons of food.
You will drink over 9000 cups of coffee.
You will have one opportunity in 10 of getting electrocuted.
You will spend an average of 10 years of your life in work,
20 years sleeping,
3 years sitting on the toilet,
7 months waiting in traffic, 
2 months waiting on hold on your phone, 
12 years watching TV
... and 19 days looking for the remote.

This leaves you with one fifth of your life to actually live.....




So what are you waiting for?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm from Michigan...

I'm from driftwood was started by Nathan Manske who is from Driftwood, Texas.
 He is collecting stories from all over the United States and abroad about the struggles and successes of GLBT people coming to terms with what life has given them. Early in the process, I was delighted to be asked to participate. We've never gotten around to recording a video, but my story was published back in March of 2010.

This is my story. Click on the link and perhaps you'll understand better how I got to be where I am today.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The man that wasn't there...


On my way up the stairs, I met a man that wasn’t there.
 He wasn’t there again today, I wish the man would go away.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I'm from Hawaii...

I don't want to make this a venue for coming out stories.
However, I follow and have participated in this project and was touched by this story for the fact that this young man was encouraged by his grandfather to be himself and be thankful for those that love him and don't worry about those that don't.



I believe that whatever your situation in life, this is good advice.

.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Playing Chicken

It's happened again!

I was leading a rather long procession. As we traveled through town, the traffic on the opposite side of the street would pull over and stop their cars out of respect for the deceased. There is no law that cars must pull over for us. This is done simply out of respect. Whenever I am leading a procession in the city, I'll witness my line of cars being cut off frequently. But in a small town, there is a different attitude toward these things.

As we made our way out to the country cemetery, I looked in the sideview mirror to notice that a truck 3 cars back from me was half in the on-coming lane. Then much to my surprise, as a car approached me and didn't pull off to the side of the road, the truck moved over further. And then, a small car behind the truck darted over completely into the on-coming traffic! The on coming car hit the side of the road to avoid the head-on collision. I thought then, "This is not good!" Then it happened again with the next car. This one went skidding across the gravel and sideways into the ditch. The family was demanding that people pull over for the procession.

Now, we are traveling at about 35mph and the on coming traffic is doing 55 to 60mph. They've barely realized that it is even a procession when they are suddenly being forced off the road. Fearing for the safety of everyone on the road, I brought the procession to a stop. I apologized to the widow in the car directly behind me for the delay and marched back to the offending cars. I informed them that there was no law that someone had to pull over and that they need to stay in their own lane of traffic for safety sake.

I returned to the hearse and started slowly moving the line of cars to our destination again. When the first car approached us, I watched as the same truck and car did it again. At that point, I brought the procession to a crawl. The remainder of the trip was at about 7mph. When traffic approached, I slowed even more. Shy of calling the police and having them ticketed for reckless driving, I don't know what more I can do about this.

This story was made even more upsetting when I saw in the paper two days later a person that claimed to be run off the road by a funeral procession and stuck in a ditch when they were on their way to the hospital for their own emergency.

What are these people thinking?!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another day in the parking lot...

A guest post today, from Edward...




The rain was turning to snow as I stood at my post in the funeral home parking lot.
A car pulls in and I greet them with a smile.
" Will you be going in procession to the cemetery ?" I ask.

" Yes. "
 "Are you family or friends ? " 
" Yes. " 
"Which is it, Family or friends ? "
 "We're both. "
"Well then you're family, could you please park in the second row behind the red car"

 " Which line is that ? " 
"It's the middle row between the first and third rows. "
"Is that for family ? " 

" Yes it is "
 " OK then. " 
I watch with a smile as they park in the third row behind the dark green truck.

Sliding in to 2012

Pugsley wanted to show everyone his favorite thing at the local park. Unfortunately, I have developed a habit of not taking my phone, camera or video camera with me the last week or so. So I could not record the fun that he was having or the amazing sunset and start of some really thick snow flurries.

So I searched the memory card for this day at the park last year with a foot of snow.

video

He loves to run and play like a little child. He will go down this slide over and over again until I beg him to move on to something else. He doesn't like it though, when all those pesky children are playing on his playscape.

We both hope that your year is off to a playful start.

.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fireworks in the Bath City

 It seemed like any other night in The Clem. (Mt.Clemens, Michigan)
A city named not for it's elevation, but for the fact that it's half way between Detroit and Port Huron, MI.
Making it a perfect spot to stop and change your mount or horse for the rest of the ride.
 It's a quiet town with no big name stores or restaurants. 
We had reservations at 10pm at our favorite bistro... Bath City Bistro.
Named for the fact that Mt.Clemens became famous around the world for it's mineral baths in the early 
20th century.
 And then shortly before midnight, the bars and restaurants emptied out and the streets became packed with people of all ages.
 Main Street in front of the court house was closed to traffic and people were elbow to elbow.
 It's so nice to see with our proximity to Detroit that so many people still come out
 to the Clem for these events.

 Then, at the stroke of midnight, the crowd erupted with cheers and the fireworks started.
 And as simple as that, it's a new year.
 Filled with posibilities
Last year was wonderful.
I look forward to interacting with each of you more this year.