In This Week’s Show, episode 260, we huddle around our haunted mics to wish you a happy free-candy-day! If you’re a patron anyway… if not… happy cheap candy day!
Now, grab a beer and help us test the god hypothesis — because, while Marzanna (the Slavic goddess of death and rebirth) hasn’t struck us down yet, we are trying her patience!
Shea’s Life Lesson
This week I learned that every machine is a smoke machine if you operate it wrong enough.
Jenn’s Actual Lesson
Did you know a construction site near Florida State University uncovered the remains of a toddler dating from about 7,000 years ago? She was buried in a woven grass blanket and had several small toys and dolls included in her shroud.
But before we get to all that, let’s have a beer!
This Week’s Beer
Official IPA from Bell’s Brewing
Donated By: Steve E
- BA Link: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/287/391218/
- BA : 87 out of 100
- Style: New England IPA
- ABV: 6.4%
- Aaron: 9
- Jenn: 9
- Shea: 9
- Steve: 8
This Week’s Show
- Voicemail from Andi
- Voicemail from Mr. Biblepants
Congratulations to the fabulous Oxfords on the birth of another grandbaby.
Is it a real-fake or a fake-fake?
Panel, this is a simple guess-per-host quiz. I’ll read 4 items and what they do, and you have to decide if this is a “real” haunted or cursed object that’s actually in the world or a bit of nonsense made up by the internet.
- Myrtles Plantation Mirror: Apparently the mirror contains the spirit of a dead plantation girl who can you sometimes see hiding behind your own reflection!
- The After-Image Mirror: a cursed mirror said to show you visions of recently transpired tragedies when used by candlelight.
- The Myka Glasses: A pair of mirrored glasses cursed to reflect a vision of a person’s true nature back at them! Great for interrogations or Dorian Grey!
- Sargon (not that one) The Great’s Mirror: A reflective metal “mirror” said to be from Sumerian origin that will blind anyone who looks at it when reflecting the light of the solstice sun!
That’s right, it’s #1!
The Myrtles Plantation mirror comes from one of the “most haunted places in the world.” The mirror was added to the home in 1980 because apparently it wasn’t haunted enough already. The mirror is said to contain the spirits of Sara Woodruff and her children who were poised by a slave named Chloe. As the legend goes when someone dies in your house you should cover all the mirrors so the stupid spirits of stupidity don’t get stuck in them. Unfortunately, for Clark, they covered all but this one and now she and her daughters are forever stuck in a mirror like Timelord mayflies.
- Bed and Breakfast Portrait: A portrait of the interior of a sitting room. Owners of the painting report that pillows on the couches, books on the shelves, or other smaller details in the painting will change to match the room in which the painting is housed.
- Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare: Oil on canvas, 1781, by Anglo-Swiss artist Henry Fuseli, the painting is long rumored to give its owners horrific nightmares, driving them to madness, just like poor Henry.
- Bill Stoneham’s The Hands Resist: Oil on canvas, 1971. Considered one of the world’s most haunted paintings, owners have long reported seeing the figures in the creepy ass painting move at dusk, sometimes out of the painting!
- Peirre-Auguste Renoir’s Young Girls at the Piano: Oil on canvas, 1892. Owners and patrons of gallerias report hearing faint, creepy, piano music at night as if the girls were pecking at the keys.
#2 it is!
Each owner has passed on a warning to the next potential buyer which is that come nightfall, the figures within the painting either move or disappear entirely. The most striking coincidence documented is that the owner of the first gallery to ever show the painting and the art critic that reviewed it, both died within one year of first seeing it. Many people that have simply viewed the painting, have complained about immediately feeling sick or weak. The last part I get though, because if nothing else, it’s a fucking creepy painting!
- Untitled Decorated Clay Vase: known simply as “The Decorated Vase” this clay pot is said to cause the bloody death of any who damages it, absorbing the minerals in the victim’s blood to repair itself.
- The Basano Vase: Made from carved silver this 15th-century vase was bought by an Italian madden on her wedding night. The vase is said to bring untimely death to all who own or touch it.
- Qing Dynasty Vase: a Chinese vase from, you guessed it, the Qing Dynasty the vase is said to keep flowers alive forever by siphoning the owner’s life force to prevent wilting.
- Chun-Kwai Seducing Vase: The vases exact origins remain a mystery, but touching it has been said to cause insatiable lust and erotic abandon.
Number 2 it is!
The Basano Vase was made from carved silver in the 15th century by an Italian maiden on her wedding night. That very same night she was found murdered clutching the vase. After her death, the vase was passed on from family member to family member with each dying an untimely death. In 1988, the vase was discovered again with a note that read “Beware, this vase brings death’. It was offered to multiple museums, each refusing to take it due to the perceived curse on it. Where it remains now is unclear, but it is believed to be buried in a lead coffin because people are real stupid.
- Invincibility Raincoat: The coat’s origins are unknown. The only identifying marks are “3611 G.P” written on the tag. The coat is said to help its wearer heal from most maladies but the longer it’s worn the more violent and irrational the wearer becomes
- Sir Issac Newton’s Cravat: Proximity to the cravat is said to boost one’s scientific and analytical abilities, but to wear it invites tragedy as it will cause weight gain until the wearer can no longer move on their own accord, dying.
- Anna Baker’s Wedding Dress: A dress never worn by a young woman whose marriage was forbidden. She instead grew to be an angry old spinster who left the dress to a museum where it is often described as moving on its own.
- The Birmingham Badger’s Underwear: worn during his execution the underwear is said to make the owner attractive to electricity. Many familiar with the shorts say, in brief (lol), to own them is to attract lightning strikes, power lines, and an “excess” of static shocks.
That’s right is #3!
In 1849, Anna Baker, from a rich Pennsylvania family, fell in love with a low-class ironworker. Anna’s father forbid the wedding, for which Anna had already bought a dress. Heartbroken and disappointed, Anna remained single for the rest of her life; she died like an old maid in 1914. Visitors of Anna’s house (that was turned into a museum) often report seeing the dress moving within the glass box in which it was put on display.
- Adolf Hitler’s Microphone: The microphone used by his-douchiness himself is said to give anyone who speaks into it Hitler’s amazing public speaking charisma, but much like a monkey’s paw, actions inspired by the speaker are always interpolated in the worst possible way.
- Gordon Gekko’s Cellphone: an old phone, like 80’s old, that mysteriously picks up the details of any shady dealings being discussed nearby. Inevitably involving the owner of the phone in those plots!
- Cursed Bulgarian Number: The number, +359 888 888 888, was owned by 3 different people in a 10-year span, all of them dying suddenly after getting the number assigned to their device.
- Henry Dreyfuss’ Princess Telephone: Use of the phone is said to grant one supernatural success, however, it also leaves you with a sense of ultimate existential emptiness often leading to suicide.
That’s right, it’s #3!
The first owner of the number died of cancer. The other two were apparently gunned down after being assigned the number. To this day dialing 888 is said to be bad luck in Bulgaria and Bulgarian telecom companies have all blacklisted the number.
- Maxwell Sharpen’s Atrocity-Denying Armchair: Sitting the overstuffed armchair is said to give the sit-ee an unusual sense of correctness but ultimately is said to sap one’s objectivity. So it won’t kill you, just your social life.
- Charlie’s Dancing Easy Chair: owned by a guy named Charlie the chair is said to give those who sit in it an uncontrollable urge to also fuck in it, or as the legend says, do “the horizontal dance, in a sitting position.”
- Father James Braid’s wingback armchair: Used as the seat for confessional, the chairs iron springs absorbed the emotional distress of the confessionees. Now sitting in the chair causes one to act out of hyper-emotionalism for a short period of time.
- Belcourt Castle Chairs: The chairs in the main dining hall of Belcourt Castle have been known to cause shivers up and down people’s spines. Also, they have a tendency to eject people, causing no end of embarrassment and frustration.
That’s right, it’s #4!
A former summer cottage in Newport, Rhode Island, the Belcourt Castle has a reputation of being one of the most haunted places in the US. The haunted ballroom chairs give people chills, jolts described as emotionally electric, and on the same occasions, straight up ejecting people with “an unknown force.”
Finale / Tie Breaker
- Bruce Lee’s punching bags: One of many bags available. Apparently punching it is said to affect your destiny. Those who have punched one are said to feel like they can take on the world, but always seem to lose the fight.
- Bag of healing: A simple plastic sandwich bag said to be haunted in an unusual way. Items eaten from the bag will improve the health of the eater and hair stored in the bag will lessen the burdens of life on hair-owner.
- Mary Poppins’ Handbag: The bag worn by Julie Andrews in 1964’s Mary Poppins is purported to bring good luck to its owners. Reportedly giving them the fortune of having in their own bags or pockets just what they need, just when they need it, despite not having planned for a specific event.
- Bobby Fischer’s Bag of Marbles: once owned by world-renowned chess Grandmaster Bobby Fischer, his prized bag of marbles has been bought and sold over the years with various owners claiming to hold the balls gives them intense focus and drive toward their goals, unfortunately, over-use leads to stress-induced violence, madness, and strokes.
That’s right it’s #2!
The bags of healing are available on eBay in sets of 3, 6, and 9 for $25 to $75. Each bag can apparently heal anyone or anything. “There is no wrong way to use the haunted Ziploc bag of restoration,” the listing says, but it works best on snack foods: “The most effective way to use the bag, we have discovered, is to purify, decontaminate, revive, and give new life to food items such as Cheetos, sandwiches, pizza, chopped veggies, and granola.” Apparently, if you stick a lock of a loved one’s hair inside, it can “heal, resurrect, protect, or lessen the burden” of the loved one. So that’s nice.
The grand finale for the month of October takes place in the same location as the final story of last year’s Halloween season: Key West, FL. (Count Dr. and his long-dead lady friend) Now I had planned on doing a story that took place in Mexico since the wide release of this episode is November 1st, the Dia de Los Muertos, but as I researched the story I realized it was a little much for our goofy, beer-drinking good time show. If you’re curious and enjoy pretty rough true crime, it was the story of the death of Mark Kilroy, a Texas college student who was actually sacrificed in a supposed dark magic ritual by a drug-dealing voodoo/Satan combo cult in a Mexican border town. So yeah, I didn’t want to make Aaron cry so instead, I’m presenting a possessed toy tale, followed by its actual background.
First, let’s start with the legend. And I stress, the legend (mainly for Steve’s benefit, so he will calm down). I bet a lot of you have heard at least bits of this, but bear with me. I’m hoping to have some fun new tidbits for you:
Dr. Thomas and Minnie Otto were quite a jet setting couple, especially for a time before jets. In the late 1800s, the couple were attractive, affluent, educated and world traveled. In time they bought a large and luxurious mansion in Key West, FL which they proceeded to fill with expensive artwork, antiques, servants and, finally, children.
Things were going pretty darn well for a couple of rich of white people in the late 19th century, at least until the end of that century. It was in the year 1900 that they had their fourth and final child, Robert Eugene. Not that he was a bad kid per se, just a little frail and, well, weird. But like most wealthy people unused to dealing with inconveniences, instead of being overly concerned they assigned Robert Eugene (who went by Gene) his own personal servant-nanny, a Jamaican woman who would be a constant presence throughout Gene’s childhood.
Word is the maid, who unsurprisingly history hasn’t retained a name for, doted on the young boy. So much so she made for him a hand-stitched, child-sized doll, complete with some Bahamian magic, for luck of course, which she presented to the boy when he was about 8.
Now, despite looking to me like it was crafted of the very darkest of childhood nightmares, Gene went gonzo over the doll. (Not saying it was because he was a weird house child with no friends, but the doll WAS about his height so…) Gene immediately named the golem, I mean, doll Robert (after himself, you’ll recall) and dressed him in his favorite sailor outfit.
Gene then proceeded to take Robert with him EVERYWHERE. Which, for a young and lonely child isn’t really that strange, at least at first. Robert had a place setting at the dining table, where Gene would sneak him food, Robert had a special towel to sit on when Gene had bathtime and at bedtime, the servants and/or parents were supposed to tuck Robert and Gene in with equal TLC. (Side note: it’s at this point that the anonymous Jamaican nanny disappears from the story, her part as the token minority player having been completed, I suppose.)
As time passes, however, life with Robert begins to get a bit stranger. Gene’s mother Minnie begins to hear voices coming from his room when he is supposed to be alone. One voice is obviously the little boy’s, but he is answered by a ‘rougher, scratchier’ voice that causes her several times to open the door without knocking, only to find of course just a boy and his giant, creepy doll.
More time passes and Minnie is just about over the doll-based shenanigans. Gene is waking the household up with blood-curdling screams and a bedroom full of upturned furniture. He can only stammer, “Robert did it” when pressed by adults. When she now surprise investigates the voices in her son’s room she finds Gene cowering in a corner with Robert sitting over him on the bed or a chair. “He’s glaring at the boy. I can see it.” Minnie would say, surely mixing another martini and wondering why they couldn’t have just stopped with three kids.
Servants would find themselves locked out of the house, random items would be broken, toys were found ‘mutilated’ and mysterious giggling would be heard from empty rooms. Each time he was asked, Gene would repeat “Robert did it!” and though his parents were not exactly gullible people, even they began to get unnerved when neighbors and passersby reported seeing the ghastly doll staring out of windows and moving about upstairs.
Finally, the parents (and I’m guessing mainly Minnie) said enough and Robert was banished to a box in the attic. I’m sure she was tired of hiring servants who would quit within days because of a tiny creeping shadow in a sailor’s outfit flitting about the mansion and giggling. He didn’t go to the attic quietly, however, as footsteps and giggles were heard frequently coming from upstairs.
Time continues to pass as it does and Gene eventually becomes an adult and begins making a career as an artist and travels abroad. As career artists are expected to be eccentric he gets himself an English girlfriend, Anne, who eventually becomes his wife. In short order, he moves the couple back to his childhood in Key West, as his father has passed away and his elderly mother now lives alone (servants apparently not as en vogue in the 30s… or the Depression). The happy reunion is not complete, however, as pretty quickly Gene makes his way to the attic to retrieve his childhood simulacrum, Robert.
Now, what newly married woman, taken to live with her mother in law in a completely new country, wouldn’t be even more thrilled to discover her husband also wanted to introduce her to his 3 and a half ft tall chalk-white effigy dressed in his childhood clothes? Honeymoon bliss, indeed.
Anne tried to be patient for a while, but obviously Robert was not happy to be reunited with his human only to have some broad come between them. The previous types of mischief began in the house, but this time seemed far more malevolent. Minnie, in fact, took the time to warn her daughter in law about the doll, and to beg her to get her son away from the house and Robert.
In surely only a tragic coincidence, Minnie was soon found dead in her bed, a look of terror frozen on her face. As she was an older woman and in poor health, a stroke was ruled as her cause of death and what weird demon doll?
Suffice to say, Anne was not enjoying her time in Key West. She had already put her foot down when Gene attempted to allow Robert a place in their bed, but after Minnie’s death, she had had enough. The doll was again banished to the attic at Anne’s insistence.
Unfortunately, Robert would not go gently into that good night and a campaign of terror was unleashed on poor Anne. Gene, I suppose, was busy being an eccentric artist and unaware of the horror movie unfolding around him and the misery and deterioration of his wife. In only a few short months following her mother in law’s death, the poor woman was declared insane and move to an asylum.
For Robert, this was the winning move. Per hauntedrooms.co.uk: “Robert the haunted doll once more placed demands on Eugene, requesting the Turret Room of the house because “he wanted a room with a view of the street.” Gene never remarried and lived alone in the Key West mansion until his death in 1974. Word is, he was found deceased in his bed, Robert the Doll tucked in snugly next to him.
The mansion remained uninhabited for years (except of course for Robert) following Gene’s death. Eventually, the home was sold and after some terrorizing of the new homeowners, Robert was gifted enthusiastically to the Fort East Martello Museum of Key West where he resides today.
Sources say Robert has settled in well to his new…haunt. It is reported that on occasion you can walk by the museum when it is closed and see a small pale figure staring out from the top floor windows. Employees report the occasional ghostly giggle and odd occurrences, but by far the most common report of paranormal activity comes from visitors to the museum.
Much like Buckbeak the Hippogriff, Robert expects to be treated with courtesy upon meeting and doesn’t suffer disrespect. Per atlasobscura.com: “Robert’s current favorite mischievous act involves casting curses on those who take his photo without first asking permission. To date, the walls near his glass case are covered in numerous letters from previous visitors and naysayers, begging for Robert’s forgiveness and asking him to remove any hex he has cast.”
And that is the commonly told story of Robert the Doll. While quite a bit of it is true, some are mostly true, as with any good ghost story there is quite a bit spooky flavor added that is less than factual. So what’s the real story?
For the most part, the players are all real, with the possible exception of the unnamed Jamaican maid. While it’s very possible the Orrs employed a woman fitting her description, she did NOT present young Gene with a giant voodoo doll. In truth, the freakish doll was a present from his grandfather, who had spotted what was apparently the most horrifying window display of all time. Yep, Robert is store-bought (still one of a kind, handmade, but still, no black magic). While Grandfather Orr was traveling through Germany he walked by the famous Steiff Toy Company (It’s most known for creating the first Teddy Bear in 1902, or at least a plush, stuffed bear with moveable arms and legs. In 1906 an American trader spotted the bear, bought 3,000 on the spot and took them to the US, when they were named for then-President Roosevelt when he refused to shoot a captured baby bear. Because he wasn’t a Trump.)In the window he noticed a display of toys dressed as a royal court and decided he despised his youngest grandson, so bought him the court jester who, with a quick change of clothes, became the more nautical themed Robert the Doll.
Honestly, picturing Robert as some version of a demented harlequin is even more terrifying, so points to the Orrs for the upgrade.
As far as the reports of the toy terrorizing the boy and his family, it sounds more like Gene was a spoiled weird kid who needed to go outside and play. There is no indication that later his wife Anne was institutionalized. She DID leave him, but probably because he was a grown-ass man who designated an entire room in his home to a freakish doll.
Finally, as far as his current status as ‘the world’s most haunted toy, well, people like ghostly shit and Robert is quite the creepy celebrity. From Key West’s Historical Society:
“Robert has been encased in glass with high-tech alarms since 1994 at Fort East Martello Museum where visitors must seek his permission to take his photograph, lest they be bombarded with bad luck. Fan mail continues to arrive daily from as far away as Australia, the U.K. and Japan, underscoring Robert’s global appeal to people and cultures of all ages. He has taken trips to a TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) convention in St. Petersburg, to Las Vegas to be on the Travel Channel’s television program “Zak Bagans: Mystery Mansion,” and last year to the Discovery Center for a Halloween appearance.”
To finish, it’s pretty unlikely that Robert the Doll is haunted, seeing as how that is impossible, BUT! it’s still pretty fun to tell ghost stories, visit supposedly haunted places and find ways to scare ourselves, within reason. Because of that, it’s doubtful his popularity will wane anytime soon, and if I’m being completely honest, if I awoke one lonely night to Robert hanging out in my bedroom, it’s possible that might literally scare me to death.
Next Week’s Beer
Solid Gold Premium Lager from Founders Brewing
Donated By: Steve E
- BA Link: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/1199/308813/
- BA: 81 out of 100
- Style: American Lager
- ABV: 4.4%
Pay your traffic tickets with food!
If you get a parking ticket in Las Vegas over the next month, you will be able to pay off the fine with a food donation, the city council announced on Wednesday.
The program only applies to park citations issued between October 16 and November 16. The city council unanimously voted in favor of the initiative to allow food donations to be accepted instead of the cash fine. The press release for the city says they are taking in the donations to help those in need during the holiday season.
This initiative only applies to non-public safety parking infractions and the non-perishable food items must be of equal or greater value to the ticket fine, according to the city. The donations must be completed within thirty days of the citation date, and the last date the city is accepting donations is December 16.
All the food donations will be donated to the Helping Hands of Vegas Valley, a nonprofit that provides assistance to low income and disabled senior citizens, the press release reads.
This isn’t the first time Las Vegas has announced a special program to waive cash fines for parking tickets. In July, the city accepted donations of school supplies in lieu of parking ticket fines. Las Vegas City Council has been running occasional programs to accept charitable donations in place of parking fines since 2016.
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