Monday, February 16, 2009

Haunted Pictures

When I was a kid, around fourth grade age, we had a book program that came to the school. They would send a little catalog home with you, and you could pick out books, get a check for them from your folks, and mail the lot in. A few weeks later, your books would turn up at school.

Young ShellHawk loved ghost stories, even then. I got a book on haunted houses, complete with pictures of real ghosts. I was thrilled! (Can't for the life of me remember the name of the book, though. Probably out of print, anyway.) Real ghosts! Whoopee! This first picture was the cover shot, taken of one of the most famous ghosts ever photographed: the Tulip Staircase Ghost.

It was taken by Rev. Ralph Hardy, retired clergy, in a 1966 visit to the National Maritime museum in Greenwich, England. Intending only to get a snapshot of the staircase, Hardy was surprised by the figure on the stairs. Experts, some from Kodak, examined the negative and conclude that it hadn't been tampered with. For some reason, the image has stuck with me all these years.

Another famous photo used in the book was of the Brown Lady, taken in 1936.
The Brown Lady is thought to be the wife of 2nd Viscount of Raynham Charles Townshend of Norfolk, England in the early 1700s. He suspected Lady Dorothy Townshend of infidelity. Although records state she was buried in 1726, it was thought that Townshend merely locked her up in an out-of-the-way section of the manor until her death years later. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, isn't it?

Over the years, there have been numerous sightings of the Brown Lady (as Dorothy came to be called), from King George IV to a number of different military officers. One man claimed that he thought her eyes had been gouged out. As a child, I didn't really fully absorb Dorothy's story, though I viscerally felt the implied tragic circumstances of her demise. Even then, I knew that ghosts are still among us because of unfinished business or because their lives were cut short by foul play.

And here's a favorite of mine. For those of you who haven't heard, there's a possibility of a ghostly appearance in the 1987 movie, Three Men and a Baby. If you watch the clip, take note of the windows behind the actors as they walk past, both at the beginning of the scene, and at the end.

Creepy, huh? Well, I gotta blow the myth. The figure in the background is actually a cardboard figure of Ted Danson stuck behind the curtains. The scene with him and the figure was cut from the final edit of the movie. Would have been cool if it had been a ghost, huh?

Hmm. Cold, wet, windy day out. Pumpkins to mache. Maybe it's time to throw on a ghost movie...


  1. I remember seeing the "Three Men and a Baby" ghost the first time...really freaked me out. I wish that I had NOT known about the Blair Witch Project until after I had seen the movie also, it would have been great to wonder about was it true, nah, couldn't be, but they said it was, couldn't be, but it looked so real...

  2. Wow, you've just blown my mind.
    I remember the Scholastic book club. And I believe the book you're speaking of was in my Elementary school library. I rented it out over and over and over again.

    I was totally transfixed by both of those photos. The one with the ghost holding the railing was on the cover.

    Nice post! Brought back memories!


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