News & Updates

Most of what was discussed in this most recent episode doesn’t require much elaboration, but I realize that not everyone is as into Sorkin as Jo, so I thought I’d take a sec to clarify the map thing.

In Season 2, Episode 16 of The West Wing, entitled, “Somebody’s Going to Jail, Somebody’s Going to Emergency,” White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman hear a pitch from the Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality on Big Block of Cheese Day (though I’m pretty sure Jo misspoke in the episode, calling it Big Cheese Day). Here’s the clip:

 

 

In case you were wondering, yeah, the Gall-Peters Projection Map IS a thing. In fact, there a number of different projections out there, and while I’m no cartographer, it appears that while all of them have their flaws, the Mercator Projection — the one we’re most familiar with — is arguably the most flawed.

Here’s a comparison for you. The black lines? That’s the Mercator Projection, or what we’re used to seeing. The green? That’s the Gall-Peters Projection. See how big the difference is?

 

 

The more you know…

 

I know. We’re moving fast. I don’t have any control over when the episodes go up at this point. But given recent revelations, I thought I’d offer up a little extra for parsing the information.

In episode 23, we learned that Dr. Hewson, a former guest of Benjamin Franklin, had some pretty gnarly hobbies. It seemed improbable to me, too, but it turns out there actually were a ton of bones uncovered during renovations to the Craven Street house back in 1998. The Guardian reported:

As restoration work by the Friends of Benjamin Franklin House began on 36 Craven Street, a Grade I listed house rescued from the brink of tottering collapse, a small pit was found in the basement room. A human thigh bone was found.

The coroner and the police were notified. Excavation continued. More human bone surfaced. And more. And more, until more than 1,200 pieces of bone were recovered.

Since the bones were too ancient to trouble Scotland Yard, they are now in the care of the Institute of Archaeology, where experts have already determined that they range from an old man to a human baby. Several skulls have been trepanned, and arm and leg bones chopped through.

The most plausible explanation is not mass murder, but an anatomy school run by Benjamin Franklin’s young friend and protege, William Hewson.

There’s actually a pretty cool episode of PBS’ Secrets of the Dead on the subject, clips of which were included in the episode itself. Granted, there’s no mention of Central or Regnant or reanimated corpses, but c’est la vie, I suppose.

It’s hard to ignore the parallels in that entry with Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein, but Hewson’s death predates the famous novel by 44 years. Given our track record with the journals to date, I can’t help but wonder if Shelley either knew about Hewson’s extracurriculars and end or was somehow connected to the sensitive community.

***IF YOU HAVEN’T LISTENED TO EPISODE 24, STOP HERE! SPOILERS AHEAD!***

As I said in the recording, today’s episode was a rough one for me. I know you have questions, and all I can say is that the answers are coming. Until then, I thought I’d offer up some of the materials referenced in the entry research.

A few seconds of googling will give you a litany of articles on sites of questionable credibility discussing the Olivia Mabel story as if it were fact. Viralnova, for instance, says:

In 1994, when officers responded to silent 911 calls coming from Olivia Mabel’s house, they weren’t surprised to find that the young woman was dead. But it was the collection of objects that surrounded her body that haunts them to this day.

Consumed by grief over the death of her son, Mabel was in front of a mysterious altar that was apparently dedicated to him. Not only that, but signs indicate that she may have successfully summoned a spirit from another realm to aid her in her time of need.

And then there’s the website, OliviaMabel.com. In fairness, it really does look like a site put together by some non-web-savvy family and friends who are grieving the loss of a loved one, featuring photos, scanned reports, and audio files.

Olivia Mabel, I guess

But as was discussed in the episode, this coverage is more ruse than truth intended to stir up enthusiasm for a short film called Thoughtform from ElfTree Media. Big thanks to Generation Why for clearing that up. I encourage you to listen to their full episode on Olivia Mabel (and subscribe, they’re pretty good!).

While the Kickstarter for the project was unsuccessful, it looks like they’re still working on getting the movie together and accepting donations. After reading the entry, I’m not sure I can buy it as a true story, but I think it’d make for a good movie anyway. Here’s the teaser they put out:

In any case, this is me voting that the whole creator sensitivity thing is some fucked up bullshit. What do you think?

Nothing could have prepared me for stumbling across one of my all time favorite authors in one of the journals. I’m still reeling from it. But finding that story did send me down a rabbit hole of interestingness that I thoroughly loved.

As was discussed in the entry, The Stanley Hotel was built on land procured from one Windham Wyndham-Quin by Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife Flora. And yes, it was the site of tragedy. Room 217, made infamous in The Shining as 237, had history far before Mr. King chose to immortalize it. And yes, accounts vary. An article from The Trail Gazette offers a good summary:

In 1911, Room 217 was the Presidential Suite, said Jesse Freitas, the hotel’s archivist: an L-shaped room that took up the space that now houses two rooms: 217 and 215. On the evening of June 25 of that year, a thunderstorm cut the power and all of the hotel’s guests were taken down to the lobby while staff was charged with lighting the back-up acetylene gas lamps. There was an unknown gas leak when chambermaid Elizabeth Wilson entered Room 217 with a lit candle.

[…]

Five different Colorado news accounts of the incident reported five different – sometimes vastly different – stories. The Denver Times reported just a day later that the chambermaid’s name was Elizabeth Lambert and that she was fatally injured. The same report said that she was joined on the second floor by another maid, Eva Colbern, who was “thrown through a wall onto the hotel porch.. but she was merely stunned.”

What really happened? No idea. But whatever it was, it was enough to give the room the reputation that led to an even bigger mythos.

The Stanley Hotel does actually embrace its haunted history, though. They’ve got a whole page dedicated to it. As one section of it reads:

After a century of collecting spirits, the hotel has become renowned by specialists and experts in the field of paranormal investigation as one of the nation’s most active sites. Chief amongst the hotel’s eternal guests are F.O. and Flora Stanley who continue to go about the business of running their beloved establishment as though they were still alive; Flora’s antique Steinway can be heard playing in the dead of night and Mr. Stanley has been captured in photographs surveying the goings-on in the Billiards Room, once his favorite place.

The piano thing makes sense now, right? Seriously, though: they lean in with this ghost business, offering haunted tours to interested guests. And remember that maze in The Shining?

 

 

Well, that was originally just a feature of The Overlook Hotel in the book. But to further capitalize on their creepy cred, The Stanley Hotel built a hedge maze of their own in 2015.

 

 

But what of Mr. King’s stay at the now legendary hotel? King has this to say about it on his website:

In late September of 1974, Tabby and I spent a night at a grand old hotel in Estes Park, the Stanley. We were the only guests as it turned out; the following day they were going to close the place down for the winter. Wandering through its corridors, I thought that it seemed the perfect—maybe the archetypical—setting for a ghost story. That night I dreamed of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming. He was being chased by a fire-hose. I woke up with a tremendous jerk, sweating all over, within an inch of falling out of bed. I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in the chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind.

So yeah, there was a nightmare. Could it have been derived from some sort of hellish experience that was wiped from his memory? I have no idea. I’m still just hoping I don’t get sued. So there’s that.

Most folks associate memories of The Shining with the film version starring Jack Nicholson. If you want to tumble further down the rabbit hole, there’s a great documentary about it on Netflix called Room 237 that breaks down a whole bunch of theories on the meaning of the movie.

That said, it’s worth noting that King wasn’t happy with Kubrick’s take on his novel, so maybe the book is a better bet. In any case, I’ll be rereading and rewatching in the near future. I don’t know about you, but I want to see if there’s additional overlap between King’s story and the entry that I’m missing.

Hey folks. I wanted to take a second to apologize for a misstep on my part in the last episode. In it, I referenced a post on the NoSleep subreddit that related to the journal entry in question. Though I believed I had properly credited the source, I’ve since spoken with the author, and regret the way it was presented.

I intended no offense, but I realize that my delivery when reading sections of the story might have been perceived as mocking the author and her post. That was inappropriate. I also missed a section in the FAQ section which indicated that while I couldn’t ask about the truth of the post on the story itself, I COULD contact the author directly.

These mistakes are totally on me. I screwed up, and upset an author whose skills I respect. I promise I will try to do better in the future, and apologize to cmd102 and other NoSleep fans who were frustrated. I also strongly encourage you to go read the original post in its entirety. It’s a good one.

– Addison

For those wondering, Lincoln Way in Clairton, PA is a very real place that’s stood abandoned by years. And yes, a photographer named Jimmy Joo did post an article in 2015 featuring photos he took there and his sense of the place.

As he observed, walking among the ruins:

[I]nside it’s as if everyone had left in such an insane hurry, as beds were left made neatly, food was scattered, dishes still in cabinets, some in the sink, family photos hung, books remained on shelves and clothes were still picked out for the next day, which sadly never came for them. In one house, even a car remained parked neatly in the garage, now covered in years of dust.

Here are just a few of the photos he took:

 

Seriously — go check out the rest of his write up and gallery. You can do so here. 

In his write up, Joo mentions the same NoSleep entry I came across. Entitled “The Beast of Lincoln Way,” I’m not sure I buy it entirely, but here’s how cmd102 described the encounter:

It stood on all fours, and was as big as a horse. Thick, black hair covered it’s massive body. It’s muscular front legs were tipped with claws longer than my fingers, and it’s mouth was full of too many razor-sharp teeth. The few people I’ve described it to reasoned that it was a bear or a large wild cat far from home, but it didn’t look like either of those. The beast’s head almost resembled a massive dog, except for the horns perched on either side. I stared into deep red eyes, rooted to my spot with terror, as this creature slowly made it’s way closer to me. Another growl escaped from it’s throat, and I began to shake so badly that I dropped my flashlight. The sudden movement and flash of light seemed to startle it. I took my chance and ran back to the street, screaming for Sam to get into the truck and start the engine. I could hear heavy paws hitting the ground not far behind me as I ran faster than I ever have in my life. I launched myself into Sam’s truck, and he threw it in gear and pulled a u-turn to get us the hell out of there. The truck’s headlights illuminated the beast for a moment as it stopped in the middle of the road to avoid being hit. What I had thought was fur was actually closer to a mass of thin porcupine needles, and every one on it’s back stood straight up as the beast crouched to spring at the truck. Sam was speeding toward the main road when we heard the howl of the creature. It sounded pained and angry, as if it was starving and upset that it was denied a meal.

You can read the full entry here.

UPDATE: I screwed up the handling of this reference in the episode. Read more about that here.

Honestly, some of what looks like more recent graffiti got under my skin a little more. If we’re to believe what Valerie said about the headaches, maybe the area is still a risk after all.

I mean, y’all can make up your minds for yourselves, but I wouldn’t be planning a road trip there even if I could.

Super late on this one (noticing a trend yet?), but I promised I would post that creepy sketch from the dream entries, so here it is:

 

IMG_0815

 

So, I don’t know if you can tell, but the outline of the eyes? Those are words. I can’t quite make it all out — this dude had some atrocious handwriting. Or, ya know, he was losing his mind, in which case penmanship probably isn’t your top priority. But the bits and pieces I’ve been able to decipher all seem to relate to eyes and seeing and truth. Given the eye imagery, perhaps that’s not all that surprising. And though all the scratching around it may look random, it’s not all a bunch of scribbles. If you look close, you can see he’s written “see” over and over and over again.

I spent some time wondering what this might have been about — you know, outside of him completely losing his shit — and I kept thinking about the scratching he’d heard and then felt inside his head. Maybe whatever that sensation was made it to his eyes? Then again, maybe his dreams became more clear, and he was seeing something for the first time.

Or he was just unhinged.

Also, I’ve kept on searching for the St. Louis families with no luck. And by no luck, I mean I found more dead people, but that’s about it. There’s more to it than that… but I’ll explain more on Sunday’s episode. In the meantime, here are the folks I’m still looking for:

  1. Thomas and Linda Nettles
  2. Anthony and Kate Baker
  3. Gail and Peter Ramirez
  4. Judy and Dale Cook
  5. Randall and Theresa Olson
  6. Claire and John Morales

Oh, and one more thing before I go: YOU’RE GETTING A SECOND EPISODE THIS WEEK. I know, I’m awesome. It was more a function of necessity than love though, so don’t feel too flattered.

Even better? YOU’RE GETTING IT TODAY!

And as a bit of a tease for the entry we’ll be covering, here’s the sketch that accompanied it:

 

sinnagraham

 

Dude was a seriously talented artist, huh? Then again, he did have a lot of time to work on it. You’ll understand soon.

Ok, I’m assuming it’s a dude. Maybe that’s dumb. It could be a woman I guess. But in any case, it’s some fool with the email address x12745394452qr98h@yahoo.com. Don’t bother emailing them yourself; the address is dead. Or bother. Up to you.

Regardless, below is the email exchange, as promised in this last episode.

email1

email2

email3

 

I’d let you just read the PDF version, but I’m too lazy to edit it so I can black out Zoe’s phone number. You’re just going to have to trust me.

I’m going to see if I can’t get someone better than me at computers to trace an IP, or whatever it is computer people do to locate a sender. We’ll see what happens.

Hey everyone! I know, I know — I’m a total bummer for taking this long to post an update. Let’s just say things have been… busy.

We’ll start with updates on St. Louis. I’ve been hard at my detective work trying to find everyone, and I’ve had some success… if you want to call it that. I’ve found another six families since the last episode, but they’re all dead, and in each pairing, at least one was dead by suicide.

I have to admit, no matter how many times I remind myself that this isn’t real… this story is starting to creep me out more and more.

In any case, here are the remaining names:

  1. Thomas and Linda Nettles
  2. Gary and Pamela Wilson
  3. Dennis and Cynthia Schmitt
  4. Jennifer and Donald Garrison
  5. Anthony and Kate Baker
  6. Gail and Peter Ramirez
  7. Judy and Dale Cook
  8. Randall and Theresa Olson
  9. Sherry and Sam Green
  10. Claire and John Morales
  11. Sally and Gene Crawford

As always, if you have any additional information on these folks, I wanna hear it!

I don’t have any extra stuff to post about Camden, but I promised you I’d show you the article I found from the Bayou Bulletin. Here it is:

 

Bayou Bulletin 1995

 

I know it’s just an image, but that’s all I could find. I’d love to read the full article though. If you get your hands on it, shoot me an email, eh?

There were no sketches in the Stretch Armstrong entry, BUT I do have one more image to share with you:

 

FullSizeRender (1)

 

Confused? That’s understandable. After all, this photo was tucked between the pages of an entry you haven’t heard… yet! Stay tuned.

Hey everyone! I know, I know — I promised you a list of names of the St. Louis families who have since moved away like forever ago, but there were hiccups.

For starters, I found one of them on my own. Well, they found me, truth be told. I guess a cousin of a nephew of a friend heard something about it and they found out I was about to be on the hunt. They wanted to get ahead of the curve, I guess, and called me to tell me that under no circumstances was I to share any identifying information about them publicly. That means no recording of their voice, either.

They did give me permission to share a few things they said: namely, that they have no idea what I’m talking about. Much like the folks Officer Kearny spoke with, this person has no memory of a kidnapping in 1971, largely because they have no memory of ever having a kid. Oh, and the other half of the couple? Committed suicide in 1984.

So there’s that.

But then I started thinking and got all kinds of nervous about what the repercussions could be if I posted someone else’s name and they weren’t happy and wanted to take legal action. So I did what anyone in my shoes would do. I called the pseudo-friend from college I haven’t talked to in more than a few years to get advice.

All that to say: I can give you first and last names of the parents and tell you they all resided in St. Louis in the summer of 1971. That’s it.

I know, I’m disappointed, too. Some of these police reports are… well, interesting, to say the least. And though I maintain that freedom of the press is paramount, I’m not entirely sure how much of that freedom applies to a little known amateur podcaster with no means to defend herself should she be brought to court, and I’m not interested in gambling on it.

Sorry folks. But here are the names, at least, in chronological order:

  1. Marie and Derrick Jackson
  2. Thomas and Linda Nettles
  3. Larry and Karen Casper
  4. Mark and Sharon West
  5. Gary and Pamela Wilson
  6. Dennis and Cynthia Schmitt
  7. Mark and Barb Hegel
  8. Jennifer and Donald Garrison
  9. Anthony and Kate Baker
  10. Gail and Peter Ramirez
  11. Arthur and Bev Morris
  12. Judy and Dale Cook
  13. Marilyn and Pat Collins
  14. Hannah and Jude Parker
  15. Stan and Jo Rogers
  16. Henry and Jessica Sanchez
  17. Randall and Theresa Olson
  18. Sherry and Sam Green
  19. Claire and John Morales
  20. Marsha and Rick Kelly
  21. Sally and Gene Crawford
  22. Norman and Evelyn Dixon
  23. Lois and Cliff Shaw
  24. Anita and Tommy Hunter

If you think you have any information on these individuals, or any of the cases so far, give me a shout at opentheboxpodcast@gmail.com. Thanks!

I wish I had more to share with you after this episode. I feel like I’m shirking my duties somehow, but believe me: I wish I had more for you, too. I guess I felt sort of accomplished after that first episode, ya know? Like I’d done my journalistic duty by unearthing important information. So much for confidence.

In any case, this is the image from this week’s entry of the unidentified creature in Camden:

Unidentified Camden Creature

Looks like our operative was also a bit of an artist of sorts.

I’m still sifting through the paperwork Officer Kearny sent over, but I promise that list of names I need help tracking down is coming soon. Until then — does this creature look familiar to any of you?