WBEZ | Urban Legends http://www.wbez.org/tags/urban-legends Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's favorite ghost: Resurrection Mary http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-10-31/chicagos-favorite-ghost-resurrection-mary-93531 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-31/10-31--Res Cemetery.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>I first heard the story at one of the Duke's Halloween parties. That would make it when I was in college, in the late 'sixties.</p><p>The way the Duke told it, this guy he knew had been driving north on Milwaukee Avenue near Lawrence, by the Holiday Ballroom. Suddenly a young woman in a white dress jumped in front of the car. The guy screeched to a halt, the woman got in the car, and asked for a ride.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" height="355" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-29/10-31--Holiday Ballroom.JPG" title="" width="490"></p><p>Now the driver figured he was getting lucky, so he agreed. The woman told him to head up Milwaukee toward Niles. Other than that, she didn't say much.</p><p>Getting into Niles, they passed the main entrance to St. Adalbert's Cemetery. "Stop the car!" the woman shouted. The driver stopped the car. When he turned to look at the woman, she had vanished.</p><p>Sound familiar? Substitute Archer Avenue, the Willow Brook Ballroom, and Resurrection Cemetery. Now you have Chicago's most famous ghost story, the tale of Resurrection Mary.</p><p>At the time I hadn't heard anything about Resurrection Mary. Neither had any of my friends. We only knew that this was a great story.</p><p>As the years went by, I became better acquainted with Chicago folklore. Then I realized that the Duke had picked up the Resurrection Mary story somewhere, and simply adapted it to his own purposes. That was a habit of his. Last I heard of him, he was a long-term guest of the federal government. Something about counterfeiting.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-27/10-31--Res Mary.jpg" style="width: 293px; height: 460px;" title=""></p><p>The first sighting of Resurrection Mary occurred in 1939. Since then there have been dozens. The story has been related in newspapers and magazine articles, in books, in songs, and in a movie. In 2011, Mary is all over the internet.</p><p>Who was the real Resurrection Mary? Researchers have nominated a number of candidates. My vote goes to Anna Norkus.</p><p>Anna was born in Cicero in 1914, and later lived in Chicago near Archer and Harlem. On her 13th birthday--July 20, 1927--she rode along with her father and some friends to the Oh Henry Ballroom (today's Willow Brook). After an evening of partying, they drove home.</p><p>Along the way they passed Resurrection Cemetery. On Harlem near 67th Street, the driver lost control of the car and plunged into a deep ditch at the side of the road. Anna was killed in the crash.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" height="356" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-29/10-31--Res Cemetery.JPG" title="" width="490"></p><p>The dead girl was supposed to be buried at St. Casimir's Cemetery. But because of a grave-diggers' strike there, Anna was temporarily interred at Resurrection Cemetery. Later, when the strike ended, her remains could not be identified.</p><p>That account fits the main elements of the Resurrection Mary story. As noted, there's plenty of information available, and you're welcome to come up with your own theory.</p><p>As for me, I've driven past St. Adalbert's Cemetery hundreds of times, and never had anything unusual happen. But I've never driven by Resurrection Cemetery at night. And I don't intend to.</p></p> Mon, 31 Oct 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-10-31/chicagos-favorite-ghost-resurrection-mary-93531 The Cider House story http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-07-19/cider-house-story-89141 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-15/schmidt_ciderhouse.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-14/2121 N. Hudson Ave..jpg" style="width: 495px; height: 374px;" title=""></p><p>Chicago history is more than just a fire. But sooner or later, there's bound to be a story of the Great Conflagration of 1871. The house at 2121 North Hudson Avenue is at the center of this tale.</p><p>The Chicago Fire started on the Near South Side. Pushed on by strong southwest winds, it burned through downtown, jumped the river, and continued moving north. Nothing in its path seemed safe.</p><p>By the second evening the fire had passed Center Street (Armitage). Here the buildings were fewer and farther apart. On Hudson Avenue, the only house was a little wooden cottage belonging to a policeman named Richard Bellinger.</p><p>As the fire approached, Bellinger was determined to save his home. He tore up the wooden sidewalk, then collected all the water he could, in whatever bucket or bottle or cup was handy. Then he waited--but not for long.</p><p>Sparks from the fire started to hit the house, and Bellinger quickily doused them. The fire kept coming, Bellinger kept pouring water. He ran around the four sides of the little cottage, he climbed on the roof, he dropped back to the ground. Wherever the flames lit, Bellinger was there to put them out.</p><p>He grew tired. He lost track of time. But he was winning. The fire around him was almost gone. And then--he ran out of water!</p><p>Was all his hard toil for nothing? All he needed was a bucket or two more! Oh, cruel twist of fate!</p><p>But wait! Bellinger remembered the barrel of apple cider in the cellar. He told his wife to draw some of the cider into buckets. And with this bit of liquid, the valiant policeman was able to extinguish the remaining flames, and save his home.</p><p>The Triumph of Policeman Bellinger became a part of Chicago folklore. It was even reprinted in school textbooks. On October 8, the anniversary of the fire, teachers would march their classes to the cottage on Hudson Avenue, and tell the story of how it had been saved by cider. Besides the Water Tower, this little frame house was the only building that had survived the disaster.</p><p>Then one day in 1915, a little old white-haired lady appeared at the door of 2121 North Hudson Avenue. It was Mrs. Bellinger, come back to visit the old homestead. She was invited in and looked around. Then she began to reminisce about the events of forty-four years before.</p><p>Yes, she said, her late husband had worked mightily to save the house. After the fire, they had sheltered 21 people in the tiny cottage. However, that cider business had been invented by some reporter with an over-active imagination.</p><p>"We did have a barrel of cider in the basement," Mrs. Bellinger declared. "But we didn't use it because we were able to get enough water from the dugout across the street."</p><p>That destroyed one myth. And more recently, historians have determined that at a couple of other wooden cottages on Cleveland Avenue also came through the fire. So the Bellinger house is not even unique as a survivor.</p><p>But it still makes a damn good story.</p></p> Tue, 19 Jul 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-07-19/cider-house-story-89141