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Ghost Trestle Letdown

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I tried to be like Scooby-Doo and his gang this weekend and solve a ghostly mystery, but no such luck.

A few years ago, courtesy of Facebook, I learned of a spot near Adrian known as the Ghost Trestle. I am all for anything related to trains, so I printed out the directions how to get there. And stuffed them in my desk. And a year or two later, I actually got around to finding the spot. It is a very creepy spot that does provide sufficient heebie-jeebies.

The Ghost Trestle on Bailey Hwy in Madison Township, just south of Gier Road.

The Ghost Trestle on Bailey Hwy in Madison Township, just south of Gier Road.

I drove my son out there recently so that he could see it. He wanted to know the ghost story. I tried to cobble it together from what I could remember. When I got home, I Googled it. Here is what I found:

Legend has it that at one time there was a farm house built near the tracks. Late one night a fire broke out in the barn. While the father ran to the barn to try to get the horses out, his wife and young son went to the tracks to wave down one of the many trains that would use that right of way. They were too close to the tracks however and both were struck by the train as it went past. The father was killed in the barn. Now if you go out there late at night, you can sometimes communicate with the Father. He will not allow you to talk to his wife or son; as if he was protecting them . There are other people living in the area now, and a large streetlight has been placed there by the people who own the neighboring land. If you stay there to long, they will call the police. However if you make your visit short enough they will usually leave you to it. This place has also been described as a good place to go to contact other spirits. The Father can be asked to help in this matter. He will not allow antagonistic spirits to talk however; once again to protect his family.

www.paranormalmichigan.com

Low and behold, all five or so results that come up are all the same story. EXACTLY THE SAME. Cut & paste in this age of technology, baby. Everyone is saying “This is the story”, when in reality, it is just one person’s story repeated over and over. The originator could have been a big, fat liar, and no one would be the wiser.

So, I decided it would be MY job to come up with the definitive truth behind this legend. I took a genealogical approach to the situation. I began how I begin every search, which I am sure is not at all how everyone else begins: with an atlas and a cemetery search. I know, it sounds weird and labor-intensive, but I have found the best stuff about my ancestors that way.

The atlas is a combined reissue from 1978 from my local historical society featuring maps from years 1874, 1893,  and 1916. Where the ghost trestle is located can be pretty easily found on the map, as it is just south of the intersection of Bailey & Gier roads, the Wabash (also DT&I and Lake Shore & Michigan Southern) railroad, and the nearby south branch of the River Raisin. I jotted down the names of the people who owned the land near there at those three times.

On the 1874 map, the railroad is just a “proposed route” which differs slightly from where it was actually built, so I use 1874 as my starting date. I found mention of an article from the Adrian Daily Telegram on August 23, 1897 where an N. Stevens talks about a haunted house. A website attributed it to the ghost trestle. I didn’t verify it, but used 1897 as my high-end cut off for dates.

Then, since it was 10:00pm at night and too late to go to the actual Madison Township cemetery, I searched on the website FindaGrave.com to look for any family members who all died on the same day or year. I came across the tombstone of “B. Carpenter and wife Eliza and Dau. Lucy.”

Tombstone from Madison Township Cemetery

Tombstone from Madison Township Cemetery

When I found the tombstone, I cried. It was really no proof of anything, but just the thought of a family all dying together upset me, the proof before me, their names carved in stone. And what if it had been under such tragic circumstances?

No dates visible in the picture or provided on the website. But that they are all on the same marker struck me as interesting. I had relatives, a husband and wife, who perished with another couple when they all fell through a frozen Devil’s Lake in 1858. All four of their names are on the same tombstone, two different sir names. Most people other than myself would have no idea why.

Michigan has an AWESOME database where you can look up actual death certificates. I found out how my great-great grandmother and infant aunt died using it. But, unfortunately, it BEGINS in 1897. No Carpenters for me.

So, I started Googling and looking at census for the Carpenter family in Madison. I watched them age every ten years, learned their family relationships. B. most likely stood for Benjamin. Eliza may have stood for Elizabeth. Very common names back then. And if he were to have married and had a child between census, it wouldn’t have caught it.

I went to the historical museum and searched their card catalog of obituaries, some dating from the 1800s. It is usually a gold mine of info. All I found was the possible listing of Benjamin’s mother’s death on December 10, 1893. It was a death notice, and not a full obituary; sometimes they are like mini-family histories. I asked all the employees at the library. The one gentleman used to go out to the Ghost Trestle with his friends as a teenager. All he could remember was that when heading south on Bailey road on the northwest side of the tracks on the right there was an old house that has since been torn down. That was cool, but didn’t really help me much.

And there are so many variables to consider, giving me roadblocks. The ghost story relies on the sweet image of a newlywed couple and their first child, an entire family perishing tragically in one night. But what if there were other children who survived? What if it had been grandparents with a grandchild?

And some seem to believe the Ghost Trestle is haunted from those who died roughly 10 miles away in Seneca in 1901 in the wreck of the Wabash. (There will be an event on September 24, 2016 at Oakwood Cemetery in Adrian to memorialize all the victims, including 75 to 100 Italian immigrants whose resting place has only recently been discovered.) But I don’t feel like the Seneca ghosts would want to trot that far to spook a bunch of drunk teenagers. And the houses? One allegedly torn down and another still standing? They could be a clue for someone else, but I am not good at researching property records.

I wanted this blog post to be the absolute history of the Ghost Trestle, with sources and shit. I didn’t set out to prove if it was haunted or not, just if it had a story that could support the possibility.

So, I was unable to find any concrete proof of anything. I still just have a tombstone with no dates. And there was Benjamin Carpenter who had a son Benjamin. Families all reused names over and over again. Who the hell knows who is really buried under that stone! I need to run out to the cemetery, see if there is maybe a family marker with more information. There is a very real chance that these people died totally uneventfully and are at peace in the afterlife. But, well, I have to abandon this search for now. In the next week I have a book to convert from longhand to electronic and a list of four books I want to have read, in addition to planning and packing for my first ever trip to Utopia con, a writers conference.

I made a fake ghost. Do not believe that this is real.

I made a fake ghost. Do not believe that this is real.

My thoughts right now are that it just happens to be a creepy bridge, and nothing of the story of the farmer and his wife and child are true. It would almost be good if that were the case, it is such a sad story.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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365 Days

When I was a tiny child, a year was a very Very VERY VERY long time. In January, it would seem like Christmas would never come around again. Same with Halloween.  A year was just an infathomable amount of time for my immature brain. I knew that each day passed, and month by month, eventually we would get there. I knew this to be true. But it was just an eternity. I can’t even describe it. While so many other memories have faded, that one is still relatively clear in my memory.  The endlessness of time stretching out before me.

And from things my son says, I believe this is how he experiences time as well.

Here is an ugly picture that perfectly illustrates the topic of my post.

Here is an ugly picture that perfectly illustrates the topic of my post.

Maybe time moved so slow for me because as a child I spent a lot of time being bored. “I’m bored” came out of my mouth probably every hour of the day. I was bored in school. I was bored at home. I was bored in the car. I was bored at the grocery store. I was bored visiting my Gramma.

I look back now, and all that “bored” time just seems like such a waste. I could have been writing the books then that I don’t have time to write now. I could have hugged my Gramma a few more times while she was still here.

When I was in middle school and high school, time went faster than as a child, but was still very slow. And while the three months of summer vacation always ended way too soon, each individual day was slow and boring and painful to sit through. Sixteen hours of television a day helped a little. But even the Brady Bunch and The Dukes of Hazard can get boring after a while. Just like this post…

Here is a beautiful picture that perfectly illustrates the topic of my post.

Here is a beautiful picture that perfectly illustrates the topic of my post.

Now…Well, MY GOD.

I had my son yesterday. I went to sleep, and he is approaching his fourth birthday. Some of that is because my husband and I mentally block out a lot of the anxiety we had around his medical issues and surgeries. But even when I think about my previous employer, I CANNOT BELIEVE that I was there for over 12 years. (Especially because I didn’t really enjoy it, always wanted to do something more creative, and told myself if I was still there after 5 years, someone should shoot me. And now history repeats itself. I am always trying to do the responsible thing. I never learn. Enough of my whining…) I can’t even fathom how many books I added into their computer system. One that has now been powered down for good. I once calculated that in the year 2007, I allocated 15 million units of calendars as part of a three person team. (Yes, that is straight off my resume.)

I get up now, I rush through my day, doing everything as quickly as I can, sometimes accurately and efficiently, usually not. At the end of the day, I realize that it is actually Friday. I lost the whole week. I am so tired that I go to sleep. I get up, eat breakfast, and somehow it is Sunday night already. I have to turn around and do it all again. My life is racing by me. I don’t have one second to sit down and appreciate anything.

I am afraid tomorrow that I might wake up dead. I am not kidding. People in my family do not have a very good shelf life. Sure, my mom survived terminal cancer, but she has the longevity of the Eatons making up half her genes. They only make up a quarter of mine.

I just need to hurry, to finish as much as I can before I expire like a bottle of Diet Rite at a gas station.* But, the more that I hurry, the more behind I get, the faster time flies. I just wish a had a stop watch, so that I could pause everything so that I could enjoy what I have while I have it. And I need to book that trip to Las Vegas, and Hawaii.  Because someday, I will not be here to do it.

* No one buys Diet Rite, and all diet pop has a shorter shelf life to begin with because of the artificial sweeteners.

R.I.P. Parker Jo Buhdoo (2002-2014)

The last known picture of Parker.

The last known picture of Parker.

A.K.A. Monsieur Parkere and Senior Porkchoppo

October 31, 2002 (estimated) – August 23, 2014

Parker Jo Buhdoo was a German Shorthaired Pointer picked up as a stray.  My husband and I found him at the Lenawee Humane Society, then going by the name of Archer.  My husband was very interested in owning a purebred sporting dog.  I looked at him skeptically and  replied, “You want THAT dog?!”

That is pretty much how our relationship with Parker went.

Parker ate many things.  Styrofoam, crayons, plush dog toys, string cheese wrappers, the seat off a child’s potty, bath soap, etc.  It made picking up his poop more interesting, I guess.

Parker, thinking about asking to go out to poo

Parker, thinking about asking to go out to poo

Parker could easily hold his urine for 8 hours in a stretch if no one was home.  If you were home, it was a different story.  He would whine and pace about every 2 hours to be let outside.  If he just drank the entire bowl of water, then he would need to go out again in 20 minutes.  If it was getting close to dinner time, he wanted to go out every 10 minutes in hopes of being fed when he was let back in.  If you called his bluff and refused to let him out, he would pee on the floor.  He once peed on our mattress right in front of me just because he was mad.  He peed on the floor probably at least once every two weeks, but sometimes 3 times in one day, for most of the  years we owned him.

Parker asking to go outside to pee

Parker asking to go outside to pee

He was an asset in a hundred year old house in our drafty bedroom in winter.  My husband and I worked different shifts, but Parker was a great source of heat and a good cuddler.  It was one of the only times he was not pacing the floor and whining.  Although he did occasionally howl in his sleep while dreaming.

Snuggles

Snuggles

Parker loved to run.  We had a special leash and harness to hook him up to our bikes.  My husband would always take Parker, because he was too fast for me.  He would literally pull the bike.  He would run until his feet bled.  He once did that when he ran away.  He ran away probably about 12 times in the 9 years that we had him.  The best investment we ever made was his dog tag.  The second best was when we extended our backyard fence to include the back door. Once, after a Pure Romance party at my house, he ran away.  My theory is that the products with the pheromones in them turned him on.  He usually ran away on cold, winter nights when it was freezing raining.  Once, on a hot day, he went for a swim in Lake Adrian.  He crossed 223 at least once.  I always expected him to return with a broken leg or worse, but he never did.  We only found him ourselves on one occasion.  We clocked him doing 18mph down the sidewalk.  Luckily, the smell of a nearby baby possum caught his attention long enough to slow him down.

Naughty dog

Naughty dog

Right when my husband and I were both returning to the workforce after lengthy bouts of unemployment, Parker managed to skewer himself on a metal fence post in our yard.  The vet was concerned that he may have punctured his lung, but he didn’t.  She said he was close to nicking his main leg artery, in which case he would have bled to death before I could have gotten him there.  The vet’s office sewed up the wound twice.  He popped the stitches twice.  We made bi-weekly trips to the vet.  He still went on to fully recover from that wound.

What did I do to myself?!

What did I do to myself?!

Parker was so excited to go for a car ride that he was not a very good passenger.  After one incidence where he saw a wild animal and tried to crawl out the window that was rolled halfway down, we learned to only give him a few inches to sniff.

On a family camping vacation to Port Clinton, that bird dog went crazy when he saw an ostrich at the drive thru safari park zoo.

He was such a difficult dog that our best friends could no longer stand to dog sit for him.

Parker was a challenge every day, in every way.

I have a theory that Parker may have been a cat reincarnated as a dog.

Here are some excerpts from Sunday’s post:

Yesterday was our 11 year wedding anniversary. The day started by us saying our first goodbye to one of the furry children of our union, Parker. We think he suffered a stroke a number of months ago, could be going blind, and has exhibited a change in behavior. We had him in our lives for 9 years. I have always hated that dog. Now I hate him for making me cry at his absence.   He was such a challenge to live with in every way. Although, I have to believe that maybe he was sent to us to prepare us for the trails that M, our son, would present to us. Maybe Parker was the opening act.

Parker

His velvety head

It was so hard yesterday, to pet Parker knowing it was the last time. Knowing we would never feel his velvety brown head again, or his short hair, that was course when it was dirty and soft when it was clean. I am sure I will continue to find it stabbing me in the cups of my bras though. It was easier yesterday when he was gone. But then harder again this morning. Yesterday he was still in our lives, that stupid, miserable dog. Today will be our first full day without him in our home. I am sad that it seems empty. But I am comforted in my belief that no other family would have put up with his whining and peeing on the floor consistently for 9 years. And it is a much more peaceful and calm atmosphere already, without having to fight with the Parker over everything.

We always theorized that he was previously owned by an elderly couple.  He liked older people, and people in wheelchairs.  He hated thunderstorms, and always sought refuge in the bathroom.  We thought maybe the old couple kept him in the bathroom a lot.  We figured one person died, the other would go off to the nursing home.  Then the kids would come and just open the door, and Parker would run.  Because that is what he did best.  Always.  Even with stitches in his leg.  Then they wouldn’t have to try to find him a new home.

Running.  Always running.

Running. Always running.

Maybe he needed more obedience classes.  Maybe he needed more exercise.

Rest in Peace, Parker.  You definitely made yourself an unforgettable part of our lives, and our family.

Just sleeping here, not dead

Just sleeping here, not dead

Casey Kasem (1932-2014)

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CASEY KASEM-shaggy meme

Miracles & Tragedies

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I had a guy come to my desk at work the other day. He was inquiring about some sunglasses that he had lost months ago. He wanted to know if we still had them.

He kept telling me that these were no ordinary sunglasses. They were $400 RayBan sunglasses. I remembered him. This was not the first time he had checked to see if someone had turned them in.  He said he was checking again because “miracles happen”.

Unfortunately, we did not have them. He mused about how life is filled with miracles and tragedies. This made me wonder if he considered losing his expensive sunglasses as a tragedy. That turned me off a bit, as there are people with much worse things happening in their lives.

Then, he asked me, if I had had miracles and tragedies in my life. I couldn’t think of any in my own life off the top of my head. And maybe because of my previous thought about his sunglasses, I did share that my mom’s life was filled with both.

MIRACLES-miracle

“What is one miracle that she had?” he asked me.

This was getting personal now, but I couldn’t resist. So I explained how in 2006 the doctors told her that she had kidney cancer that had metathesized into her lungs. The doctor gave her 2 months to live. She had her left kidney removed, although the surgeon implied she was setting herself up for a long recovery for no reason. Then her cancer completely disappeared. She is still here today, 8 years later.

MIRACLES-mom and dad

“Wow! So what was a tragedy?” he replied.

I totally had him hooked now. It was time to pull out my favorite shocking family revelation. I can’t change it, so might as well enjoy it, right?

I told him that would probably be when she was pregnant with me and my dad dropped over from a heart attack before I was born.

Ya, the customer was pretty impressed with those. He probably still didn’t forget about his sunglasses, but I had unloaded a lot on him to think about. If he was better looking and I was single, this could be the beginning of a romantic Hollywood movie.

I still can’t really say what the miracles and tragedies of my life will be yet.

My son having successful surgery to fix his UPJ obstruction I would consider a miracle. But that is his, and not mine.

What are the miracles and tragedies in your life?

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