Another Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mystery: “Skittering Holes”

the-v-filesHaving solved the mystery of the haunted Scepter Theater, Vera decided to spend some time with her friend Lucille in Chicago.

It’s there that they met an elderly immigrant, a man who had cared for Lucille during her worst times. He was a talented musician — and he’d been experiencing something odd in his third-floor tenement room.

When he played his oboe in harmony with a phonograph, iridescent, purple “halos” appeared in the dark. And these unnatural, dangerous circles appeared to be holes to another dimension!

Learn more about this man, the violet circles, and their connection to Vera’s emerging theory regarding guilt and ghosts in “Skittering Holes.” There’s a link to it in .pdf, .epub, and .mobi/Kindle formats on the Complimentary Haunting page.

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Profile: Harry Houdini

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After I inherited the chronicles of Vera Van Slyke’s ghost hunts from my great-grandaunt — the tales now published in Help for the Haunted — I researched some of the names found there. Cook County Coroner Peter Hoffman, sea captain Henry Thorn Lord, cryptozoologist Geoffrey Wallace Livingstone Adams have all proven to be real people.

Needless to say, I didn’t have to research the client spotlighted in the chronicle “Houdini Slept Here.”

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Profile: Geoffrey Wallace Livingstone Adams

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Every now and again, I hear from someone who has read Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries (1899-1909) — and can supply me with additional information on the people who interacted with the great ghost hunter.

Last week, I received a scan of a file photo from a librarian at St. Genesius College in Moncton, New Brunswick. The photo shows Dr. Geoffrey Wallace Livingstone Adams, who taught in the Department of Anthropology at that school. Adams was also very interested in cryptozoology, the study of species only rumored to exist. As a dedicated cryptozoologist, Adams traveled widely in search of what has come to be called Bigfoot. (In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the creature was better known as “wild man in the woods” and variations thereon.)

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Do the Vera Van Slyke Chronicles Follow a Formula?

the-v-files“Often have I been asked to formulate my views about ghost stories and tales of the marvellous, the mysterious, the supernatural. Never have I been able to find out whether I had any views that could be formulated.”

— M.R. James

As I edited my great-grandaunt Lida’s chronicles of Vera Van Slyke’s supernatural investigations, I was faced with an obvious question:  Are they fact, or are they fiction?

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Foiling the Frauds: Some of Vera Van Slyke’s Colleagues

the-v-filesI’ve never located a copy of Vera Van Slyke’s book Spirits Shouldn’t Sneeze: A Decade of Defrauding Mediums (1901). It must not have sold well, or there would be copies available in used book stores. This book played a key role in sparking the friendship between Van Slyke and Lucille “Lida” Parsell. Lida had been a phony medium, you see, but she eagerly consented to be interviewed for the book.

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The Internet Can’t Help Solve This Vera Van Slyke Mystery

the-v-filesOne of the most interesting aspects of having edited the Vera Van Slyke chronicles is knowing that, with the Internet, I can do follow-up detective work in ways that Vera and my great-grandaunt Lida never could.

Take, for instance, the case titled “Dark and Dirty Corners,” which is found in Help for the Haunted. It involves an unusual house out on “the moors” of the Chicago-area hinterlands, a building known as Stickney House. A curious feature of this house is that it was built with rounded corners, both inside and out.

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