Middletown Strong: Looking Up with Russell Library

CT Urban Legends︱Storytelling Librarians

October 10, 2023 Russell Library Season 3 Episode 8
Middletown Strong: Looking Up with Russell Library
CT Urban Legends︱Storytelling Librarians
Show Notes Transcript

Do urban legends intrigue you? Does local folklore spark your imagination? If so, you won't want to miss our second spooky episode of the season! Librarians, Shannon, Briana, and Christy sit down with our Assistant Director of Public Services, Mary, to share CT urban legends. Where did these stories start? What was their intended purpose? Is there truth behind the myth?... You decide... And stayed tuned for a behind-the-scenes unexplained event that happened after the recording of this conversation. The Secrets of Russell Library continue to unfold!

Book Recommendations

Clown in a Cornfield & Frendo Lives
 by Adam Cesare
Vampires of  El Norte by  Isabel Cañas
The Wayward Children Series
by Seanan McGuire
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
The Witch Boy by  Molly Ostertag
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

This podcast uses music by Ashutosh, under a creative commons license:
Time by ASHUTOSH | https://soundcloud.com/grandakt
Music promoted by https://www.free-stock-music.com
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

Cate: [00:00:00] Welcome to middletown Strong, looking up with Russell Library. I'm Cate, and I'm happy to share another spooky season episode with you. Last month, the podcast team sat down with two members of the Eastern Connecticut Paranormal Society. If you haven't listened to that episode, definitely check it out.

This month, three members of our team, Shannon Briana and Christy, sit down with our Assistant Director of Public Services. Mary, and they're going to talk about Connecticut urban legends. If you enjoy a good creepy story or local myth, you'll appreciate these tales from our very own Connecticut backyard.

Thank you so much for listening.[00:01:00]

Shannon: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the podcast. I'm Shannon and here with me today is Christy , Briana . Yes. Yay. And we have a special appearance by our assistant director, Mary . Hello. Thank you all for being here. I'm excited for today's podcast because it is just come in time for spooky season.

Shannon: Ooh. Ooh. Ooh. The arrival spooky season is upon us, and today we thought we'd share some famous urban legends that haunt the various corners of Connecticut. What is an urban legend? Are these myths? Are these tales of folklore? I think our discussion here today will help you answer some of those questions.

Shannon: So Mary, would you like to start? 

Mary: Okay, we're going to start with one of my favorite, and it involves Middletown. Um, it's not necessarily spooky, but it's certainly very, very interesting. Um, It's the story of how the Connecticut River [00:02:00] has that sharp bend in it that right in Middletown it turns to the east.

Mary: Oh, cool. And this is a legend from the native populations of this area. Um, just a little side note, um, the native populations were here, according to the fossil and archaeological records, about 5, 000 years. before the European settlers came, um, and they passed down this legend, and the legend is, there was a giant, and his name was Hobblemock, and he was very angry, because the local people were no longer worshipping him, and he basically had a temper tantrum, and he got mad, and he stamped his foot, and he changed the course of the Connecticut River.

Mary: Oh no. And, yes. And, um, and, Interestingly, there's a side note to that too, but um, after he did that, there was a god named Kitan, and I believe it's K E I T A N, [00:03:00] and Kitan decided an angry giant running around stamping his feet was probably a bad idea. So he... He put a curse on us, or a spell, I guess, on Hobblemock, that he would lay down and sleep forever.

Mary: And he caught up with Hobblemock in what is now Hamden. And Sleeping Giant. That's right. Hobblemock is our Sleeping Giant. And that's, um, the native... Um, story of how the Connecticut River turned and how the Sleeping Giant was created. Interestingly enough, if you read geological reports, the Connecticut River did flow in a straight fashion at one time.

Mary: And there was some kind of upheaval that caused the river to change its course. So it was interesting that the natives were able to, yes, they, they came up with this story about the turn in the river. And uh, their cataclysmic event was... Nice. That's one of my favorites. That's 

Shannon: cool. That just reminded [00:04:00] me of the Disney film.

Shannon: Which? Which one? When she's the mountain and they have to save her with the eye. 

Christy: What is it called? Moana! 

Shannon: Because it's the goddess and she's the mountain, right? And then they have to put the heart back in, so it's a little 

Mary: different. Well, they, they have those stories about Hobblemock, they, uh, supposedly the legend goes, now I grew up in the shadow of Sleeping Giant, that's, that's where I came from, and if you dig where his pockets are, you're supposed to find silver and gold.

Mary: Oh. Yes. Have people gone and looked? I don't know if people have actually done that. Those are the legends that I grew up with. Um, I've climbed all over that mountain. It's a wonderful state park, by the way. I highly recommend it. It's a lovely... Lovely place to go. Um, and the tower is fun if you walk up the main trail to the tower.

Mary: Um, some of the other trails can be challenging. I accidentally climbed a cliff there once. Oh no, I did too. Um, it was totally by accident. My, uh, then, [00:05:00] um, boyfriend, who became my husband later, said, let's go hiking. And I said, well, I'm not, you know, something easy. And he goes, oh yeah, let's do the blue trail.

Mary: And I had no idea, so I said, okay. And, and we're looking around, we're following the trail marks, and I said, I don't see where we're supposed to go, and he points, and I look up this cliff, and there's the little blue dot, and I'm like, we have to climb up. And we had just come from a very challenging part, and I didn't want to go back, so I climbed up with him.

Mary: Wow. But, yeah, so Sleeping Giant, I highly recommend it, and, uh, it's a cool story. That is.

Shannon: Oh, hello. My 

Christy: microphone just fell. They just put a plaque up at Sleeping Giant for the Indigenous population, and it's just kind of interesting that, um, you know, just in time for November. So, 

Shannon: um, it's kind of neat to check it out. 

Mary: That's wonderful. I love this tale. Supposedly, Toohey Hobblemock was a very greedy, Guy who used to go down [00:06:00] into Long Island Sound and eat all the fish, too.

Mary: And, and so the, the native moms would warn their children, Don't be greedy like him, or Khaitan will come and put you to sleep forever. So, it was a 

Shannon: way, way into it. Yeah, he was like sort of a, a not a very nice person. He 

Mary: was kind of, it reminds me of, you know, my mom saying, If you don't stay in bed, you know, the boogeyman's gonna get ya.

Mary: Right. 

Shannon: Making 

Christy: children behave 

Shannon: for Oh my mom did leprechauns. She's like, the leprechauns live within the house and they'll know when you're doing something wrong. And I'm like, what? So I'd always be scared, like, little leprechauns would come out. Like, up on the shelf. 

Mary: Exactly. 

Shannon: Uh, okay, Briana, 

Briana: what do you have today?

Briana: So I'm gonna talk to you all first about the Black Dog of the Hanging Hills in Merritt and Connecticut, which is where Castle Craig is. So before I tell the story, I'm gonna start with a quote. And if a man shall meet the black dog, once it shall be for joy, and if twice it shall be for [00:07:00] sorrow, and the third time he shall die.

Briana: And I grew up in Meriden, so I've heard this story since I was little. And I've talked about this story as early as I can remember as probably elementary school. Um, just talking about that with friends and family. Never seeing the black dog be any of the times I've been at Castle Craig. Um, but always being on the lookout for it.

Briana: So basically, this story has been kind of in Meriden's folklore for the past hundred plus years. Um, and it actually came from a story called The Black Dog in the Connecticut Quarterly in 1898. And so, basically, in this story, it describes the dog as a short haired black dog of moderate size, with nothing particularly noticeable in its actual appearance, but there are two signs by which it's ever known.

Briana: Men have seen it bark, but you don't hear any sound. And it leaves no footprint behind on the dust of summer or the snow of winter. So, 

Mary: which is pretty, that's a good one. Darn eerie . 

Briana: So the story that was [00:08:00] printed in the Connecticut quarterly goes in February during the late 1890s. Our narrator, who's identified only as FSS and is a Harvard trained geologist, is exploring hanging hills West Peak.

Briana: And he's joined by Herbert Marshall, who also works for the U. S. Geological Survey. And before departing, F. S. tells Marshall that he sees a black dog, um, three years earlier when he was in the region. And Marshall responds that he's also seen the dog twice before, and then references the legend that if you see it three times, it means death.

Briana: But both men ignored it, and they just kept hiking on. Lo and behold, they're caught in some pretty fierce... Winter Winds, and they start to ascend the peak that they were climbing, um, but then they saw the dog, well, ascending. And this was Marshall's third time seeing it, and so they saw the dog, and it looks like it kind of looked at him, then ran away.

Briana: And then as soon as the dog was gone, the [00:09:00] rock outcropping that Marshall was standing on gave way, and he fell to his death. And FS was able to... 

Mary: So it was the second time that F. S. had 

Briana: seen the second time F. S. has seen the dog, but the third time Marshall did. 

Shannon: Does F. S. see it later in his life and then dies?

Shannon: Sorry, that's, 

Briana: like, morbid. So, I didn't see anything in my research. Okay. So I don't know. It can wonder. But, what I found at the end of the article I found when I was doing a little more research is that this story is entirely... Fictionalized. Uh. But we, like if, especially if you're in Meriden or the area, you grow up with this black dog legend, but really it's not reality.

Briana: There's always 


Christy: piece that has the realism that make people believe it. So there's always some truth. There's always something. 

Mary: Plus people love to hear stories like that. They do. Um, though I've heard some legends about that area. Again, they're native legends. My father really loved, um, native culture.

Mary: And he would tell me that the natives, I believe they called it the Black [00:10:00] Mountain over there. Oh, interesting. And they avoided it. I never knew that. Yes. Yeah. That was that. Those were the stories that he told me. Wow. Yeah. So I wonder if that perhaps that's where a legend, the Black Mountain, the Black Dog, Black 

Shannon: Pond.

Shannon: Right. 

Mary: Right. Yeah. Where it came from. Wow. 

Shannon: Interesting. Yeah. Very cool. Well, back to the whole research thing. When I was doing research as well for this, I found some really cool stories, but Then you would find this is debunking the myth. And you're like, come on, I don't want to debunk it. I want like the validity or like the Possibility that this is true or like some parts of it, which they are, but not the whole thing.

Mary: Also, you know, legends are part of our culture, and it's like storytelling, and they serve a purpose. They're usually a warning, they're usually trying to keep people safe, or they're trying to, you know, um, So they have a place, you know, we don't need to be, I mean, [00:11:00] I'm pretty much a rationalist myself, But I love a good legend.

Mary: I know, me too. So what's wrong with that? No, well, 

Shannon: they teach us lessons in life. They do. So the one I'm going to share right now is not going to teach you in lesson life though, but that's okay. Also in my research, how I started, this is how I came to the legend I chose, um, which then led me to another legend.

Shannon: Um, I was doing, I was looking online, I came across a New York Times article and it was published in 1988 and it was about a teacher, um, and his works. And research and legends and storytelling. His name is David E. Phillips. He taught at Eastern Connecticut State University where I attended for my undergrad.

Shannon: So then it gripped me even, even further. It wasn't even the title that had Benedict Arnold in it, which then really grasped me. But so the tip, the book is called in which that we have copies of is the Legendary Connecticut. So, I'm holding the, I have the copy that we have right now, [00:12:00] and I will put it back on the shelf if you'd like to check it out.

Shannon: But, so the story I came across that was in the article that is not actually in this book is about Benedict Arnold. So, most of us know that Benedict Arnold was the traitor in the American Revolutionary War. Um, but, he was also a Connecticut native born... And he was born in Norwich Inn in 1741. So Arnold, during, I think his time, not only in the Revolutionary War, but also when he was, did he serve in the French and Indian War as well?

Shannon: He was wounded twice. Yeah, I 

Mary: think 

Shannon: so. So he, he couldn't have been. I don't know. No, he might not have been. But he was wounded twice in the leg. And each Halloween, his spirit travels from England, to visit his mother's grave, which is in Norwich. It's actually located in Norwich Town, which is like a small little part of Norwich.

Shannon: And it's at the Norwich Town Cemetery. [00:13:00] People have stated they have seen a figure wearing a cape lipping around on Halloween night. So, if you ever go to Norwich Town Cemetery, you'll be able to see maybe Benedict Arnold. The bad boy. Yeah. With his limping leg. So, Christy, what do you have for us today? So, I'm here, 

Christy: um, for Stephanie, and I'm sorry, I'm sort of a stand in for her.

Christy: I'm sure she has some really awesome stuff to share. However, I have a couple fun things. Um, I decided to pick, um, some kayaking places that I've been that have legends. So, it's kind of fun to, like, go visit these places in Connecticut. Thank you. by water on the boat. So one of them is, um, Penfield Reef Lighthouse and the legend tells of a lighthouse keeper who drowned near the lighthouse after his boat capsized.

Christy: Always wear a life jacket, folks. And in the following years, many have told stories of seeing an apparition around the lighthouse. He is, has, the apparition is said to have saved people who have almost [00:14:00] drowned or capsized near the lighthouse. So he's doing his due diligence to make sure no one else drowns.

Christy: Um, so real place. And then the second place is in Waterford is the Seaside Sanatorium. Say that five times. 

Shannon: Um, it's 

Christy: now a state park. And when you're going there, it just looks very eerie and spooky. Um, it was a hospital to treat children that had tuberculosis. Um, an electronic voice phenomena, also called EVP, sessions conducted by paranormal researchers inside the abandoned sanatorium are said to have conjured orbs and voices that belong to former patients.

Shannon: Very spooky. That's a good one. 

Christy: Right? And the third one and the last one is Charles Island in Milford. Um, most people know this as the Bird Sanctuary. There's a sandbar, but, um, the island is said to be thriced. Thrice cursed. If you're going to be cursed, it may as 

Shannon: well be thrice. 

Christy: The first two curses were said to be placed in the 17th century and the third [00:15:00] curse was placed in the 18th century and the most notable curse was Captain William Kidd.

Christy: whose treasure is said to be buried somewhere on the island, just like you Mary, like silver and gold, right? Legend has it anyone who finds this will be cursed with bad luck for life. 

Mary: Oh, there's an incentive. It was like your story with the black dog, the man who saw it twice. I sure as heck, if that was me, would not have gone back a third time and I wouldn't want to look for that treasure.

Shannon: Right, where do these kind of sayings come from, right? Third time's a charm, or third time is 

Mary: deadly. Right, the three, three is always a magic number. Connecticut is full of ghosts though, uh, ghost stories. Yes. Um, we have, you know, we have quite a few here. We do. A lot date from our revolutionary period. 

Shannon: Well, and one of mine, if we want to prelude to the Headless Horseman from Canton.

Shannon: So. Turn over, like, step aside, sleepy hollow. We have our own headless horseman here in Connecticut. Do tell. So, [00:16:00] to remain with the theme of Revolutionary War, this delves back into the year of 1777, where a French horseman was headed towards Saratoga, a. k. a. Benedict Arnold's famous win in the Revolutionary War where he does get wounded.

Shannon: Um, the purpose for this Frenchman, um, to go to Saratoga was to pay the troops. And they paid it in silver and gold at the time because that's how French did things, you know? Um, but that night he stopped in Canton and the Frenchman resided in Horsford Tavern. I think I said that correctly. Um, after he climbed the stairs, to go to the sleeping cabins.

Shannon: It was the last time anybody had seen him. They didn't see him the rest of the night. So an investigation was lost because, was launched, excuse me, because he never paid the soldiers. And there was also all this silver and gold from the French that were supposed to pay them. So where's the guy and where's the money?

Shannon: So people assumed maybe he was murdered. Maybe it was [00:17:00] a robbery gone wrong. We don't really know. So, after the Frenchman has vanished, they assumed he was murdered, or it was robbery. But, it was until one day there was a fire at the Horsford Tavern. It burned the foundation and there was a discovery. It was the bones of a human skeleton.

Shannon: It was complete, except 

Christy: for the head. Let's go. 

Shannon: Ooh. The town people of Canton were convinced the remains were that of the Frenchman. Later, a farmer saw a phantom, a headless horseman riding out of the mist, with a cape flowing and the horse's eyes blazing red. That was one of the many number of sightings of the headless horseman.

Shannon: Each encounter described the same detail. In today, in modern present day, people have still seen the sightings and has It had drivers veer off the road. The question then rises, is the Frenchman riding around looking for his head? What truly happened to him and where did his head go? So [00:18:00] interesting.

Shannon: Interesting tale. Yeah. I would drive off the road. I'll tell you that. There's so many of the other tales that were also, this was in the legendary Connecticut book. Um, but the hitchhiker, it's like, there's one in Chester. And there is a hitchhiker. This gentleman picks up this young girl on the side of the road.

Shannon: Hitchhiking's illegal now in Connecticut, but um, he drives her to her house. And then all of a sudden he goes to let her out and she's gone. 

Mary: That's a pretty standard hitchhiker story. Yeah, 

Shannon: and then he goes to the house and her mother answers the door and she said, Oh, you're not the only one. Yeah. And it continued.

Shannon: It's happened multiple times. She's like, my daughter's just trying to find her way home. Which is 

Mary: just sad. Well, that's a very common tale. Nearly every state has, has a tale like that. Yeah. Um, it's a very, about a young girl who's, you know, trying to get home and then you can get there and mom says, Oh, yeah, she keeps trying to come home.

Mary: I've heard that [00:19:00] in numerous states and places where it's very, it's funny how we have, we have these traditional tales that, that pop up all over the place. No matter what state, right? Exactly. Have you guys heard of 

Christy: Gravity Hill in Connecticut? No. Snake Meadow Hill Road, this is another car story, the legend says if you put your car in neutral at the intersection of Snake Mountain Hill Road and Main Street, your car will climb the hill.

Shannon: I have heard of that. Oh! 

Christy: Whether it's a malfunction in the gravitational pull of the earth, or something else, is for you to decide. Snake Meadow Hill Road in Sterling, Connecticut. 

Mary: How 

Shannon: about that? Do you guys have any of your own, like, experiences in certain places? 

Mary: I could tell you something that has happened here in the library in this very house that we are sitting in right now.

Mary: Yeah, why don't you tell the tale? I haven't shared it. With anyone except for Ramona, who's the director of the library. Oh, but we had a day I think it was we [00:20:00] have a group of the Connecticut library consortium Who rents the spaces above us? They were having an event over in the library in the Hubbard room.

Mary: So we're next door. Yes. So they were not in the building. And Ramona was over there. And so she wasn't in the building and the other two, um, all the other offices were empty. And I had to come over to this building for something and I was in the, um, in this little parlor that we're sitting next to. And when I was, um, done working in here, I came out and went into the annex boardroom, which is what we call our main meeting room in here.

Mary: And as I was shutting the door, I heard a male voice say my name very, very clearly. Oh. And I stopped, and I wasn't afraid, and I thought, Oh, one of the custodians is in here, and I didn't know it. And so I opened the door again, and I came back, and I looked through all the rooms back here, and nobody was here.

Mary: And then I was like, wait a minute, someone must be upstairs. So I trotted [00:21:00] upstairs and nobody was upstairs. And I came back down and nobody was in this building with me. And I kept moving the door thinking, Oh, it's squeaked in a way that I, you know, Oh, you know how doors can make funny noises. And you think, Oh, you know, somebody said something.

Mary: I could not make that door make a sound. And I looked all over the place for an explanation. I don't have one of what happened. Wow. There you go. 

Christy: And this is, was a residence years ago. And so certainly somebody could have decided 

Shannon: to 

Mary: return. It could be. I don't, I don't, I'm very good at coming up with explanations for things like these, because most of the time there's a normal explanation, if you look hard enough for it.

Mary: And I couldn't figure out what happened that made me think someone had so clearly said my name. 

Shannon: Well, when I was little... Um, both my grandmothers had passed away when I was young. I was four and then six months old. And I was always in the basement playing Barbies. And this was right after my grandma died.

Shannon: People would say, Hi, Shannon. There was always this woman's voice. [00:22:00] Hey, Shannon. Shannon. And I was like... Timid little child. I just ran upstairs, but I'm like, hello. I'm like, I was just playing like pretend Bart, you know, but I always liked to think it was my grandma checking in, checking in, just being like, it's okay.

Shannon: I'm okay. You're good. Just, I don't know. So 

Mary: I think a lot of people have experiences like that actually. And a lot of people are reluctant to talk about them. Because it's hard because people sometimes think like, Oh, yeah, sure. 

Shannon: Well, people try, like, we like to rationalize things. Sure. There needs to be a reason and a purpose.

Shannon: Yeah. And sometimes there just isn't an explanation. Right. We can't rationalize everything. And that's where the legends come from. Dun dun dun. Yes. The legend of the annex.

Briana: Yeah. Briana, do you have another one? I do. So, I have a story about the melonheads of Sawmill City Road in Shelton. Ooh, just the name. And I've driven down this road. Um, I [00:23:00] want to say it was almost two years ago now. Um, at my previous job I did activities at a retirement home and we did a haunted tour of a part of Connecticut and this road was one of our stops after visiting, um, where Ed and Lorraine Warren were buried.

Briana: And I can't remember what town, but we went from that cemetery to Shelton. And so the stories of Melonheads started in Connecticut in World War II. They're in other states as well. Um, but one of the theories behind where they came from is that they could have been a family accused of witchcraft that were banished to the wilderness.

Briana: And then they survived and inbred and therefore have mutated Melonheads. But then there's another theory that they escaped from Fairfield Hills Hospital. Which is an abandoned, now abandoned, uh, mental institution, um, which specializes in inmates with mental health issues, um, and those are in New Town, and it's in New Town, um, so they think that these melonheads escaped in the 60s, and it was another [00:24:00] case of, like, turning to cannibalism in breeding, and therefore they have these melonheads.

Briana: Either way they have melon

Mary: heads. 

Shannon: I say just 

Briana: misshapen heads. Watermelon or like. So when I think of melon, I think of watermelon, but I've never found a specific. And so basically witnesses have seen dark figures darting across the road while they're driving, um, which causes accidents. And orbs have been spotted, um, people have heard screaming, I guess there's a haunted house on that one and a half mile road.

Briana: It's actually really pretty, it's just like a little scenic mile and a half. And when I went, I'm like, wow, this is really nice. I live here. I'm sure it's a totally different vibe at night. Yeah. Um, and so, there were, um, some workers who claimed to hear voices in the woods when they were working on paving that road.

Briana: Entry experts were checking. For fungal infestations and thought they saw strange things lurking in the woods as [00:25:00] well. Um, I guess the idea is that they might do certain things to get people to have to either crash their car or have to stop their car at night and they'll kind of come for you if you get out of your car.

Briana: And eat you? I don't, I think so. If the cannibalism story is the theory, that's accurate. Oh. So these, these melon heads are supposedly. Hanging out on Sawmill City Road. 

Shannon: And they're gonna eat you. And they 

Christy: don't want anybody coming, so that's the story. That's why they don't want anybody driving down this cute little picturesque road.

Christy: They're gonna scare 

Briana: everybody. Yep. 

Shannon: When it's picturesque, it's like, What's going on behind closed doors? How could this 

Christy: be so nice? I don't have the name of the town that Ed and Lorraine Warren were buried in. Um, but, um, I believe they're in Union Cemetery? No. Okay, not the right one. Stepney, Stepney Cemetery.

Briana: Union was a cemetery that they investigated. 

Shannon: Right, talk about 

Christy: the white lady. Oh, what about the 

Briana: white lady? So if I can [00:26:00] remember off the top of my head, um, no one quite knows exactly who she is. I think one theory is that maybe her husband murdered her and she's just wandering around, or her child died and she's wandering around, but the biggest story that I've heard is that, I think it was in the 90s, um, this firefighter was driving.

Briana: Down the road past the cemetery and something jutted out like ran into the road and he hit it And then when he got out to look there was nothing there, but you could see the indent in this truck But there was not there was nobody there. He looked everywhere. So that's like the main Story, but the Warrens investigated there and they said it's extremely haunted.

Briana: I've gone there myself There's a it's an interesting Weird feeling. And I was there during the day. So there's a lot of really old headstones, like 1600s. 

Shannon: Wow. I was in the location. So I, as I stated earlier, I went to Eastern and so out in Eastern Connecticut. Um. [00:27:00] It's just A little different on the other side of the 

Christy: river.

Shannon: Um, and I remember I was with my boyfriend at the time, and we were cruising around, just, I think, it was on 32, and it was an abandoned, um, I think it was a school, and then it became a mental institution, sorry, and then it became, it was an asylum, and that's what it was. And so all of the, um, There was like no windows everything's open and I was walking into this brick building and it's gorgeous like spring day The breeze is swaying and I'm about to like go into this building because you can see across from the other side So the doors are wide open and all of a sudden there was like Like, g gong, like, things crashing down from within the building, and my wife, my boyfriend at the time was like, we gotta go, this is so scary, and I was like, dude, this is 

Christy: so cool, 

Shannon: we want to know what happened, and he was like, Shannon, get out of there, [00:28:00] I'm like, no, and then he comes and grabs me and takes me out, he's like, we are leaving this place, this is not good juju, I was like, okay, fine.

Shannon: But there's something fascinating about like former 

Christy: Places that people weren't allowed to go like an asylum or like the sanatorium. I mean places that people didn't normally go inside we're just fascinated by that and And the story about the the melon heads, you know people who are different from us we make up stories about it because it's like This is something we can't explain or rationalize.

Christy: And so we have to come up with a legend or an explanation. 

Mary: Exactly. We could sit here all night talking about this stuff. 

Shannon: Do we have any other stories to 

Mary: share? There's a bunch. How much time do we have? 

Shannon: Is the leather 

Mary: man in there? I, probably he is. What I've got is one that a lot of people probably haven't heard about.

Mary: It's called the Atlantic's Bell, and the Atlantic was a ship, um, that was built in 18, uh, the [00:29:00] 1800s, and In 1846, it was sailing, um, basically it would take passengers from like New London in that area to New York City. And in the fall, it was just before Thanksgiving in 1846, there was a Nor'easter brewing.

Mary: But the ship's captain decided, No, no, I'm running behind because of this storm. And we're going to make this crossing and everybody just batten down the hatches and da da da da da. Well, as you might have guessed, it didn't work out too well and the ship foundered near Fisher Island. And it, it crashed and, and, you know, most of the people died.

Mary: on board. Um, but the eerie thing about that is the next day when they went out to look for survivors, part of the ship had washed ashore to the island and its bell was, was still there in the water and they could hear the bell ringing from the wind and the water. The sequel to this is. Now when it's [00:30:00] stormy, um, residents of that area and fishermen and boats out there say they can hear that bell ringing still.

Mary: Wow. 

Shannon: It's very eerie. I have goosebumps. 

Mary: That's a very good story. Um, a little side note on that, the famous Daniel Webster was supposed to be on that boat, but being a sensible man, he said, No, it's too stormy. I am going to wait for the storm to subside and then I'm taking a train. Or whatever the transportation was that was available.

Mary: He was decided to go by land and therefore survived. 

Briana: Wow, what a 

Mary: great story. Yeah, we've got a lot of legends regarding Long Island Sound and the ocean, but that's a real good one. I have a very funny one. I don't know if that suits the tone of our... Why not? The First Lady of Connecticut. who is, her name was, we know almost nothing about her, Goody Barber, and that means basically she was a married woman.

Mary: And this was, um, very, very early in our history, around [00:31:00] 1635, when European settlers were first coming up the Connecticut River. And it was mostly men, and she was the only woman who was on this boat that was actually coming up here. Um, other people had investigated the area, and they decided we needed to settle this, this space.

Mary: When the boat got up to, um, Oh, where was it now? Um, I think about Wethersfield is what they were looking for. It was Wethersfield Cove. And the men were arguing, like, who was going to have the honor of being the first one ashore? And they were like literally coming to blows over it. So she hopped over the railing and she waded ashore in the Connecticut River.

Mary: And then she turned around to them and raised her fist in the air. And there she is. That's awesome. The very first person, the first European settler. To set foot on our shores was Goody Barber. Yeah, and that's all that we know about her, but the legend of Goody Barber survives Because on how she handled that and I was like more power to you lady It was a good [00:32:00] story.

Shannon: I love that story. That's excellent Maybe she became a 

Christy: librarian 

Mary: Obviously, if she was the only woman traveling with all those men, she was not going to take any, um, uh, nonsense 

Shannon: from them. That was a nice way to put it, Christy. I 

Mary: was not about to say anything else. 

Shannon: Stole the words right out of my mouth.

Shannon: But, uh,

Mary: true Connecticut. Lady, female, because, you know, good old nutmeg state. 

Shannon: Connecticut's got some great history. 

Mary: Yes, we do. Some really wonderful history. And 

Shannon: that was very female empowerment right there, which I love even more so. So, well, I think we're going to sign off. Okay. Thank you guys for joining me today.

Shannon: This was fun. Oh, Mary, 

Mary: thanks. Thanks. Have to come and do it again. Please do. Yeah, this was cool. 

Shannon: We have a really fun time on the podcast. I think a little too much fun sometimes. 

Mary: There's no such 

Shannon: thing. Exactly. Are you 

Mary: sure? At work? Too [00:33:00] much fun? 

Shannon: Thanks guys. 

Christy: Bye. 

Shannon: Bye.

Cate: After the recording of this episode, something happened that we just had to share with our listeners. Once the equipment was shut down and the mics were turned off, the podcast team exited the building where we house our recording studio. A little while later, Mary had to come back over here to check something out.

Cate: And if you recall her story earlier on in the conversation, a few months ago, she clearly heard someone call her name in this very building. After searching around, it was clear that she was alone. Well, it happened again. Mary is not one to get frightened easily or freaked out by... any little thing. But let's just say she very [00:34:00] quickly exited the building and to this point we have no plausible explanation for why this might have happened.

Cate: Do you have any ideas? Cause we're stumped. The secrets of Russell Library continue. Stay tuned for a special Shelf Life episode with Stephanie Rush.

Stephanie: Hello and welcome to a solo Shelf Life. It's just me today, Stephanie. And I'm here to give you some spooky or seasonal book recommendations for the month of October and beyond. I'm going to try to give you a taste of different genres so everyone can find a seasonal read that works for them. I'm Some of these are gonna be spooky horror, some of them are not.

Stephanie: So if you are not a spooky fan, that's okay. Hopefully you'll still find something fun to do. First up, I have a twofer. So there is a YA series of books. It's [00:35:00] currently two books in a series and the series is called Clown in a Cornfield. It's exactly what it sounds like. Um, author Adam Cesar takes a small town with a troubled past and turns up the scares.

Stephanie: This is a spooky one, my friends, but it's good if you like spooky. So book one, Clown in a Cornfield, illustrates a rural town that pits the adults against the kids with real life scares and a town mascot that is a creepy clown. It is heart pounding, heart pounding, it's wild. And then, book two comes. Book two is called Frundo Lives.

Stephanie: Frendo is the name of the creepy clown and it picks up where the first book left off and brings some relevant political content into the mix, which is no going in that It's gonna be tense in that way, but both will have you on the edge of your seat So I hope maybe some of you want to pick up Clown in a Cornfield For my second book today.

Stephanie: I want to talk about a historical pick. I don't read a lot of historical but this was billed [00:36:00] as A historical Western horror romance. So here we go. This is called Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cáñez. So historical Western horror romance doesn't sound like it works because there's a lot going on, but trust me, it actually works.

Stephanie: So this is set in Mexico in the 1840s and we get a dual point of view narrative about Nina and Nestor. who are childhood friends who haven't seen each other in years because of certain circumstances that tore them apart, and they are brought back together on the brink of war. There's also vampires. And there's racial and political commentary.

Stephanie: I really recommend this on audiobook if you can get it, because the narration in pronouncing all of the Spanish phrases and names is excellent. It adds an extra layer, but the story is great either way. So that's Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cáñez. So I think somehow we've gotten this far into the podcast and I haven't [00:37:00] talked about the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire.

Stephanie: Listeners, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I've ever talked about this series. It's wonderful. Let me tell you about it. So this is a series of books, uh, novellas. So most of them are like 200 pages or less. They're short, they're quick, and they are a combination of fantasy, sci fi, and horror, but there's currently eight with a ninth book coming out next year and a couple of like half books in between, so not every single book is going to be fantasy, sci fi, and horror.

Stephanie: They're kind of Thank you A mishmash depending on which book you pick up, but um, each story is unique and it occurs within the same shared world of the others. So, imagine this. Imagine you went through the wardrobe, or you found a door in the woods, or you found a crawlspace in your basement, and you entered into a new world.

Stephanie: Now, imagine coming back to the real world and having no idea what to do with yourself. So, The Wayward Children, of the [00:38:00] series title, have all gone through doorways of some sort and come back to a world that doesn't feel like home anymore for one reason or another. Their parents send them to Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children, and that's how the series begins.

Stephanie: Each book follows a different child or group of children and contains fantastical elements, horrifying, harrowing events, and sometimes a mix of both. My personal favorites in this series are books three and seven, but each book is excellent in its own way, and Seanan McGuire, the author, has had a history of putting out the new book every January over the past couple years, so I always look forward to a new book in January.

Stephanie: So, I would recommend reading them in order, because then you get the gist of the world, um, but once you've read the first one, you could pick and choose which ones you want to read next if you want, but I mean, I would recommend reading them all, because they're all great. Um, so that's the Wayward Children series.

Stephanie: So this is, it's kind of young adult, kind of new adult. Um, I wouldn't hand this to a 12 year old, but, [00:39:00] uh, you could probably, you'd probably be fine with like 14, 15 and up. Um, some of the characters are teenagers, some of them are a little older, some of the stories focus on kids, some focus on adults. It's kind of a mishmash of young adult and adult, um, so, you know, you'll want to read some, some content or trigger warnings if you're not sure, but, um, a fun, fun, fun series.

Stephanie: Okay, so, we're gonna do some rapid fire final picks in case anything has not jumped out at you yet. Here are some that you might want to pick up. So, if you're looking for a spooky, witchy, girl centric young adult book, I would recommend Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson. If you are looking for a magical fantasy middle grade about a young girl who's raised by a witch, a swamp monster, and a tiny dragon, I recommend The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.

Stephanie: Some of you might recognize Kelly Barnhill's name. She wrote the book When Women Were Dragons that came out end of last year, early this year. [00:40:00] That was a huge adult hit, so this is one of her middle grade stories. If you're looking for a witchy graphic novel that challenges gender norms and stereotypes, I recommend The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag.

Stephanie: This is also a series at this point, so I believe there's three books, so The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag and its sequels. And if you're in the mood for a young adult historical novel about gravediggers and the rising undead, I would recommend The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd Jones. Hopefully you all found something or something jumped out at you that kind of piqued your interest or you found a book to recommend to a friend and I hope you're excited for reading this season.

Stephanie: This is a fun season to read in. One more thing before we go, we invite you to check out our Secrets of Russell Library, a historical tour about the secrets behind our library building and its history. For more information you can go to our website russelllibrary. org slash secrets. Russell Library appreciates all the [00:41:00] support we receive from the community.

Stephanie: Thank you for listening and please visit our website to learn more about our events and resources. Middletown Strong is now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and many of the places you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe and feel free to share what you learn with others. Russell Library has too many exciting things going on to keep them quiet.

Stephanie: Talk to you next time.