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State Stix

Ghost stories

Ghostwise Illinois probably ranks third or fourth in the nation. We might be beaten out by a few other places like California, Tennessee and Dade County, Fla., but my guess is that nobody else comes near enough to say boo. Apparitions are a way of life here. Thus our custom of letting dead people vote.

Some people would say that ghost voters are a sign of crooked politics, but they're really a consequence of glacial drift. What do you expect of a state whose most important features are buried under two to 600 feet of dirt? Things get ambiguous in Illinois. On fall mornings you can't see anything but a lot of mist with crows flying out of it. On winter evenings the sky turns red and the snow turns blue, and what help is that? The truth is it's hard to tell whether you're here or there, let alone who's alive.

Source (for glacial drift): Glacial Drift in Illinois: Thickness and Character. Illinois State Geological Survey. Circular 490. 1975. Urbana.

Resurrection Mary

"This is a classic Chicago ghost story. A young girl comes out of a dance hall and hitchhikes home. A driver picks her up, and they drive out along Archer Avenue. When they get to Resurrection Cemetery, she says, 'Stop here.' Another version is that when they get to the cemetery, she just disappears.

"People who have grown up in Chicago have probably driven up and down Archer Avenue on a Halloween night looking for Resurrection Mary. I personally never found her, but a couple of guys I knew went out one time. They didn't see any young girl hitching a ride. But when they stopped in front of Resurrection Cemetery, the hand of the guy who was driving started to bleed."

Source: David Fremon, Chicago free-lance writer and author of Chicago Politics Ward by Ward.

The haunting of the Springfield Lake Club

The ghost's name was "Rudy," or at least that's what the owners of the Springfield Lake Club and the waitresses and bartenders called him. They thought he was the restless spirit of a former bartender, Albert Rudy Cranor. Rudy had been with the club since its heyday in the big band days of the 1940s and '50s, when the Lake Club was the "nightlife gem of the Midwest." He was famous for his sense of humor and his good martinis. In 1968, suffering from ill health, he committed suicide in one of the back rooms of the club.

Rudy was a playful ghost. He slammed doors, made glasses rise off tables, threw clothes on the floor and changed a rum and coke into a glass of chocolate. He also appeared head only floating over the bar. In 1979 three Catholic priests visited the Lake Club, not to hold an exorcism but to pray for the repose of Rudy's soul. After this was done, the haunting ceased.

Source: Ron Ebest, '"Ghost Story: Lake Club's spirit bartender," State Journal Register. February 3, 1980.

The shade of Harriet Haskell

Miss Harriet Haskell was the first principal of Monticello Female Seminary in Godfrey. She held the post from 1867 until her death in 1907. In 1970 Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC) took over the old Monticello buildings. The chapel, Haskell's favorite room, was converted to a library. It is here that a woman in long, old-fashioned dress, is said to have appeared to a library employee and then vanished into thin air. Other employees have reported the feeling of being watched and the touch of a ghostly hand upon their shoulder. Mysterious voices have often been heard, and there is at least one report of faint screams from a lower room in the library known as "the dungeon."

Another LCCC legend concerns a young woman who was a student at the seminary. She was the mistress of a wealthy married man, who apparently liked his concubines to be well-educated. Rather than return to a situation she now found repugnant, she chose to hang herself. Her ghost is said to remain at the school under the tutelage of Haskell's stronger spirit.

Source: John J. Dunphy, '"The Legend and Lore of West Central Illinois," Illinois Magazine. September-October, 1983.

Small Pox Island

This island in the Mississippi River near Alton was a burial ground for inmates of the Illinois State Prison in Alton who died during the smallpox epidemic of 1863-64. Some say the island is haunted by the ghosts of pale, emaciated men dressed in the tattered remnanls of Confederate uniforms.

Source: Same as above.

Southern Illinois' ton of fun

The Big Muddy Monster is about seven feet tall, walks upright and is covered all over with light-colored hair, matted with mud. The monster first appeared in the early 1970s near Murphysboro and has been seen most often along the shores of the Big Muddy River, though there have been sightings as far south as the Cairo levee. Last summer when a camper vehicle at Rend Lake was torn up and the equipment strewn around, one of the people investigating the damage said the culprit might have been the Big Muddy Monster.

Source: Helen W. Linsenmeyer-Keyser, "The Big Muddy Monster," Springhouse, April 1987. Rend Lake update: Judy DeNeal, associate editor of Springhouse.

Another Chicago ghost story

"I used to tend bar on Bissell and Wisconsin Street on the north side. It was an interesting bar. The ashes of previous regulars were in a couple of urns in the basement. . . .One summer day I was tending bar. It was a windy day, and we had a screen door that kept banging. On three different occasions the door blew open. Each time I said, 'That's a ghost. I'll pour it a beer." Then I'd pour a glass of beer. No ghost appeared to drink it, so I helped him out a bit. I never saw a ghost, but on the floor right below the beer on each occasion there appeared a five dollar bill. The ghosts were a lot better tippers than the bar's living customers."

Source: Fremon.

General funds

The general funds end-of-month balance for August was $113.513 million; the average daily available balance was $360.311 million.

Source: Office of the Comptroller.

Unemployment rates

In August the nation's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.6 percent, up from5.5 percent in July. Illinois' rate was 6.5 percent, down from 6.7 percent.

The state's civilian work force consisted of 5.954 million people in August; 5.568 million people had jobs and 386,000 were looking for work.

Final unemployment rates in June for the state's metro areas were:

Aurora-Elgin, 5.7 percent.
Bloomington-Normal, 4.1 percent.
Champaign-Urbana-Ranloul, 3.8 percent.
Chicago, 5.9 percent.
Davenport, Rock Island, Moline (Illinois sector), 5.9 percent.
Decatur, 7.3 percent.
Joliet, 6.8 percent.
Kankakee, 6.7 percent.
Lake County, 3.8 percent.
Peoria, 5.9 percent.
Rockford, 6.3 percent.
Springfield, 4.5 percent.
St. Louis (Illinois sector), 7.7 percent.

Source: Department of Employment Security.

Margaret S. Knoepfle

6/October 1990/IIIinois Issues

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