From DNA testing to the Dixie Mafia, we bring you new stories of true crime in American history. Join writer & host Benjamin Morris for exclusive interviews with authors from Arcadia Publishing, writing the hottest books on the most chilling stories of our country’s past.
Bizarre Brooklyn: Stories of the Tragic, Macabre and Ghostly, An Interview w/ author Allison Chase Pt. 2
Every day, millions of New Yorkers walk past the ghosts of Brooklyn’s history in broad daylight. Park-goers stroll by the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park, yet few read the historic marker, revealing that it is actually a grave holding up to fifteen thousand bodies. The iconic Park Slope Armory is simply a beautiful landmark to most onlookers, but its secrets include numerous haunted halls and a hidden tunnel to Prospect Park buried underneath. Two planes crashed into each other over the skies of Brooklyn in 1960, killing more than one hundred and destroying an entire city block, yet an eleven-year-old known as the “Boy Who Fell from the Sky” miraculously walked away as the sole survivor. Author Allison Huntington Chase reveals the hidden, macabre and bizarre of Brooklyn’s past.
Allison Huntington Chase grew up in Hartford, Connecticut, and has a degree in screenplay writing from the School of Visual Arts. She is the CEO of Madame Morbid Trolley Tours, which focuses on dark history and ghosts of Brooklyn. She also has her certificate on Sommelier Studies from the ICC. She enjoys history, cooking, animals, traveling and pop culture.
Welcome back, Alison, to Crime Capsule, where we have just crawled out of the closet and taken the blanket off of our head and looked around to see whether the coast was clear. It looks like like it is. We're delighted to have you back. Thank you so much for joining us.
[00:00:19.490] - Allison
Thanks for having me.
[00:00:24.330] - Ben
So before we get into the next kind of ghostly case on the table, we've been on this whirlwind tour of Brooklyn and its haunted landmarks and its paranormal sites. Let's take a quick break at a rest stop for a second, and I wanted to ask you about your methods. So as I was reading your account, it's clear that you treat these cases much more as an historian and a researcher than as a sort of paranormal investigator who goes out into the field with all sorts of fancy gadgets and the readings, and let's get our thermal sensors and that sort of thing. We understand that in paranormal studies, there's room for all approaches and that, you know, they're all comers are welcome. But it was just interesting to me that you leaned heavily more towards the documentation side of things than anything else. Can you tell us just a little bit about your particular research methods?
[00:01:43.750] - Allison
When I was creating my tour, I did the bulk of research for that, and I revisited when I was writing the book, and a lot of the sources were simply New York City history books. There's one in particular that's written in the late 1800, so you get a closer account of those previous hauntings as opposed to 100 years later than talking about it. Brooklyn, Daily Eagle, New York Times. They've all been incredibly helpful people's. Articles online. There's a lot of ghost stories, and the thing is, you want to have the most consistent version of that story. Some people jazz up a certain tale, play it down. So it's really like comparing what's the most consistent story that there is with research and backing it up, making sure there's multiple different discussions on the same thing. If it's a one off story, it's usually not something I focus on because that's more of a hearsay thing. So anything that's documented, I take seriously. The other types of contents. Like you were saying, for instance, with McCarren Park Pool, a lot of information there was on the opposite ghost hunts. So I'll mention that an orb was found or a drop in temperature was found in a ghost hunt, but it's really like a person died in this year, and then it's been claimed to be hunted since in this particular part of the pool.
[00:03:28.210] - Allison
So I really want to make it specific, but not too much into the fantasy world or just even I don't want the reader to question if this is just a tale or an event that actually happens. So I definitely try to stick to the events. And then you can create your own opinion of if you believe that that place is haunted due to the circumstances that you've just learned, obviously at the end of the day you read it to be entertained, but the facts are facts. You'll walk away knowing more about undeniable events that happened and the reason why it is spooky, whether it's a ghost or not. If you're in a graveyard, that's spooky.
[00:04:26.550] - Ben
Yeah. Now I was curious because you mentioned last week specifically with respect to graveyards that have been lost to history and so forth, we are making new discoveries. And you mentioned some maps that had come into public awareness that had revealed certain locations to us in diaries that have also opened up aspects of historical inquiry that had maybe been closed off previously. Were there any cases, as you were writing this book that you really felt like, okay, here is a legitimate discovery and here is something that we can look at with fresh eyes because we have fresh sources now to do.
[00:05:06.500] - Allison
So there's two great examples of this in the book. So there's a bar called Barcade in Williamsburg. It started here. Now it's a national chain. It's a bar filled with arcade games, hence the name. And according to a recently found map from 1849, it's located in a former church graveyard that held up to 30,000 dead bodies. They were relocated to Cypress Hill Cemetery. But when I say relocated, they took probably a couple of bodies, called it a day and they didn't get them off. They didn't care. Exactly. So the majority, I'd say, remained behind. When asked if it was haunted, the owner, Paul Cremmisian, says that the only ghosts he's seen are in the Ms pacman games. But according to bartender terrible, terrible. I know he got ghosted by Ms. Packman. He's bitter. No, but yeah, apparently just strange haunted happenings. Go on there. But a better example of hidden cemeteries and maps is the Brooklyn Naval Cemetery, which dates back to, I believe, 1831. So this has up to 2000 bodies of the various people who passed away in the Brooklyn Naval Cemetery. I'm sorry. The Brooklyn Naval Hospital. They were buried there and the cemetery was used up until 1910 and then those bodies supposedly were removed to Cypress Hill as well.
[00:06:56.950] - Allison
Then it laid abandoned for about 90 years. Then in they went digging around because again, anytime there's vacant land, we just want to put something on top of it. So when they began to dig around they came across more human remains and they realized that there were a lot of bodies that were left behind. So through years and years of research and going through records they were able to identify a lot of the bodies and the origins. Of course, not every single skeleton or bone was accounted for. But they decided instead of building over to leave the bodies where they were. And they created this cemetery that's designed to be a nature pollination habitat area. So if you pass by it, it looks kind of like an overgrown grassy park, but it's purposely designed that way. And there's boards you can walk on. A lot of people roller skate on them, but it's supposed to be a reflective place that you can go and really just sit with your thoughts. So again, unless you really know what it is, it just looks like a park, but it is an active cemetery, and those researchers wouldn't have even bothered to look things up until we come across those bones because it's virtually forgotten after time.
[00:08:37.950] - Allison
So unfortunately, we make these discoveries too late. But I think with any deceased person or even ghosts just being acknowledged that they were there and they existed is.
[00:08:51.670] - Ben
Important to do far preferable than leaving them angry and vengeful and restless and prone to come after you with whatever implement they might have at their spectral possession. Now, we'll come back to graveyards in a little bit because you have some just killer examples in there. Please pardon. Terrible mistake there. But before we get to graveyards, I wanted to jump back on your trolley, okay. And I want to just keep kind of working our way around the borough a little bit. And it would not be a visit to Brooklyn without a stop at Coney Island, right? We just absolutely have to go to Coney Island and eat the junk food and walk them on the boardwalk and ride the rickety rides and take our lives in our own hands and hang out with the carneys and do all the things that we're supposed to do., what's interesting about your account is we can participate in kind of, like the carny romance of it all. And we should. We absolutely should. It is just glorious. But there's an underlying story here which maybe a lot of visitors to Cony Island or a lot of even regular New Yorkers may not necessarily know, which is this very moving account of the incubated babies that were there. This was totally news to me, and I imagine that for many of your readers and for many of our listeners, this is going to kind of come out of nowhere as like, oh, my goodness, this actually happened here. And your answer is yes. How did you discover this particular story?
[00:10:51.770] - Allison
What was going on so incubators? It wasn't invented in Coney Island, but they weren't used in hospitals. They didn't think that they actually had enough of a purpose. So when premature babies were born, it was very difficult to keep them alive. Now, over in Coney Island, they had purchased dozens of them, because what you'll learn in the book is that people were constantly being exploited for anything that was different. It could be extra limbs. It could be a bearded lady, tiny people. So they thought that creamy babies would draw in a crowd and they wanted to get them there. Now, the trade off was that they would be able to use these incubators as long as they were on display. So even though it's kind of sick that these tiny, struggling babies, you could buy a ticket to gok at them, it ended up saving most of their lives because they were still able to get that medical help. So it's interesting, while people were constantly being exploited in Coney Island, it's not like they were suffering because it gave them work. And when all the side shows and quote unquote, freak shows came out of fashion because people felt bad for these performers, it actually put them out of work and they struggled to find another job which would fit their circumstances.
[00:12:35.620] - Allison
So while there's definitely a dark side to Coney Island, they did provide a living for many people.
[00:12:48.070] - Ben
It's funny you mentioned that sort of tension between finding a home for performers who would not necessarily find one elsewhere and that kind of thin line between employment and exploitation in that context. I was very moved some years ago, I think it was 2016, when the Times announced the closure of the circus. Right. It was ending. Absolutely ending. This is a chapter in American history. And I was so moved by that part of the metaphor through my girlfriend at the time in the car, and we drove to Cincinnati, where she's from, and we caught the circus on its return journey to New York. Because you realize that this actually is the end of an era. And the Times articles at the time about where is the fire eater going to go, where is the Mongolian strongman going to go? Where are these folks going to find work here? And it really threw 130 years of performance history into such a stark light when it became apparent that the enterprise could just no longer continue. And it began in New York, and it ended in New York, and it just came full circle. And I felt so grateful to be able to just kind of drop everything and go and see the surface before you could not see it anymore.
[00:14:15.990] - Allison
Yeah, it's funny because it's got such a dark history, especially with PT. Barnum, who is not a good guy. It started off as an oddities exhibit, not an honest one either. For the world's largest man, he would be stuffed with extra layers. He even had a woman that he claimed was George Washington's wet nurse that was still alive, and you could pay to see her. Absurd things like that. But if you go to Coney Island today, you'll still see people who are like, tattooed to look like lizards and have that slice in their tongue. You know what I'm talking about? You'll still be able to see interesting people, but they mostly work in the solo fields. You just give them a couple of dollars, have you heard of the mermaid parade?
[00:15:16.270] - Ben
I don't think that I have.
[00:15:18.250] - Allison
So once a year, first of all, Coney Island is very far from the big city part of Brooklyn and not offending anyone.
[00:15:34.510] - Ben
If you want to go there, you have to mean it, right? I mean, you have to be very intentional about getting Scony Island.
[00:15:42.010] - Allison
It's definitely a trip. So the one time of year that everyone really rallies together and has the energy to go is every summer there's a mermaid parade. You dress up as obviously mermaids, but people go all out. It's kind of like Mardi Gras. So it's this long line. There's usually a couple, like, felist celebrities who are hosting it or whatever. I actually haven't gone because it always lands on a day that I'm either not here or already have plans. Yeah. Again, I don't mean to poo poo on it, but it's pretty gnarly. It's pretty run down. The rides, they hurt. You ride them, those wooden roller coasters, and your back hurts for a week. You can get an acreage. Exactly. It definitely is not what it once was, which is funny because it started off as a rich person's retreat, but when it became more accessible to the public, it quickly turned into this not as glamorous type of destination. About a million people came to the beach each day in the summertime. I mean, you couldn't pay me to swim in that water. Now there's like, syringes trash. Gross. But, yeah, it's definitely one of those things you have to go to at least once to say you've been.
[00:17:27.590] - Allison
But it is what it is. I know people who live in Coney Island and work in Manhattan and make that trip twice a day. I don't know how they do it. Rents a lot cheaper there, and you actually can get a nice place. But the trade off is that travel time.
[00:17:44.150] - Ben
You do write in your book that compared to some of the other locations in Brooklyn Coney Island, it is mildly haunted. Right. I mean, it's sort of like the I don't mean to sound kind of crude here, but sort of the oddities are still among us. Right. And so there are only a few documented ghosts or hauntings that have sort of persisted from previous decades. There's a little bit more of an imbalance there, which I found kind of amusing. In your analysis of it. You mentioned that there's one venue called Oriental Manor which is sort of an event space that has maybe a little sort of presence there where it's kind of 50 50.
[00:18:32.810] - Allison
Yeah. That is kind of notoriously haunted. When you say the name, people will always be like, oh, yeah, it's haunted. There's a ghost. It's funny because a lot of places, event halls are often haunted. And it's probably because so many people are in and out of it that there's just a lot of chaos. And ghosts love chaos. But yeah, supposedly a man appears in the window, it's haunted by him. And remember how we were saying earlier, I think in the last podcast that when things go wrong, people blame it on ghosts, in my opinion, when a big wedding or event caters can mess up sometimes and it's an easy app to be like, no, a ghost. Drop those, which is fine. I love that. I love that excuse. But there's way more haunted places. I think what you said is really accurate, where it's still so crazy, it's hard to separate the two. But there was this elephant hotel that burned down and it was a brothel at the time. And they said if you could see the elephant, then you were in the wrong part of Coney Island. The really CD, Brooklyn Brownie, what they called a sketchy place.
[00:20:05.250] - Allison
And a lot of people have died there with either violence, drugs, and it's not a glamorous destination, but it's crazy because part of you thinks it's such a rich history, and then part of you thinks it's such a sad history. So many things have been invented there, like frozen custard and hot dogs. But then you have the freak shows, which consisted of a tiny people village community. I think you're about this in the book. They were exploiting little people. They had their own parliament, fire station. It was crazy. So it was a community of little people that you could just watch living their daily lives in this two scale size town. One of the worst things they did in Coney Island, though, was human zoos. They brought people from the Congo, Philippines, and people would watch them in cages, like as if they were animals and got their tribal gear, which of course, they made sure that they were looking as native as possible. Really. It was awful. People would pet them. It was horrible. They treated them like animals. Obviously, that died out, thankfully.
[00:21:38.550] - Ben
Very Victorian sort of fantasycla approach to anthropology, which thankfully has itself gone the way of the dodo. Let's go back in land a little bit because there's another location here on your list of landmarks, which really struck me in part because it is like Coney Island, such an institution. Right. I've got a close friend here in New Orleans who is a Brooklyn native and he's writing a memoir of his upbringing in Brooklyn in the he too, like so many, is a graduate of Erasmus Hall. And yet Joel has never once mentioned to me in our many discussions about Brooklyn in those days, the siding of the boy in the basement, because that one seems like it would have stuck out a little bit, at least in local lore. Right? So what's going on at Erasmus Hall in the basement that the rest of the world needs to know about?
[00:22:53.150] - Allison
Oh, my gosh. So this is one of the scariest locations, in my opinion. The high school was built. It's called The Mother of High schools because it was one of the first. It was built hundreds of years ago by the Quaker community, and it only had a handful of students, and then they eventually allowed women in, and it grew. But it's funny because that original structure from the 1700s is in the middle of Flat Bush, Brooklyn, and it sticks out like a store thumb. And obviously other buildings were built as part of the campus. They were trying to look like Cambridge and Oxford, which, again, does not go with the rest of the ambience of the neighborhood. But it's a super dangerous school in sense of safety and violence, and it had that reputation for decades and decades. So Michael Rappaport, the actor, went there, and he claims that he had a run in with a ghost in the basement. So he and his friends were sentenced to detention one day, and their punishment was they had to clean this room in the basement that had these desks piled up full of dust. They probably didn't even need to clean.
[00:24:24.550] - Allison
No one had been in there and forever. They just needed to give them something to do. So they gave them the keys for the padlock, which they obviously unlocked, kept in their pocket, and the door slammed shut. They couldn't open it. And suddenly all the desks started to fall down, and through the dust, they could see this young boy grinning. So of course, they freaked out and ran away once they were able to get the door unlocked again. So there's a show called celebrity psychics with Kim Russo. Have you seen it?
[00:25:02.140] - Ben
I have not, but it sounds completely credible from the get go.
[00:25:05.970] - Allison
I love this show. So it's a spin off of Ghost Stories. Again, phenomenal. She goes to locations with the people from Celebrity Ghost Stories, and she investigates through her work as a medium, what has taken place there. So Michael Rapaport brought her to the basement, and she claims it's the spirit of a little boy who was murdered there like, 100 years prior. Okay, so a couple of young people died in this building. He was pushed and hit his head, which eventually he passed away from, I believe, either that night or the next day. And she said, oh, he showed himself to you because he was also a troublemaker and wanted to relate or something. I don't know. I know, right then there was another little ghost boy in the gym. But, I mean, kids have still been, unfortunately, murdered in this school. Years ago, boys got in a fight over a basketball game and somebody was stabbed with scissors. It's not the happiest of places, but so many famous people have graduated from it. We're talking barbara Streisand, barry Manilo, one of Three Stooges, some other Randos. But, yeah, it's a very famous high school, but it still has just a terrible reputation.
[00:26:55.650] - Ben
Yes, I wanted to ask because unlike, say, Melrose Hall, which we discussed last week, which conveniently no longer exists. So therefore, no investigations of secret chambers and hidden princesses and ghostly murderers and so forth can be undertaken. Here we have a building which is still in use, right, and a school which is still functioning and presumably a basement room that Michael Rappaport had this vision in which, celebrity psychics aside, day in, day out, month in, month out, it's a very high traffic area, right? I mean, it's extremely high traffic area. And so I was just curious if, say, number one, there is common knowledge at the high school about this particular entity, the supposed entity right. Or whether anyone has undertaken kind of a more systematic examination of that building or tried to learn through the records right, like the historical documentation who this young boy was. Because here there's more of an opportunity compared to some of your other cases.
[00:28:22.930] - Allison
And we actually found information. When I say we, I mean myself, I don't know why he's saying we. I found an article about him in the New York Times. So he is documented there was a boy who did die the same way Kim Russo was talking about it. Maybe she read the same article, I don't know. But it's also have you ever seen consider the source. If Michael Rapid says it kind of leave him because he's an OBS type of guy. But yeah, a lot of these deaths were researched via news articles. So we know they existed, we know they died. Do they haunt the place? It depends on who you ask, if you've experienced it yourself. But like you said, and teenagers today, I don't think they're ghost hunting as much as they used to. So I don't think anyone actually takes the time to investigate. And it's not like I can walk inside the high school and investigate myself. You kind of have to be a student if you're inside. So there is a lot of hearsay, but we also have definitive facts which we use in the book.
[00:29:44.190] - Ben
I want to end this tour somewhat paradoxically at the beginning. If we are going to study the restless dead, we can't not visit graveyards. You were speaking earlier about the ones that were found from Revolutionary War era and you have written about certain mass graves that were discovered from that time period which we just didn't know exactly where they were, but then they came to light. You write interestingly in the book that New York has a lot of these, more than we thought, actually, partly due to loss of records, loss of historical memory, and then they were discovered years later. I was curious, maybe you could start with the Battle of Brooklyn near the old stone house in Prospect Park. This is an interesting one because the battle itself was very consequential in the early days of the Revolutionary War. But then there is this kind of loss of historical memory about its actual site.
[00:31:27.610] - Ben
So can you trace that for us? How something that was so monumental in those days, the grand scheme of things not too long ago right then, is immediately just sort of lost its exact location and the restless dead of that graveyard are forgotten. Their location is forgotten. How did that happen?
[00:31:48.990] - Allison
[00:32:11.890] - Allison
Stone farmhouse typical of the area at the time, and it was used to house the Continental Army headquarters by George Washington. Now, the original stonehouse was destroyed and during the New Deal, and I believe like 1935, robert Moses made a replica of it. Now, that's located in the park named after George Washington, but it stood next to where the staples is today. We couldn't figure out the exact location where the old stone house was. It was somewhere along those two block radius. But we know that the reason why they were buried next to it is because the British dug a big ditch and just toss the bodies in it. Now, these soldiers are referred to as the Maryland 400. They came over to help fight this battle. Now, this is the very first battle of the Revolutionary War, so it's referred to as a Battle of Brooklyn, battles New York, or battles Long Island. It's all the same thing. We didn't have an actual army. We had volunteers, and a lot of them ran away because it was scary. We didn't know what we were doing, and disease was rampant. So we caught in are basically last 400 soldiers who are willing to participate in this battle.
[00:33:32.570] - Allison
And we lost almost immediately. Of course, we were up against the super army of the world at the time, but if it weren't for these 400 soldiers, america would not exist because they were able to distract the British while George Washington fled back to Manhattan via canoe on the East River and continued the war effort. So it's literally because of those 400 soldiers currently underneath staples that we don't have British accents. Thanks, guys. It's a very patriotic staples now, but.
[00:34:14.090] - Ben
What does the corporate presence there say about their location on top of this grade now that it's been discovered? Is there any attempt to kind of reclaim that for purposes of American history or is that a moot point?
[00:34:29.450] - Allison
It's a moot point because they're not going to knock down the staples now or admit that they built it on top. So instead we've created monuments in honor of those soldiers throughout Brooklyn. I don't know if I would classify this under a nonmark grave, but Navyard used to be called Wallabout Bay, and that's where they had the prison ships from the British, most notorious of which was called the Jersey. And daily, they would just toss dead bodies over the ship into the water, and their bones would continuously wash ashore for years. So I consider that more of an unmarked grave. Having said that, those bones were collected and put into a monument, which is in Fort Green Bark today. So even though it wasn't the location of the initial bindings, it still marks that moment in history and houses those bones and remains that were washed ashore. Can you hear that siren?
[00:35:44.190] - Ben
That's what we call Brooklyn birdsong, right?
[00:35:48.030] - Allison
Oh, my God. That's so funny. I haven't heard that. We call hot dogs water pigeons. Another Coney Island invention. Yeah. So there's a monument for the people who died in the ship, and all of them refused to sign with the British their loyalty to King George. So they really died for the cause and admirable the conditions were atrocious. So it's really cool to see people who really stuck to their guns, no pun intended, and fought for something they believed in.
[00:36:31.230] - Ben
Yeah. And your efforts in this particular volume to bring those spaces to light, I mean, could not be more welcome because it is so easy to walk around New York or any major urban center today with only the consciousness of what is kind of immediately in front of you and to not absolutely recognize what is buried right beneath your feet. Now, the last cemetery that I'd like to visit on the tour, and this will be the end of our tour across Brooklyn, is yet another cemetery that was not fully deconsecrated. So often in your book, you have these cases of you have a grave site, and then somebody comes along and they decide to plunk something down on top of it, but then they don't get all the bodies out, and you just think, guys, are you setting yourself up for failure deliberately? So the Most Holy Trinity Church at Williamsburg. I mean, look, it's very simple. When the dogs start freaking out in modern day, right, sort of investigations, listen to the dogs. People like, they know what's going on.
[00:37:57.390] - Allison
It's funny you say that, because I was afraid of the dark until I was 25. This is true. I slept with the light on, and then I got a dog, which I also had a fear of dogs, but no longer. Well, if there's a ghost, she'll alert me. So she was my little ghost alarm dog. She's never alerted me, so I've been very lucky. I know ghost here. But Most Holy Trinity Church. It was written about in a tree. Grows in Brooklyn. It's a beautiful establishment. They have these wonderful stained glass windows. Which brings us. Into our story. There was a man in the 1800 named George Delta. He was a bell ringer in the church and an avid member. He purchased a stained glass window to give the church and spent most of his days there. Now, one day, he walked in and discovered two men trying to steal from the church's poor box, and they bludge him to death. People claim that since then, he's been haunting the church. You can see a bloody handprint sometimes on the stained glass window, which has his name on it. His bell rings by itself. Now, people have come up with different tales of why he still haunts the place.
[00:39:34.260] - Allison
They said that until the men who killed him are brought to justice, that he'll continue to haunt. What's ironic is one of the men did end up getting arrested for a separate murder. So we're halfway there. Now, the church's original pastor died in his room upstairs and supposedly haunted. So nobody will live there, but they will offer it to guests staying overnight. Unbeknownst to them, the stair leading down to the kitchen is where dogs stare in a trance and bark and won't go up. So, again, telltale sign. And like we heard on the Barcade Cemetery, they also had their own, which people believed the ghosts that weren't treated I'm sorry, the bodies that weren't treated with respect still walk the grounds. Now, the reason for all of these unmarked graves in Brooklyn is because we had more churches than any other place in Manhattan or the Bronx, all of New York City. And with that came their own graveyards. Because until, really, Greenwood Cemetery was created, you were buried specifically at the church. Now, after a while, you ran out of room. They tried to be creative and bury people on top of each other.
[00:41:03.310] - Allison
Share a tomb.
[00:41:06.730] - Ben
Yeah. You create mausolea for whole families, of course. Right.
[00:41:11.410] - Allison
And they got overused. And not only that, disease is starting to spread from them because they were not 60ft below ground now, they were kind of like when it rained, it would literally bring up corpses. It was disgusting. Which, again, was the main reason why Greenwood Cemetery was created. And that served for many reasons. Greenwood Cemetery, it was the first manicured land in all of New York City. So essentially, it served as one of the first parks, and it was the second most visited area in all of New York State, the first one being Niagara Falls. And people wouldn't necessarily go to the graveyard to visit loved ones, but have a picnic, relax. People sold their arts and, like, paintings, poems, whatever, and it became a very prestigious place to be buried. Now, at this time, Brooklyn was a second tier city, as people refer to it as, and it was a trick to get over there, you had to go ferry for the Brooklyn Bridge. And the reason why it became so prestigious was because am I pronouncing. That right. It was like the former governor of New York, he created the Erie Canal.
[00:42:35.030] - Allison
They exhumed his body from upstate New York, I believe, in Albany, and brought it to the cemetery to make it a celebrity hotspot. So because you buried there, suddenly everyone wants to be buried there. I mean, you go through the List FAO shorts, which is a real person. The person who created the soda fountain, the sewing machine, the wizard of Oz, literally, the guy who played the wizard is there. It's almost impossible to be buried there now because it's so coveted that space. There are rules. You can't be buried there if you've been in jail for murder or killed someone because they want to keep it at a certain level of prestige. But yeah, greenwood Cemetery in particular, I think is the biggest attraction to ghost hunters. Like, it's huge, and they have really cool events there. Sometimes I went to this party there at midnight. It was called behind the Veil, and they had opened up Mazda. It was so cool. They opened up mausoleums that hadn't been opened in hundreds of years. And they had, like, these ghost looking people singing opera from them. It was like a 1920s party, the champagne and I had to go to the bathroom.
[00:44:01.640] - Allison
So I had to walk through the graveyard in the nighttime by myself. And I have to say, it was very peaceful. It wasn't scary, and I kind of felt like a badass, if I can do this, I can do anything. Especially coming from somebody who's so scared of ghosts for so many years. But it's a huge destination for visitors and locals, and I'm a big fan. It's one of the biggest cemeteries. I think our biggest one in New York City is in Queens. That's where a lot of I think Harry Dinner is buried there. But anyways, that's the best graveyard to end with, in my opinion, because it kind of put Brooklyn on the map at the time.
[00:44:44.090] - Ben
Sounds like a pretty special place. Down in Mississippi, where I'm from, we have a saying, which is prestige and possessions and these sorts of things, they're for the living. Because ask yourself, have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U Haul?
[00:45:08.490] - Allison
I was in Savannah, and they have Herse Ghost Tours where they take out the back and just ride around in a hearse and drink a Bloody Mary. It's really fun. Exactly. Right? Now, since you're from the south, do you know what hank blue is?
[00:45:27.070] - Ben
Absolutely. Yeah, I see it all the time.
[00:45:30.250] - Allison
Yeah, exactly. We mentioned that on the tour. So for those of you not in the know, hank is a term for spirit in the south, and it's this, like, robin's egg blue color that people paint on their porch ceilings. They believe that it would trick ghosts into coming to not coming into their house by thinking it's either water, which they couldn't pass through or heaven, which they would go up instead of inside the home. But it also prevents mosquitoes, which was the main source of yellow fever. So it prevented death too. But, yeah, you can see it throughout the Deep South, everywhere today. And I believe it's still carried by Benjamin Moore, like 150 years later.
[00:46:20.800] - Ben
I believe that they have a number of historic shades that have dated to different periods in American history, and I can absolutely see that being the case. Now, I do need to ask you, because of your experience walking through Greenwood Cemetery alone at midnight in a very special frame of mind, maybe having slipped one of those glasses of champagne.
[00:46:51.250] - Allison
I was just going to say I was a little looseygoozy.
[00:46:55.690] - Ben
It sounds like it was honestly earned. But you are a tour guide when you're not a researcher, and many of these places are stops on your tour of strange and paranormal and bizarre Brooklyn. I'm going to ask you a very obvious question here, Alison, which is that, to your knowledge, have you ever had any sightings.
[00:47:21.190] - Allison
In Greenwood Cemetery or in general?
[00:47:23.070] - Ben
In general at all in all of your years researching and investigating and kind of dipping your toe in these waters? Do you think you have ever witnessed anything which you cannot explain under normal circumstances?
[00:47:34.870] - Allison
Okay, so my go to story with this is I spent okay, so the Titanic sank on my birthday in April 15 different year, obviously, but every year at the Stanley Hotel, which is what the Schneider Hotel is based on, they have a replica, first class last dinner of the Titanic. So I dragged my friends along with me to experience this fun little dinner. By the way, the food in 1912 was disgusting. Gelatin had just been like these flavor gelatin cubes and chicken broth. It was awful. Anyways, thank gosh for pizza. So while we were there, because it's obviously notoriously haunted, we took a ghost tour. And so we get into this room, and the tour guide gives us dumb dumb lollipops, and she tells us to put it on the palm of our hands, straight up. And there are these three ghost children who will run and knock them off our hands when we call them or something. Now, because it was my birthday, the tour guide specifically said for the ghost children to run to me. Like, she announced it. Like, ghost children run to Alison. It's her birthday. So she shuts off the light.
[00:48:58.830] - Allison
And my friend recorded this so you can hear my screams. So I'm sitting there in the dark with the dumb dumb, and after like a minute, I'm getting kind of bored because I was like, this is stupid. I swear to you. It felt like a little child crawled into my lap. Like, you know, the first 2nd when something's happening, you don't process it. So you can hear me start screaming on the video because you can feel the pressure of somebody, like, literally crawling into your lab. So she immediately put the lights on and I'm thinking, like, my friend was like playing a trick on me. When she puts the lights on, everyone so far spread out, it would literally have been impossible. But I cannot explain my jacket being pulled and then feeling the weight of somebody crawl onto my lap and it's not again, it was like a little kid. So that's my go to story. That's the closest thing I've ever got into a ghost. Only because when people say, like, oh, I saw something from the corner of my eye, or I felt this eerie feeling, it's like I felt a physical presence and I can't it made me more of a believer.
[00:50:07.420] - Allison
I'd say I went from being one of the 55% of the population who didn't believe in ghosts to be I don't know, maybe I'm a 2% believer. 3%, because I can't explain it and I'm not making this up. So, yeah, that was my closest ghostly encounter. And pretty thrilling. It was more exciting than scary because I was like, finally, something. The Stanley Hotel is pretty cool.
[00:50:47.860] - Ben
Well, in the interest of good science, of course, we seek to reach our conclusions by falsification observation and repetition. Rumor has it you'll have another birthday, so maybe you need to go back and try this again, see if you obtain the same results. But if you do, we want to be the very first to hear about it, because that is quite a tale. It is a tale. Alison, thank you so much for joining us. This has been such a joy. And congratulations again on this very exciting book. Now, if listeners want to find out more about your work, where should they go?
[00:51:31.430] - Allison
Well, you can go to our website, it's madammorbid.com, or you can find us on social media, which is Madamorbidnyc. Come take a tour. We are around for spooky season and you can see these places with your own eyeballs and it's very exciting. The trolley itself is decorated to look like a Victorian funeral parlor. We have these green velvet curtains, tufted, red leather seats. We have a smoke machine. We also have video with the Ken Burnsyle documentaries that we play, Chandeliers. It's kind of like a Disney ride. So if you're into having a great time, you should look into for and by the book.
[00:52:22.330] - Ben
And by the book. Sounds like the total experience.
[00:52:26.930] - Allison
Thank you. It is.
[00:52:28.670] - Ben
Thank you, Alison. It has been a pleasure and we will talk to you soon.