Casper (the Friendly Blog Post)
(I do apologize for the pitiful, pitiful title, but I just couldn’t help it.)
As a child, I knew well that Halloween night was not to be feared. The real horror happens on All Hallow’s Eve Eve—you see, that’s when all the dark spirits head back to their devilish dwellings. On October 30, however, those spooks pack their spirit-suitcases and fly in to prepare for a night of terror.
(That was in Hawai’i, of course. On the Mainland they can probably take the train.)
Thus, in the vein of my childhood fear of (and delight in) the day before Halloween, I’ve decided to dedicate my Sunday afternoon post to some ghostly goings-on in Ithaca. The Cornell University Library System would be so proud of me, too! In honor of the eeriest part of October, the libraries have sponsored a “trick or truth” research contest. Students are encouraged to “put Ruloff’s ghost to rest” (Two-faced Ithacan Edward Ruloff was known as the “learned murderer” and got into all sorts of scrapes (and by “scrapes” I mean “he killed some folks and got executed but swore before his death that he’d haunt all his foes forever”) by researching primary sources for evidence concerning Ruloff’s crimes. If you’re interested, you can trick-or-truth yourself on the Library homepage. (Although I’m warning you, I’m playing to win—I’d even hold a seance if it meant winning a $25 iTunes gift card!)
Reading Ruloff’s story made me want to do a little more ghost-busting myself, so I decided to look further into my alma mater’s unseelie past. Because googling “Cornell ghosts” failed miserably (apparently there is a singer by the name of Cornell who happens to sing a song titled “Ghosts”; go figure), I decided to search “Cornell hauntings” instead and came upon an old edition of Dear Uncle Ezra, Cornell’s advice column.
Though parts of Ezra’s metaphysical answer read like an ad for The Ghost Whisperer, his stories were a little encouraging. My buddy Ez even claimed that
“in the late 1800s, there may have been a visit or two from the famed English writers/poets Longfellow and Browning. Hiram Corson, a Cornell Professor of Anglo Saxon Literature (1828-1911), apparently studied these 2 authors very closely, and was purported to have had numerous post-humous conversations with them.”
Chatting with Longfellow and Browning? Personally, I really think the English department’s “Ghostly Lecture Series” should be reinstated.
If you’ve got a dead poet wandering the halls of your Ithaca home and are wondering who you gonna call, look no further. The Ghost Hunters of the Finger Lakes seems like an interesting organization, but even after examining through their photo galleries, I still think their website’s hideous black background is the scariest thing they’ve encountered.
Oh, and since I’m on a Ghostbusters kick, I may as well mention that Bill Murray came to Cornell! (That’s what googling “ghostbusters Cornell” will get you.)
So, happy pre-Halloween, readers! If you need me tomorrow night, I’ll be out in the Plantations waiting for the Great Pumpkin.
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