The Tragic Collapse of the Silver Bridge by Mae Clair

I’m back on tour today with my mystery/suspense novel, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS. Set in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, the book is a blend of history and fiction spun around the urban legend of the Mothman and the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge.

Banner for A Thousand Yesteryears, a mystery/suspense release by Mae Clair

Today, I’m at Jan Sike’s blog. Jan is a sister author with Rave Reviews Book Club, and my hostess for the day. If you get a chance, hop over and pay me a visit. I’m blogging about the bridge that defined and forever changed the town of Point Pleasant!

The Bogeyman Beneath the Bed by Mae Clair

Remember your childhood, and the creepy monsters who populated the darkness? Faceless beings who lurked in nether regions, tucked under the bed, burrowed in the closet, or hidden in a dank basement. The bogeyman was certainly the worst.

Today, for the third day of my blog tour celebrating the release of A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS, I’m visiting RRBC sister author Jenny Hinsman and sharing a post about the night time terrors that existed in our imagination, yet seemed so real.

Why not drop by and share your own memories of those vivid creatures of yesteryear?

Banner for A Thousand Yesteryears, a mystery/suspense release by Mae Clair

Red Eyes and Winged Beasts #TheMothman

I’m a late with this post, but have another historical Mothman sighting to share. I’ve already posted two sightings from the night of November 15, 1966—the first reported by four eye-witnesses, the second by one.

Night road cutting through dark wooded setting, illuminated by headlightsOn the night of November 16, 1966, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wamsley, along with Mrs. Marcella Bennett and her baby daughter Teena were on their way to visit Ralph and Virginia Thomas. The Thomas family lived near the TNT, an abandoned WWII munitions site located outside of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. It was on TNT grounds that Roger Scarberry, his wife, and friends were chased by a giant winged creature the night before.

When the Wamsley’s and Marcella Bennett arrived at the Thomas home, they discovered Ralph and Virginia were out for the evening. They stayed a short time, chatting with the Thomas’ three children, Rickie, Connie and Vicki, then headed back to their car.

Before they could reach the vehicle, a figure slowly rose behind it.  Marcella Bennett described the thing as being big and gray, larger than a man, “with terrible glowing red eyes.” She was so terrified by the creature she dropped her daughter and froze, hypnotized by what appeared to be a winged, headless being. Raymond Wamsley scooped up the little girl (who was not hurt), snared Marcella and, along with his wife, raced back into the house. They quickly secured and bolted the door.

Within seconds, they heard a noise on the porch. Two red eyes appeared in the window, staring through the glass. The women and children broke into a panic, and Wamsley frantically called the police. By the time the authorities arrived, the creature was gone. It would not, however, be the last time it was seen. Between 1966 and 1967, there were over 100 Mothman sightings.

I had the Wamsley/Bennett sighting in the back of my mind when spinning a plot thread involving one of my main characters in A Thousand Yesteryears. A house by the TNT, red eyes staring through the windows…they both play into a tragic occurrence that drastically changes Caden Flynn.

To meet Caden, and the other characters who populate my Point Pleasant, I hope you’ll give A Thousand Yesteryears a try. And hey, admit it—you might just be a little curious about that title, too!🙂

Book cover for A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair, depicting a wooded thicket at nightBLURB:

Behind a legend lies the truth…

As a child, Eve Parrish lost her father and her best friend, Maggie Flynn, in a tragic bridge collapse. Fifteen years later, she returns to Point Pleasant to settle her deceased aunt’s estate. Though much has changed about the once thriving river community, the ghost of tragedy still weighs heavily on the town, as do rumors and sightings of the Mothman, a local legend. When Eve uncovers startling information about her aunt’s death, that legend is in danger of becoming all too real…

Caden Flynn is one of the few lucky survivors of the bridge collapse, but blames himself for coercing his younger sister out that night. He’s carried that guilt for fifteen years, unaware of darker currents haunting the town. It isn’t long before Eve’s arrival unravels an old secret—one that places her and Caden in the crosshairs of a deadly killer…

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Night of the Mothman, Part II by Mae Clair

Yesterday on my blog, I shared the November 15, 1966 sighting of the Mothman by Richard and Linda Scarberry, along with friends Steve and Mary Malette—certainly the most famous. But the creature made another appearance that same night.

Ninety miles away from Point Pleasant, in Salem, West Virginia, Newell Partridge was home watching television. Partridge worked as a building contractor and was no doubt winding down from a long day. His dog, Bandit, a German shepherd, was outside on the front porch. At approximately 10:30 Partridge’s TV abruptly went dark. A strange pattern filled the screen and a loud whining noise erupted outside. Partridge said the sound reminded him of a generator winding up. Whatever the cause, it launched Bandit into a frenzied state of howling.

Barn at night with a light onAlarmed, Partridge hunted up a flashlight and hurried to investigate. He spied two red eyes that looked like “bicycle reflectors” near his hay barn, situated about 150 yards away. He was positive the glowing eyes did not belong to an animal. Barking, Bandit shot off across the yard to challenge the creature. Partridge ducked into the house and grabbed a gun, but terror overwhelmed him.

He would later tell reporters the creature had frightened him so badly he couldn’t bring himself to go back outside. He slept with the gun by his bed throughout the night. When morning rolled around, he discovered Bandit missing. Tracks in the mud near the barn indicated his dog had spun about in a mindless circle, as if chasing his tail.

Two days later Partridge was reading the local paper when he stumbled over an article detailing what the Scarberrys and Malettes had witnessed the same night Bandit disappeared. Roger Scarberry reported seeing the body of a large dog on the side of the road during the frantic drive into Point Pleasant. When he and the others left, returning by the same route only minutes later, the body was gone.

Sadly for Partridge, Bandit was never seen again.

There are no dogs in A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS, which releases today, but you will find plenty of references to the mysterious Mothman and the terror that gripped Point Pleasant in ’66 and ’67.

Grab a copy and see for yourself what NY Times bestselling author, Kevin O’Brien calls bone-chilling fiction.” Then be sure to come back tomorrow for details on another spooky Mothman sighting!

Do you know the Mothman? I do. Bwahahaha!

Book cover for A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair, depicting a wooded thicket at nightPurchase Links for A THOUSAND YESTYERYEARS:
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Kensington Publishing

Mythical Monday: Charlie No-Face, the Green Man by Mae Clair

I’ve been digging around in urban legend territory lately, looking for a good bogey-man tale, when I happened upon the story of Charlie No-Face, also known as the Green Man of western Pennsylvania. As with many urban legends, portions of this tale have a basis in fact. Sad and tragic, but true nonetheless.

According to legend, the Green Man was an electrician who almost met his end when was he was electrocuted on the job. Another version claims he was struck by lightning. In both cases, his face was horribly disfigured and his skin was imbued with an eerie greenish cast. Shunned by those around him, he retreated to an abandoned railway tunnel which became his home. By night, he roamed the roadways and countryside, often creeping upon unsuspecting teens who favored secluded areas. Over the years as the legend grew, the Green Man—or Charlie No-Face—became a tale to frighten children and share by campfires on dark summer nights.

But the reality is much different, the story of a compassionate man who suffered a horrific accident as a child. Ray Robinson was only eight years old when he and some friends were walking past the Morado Railway Bridge in 1919. Egged on by his buddies, Ray climbed the bridge (which held the power lines for a trolley) hoping for a better glimpse of a bird’s nest they’d spied from the ground. At some point he came in contact with a high voltage wire and was severely electrocuted.

He suffered burns from the waist up, and for a time it was not certain if he would live or die. His face was mutilated—both eyes burned away, his nose reduced to a hole, one ear mangled as well as his mouth. Yet despite his appalling injuries, this young boy found the will to survive. After numerous surgeries he remained in good humor, adapting to a life that included Braille and small pleasures like listening to the radio.

Raymond_Robinson_(Green_Man)

Raymond Robinson also known as the Green Man, (Fair use)*

Horribly scarred and blind, he would become a recluse over time, rarely venturing out at day because of his appearance. He never had more than a first grade education but kept busy at home learning puzzles and dabbling in small crafts. Those who knew him claimed he was one of the nicest souls they’d ever met.

Sometime in the 1940s when he was an adult, Ray began taking nightly walks using a walking stick to guide him, following a course along a section of road known as Route 351. He enjoyed the routine which gave him the freedom to venture outside under the cover of darkness away from prying eyes. But word eventually leaked about “the green man” who roamed the road at night. Soon curiosity-seekers began looking for him. Most were friendly, some even sharing beer and cigarettes with him, but a few were demeaning and cruel.

Ray remained undaunted and continued his nightly walks, gaining popularity in the 1950s and 60s when many people sought him out to chat. By the 1980s he’d finally reached an age where he couldn’t continue the habit any longer, taking up residence in a nursing home. Ray passed away at age seventy-four on June 11, 1985, leaving two legends behind: that of a supernatural bogey-main who prowled the night-blacked roads in search of unsuspecting teens, and the reality of a kind-hearted man who lived an amazing life.

Although the urban legend of the Green Man is perhaps the more widely-circulated, thankfully, it’s rarely mentioned without tribute to the courageous man who inspired it. Rest in peace, Ray.

~ooOOoo~

*Photo of Raymond Robinson (fair use) Copied from http://www.ncnewsmedia.com/archive/tim_galleries/SPECIAL_PROJECTS_07/
OCTOBER/Green_Man/image1.htm

Mythical Monday: Pennsylvania’s Hoodoo Train, Engine 1313 by Mae Clair

Before launching into today’s Mythical Monday post, I invite you to visit me at the blog of Kristi Rose where I’m sharing ECLIPSE LAKE and also news of my next two releases. Do hop over if you get a chance. You can find the post here. As for Mythical Monday, today’s topic isn’t about a beastie or mystical place, but a cursed train tucked into Pennsylvania history. As a “Keystoner” I’m always intrigued by legends related to my home state. Thus, I invite you to ride on the hoodoo . . .

Most people are a little freaky about the number thirteen. Even if you’re not superstitious, most are conscious of the ill omens associated with a number tied to bad luck. Given that connection, it’s surprising the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) had no qualms about rolling out Engine 1313 in 1888.

Many muttered no good would come of it, but the railroad wasn’t interested in superstition or idle gossip tied to ancient folklore. The engine went on the line with high aspirations, all quickly squelched when the train struck and killed two children during its maiden voyage. The engine was examined, found to be in perfect working order, and placed back on the track. It failed again when the train plunged off a railroad bridge killing twelve people including the train’s fireman and engineer. A month later, it collided with another train, resulting in the derailment of several cars and injuries to numerous passengers.

steam train with smoke exiting funnel rising up hill ** Note: Slight blurriness, best at smaller sizesPuzzled, inspectors thoroughly examined the engine but could find nothing wrong. Surely, the catastrophes couldn’t be tied to the assignment of an ill-fated number.

The train was placed back on the track, only to have its boiler blow as it laboriously chugged up a mountain. The train’s fireman was blown out of the car and badly injured. Once again the train was examined and once again, the engine passed inspection. Despite growing grumblings from railroad workers who whispered of bad tidings and ill omens, the train was returned to the line. For several months all went well, and the hoodoo taint of 1313 seemed a thing of the past. Then, when arriving at Manor Station, its brakes failed, causing it to ram another train. The fireman for Engine 1313 was injured in the accident just as many of his predecessors had been.

Officials at PRR pulled the train off the tracks and had their mechanics scour it for defects. Despite all the stories about brake failure, they couldn’t find anything wrong. The train was returned to operation, but it wasn’t long before catastrophe stuck. Engine 1313 failed to stop at a station when the engineer applied the brakes, resulting in the death of three people. PRR’s mechanics took the train to task but found nothing wrong.

Placed on the tracks yet again, 1313 was rolling through Sang Hollow when its oil can suddenly exploded, burning the fireman and engineer. The last straw for most of the workers, they beseeched PRR to pull the train from commission. The company finally complied. Whether or not PRR believed the jinx associated with Engine 1313, it was abundantly clear workers wanted nothing to do with Pennsylvania’s hoodoo train.

Which brings me to my question—how do you feel about the number thirteen?

I readily admit it’s one I don’t like, and I’m highly superstitious about it. By the same token, it’s my street address/house number, which doesn’t bother me at all. What a strange parallel. Could it be because one is mystical and the other mundane and common place? I’d love to hear your thoughts on hoodoo thirteen—and Pennsylvania’s Engine 1313. Please share!

Mythical Monday: Beware the Bunny Man by Mae Clair

Although this nefarious character is usually spotted near Halloween, I couldn’t resist the bunny connection with Easter. It just seemed a good time to blog about an urban legend related to well… bunnies.

Before I go any further, let me state emphatically that I adore bunnies. And Easter is my second favorite holiday, after Christmas. I love it for its religious significance and also the sense of rebirth it brings with the newness of spring. It’s one holiday I would never want to associate with anything “soiled” for lack of a better word.  Then I stumbled over the urban legend of the Bunny Man.

According to folklore, in 1904, the residents of Clifton, Virginia petitioned to have a nearby mental asylum shut down and its patients relocated. In hindsight, that was probably a bad idea. For proof, I offer the following nugget of wisdom:  Any urban legend that includes the mention of “mental” and “asylum” usually doesn’t end well and this one is no different.

Norfolk Southern Freight Train at Colchester Overpass.

Norfolk Southern Freight Train at Colchester Overpass. Photo credit: By Kohlchester via Wikimedia Commons

The residents of Clifton got their wish, but in the process of transferring the patients to another facility, the vehicle used to move them was involved in a crash. A few of the prisoners died, many others escaped and took to the countryside.

The authorities immediately launched a search and were able to round up all of the escapees with the exception of a man named Douglas Grifon. Grifon had supposedly been institutionalized for murdering his wife and children on Easter Sunday.

In the days following his escape, the residents were horrified to find the skinned, half-eaten carcasses of rabbits dangling from the branches of surrounding trees. Their fear transitioned to terror when the body of a man named Marcus Wallster was found in a similar condition not long afterward. His mutilated corpse was discovered hanging from a tree near a railroad overpass.

Prompted by the grisly discovery, the police began another frenzied search, this time managing to catch up with Grifon near the bridge. Before they could apprehend him, he ran onto the railroad tracks and was struck by an oncoming train. The horrific scene turned spine-tingling when the train passed, rattling down the tracks. In the unnatural silence that followed, the police were spooked by the sound of sinister laughter.

Train and vehicular traffic at Colchester Overpass aka Bunnyman Bridge

Colcehster Overpass. Photo credit: By Kohlchester, via Wikimedia Commons

Thereafter, the locals referred to the site as Bunny Man Bridge, dubbing Grifon the Bunny Man. For years after his death, carcasses were found hanging from the overpass in the days preceding Halloween.

Should you like to explore this legend yourself, all you need do is visit the southern railway overpass that crosses Colchester Road near Clifton, Virginia. But beware should you go exploring— the bunny man’s laughter is still heard echoing through the trees.