About a year ago, I wrote about KD Cyr, a young woman and fellow lover of the weird who died in a car crash. I wanted to let you know that you can learn more about her through the website that her family created not only to mourn her loss but to also celebrate her many talents. Please take the time to check it out.
Category Archives: Weird NJ
Today I was surprised to find out that an eBook that features a lot of my writing and editing has become a printed “special issue” of Weird NJ. Home State Hauntings: True Stories of Ghostly Places in New Jersey is available through the magazine’s online store, as well as their Amazon store. As you can guess, it’s about ghosts in New Jersey.
I believe it has the same content as the eBook: Just a different format for you luddites out there. With illustrations by the always amazing Ryan Doan.
It’s been 18 years since some photos I took of the Rabbit Tree in Vernon Township were published in the May 1998 issue of Weird N.J. These photos taken last weekend show that it hasn’t changed that much, except that somebody unhelpfully decided to spray paint over the “eyes” and “nose” of the rabbit, in case you couldn’t figure that out from just standing there looking at it. *Sigh.* Anyway, it looks pretty surrounded by the phlox.
My story, Katie Likes Flowers, was recently published on the Cemetery Travel: Adventures in Graveyards Around the World website, as part of the Death’s Garden project by Loren Rhoads. Check out the story and take the time to read the other posts on the website, which features stories about cemeteries, graveyards, and how death impacts life. It’s all really amazing.
And thank you, Loren!
This short piece about an experience I had in a nearby abandoned cemetery was originally published in Weird Hauntings (Sterling, 2006).
Many abandoned bits of civilization are found in the woods in the part of New Jersey where I live: Towns that simply disappeared off the map for one reason or another. Their remnants include foundations of buildings, mineshafts and cemeteries—and the closest I’ve ever come to a haunting was in one of these forgotten cemeteries. Continue reading
The Asbury Park Press recently published another story I wrote for the “Last Exit” special issue of Weird NJ: This one is about the original Leo the Lion, one of a number of roaring lions that MGM featured at the start of its films. This Leo in particular lived on a farm/animal sanctuary in Gillette, NJ, and is rumored to be buried at the foot of this pine tree.
Here’s a closer view of the alleged burial site.
One of the ghost stories that I wrote for Weird Encounters, about the Old Bernardsville Library, was republished today in the Asbury Park Press. It’s fun to see my byline there, though the Press is veering pretty far north of their territory for this story. Fine by me! I’m grateful for the exposure.
The story of the ghost in the library was published as “Phyllis Isn’t Talking” in Weird Encounters.
I reviewed Matt Manochio’s The Dark Servant in Issue #44 of Weird NJ and was poking around the Internet (okay, Googling my name) when I came across a thank you post on his blog:
I always get scared when I publish a story about a person or book recommendation, as I’m never quite sure if the subject/author will be happy with it. It’s a person’s life, or the fruit of months or years of labor, and something that I try to approach respectfully. It’s always nice to know that what you’ve written is appreciated.
And just to reiterate on the original recommendation…The Dark Servant is a great, scary YA book about the Krampus terrorizing a Northwestern New Jersey community that’s loosely based on the town where I grew up. I suspect it’s a heck of a lot more compelling than the upcoming Hollywood treatment. If you’re looking for something to get you into the holiday season in a weird way, try The Dark Servant.
In 2011, I wrote a story about the talking dolls that Thomas Edison produced and sold briefly in the late 1800s.
The dolls had tiny record players in them, and they played wax discs onto which nursery rhymes had been recorded. The discs were very fragile and broke easily, which was one reason why the dolls weren’t on the market for very long. They came to be known as “Edison’s Little Monsters.”
One of the recordings that existed at the time I was doing my research was of “Little Jack Horner.” You can hear it here.
The other day, the New York Times published a story with great news: thanks to technological advances, other recordings used with the dolls were captured. So there are now eight examples in total.
Just like with “Little Jack Horner,” the other recordings have a distant, ghostly quality that makes them somewhat creepy to hear. And from what I’ve seen on social media, I’m not the only one who feels that way. The voices, people reliably report, are the stuff of nightmares-something I know would horrify the young women who lent their voices to the recordings. But you can tell they didn’t use their normal speaking voices for the rhymes. They instead affected an overly dramatic style that reminds me of Dan Ackroyd’s Julia Child impersonation. So the combination of age and weird style can be disconcerting to the modern ear.
Adding to the creepy effect is the rumor that once Edison stopped production on the dolls, the parts were buried beneath a water tower on the factory property. I interviewed a park representative who said this wasn’t true, and I agree: I suspect that the parts were instead sold to another manufacturer who made plain old non-speaking dolls with them.
But it’s still fun to think of what could have happened to those parts. It inspired me to write a fictional short story about one possibility a few years back, which I’ve been meaning to shop around to different publishers but haven’t gotten around to for various reasons. This new development in the recordings gives me a little nudge to get going on that.
Note: I wrote this story in 1998 and it was published in Weird N.J. Issue #10. I can’t believe it was 17 years ago! You can link to the story as it appeared in that issue on my “Work” page. See the end of the story for an update.
Dolls really freak some people out. I’m one of those people.
There’s just something that is not right with dolls. They’re such cold-skinned lifeless little things. The worst have beady little eyes that blink unseeing when you tip them up and down, back and forth…
This is why I’ve never understood people who collect dolls. Not people with one or two; I’m talking about people who collect dozens, no—hundreds of dolls. Do they really enjoy having all those lifeless little eyes staring at them all of the time? I guess some people do. And some people like to share that experience with everyone else!
Salem Street is located in northwestern NJ. It connects downtown Dover with Route 10, and a lot of commuters use it as convenient shortcut. A community of small homes neatly lines its sides. One of these homes is just like any of the other homes surrounding it today.
This was not always the case. Once it was the Doll House of Salem Street. Continue reading