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Jack-O-Lanterns and a Beautiful Fall Evening in the Cemetery: An Update in 8 Photos

Halloween Jack-O-Lantern for 2014, Big Seance

 

Yesterday I carved my jack-o-lantern for 2014. As usual, I decided to go with a classic look that is very close to last year’s grin. And yes, that’s the Halloween Altar in the background, with the addition of the Beistle reprints that I ordered this year. As usual, I always have difficulty choosing which photos to share with you, so you’re getting several.

 

Halloween Jack-O-Lantern for 2014, Big Seance

 

 

Halloween Jack-O-Lantern for 2014, Big Seance

 

It has been so warm for October lately, and our 80 degree days will kill a jack-o-lantern in no time. I’ve decided that for the next few days we’re bringing them in late at night when we blow them out. That way they’ll be much more comfortable inside and away from the sun and heat during the day.

 

Halloween Polka Dot Disco Jack-O-Lantern 2014, Big Seance

 

As you may know, Joe always has to break the mold with his jack-o-lanterns. Here is this year’s polka-dotted disco ball jack-o-lantern! We like the reflections on the post.

 

Halloween Altar 2014, Big Seance

 

Another look at the Halloween Altar.

 

Fall Leaves in the Cemetery, Big Seance

 

This evening I took a trip to the cemetery to pay my adopted souls a visit for my 2014 grave adoption project. I discovered so many beautiful trees that weren’t in this condition on my last visit. It cooled down quite a bit by the time I got there, and so it was beautiful weather. It’s still weird to be wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt in a cemetery on the week of Halloween.

 

Fall Leaves in a Cemetery, Big Seance

 

 

Fall Leaves in a Cemetery, Big Seance

 

 

Grave Adoptions 2014, Rühenpohl, Big Seance

 

One of my grave adoptions for the year. The small pumpkin is still going strong from 3 weeks ago. All of my small pumpkins that I kept in the comfort of my home rotted long ago, so I’m pretty impressed.

 


Death and Mourning in the 19th Century and the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion

This past weekend, friend and past guest of the Big Séance Podcast, Victoria Cosner Love, invited me (ahem… strongly encouraged me to leave my crypt) to a fascinating event, which appropriately fit the season, in my opinion anyway. It was my first visit to the absolutely beautiful Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion in St. Louis. “A Death in the Family: Death and Mourning in the 19th Century” is an annual mourning event there. 

An interesting fact is that the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion is right next door to the famous Lemp Mansion and the Lemp Brewery Complex, and so the neighborhood is always an interesting place to find yourself this time of year. (Incidentally, the boys from Ghost Adventures just featured the Lemp Mansion and Brewery in their most recent episode, and the Ghost Hunters spent some time there a few years ago as well.) 

The Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion is reported to be haunted as well, and I did talk to a few people in the know, but this event didn’t focus on the paranormal aspects of the place.

 

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As you may know, I’m obsessed with staircases, especially grand ones in a historical location like this mansion. So I had to lead with the photo above, with one of the volunteers appropriately mourning in character at the front entrance. 

I was very surprised to also run into several friends, some of whom I’ve never met in person, like my new friend Ginger of Missouri History and Hauntings. I got to meet a few other fascinating and knowledgable people, as well. I’m so very glad I went!

So back to the event itself. Here’s a description of the event, taken directly from their site:

This is an open house style event, during which guests are free to visit exhibits throughout the Mansion and learn not only about mourning customs of the 19th century but illness, medical treatments, wakes, funerary practices and more from costumed volunteers and museum staff.

As well as visiting with our informative volunteers, guests get a chance to see a amazing collection of original objects related to death, mourning and medical practices, from private collections, that are on display just this one day every year.

 

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I loved the event, but I look forward to going back again soon, perhaps to get a general tour of the place, plus they have plenty of activities. I encourage anyone in the area to visit if you haven’t been. 

I would have loved to have been able to get more shots of the home, but this event was well-attended, which is a good thing, but it made it difficult to get really good photos. But I hope you enjoy the shots that I did capture.

 

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I loved the feel and the color of this beautiful, yet oddly shaped corner. I need to find more information about this room. 

 

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Pumpkins and the Annual Trip to Rombachs Farm (2014)

White Pumpkins from Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

 

I hope you enjoy some photos from our annual visit to Rombachs Farm for our 2014 family of pumpkins, soon to be jack-o-lanterns (aka “punkinheads”).

 

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, Punkin Blvd, pumpkin patch, big seance

Family of Pumpkins 2014, Big Seance

And these are the three we adopted. Stay tuned for the jack-o-lantern post coming up, about a week before Halloween! Can’t wait! 

 

 

 


My Favorite Historic Architectural Styles: A Field Trip

Would you like to see what a music teacher does on a snow day when he has a lot on his mind and puts important things off to the last minute when he really shouldn’t because there’s a musical to direct this week? You would?! Oh goody! Follow me through my crazy labyrinth of net surfing today! 

A home in Lexington, Missouri. Photo courtesy of midwesternmantra.com

A home in Lexington, Missouri. Photo courtesy of midwesternmantra.com

So whether I’m watching a television show or just out on the road, sometimes I find a home and get obsessed with the overall look of it. I then get sucked into Googling the structure or the style (if I know what it is). Most of the time the place ends up being from the same Victorian time period that I’d love to be able to visit in a time machine! It could be that I grew up in a historical civil war battle town with lots of Victorian and antebellum homes and buildings.

 

The Lafayette County Courthouse in Lexington, Missouri.

Lafayette County Courthouse in Lexington, MO, completed in 1849

I always decide that one day I’ll live in an old home just like what I saw… then I remind myself of how very OCD I tend to be. I’m not sure I could live in a home with decades or centuries of other people’s “funk”, and so I devise a plan of recreating a historically accurate wing of a future brand new home. I’m not entirely sure my beau would want to move into this strangely bi-century home, but I’ll continue to dream.  Until now I haven’t really pictured the outside. Hmmm… maybe it looks like Meet Me in St. Louis on one side and modern suburbia on the other? 

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Here’s an example of things that get me started:

It was featured on an episode of This Old House a few weeks ago, where they work on refurbishing an Italianate house. The Victoria Mansion in Portland, Maine, was built in Victorian Villa style between 1858 and 1860. If you just Google the place, you’ll see some amazing interior photos.

 

Victoria Mansion, Portland, Maine

Victoria Mansion, Portland, Maine

 

Interior of the Victoria Mansion, Portland, Maine

Interior of the Victoria Mansion, Portland, Maine

 

Or how about the Woodruff-Fontaine House, a French Victorian mansion that was built in 1870 in Memphis, Tennessee. I saw this one on a recent episode of Ghost Hunters

 

Woodruff-Fontaine House, Memphis, Tennessee

Woodruff-Fontaine House, Memphis, Tennessee

 

Is it the mansard roof?

Sometimes I think I’m just drawn to a home with a beautiful (or creepy) mansard roof. “Mansard Roof”–that’s another fun one to Google! You can also check out this article, The Heyday of Mansard Roofs from the New York Times. 

Speaking of mansard roofs! Here’s one that caught my attention a year ago on a road trip with my buddy Matt. The Bourbon Hotel in Bourbon, Missouri.

 

The Bourbon Hotel in Bourbon, Missouri

 

A famous big city version of a mansard roof belongs to the Grand Hotel in New York City, built in Second Empire Style in 1868.  

 

The Grand Hotel (on the left) in New York City

The Grand Hotel (on the left) in New York City

 

We interrupt this exciting program on mansard roofs to bring you this important Public Service Announcement! 

Public Service Announcement! I decided to head downstairs to take a break from my web-surfing field trip. I highly discourage you from missing the bottom four steps on the way down! Uuugh! After a check to make sure all of my appendages still worked, and as I picked ice melt out of my hair from landing next to the front door where we’ve been tracking winter in on our shoes, I decided dinner sounded good.

 

 

Program on mansard roofs still in progress…

So now I’m back. I’m fed. I’m sore… but a pain pill and a healthy dose of ibuprofen should take care of things. 

Where were we? That’s right… the beautiful Grand Hotel! Looking that one up reminded me of another NYC landmark–The Dakota Building in Manhattan, which was featured, through external shots, in the movie Rosemary’s Baby (1968). The interior shots, though filmed on a sound stage, were apparently modeled after The Dakota as well. It was built between 1880 and 1884, and according to Wikipedia, “The building’s high gables and deep roofs with a profusion of dormers, terracotta spandrels and panels, niches, balconies, and balustrades give it a North German Renaissance character, an echo of a Hanseatic townhall. Nevertheless, its layout and floor plan betray a strong influence of French architectural trends in housing design that had become known in New York in the 1870s.”

 

The Dakota Building in Manhattan.

The Dakota Building in Manhattan

 

A snowy aerial view of The Dakota Building. Photo courtesy of http://blog.daum.net/jun1234/78.

A snowy aerial view of The Dakota Building. Photo courtesy of http://blog.daum.net/jun1234/78

 

Could the Psycho house possibly be the most famous mansard roof?? Here’s the painting “House by the Railroad” by Edward Hopper, which was apparently used as inspiration for the Psycho house.

 

 

"House by the Railroad" by Edward Hopper

“House by the Railroad” by Edward Hopper

 

What’s that? You’re tired? Oh alright. I suppose I’ve held you captive long enough. I’ll let you off the bus.

Till the next field trip.

 

You Might Also Like: 

15 Reasons to Befriend a Paranormal Nerd Today! (Big Séance)

A Song of Spirits (My 300th Post!) (Big Séance)

 

 

 

 

 


A New Lens and a New Cemetery


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Emmanuel United Church of Christ Cemetery
Weldon Spring, Missouri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emmanuel United Church of Christ, Weldon Spring, Missouri

 

Some of my first shots with the new lens

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You might also like: 

365 and 2014 and New Chapters (KarlPfeiffer.com)

#HauntedPhotoAWeek (Renae Rude – The Paranormalist)

A Very Wintry Update (Big Séance)

Learning Curve and the First Shots with my New Camera (Big Séance)

 

 

 


Christmas Eve at Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You might also like…

Oak Grove Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri(Big Séance.com)

A Lonely Old Country Cemetery at Magic Hour – Bellflower, Missouri (Big Séance.com)

Walnut Grove Cemetery, Boonville Missouri(Big Séance.com)

Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri (Big Séance.com)

Adopting Graves 2013: My Thoughts and a Look Back on a New Tradition (Big Séance.com)

Images of America: Lexington, Missouri (Big Séance.com)

 

 


An Exciting Upcoming Investigation

In the past, I’ve been lucky enough to join two other paranormal teams, JPRS and JHPS, on two different investigations. In both the Fort Chaffee Prison investigation and the Carthage Opera House investigation, I learned so much from everyone I investigated with. They were really great experiences, and I gained some good friends! In honor of me being so excited about an upcoming January investigation with this same group of amazing investigators, I thought I’d share some fun shots from the previous two investigations. More to come, I’m sure.

Fort Chaffee Prison

 

Carthage Opera House

 

 

 

You might also like:

Papa Jack’s Pizza: Final Investigation Report (Big Séance)

200th Post and Fort Chaffee Prison Spirit Box Session (Big Séance)

EVP: “Hey! Great job, man.” Maybe? Maybe not.  (Big Séance)

Analysis Timeline: Okay so maybe I am a little ridiculous (Big Séance)

Investigation of a Private Residence in St. Peters, Missouri (Big Séance)

 

 


Oak Grove Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri

 

 

Interested in my other cemetery posts? 

A Lonely Old Country Cemetery at Magic Hour – Bellflower, Missouri

Walnut Grove Cemetery, Boonville Missouri

Assumption Cemetery, O’Fallon Missouri

Cravens Cemetery, Camden Missouri

Cemeteries: Concordia and Emma, Missouri 

Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri 

Forest Grove Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri 

Lexington’s Old Catholic Cemetery 

Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri 

Two Smoky Mountain Cemeteries 

Just a Stroll through a Random Cemetery on the Way Home

 

 


A Lonely Old Country Cemetery at Magic Hour – Bellflower, Missouri

Yesterday I accompanied Joe to a get together at a work friend’s home in beautiful and secluded Bellflower, Missouri. It was our first trip to this part of the world. Bellflower isn’t large in area and is truly in the middle of nowhere, seemingly consisting of mostly farms and gravel roads. The population is less than 400. Though that’s a very small population, I’m not sure where all those residents were, because turning from one long gravel road to another, we never met another human being until we reached our destination. As we were leaving, I asked our hosts if we’d find an old cemetery nearby, and fortunately the Bellflower Baptist Cemetery, established in 1841, was fairly close. 

There aren’t too many times you’ll get me laying down on the ground with nature crawling all over, but for a great photographic shot in a cemetery, I don’t even think twice. 

 

Interested in my other cemetery posts? 

Walnut Grove Cemetery, Boonville Missouri

Assumption Cemetery, O’Fallon Missouri

Cravens Cemetery, Camden Missouri

Cemeteries: Concordia and Emma, Missouri 

Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri 

Forest Grove Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri 

Lexington’s Old Catholic Cemetery 

Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri 

Two Smoky Mountain Cemeteries 

Just a Stroll through a Random Cemetery on the Way Home 

 

Adopting the graves of little Clara and Johnnie (most recent listed first)

An Update in Four Photos

Adopting Graves: Second Visit with Clara and Johnnie

Adopting Graves: More on little Clara and her Family

Adopting Graves: Some genealogy of our little Johnnie and his family

Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013)

 

 

 

 


A New Spin On Your Halloween Altar and Decorations

 

Have you ever decorated a Halloween Altar? Do you know what a Halloween Altar is? There are different types of these altars. Some are downright spooky and clearly meant to be, but others are very reverent and sometimes referred to as “Ancestor Altars”. These altars are used in the Mexican Day of the Dead traditions, but they were used by other cultures as well, like the ancient Celts and in the Gaelic festival of Samhain. In the Ancestor Altar, one would place photos or artifacts belonging to their ancestors on an elaborately decorated table, which even sometimes displayed fruits and vegetables from the harvest. According to psychic medium MarVeena Meek, in the beginning, these altars were designed out of fear that one’s recently passed family members would come back to haunt them if they didn’t show that they were honoring and remembering them. She also says that often altars were used as a plea to passed on spirits to help them (from the Other Side) make it through the winter after the harvest. The skull is almost always a part of one of these altars, and apparently they’re symbols of the wisdom that we gain with each and every life we live. Other “dark” items like this are sometimes meant to ward off evil spirits. 

By no means am I an expert on this topic, but in my research I’m finding that there are many versions of these altars, and their meanings and their personal elements depend on the tradition or culture. It seems that some modern Halloween Altars are more fun and about decorating with all sorts of trinkets, candles, and anything else that says “Halloween”. Please see my related links below for more information on Halloween or Ancestor Altars.

Now for my spin on this tradition. I wanted to try something a bit different for my first altar, but also decided to tame it down a bit while I continue to research them . Mine falls into more of a fun Halloween Altar category. I’m not even convinced I’m done with it, but let me know what you think. 

 

As you can see, I used the buffet in my dining room for the main altar. I extended the idea onto the dining room table. 

 

I love this little guy. I used him for no other reason than he looks awesome and he’s even holding his own skull. He just had to be center stage. 

 

Behind Mr. Skeleton is a still from a movie that most of you probably recognize. This photo was used in the final shots of The Shining from 1980. I’ve always loved that moment from the movie, and I thought it would add just the right amount of subtle creepiness. 

 

I want to point out that all of the photos used in my altar decorating were found online. I searched for spooky retro photos and printed them in 4X6 and 5X7 sizes, with the exception of the still from The Shining, which is an 8X10. Some of the frames I had, but many of the frames were purchased from Target and Walmart for anywhere from $1 to $3. I was going for a classic or antique look.  

I’d seen the photo above before, and though I don’t know much about it, be sure to look closely in the back off to the left. See it? Yeah. Good luck sleeping tonight.

 

Many of the other photos that I printed were simply fun (and super creepy) shots of children in costume from the old days, like the one above.

 

The other end of my altar displays two more retro photos of adults and children in costume. Candles are on my list of favorite things, so along with the other candles, I just HAD to have skulls that have the ability to bleed through the eyeballs when lit. The two center candles on the altar are bleeding candles as well, which is why they are a pinkish white color. 

 

Along with some seasonal artificial floral and beautiful leaves, the dining room table is decorated with copies of various vintage Halloween cards and ads from the turn of the century, some from old magazines. This idea was inspired by my previous Planning a Halloween Party (in 1911) post. 

 

With most of these photos and printouts, my goal was to find things that would spark a conversation, like this one. You can find an easier to read page with this poem HERE

 

Finally, I took some of the remaining photos and spread them throughout the house. The one above is on a book shelf next to the front entry.

 

I just love the two pictures above. These are on my piano in the living room.

 

Anyone planning on trying a Halloween or Ancestor Altar? Let me know! Send me pictures! And if you have experience with or knowledge on these altars, please feel free to enlighten us in the comments.

 

Related Articles:

Day of the Dead, Decoded: A Joyful Celebration Of Life And Food (NPR’s The Salt)

Ancestor Altars (Psychic Medium MarVeena Meek)

Sybilees Samhain (Halloween) Altar (Sybilees Witchcraft School)

Samhain (Halloween) Altar (Jen Minkman)

 


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