An Evening To Benefit The Humane Society Serving Clark County

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Over the years, I’ve given presentations at a wide variety of locations for an even wider variety of reasons. But the ones that are nearest and dearest to my heart are the ones that are done for a great cause. It’s a truly amazing and humbling experience to look out across an audience and know that we’ve all come together to share some strange and spooky stories and to help those less fortunate.

That’s why I’m so happy to announce my next appearance: The Strange & Spooky World of James A. Willis—An Evening to Benefit the Humane Society Serving Clark County.
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This special, one night event will take place on Saturday, April 29th at The Heritage Center: 117 S Fountain Ave, Springfield, OH 45502. Proceeds to benefit the Humane Society Serving Clark County.

The schedule of events is as follows:

  • Doors open at 6:30 pm
  • Refreshments and Appetizers (by donation) from 6:30 pm until 7:45 pm
  • Presentation begins at 7:45 pm
  • Book signing and meet and greet following the presentation

Tickets are $25.00 each and can be purchased at the Humane Society front office, or by US Mail.

If ordering tickets through the mail, please send payment (cash or check only) to:

The Humane Society Serving Clark County
Attention: Event Department
5201 Urbana Rd.
Springfield, OH 45502

The deadline for mail order tickets is noon on Saturday, April 22nd. Please be sure to include your full name and mailing address with your order.

This will be a special evening in that I will be sharing my personal stories and experiences from my favorite strange and spooky locations that I have visited over the years. Plus, as if you needed any additional incentive, this will mark the very first time that I will be talking about some of the locations I visited for my upcoming book, Central Ohio Legends And Lore.
71xEPsPbFHL So what are you waiting for? Reserve your seats and let’s pack the Heritage Center!

For more information on the event, please click here.

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Newton Falls Covered Bridge Added To Crybaby Bridge Project

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I can think of no stranger or spookier way to get this ol’ blog up and running again than by adding another location to the Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project.

The Newton Falls Covered Bridge holds a special place in my ghostly heart, too. The main reason for that is because its history is made up of that unique combination of historical facts and urban legends that I’ve come to know and love. So what this bridge lacks in facts regarding its ghost story, it more than makes up for with its rich history. Heck, not even a tornado could take this bridge down!

So go take a peek at this bridge’s entry in the Crybaby Bridge Project. And as always, if this is your first visit to the Project, a good starting point for you will be the Project’s Home Page.

I’m Baaaaaack!

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And you missed me, didn’t you?

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that it traditionally goes “dark” every October since I am usually out running all over Ohio with presentations and appearances. This year was no different, but the blog remained dark through November and December.

Why, you ask? Well, even if you didn’t ask, I’m going to tell you.

Simply put, I had an end-of-year deadline to submit the manuscript for my next book to the publisher. Yup, there will be another James A. Willis tome heading your way for 2017. What’s it about? Well, I’m supposed to keep it a secret for now. But I can tell you that the focus will be on central Ohio and will contain Weird Ohio-type stories that you all seem to love so much. In other words, I’ve spent the last few months chasing down leads on Central Ohio serial killers, legendary locations, and even a UFO or two. No worries, there’s a couple of ghost stories in there, too.

More on the book as it develops, but for now, here’s a couple of outtake photos from the book to whet your appetite:

path

“The Path”

leather

“The Memorial”

gates

“The Gate”

graves

“The Graves”

carriage

“The Carriage House”

tower

“The Tower”

So now that I’m back, what can you expect from this site? Well, for starters, we’re going to finally finish up the remaining Crybaby Bridge locations. I’ve got a whole mess of personal experiences about a bunch of the bridges that you’ve sent me, so those will start being added, too.

The Strange & Spooky Museum has gained quite a number of new pieces and those are in the process of being catalogued and photographed. Expect to start seeing those popping up on the site, too. There’s even a couple of pieces that are supposed to be so haunted that a mere glance at them will cause people to experience all sorts of bad luck. Not sure if that means you can’t even view them over the Internet, so perhaps I need to have everyone sign a Virtual Waiver before looking at these “cursed” objects!

Finally, I’m going to be embarking on something really strange and spooky this year and you’ll have the chance to come along. So get ready because in a few short months, we’re going monster hunting!

Stay tuned!

Create Your Very Own Loveland Frog Hoax For Under $20.00!

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I swear on my grandmother’s grave that this is the truth. I’m not sure whether it was a Frogman or just a giant frog. Either way, I’ve never seen anything like it.
–Loveland Frog witness Sam Jacobs

Let me start off by saying I have been fascinated with the legend of the Loveland Frog for decades. Not only is it a cryptid that is unique to Ohio, but the stories have grown and mutated over the years to include such things as police officers shooting at a 4-foot tall frog/man hybrid walking on two legs to witnesses continually changing their stories over the years. The legend had everything, it would seem, except for any photographs of the elusive creature. All that changed last week…or so some would have you believe.

According to an article on WCPO.com, a man and his girlfriend were playing Pokemon Go between Loveland-Madeira Road and Lake Isabella on the evening of Wednesday, August 3rd, when they encountered what they believed could have been the Loveland Frog.

According to the e-mail Sam Jacobs sent to WCPO, they “saw a huge frog near the water. Not in the game, this was an actual giant frog.” After snapping a few pictures and taking a video, “the thing stood up and walked on its hind legs.” Jacobs estimated the creature to be “about 4 foot tall.”

Jacobs supplied WCPO with several photographs which alleged to show the creature he and his girlfriend saw:

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–Via WCPO

IMG_7453

–Via WCPO

 

Jacobs also supplied the following video, which WCPO posted to YouTube:

To be honest, when I first saw the photos and video, I wasn’t impressed. The dimensions seemed way off: it looked way too small to be something that was supposed to be “4 foot tall”. And what was up with those high-beam eyes? But most of all, the whole thing screamed hoax because once again, when someone spots a cryptid, they never attempt to chase it, follow it, or do anything other than take a few dark, blurry photos and a shaky video. Didn’t make sense to me.

It all fell into place a few days later, when my wife, daughter, and I made a trip to a local Big Lots to pick out some Halloween decorations (sidebar: Big Lots has some killer Halloween props for 2016). As I’m wandering the aisles, I hear my wife say “you think this was their Loveland Frog?”.  I turned around to see my wife, smiling and proudly holding the Loveland Frog in her hands:

Solar+Powered+Frog

–Via Big Lots

OK, technically it wasn’t the Loveland Frog–it is officially known as the “Wilson & Fisher Solar Frog”. And I’m not saying this is the exact thing that appears in Sam Jacobs’ photos and video. But man, is it close!

Granted, it doesn’t look like much in broad daylight, but get it in dim enough light so that the solar eyes come on and it really starts to take shape. Check out this spooky pic I took of it in my pantry, of all places:

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I purposely didn’t kill all the lights so you could still see the frog (as well as the fact that we prefer organic Tostitos). But check out how, the way the statue’s eyes are positioned, the left eye appears larger that the right. Makes me wonder if perhaps the image from WCPO was flipped. Sort of seems that way when I flipped my pantry photo and put it next to one of Jacobs’ photo:

IMG_7423 flippedIMG_7454

Once I took the figure outside and waited for it to get dark, things really started to get interesting. Here’s the statue lurking in my front garden:

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Again, I flipped my image for this side-by-side comparison. Check out how you can make out the same crooked smile in both pics:

IMG_7456flippedIMG_7453

The only thing I had a problem with was getting the right angle so that you could see the gap between the eyes. I found this worked best if I took the photo from way back and then zoomed in afterwards. Here’s the statue hanging out on my front steps:

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For me the clincher was when I tried to recreate Jacobs’ video. I didn’t bother getting all Shaky Cam on you, but I did attempt to make the frog turn, as in Jacobs’ video. I even tried to do a little super-spooky thing where the frog disappears. How do you think I did?

Couple of things to point out about the videos. If you notice in Jacobs’ video, the eyes never blink. In fact, when the “creature” turns, both eyes still remain unchanged–no blinking or closing. They might look like they are moving, but it’s only because the entire thing is moving.

How did I get my figure to move? It was simple. The figure’s left leg made a perfect handle. During the video, which my wife shot, I was standing behind the figure. When I wanted it to “disappear”, I just bent down, grabbed the figure’s leg, and turned the whole thing towards me, blocking out the light from its eyes.

So does this solve the mystery? Not necessarily. As I mentioned, I’m not saying this was the EXACT statue that was used. To be fair, there were also solar-powered alligators and other critters at Big Lots. But you have to admit that it seems something more than mere coincidence that I was able to recreate alleged photos and video of the Loveland Frog with nothing more than $20.00 and in less than 20 minutes (BTW, it would have been 10, but I had to wait for the sun to set). Heck, I didn’t even try to cover up the statue’s cheesy pink lily pad/flower thing!

My point is, if you’re planning on hoaxing something like this, please put a little more time and effort into it. As a member of a subculture that’s willing to entertain the idea that there are things in this world we can’t explain,  it’s a little depressing to think there are people who think we would be so easily duped. Of course, the fact that my wife and I may have figured out this little mystery while randomly roaming through Big Lots seems a fitting end to this tale.

Now, can someone do me a favor and help me get this guy out of my recliner? Or at the very least, give up the remote?

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You can read the original WCPO.com article in its entirety by clicking here.

A subsequent WCPO.com article, in which one of the original witnesses from 1972 now claims the story is a hoax, can be read here.

For more information on the Loveland Frog legend, go here.

Want your very own Loveland Frog Hoax statue? They are on sale right now at Big Lots! Originally $30.00, you can get one for the low, low price of $15.00 with their whole Summer Clearance thing going on.

 

 

 

The Mysterious Mary Jane’s Bridge Added To Crybaby Bridge Project

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I have to admit something: The latest entry in the Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project is, so far, the most frustrating one I’ve tried to research. And when it comes to Crybaby Bridges in general, that’s saying a lot!

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Lefevre Road Added To Crybaby Bridge Project

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It is with great fanfare that I present to you the Lefevre Road Crybaby Bridge: Officially, the 20th Crybaby Bridge on the list!

Although, to be honest, Lefevre Road pales in comparison to most of the other bridges on the list. There’s really not much in the way of backstory or first-person accounts to really make this particular legend shine. But hey, it ended up being #20 when I put all the bridges in alphabetical order, so there you go! Anyway, the extreme lack of specifics means that it’s up to you guys to help fill in the details. So if you know anything about this bridge, let me know!

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Seeking Info On Two Possible Ohio Crybaby Bridges

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Not sure why (and I’m certainly not complaining), but the Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project has been getting a lot of traffic lately. Lots of people sharing their personal experiences, too, which is fantastic and will really help us build up not only the individual stories, but the timelines associated with each bridge…once I get all the stories up, that is.

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Hyde Road Added To Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project

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OK, so this particular bridge is fascinating to me. Not so much the story surrounding it because, to be honest, there’s not much to go on. But there’s clearly more to this story than meets the eye…and the universe clearly wants the story told.

You see, as fate would have it, just before I was getting ready to publish the Hyde Road story, a blog reader, Lori Lotts, left a comment on the Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project home page. She asked about an alleged Crybaby Bridge on Jacoby Road, which I didn’t currently have listed. Long story short, through a series of messages between Lori and myself, it would appear that the Jacoby Road bridge was the original location of the Crybaby Bridge story. And when that bridge was demolished, the story migrated a few streets over to the Hyde Road bridge, where the current legend resides.

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Strange & Spooky Side Of Abraham Lincoln Presentation Has Been Rescheduled

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Illustration depicting alleged event where spirits lifted a piano off the ground while several men sat atop it, including President Lincoln

The ice and snow earlier this week forced us to postpone the free presentation in Steubenville. But we’re back on track and there’s a new date!

That new date is Monday, March 7th at 6:00 pm. The presentation will be held at the Steubenville-Schiappa Branch Library, which is located at 4141 Mall Drive in Steubenville.

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Minerva Park Monkey Business

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So apparently there’s a monkey running loose in the village of Minerva Park, Ohio. Not just any monkey, mind you. A howler monkey. That’s right, a howler monkey. How are such things possible? Not sure, to be honest with you. But let’s see if we can at least shed a little light on the subject.

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