Speaking of (and at) Paranormal Conventions

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In the 13 years that I have lived in Ohio, I’ve given presentations and talks at locations ranging from elementary schools to nursing homes and everywhere in between. And yet, on May 4th through the 6th of this year, I will be speaking at a somewhat unique venue for me; a paranormal convention.

That’s right, a paranormal convention. The Great Appalachian Spook Show, to be exact. You’d think that since I have been wandering through the land of the dead for so long, paranormal conventions would be one of the main places I’m asked to speak at. Well, you’d be wrong. In fact, while every year I receive lots of requests to come and speak at libraries, schools, and a wide assortment of social gatherings and functions, invites to speak at paranormal conventions are few and far between.

Not sure why that is, especially since I’ve spent over 26 years actively conducting ghost research. Several people have told me that there’s a bit of a preconceived notion that my presentations are “out there” (one person even said they were “wacky”) and that it’s hard to know what to expect.  If that’s the case, I couldn’t be happier.

You see, I don’t care if the topic is ghosts, the paranormal, or how to make a million dollars flipping houses. If I’m sitting in the audience, I want to feel something. Anything. Make me laugh, cry, or clench my fists in anger. Just make me feel. And if I don’t have any idea what’s coming next, all the better. Keeps me on my toes and interested.

And that’s really all I’m looking to do whenever I give a presentation: keep people interested. Usually, that entails me downing gallons of Monster Energy Drink and then wandering through the audience spouting off anecdotes about headless motorcycle ghosts, playing Beatles’ records backwards to see if Paul McCartney is really dead, and the dangers of riding homemade roller coasters. But at the end of the day, if I see people leaving my presentation with smiles on their faces, I know I’ve done my job.

So if you find yourself in McConnelsville, Ohio, the weekend of May 4th and you’re dying to know what the fuss is all about, swing by the McConnelsville Opera House and check out my presentation on weird stuff in Ohio. I promise I’ll do my best to keep you entertained.

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Want to Contribute to the Strange and Spooky Museum?

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With so many references throughout this blog to my Strange and Spooky Museum, I thought it might be a good idea to take some time to explain just what the purpose of my museum is…as well as how you just might be able to make some cash by getting rid of something that’s currently just collecting dust in your basement!

The idea behind my museum is simple: to preserve pieces and parts of Ohio’s strange and spooky history for generations to come. My hope is to one day be able to display all these items in some sort of public forum, just like a regular museum. The one exception being that the Strange and Spooky Museum will focus on the more offbeat aspects of Ohio history.

You see, there was a time when roadside oddities like Mystery Spots, Blue Holes, and just generally weird places thrived. Heck, some of us can ever remember being dragged to these places by our parents and/or grandparents. We even bought souvenirs, just to prove that we had indeed witnessed the world’s largest pile of paper clips or the two-headed cow.

Sadly, many of these locations have fallen under the Wheels of Progress and are no more. Even some more modern sites like Chippewa Lake Park and Germain Amphitheater have recently disappeared, taking a lifetime of memories with them.

But that’s where you can help! I want each and every one of you to start digging through your basements and garages and see what you’ve got lying around that you might be willing to part with. I don’t care what the condition is, either. If it’s related to something strange, spooky, or just plain weird, if I don’t already have it, I want it! So take a look around, let me know what you dig up, and let’s talk price! And if it’s too big and bulky and you just want it out of your life, I’ll even make arrangements to come haul it off!

To get you started on your treasure hunt, while I’m generally interested in anything weird that’s related to Ohio, I’m especially interested in original photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings, souvenirs, and pretty much anything associated with the following:

  • Ohio carnivals, festivals, fairs, and sideshows (brochures, banners, prizes, bits and pieces of rides/displays/exhibits, etc)
  • Ohio spook shows (tickets, posters, photos, etc.)
  • Ohio amusement parks, especially defunct ones like Chippewa Lake Park, Geneva-On-The-Lake, and Idora Park (souvenirs, brochures, postcards, etc)
  • Ohio asylums, especially the Athens Mental Asylum (“The Ridges”)
  • Ohio cryptids (Bigfoot casts, Lake Erie Monster sightings, Loveland Frog sketches, etc.)

Also, my Museum has special sections devoted to these specific locations/individuals:

  • Ghost Town (roadside attraction originally located in Findlay, Ohio)
  • “Eugene” (Sabina, Ohio)
  • Boy with the Boot statue (from anywhere in the world)
  • World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock (Wilmot, Ohio)
  • Handlebar Ranch (Colerain Township, Ohio)
  • Howard Thurston (“Thurston the Magician”)
  • Blue Hole (Castalia, Ohio)

If you have any materials that you wish to donate, discuss a price with, or simply abandon on my front lawn, please feel free to e-mail me at jim@strangeandspooky.com and I’ll be more than happy to chat about how I can take it off your hands and give it a happy new home in the Strange and Spooky Museum!

So What Happened to the Road Trips?

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Many of you have been reading this blog for several years now (and for that, I say “thanks”) and have raised the question about the lack of recent “road trip” articles, especially since this blog was originally started as a means for re-telling said road trip tales. I just wanted to take a moment to reassure everyone that the Road Trip stories have NOT be discontinued and in fact will be making a strong comeback in the coming weeks.

As most of you know, the Road Trip stories were tied into a book I was working on about historic haunts in the state of Ohio. And while this book is still very much alive (and currently slotted for a 2013 release date), I have encountered numerous roadblocks. Without getting into too much detail, while I had originally assumed that the plethora of ghost reality shows would make getting into some of Ohio’s “most haunted” locations, things couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, many of these places want nothing to do with “ghost hunters”, even if they do come with references and the backing of a prominent Ohio university. Seems some of these shows have caused parts of the general public to view the paranormal field as a whole as one that is prone to, shall we say, sensationalism.

That’s not to say I was unsuccessful in my attempts to gain permission to access these buildings. Quite the contrary. It just took a lot more time, phone calls, and even conference calls with Board members, to get me inside.

So rest assured, the Road Trip articles are far from dead! In the meantime, feel free to check out my articles about strange things like funeral flags, petrified mermaids, and urban legends associated with Thomas Edison and his Telephone to the Dead. You can even swing by and vote on which Bon Jovi song you think I’m going to be “busted” by during my travels!