Author Archives: Michael Kleen

All-American Diner Tour: Prospect Mountain Diner in Lake George, New York

Located along US Route 9 just west of Lake George Battleground State Campground, Prospect Mountain Diner is a typical 1950s or rock ‘n’ roll-themed diner in Lake George, New York, complete with tableside jukeboxes.

There is so much to see and do in Lake George, and the Prospect Mountain Diner is at the heart of it all. After a bad experience at a different local restaurant the previous morning, I welcomed Prospect Mountain’s casual atmosphere and reasonable prices. Unlike the other place, which charged $2.50 for every soda refill (more than a gallon of gas!), refills here were free. I ordered a Belgian waffle topped with apples and whipped cream.

The original Prospect Mountain, called Point Diner and located at the junction of Routes 9 and 9L, was a classic Silk City Diner. The Paterson Wagon Company produced approximately 1,500 Silk City Diners from 1926 to 1966 in Paterson, New Jersey. In 1967, the Point Diner’s owner, Phillip Patenaude, moved it to its current location and renamed it the Prospect Mountain Diner. It burnt down in 2007 and a replica was built in its place.

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Civil War Ballads: Song for the Irish Brigade

Like “Kelly’s Irish Brigade,” David Kincaid recorded this song honoring Irish-American volunteers in the Confederate Army for his album The Irish-American’s Song (2006). The fourth stanza appears to specifically refer to troops who fought under Colonel Edward A. O’Neal in the Army of Northern Virginia.

Oh, not now for songs of a nation’s wrongs,
not the groans of starving labor;
Let the rifle ring and the bullet sing
to the clash of the flashing sabre!
There are Irish ranks on the tented banks
of Columbia’s guarded ocean;
And an iron clank from flank to flank
tells of armed men in motion.

And frank souls there clear true and bare
To all, as the steel beside them,
Can love or hate withe the strength of Fate,
Till the grave of the valiant hide them.
Each seems to be mailed Ard Righ,
whose sword’s avenging glory
Must light the fight and smite for Right,
Like Brian’s in olden story!

With pale affright and panic flight
Shall dastard Yankees base and hollow,
Hear a Celtic race, from their battle place,
Charge to the shout of “Faugh-a-ballaugh!”
By the sould above, by the land we love
Her tears bleeding patience
The sledge is wrought that shall smash to naught
The brazen liar of nations.

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Cuba Road’s White Cemetery and Phantom Vehicles

Cuba Road sits nestled between the towns of Lake Zurich and Barrington, Illinois in Lake County, northwest of Chicago. The main portion of the road runs between Route 12 (Rand Road) and Route 14 (Northwest Highway) and is home to a veritable cornucopia of legends. The ghost stories that seem to literally pour out of the mouths of visitors led famed author Ursula Bielski to proclaim, “For Chicagoland ghosthunters, Cuba Road is the single most notorious haunted site north of southwest suburban Bachelors Grove Cemetery.”

Along Cuba Road, a few yards west of Route 59, sits the most frequently visited spot along Cuba Road: White Memorial Cemetery. There would, arguably, be no other legends along the road if it wasn’t for the alluring power of this cemetery, which was the first to attract the attention of curiosity seekers and paranormal enthusiasts alike. Dale Kaczmarek called White Cemetery, “the most haunted location on the north side.”

White Cemetery is one of the oldest burial grounds in Lake County. It dates back to 1820, when Barrington’s mighty mansions were nothing more than farmer’s fields or untamed wilderness. Like many other cemeteries in Illinois, this one developed a reputation during the 1960s as a place to get drunk, smoke pot, and “just be.” Not all the activity at the cemetery was harmless fun, however. According to Dale Kaczmarek, in 1968 vandals spray painted swastikas on many of the headstones and knocked down many more.

The vandalism led to the cemetery being locked up at night, but as it can be seen clearly from the road, that hasn’t prevented the curious from trying to catch a glimpse of the mysterious, white balls of light that are said to hover around the burial ground. In More Chicago Haunts, Ursula Bielski claimed that “luminescent figures” have occasionally accompanied these spook lights.

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RPG Maker MV: Mists of Tongass VIII

In Part VII of our exploration of RPG Maker MV, we set up shops where our hero Lucius York can purchase weapons, armor, and equipment for his quest to raise 1,000 gold pieces to spring his grandpa from debtor’s prison. In Part VI, we created his first mission and learned how to fill an area with enemy troops. In this installment, we will design a new mission, using a different method of enemy encounter.

My idea is to have a townsperson offer Lucius a mission, but instead of random encounters, several enemies will appear on the map. In order to complete the mission and collect the reward, the player will have to defeat each enemy.

To set up this mission, we’ll need to modify some features in the Database Editor. RPG Maker comes with a few default enemies: Bat, Slime, Orc, and Minotaur. We added two more: Rat and Rat King. For this mission, we’ll use the Orc. Click on the Enemies tab and select the Orc. You’ll notice the Rewards section is blank. Raise both the experience and gold to 50.

Now, click on the Actors tab and select Lucius York. In the Initial Equipment box, equip him with a Bronze Sword and Leather armor. This is will make sure he survives combat with the orcs while play testing the mission (don’t forget to undo this action before finishing the game).

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Shades of Gray: Justice for Sarah Watts

The following is an excerpt of a short story from my book Shades of Gray: Strange Tales from the Old Dominion, now available exclusively on Amazon Kindle. Order it today for only $2.99.

Martin Cox stood with his son Daniel on the brick sidewalk facing a three story Georgian manor. The two hundred-year-old manor home was situated at the end of a quiet avenue at the crest of a hill near the Potomac River in Harpers Ferry. The small engine house where John Brown had made his final stand in 1859 was only a short stroll away.

“Lots of character and older home charm,” Martin read off the classified listing in the wrinkled copy of the The Journal in his hand. He glanced back and forth at the home’s quaint description in the newspaper and its dirty red brick and its white paint peeling off the trim. “It has five bedrooms, two baths, wood floors, natural woodwork, and new roof,” he read. A single round window just below the cornice shimmered in a hint of sunlight. Two thin, white muntins paired like a Greek cross divided the window into four equal parts. “Well, at least there’s a new roof,” Martin grumbled.

His son, a young man, twenty years old, stared at a group of tourists making their way up the street. “No wonder this place is so cheap,” he finally said. “It creeps me out. Look at it. It looks like it should be condemned.”

“Yeah, it certainly does have charm,” Martin said while adjusting his clip-on sunglasses. “The realtor wouldn’t even come with us. But hey, for this price who cares if it’s a fixer-upper.”

“Are we going to check it out, or what?” Dan asked impatiently.

Martin folded his newspaper and strolled up the weed-choked sidewalk to the front steps. The cement stairs were cracked, but still intact. Small circles were ornately carved into the sides of each step. The temperature seemed to drop as Martin and his son were drawn out of the afternoon sun as they neared the door.

“Wait,” Dan said. “There’s something in the mailbox.”

Martin turned just in time to see his son retrieve a piece of paper from the faded blue mailbox. “What does it say?” he asked as a sudden breeze ruffled his hair.

“I don’t know,” Dan replied and ran up the steps with the paper in his hand. “It’s some kind of list.”

“Bring it in,” Martin grumbled as he imagined it was a list of repairs and saw his investment go down the drain. He reached the door and jiggled the tarnished handle.

“Don’t you have the key?” his son asked.

Martin continued to play with the knob. “Not exactly,” he answered. “But I don’t see the harm in checking it out. The house is going to be ours soon anyway, right?” Martin slammed his shoulder into the door, which shook violently.

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Desert Ruins

Brunckow Cabin, San Pedro River, San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.