French & Indian War Reenactment, Fort Ontario

Artillery Demonstration at Fort Ontario, New York

Monuments to a Lost Cause

Jefferson Davis Soldiers’ Home Cemetery, home to approximately 780 Confederate veterans, wives, and widows. 2244 Beach Blvd. Biloxi, Mississippi 39531 (228) 388-4400.

Unsolved Mysteries was Terrifying

This program is about unsolved mysteries. Whenever possible, the actual family members and police officials have participated in re-creating the events. What you are about to see is not a news broadcast.

From 1987 to 1997, Unsolved Mysteries was the scariest thing on television. My parents wouldn’t let me watch it as a kid, so I had to sneak over to a friend’s house after dinner on Wednesday evenings. The format was simple. Each episode featured interviews and reenactments about two or three mysteries involving missing persons, lost loves, unsolved murders, alternative history, and occasionally something supernatural. My favorite episodes featured ghost stories, of course, particularly Chicago’s Resurrection Mary.

It aired on NBC from 1987 to 1997 before being canceled due to declining popularity. CBS picked it up from 1997 to 1999, Lifetime from 2001 to 2002, and Spike TV from 2008 to 2010. None of these continuations had the raw, spine-tingling impact of the original. The show was interactive–featuring a tip line where viewers could call in with information on the cases. Sometimes these tips helped solve the mystery.

Robert Stack (1919-2003), from Los Angeles, California, hosted the show from 1987 until 2002, when he fell ill. Stack was a veteran actor of more than 40 feature films and numerous TV shows with a characteristically deep voice. Stack’s voice, together with the show’s theme music, were genuinely terrifying. To this day, there’s nothing like it on television. What happened? Actor Dennis Farina took over as host on Spike TV, but it just wasn’t the same.

Civil War Ballads: Marching through Georgia

Henry Clay Work, a Connecticut composer and songwriter, wrote this song in 1865 to commemorate Major General William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea”, near the end of the American Civil War. It became wildly popular and its tune and lyrics were adopted by other countries to celebrate their own military achievements. Its music is even used for two high school anthems in Sydney, Australia!

Bring the good old bugle, boys, we’ll sing another song;
Sing it with a spirit that will start the world along,
Sing it as we used to sing it, fifty thousand strong,
While we were marching through Georgia.

Hurrah! Hurrah! We bring the jubilee!
Hurrah! Hurrah! The flag that makes you free!
So we sang the chorus from Atlanta to the sea,
While we were marching through Georgia.

How the darkeys shouted when they heard the joyful sound!
How the turkeys gobbled which our commissary found!
How the sweet potatoes even started from the ground,
While we were marching through Georgia.

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Hotel Monteleone’s Unsettled Guests

Hotel Monteleone is such a fixture of cultural life in New Orleans, the city’s fabled French Quarter is said to begin in its lobby. Antonio Monteleone, a Sicilian immigrant, opened this beautiful and historic Beaux-Arts style hotel at 214 Royal Street in 1886. Easily recognizable, it is the only high-rise building in New Orleans. It contains 600 guest rooms, two restaurants, a heated rooftop pool, and a rotating bar called the Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge. Over the years, the hotel has developed a reputation for being haunted by as many as a dozen different specters.

The Hotel Monteleone was born in a merger of the Commercial Hotel with an older French Quarter hotel. In 1903, Monteleone added 30 rooms, and in 1908, he added 300 rooms in a major renovation that included renaming the building from the Commercial Hotel to Hotel Monteleone. In 1954, Antonio’s son, Frank, razed the original structure and reimagined it as the luxury hotel that stands today. The sky terrace, swimming pool, and cocktail lounges were added in 1964. Throughout its history, many literary figures, including Ernest Hemmingway, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, and Anne Rice (among others), have stayed there.

Locals have long believed a plethora of spirits, including former employees, a man named William “Red” Wildemere, and a toddler named Maurice, haunt Hotel Monteleone. According to the hotel, “Generations of hotel guests and staff have regularly experienced haunted events that would cause even the staunchest skeptic to take pause. This haunted hotel in New Orleans had a restaurant door that opens almost every evening and then closes again, even though it is locked. An elevator that stops on the wrong floor, leading a curious couple down a hallway that grows chilly and reveals the ghostly images of children playing.”

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