Thursday, March 7, 2019

1928 headline and spooky article: "Radio 'Ghost' Balks Experts"

For today's amusement and mystery, here is a lengthy article that appeared 91 years ago, in the November 23, 1928, edition of The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky:
Walls of House Emit Programmes of Nearby Station Without Cause.

By Sam Love.
Bellmore, L.I., Nov. 22 (UP) — A "radio ghost," that haunts an untenanted and ancient farmhouse here, causing voices and music to come apparently from the walls themselves, has literally set this peaceful village by the ears and caused the owner to annunce [sic] a conviction that she never will be able to rent the property again.

The strange phenomenon has occurred daily and nightly for months but was kept a secret by Mrs. Lou Greenamyer, owner of the property, who hoped that the manifestations would stop.

Programmes Reproduced.
An investigation of village rumors today revealed that the whisperings in Bellmore not only were true but that they understated the case. The Greenamyer house not only reproduced the programmes from WEAF's control station, half a mile distant, but when not fading reproduced them more clearly than an ordinary radio set and absolutely without static.

Most of the radio voices and music seemed to come from the south wall of the living-room. Then for no apparent reason they would come from the cellar.

It was admitted at the WEAF control station that experts had been sent over recently when Mrs. Greenamyer complained about the voices and that their best technicians had been utterly at a loss of [sic] solve the mystery or even to explain it after going over the old farmhouse from top to bottom.

Mrs. Greenamyer drove over from her home in Freeport and unlocked the house for the United Press correspondent and Charles Ellsworth, chief operator of the United Press radio station.

She explained that she had been unable to rent it since the last tenants, a Mr. and Mrs. Duval and their son, moved out suddenly — without mentioning anything strange, however, last February.

Meantime grass had grown knee-deep in the yard and a tangle of bushes and dried weeds aided a cluster of fir, oak and apple trees in screening the two-story frame home from Bellmore Boulevard to the East. To the South of the house is a thick woods of oak.

Haunting Denied.
Mrs. Greenamyer, a matter-of-fact young matron, denied indignantly that she took any stock in village talk that the place was "haunted."

"But it is enough to give you a start," she said. "I remember last spring the first time I heard it I thought somebody near here had an extra-loud speaker radio, although nobody lives within a quarter of a mile.

"I was dusting the furniture, getting ready to spend part of the summer here with my two boys. Then I found out that you couldn't hear the music in the yard — only the house.

"I never thought much about it — that it was some sort of accident.

"But last August our house in Freeport was crowded with guests and a friend, Miss June Bell of New York, and I, came over to spend the night. We heard the music again. It seemed to be coming from everywhere, this time. I said:

"'June, you go to the back door and I'll go to the front and see where it's loudest'

"But when we got outdoors we couldn't hear it. Finally it got loudest in the cellar. Believe me, we got scared. When it never stopped we got petrified. About 1 o'clock in the morning it stopped and we went to a bed upstairs — both of us in a single bed.

"That's the last time I have slept here."

When the house was entered today it was disappointingly silent. The investigators went into the shallow center and crouched there. More silence.

Like Early Phonograph.
Preparing to leave, despite Mrs. Greenamyer's protests that she had heard the noises with WEAF experts only a few days before, the party gathered round an oak table in the living-room.

Then, at first faintly, swelling later in volume until every word was clear, a lecture voice was heard coming from the south wall of the room. The voice had an uncanny quality, unlike radio as received on either a tube or crystal set, but more like the tone of the earliest crude phonographs.

The voices stopped in a moment. It was 3:45 o'clock. An announcer's voice was heard: "This is Station WEAF. Our programme continues with" — it faded — "our first number is by —" And then a piano tinkled in the wall and a soprano voice began a song that grew stronger and then faded into nothingness.

A hasty visit to the cellar revealed that whereas a moment before nothing could be heard in the cellar, but only in the living-room, now the soprano was singing below stairs only.

A search through the house while the music was still audible revealed nothing to explain it. An electrician went to the master switch in the cellar, cutting off the light current without affecting the reception, which was night fell became clearer. There was no aerial on the house. The remains of an old radio ground-wire were found in the cellar. This was uprooted without affecting the phenomenon.

Walls Seem Solid.
The walls were tapped where the music seemed to come out. They seemed as solid as when Henry Golder, a Bellmore resident, who still lives, had them put together with old-fashioned "No. 9 out" nails fifty years ago.

As a final test, Mrs. Greenamyer, who seemed to have no room for a radio to be concealed on her slender person, was sent out into the yard. The result of this seemed to be that the WEAF programme came in stronger than ever in the home.

Various groupings of persons in the house seemed to effect the reception somewhat, but when all left the living-room the entire wall was sending out a musical programme.

WEAF's transmitting station is in view through the trees in the yard across field land. Half a mile distant another abandoned house and partially burned barn are in the between.

Questioned after the correspondent had visited the "radio-ghost" house, operators at WEAF's transmitting station admitted than an investigation had been made but that no evidence of a hoax could be discovered by their experts.

Nor was the "radio ghost" laid by the recent change in wave lengths when WEAF, on November 16, switched from 492 meters to 454 meters. The old frame house, if some freak of construction really makes it the queerest receiving set in the world — a receiving set without a crystal, a tube, a circuit, headphones or a loud-speaker — tuned itself in on the changed wave length automatically.

Suggestions that a nail in the structure might have penetrated a rock crystal in the foundation — that the whole phenomenon may result from some curious echo in the WEAF transmitting station — occurred to experts, but their preliminary investigations failed to substantiate them.

To them, as to Mrs. Greenamyer, the "radio ghost" is still just a radio ghost, manner of living and functioning unknown.

A large home-made sign recently was tacked on the front of the "radio ghost" habititation. It reads:

"For Sale."

Happened Before.
New York, Nov. 22 (UP) — The Bellmore "radio ghost" recalled to veteran wireless men here a slightly similar case that a dozen years ago nearly frightened a farmer's family to death in an isolated house near New Zealand, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Mysterious tappings, which eventually proved to be code from the first transatlantic radio station at Glace Bay, Cape Breton, 135 miles from the farm house, continued to afflict the family for several months of 1913 and 1914.

Scientists from Boston investigated without solving the mystery, and the family abandoned the house.


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