Friday, October 31, 2008

A Chicago Ghost Story

Michelle's TT about The Red Dwarf of Detroit inspired me to do a Halloween post introducing Chicago's own Resurrection Mary. There are many versions of this story, which has been told and retold countless times since the 1930s, but I'm going with my favorite …

Imagine that it's a late, moonlit night. You are in nearby Justice, IL, driving down Archer Avenue and are just about to pass Resurrection Cemetery. Suddenly a teenage girl appears by the side of the road. She's easy to see, even in the dark, because she has white blonde hair and is wearing a white party dress. It can't possibly be safe for her to be out alone, walking around near a cemetary on a night like this, so you roll down the window and offer her a ride. She wordlessly shakes her head and you start to pull away.

Just as you're picking up speed, she somehow appears directly in front of your car! You cannot stop and are sickened by the thud and crunch of breaking bones as you run her over. You get out to see if there's anything you can do to help this poor girl. But there's no trace of her. For it wasn't a real-live girl you encountered … It was Resurrection Mary!

In the 1930s, the "real Mary" (if there was one) was a vivacious and popular girl who was thoroughly enjoying her prom at the Willowbrook Ballroom. Her boyfriend got a little too fresh and Mary, ever the lady, ran out of the ballroom and into the night, in search of a ride home. While trying to hitch a ride on Archer Avenue, she was hit by a car. The cowardly driver sped away, leaving poor Mary dead in the street.

Her family buried her in best white dress in Resurrection Cemetery. But, since it wasn't "her time," she frequently escapes from her grave to spend another night dancing among the living. Since history has a way of repeating itself, she is often hit by a car again as she heads back "home" to her grave.

It's not unusual for the Justice police department to be called out to the cemetery after a Resurrection Mary sighting. I'm not sure she'll come out tonight, though. Haunting drivers on Halloween just might be too typical for a "free spirit" (pardon the pun) like Mary.