Q

Anonymous asked:

are you the Franklin Willoughby who attended school in Baltimore MD?

A

I’m afraid not — Franklin Willoughby, from the dispatch about the Giant Floating Head of Roanoke, passed away about 10 years ago, just short of his 90th birthday. He lived in Indiana all his life; except for a brief period during World War II when he worked as an airplane mechanic in the South Pacific. He was an auto-mechanic after the war, just down the street from his house (and the Coil Factory where the Big Giant Head appeared).

Sorry I couldn’t help, and I hope you find your Franklin Willoughby!

One of the best things about Fort Wayne is its extensive system of multi-use trails. Citizens have nearly 70 miles of space to walk, run, bike, or levitate that’s set apart from the road or regular walkways. Much of that system runs along our rivers, often in a wooded area next to the river.

Like any other isolated area, citizens are encouraged to stay safe. For here in Fort Wayne, the last-known living mid-eastern Lesser River Sasquatch still roams the woods.

Nicknamed Harry (after the late mayor Harry Baals who launched an initiative in the 1950s to hunt him and exterminate him), few know about his very existence, and even fewer know enough about his species to know how old he is, where he came from, why his kin perished, or why he survived. Indeed, biologists don’t even know if this particular specimen is male or female.

“Judging by his occasional displays of aggression, we think Harry is male,” said Jillian Ambruster, professor of cryptozoology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne. She’s the nation’s leading (and only) authority on Gigantopithecus canadensis, the scientific name for the Lesser River Sasquatch.

“If Harry’s a female, she’d be aggressive only if protecting a lair of cubs, and we have no evidence to suggest there are any other specimens existing today.”

Harry’s “displays of aggression” are few and far between — though are quite extraordinary when expressed. He’s alleged to rip out entire trees — root and all — some three feet in diameter, and thrown them at victims. He’s been known to give chase to cars that he’s encountered.

One of the only photos alleged to be of Harry, crossing Covington Road in 2003. Photo taken by Maryann Dickson on a cellphone camera from her car.

Maryann Dickson was driving through a wooden area of Covington Road at dusk, when a giant, furred figure starting walking out into the road in front of her. It started roaring and running toward her.

“I just threw my Corolla in reverse, and started driving backwards, as fast as my car would go,” Dickson told us. “ Luckily no one was behind me, or else they would have gotten creamed.”

After a mile or two, Dickson said, the figure, not even winded from running 30 miles per hour for a prolonged period, stopped and stalked off. That’s when she captured this shaky photo on her cell phone camera, she said.

“I’ve gotten a lot of flack from the quality of this photo,” Dickson said. “The newspapers wouldn’t even accept it.”

Typically, Harry’s presence is only known via small, cartoon Bigfoot-like glyphs spraypainted in wooded areas; on park benches, guard rails, and this stump from an overturned tree. The photo at top was taken on the St. Mary’s Rivergreenway trail just south of the Swinney Park trailhead.

We’re not sure if this is merely graffiti celebrating the rare encounters with Harry, or if it is a marker commemorating an encounter with Harry. But it does serve as a reminder to stay alert during your travel — he could be just around the next corner.

The Floating Head of Roanoke

Today is the 15th anniversary of the appearance of the floating head of Roanoke. We thought we’d commemorate the occasion by reposting an article from the *Roanoke Bell-Union about the event.*

On July 9, 1998, on the edge of downtown Roanoke, a sleepy town just outside of Fort Wayne, on the side of the mysterious Coil Factory (aptly named for the word “COIL” emblazoned on the smokestack), a painting of a head appeared one day.

No one knows exactly where it came from, who created it or why it appeared.

The Coil Factory operates dozens of security cameras, no less than five of which frame this section of the building. Roanoke’s heavy-handed anti-anti-vandalism laws promise years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines to anyone caught defacing property, so graffiti is rare.

Still, no one thought much about it until some of the old-timers in town got a look at it.

Franklin Willoughby, 79, has lived in Roanoke all his life. He remembers playing outside of the Coil Factory, back when it was still producing coils (The Roanoke Coil Factory was the chief supplier of resistance wire and cooling coil for the Change Detection and Abolition Framework engine, posted previously in this publication. —Ed.). He sent in this photograph he took in back in 1928, along with a note that reads:

Gentlemen,

As I was walking by the Coil Factory yesterday morning on the way to my Tai Chi class, I noticed the defacement of the north side of the property. While the “artist” admittedly did a great job creating a bearded face on the wall, I was appalled at the act of vandalism displayed.

All day, the image stuck with me. I didn’t exactly know why, but then I thought back to my youth.

Why I remember that moment is that there was graffiti very similar to this current vandalism, all the way back then in 1928. Now, I am an old man, and I often forget or misremember things. But this — this! It stuck with me. I had such vivid memories.

I looked through my old photos, and through the town records, but there was no evidence leading me to believe I was remembering correctly.

Except one.

I was raised in an old two-bedroom house across the street from the Coil Factory, and my brother and I would often play on the grassy hill butting up to the factory wall (old, even then) to the northeast of the building. One day, after joining my church’s scout troop, my mother decided I should have a picture taken in my new uniform. My brother picked up the old Kodak, and I leaned against a pipe.

Here is that photograph.

Franklin Willoughby as a child. 1928

See that in the corner of that building?

I took this photograph up to the current “installation”, and sure enough, it matched up almost to the same spot, and is almost brush-stroke perfect.

I don’t know who it is who created this, but he must be quite the historian.

Mr. Willoughby isn’t alone in his remembrance. Multiple reports were given to this reporter in the timespan of 24 hours. Three other septua- and octogenarians, residents of Roanoke all their lives, vaguely remember such an occurrence. Yet all four (including Mr. Willoughby) have a hand too shaky or eyes too dim to reproduce such art.

These fundamental questions are left, unanswered:

  • Who created these paintings in 1928? In 1998?
  • Who is the man depicted in the paintings?
  • Why is there no documentation of the vandal in the act?

Perhaps one day, in another 70 years, if the Coil Factory is still standing, this mysterious ruddy figure, complete with ginger facial hair and hardened expression, will appear again.

(That article was written on July 11th, 1998. By July 29 — twenty days after it was first noticed and reported — the painting was gone as soon as suddenly as it had appeared. Though there were multiple, unsuccessful attempts to scrub it off before, no one claimed responsibility for its disappearance. To this day, not a trace of paint remains.)

With each passing year the gates of Fort Wayne grow closer to opening. Not the welcoming gates to outside, but the frightening ones we try to hide. 

In 1982 a flood overtook the streets of Fort Wayne, and people were saying not even Moses (Winn Moses) could part the waters. What the people of Fort Wayne didn’t realize was that Mayor Moses was trying to protect the city. He wanted the flood waters to rise and drown what is now Headwaters Park. He was trying to protect the city.

Every time a new mayor takes his post in Fort Wayne the previous mayor explains to him something many citizens do not know, and that is that Fort Wayne is built on one of many gateways to hell. Headwaters Park is located squarely on top of a hellmouth. It goes unnoticed because it hasn’t been opened, and so long as the mayors can help it it never will. A protector is kept on retainer for the city, but with Headwaters Junction coming closer to existing the potential of the hellmouth opening grows.

Could this be the end of Fort Wayne? Could the gates of hell be opened in our city?

More about the Change Detection and Abolishment Framework

By Elliot Berdan

You’ve learned now about that machine, hidden deep beneath the city, that thwarts change. It’s call the Change Detection and Abolishment Framework, if I’m not mistaken.It complements the various curses left on the land when the last of the original people left on the trail of tears. 

And so the land sits dying, lying in various levels of decay depending on how far you are from one of the rivers. I myself was there today, back after many years of exile, and saw how brown the grass has become, and how faded the city has become in this unrelenting heat. 

I guess I want to tell you tonight about this machine, and the man who created it. 

You see, you’ve got to understand a little bit about Hiram Stoltzfus, and you’ve gotta understand his intention in creating the machine. 

Its design is simple, really. The clicks, buzzes and whirring noises all intended to throw off the observer from understanding the machine’s actual function. Hiram himself only discovered the mechanism accidentally, as he was working on a way to travel backwards in time. 

I understand the need, the want to go back and change things to back as they were before. I think I was as happy as I’ll ever be many years ago. And if I had a machine that could take me back there, well, I don’t know what I’d do. 

But unlike Hiram, I’ve no capability to manipulate time. 

Hiram was ahead of his time. He was one of the Amish most kindly described as “jerked over Amish,” that is to say, having left the fold to live among the English, taking up the use of electricity and zippers and a thousand other things. He went to school, and he became a scientist. At times he missed his family. But he found solace in his work as a scientist, and eventually, he found love in a young lab assistant that worked alongside him. 

He was a man who grew up working in the fields, only to shun the earth and the sun and business of growing things to work in a lab, cold and sterile. Calculations, as neatly lined as a freshly planted row of corn, became his new religion. At times he missed the smell of the earth, the Saturday evening services, and the secret sneaks of alcohol that he enjoyed with his friends late at night out by the river. 

But Hiram was happy, though he had left everything he had known to live out on the East Coast with his bride. 

But then, as things so often do, even the most carefully planned experiments take a wrong turn. One morning, his wife did not wake up. Modern medicine couldn’t explain it. She simply stopped breathing sometime that Thursday night. If only she’d been born a few decades later, they’d realize she had a heart condition that was readily treatable with medication. 

You have to understand that Hiram had left everything for the East Coast. And in his wife he had found a love that made sense of this new land, and his new life. Losing her meant losing everything, really. 

So he moved back to Ohio, and specifically back to his home in rural Western Ohio, just a few minutes from the Indiana border. He found a small house in a small suburb, and he tried to figure out what would become of his life. He found work in a small shop in the hardware store in the downtown of one of those towns named after English cities there on the Western border of Ohio. 

Hiram became a scientist because he believed that he could fix things. He believed that if you did enough calculations, you’d eventually figure out the pattern that made life the way it was. 

And if you knew the pattern, well, then you could fix it. 

So Hiram set out to build himself a time machine. For a man less brilliant this would have been a fool’s errand. But for Hiram, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. 

Each day he’d work out the calculations a little further. He would purchase little pieces, here and there, from the hardware store where he worked to pay for his room and board. 

And he tried to rebuild it, the machine that would take him back in time, and take him back to when he was happy. 

But even the best of Hiram’s calculations couldn’t bring him backwards in time. The machine that he eventually created could only slow down that angry, spiraling agent of change that so gripped the nation in the early years of the twentieth century. 

Hiram didn’t even realize the machine was working to slow change. All he knew was that he couldn’t go backwards. And as far as Hiram was concerned, his life had ended on the Friday morning when he woke up to find that his wife had left this world. 

But one day there was a knock at his door. Hiram was downstairs, in the basement, as always, spending every evening calibrating, and re-calibrating the instrument that he had created. 

He went upstairs, blinking at the bright light that still streamed through the windows at six o’clock in the evening. It was just after the summer solstice, and the world hadn’t yet turned it’s back towards the sun. 

At the door were three men in suits. 

The man in the middle wore a tan suit, flanked by two men in grey. When Hiram opened the door, the main in the middle stuck out his hand. 

"Are you Mister Stoltzfus?" the man asked. 

Hiram blinked. “Yes,” he said. “Can I help you?”

Hiram hadn’t had a visitor since he’d moved into this little house. The yard was woefully unkept, and for the most part, his neighbors were afraid of the smoke and the sounds that came from his basement nearly every night. 

The man in the tan suit smiled. “It’s come to our understanding that you’ve been working on a project.” 

Hiram crossed his arms and took a step backwards. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

"A machine that can change time," the man said. "We’ve recognized that you’ve made some progress, and that’s why we’re here." 

"I don’t know what you’re talking about," Hiram said. "I haven’t made any progress at all." 

"Ah," the man in the tan suit said, his eyes lighting up, "so it is you, after all." He looked to the man on his left, who nodded. 

Hiram looked mortified. “What do you mean?” he said. 

The man in the tan suit pulled out a small box from his pocket. It was a meter, reading some invisible signal. He showed the meter to Hiram. The needle bobbed back and forth between numbers that Hiram didn’t recognize. 

"We’ve been working on a similar project just a bit east of you," the man in the tan suit said. "We’re trying to save what’s left. We’re trying to figure out a way to go back, but we don’t have anything nearly as advanced as what you’ve developed." 

Hiram looked at the man in the tan suit. “So what,” he said. “I’m at a dead end.” 

"I think we may be able to help you," the man said. "We can provide you with better tools, and a better facility." 

The man in the tan suit took a step forward. 

"Hiram," he said. "We both—"

"—how did you know my name?" Hiram said. 

The man in the tan suit continued. “We both want the same thing. We want time to stop. Let us help you figure out how to do it.” 

Hiram looked at the man in the tan suit. He looked at the two men standing on either side of them. 

Hiram ran the calculations in his head. Perhaps this too, like so many other things in his life, was inevitable. 

"Please, come inside," Hiram said, opening the door for his visitors. 

The machine was never supposed to end up in Fort Wayne. It was originally intended to pass through Fort Wayne on it’s way to somewhere more important, out west. 

But like so many things that end up in Fort Wayne, an accidental rest stop turned out to be a permanent resting place. Hiram soon realized that the men who came to his house that night had no intention on continuing to employ him in their endeavor to improve the machine. Based on what he could deduce, they planned to dispatch him as soon as they reached their destination. But as soon as they had reached the Fort Wayne, the men who came to take the machine found themselves waylaid by a sudden sickness. 

Now free from his captors, Hiram decided to stay in Fort Wayne, feeling as if there was a reason that had been brought to this place, feeling as if maybe the machine had protected him from those men. Maybe the land itself, the land which he had conspired to run away from so many years ago, was calling him back. 

And so he stayed, and he worked. Eventually he found a successor, another man on a quest to recapture something that wasn’t going to come back. 

That’s all I really know about it, I don’t know. 

  Something not widely discussed (due to the nightmares it invokes on those that remember) is the plague of the dreaded “drop peacocks” that infested the Fort Wayne area during the mid 1980’s.  These creatures, believed now to have been the result of an odd retro-virus, had re-activated prehistoric DNA akin to that of dinosaurs.  

The infected peacocks would sit in trees and wait for prey (which, unfortunately tended to be human photographers trying to get a picture of a pretty bird) then drop on the prey and use their beaks and claws to rend flesh.  A great peacock hunt was undertaken by the local and federal governments which eliminated all wild peacocks in the area and there has been no sign of the virus anywhere in the world since.  

Currently, all peacocks at the Children’s Zoo (reintroduced there in 1991) are tested monthly for any sign of disease.

Filed by Field Reporter Kent: Read his blog here

cornholelegends:

Shown here: Augustus McGursky, recognized by many as the father of modern cornhole.

Born in 1885 in the steamy swamps of the Florida keys, McGursky (nicknamed “McGurk” by his largely illiterate group of grade-school classmates) stopped going to school after the third-grade to work at his parents’ swamp-gas refinery1. His parents also hired day-laborers, and a regular group of Native American workers from the Chocktaw Tribe taught him a game they’ve played for generations: maize hole.

McGursky discovered a natural aptitude for the game. It wasn’t until adulthood  and he moved to Huntington Indiana in 1910 that he considered the potential for playing it at large.

One day he set up the maize hole markers, as usual, which were made out of tree bark. He started assembling his throwing bags — large leaves wrapped in twine and filled with kernels of maize (corn). While he was practicing his throw, a traveling anvil salesman named Chuck Crowley2 came through on his way west toward Peoria, IL. While riding his horse and cart down the street in front of the field where McGursky was throwing, his interest was piqued, and he stopped to see what was happening.

McGursky was only too pleased to show him what he was doing — how to score points by hitting the treebark with your throwing bag.

Crowley, a gaming man himself, instantly saw potential for this. After riding off to Peoria and then on his way back east, he stopped at the Wayne Knitting Mill in Fort Wayne, IN to request a few scraps of burlap (the Fort Wayne Historical Society still has bills of sale on display from Wayne Textiles) He rode down to a woodworking shop, presented plans to a carpenter whose name is now lost to the annals of history, and emerged with two planks, elevated on one end with a folding stand. And, of course, a hole in the top-center. 

It was late September in 1910, which is the beginning of the anvil off-season, so Crowley had some time to kill. He rode down to Huntington to find McGursky and show him what he developed. McGursky was, of course, thrilled. The two of them started making plans to develop a scoring system. Players would take turns throwing sacks, McGursky said. They need to reach 21 points without going over, or they reset their points back to 15. If a player gets a sack on the board, it’s one point. If it goes through the hole, it’s worth three. 

Legend has it that this is when McGursky uttered his famous pragmatic motto that encapsulates the fundamental scoring strategy of cornhole: “If you can’t get three points, at least get one point.”

Flash forward forty years: It’s 1950 in post-war America. McGursky’s passion for this game, renamed “cornhole” to appeal to the masses, caught on, with thirty leagues spread within five conferences across the US. The ACL (American Cornhole League) headquarters in Huntington, IN is led by McGurksky, the league’s Commissioner. Crowley served as the first Commissioner, but died in office after two years. His prized decorative gold-plated anvil fell on his head when he was polishing it. 

McGursky, now 65 years old, was still the undisputed Cornhole champion. He retired from professional cornhole for several years to compete in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, the first and only time he traveled abroad. After taking home the gold, he added it to his collection of 8 different championship wins.

Because of his excellent health, driving passion, and ever-active mind, McGurky lived until he was 96, passing away in October of 1981 while raking leaves outside his family home on the northeast side of Huntington. He lived to see his first great-granddaughter born, Augustina Charlene McGursky (named for her great grandfather and his business partner, Chuck). At 30 years old, she will be competing in the 2012 Olympics in London, and is expected to take home the gold medal in Cornhole, adding to her great-grandfather’s legacy.)

McGursky’s legend lives on. This image, taken a year before his death, is displayed along with his famous motto outside the ACL headquarters. It can also be found as a poster in the bedrooms of countless aspiring cornhole athletes.


1 Swamp Gas refineries were a short-lived industry spawned through the advent of the methane-powered horseless carriage. Due to volatility of methane and the lack of marketing savvy on the part of Everglades Autonomous Carriage Company, who pioneered the methane carriage, it soon lost out to petroleum-based gasoline. The swamp-gas refinery market soon followed.

2 Crowley is a legend in his own right — the character Charlie Cowell, an anvil salesman, from Wilson and Lacey’s “The Music Man” was an homage to Crowley, who is said to have been able to cover twenty states in a week with more than 30 anvils in tow.

Many people don’t know that Cornhole originated from Northeast Indiana. Here is the story of its founder and legendary player, Augustus McGursky.

Q

Anonymous asked:

The Father Agatho story was cool. But if you claim that a picture was taken in 1924, you should probably make sure it doesn't show a building that wasn't built until 1933. I know you make these stories up, but at least try and make the picture support semi-believability.

A

Bishop Anthony RunemillerIt’s a common mistake, that the building behind the statue of Father Agatho was built in 1933, for it looks just like it. The water filtration plant that stands there now was actually built as a replica of the Great Chapel of the River, built two years prior on the personal whim of Bishop Anthony Runemiller (who is the subject of a whole ‘nother story). Though it withstood the terrible tornado that destroyed the statue, Bishop Anthony was killed while walking out of the chapel at precisely the wrong moment, and was carried off by the twister.

He stipulated in his will that the chapel be torn down upon his death, anticipating a long life. However, the chapel was leveled, and the land sat empty.

In 1933, when building the structure that still stands today, no money was available for an architect, and the design of the Chapel was beloved by Fort Wayne residents, so they adapted the design.

Pictured above: Bishop Anthony Runemiller, a year before his death.

The last known photo of the Statue of Father Agatho the River-Minded. Taken in 1924, at the confluence of the Maumee River and the Saints Mary and Joseph downtown Fort Wayne.  Photographer unknown.

Father Agatho, Father of the Rivers, was a Jesuit Catholic priest who traveled to the frontier town of Fort Wayne  in the mid-1820s to convert the natives. Having grown up in England near the River Thames, Agatho felt a deep spiritual connection with rivers, citing it as a holy union of nature and man, through its ability to provide active transport.

As he set east from Buffalo, NY in late winter of 1823, he was taken captive by the Miami tribe in what is now central Ohio. After living among a group of Miami for six months, Father Agatho, who had a penchant for languages, learned how to speak with them. He told them about Jesus Christ, provided oral accounts of stories from the Bible, and about his connections with the rivers. While the Christian mythology never stuck with the Miami, the love of rivers did.

The Miami took him upstream to the confluence of three rivers in what is now Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was so overcome by joy at being at the “center of the Most Holy of Places east of the Mighty Atlantic” (according an account in his journals), that he fell to the ground, overcome.

Eyewitness accounts from the Miami tribe say that Father Agatho then stood at the confluence, and named the rivers: Two rivers, flowing from the north and the south, he named after Mary, mother of Jesus, and Joseph, her husband. In honor of the people who took him to this holy place, he named the river they flowed into the Maumee (a mis-pronunciation of “Miami”, for they had no written translation until decades later).

This statue was erected in the late-1800s by the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend to honor Father Agatho. Though he was denied sainthood by the Holy See multiple times, the Church authorized a bronze statue in his honor. Though there are trees blocking the river now, when it was erected, there was only a clear view of the river. Merchants and fur-traders boating up the Maumee are said to have used it as a navigation point in their travels to Toledo, hundreds of miles down the Maumee.

In the spring of 1925, a torrential rain and F5-classified tonado ripped the statue from its foundation as it passed through the city, killing hundreds and leaving a clear path of destruction in its wake. Though it was never to be found, in 1957, Vilma Grilbert of New Haven, IN (a neighboring community of Fort Wayne) claimed to have found the index finger of his extended right hand buried in her yard, as she was digging a flower garden. Its identity was never verified, as the original casting and plans for the statue were lost decades before.

Dan Greeley, a Fort Wayne historian, has collected accounts of the statue’s disappearance. One local church published a prayer to Father Agatho:

Oh holy man who was taken unto the rivers,
Watch over us and give God counsul.
The rains and the winds that are His Will,
Our very existence can give and take.

Amen.

The Flood of 67

Ask any old-timers about the time the Maumee River flooded in May of 1967 and many will just shake their head and tell you you’re crazy.

A few others will shake their middle finger at you and tell you to mind your own business.

It began innocently enough.

May 1st Elvis married Priscilla in Vegas and broke the hearts of millions of teenagers around the world including a few thousand in our Summit City.

However what was not expected was the effect of so many broken hearts flushing their Elvis memorabilia into the cities sewer system would have.

Slowly but surely the water levels of the Maumee River started to rise until the Mayor’s office and City Council issued an emergency proclamation to the citizens to stopping abusing their toilets and only put approved bio-degradable materials down their bathroom commodes. 

Mayor Zeis made several guest appearances on the Bob Sievers morning radio show on WOWO, pleading for the madness to stop, but it wasn’t until Bob pledged to stop playing any more Elvis records that the improper disposal stopped.

By then, the damage was done.

During June and July the shores of the Maumee River looked like the Atlantic coast, just a little less salty.    Finally on August 14th with the assistance of city engineers, Fort Wayne Firefighter Harvey Cox figured out a way to back flush and drain the river to normal levels.

On September 26, 1967, the Mayor thanked Harvey Cox by naming him an Honorary Fire Chief in a ceremony at the Coliseum, Click here for picture.

The Flood of 67

Ask any old-timers about the time the Maumee River flooded in May of 1967 and many will just shake their head and tell you you’re crazy.

A few others will shake their middle finger at you and tell you to mind your own business.

It began innocently enough.

May 1st Elvis married Priscilla in Vegas and broke the hearts of millions of teenagers around the world including a few thousand in our Summit City.

However what was not expected was the effect of so many broken hearts flushing their Elvis memorabilia into the cities sewer system would have.

Slowly but surely the water levels of the Maumee River started to rise until the Mayor’s office and City Council issued an emergency proclamation to the citizens to stopping abusing their toilets and only put approved bio-degradable materials down their bathroom commodes.

Mayor Zeis made several guest appearances on the Bob Sievers morning radio show on WOWO, pleading for the madness to stop, but it wasn’t until Bob pledged to stop playing any more Elvis records that the improper disposal stopped.

By then, the damage was done.

During June and July the shores of the Maumee River looked like the Atlantic coast, just a little less salty. Finally on August 14th with the assistance of city engineers, Fort Wayne Firefighter Harvey Cox figured out a way to back flush and drain the river to normal levels.

On September 26, 1967, the Mayor thanked Harvey Cox by naming him an Honorary Fire Chief in a ceremony at the Coliseum, Click here for picture.