Today I Learned …

A book given to an Australian girl by her father found its way back to her after 66 years and a journey around the world. When Betty Fowkes of Melbourne was 11, her father gave her the book, titled Magic Australia, and inscribed it, “To Betty, from Daddy, Christmas 1944.” She lost the book in a house move four years later. In 2014 she heard the author’s name mentioned on a radio broadcast and asked her daughter, Liz Crooks, to search for a copy online. Liz randomly selected a copy from New York’s Austin Book Shop — and when it arrived, it was Betty’s original, complete with her father’s inscription. (From Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Eye-Popping Oddities)

Today I Learned …

The cookie-cutter shark is just over a foot long, but it has the chutzpah to attack nuclear submarines. These sharks have been spotted taking chunks out of the rubber sonar domes of submarines with their razor-sharp teeth. (Also, how adorably terrifying is the name “cookie-cutter shark?!?)

Peoria State Hospital News!

There are wonderful things afoot on the hilltop in Bartonville. The Peoria State Hospital Museum is moving ever closer to opening. You can find loads of great information here: https://www.peoriastatehospital.com/?fbclid=IwAR2p_IGVARQ5nWDYlxeStvd8u4Y9FF3ZSpd0d2rs1FaHrukOYnffYrgOc7g

Learn more about the hospital in the second book of the Asylum series, and look for Fractured Spirits too!

Lights Out: 100th Episode!

I’m posting this on July 3, 2021. July 3, 1863. The third day of fighting at Gettysburg, and the day of Pickett’s Charge. The day the South would make a bid for victory at the High Water Mark … and be turned back by Union guns, lead, and steel. It’s the 100th episode of Lights Out, so let’s visit one of the most crucial sites in American history. https://youtu.be/2KcuNJtRtbEhttps://youtu.be/2KcuNJtRtbE If you’re digging these videos, please Like and subscribe on YouTube. (I honestly don’t know what the equivalent is for podcasts — tell a friend, I guess?) Thanks so much for all your support!

Lady Lindy Comes to Purdue — And She’s Never Left

Purdue Airport was built in 1930, and opened in 1934. University president Dr. Edward C. Elliott was justifiably proud: this was the first university-owned airport, and Elliott was particularly interested in aviation.

He was also committed to excellence in higher education for women. Those two passions came together in the fall of 1935, when famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart spoke at Purdue. Dr. Elliott had a brainstorm. Who better to be a career counselor for young women, especially those interested in aviation, than Amelia Earhart? He pitched the idea to her over dinner that night after her talk. He offered her a position at the school, and she accepted. In November 1935, she became the advisor to the aeronautics department, and a visiting faculty member in the women’s careers department.

Earhart spent several weeks each semester on campus, giving lectures and hanging out with the students. She used her popularity to promote progressive causes such as women’s rights, while presenting herself as down-to-earth and approachable. She loved Purdue, and Purdue loved her right back.

Dr. Elliott volunteered to have the university supply Earhart with a “flying laboratory”. He collected $80,000 in donations, and presented Earhart with a Lockheed Electra in July 1936.

The next year, in June, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, attempted to fly around the world. At 10 am on July 2, 1937, Earhart and Noonan left New Guinea on their way to tiny Howland Island. They never arrived. Instead, Earhart flew her Electra into legend.

But Earhart’s spirit remains at Purdue University, a place where she found fulfillment and unwavering support.

While she was at Purdue, Earhart lived in a residence hall, and her ghost still hangs out there. The phantom of a petite women with short hair is seen in the hallway outside her former dorm room. Windows open on their own, and students feel cold drafts. But the most exciting evidence is the clickety-clack of an old-fashioned typewriter that drifts from the empty room late at night. Earhart spent her late-night hours writing. She devoted herself to inspiring others to find their calling in life. It’s said she spent more time writing inspirational pieces about her flights, and about the ways she hoped to encourage others to follow their dreams, than she actually spent in the sky.

Besides the dorm, the other building at Purdue that feels Earhart’s presence is Hangar One. Witnesses have seen a slightly-built woman in pants and an aviator’s jacket, a scarf draped around her neck, in the hangar. It makes sense. Not only did Earhart feel at home in Hangar One, it was also where she made the preparations for her round-the-world flight. She poured a lot of emotion into the Electra as it sat in the hangar.

Hangar One has been renovated since Earhart’s time. It now houses classrooms for Aviation Technology. It’s quite possible that Earhart pops in from time to time to check up on the students.

If you enjoyed this sneak peek from Days of the Dead: A Year of True Ghost Stories, and you like horror fiction, you might want to check out my short story “On Wings of Silver” over at Vocal. Here’s the link: https://vocal.media/horror/on-wings-of-silver . Enjoy!

Today I Learned …

During World War II, John F. Kennedy was in command of the torpedo boat PT109, which was severely damaged by a Japanese destroyer. The survivors had to swim almost four miles in the South Pacific to reach an island where they were later rescued. Kennedy, who had been on the varsity swim team at Harvard, towed an injured crewman, Patrick McMahon, by cinching McMahon’s life jacket strap in his teeth.

New Book Website

Hey there, book fans! I wanted to tell you guys about a nifty new website that just launched, called Shepherd. Why? Because this site curates authors’ books, like a shepherd herding their sheep, keeping them all nice and tidy. And one of the cool things Shepherd does is to let authors like me gush about their favorite books by OTHER authors. (Most authors are also voracious readers.) Here’s my list: https://shepherd.com/best-books/books-that-read-like-a-novel . I chose to make a list of nonfiction books that rock my world just as hard as a novel would. Nonfiction is not boring — it’s anything but! Go check it out! And do support Shepherd; they link to Bookshop.org for book purchases, so if you choose to pick up one of the many, MANY books featured on the site, some of that moolah goes to support small bookstores. And Heaven knows indie bookstores can use the support. Go browse, and have fun!

Morbid Curious Issue 3 Is Out!

Hey there ghostie fans — I’ve got something absolutely wonderful for you! The new issue of Morbid Curious is available to order, and it’s got an article by the one and only me in it. (YES, my name’s misspelled on the cover. That makes it a collector’s item, don’t you know?) Join me to explore The Vigilante Massacre of the “Black Donnellys”. After you finish that story, feast your eyes on all the other creepy, spooky tales within these pages. It’s nearly warm enough to read on the porch, or by the pool, or in the garden, so treat yourself to this issue of Morbid Curious. Here’s the link to order: https://www.americanhauntingsbooks.com/product/the-morbid-curious-no-3/338?cs=true&cst=custom

Today I Learned …

Hummingbirds shut down their kidneys at night. Because of their small size and incredibly fast metabolism, hummingbirds have to keep just the right amount of water in their bodies. During the day, the birds take in water from nectar, and excrete it. But at night, they have to retain enough water to keep their bodies functioning. Slowing their kidneys down prevents water being lost.