Tag Archives: Indians

Ghost Hunting

I’m still stuck in Portland, but I wanted to do something while I’m here. I found the Portland Walking Tour Company and booked a tour last night. I really wanted to go on the Shanghai Tunnels tour, but the schedule interfered with my seminars. I am here for a reason, after all. I wound up booking the late version of Beyond Bizarre, because it covered parts of the Shanghai Tunnels.

In case you don’t know, being Shanghaied means bashed over the head and sent to sea against your will as slave labor. My grandfather served as a Marine in China between the world wars, and this was still a serious risk over there. They were told to hang out in groups and stay in the safe areas when they went out. My grandpa is part of why I wanted to visit this site.

I started my evening at Old Town Pizza. Wound up with a personal pizza that was more like a small, but since it was the only real food I had all day I ate the whole thing. I also had a mushroom beer that was surprisingly good,

Mushroom BeerThis one is a nice brown ale, and it uses an extract for the flavor. Not maybe the best way to brew a beer, but it was good.

My tour started right around the corner. Monday night was sold out, but there were only three of us on the tour last night. The guide handed us all electromagnetic field indicators and showed us how they work. Then we were off, weaving through the street people who seem to sleep in every store opening and all along the sidewalk.

EMF meterSomething registered a few times, this was in one of the parking lots.

There was so much stuff I’m bound to miss something, but I’m going to touch on the highlights. The first thing we learned was that Portland had more men than women, and had a huge seamstress population. Seamstress was a code word for prostitute. There was human trafficking there too and we covered some of that.

It was nighttime, so I took limited photos. This is one of a cast iron building. Apparently, you could order all the pieces, a tall ship brought them in, and you assembled it on site just like Legos. They added brick and such for the walls once the frame went up. Cast iron isn’t the most reliable material in a city that gets this much rain, but it was state-of-the-art back then.

Cast iron building

Once you get onto it, you spot the frills and pillars all over the old part of town. This pub also has a ghost. There was a fire that broke out downstairs, and the fire department saved everyone. A dog went missing and a fireman went back inside for it. Yup, haunted by a fireman.

We toured a couple of haunted parking lots next. Lots of EMF readings but no ghosts. Historically, they are both considered tainted ground and no building or digging is allowed. Even the power lines run overhead in these locations. One is an Indian burial site and the other is a cholera mass grave. All they can be is a parking lot. Apparently that isn’t okay with the dead either, because things keep happening to the cars that park there. These are all electronic failures and not vandalism. 

The guide showed us a photo of something called a vortex that they took there one night. It’s a beam of light coming straight out of the ground. Only about half the crowd could see it, but the picture came from someone who was a non-believer. Yeah, it could have been photoshopped, but what kind of fun do you want to have on a ghost tour?

We also saw the site of a street shooting from the 1980s. Apparently this location has a lot of poltergeist activity, and they think it’s because the victims were all teenagers.

There are specific ghosts that are regularly seen downtown. The tour guide listens to the police scanner and they get reports, The police never find the person they were sent to check out. One example is an 1800s era ship’s captain. All they ever found of his ship was the wheel. His body was lashed to it, and we got to see the wheel from the outside. The restaurant was closed for the night and it was kept inside. People see this cos-play looking sailor in that vicinity disrupting traffic. Cops come…nobody there.

We got to see the old police building that was actually owned by the Ku Klux Klan. This was all about government graft and corruption, and the Shanghai tunnels were used to move liquor around. Whiskey barrels were placed in the basements of ethnic competitors. Then the Klan-controlled police would raid and find this whiskey, putting the ethnic fellow out of business. The police would bust up the barrel in the street, the whiskey flowed into a special drain that routed it back to the original owner who bottled and sold it. This all happened decades before the USA adopted prohibition, because Portland had its own laws.

We saw the street of death, where every building used to house a mortuary. The cemetery was on the opposite side of the river, and there was even a special ship for the dead to cross the river. It all sounds so wonderfully legendary. Why so many mortuaries? Lots of death going around.

This is the high water mark of a flood that occurred.

Flood markerWe were way above the river, and this plaque is about five and a half feet above street level. All of the basements in this part of town are connected by tunnels. It was Portland’s idea to minimize flood damage, they weren’t built for Shanghaing men to ship to sea. It’s all semantics, but Shanghaing never happened in Portland. This is because of a perfectly legal system called “crimping.” There were legal press gangs that bopped people over the head and sold them to ships who needed crews. They said in those days, if you were seen dragging an unconscious man downstairs, a policeman might pick up his ankles and help you – because it was all perfectly legal.

These Shanghai tunnels were used for legal crimping and storage of those men. That’s when the flood came. They didn’t want to let the crimped men go, so they locked them inside. Hundreds of men drowned and could not be cleaned up for months. They didn’t clean them up. They crimped more men, made them clean up the bodies, then sold those men to sea.

This left a bad taste in their mouths, and also helped one of the cholera outbreaks along. The next time they had a flood, they went downstairs and shot all the crimped prisoners rather than deal with the mess.

Seamstresses were trafficked too, but they fell victim to a little something extra in their opium. This is one of the cells where victims were held, but this one was used for seamstresses.

Jail cellThe women would be held here for three days and three nights without food, water, or light. Then they were offered a job as a seamstress. If the woman refused, the process was repeated one more time. If she still refused, they cut her hair, bound her chest, and sold her off like a man. By the time anyone knew what happened they were miles out to sea. It was considered bad luck to have a woman on board, so the women were thrown overboard to drown.

This is what the Shanghai Tunnels look like today. They’re all filled with rubble, which isn’t great engineering when you’re driving busses and trucks over them. One day they will have to figure out an alternative way of closing them.

Shanghai TunnelsIf you believe in ghosts, Portland almost certainly has them. A lot of pain and suffering went down here. If you don’t believe, it was a great tour of the dark underbelly of an early part of American history.

I didn’t see any ghosts, but I know where they all live – or don’t live, cause dead and all that.

I didn’t get to bed until midnight, and my presentation was the first one today. It went down really well, but I’m a little tired right now. Whatever I do tonight will probably be kind of light duty.

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Ghost Hunting

I’m still stuck in Portland, but I wanted to do something while I’m here. I found the Portland Walking Tour Company and booked a tour last night. I really wanted to go on the Shanghai Tunnels tour, but the schedule interfered with my seminars. I am here for a reason, after all. I wound up booking the late version of Beyond Bizarre, because it covered parts of the Shanghai Tunnels.

In case you don’t know, being Shanghaied means bashed over the head and sent to sea against your will as slave labor. My grandfather served as a Marine in China between the world wars, and this was still a serious risk over there. They were told to hang out in groups and stay in the safe areas when they went out. My grandpa is part of why I wanted to visit this site.

I started my evening at Old Town Pizza. Wound up with a personal pizza that was more like a small, but since it was the only real food I had all day I ate the whole thing. I also had a mushroom beer that was surprisingly good,

Mushroom BeerThis one is a nice brown ale, and it uses an extract for the flavor. Not maybe the best way to brew a beer, but it was good.

My tour started right around the corner. Monday night was sold out, but there were only three of us on the tour last night. The guide handed us all electromagnetic field indicators and showed us how they work. Then we were off, weaving through the street people who seem to sleep in every store opening and all along the sidewalk.

EMF meterSomething registered a few times, this was in one of the parking lots.

There was so much stuff I’m bound to miss something, but I’m going to touch on the highlights. The first thing we learned was that Portland had more men than women, and had a huge seamstress population. Seamstress was a code word for prostitute. There was human trafficking there too and we covered some of that.

It was nighttime, so I took limited photos. This is one of a cast iron building. Apparently, you could order all the pieces, a tall ship brought them in, and you assembled it on site just like Legos. They added brick and such for the walls once the frame went up. Cast iron isn’t the most reliable material in a city that gets this much rain, but it was state-of-the-art back then.

Cast iron building

Once you get onto it, you spot the frills and pillars all over the old part of town. This pub also has a ghost. There was a fire that broke out downstairs, and the fire department saved everyone. A dog went missing and a fireman went back inside for it. Yup, haunted by a fireman.

We toured a couple of haunted parking lots next. Lots of EMF readings but no ghosts. Historically, they are both considered tainted ground and no building or digging is allowed. Even the power lines run overhead in these locations. One is an Indian burial site and the other is a cholera mass grave. All they can be is a parking lot. Apparently that isn’t okay with the dead either, because things keep happening to the cars that park there. These are all electronic failures and not vandalism. 

The guide showed us a photo of something called a vortex that they took there one night. It’s a beam of light coming straight out of the ground. Only about half the crowd could see it, but the picture came from someone who was a non-believer. Yeah, it could have been photoshopped, but what kind of fun do you want to have on a ghost tour?

We also saw the site of a street shooting from the 1980s. Apparently this location has a lot of poltergeist activity, and they think it’s because the victims were all teenagers.

There are specific ghosts that are regularly seen downtown. The tour guide listens to the police scanner and they get reports, The police never find the person they were sent to check out. One example is an 1800s era ship’s captain. All they ever found of his ship was the wheel. His body was lashed to it, and we got to see the wheel from the outside. The restaurant was closed for the night and it was kept inside. People see this cos-play looking sailor in that vicinity disrupting traffic. Cops come…nobody there.

We got to see the old police building that was actually owned by the Ku Klux Klan. This was all about government graft and corruption, and the Shanghai tunnels were used to move liquor around. Whiskey barrels were placed in the basements of ethnic competitors. Then the Klan-controlled police would raid and find this whiskey, putting the ethnic fellow out of business. The police would bust up the barrel in the street, the whiskey flowed into a special drain that routed it back to the original owner who bottled and sold it. This all happened decades before the USA adopted prohibition, because Portland had its own laws.

We saw the street of death, where every building used to house a mortuary. The cemetery was on the opposite side of the river, and there was even a special ship for the dead to cross the river. It all sounds so wonderfully legendary. Why so many mortuaries? Lots of death going around.

This is the high water mark of a flood that occurred.

Flood markerWe were way above the river, and this plaque is about five and a half feet above street level. All of the basements in this part of town are connected by tunnels. It was Portland’s idea to minimize flood damage, they weren’t built for Shanghaing men to ship to sea. It’s all semantics, but Shanghaing never happened in Portland. This is because of a perfectly legal system called “crimping.” There were legal press gangs that bopped people over the head and sold them to ships who needed crews. They said in those days, if you were seen dragging an unconscious man downstairs, a policeman might pick up his ankles and help you – because it was all perfectly legal.

These Shanghai tunnels were used for legal crimping and storage of those men. That’s when the flood came. They didn’t want to let the crimped men go, so they locked them inside. Hundreds of men drowned and could not be cleaned up for months. They didn’t clean them up. They crimped more men, made them clean up the bodies, then sold those men to sea.

This left a bad taste in their mouths, and also helped one of the cholera outbreaks along. The next time they had a flood, they went downstairs and shot all the crimped prisoners rather than deal with the mess.

Seamstresses were trafficked too, but they fell victim to a little something extra in their opium. This is one of the cells where victims were held, but this one was used for seamstresses.

Jail cellThe women would be held here for three days and three nights without food, water, or light. Then they were offered a job as a seamstress. If the woman refused, the process was repeated one more time. If she still refused, they cut her hair, bound her chest, and sold her off like a man. By the time anyone knew what happened they were miles out to sea. It was considered bad luck to have a woman on board, so the women were thrown overboard to drown.

This is what the Shanghai Tunnels look like today. They’re all filled with rubble, which isn’t great engineering when you’re driving busses and trucks over them. One day they will have to figure out an alternative way of closing them.

Shanghai TunnelsIf you believe in ghosts, Portland almost certainly has them. A lot of pain and suffering went down here. If you don’t believe, it was a great tour of the dark underbelly of an early part of American history.

I didn’t see any ghosts, but I know where they all live – or don’t live, cause dead and all that.

I didn’t get to bed until midnight, and my presentation was the first one today. It went down really well, but I’m a little tired right now. Whatever I do tonight will probably be kind of light duty.

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Detour Trail, on Lisa Burton Radio

Coming at you with 1.21 jigawatts of power, all across the known universe and dimensions you’ve never even heard of, this is Lisa Burton Radio. The only show out there that interviews the characters you love to read about.

I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and we’re broadcasting remotely today from the field just outside my studio. This is because, my special guest today can’t fit inside the little Airstream that houses the studio. “Welcome to the show, Jake.”

“Lisa, Hi! Nice field, by the way.”

“Thanks. Now for our listeners out there, you’re actually a mule. Can you tell me a little about your parents?”

“The first thing I remember is my mother–she was a beautiful red mare–red roan they called her. She was so beautiful and gentle. She taught me manners–and to be careful around humans. My father? I only saw my father once; he was a big black jack–blacker than me, but I’m even bigger than he was.”

“So how did such a noble creature as yourself, wind up on a wagon train during the westward expansion?”

“I have to tell you about Tommy first. I belonged to Tommy; he raised me and trained me and taught me tricks. ‘Course I trained him too, and he talked to me, even when the other kids made fun of him. We went to school and to the store and everywhere together.

“But then Tommy’s father heard that a woman was in town buying livestock and supplies for her wagons. I knew Tommy’s folks needed money, and Tommy’s mother wanted to go back home–that was way back east. Tommy explained it all to me and showed me pictures of houses back east–not like the tiny dark cabins out here–and no trees. His mother looked happier in those pictures. I could see that–maybe more than Tommy. He loved it here. We’re settling the frontier, he said. But they needed money, and his mother made him understand that a mule wouldn’t be happy because there’d be no room for him there. Not enough grass either, I think.

“So Tommy led me to town; it took longer that way, and I nudged him a few times to tell him he should ride, but he shook his head and kept patting my neck as we walked along together. At first the woman told us that she didn’t need any more animals; I could see the other animals and chickens, and it didn’t look like she needed us. Me. Tommy turned away and wiped his eyes; we both thought she’d be better than a mule skinner or farmer. But Lorrie’s friend Star talked to her, and Tommy told them how smart and well-trained I was. Then he said that they needed me more than he did. The two ladies looked at each other; I could see that Lorrie was still undecided so I lipped her jacket and snuffled Star’s hair. I could tell they liked their horses and were good to their livestock. (Well, Sunny told me so.)

“They discussed my price after that; I didn’t understand the numbers, but Tommy seemed pleased until he turned and looked at me. He took me aside and explained what was going on, though I knew that already. Then he said good-by, and we all watched him walk away, but soon he began running, and I could hear him sobbing as he headed for the woods. I knew he wasn’t going home yet.

“Star knew more than Lorrie about loading me so she kept adding packs until I told them that was enough. You can say a lot by stamping your feet and shaking your head. Tommy could read me real well, and I knew I could teach them. When I remember Tommy, I remember how he took care of me and taught me things that I still use…”

“Lorrie sounds nice, but it almost sounds like she has her own problems getting out west.”

“Yes. I learned more about her from the horses, Sunny and Shadow. She was traveling with her uncle on a big wagon train, but he was killed by a thief who was after his money belt. Well, after that, the wagon master told her she couldn’t go with them, of course, because she was all alone. She needed to go back east and find a husband to take care of her. That made her mad, they told me. She even stamped her feet later, but she was polite to him. Naturally Lorrie didn’t agree, so she waited for another train. It was getting late for taking the Oregon Trail, but while she was waiting, she learned about a black couple–runaway slaves maybe–other humans guessed. And then she rescued a brother and sister from bullies. Together they joined another train–with her niece and nephew and her people, she always explained. And she had her uncle’s money belt and bought a couple more wagons–they did break down–and livestock. That included me, you understand. And she added a human family later on.”

“It sounds like the makings of a pretty good story. Two characters with tragic backgrounds come together to accomplish something great. I’ve read your bio, and there is much more to you than pulling a wagon. You’re almost a watchdog for the group. What can you tell me about that?”

“Lorrie did need me–as Tommy told her–and sometimes when there was danger, she didn’t load me up at all. She talked to me the way Tommy did and explained her–our–plan, and I ran loose or skulked alongside the trail and listened. And when we visited that old hotel far off the trail, I could smell the blood and death, and I pushed her out of the barn and stamped on the wooden floor. It was covered with dirt and straw, but I could smell the blood and bodies beneath it. She looked down and walked away and put me in a stall that she made sure was unlocked.

“The danger didn’t always come from men. Blizzards could trap us too. She took chances when running low on supplies for her people, and she and the oxen were buried once. They kept her warm, but the tent was buried under the snow, and I dug her out. I wrecked the tent, but when we made it to the nearest ranch, the people there looked at the tent and me and nodded. I think they gave us both the credit…

“The men along the trail warned us about the chances of a blizzard because winter was a lot closer now, but you never could tell, they said, how the weather would behave. Safest not to take chances, but Lorrie had to keep her people safe and supplied. And the livestock needed hay too, so she took a chance with the possibility of a blizzard and the cold. When she was trapped under the tent, I could hear her coughing, and I knew I had to dig her out, but carefully, so I tugged on the tent and dug when I could feel my way. She hugged my neck as I backed away and pulled her out.”

“What else is there to watch out for? Are we talking Indians here?”

“Oh yeah… That’s when we met Grey Cloud. His companion, Brock, was ambushed by Indians–a different tribe from our own Indians. Grey Cloud was a big gray wolf, and when he came to our cabin, naturally I lit out after him. I chased him around our cabin a few times until he vanished into the woods and up the mountain. He came back with a bloody rag; I let him show it to Lorrie while I watched; and I stood guard at the cabin later after Gray Cloud led us to Brock; he was badly wounded, but Many Stars took out the arrows and nursed him. Life became even more interesting after that.

“Later, because Lorrie’s companions did worry about her, she sometimes took a human with her. Like when she heard about the people disappearing at an old hotel far back in the woods off the busy trails. She just had to find out what was happening and laid a trap for them. I was outside in the barn, waiting and listening too. A man came out and went after the horses with a knife, so I went after him…”

“It sounds to me like everything is dangerous. There’s the weather, the environment, the Natives. I’ll bet there isn’t a decent shoe store for weeks in either direction.”

“Funny you should mention that. There isn’t a store of any kind, and supplies are hard to come by…. Lorrie traveled back and forth along the trail; sometimes she’d hire a mule train. I went along as a guard, of course. And we got supplies further west from a fort and ranches.”

“Jake, it sounds to me like Lorrie, Sunny, and the others really need you. It’s so important to be doing meaningful work.”

“Thank you, Lisa. I knew you would understand. Speaking of that… now I have to go home; they need me. It was great talking to you, Lisa. It’s harder with humans, as you may know.”

“I understand, Jake, and thank you for taking time to tell your story to our listeners today. Any last thoughts for your fans?”

“Be kind and be careful–and don’t overload anyone’s pack!”

“Jake appears in Detour Trail, by Joy V. Smith. I’ll include all the deets on the website. Do Joy and Jake a solid, and use those sharing buttons today.

“I’m always looking for guests, so if you know of a character that would like to appear on a future Lisa Burton Radio, drop me a line. Stay awesome.”

***

Westward bound on the Oregon Trail, Lorena Emerson is alone after her uncle is killed by a thief trying to steal his money belt. Ignoring the wagon master’s advice to go home, she rounds up others needing help, and they join a later wagon train and are soon slogging through dust and mud and steep mountain passes. It’s a long way to Oregon, and because another woman needs her help, Lorrie again goes her own way, leaving the wagon train and the Oregon Trail to travel onward—off the beaten path—with her small group of wagons. She’s helped by members of her wagon train, people she meets along the way, and the mule, Jake, an integral part of the story. You’ll meet them as they join in her travels and encounters with enemies and as she searches for a new home and supplies as winter reaches out its icy hands…. Settling the frontier isn’t easy!

 

Detour Trail, is available from Melange Books, the publisher, and elsewhere online : http://www.melange-books.com/authors/joyvsmith/detourtrail.html

http://www.amazon.com/Detour-Trail-Joy-V-Smith/dp/1612355706/

 

Joy V. Smith has been writing since she was a little kid; she loved to read, and she wanted to create her own books, so she did, complete with covers. Now she writes fiction–her favorite genre is science fiction–and non-fiction. (She loves settling planets and the frontier, which is why she wrote Detour Trail.) Her short stories have been published in print magazines, webzines, anthologies, and two audiobooks, including Sugar Time. Her books include Detour Trail, Strike Three, and Sugar Time (revised print edition) She lives in Florida with Blizzard the Snow Princess and Pemberley the tortoiseshell kitten.

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The Idea Mill #28

It’s been a while since we visited the old Idea Mill. I stockpile articles I found interesting until I have enough to make a new post. These are the kind of things that can fuel your next story, so I share them hoping to get your imagination working.

I wait for three, but as so often happens, I found the third and a fourth one on the same day.

Our first article involves a kind of mapping, using historical excavation, aerial photos, and more into a virtual reality map of an historical site. This time it is part of the Plain of Jars. During the Vietnam War, it was bombed heavily and is still dangerous to explore and work around. They’ve been able to determine burial rituals were part of the purpose of the jars, but not much more…yet. Read the article here.

This one interests me, because I used burial jars as an inspiration for parts of The Cock of the South. There is a lot more mileage in this story. Maybe you want to write a science based story about merging all the data into virtual reality, and learn something amazing – like discovering the debris field from the crash of an ancient spaceship. Maybe you want to write about the time of the jar builders, similar to what I did. It lends itself to a great treasure hunt story, similar to Indiana Jones. The unexploded ordinance can add some real tension to the tale too.

Moving on, we come to the decline of pollinators around the world. This could lead to famine of global proportions. Someone has built a drone that could replace, or supplement, the work of honeybees. Read the article here. At about $100 each, the price of food could rise dramatically.

There are so many possibilities here. Obviously a bit of science fiction could work. Maybe someone hacks the drones to only pollinate the crops of those who pay protection money. I can just see the super rich, drinking mead as a way to demonstrate their dominance over the rest of us.

Maybe someone weaves a few spy drones into the pollinators. Maybe you just want a bit of urban fantasy using one of the four horsemen. Why should Death and his pale horse be the only one to get page time?

This next one won’t fuel a complete story, in my mind. It does add some neat elements to weave into something larger. It seems Toyota is working on an interactive window. This window has zoom features, and you can draw on it. It appears to have some educational value, like teaching kids to name certain things that pass by. Here is the video I saw:

I immediately saw some kind of urban sniper team using this. The guy in back zooms the window and it calls out distances so the guy in front can take the shot. It wouldn’t be hard for a military squad to draw on the glass to illustrate entry points for a coordinated attack of some kind either. It would be pretty easy to take it further and make it do more things. Add some spy quality infrared and look inside buildings, etc.

Finally, we have the last “wild” Indian. It seems a nameless man wandered into town in 1911, after living his entire life in the wilderness. They named him Ishi, and gave him some kind of consultant’s job. He taught some folks at a university about the ways of his people, and they documented them for posterity. Here’s the article.

There have been any number of stories about someone being raised by wolves, or being the last of their kind. This gives some amount of credibility to those stories. Some fiction could take it as a tragedy, or as an uplifting kind of story. Maybe Ishi learns our ways and advances some huge project in a way that modern minds never thought of. Maybe he delivers some herbal cure for one of our dreaded diseases.

I try to make up some kind of corny story using all the elements to keep these fun. Here goes nothing:

The mapping project for an ancient site reveals it to be the debris field for an ancient alien crash site. More information lies deeper in the jungle, but that location is full of unexploded ordinance, and is off limits to everyone.

Our hero sneaks a couple of spy drones into the swarm of pollinators working nearby, and after the drones start working he directs them away to scope out the site. He uses his special glass window to calculate coordinates of the likely places for deeper understanding, and possibly some undiscovered alien science.

The wealthy computer industry controls the area, by controlling the farmers. They will have no problem convincing the farmers to shoot trespassers on sight.

Only the last surviving native of a virtually extinct race can lead our hero into the crash site and reveal something wonderful to the world. Maybe its a cure for colony collapse disorder the aliens kept in their records. That gives the wealthy computer guys a reason to keep people away.

How about it you guys? Does one of these articles fit with your current project? Would you include something like this in a story? What might one of these articles inspire you to write?

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