Halloween Facts

The first known mention of trick-or-treating in print in North America
occurred in 1927 in Blackie, Alberta, Canada.

The first jack-o'-lanterns were actually made from turnips. People in Ireland placed candles in 
hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.

Thousands of people suffer from Samhainophobia which is an irrational fear of Halloween. 

Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas.

The number one candy of choice is Snickers.

Most shelters don't allow black cats to be adopted around Halloween for fear that they may be tortured or sacrificed.

It's illegal to dress up as a priest in Alabama.

The Keene Pumpkin Festival in New Hampshire holds the record for the most lit jack-o-lanterns at 30,581.

There's a $1,000 fine for using silly string on Halloween in Hollywood.

October 30th is National Candy Corn Day.

Both Salem, MA and Anoka, MN are the self-proclaimed Halloween capitals of the world.

In the UK white cats are thought to bring bad luck, not like black cats in the US.

Harry Houdini died on Halloween in 1926 of appendicitis.

More candy is sold on October 28th than any other day of the year.

The owl is a popular Halloween image. In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches
and to hear an owl's call meant someone was about to die.

The Village parade in NYC is the largest Halloween parade in the US with 50,000 participants and over two million spectators.
This is on my bucket list!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Book Fairs and Book Orders

Over the summer, our indoor play place hosted a mini Scholastic Book Fair. I let my kids each choose and book and then I bought like six more for them. It brought back so many memories! That one week every fall and spring when the library was transformed into a bookstore was a major highlight of my elementary years. We didn't have a ton of money growing up, but the request to purchase books was never turned down. Plus quite a bit of money goes to the school's PTA (and my mom was president), so it was a win-win situation.

On Nolan's second week of Kindergarten, the Scholastic Book Order appeared in his folder. I basically took if from him to read through by myself. Getting the book order in class was the best day ever in school! I remember our teachers giving us a little time to look at it (probably to help drum up business) and I'd circle everything I wanted. Once I got it home, my parents placed a dollar limit, but it didn't matter...new books were coming!

I let Nolan and Milo each choose one item. Milo wanted a two-pack of his latest favorite, Pete the Cat, and Nolan chose a 10-pack of non-fiction shark books, which included a carrying case. Maybe I need to take my mom and dad's advice and establish a dollar limit.

Then, last week, Nolan's school library hosted a full scale book fair. After his parent/teacher conference (he's doing so awesome, we couldn't be more proud of him), we browsed. I could have spent a lot more time in there, but Jacob had to get back to work. I didn't even make it over to the 6th grade area to reminisce! Nolan went straight for the non-fiction section and picked out a book about prehistoric birds. Milo went with what he knows and loves, Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving.  

I spent my later elementary years with The Baby-Sitters Club and would occasionally read something from my sister's Little House collection, so that's what we always bought. Until my world was rocked by my 4th grade teacher who read us a little something from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark every day in October. I immediately had to have those books to freak out my younger siblings.

I stayed with the scary story genre in junior high and always bought R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike books. My brother and sister got a lot of Goosebumps books, but I was way too mature for that.

Do you remember book fairs and book orders?
What did you read as a kid?

Haunted Washinton - Kells Irish Pub/Butterworth Building

The Butterworth Building on First Avenue in Seattle was originally built for the city's first multipurpose mortuary called Butterworth & Sons. The beautiful building opened in 1903 (four years before Pike Place Market opened two blocks away) and featured stained mahogany, brass and bronze hardware, art glass, and ornamental plaster. The services offered were corpse retrieval, coffin sales, embalming, and cremation. It also had the first elevator on the west coast, which was used to transport bodies. Since it's located on a hill, the building only shows three stories in front on First Ave, but there are five stories in the back on Post Alley. By 1923, business was going so well, Butterworth moved the mortuary to an even larger space in Capitol Hill (where The Chapel Bar was located).

Other businesses have moved in since then, but none stayed very long. Cafe Sophie closed after the owner saw a procession of spirits under a ladder he was standing on while change light bulbs. Avenue One closed after the owner witnessed wine bottles flying off the shelf and shattering on the floor. Fire and Ice mysteriously closed in the middle of the night just seven months after an expensive remodel. And The Starlight Lounge closed after angry spirits repeatedly moved glassware and banged on pots and pans.

Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub moved into the two bottom floors of The Butterworth Building in 2009, with its entrance on Post Alley. The basement housed the building's embalming room, heating plant, stables, and a storage space for funeral wagons. The top three floors of the building remain vacant and boarded up. Kells is known to be the most haunted bar in America. Patrons and employees have seen a tall ghost in a long black coat and top hat walk to the end of the bar then fade away. Someone has witnessed a mirror shattering while it was still hung on the wall. Joe, the owner, has seen the spirit of a little girl sitting on the bar's stairs between what was once the morgue and chapel. 

The spirits at Kells are said to be curious and lonely, but not unfriendly. They make noises and move things just to make their presence known. In 2010, The Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures visited and took photos of the disfigured child sitting on the steps. They also heard and recorded footsteps, scratching, shuffling, yelling and whispers that said, "Get off that thing," "Looking for my child," "Get me outta here," and, "Stop it." 

And remember Linda Hazzard? Before she built a crematorium on her property at Wilderness Heights, her victims ended up at Butterworth & Sons! Creepy.

Fall Concerts

Sir Elton John has always been on my must-see list and I'm so glad I got to share the experience with my mom, who's been a fan since his very beginning. This tour is to support the 40th anniversary of his album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but he covered nearly thirty of his greatest hits when I saw him back in September. I only recognized half the songs, but they were all the good ones (like Tiny Dancer, Your Song, Candle in the Wind, Benny and the Jets, Rocket Man, Crocodile Rock, and even Circle of Life). That just tells you how big his songbook is! He played his piano and sang his heart out the entire time. There were lights, fun images on the screen, and a pretty chandelier, but that's it. The legend didn't really need a lot of bells and whistles. We were all in awe.

I don't think I could name more than five Jason Mraz songs, but Carrie is a huge fan and it was my turn to attend a concert I wasn't excited about. That's what friends are for! But really, I love all live music and was intrigued by this particular tour because it was an acoustic set, backed by the super talented girl group Raining Jane. It was more like a performance than a concert. The audience only sang along when Jason asked us to. He was funny, thoughtful, and positive and really has an amazing voice. I loved the footage of his trip to Antarctica he shared and I appreciated his message about being kind to yourself, others and the earth. I still only knew four songs, but he threw in a lot of covers that I loved, like songs by PM Dawn, Spandua Ballet, Guns N' Roses, Eurythmics, and even Mr. Rogers, who he said inspired him to get into music as a kid. Raining Jane played a variety of instruments from pianos, guitars, and drums to cellos, slide guitars, and citars, and had amazing harmonies. It was pretty awesome! I still may not be into his music, but I'm definitely a fan of his.

Next up? Nothing. I'm so disappointed I don't have a concert on the horizon. I have hockey games, comedians and musicals coming up, but no concerts. This has never happened to me before! It's kind of depressing.

UPDATE: One Direction just announced their summer 2015 tour so Leeann and I are making plans! Yay!

Haunted Washington - Starvation Heights

Wilderness Heights Sanitarium (known as Starvation Heights by locals) is so close to my house, there is no reason why I didn't go snoop around. Especially after my friend's mom read the book and told us all about it nearly ten years ago. Linda Burfield Hazzard was named the first "fasting specialist" in the country, had a cult following, and turned her Olalla, WA cottage into Wilderness Heights in the early 1900s. She rented out her attic to patients who had come to experience her revolutionary treatment, which she claimed would cure almost anything by ridding the body of toxins. 

The treatment, outlined in her book, was a strict diet of one bowl of tomato or asparagus soup per day for about forty days. Occasionally, a spoonful of orange juice was allowed. The treatment also included long walks, hour-long enemas, and massage, which was really just beatings to the foreheads and backs of her patients while Hazzard shouted, "Eliminate! Eliminate!" Local farmers watched patients walk from the sanitarium to the store and back, but noted that the walks soon became daily crawls, as the patients lost energy and weight.

Hazzard had many rich patients, including Daisey Maud Haglund, whose parents owned Alki Point in Seattle. She died after a 50-day fast. (Side note: Daisy's toddler, Ivar, grew up and opened the iconic Ivar's seafood restaurant chain). While some people survived this starvation diet and raved about the cure, about forty patients died. Hazzard performed autopsies in her bathroom and rarely filed death certificates. She had an arrangement with a funeral home in Seattle for burials. And while her patients were weak and sick, she convinced them to sign over their estates or give her a prominent place in their wills. 

Police had a hard time making an arrest because Hazzard's patients came and stayed at her sanitarium willingly. In 1912, she was finally convicted of manslaughter. Claire Williamson, a British heiress, died at age 33 weighing only 50 pounds. Claire's sister, Dorothea, survived because her family came in time to remove her. She weighed just 60 pounds and was too weak to leave on her own. Dorothea paid for the trial by the British Consulate and testified against Hazzard.

Hazzard spent two years in prison then moved to New Zealand, where she continued her practice and raked in the dough. In 1920, she came back to Olalla and built a larger sanitarium/nursing home, which was known as the School of Health. However, her reputation was ruined and she only had about ten patients in her 100-bed facility. This sanitarium burned to the ground in 1935 and was never rebuilt. Hazzard died in 1938 while (surprise, surprise) fasting. 

There was some reported paranormal activity in Hazzard's house. The woman who lived there was busy cooking, going back and forth between her stove and counter. When she finally turned around, all of the kitchen chairs and a few from a nearby room were stacked against the bathroom door (where the autopsies were performed). The attic had many low ledges and a psychic from the Discovery Channel said she saw the spirits of Hazzard's victims sitting on the ledges, still afraid to move. When Washington State Paranormal Investigations and Research visited, they picked up voices saying, "Help me," and, "Dig us up." Historic preservationists looked at the house a few times, but deemed that it could not be saved. The current owners tore down the house in 2011, 100 years after the mass murders, to build a new one elsewhere on the property.

 Starvation Heights

 School of Health