- HAUNTED CHICAGO -
Other Vanishing Hitchhikers!
Without a doubt, the most famous ghostly hitchhiker in the Chicago area is the young girl who has been connected to Resurrection Cemetery for a number of decades. She is chronicled in another portion of the website, having been dubbed Resurrection Mary over the years. There are other roaming spirits and restless ghosts in Chicagoland though.
One such spirit, a sort of “sister ghost” to Resurrection Mary, haunts the vicinity of Jewish Waldheim Cemetery, located at 1800 South Harlem Avenue in Chicago. This is perhaps one of the more peaceful and attractive of the city's downtown graveyards and is easily recognizable from the columns that are mounted at the front gates. They were once part of the old Cook County Building, which was demolished in 1908. This cemetery would most likely go quietly on through its existence if not for the tales of the "Flapper Ghost". While little background can be discovered about this spirit, it remains a fascinating story.
The story of the ghost states that she was a young Jewish girl who attended dances at the Melody Mill Ballroom, formerly on Des Plaines Avenue. She was said to be a very attractive brunette with bobbed hair and a dress right out of the Roaring 20's, hence the spirit's nickname of the “Flapper Ghost”. This fetching phantom has been known to hitch rides on Des Plaines Avenue and most often has been seen near the cemetery gates. Some travelers passing the cemetery even claimed to see her entering a mausoleum that is located off Harlem Avenue.
Although recent sightings have been few, the ghost was most active in 1933, during the Century of Progress Exhibition, and again in 1973. In the years before World War II, she was often reported at the Melody Mill Ballroom, where she would dance with young men and often ask for a ride home. After they drove her to the cemetery, the girl would explain that she lived in the caretaker’s house (since demolished) and then get out of the car. Often with her admirers in pursuit, she would then run out into the cemetery and vanish among the tombstones.
More sightings took place in 1973 and one report even occurred during the daylight hours. A family was visiting the cemetery one day and was startled to see a young woman dressed like a “flapper” walking toward a crypt, where she suddenly disappeared. The family hurried over to the spot, only to find no girl and nowhere to which she could have vanished so quickly.
Another strange sighting took place in 1979 when a police officer saw a beautiful girl walking near the ballroom on a rainy night. He asked her where she was going and she replied “home”. He offered her a ride and she directed him to an apartment building near the cemetery entrance. After the girl got out of the car, she vanished near a covered doorway and the policeman, shocked, got out and went after her. He was sure that she could not have gotten into the building so quickly and was even more surprised to see no wet footprints on the dry sidewalk below the building’s awning.
Since that time, sightings of the “Flapper” have been few, but we should take into account that she appeared often back in the 1930’s and then didn’t show up again with any frequency until the 1970’s. Perhaps she is just waiting round and will soon come back for a return engagement!
Another phantom hitcher haunts the roadways near the Evergreen Cemetery in Evergreen Park, a Chicagoland community. For more than two decades, an attractive teenager has been roaming out beyond the confines of the cemetery in search of a ride. A number of drivers claim to have spotted her and in the 1980’s a flurry of encounters occurred when motorists in the south and western suburbs reported picking up this young girl. She always asked them for a ride to a location in Evergreen Park and then mysteriously vanished from the vehicle at the cemetery.
According to the legends, she is the spirit of a child buried within the cemetery, but there is no real folklore to explain why she leaves her grave in search of travelers, nor what brings her to the suburbs and so far from home. She is what some would call the typical “vanishing hitchhiker” but there is one aspect to this ghost that sets her apart from the others. In addition to seeking rides in cars, she is resourceful enough to find other transportation when it suits her.
In recent years, encounters with this phantom have also taken place at a bus stop that is located directly across the street from the cemetery. Many have claimed to see a dark-haired young girl here who mysteriously vanishes. On occasion, she has also climbed aboard a few Chicago Transit Authority buses as well.
One evening, a young girl climbed aboard a bus and breezed right past the driver without paying the fare. She walked to the back portion of the vehicle and sat down, seemingly without a care in the world. Irritated the driver called out to her, but she didn’t answer. Finally, he stood up and walked back toward where she was seating. She would either pay, he thought, or have to get off the bus! Not surprisingly though, before he could reach her, she vanished before his eyes!
According to reports, other shaken drivers have had the same eerie experience at this bus stop. He has spoken with others who have also seen this young girl and every single one of them have seen her disappear as if she had never been there in the first place!
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COPYRIGHT 2002 BY TROY TAYLOR. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.