‘The Face in the Window’
explores Ohio hauntings
In The Face in the Window, seventh in the “Haunted Ohio” series of “Haunting Ohio Tales,” Chris Woodyard does much more than repeat spooky stories that have been handed down as folk tales. These are accounts that were published in real newspapers and journals of the late 19th and early 20th centuries — respectable ones, not rags — and Woodyard has researched them and in many cases followed up to check the factual parts of the stories and their aftermath.
Woodyard divides the book into the different types of hauntings turn-of-the-century folks often had, like seeing floating women dressed in white and strange faces in window glass. (An intriguing suggested explanation for an outbreak of the latter in the Milan-Sandusky area is a photographer selling used glass plates to a glazier. When the glass was installed in window panes, faint images appeared at certain angles).
The Akron Daily Democrat seemed particularly willing to print stories of hauntings, like an Oct. 28, 1899, account of the “awe-inspiring, marvelous apparation” of a “phantom train,” the specter of a wreck on which Engineer Alex Logan had died that spring. The Wadsworth Banner reported that viewers heard the screams of passengers and saw flames, but when they reached the bridge, nothing was amiss.
A 1902 story in the Stark County Daily Democrat tells of the spirit of a well-off Norton man who died suddenly, and whose ghost seemed to be trying to tell his neighbors where he hid his money.
One of the most bizarre tales occupies an entire chapter: “A Family Bewitched: The Hoffman Poltergeist of Wooster.” Described derisively in 1871 in the Holmes County Republican as a family of “spirit rappers,” the Hoffmans got plenty of press as their West Liberty Street house was visited by a gremlin that broke their crockery, dropped stones on their heads and slashed their clothes. Mrs. Hoffman and her son eventually departed for Akron and lived on Maiden Lane, with or without their spiritual companions.
The Face in the Window (256 pages, softcover) costs $16.95 from Woodyard’s www.hauntedohiobooks.com.
Family values in novel
The Unexpected Gift by Berna King is a Christian-themed novel with a plot that also could interest those who are looking for general contemporary fiction with strong family values. The main characters are Scott Benson, a widowed Ohio veterinarian whose daughter, Rachel, was blinded in a car accident that killed his wife; and Shannon Martin, who works at the local college and also volunteers at the riding stable Rachel uses.
Shannon helps Rachel, who is struggling with learning Braille. Scott’s relationship with his wife wasn’t good, and Shannon’s engagement ended badly, so they both have trust issues as they begin a romance. Scott’s brother-in-law and partner, Mark, is trying to help his niece and nephew get by without their mother, who has essentially abandoned them to a life of drugs and criminal intrigue.
There are many threads to this family drama, and King weaves them well.
The Unexpected Gift (316 pages, softcover) costs $22.95 from online retailers. Berna King, a rehabilitation counselor, and her Seeing Eye dog live in Canton.
Author series at Elms
The Author! Author! series sponsored by Our Lady of the Elms School has been changed to an evening event, and the first for the 2013-2014 season will be “An Evening with Michael Hill.”
The historian, who co-produced Ken Burns’ Civil War series for PBS, studied political science at Kent State University, and will appear at 7 p.m. Nov. 13 to talk about his book Diary and Letters of Elihu Washburn. Washburn was minister to France in 1870 and 1871. Tickets are $15; call 330-867-0148 for information.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (Parma-South branch, 7335 Ridge Road) — Rosemary Wells, author and illustrator of the Max and Ruby children’s series, appears from 2 to 3:30 p.m. today; Wisconsin author Rochelle Pennington, whose books include The Historic Christmas Tree Ship, talks about the “Christmas Truce” of 1914, a story included in her Christmas Gifts: Ten of the Greatest Ever Given, 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Register at 440-885-5362.
Case Western Reserve University (Allen Memorial Library, 11000 Euclid Ave., Cleveland) — Poet Nikki Giovanni, whose Gemini was a finalist for the 1973 National Book Award, reads from and signs her work in “An Afternoon with Nikki Giovanni,” 4:30 p.m. Monday. Registration recommended; call 216-368-2242.
Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library (3512 Darrow Road, Stow) — Tallmadge author Amanda Flower signs her books, including Murder, Plain and Simple, from her new Amish Quilt Shop Mystery series, and A Plain Scandal from the Appleseed Creek mystery series, 7 p.m. Monday.
Stark County District Library (Lake Community branch, 11955 Market Ave. N., Uniontown) — Bob Grau, author of Five Million Steps on a Journey of Hope: Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail, talks about hiking the trail in 2011 and signs his book, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Hudson Library & Historical Society (96 Library St.) — Mark Dawidziak, author of The Night Stalker Companion and The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Dracula, talks about the appeal of the undead and his newest book, Richard Matheson’s Censored and Unproduced I Am Legend Screenplay, 7 p.m. Tuesday. Registration suggested; call 330-653-6658.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (Warrensville Heights branch, 4415 Northfield Road) — Poet Nikki Giovanni reads from her work from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Register at 216-464-5280.
Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (Fisher Auditorium, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster) — The 26th annual Buckeye Book Fair features about 90 authors who will sign their works from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 2. Admission is $2. At 1:30 p.m., Bev Shaffer will give a presentation about her new Chocolate Desserts to Die For! At 2:30, David FitzSimmons will lead kids in acting like animals from his book Curious Critters. See the list of authors at http://buckeyebookfair.com.
— Barbara McIntyre
Special to the Beacon Journal
Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or email@example.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.