This Week On Metro Connection: Haunted D.c. (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

This Week On Metro Connection: Haunted D.C.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

Welcome to "Metro Connection," I'm Rebecca Sheir and it's the last full week of October, so all you longtime listeners out there, you know what that means, it's time for our annual haunted D.C. show.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

Where we spend an entire hour investigating the hair raising, the spine tingling, the blood curtailing and the potentially other worldly stories of life in the Washington region. We'll take you to Annapolis, Md., where we'll visit the ghostly types who may be strolling the city's streets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE

Well, first of all, as far as I know, there's no demonic entity in town that's going to try to suck your soul down to hell.

SHEIR

And we'll chat with actors at a haunted forest tourist attraction and hear what it's like to spend all day scaring the bah-gee-bees out of visitors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE

I almost remove the human element from my thoughts and keep it very primal.

SHEIR

First, though, we'll visit a place that's definitely not a tourist attraction, though it may very well be haunted. At least that's what this woman would say.

MS. HEATHER FREEMAN

I think it is a ghost or a haunting spirit that chooses to stay here.

SHEIR

And this woman.

MS. DARLENE FELTON

Hey, a lot of times I say, okay, I can tell you're here. As long as you're nice, you can stay.

SHEIR

And this woman.

MS. KARI AN BEHRENS

The whole time I'm here, I get creeped out because it just feels like somebody is watching you.

SHEIR

The place we're talking about is an old log cabin in Hume, Va. A town in Fauquier County where wounded Civil War soldiers used to come for treatment. And it's in this very log cabin that I meet the three ladies you just heard. The cabins previous owner Heather Freeman.

FREEMAN

I lived here from 2002 to 2006.

SHEIR

The current owner, Darlene Felton.

FELTON

It felt like Grandmas house. When we got here, we just instantaneously wanted to lay down and take a nap.

SHEIR

And Warrington, Va., resident Kari An Behrens.

BEHRENS

I'm good friends with Darlene and she boards my horse here.

SHEIR

Have you been here as a house sitter?

BEHRENS

Yes.

SHEIR

And as a house sitter, Kari An's, had her share of, how shall we say, curious incidents in the nighttime. Like, when Darlene and her husband went on their first long vacation in like five years...

BEHRENS

And it was kind of hot in here when I came home. After I fed the horses, so I went out all over the house and opened up windows. So I fell asleep on the couch and I woke up and it was like midnight and I was getting ready to go upstairs and I went to go shut the windows and they were already shut. So needless to say, I didn't sleep all night.

SHEIR

Or the time she did sleep all night, but upon rising, she found something a bit off about the shelf of figurines at the bottom of the stairs.

BEHRENS

I went to go to bed one night and ask I walking past the horse figurines, the one carousal horse was knocked over. So I picked it up and I leaned it up against another horse. And then when I came down in the morning, it was upside down.

SHEIR

Kari An says, she always hesitated to tell Darlene these stories. But it turns out, the women have actually shared some enigmatic experiences of an olfactory nature.

FELTON

Every so often I get, like, a woof of this tacky smell.

BEHRENS

This very, very strong flowery...

FELTON

...like a tacky flowery...

BEHRENS

...Avon type perfume.

FELTON

...perfume.

SHEIR

Kari An has smelled the perfume outside.

BEHRENS

It was like somebody sprayed it, like, right in front of me.

SHEIR

And Darlene in her upstairs bedroom.

FELTON

Like, someone sprayed it in your face.

SHEIR

Now, Darlene and Kari An may be the only ones who say they've smelled perfume but they're not the only ones to say they've heard...

FREEMAN

And this is where I always hear the footsteps, always in here.

SHEIR

Creaking...

FREEMAN

Like, I hear the creaking. And we both just walk across...

FELTON

That's what I hear in the middle of the night.

SHEIR

As we walk around upstairs, Heather Freeman recalls a night when her husband, Scott, woke her up with her snoring. Unable to resume her sleep, Heather left the master bedroom and went across the hall to the guestroom.

FREEMAN

So, the door is shut like this and I'm laying in the bed and I hear this -- a sound just like this...

FREEMAN

...coming down the hall. And I said, Scott, is that you Scott? And they just kept coming and it would slow down and it'd keep coming. And then I heard this exact sound...

FREEMAN

...and the door is very hard to open, opened.

SHEIR

At which point, snoring be damned, Heather scampered back to Scott and didn't get up until morning. Heather also tells about the time she had someone watching over the cabin while she and Scott were away.

FREEMAN

And we had a beautiful mirror over the fireplace mantel and she said, one night she heard a huge crash and the mirror wasn't just laying flat as if it had fallen off the wall, it was clear on the other side of the room, smashed up where the sofa was. And there was no way that it falling it could've winded up over there

SHEIR

Talk about things going bump, or in this cash, crash in the night. But here's the thing, about that corner where he mirror ended up...

MS. ELIZABETH LEBLANC

Wrong chair, right corner.

SHEIR

This is Elizabeth LeBlanc, she accompanied me to the log cabin where I spoke with her independently of Heather, Darlene and Kari An. Elizabeth didn't want to know too much about the house or the women's experiences since she describes herself as an intuitive adviser, specializing in spirit and animal communication. And it seems she's communicating with the former, right now, as she sits in a corner of the living room, gazing out at the fenced in swimming pool in the yard.

LEBLANC

This was a favorite corner but it's like the person, with all due respect, doesn't want to look at the view because it's changed so much. It seems like everything's just in the way.

SHEIR

Elizabeth gets this same message, the same feeling when we visit the master bedroom upstairs. The one where Darlene Felton smelled that flowery perfume.

LEBLANC

It's like a cantankerous man, who's saying, "I built this house, I put this together. I," whatever. So I think it would be hard to feel like it was yours as much as he's indicating to me. If you didn't have a hand in the making of it. And he's very particular about how it's kept.

SHEIR

Records do indicate the cabin has changed a ton since it was built, presumably in the 19th century. Sun porches have been tacked on, staircases have been taken away. The room we're currently in, just above the living room, was added several tenants ago, prior to that, the living room was two stories high. And from what Elizabeth is sensing, this cantankerous man isn't exactly delighted with the changes.

LEBLANC

But who listens to him anyway? Except when he works to get their attention. And I'm not really sure what he does but I think when he wants your attention, he gets your attention.

SHEIR

And he's certainly gotten the attention of Darlene Felton, Heather Freeman and Kari An Behrens. When we all sit down at the kitchen table, this time joined by Elizabeth LeBlanc, the women share even more instances of slightly disrupted living or as Heather Freeman attests, disrupted moving-in.

FREEMAN

The moving van broke down on the way here. It was a late fall, heading into winter and when we got here, the home inspector missed that they had the gas furnace hooked up incorrectly, and so the gas was pouring into the house.

SHEIR

But, get this, she isn't the only one whose move-in seemed cursed. If you ask Darlene about her move-in day, she responds with one of those laugh-so-you-don't-cry chuckles.

FELTON

One of the movers wasn’t careful with the upstairs bathroom and we ended up losing the kitchen ceiling because it overflowered. And all of our boxes were here in the kitchen, so it was like Niagara Falls on all of our boxes.

SHEIR

Now, whether all these accidents and aromas and inexplicable bumps, crashes and creaks actually are the work of a cantankerous guy with a Get Off My Lawn attitude, well the truth is, we'll probably never know. But in the meantime, while Kari An still feels a bit iffy about the cabin, especially sleeping in it...

BEHRENS

I started taking Benadryl at night.

SHEIR

Heather Freeman says, it feels good to visit the place.

FREEMAN

I never had any encounters where I feared for my life with a ghost. I did have a fright, but it's a charming house.

SHEIR

And as for Darlene Felton...

FELTON

Kari An is, like, I don't know how you live here. And I said, well I'm not afraid. I guess if I was afraid, I'd leave but I'm not afraid yet.

SHEIR

Why aren't you afraid?

FELTON

I don't know. I can't explain it. I guess, you'd be more afraid if you didn't believe in it. I know that sounds backwards but, you know, I definitely believe in that kind of thing.

SHEIR

Okay, so let's say our crotchety guy in the log cabin actually does exists, if so, Heather Freeman and Darlene Felton, pretty much seem to think that ultimately, you know, he's harmless. But the man we'll meet next has had a more dramatic and a much more scary experience with the other worldly. Growing up in Canton, Ohio, in the early 1980s, Eric Nuzum became convinced he was haunted by a little girl in a blue dress. His anxiety over this haunting ended with Nuzum in a psychiatric ward. Decades later, Nuzum has told the tale in a new book, "Giving Up The Ghost." He recently talked with Kavitha Cardoza about how he confronted his fear of ghosts.

MS. KAVITHA CARDOZA

I do want people to understand that this little girl was very, very real to you. Could you read a little excerpt from your book? It starts when you talk about a man in a wolves costume pointing you to a path.

MR. ERIC NUZUM

"As I enter the path, I can see her outline in the moonlight. I step closer and I start to see detail. A little girl in a blue dress, she's wet like she's been in water. She's staring right me, eyes wide, cold and dark. When I'm only a few steps from her, she starts yelling at me. It sounds like gibberish. She never moves, never takes her eyes away from mine. As I come closer, she seems more and more irritated and frantic. When she's at the point of screaming so loud that she's shaking, I wake up."

CARDOZA

What was going on?

NUZUM

Well, I would wake up -- often I would be sitting up when I woke up and be looking around this room in total pitch blackness and seeing swirls of something. It was just my eyes adjusting to the darkness. Having this disoriented feeling and would be convinced that I had had that dream because she was in that room somewhere. And I would, in my mind, justify anything I saw, unusual or something that felt like movement, that was her. And the attic was divided into two rooms and I was in one room and I was convinced she was in the other. And the door to that room is always kept closed.

NUZUM

But I felt that if I exited my room to go downstairs, that then she would have the advantage and be able to open the door and get me and do whatever she wanted to do to me. So I would, basically, sit there and stare at that door. I would routinely stay in my room for, you know, a full day. I mean, never come out.

CARDOZA

The book is also about your relationship with Laura, a childhood friend who helped you through this time. But also by deciding not to be friends or not to continue being friends, she pushed you into turning your life around and she died in an accident a few years later.

NUZUM

Yeah the dreams with the little girl, I never had any after Laura died. I don't remember having any. She -- at one time saved me from my imaginary ghost and became a real one in my life. I never saw her floating around or heard her or felt her presence but she's been part of my life ever since.

CARDOZA

When reading the book, I was so surprised to read all these kind of gut wrenching passages about how that time seems to have haunted you. Because you seem like such a happy chap and it made me wonder about all the demons people carry about that we don't see. And one of my favorite lines in the book is "Life is neat and binary and clean. Life is messy and troubled and leaves ghosts in its wake."

NUZUM

I would have two responses to your question about me. One is, often times comedy is tragedy plus time. So maybe because you're looking for the same thing about happiness. I think that a version of me definitely died in the course of this story. And the second thing I would say, is I'm a happy person because I keep my life very much in context. If you look around this room, a couple places, you'll see little skulls. Like, there's one over that stand, there's one up on that shelf. I keep that motif around me a lot because I want to be reminded of where I've been. But a skull is a reminder of death to me. And it keeps me focused on living.

CARDOZA

When I entered the room, my eyes were immediately drawn to your very happy looking baby.

NUZUM

Yes, yeah, which is also something I keep around too. I was in a race to finish it before my son was born so that I could be a better father. One of the main reason I wrote this book was to let go of it. This has been something I had been keeping inside of myself and festering this whole story for 27 years. And I wasn't succeeding in eliminating it. You can imagine my wife's reaction to reading it when she was six months pregnant. Not really knowing all these stories, like, what have I gotten myself into? It's like a manual for how this kid's going to eventually rebel against us.

CARDOZA

To understand your fears, you visit places including the battlefields of Gettysburg and Clinton Road in New Jersey, places where lots of people have claimed to see ghosts. And you keep shifting between rationally being able to explain that there could be many possible explanations for, say, spirit orbs and yet being convinced that there was something out there that couldn't be explained. Do you believe in ghosts now?

NUZUM

I believe, if you think that there's a building that contains some floaty thing inside of it that comes out when people are in there at night, that that doesn't exist. I think people are haunted. I think people are haunted by their pasts, their regrets, things that have happened. And sometimes they'll go sit in a dark space, in a place that feels creepy or unfamiliar and you're sitting there alone with your thoughts and things come out in you, not the place. And I think that's real.

CARDOZA

How do you make peace with your past? Your hauntings.

NUZUM

Well, my current tactic is to talk about them very publicly, which is both completely crazy and uncomfortable. My family has a lot of trouble with this. They think it's going to damage my reputation or people's impressions of me. And my feeling has been that by telling the story, I get to stop trying to suppress in my own life. When I tell it, I'm really being honest about me, even though it's a crazy story and there are crazy elements to it, it's the only story I have.

SHEIR

That was Eric Nuzum who's now a Vice President of programming at NPR. He's author of the new memoir, "Giving Up The Ghost." He spoke with WAMU's Kavitha Cardoza. You can find an extended version of this interview on our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

Time for a quick break but when we get back, what it's like to have professional ghoul on your resume.

MALE

Nothing is more exciting than watching somebody jump or scream or get terrified.

SHEIR

That and more in a minute on "Metro Connection," here on WAMU 88.5.

SHEIR

I'm Rebecca Sheir, welcome back to "Metro Connection." Today we're bringing you our annual haunted D.C. show. And thus far, we've heard some very personal ghost stories. Tales told by people who encounter the other worldly right in their own homes. But now we're going to shift gears a bit and hear about people who pay good money to be scared, away from home. This month, a record number of Americans, more than 42 million Americans are expected to visit some sort of haunted house for Halloween. And these businesses will rake in about $1 billion.

MR. MATT MARKOFF

We'll have like 3,000 to 4,000 people on our busiest nights. So it's a huge money maker. It does very, very well.

SHEIR

Matt Markoff and his two brothers operate Markoff's Haunted Forest, one of the D.C. regions longest running haunts, now in its 20th year of professional scaring. Last year, ticket sales brought in more than a half a million dollars. Money the brothers use to fund a non-profit that does outdoor education. But like many Halloween fanatics, they say their business isn't really about raising money or turning a profit. No, it's about scaring people. Scaring people silly. Jacob Fenston went to Poolesville, Md., to talk with some of the ghosts and ghouls behind the scenes and he sent us this audio postcard.

MR. PAUL BRUBACHER

My name is Paul Brubacher. I'm the vice president of operations for Markoff's Haunted Forest. Right now, we have a little bit of managed chaos going on. Within the next hour and a half, we will have between 60 and 100 actors just getting hustled through. It's about a five minute per actor process of getting their costume and then another five minutes for the makeup.

MS. KIRSTEN AUGUST

More blood or less blood? Do you want a lot?

MALE

Not so much tonight.

AUGUST

Not so much tonight?

MALE

(unintelligible) ...

AUGUST

You think that? All right, don't worry I can do that. I'm just adding the blood, giving a nice head wound and making his nose bleed a bit. We use a lot of dark colors around the eyes. So it gives that really sinking look and death and decay. That's his bullet hole from being shot.

AUGUST

Yeah, I got shot.

BRUBACHER

The management staff right now is checking electrical systems in the woods. Air pressure is making sure all the props work, everything is ready to go. Propane gas is being turned on for all the things that go boom. A couple hours beforehand, everybody's running with their heads cut off.

FEMALE

All right, trail two, you ready?

FEMALE

If you don't know where you're going, stay here. If you do, get in the woods and have fun.

MALE

You know what that is? That's dueling banjos from "Deliverance." I'll be back to check on you. I'll be through before they start (unintelligible).

FEMALE

Electricity's not working in this little room. The electricity, the chandelier's not working.

MR. KEENAN SMITH

My name's Keenan Futz (sp?) Smith and I've been doing haunted forest scaring for the past seven years now.

MR. VICTOR VISSARI

I'm Victor Vissari V-I-S-S-A-R-I. I started back in, I think, 7th grade, volunteering. My older cousin introduced me. I just fell in love. It just got me hooked. And then they started paying me. And that was the point of no return.

MALE

Tonight, I am dressed up as a deranged Hillbilly and from the looks of my scene, apparently the character that I'm portraying enjoys ripping the faces off of people.

VISSARI

Well, it is a big adrenaline rush. Because you're scaring people, they don't know you're there.

SMITH

Being obsessed with horror movies and being obsessed with scaring people and knowing that you're good at it, it's like you get a thrill after seeing someone freak out. It's almost like an ego boost.

VISSARI

It's like some people sky dive, some people do base jumping, some people go mounting climbing and I scare people.

MR. CHUCK FARKAS

My name is Chuck Farkas, my character is a snake and my costume is pretty basic. It has a snake pattern to it. My head is painted, looks like a snake. My face looks like a snake. My arms look like a snake. There's flowing pieces of fabric off of me, so when I move, you don't really see me.

VISSARI

My only real strategy is to not only get as in character as I can but get as out of me as I can. I almost remove the human element from my thoughts and keep it very primal.

FARKAS

I look for people that are either hiding behind somebody or they turn their head as soon as they start to see me or think they start to see something. Those are the ones you know you're going to get good screams out of.

VISSARI

I feel I'm good at scaring people because I do a lot of voice acting mostly. I do a whole lot of voices that just freak people out because they don't expect it to come out of me because I'm a lanky dude and I'll come out with a sling blade type of really deep voice or when I do my clown drag, I will do a really high pitch voice and all of a sudden fluctuate right back down to really low. Don't be such a nervous Nelly, I'm going to cut. In your belly. Some people, they find out that they really don't want to be scared.

FARKAS

I've seen guys that are 6'5", 300 pounds quiver on the ground and scream like school girls.

VISSARI

And they are breathing super shallow, you might hear a quick sob and sometimes, sometimes you know, you'll feel sorry for them and you can maybe ask if they want to leave, you escort them off the trail or make them pee their pants.

FARKAS

Why else would you come if you didn't want to be scared? And if we're not scaring you, it's because we're not doing our job.

SHEIR

Those were actors, makeup artists and staffers at Markoff's Haunted Forest in Poolesville, Md., speaking with WAMU's Jacob Fenston.

SHEIR

From Poolesville, we head east now to Annapolis, a city that is brimming with history, but here's the thing about that history, a few long-deceased residents of Maryland's state capital, seem to refuse to remain in the past, at least, according to Mike Carter and Julia Dray. They're coauthors of a new book called, "Haunted Annapolis: Ghosts Of The Capital City." Carter and Dray met with Jonathan Wilson to discuss the apparitions haunting Annapolis. And let's just say our usually intrepid reporter was glad they met while the sun was still up.

MR. JONATHAN WILSON

Mike Carter is the founder of the Annapolis Ghost Tour, which he's been running for 10 years now. He says tour goers often fall into one of two camps, eager paranormal enthusiasts or out-right skeptics of anything supernatural.

MR. MIKE CARTER

First and foremost, and I think it's extremely relevant, is I am a skeptic. That, I believe, is what makes our tour so great is because I view it through a skeptic's eye.

WILSON

But Carter says there are also a few potential customers who fall into another category, those who are simply scared. Carter remembers one man seriously concerned that a ghost would follow him home.

CARTER

And this is a big man. He had to be 6'4", 6'5", probably 300 pounds and was terrified of the idea of a ghost following him home.

WILSON

And can you give him a guarantee that that won't happen?

CARTER

We make no promises or guarantees of any kind when it comes to the paranormal.

WILSON

With that feeble reassurance out of the way, my 5'8", 175 pound self asks Carter and Julia Dray, one of his tour guides and his coauthor on "Haunted Annapolis," about the ghost of Mary Reynolds, a well-known, 18th century hostess, who is said to still haunt the Reynolds Tavern on Church Circle. The tavern building has gone through several incarnations over the past few centuries, serving as a boarding house, a bank and then a public library.

MS. JULIA DRAY

And then in the 1980s they renovated it, reopened it as a tavern and they got themselves and invisible assistant manager along with the deal. She's, to this day, involved in running the business. She'll expose employees who are stealing by dropping their stolen goods. One guy had a backpack strap break and it hit the floor. And when it burst open, all the frozen filet mignons he'd popped in there went flying all over the room.

WILSON

And Reynolds' ghost is watching more than just employees.

DRAY

She keeps an eye on the visiting guest, as well. If you get drunk and disorderly, she'll shut you down any number of ways by spilling your drink in your lap, to dropping other people's food on you, to locking you in the bathroom.

WILSON

From the Reynolds Tavern we move to the Maryland State House, famous for having the largest wooden dome built without nails in the country. It's a dome that played a role in bringing Annapolis the ghost of Thomas Dance. Dance was a plasterer who worked on the dome, but suffered a fatal flaw 87 feet to the marble floor below in 1793.

DRAY

He's said to haunt the building, not because he died here--and he don't know whether he slipped, pushed or the scaffolding collapsed, but he's here because the contractor in charge of the building project kind of took advantage of his family, denying the widow and children the payment of a pension and some outstanding salary, as well as confiscating Mr. Dance's working tools, which meant his sons now had no profession.

WILSON

Dray says Dance's ghost is blamed for lights flashing on and off, doors opening and closing and every once in awhile blasts of cold air strong enough to knock a person down. Dance is also the most oft-spotted ghost in Annapolis, sometimes seen walking on top of the State House at night and even seen at times inside the building.

DRAY

People usually assume that he's a tour guide or a re-enactor or a living history person and will go to the security desk and say, hey, how do I get in the tour? What's the living history event? Do you know that there is a re-enactor in the dome who's smoking a pipe?

WILSON

And with just two tales of haunted Annapolis history, Carter and Dray have peaked my interest. Carter says that's what his ghost tour aims to do, make history come alive or at least, undead.

CARTER

To me, I believe that the paranormal side of it humanizes the history 'cause we're talking about real people who have, in a way, become immortal.

WILSON

But back to that idea of simply being scared. Confession time, while I don't spend much time at all thinking about ghosts and ghouls, I'm not at all interested in wandering through a spooky Annapolis tavern alone at night. Horror movies are not my thing and darkness is only something I like if I'm trying to fall asleep. So I'd probably be scared to go on your tours. I'm guess I'm admitting that on radio and that's, you know, I'll have to live with that, but how do you convince someone like me who is a little afraid, but maybe interested in the history? Why should someone like me go on your tour?

DRAY

Well, first of all, as far as I know, there's no demonic entity in town that's going to try to suck your soul down to hell. All right. So let's just get that out of the way.

WILSON

Hum, as far as she knows. I guess that will have to do. I'm Jonathan Wilson.

SHEIR

"Haunted Annapolis: Ghosts Of The Capital City" is available now from The History Press. To see photos of Mike Carter and Julia Dray at some of Annapolis' more haunted spots, visit our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

And now for the final story in our month-long series of interviews from the StoryCorps Booth in Arlington, Va. Gene Noh and his wife Christina had their first child, Gabrielle, 15 months ago. Seven months after she was born Gene had to leave for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Air Force. Gene just returned home and he and Christina recently sat down to talk about the challenges of caring for a baby when a parent is away.

MS. RAPHAELLA BENNIN

You just recently--about three weeks ago--returned from serving in Afghanistan. When you left Gabby was about seven months old and now she's about 15 months old. And I just wonder how you think that has impacted your experience as a parent?

MAJ. GENE NOH

In terms of being a parent, I think it was a challenge 'cause now she's gotten to that point where she can talk. And she's so dependent on you and so you're her comfort zone. And I wasn't and I was a stranger that was reintroduced into her life. I mean that first week where she would just run to you, if I tried to hold her she would cry. It was really challenging, you know, and confirmed, you know, that desire I had when I was overseas where, you know, I don't want to be away, you know.

MAJ. GENE NOH

It's really hard, but at the same time, I'm thankful that, you know, she's so young she won't remember me being gone at this point in our lives, but I don't know. I'm very thankful that you took care of her so well while I was gone. I know it's not easy.

MS. CHRISTINA NOH

But, I mean, now that it's been about three weeks, it definitely seems like she's taken to you. I catch her napping on you every day, basically, at this point. So that's fun for me to see, you know. I mean, while you were gone we tried to show her pictures and video clips, if I had them, of you and I would always say Apa, because, you know, Apa is Korean for daddy. And I'd always say, Apa, this is Apa, you know, this is the guy, so that when you came home there would be less of a bumpy transition, hopefully.

NOH

Um-hum.

NOH

And I thought I was like so awesome because she started saying Apa and I really was like fixated on this whole having Apa be her first word thing. So I didn't teach her any other words this whole time. I just taught her Apa. And she was saying it and she was pointing to your picture. And she'd always be like, Apa, Apa. And then we were preparing for your arrival again. And there were these pictures of other people in other people's houses and she would just point to pictures of other people and say Apa, Apa. And I realized what I had done was teach her that pictures were Apa when really it's you.

NOH

I guess maybe you can backtrack a little bit and talk about what it was like while I was gone, being a mother, you know, a single mother for the first time, you know, geographically separated.

NOH

You know, honestly, it was difficult in the sense that I missed you and I knew you were missing some parts of her growing up, you know, like just silly things, like crawling, you know, and pulling herself up and that sort of thing. But I think about it, as own mom was a single mom, an immigrant when she had three of us. And I just think about how lucky I was that, you know, it was choice for me to be able to stay home with her and have this grand adventure with her while you were gone. And it was challenging, of course, at times, but that is like small potatoes, you know, when I think about the struggles that other people have and that my own mom had, you know.

NOH

It was not super easy, but at the same time we had so many great moments that I just wish you had been able to be a part of, you know.

NOH

Yeah.

NOH

But, I don't know. So it's been great and I want to thank you and tell you I love you.

NOH

Yeah, I want to thank you and tell you I love you and your love is so strong.

SHEIR

That was Gene and Christina Noh at the StoryCorps Booth, in Arlington, Va. StoryCorps is the oral history project that gives Americans the chance to record, share and preserve the stories of their lives. And if you'd like to hear previous interviews in our StoryCorps series, you can find them at metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

After the break we give up the ghost or take it to task anyway, on our monthly feature, The Location.

MS. KIM BENDER

It was the one room that has ever given me a little bit of pause in a sense..

SHEIR

Okay. Now, she confesses.

SHEIR

It's coming your way on "Metro Connection," on WAMU 88.5.

SHEIR

Welcome back to "Metro Connection." I'm Rebecca Sheir and this week we're bringing you a very special trick and treat, our annual haunted D.C. show. Earlier in the hour, we strolled through Haunted Annapolis and met a group of actors whose job is to creep you out. And in just a bit we'll explore a photo exhibit about a town that once attracted Hollywood starlets and is now, more or less, a ghost town.

SHEIR

First though, it's our regular series, "The Location."

SHEIR

In which Kim Bender, author of the blog, "The Location," helps us explore the hidden history of Washington's places, people and culture. And this week we return to a location we visited in 2011, on our Feeling The Heat show.

BENDER

Well, hello.

SHEIR

Hello, Kim Bender.

BENDER

Welcome to the Heurich House Museum.

SHEIR

Thank you. The Heurich House, also known as The Brewmaster's Castle, is located just off Dupont Circle in Northwest D.C. Christian Heurich, the German-born beer magnate who built the place, was a total pyrophobe. So his house was the first fireproof residence in Washington. These days Kim Bender directs the Heurich House Museum, which, I gotta tell you, is beautiful. But I'm not gonna lie, it's also kind of spooky. I mean, you've got this enormous Victorian mansion, where eh Heurich family lived from 1894 to 1956. And the place is immaculately preserved with its original furniture, carpets, light fixtures. And yet, says Kim Bender--

BENDER

I do not think that this house is haunted. Obviously because it's dark in here, it's an old Victorian, there's lots of woodwork, the shutters are closed and it's--it gives a little bit of a spooky vibe. People always ask, is it haunted? And I think they really want it to be, but it's not.

SHEIR

But there are sort of still some stories here that have to do with superstitions...

BENDER

Yes.

SHEIR

...supernatural.

BENDER

Well, so just because I don’t think it's presently haunted doesn't mean that there are not some really interesting Halloween appropriate stories to tell. We can start off looking to our left over here to the reception room, where Mr. and Mrs. Heurich would spend a lot of their time. It was like their den. And they actually were spiritualists, which meant that they would have séances at the house with a medium in the reception room.

SHEIR

Do we have any stories of who they reached out to?

BENDER

Well, the one story I really know in detail is that Mr. and Mrs. Heurich were having a séance in the reception room and the medium said that she was in contact with Matilda, who was Mr. Heurich's second wife who had died in the house. And she apologized to Christian for breaking a vase and blaming it on the servant. And then all these years she has felt so guilty that the servant got blamed for breaking this. And Christian Heurich would have been the only person who knew the other side of that story and it meant something to him, it made sense to him. So maybe Matilda came and gave him a message just to clear her conscious.

SHEIR

Hum, and he was doing this with the third Mrs. Heurich who was Amelia, right?

BENDER

Amelia. His first and third wives were actually Amelia.

SHEIR

In name, not the same woman.

BENDER

Right. So the first Mrs. Heurich was with him when he purchased the land that this house is built on and she died of pneumonia soon after. Six years after Matilda, the second wife died, he married another Amelia who was the first Amelia's niece. We can go in here. I remember something else. Okay. So now we're in the echoey conservatory. And there's a fountain that's made of marble and it has etched on the top an angel baby. Now, that was Anna Marguerite, who was the Heurich's daughter, who died when she was nine months old. So this is a memorial fountain to her.

SHEIR

Now, did she die in this house?

BENDER

She didn't. She died on their farm, which was called Belmont and it was in Prince George's County. Actually, on a site of the Prince George's Plaza.

SHEIR

Does anyone talk about the baby haunting this house?

BENDER

Well, I mean, I've heard people who say they used to work here and they heard the baby's cries. And I have to be honest, I don't believe it because the funny thing about this building is that even though it's made of concrete and steel and it sort of protects the sound, if people walk by the house you can actually hear them. So I'm sure that that's what happened.

SHEIR

Yeah.

BENDER

Debunking the myths.

SHEIR

So where shall we go next, if we're gonna debunk some more haunted Heurich House myths?

BENDER

So we can go up to the second floor which is the living quarters and also has the bedroom where anyone who has died in this house, they died in this bedroom. So I'm gonna be truly honest, it was the one room that has ever given me a little bit of pause in a sense.

SHEIR

Okay. Now, she confesses.

SHEIR

So let's go on up. So here we are in the master bedroom. This is the room where Mr. Heurich died when he was 102, almost 103. And it's the room where Mrs. Heurich, Amelia, died in 1956.

SHEIR

And you're saying this room did give you a bit of pause when you first started working here.

BENDER

When I think of every room in the house, this is one where I might feel something.

SHEIR

So we've seen several rooms at this point and you've told stories that, you know, border on the supernatural and superstitious, but not so much ghostly and yet, I know, when I walk by this house I see other people walking by this house and I'm sure they're talking amongst themselves saying, what is that big scary thing? There have gotta be ghost stories in there.

BENDER

I mean, it looks like it could be a haunted house.

SHEIR

It really does.

BENDER

Because it's so dark and Victorian. I mean, we can't discount some of the things that happened. Not every family had séances in their front reception room, but I think this house has a peaceful feeling. And I really think the stories about it being haunted, that anybody has ever experienced are not really--have never been proven to me and I've been here for two years. And my predecessor was here for almost six years and he actually lived in the building and he never experienced anything. So I'm gonna stick with that story until something proves otherwise.

SHEIR

Well, Kim Bender, thank you as always, for taking the time to show me around another location.

BENDER

Thank you, Rebecca. Thanks for coming by.

SHEIR

Want to decide for yourself whether the Heurich House is haunted? You can take a free guided tour on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We have more information, along with photos of the old Victorian home on our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

So we've all heard of ghost towns, right? Well the town we'll be talking about next could kind of qualify as just that. It's called Almeria and though it's way off on the southern coast of Spain, chances are, you've probably seen it.

SHEIR

During the 1960s and '70s, Almeria was host to dozens of filmmakers and movie stars. Whether a director wanted rolling dunes, desert mountains, or a rocky coastline, Almeria always fit the bill. Photographer Mark Parascandola has family roots in southern Spain and 50 years after the filmmaking boom he's introducing D.C. to Almeria with a new exhibit at the embassy of Spain. Emily Berman, formerly known as Emily Friedman, congrats on the wedding Emily, brings us the story.

MS. EMILY BERMAN

There's the scene in "Lawrence of Arabia," when the city of Akaba is attacked. But what you see isn't really Akaba, its Almeria.

MR. MARK PARASCANDOLA

Well, so "Lawrence of Arabia" was one of the first big productions and David Lean and his crew had been filming in Jordan and basically it got too expensive. Spain at the time was cheap, labor was cheap and it was after that that a lot of other directors started to come. All of Sergio Leone's early spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood were filmed there.

MR. MARK PARASCANDOLA

Patton, Cleopatra, with Elizabeth Taylor.

BERMAN

For most of the 20th century, Parascandola says Almeria was one of the poorest regions in Spain. When Hollywood directors started showing up in the 1960s and '70s everyone got excited that their little costal town could be something more.

PARASCANDOLA

They thought that they were going to be the "Hollywood of Europe." Big named actors passed through there, Sean Connery, Claudia Cardinale, Elizabeth Taylor, many of them multiple times, making different films.

BERMAN

For many European directors, it was cheaper to film in Spain than to go to the America West.

PARASCANDOLA

You had in Almeria 360 days of sunshine a year and then of course these incredible landscapes, which really look like you're in a Southern California or in Nevada somewhere.

BERMAN

Thousands of people went to work, making costumes and building sets. Parascandola photographed one of the most iconic sets called "Mini Hollywood" which is built for the Leone film "A Few Dollars More." For a set built in the mid '60s it's in pretty good shape. Parascandola explains that's because it's not just an old set. It's a business.

PARASCANDOLA

And they do every day, they do a few of these Western shows where they reenact an episode that could've been in a film, you know, with a gunfight and all that.

BERMAN

What you hear is an actual scene from one of the reenactments. It's from a video Parascandola shot while working on this photo series. Typically, he says there's a bank robbery then the sheriff shows up and then there's a gunfight.

PARASCANDOLA

There's always a scene with a hanging.

BERMAN

Hanging?

PARASCANDOLA

Yes, a hanging, yes. pretty much everyone ends dead in the end.

BERMAN

And the tourists love it?

PARASCANDOLA

They do, yes.

BERMAN

Parascandola documents crumbling historic buildings used as bad guy hideouts. The desert sun gives these old painted shacks a Technicolor glow. One print hanging in the exhibition at the Embassy of Spain shows a giant hotel abandoned midway through construction. This is the exact spot, he says, where the crew of "Lawrence of Arabia" built the city of Akaba.

BERMAN

How did this era in Almeria's history and this, these events, impact the town, just in terms of this culture of Almeria and the spirit of the people there?

PARASCANDOLA

Many people in Almeria got involved in working on the films in some way or other. So it certainly affect them, many of the people who remember that time are now gone. There's a danger of it being lost.

BERMAN

The province's boom years were short-lived. After about two decades of jobs, money and movie stars, all these things began to slip away. By the late '70s, westerns weren't as popular as they used to be. In the '80s Steven Spielberg shot "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" there. But other than that apart from the occasional music video or car commercial, Almeria is pretty much a ghost town.

BERMAN

Except for the occasional run-in with a local.

PARASCANDOLA

So one day I was at, taking photographs at the set from the "Condor" and a fellow shows up with a rifle and pointing his rifle at me and I just said, "I'm talking photographs." And he said, (speaks foreign language) which, you know, means we could shoot you.

BERMAN

That's funny, that you almost became a character in one of these westerns.

PARASCANDOLA

That's kind of how I felt at that time, yes.

BERMAN

He stepped away from the man, a little frightened, he says, but also quite pleased to see the gun slinging rough and tumble spirit lives on long after Hollywood walked away. I'm Emily Berman.

SHEIR

You can view "Once Upon A Time in Almeria" at the Embassy of Spain through November 14th. And you can check out some of Mark Parascandola's photographs on our website, that's metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

And now our weekly trip around the region. On today's "Door to Door," we visit Brunswick, Md. and Tara-Leeway Heights in Arlington, Va.

MS. KATHY HEINSOHN

My name is Kathy Heinsohn and I am 50 years old. I live in Brunswick, Md. Brunswick is a small town that is located at the confluence of the state lines of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, right where the Potomac River meets the edges of all of those states.

MS. KATHY HEINSOHN

It was founded by an Indian trader in 1720. Brunswick actually was not first known as Brunswick. It's had many names and initially it was called Coxman's Rest. And finally it ended up with the name Berlin prior to the late 1800s because there were a lot of German immigrants.

MS. KATHY HEINSOHN

When the B & O Railroad came in the 1890s one of the officials suggested a fancier name and came up with the name Brunswick. Brunswick was called the Paris on the Potomac because the railroad was so active and everything thriving at that time that you got big band acts coming through here and then you had lots of merchandise coming from New York. So the latest fashions and then it hit a bit of a decline in the 1950s and '60s when the B & O Railroads started to pull out.

MS. KATHY HEINSOHN

We still have quite an active set of galleries and antique shops and small town cafes. Coming up the first Sunday of November, November 4th, is one of the very few remaining Veteran's Day parades in Maryland. And as I understand, one of the very few in the country.

MR. JAMES JOY

My name is James Joy and I've lived here in this wonderful neighborhood in Arlington, Tara-Leeway Heights, since November of 1966. I think that's coming up 46 years or something. We were all young families. Over the years our children grew up and it didn't seem like new, younger people were moving into the neighborhood. One reason, I think, was because of the skyrocketing price of houses, which have gone up 10, 20 times.

MR. JAMES JOY

But then we noticed, maybe 10 years ago, we seemed to get back where we were at the beginning with lots of baby carriages and little children toddling around the neighborhood. Our particular house is on the highest hill, it used to be called Hall's Hill, long ago because a retired ship captain, Capt. Basil Hall, came to live here practically on the eve of the Civil War.

MR. JAMES JOY

I think we were the northern most point in Virginia that received artillery fire so the shells would've gone right over my house and perhaps landed in Captain Hall's farm. I think it's been a very good neighborhood, a lot of close neighbors.

SHEIR

And that's "Metro Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Jonathan Wilson, Jacob Fenston, Emily Berman and Kavitha Cardoza. Our acting news director is Meymo Lyons. Our managing producer is Tara Boyle. Lauren Landau is our editorial assistant. Our intern is Raphaella Bennin. Lauren Landau and Raphaella Bennin produce "Door to Door." Thanks, as always, to the WAMU engineering and digital media teams for their help with production and the "Metro Connection" website.

SHEIR

Our theme song, ''Every Little Bit Hurts," our "Door to Door" theme "No, Girl," and our "Location" theme, "Turn Your Face," are from the album "Title Tracks" by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. You can see all the music we use on our website, metroconnection.org. Just click on a story and you'll find information about its accompanying song.

SHEIR

Also on metroconnection.org you can find our Twitter and Facebook links, you can read free transcripts of stories and if you missed part of today's show you can hear the whole thing by clicking the this week on "Metro Connection" link. To hear our most recent episodes click the podcast link or find us on iTunes.

SHEIR

We hope you can join us next week when we'll be gearing up for Election Day with a show about "Choices." We'll go inside the machinery of political Washington and meet people trying to sway your vote with good old fashioned snail mail. We'll find out why Latinos are comprising such an important voting block in Northern Virginia. And we'll step outside the realm of politics to meet a man who chose an unusual path after the death of his brother.

MALE

When he got to the Marines he knew what he wanted his life to be and he just went at it full force.

SHEIR

I'm Rebecca Sheir and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 news.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and International law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.