By: Madeline Marchak
It began in the summer of 2011 when my friends and I had reached a point of age crisis. We were roughly 17, staring at the ugly head of senior year, our impending futures, and the inevitable rift between us. Although the fear of growing up had not actually set in, we were desperate for anything far from the adult world to distract us. It came to me one morning while reading some urban legends associated with Michigan – to explore the local unknown ourselves.
I would like to say that “I gathered my team,” but my so-called “team” involved anyone with a car and free on any given night. We scoured the Internet and rifled through the libraries until we had set our list of supernatural occurrences and a group name, “The Kalamazoo Mystery Team.” Together, we attempted to debunk at least ten legends over the course of three summers and failed tremendously at each task.
Our first attempt was that of a mausoleum located in a cemetery near Vicksburg that acted as a gateway to Hell. We pulled up in our beat-up cars at dusk, equipped with two containers of salt, flashlights, and a piece of jewelry someone claimed to have been made of iron. We searched the graveyard that was smaller and less ominous than we had imagined and sadly could not find even a mausoleum to begin with. We settled for the groundskeeper’s shed, which only proved to be terrifying in its amount of littered pop cans. We were dejected until a girl mentioned that she brought her aunt’s book of Wiccan spells, and we proceeded to drive to another, much more impressive cemetery to have a séance. When it was completely dark, we had located a small valley amidst the gravestones and sat in a circle. The girl with the book lit a candle and repeated incantations, and, with eyes closed and hands held tight, we waited for a ghost. Everyone decided the séance had been a bust after waiting for five minutes – and unceremoniously breaking the circle without sending the spirit home – but I will protest that I heard footsteps in our moment of silence, crunching the grass behind us slowly down the hill.
Another expedition involved the Melon Heads at Felt Mansion in Saugatuck. “Melon Heads” was a name for those who suffered from hydrocephalus and had remarkably large heads. The legend stated that back around 1900, there was an asylum for the Melon Heads, but the doctor at that asylum abused them and experimented on them. When the funds for the asylum had run out, the doctor sent the Melon Heads out into the wild, where they have been since. After a trip to the beach, we decided to find Felt Mansion, the old asylum, and find some sign of the improbable tale. We drove down a long country road until we eventually came to a dead end. The sun was slowly setting as we crept down this road by the woods, seeing an abandoned semi-truck between the trees. When we reached the dead end, we were suddenly alarmed by the pair of incredibly aged roller skates dangling over the dirty dead end sign. We immediately reversed and never attempted to find the asylum again.
I would like to say that there had been a successful time, that after searching for the paranormal, we did experience something that proved the local legends to be true or fake. However, we were kids with flashlights and a zeal for the unexplained – we were never meant to figure it out.
Here’s a link to a few occurrences we have visited or wanted to: