4/11 HJ Radio Show Recap: Lewis O. Powell IV

What an absolutely delightful guest Lewis turned out to be. Not that I had any doubts, mind you. It’s just that I really enjoy reading his blog. It was even more fun putting an audible voice to all of that! And the way he could just peel haunted history out of his head? Admirable!

Are you wondering, What do you mean he could just peel haunted history out of his head? (That’s quite the visual, isn’t it?)

I’m saying that because I can’t just whip things out of my brain when I’m put on the spot. Once in a while I can, but mostly I freeze up.

Not Lewis. He was super smooth, no script needed! (Yes, I use scripts. Before each show I make myself notes. Now you know, whether you wanted to or not!)

I’ll give you an example…

Self-Proclaimed “Eclectic Ghost Nerd”

I’m not sure where I found it, maybe his bio on his blog, but somewhere I saw that Lewis described himself as an “eclectic ghost nerd.” I found it quite catchy and wanted to ask him about that. So I did.

He explained how he’s always been fascinated by ghost stories and started researching them very young. He also said he was influenced by English ghost lore.

That’s when Eric G. in the chat room asked which ghost stories influenced Lewis most. Love audience participation, so I asked him.

The Southern Spirit Guide’s Guide to Great British Ghost Lore
Glamis Castle – Source: Wikipedia

Now if it had been me? I would’ve needed time to form an answer I’m sure. Not Lewis. He didn’t hesitate at all.

Glamis Castle in Scotland popped first to his mind. He mentioned how the haunted castle was the setting for one of Shakespeare’s plays that he didn’t want to mention but did say that it started with an “Mac.”

And looking back…why didn’t I ask the obvious question: “Why don’t we mention it?”

Maybe he’ll read this and answer, or maybe we’ll be able to get him back on the show one day and ask.

Then he spoke about a very famous photo that he saw in his youth which perhaps left the biggest mark of all: the hooded figure of Newby Church.

The Specter of Newby Church.jpg
The Spectre of Newby Church – Source: Wikipedia

He said the Newby Monk ghost photo was one of the creepiest, most disturbing photos he’d ever seen as a kid.

Had to Google that live during the show.

Bam! Tons of hits popped up, including a Wikipedia page for the Spectre of Newby Church, which had the exact photo Lewis was speaking of.

I don’t know why the image startled me so much, but he wasn’t kidding. It’s very creepy.

It also fascinated me because Kelsey Morgan has been writing a Frightful Photo Friday series, and one of her posts was about the history of spirit photography.

There are a lot of chilling, alleged ghost photos from the early days of photography that have since been proven false. This Newby ghost monk one is not among them. No one has proven it fake.

I’ve got my doubts for some reason. (Although, that’s me. Skeptic at heart.) It seems a little too staged and convenient that it’s looking towards the camera.

Also, looking at it again with fresh eyes, it reminds me of the mask from the movie Scream.

Of course the movie was made decades after the photo was taken, but did Wes Craven, or the movie’s costume’s designer, perhaps draw inspiration for it from the Spectre of Newby Church?


Haunted Caves, a Devil’s Fountain, and the Many Haunts of Hank Williams

The time flew too, too fast with Lewis.

But in the time we did have, Lewis shared some great stories, such as:

  • The Haunted Pillar of Augusta, GA – Actually, I’m not sure we talked about this one on air, or just pre-show with Brock, Lewis and myself. Still, it’s worth mentioning because it’s fascinating. Lewis went to check this out for himself. There’s a haunted pillar at Broad and 5th Streets in Augusta, Georgia with an unsavory rep: touch it and die! Lewis didn’t, but him and his boyfriend did pose with it. He got a great shot of it in front of the Haunted Pillar Tattoo Parlor, and also a shot of the historic marker for it. You can check it out on his site here: http://southernspiritguide.blogspot.com/2014/01/pillar-of-communityaugusta-georgia.html.
  • The Zoo and Botanic Garden Built On Top of Graves – Lewis shared some neat info about the Birmingham Zoo and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens: They’re built on top of graves! Paupers graves. About 4,700 graves remain, which have not been relocated because most are unmarked. That was neat because I recently had a chance to visit the Botanical Gardens, which are gorgeous. I’ll have to write a post about it and share some of the photos. Didn’t know I was walking on hallowed ground at the time.
  • What the Zoo’s Trail Cam Found – I think it was also the Birmingham zoo where Lewis said keepers had set up a trail cam to try and figure out what was eating some baby birds. Not sure if they ever found the aviary-eating culprit but the cam did catch an image of an African American woman in old-fashioned clothes –at night when no one was in the zoo. Creepy and crazy.
  • The Devil’s Fountain – Scott Morrow, host of the Fearless Ghosthunter show on ParaMania Radio, popped in the chat room for Lewis’s show. HAuNTcon (where I met Scott this year) had been in Birmingham in 2016. A true ghost hunter at heart, Scott clearly had checked into some of Birmingham’s haunted history while he was there. He asked Lewis about “some Devil’s Fountain and a cursed tablet or something.” He mentioned a goat sculpture and right away Lewis knew what he was talking about. So did I. I had stumbled across the charming Five Points neighborhood and the eye-catching fountain on accident on my way to check out the Vulcan statue. There was a little museum at the statue that talked about the fountain. I thought I had taken a photo of something concerning it and told Scott I’d look through my pictures. Sure enough, I did. The photo above explains that it was created as a memorial to a man who was murdered. And a little more digging found a link on Roadside America about the “Ram-Headed Southern Storyteller.” There’s a rumor that some consider the “Ram Man” Satanic, but RA assures us it’s only an urban legend.
  • The Cave and the Saber Tooth Ghost Tiger – Lewis also shared a chilling story about a possible ghost of a saber tooth tiger haunting the Lost Sea Caves in Sweetwater, Tennessee. I’ve let too much time lapse between the show and transcribing my notes, so I don’t remember if it was him who felt as if something large and furry glided past him in the cave’s darkness or if it was a guide he’d been talking to when he went. (Listen to the show. He says it there.)
  • Hotels Haunted by Hank Williams – I don’t even know how this came up, other than we had been talking about Birmingham’s haunts and the Redmont Hotel came up. Lewis said one ghost haunting it might be the ghost of Hank Williams. It was one of the last hotels Hank stayed in before dying a couple of days later. The next night he stayed at the Andrew Jackson Hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s now rumored his spirit may also haunt that hotel too. I think this story caught my ear because my father-in-law was a huge Hank Williams fan and I can’t help but think of him when I hear HW’s name. Also, it was interesting to hear that Hank might’ve encountered angels hours before his death. Lewis wrote about that and Hank’s last hours on his blog. Check it out here: http://southernspiritguide.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-redmont-revenants-and.html
Birmingham Botanical Gardens Entrance
This is a bust of the “Ram Man” that graces the Storyteller Fountain

That’s just a taste of the interesting ghost stories Lewis graced us with. Would love to have him back on the show someday.

To hear the episode, you can either download it or listen from our show’s On Demand section on ParaMania Radio.

Lewis’s Links:

His blog, Southern Spirit Guide: http://southernspiritguide.blogspot.com/

His book: Southern Spirit Guide’s Haunted Alabama: A Gazetteer to Ghostlore, Legends, and Haunted Places in the Heart of Dixie

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