Archive for February, 2020

In Traverse City, Michigan, US there is the last of the Kirkbride style building which is one of four that were originally in Michigan. It was established in 1881, due to the demand for a third psychiatric unit at the time. In 1885 it opened with 43 patients, James Decker Munson was the superintendent from its opening until 1924. It was, at the time, one of the largest employers in the area.

Before the 1950’s and drugs, Munson advocated therapy, kindness, comfort and pleasure for rehabilitation and treatment. He forbade the use of restraints, such as straight jackets, and the idea of therapy via productive work was one thing that seemed key. 1910’s to 1930’s the farm there was even home to a world champion milk cow, Traverse Colantha Walker, her grave is at the end of the farm dirt trail and asylum route.

It was primarily for the service of the patients, needing psychiatric care but also expanded during the outbreak of TB, typhoid, influenza, polio and diphtheria. At some points in time it was used for the care of the elderly and drug rehabilitation. The asylum/hospital then carried on from 1926, into the 1950’s and a portrait of Dr Munson hangs out at the main lobby of Munson Medical Care.

The decline came like many during the 1950’s, most of the buildings were demolished in the 1970’s and in 1989 it closed with a loss of 200 jobs to the local community. In 2000 there was an agreement reached to secure and renovate the existing buildings. It seems that not all of the hospital could be saved but it is fortunate that some of it has been.

Searching around I found reference to a take about the Hippy Tree, if you walk around it in the ‘correct way’ you can find a portal to hell. Sounds fun for a random nonsensical urban legend.

Other than the usual stories of spooky noises, bangs and echoes I could find nothing worth on the paranormal scale. Again, if you can show me something worthwhile I’ll take a look.

Traverse City State Hospital postcard circa 1930.jpg
By Unknown author – postcard, Public Domain, Link

 

I have a copy of the first edition published of the game Wraith, it is battered and showing its age but it is still sat in my collection. It was published in 1994 by White Wolf and is part of the World of Darkness setting. The World of Darkness is an alternative world, a fictional setting using our world events and accepting that supernatural events and creatures like vampires, werewolves and mages exist.

I remember the rumours about this when I was more heavily into following the Role Play Gaming scene and thought I might do a tea break read on it.

So rumour had it that the game setting was being worked on and that play testing is a part of this, so during the first play test and in talks with the designers they all had instances where they were falling ill When they tried to prepare the book for its original publication the printing factory burnt down.

So this is really what seems to be nothing more than a rumour circulating at the time, there was no twitter to hashtag it out and a look online only had one other person that had posted about it. So it was a rumour mill that may well have not gone all that far outside of small circles or in chat rooms now very out of date or defunct. So was there any basis to this? Most likely not, it was more likely down to the fact that the game was just selling poorly.

The game itself meant that before you even started the game you had to conceive characters that had been traumatized enough to become these angry/tormented spirits. This was not just hard for players to work with but also the storyteller. I am quite sure the concept and development was hard work, the subject of things like murder, suicide and horrific accidents are going to drag the most positive of folk down over time.

Ultimately I don’t consider this a case of cursed gaming more a case of concept that didn’t sell well in reality. After two editions Wraith: The Oblivion was shelved and now appropriately haunted a space in my collection like it does many other people’s shelves.

Does any one else recall this?

Wraithoblivi c.jpg
By Source, Fair use, Link