Tonight we went to our children’s school fall festival. I am new to this community and have spent much time reading the history in our new hometown.
Brandenburg is a beautiful town nestled in the green hills above the Ohio River Valley, but it has an incredible past. On April 3, 1974 Brandenburg was destroyed in the horrific tragedy which is now known as the “Super Outbreak of 74”.
After the festival our family went behind the school to the graveyard beyond to investigate.
Some may think it strange that the high school football field is so closely bordered by a graveyard and I would agree. I walked among the rows of graves till I reached a monument marker dedicated to the 1974 tragedy. The tornado ripped ancient grave markers off the graves that fateful day. It smashed the grave stones and destroyed the identity of the buried. Many unmarked graves rest in the path of the tornado, never to be identified. This entire town has been forever marked by that moment.
As the victims and dead were counted, they decided under dire circumstances, to place the bodies on the gym bleachers and to hold funerals in the gym. They air lifted survivors from the track field and as more and more bodies were found they had to begin burials. It’s a horrible unspeakable tragedy and most people seem to avoid talking about the past or the ghostly activity. But many have admitting to hearing the voices and seeing the ghostly figures.
The gym, showers and areas surrounding are the main focus. But even the band room has had mysterious musical instruments playing long after the students have left for the day. A ghostly image of a young boy holding his tuba have been seen standing at a window after the school had been locked for the day. He has been seen by so many people that the window had to be filled in with bricks. One night as the band came back to the school after a performance, the color guard went to put away flags in the instrument room only to hear a disembodied voice whisper “I’m here”.
One day after the bell rang for students to leave, my daughter was left alone in the girls locker room where the shower is located. She heard persistent knocking coming from the darkness of the shower room. A place none of her classmates will go. One girl tried to use the darkened shower area as a dressing room. It made her feel so uncomfortable that after just a few days she couldn’t stand to use it any longer.
Many people have heard voices coming from the hallways by the gym once the school day ends. Seems they still gather there on the other side. There have been lights seen racing from one end of the football field to the other and back up to the old field where the victims rest in graves.
One morning at dawn this summer, my niece was waiting for flag drills to begin. She had her back to the bright sun as it was rising that morning. Then suddenly, she saw in the long shadows across the field that someone had come up behind her. They gently grabbed her elbow and tugged, so she turned around. No one was there..she was completely alone. The shadow was also gone, but it left her with an icy chill.
This week I read about the lives of those killed that day. The victims ranged from a 3 month old baby, his 16 year old mother and 14 year old uncle, to an 84 year old women who was getting her hair done when both her and her 40 year old hair dresser were killed. A family of boys ranging from 8 to 14 died with their mother.
All voices from the past.
They called to me tonight in that graveyard…
Here, the last dying embers of sunlight touch the Autumn leaves.
The sound of the high school band thumps out a cheerful melody, and the shadows grow long upon the grave stones. What a dynamic, so much life with youth shouting and enjoying the homecoming festivities…only seconds away from the resting place of such tragedy.
The past is buried in the hill above the new grandstands filled with those joyful children. But for someone like me, it’s only a facade…
For when I snapped a few pictures as I was leaving the graveyard I later found a black misty figure leaning against a gravestone. Truly, the best ghost stories are the ones you can see for yourself.