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January 23, 2024 10 mins

Two curious tales from the world of all things spooky.

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Speaker 1 (00:04):
Welcome to Aaron Manke's Cabinet of Curiosities, a production of
iHeartRadio and Grimm and Mild. Our world is full of
the unexplainable, and if history is an open book, all
of these amazing tales are right there on display, just
waiting for us to explore. Welcome to the Cabinet of Curiosities.

(00:36):
One twelve Ocean Avenue in Long Island, New York. Five
twenty five South Winchester Boulevard in San Jose, California. Two
thirty Second Street in Fall River, Massachusetts. What do these
addresses have in common? There are some of the most
famous haunted houses in America. You probably know them better
by different names. They're the locations of the Amityville Horror,

(00:58):
the Winchester Mystery House, and the home of Lizzie Borden.
These days, all three are popular tourist destinations, and the
last two are fully functional museums. But there's another locale
you might not know about which has a similarly spooky background.
It sits at five twenty nine North Charles Street in Baltimore, Maryland,
and it flies under the radar because well, it's a

(01:20):
seven to eleven. Now I know what you're thinking fluorescent lights,
slurpy machines and cheap lighters are not spooky. But I
beg to differ. There's simply a facade over the building's
dark history. You see five twenty nine North Charles Street.
Wasn't always a convenience store. It used to be a
boarding house, and way back in eighteen ninety, the owner

(01:41):
welcomed in three guests, Charles Kinnard, Elijah Bond, and Helen Peters.
Now Charles was a businessman and he had a new
product in the works. He invited Elijah, a local investor,
to check out the prototype, mostly because he wanted Elijah's
sister in law, Helen, to come along too. She had
a special Helen that Charles could make use of. When

(02:02):
Elijah and Helen arrived at the boarding house, Charles led
them into his room. Inside, the curtains were drawn, the
space was dimly lit by candles. There was a table
in the center of the room, surrounded by three chairs,
and on the table sat aboard which was inscribed with
the letters of the alphabet and numbers zero through nine
and the words yes and no. Besides that was a

(02:24):
heart shaped plank called a planchette. The trio sat down.
They each lightly rested two fingers on the planchet, and
Helen closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She
said she could feel power emanating from the board. The
men believed her, after all, she was a self proclaimed
psychic medium. That's why Charles wanted her to begin with.

(02:45):
And then Helen opened her eyes and looked at the
business man. She wanted to know if there were any
particular questions that they should ask the board, and Charles
said yes, he needed to know what the product wanted
to be called. That way he could brand it and
advertise it. Helen spoke this request out loud, and as
if by magic, the planchet slowly began to move across
the board. It paused on five different letters, spelling out

(03:08):
a word that none of them had ever heard before,
o U I JA. Baffled, the group asked what the
word meant. The planchet began to move again, this time
spelling a more familiar phrase, goodbye. It seemed that the
board was done talking. Charles stood up, flipped on the lights,
and blew out the candles. He had gotten exactly what

(03:28):
he wanted, another worldly name for his spooky product. But
before this board could hit the shelves, he needed to
get a patent. Luckily, Elijah and Helen agreed to help.
All three of them brought the invention the Ouija or
Ouiji Board, depending on who you ask, to the US
Patent Office in Washington, d C. The following year. Government
officials were not entirely convinced of the board's power until

(03:51):
they placed their fingers on the planchet. That is, as
the legend goes, Helen also rested her hand on the
wooden plank and encouraged the patent officers to ask the
board questions. Somehow, be it ghostly intervention or Helen's own hand,
the Ouiji Board answered every question correctly. Charles left that
day with his patent. The Ouiji board was an instant hit.

(04:13):
First marketed as a legitimate tool for contact the the dead,
it soon became a favorite children's toy too. Towing the
line between being a harmless game and a demonic portal,
the Ouiji board has provided generations of players with both
fun and fright, and it all began inside a modern
day convenience store. So if you ever happen to stop
by that Baltimore seven to eleven look for a silver

(04:36):
plaque on the wall that details the building's history. Unlike
most gas stations, this one's a one stop shop for
fountain drinks, candy bars, and scary stories. Do me a

(05:00):
favor and imagine that you're twelve years old, your parents
are asleep, and you creep into the living room, switch
on the TV, and are confronted by the most unsettling
thing you have ever seen. There's a floating head on
the television screen. It shrouded in shadows, but you can
tell its expression is contorted into a scream. The head
shakes left to right, as if saying no, over and

(05:23):
over again. Meanwhile, a high pitched ringing sound plays in
the background. Suddenly, the head multiplies and a grid of
terrified expressions fill the screen. It's soon replaced by a
close up of a fly which seems to be biting
someone's hand. The head appears again, and the hand rips
the screaming face right off, leaving behind an open mouthed skull.

(05:45):
The image slowly fades, making room for the name of
the TV show written in neon yellow block letters, Late
Night Horror. On April eleventh of nineteen sixty eight, this
opening sequence was viewed by about one point eight million
million people in the United Kingdom. Late Night Horror was
a new BBC anthology series. Episodes featured everything from haunted houses,

(06:08):
to vampires to a brain kept alive in a jar.
It was the first horror show to ever be shot
in color, and it marked the first time that blood
ran red on television. Perhaps because of this, it was
also highly controversial. Naturally, the BBC received letters from viewers
complaining that the show had traumatized their children. They said

(06:28):
it was too terrifying to be shown on television. Now
to mention that the BBC is and was publicly funded,
British morality advocates were furious that their tax dollars were
being spent on such depraved entertainment. After just six episodes,
Late Night Horror came to an end, and the show
wasn't just canceled, the very tapes got destroyed. Late Night

(06:49):
Horror became one of the most well known examples of
lost media. Now. Rumor had it that the program was
wiped because it was too scary, But the truth is
more complicated than that. You see, it's estimated that as
much as seventy percent of television made between the nineteen
fifties and seventies is now lost. Over two hundred and
fifty episodes of Doctor Who are Gone, as are some

(07:10):
of the earliest appearances of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
And I know what you're wondering, Why on earth would
this stuff get destroyed? Well, it comes down to how
people used to view television. In the mid twentieth century.
TV was considered low brow. Broadcasts were meant to be
watched once and then forgotten. Maybe more importantly, though, the

(07:30):
tapes that TV programs were recorded on were really expensive.
The BBC couldn't afford an unlimited amount of tapes, so
when they wanted to make something new, they often had
to record over something else. That's likely what happened to
Late Night Horror. It was sacrificed to make space for
a different program. But to paraphrase HP. Lovecraft, there's nothing

(07:50):
humans fear more than the unknown. The fact that Late
Night Horror is impossible to watch only made it scarier.
But then something changed. In the nineteen eighties, a media
collector named Chris Perry was combing through catalogs for rare
tapes and a listing caught his eye. Someone claimed to
have a reel of a single episode of Late Night
Horror titled The Corpse Can't Play. It's believe the copy

(08:13):
was sent abroad for foreign viewing before the BBC's own
tapes were destroyed, and Chris, as you might imagine, was
a static. He called the seller, only to discover that
the tape had been purchased five minutes earlier. The worst
part the buyer was anonymous. The episode had slipped right
through his fingers. He didn't hear a word about it
for the next thirty years, and then in twenty sixteen

(08:36):
he found the exact same copy of The Corpse Can't
Play listed on eBay. It seemed like the current owner
didn't understand its weight because they were selling it for
a mere eighty five pounds. Chris immediately bought the reel
and handed it over to the British Film Institute. After that,
experts restored the tape, and in twenty seventeen, The Corpse
Can't Play was screened for a live audience. For the

(08:58):
first time in nearly fifty years, people watched a television
program that was once believed to be lost, and you
can even check it out for yourself now. Too. DVD
copies can be ordered online, and there are still five
other episodes of Late Night Horror that have never been recovered,
but the fact that one has been found gives me hope.
Maybe history scariest TV show is still out there somewhere,

(09:21):
just waiting to terrify a new generation of viewers. I
hope you've enjoyed today's guided tour of the Cabinet of Curiosities.
Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, or learn more about
the show by visiting Curiosities podcast dot com. The show

(09:41):
was created by me Aaron Mankey in partnership with how
Stuff Works. I make another award winning show called Lore,
which is a podcast, book series, and television show, and
you can learn all about it over at the Worldolore
dot com. And until next time, stay curious.

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