Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteries Among Us #10

Welcome back to "Mysteries Among Us." In this feature, we share mysteries that intrigue us. They could be mysteries in the national news, in our own communities, even in our own families. Or they could be mysteries from the past that continue to haunt us. Mysteries are everywhere! Maybe some of what we've found will spark ideas for fictional mysteries. We'd love to know what mysteries fascinate you too!   

L.R. Giles: I have an affinity for gangster movies, and there's a certain piece of underworld lore that has resurfaced in my mind as of late. What happened to Jimmy Hoffa? In case you don't know the name, Hoffa was a labor leader from the 1930s into the 1970s. He was also a notorious criminal. He disappeared in 1975 and was never seen again. Popular theories about his possible location include a junk yard full of old oil drums and somewhere underneath the New York Giants stadium. I'm sticking with my own personal theory...that he was abducted by aliens. I'm sure Jimmy would appreciate my optimism.

Elisa Ludwig: I'm fascinated by the story of Morgellon's disease, a skin disease which many thought was a parasite infection that makes the skin literally crawl. Other symptoms include chronic fatigue, brain fog, ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, joint swelling and hair loss. Sounds pretty awful, right? Even though people in Florida, Texas and California—including singer Joni Mitchell—have reported having this cluster of symptoms, a recent CDC study found that there were no disease organisms present, and that the sensations they experienced were the product of "delusional infestation." The 2012 study should put a lot of people's minds to rest, but I for one, will still be interested to see where this discussion goes in the future.

Diana Renn: Ever since a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, I've been fascinated by The Loretto Chapel staircase. It's an elegant wooden spiral structure leading up to a choir loft, built with two 360 degree turns and no visible structural support. Oh, and no nails. When the chapel was finished in 1878, carpenters were brought in to consult on how to access the choir loft concluded a staircase would not be possible, due to the size and constraints of the building. The Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, and soon after, a humble carpenter showed up and built one. He then disappeared without pay or thanks. Some believe it was Saint Joseph himself. I just love the triple mystery involved here: who was the carpenter? Why or how did he use wood that was not from the region? And how was this helix-structured staircase built so cleverly? The Snopes website actually dispels some mystery about the last question; experts say it's not quite the engineering marvel it seems to be, yet the tourist industry relies on the legend. Still, enough mystery remains to intrigue me. I love mysteries about mysterious appearances and disappearances!

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