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If you should find yourself driving along Archer Avenue some dark, lonely night, you just might came face to face with one of the best-known Vanishing Hitchhikers, Resurrection Mary.
One of the most enduring ghost stories is that of the Vanishing Hitchhiker: a mysterious individual standing on the side of a dark, lonely road. If a motorist should take pity on them and offer a ride, the hitchhiker will graciously accept and even engage in spirited (sorry) conversation. Eventually, the hitchhiker will give directions to their home, which in most cases turns out to be a cemetery. Upon reaching their final destination, the hitchhiker suddenly vanishes from the car. It is only then that the driver realizes he or she has just given a ghost a ride.
Variations of the Vanishing Hitchhiker story can be found throughout the entire United States. In fact, older versions of the story that exist in Europe tell of the hitchhiker catching a ride on the back of a horse. But of all the different variations, there is perhaps no other vanishing hitchhiker that has so captured the imagination of the public than Resurrection Mary.
In life, it is believed Resurrection Mary was known as Mary Bregavy—a young woman said to have been killed in a car crash while returning from O’Henry Ballroom in the 1930s. After her death, Mary was buried in Resurrection Cemetery, from which she received her nickname.
Several years after her death, motorists began seeing a young woman in a white dress standing or walking along Archer Avenue. Several individuals even stated they had taken pity on the girl and given her a lift, only to have her mysteriously disappear as the car passed the gates of Resurrection Cemetery.
Stranger still, there were reports coming in from men claiming to have danced with a young woman in a white dress at the O’Henry Ballroom (now the Willowbrook Ballroom). At the end of the evening, the girl would ask for a ride to her "home", which always turned out to be Resurrection Cemetery.
In the late 70s, police received a report of a young woman locked inside Resurrection Cemetery. The passing motorist who called police stated he saw a young woman standing inside the cemetery and holding onto the front gate as if trying to pull it open. When police arrived, they found the cemetery empty. They did, however, find that several of the bars on the cemetery gate were bent open. And on two of the bars were what appeared to be the impressions of two small handprints.
(Note: Cemetery officials claim a truck backing into the gate caused the damage to the bars. In addition, they believe the handprints came from a workerman's asbestos gloves. Officials state that the worker heated the bent bars with a blowtorch and then attempted to straighten them by hand. In a strange move, officials sawed the portion of the bars bearing the handprints off, only to replace them later. The handprints, however, have been obscured by use of a blowtorch).
To this day, reports still filter in of a young woman in a white dress walking along Archer Avenue. But before deciding to see if you can offer Mary a ride, you may want to keep in mind what your mother always told you about picking up hitchhikers.