Written by: Mark ChristopherEdited by: Holly ChristopherPhotography: Holly ChristopherEditor’s note: Last summer, my husband and I accompanied our children on a musical tour of Europe. We were traveling with American Music Abroad, an organization that takes high school and college kids on European tours where they perform concerts at various locations and tour when they aren’t performing. The events in this post are one hundred percent true and have bothered my logical, science minded, rational explanation for events husband ever since it happened, hence the researching and writing. Draw your own conclusions.We arrived in the small Italian town of Copparo and our tour buses stopped at the old town square. There was a pretty park in the center of the square with trees and a fountain. The park was surrounded on three sides by old buildings. The buildings on the left side consisted of a small bar on one corner with an old school building rounding out that side of the park.On the back side of the square was the long municipal building. On the right side of the square were several tall buildings with local stores, a pharmacy and even a little gelato shop.We were traveling with a bus tour of high school and college musicians and their directors. This was their first performance on their 3-week tour of Europe. As the musicians practiced their music and got ready for the concert, my wife and I decided to take a stroll around the square. It was evening but still very light out because it was July. Somewhere between 8 or 9pm as we began our stroll. We walked to the left and passed by the small bar with its patrons talking and looking curiously at the four busloads of musicians as they scurried about preparing for the performance.A few elderly locals were walking around the square and a few older Italian men were riding their bicycles around in circles, or finding a spot to listen to the music when it started.Our stroll led us up in front of the tall school building on the left side of the square.My wife and I talked about how the town seemed to be frozen in time. We walked and talked taking a few pictures here and there. Soon we got to the end of the left side of the square ready to turn right along the back side of the square. That is when my wife looked at me and said “It feels like the war is still going on. Everything looks and feels as if soldiers from WWII could come walking out at anyminute.”We were both looking towards the left at an old building that reminded us of places we’d seen in war movies, when up in the sky to our right we saw a low-flying plane coming towards us. It was flying pretty low, about a hundred or so feet above the municipal building flying at an angle across the end of the square.It looked like a WWII plane but there was no sound. By no sound, I mean completely and totally silent. There wasn’t even the accompanying whoosh you’d hear with a glider or the snap associated with a kite. It soared directly over our heads and continued to the left of us cutting across the end of the square at an angle and disappeared out of site as it went behind the old school.We were in shock. My wife was just talking about how it felt like WWII still and a WWII plane flew right over our heads. We both said “Wow! That was amazing!” We continued our stroll and talked about the plane as we walked. We both said it looked like a smaller version of one of those large WWII bombers that Harry Connick Jr. had flown in a war movie we’d seen years ago. It was dark green, it had windows for the pilots as well as a gunner type window and all of the windows were black. We could not see any pilots inside the plane even though it was flying so low. It also had a zero on the back mid body section of the plane.Soon our stroll took us over to the gelato shop where we got a couple still waters and some gelato. We sat down outside the shop and talked about it some more. We discussed how strange the experience was and that it was very odd that a WWII Japanese Zero would be flying around Italy. We thought that maybe there was some type of war reenactment going on nearby. We joked about jumping through time for a moment. We finished our gelato and went back to the front ofthe square to claim a couple of seats to watch the kid’s performance.About a month later after we were back home. I couldn’t stop thinking about that night in Copparo. I decided to do some research to see if there had been a reenactment nearby on the day we were there, that could’ve explained the experience. I looked and looked, and found that no reenactments had been going on. Then I decided to see if there had been any air shows in the area. The answer was no. In fact, I found out that WWII reenactment is rarely if ever done in Europe and especially in Italy. Italy was in a bad position with regard to the war. It supported Germany for most of it and when it was clear that the Germans were losing, they flipped to the Allied side. So for most of the war they had been fighting Allied troops, and then for the last several months of the war they were being invaded from the north by the Germans and from the south by the Allies. When the war was over, Italy did not really want to remember the war, not to mention they didn’t want to do reenactments.With that avenue of research hitting a dead end. I started to research whether or not there were ever any WWII Japanese Zeros sent to fight in Italy. That was a pretty easy one, there were not. So, why did my wife and I see what appeared to be a WWII Japanese Zero flying over Copparo, Italy? There had to be some type of logical answer, didn’t there? I then started researching whether or not any type of notable event had taken place in or around Copparo during WWII. I could not find any battles or events that occurred there or were documented. Copparo was a rural town that was not critical to Italy, Germany or the Allies.I did find many stories about the “Pippo” night fighters that flew over northern Italy. A solitary plane nicknamed a “Pippo” by the locals would fly over the countryside and bomb anything that emitted light. The “Pippo” struck terror in the residents of northern Italy as they would hear the single engine plane flying over their homes and they would pray that it would not find them. Based on the accounts I read, the “Pippo” would have a loud engine sound, so it wasn’t anything to do with one of those, because the plane we saw made no sound. I kept researching and digging, which led me to an extremely startling discovery.I finally found a story about a WWII aircraft and the town of Copparo, Italy in the same article. The story stated that on April 21, 1945 a Royal Air Force Douglas A-20K Boston Mark V plane went down after being hit by a German anti-aircraft battery southwest of Copparo. Interesting I thought so, I looked for a picture of the type of aircraft that went down. Here it is…
I just about passed out! That was the exact plane that my wife and I saw fly right over our heads while standing in the corner of the square in Copparo in July. There was even a zero, but it turned out to be the RAF symbol. The more I read about the incident, the stranger it became. When the plane went down with four crew members aboard on April 21, 1945, it was not found. It wasn’t until 2006 that an archaeologist interviewing an eye witness to the crash in 1945, first determined the crash site using metal detectors. In July 2011 the final location of the downed plane was finally discovered during an excavation of the site. They were able to confirm the type of plane, find the bones of 4 people and small personal items such as a ring and a watch. After some intense investigation they were able to determine the exact plane and identify the four airmen. The airmen were finally laid to rest at a commonwealth war cemetery in Padua, Italy in July 2013, 68 years after their deaths.What did we see that evening in Copparo, Italy. A ghost plane? A crack in time? An event that replays itself over and over again? Four airmen trying to no longer be lost and forgotten, wanting to go home? I have no idea. My logical mind can’t explain this one. So, I leave it up to you to decide. To read more about “The finding of the Douglas A-20K Boston Mark V sn BZ590” please follow this link…
- P.S. Please excuse the poor paragraph formatting. WordPress seems to be having some issues today. First, the entire post disappeared, now, it’s formatted correctly on the page I’ve written it on, but it doesn’t show up right on the site. It happens. Have a great day and be nice to somebody. 🙂
When I was a teenager, my Mom and Dad and I went to Florida several times on vacation. We always drove and we always stopped at the Quality Inn in Valdosta, Georgia on the way down. This hotel screamed “The South” to me; plantation shutters, beautiful gardens, a pool that I loved and a small-ish, original to the property house all graced the place. We ALWAYS ate dinner at the Ho-Jo’s across the street then came back and my Mom and I would wander the grounds before my solo swimming sessions at the pool. Mom would sit there and watch me swim “in case something happened” but she would’ve not been much help if something HAD happened because she couldn’t swim. My Dad would usually stay in the room smoking and watching t.v.
Even though we always only stayed there one night because we were just passing through, I loved that place. I entertained some of my most vivid Gone With the Wind fantasies inside my head as my Mom and I walked the grounds. I kept waiting for Rhett Butler to come around a bend and fall in love with me, and beautiful girls in hoop skirts to be flirting with handsome boys at a barbeque on the lawn. I loved it so much that when I grew up, I wanted to stop there with MY family, so one year when my daughter was little, we got off the highway and went to the hotel. It was some other chain by then, but the plantation shutters, gardens, pool and house were still there. They were shabbier than they had been and I realized that the property was literally RIGHT next to the highway. When I was a child, the grounds had been so lush that you couldn’t SEE the highway, so I had no idea. It was a little chilly, so we couldn’t get in the pool, which was disappointing, and if it had been warm, I would never have let my baby in it anyway because it wasn’t really clean and THAT was disappointing. The Ho-Jo’s was gone as were Rhett and the rest of the gang and THAT was disappointing. The whole experience left me feeling let down and I was glad to leave the next morning. The only way I’ll ever go back is if I win the Power Ball and go buy it and return it to it’s former glory, so when I heard about Sarah Addison Allen’s new book Lost Lake, I felt that I might be able to relate.
Sarah Addison Allen is one of my favorite authors. I have all of her books and I love them all. They are all lyrical, and a little magical. One of her books has a protagonist who enchants with her baked goods, another book has mysterious lights in a garden. They are lovely, beautiful stories, and Lost Lake is no different.
Kate is a young widow with a daughter named Devin, and a mother-in-law named Cricket. After the loss of her husband, Kate “goes to sleep” for a year. When she finally snaps out of it just as she is about to take her daughter and move in with Cricket, she finds a postcard from her great-aunt Eby who owns a lake resort in southern Georgia. Eby is the last relative Kate has, and on a whim, Kate decides to load Devin into the car and drive down to visit Eby who she had only met once, when as a child, she and her family had spent several weeks at Lost Lake.
When Kate arrives at the lake, it is obvious that time has taken it’s toll. The property has fallen into disrepair, the guests who summered there for years are aging out of coming back, and Eby has decided to sell and retire. During the course of her visit, Kate reconnects with people she met before as well as meets a whole new cast of characters. Without giving too much away, there is a mute French woman, a ghost in a chair, a ghost alligator, a mystery, and a lovely man to occupy her time.
Lost Lake is a beautiful story about families, new beginnings, endings, tying up loose ends, grief in many of it’s forms, forgiveness, understanding, letting go of the past and embracing the future. You can’t go home again, but you CAN use your past to make your life move forward. Sometimes ghosts can help you learn how to go on. I enjoyed reading this book in the middle of winter, because it transported me to summer; to cool drinks by the water, lanterns in the trees and dancing in the moonlight. Thank you Sarah Addison Allen for giving me another beautiful story to think about and another book to add to my stack. It’s a keeper.
Have a great day and read a great book 🙂
I’m not obsessed with ghosts or anything, they just seem to be occupying a lot of my time lately. So, light a fire, throw an afghan over your legs and cozy up for another horrifying ghost story.
Once upon a time, two families of friends went on a vacation together to South Dakota. This intrepid crew stopped at a ghost town that had been used in movies to sight-see and have lunch in an old train car. There were cats in the area and while my memory is a little iffy for the details, I’ll recount the tale as best I can. There was a noise, or a meow or something and not a single one of those varmints was visible. The Dad of one of the families said somthing like, “You have to jump up and down and spin around three times so the ghost cat can’t follow you home.” The Mom of the other family laughed and said, “I’ll take my chances.” THAT brave reader was a mistake.
Fast forward a few years to June 27, 2011. That foolish Mom was making dinner for her family. It was a lovely dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans and crescent rolls. This Mom uses real butter in her cooking, so she opened the last new box of butter that she had, took one stick out to use in the potatoes and on the rolls and made a mental note that the three sticks that were left were more than enough to make the frosting for her son’s birthday cake the next day and for any general uses the family would have until she could get to the grocery store.
The next day, the family went fishing. It was a last minute decision, and an important cake needed to be made, but the Mom decided to go ahead and go with her family and make the cake when she got home. The family had a wonderful time and the little boy caught 13 tiny blue gills. When they got home, the Mom got in the refrigerator to get out a stick of butter to soften for the frosting while she made the cake. She looked high and low, in the fridge drawers and in the dairy thingy on the door. She couldn’t find the butter! She called her husband and said, “While I put the cake together, could you please look for the butter? There are three sticks in the box. I’ve looked and I can’t find it and I really need to get this cake made.” So he looked. He looked high and low, in the drawers and in the dairy thingy on the door. He couldn’t find it either!! He asked the Mom if she was sure about the butter. She said absolutely, and went through the entire story again. “Well, if you remember it that well, you can’t be mistaken.”
This always thinking Dad started looking in the garbage can. The empty butter box was in the garbage! It was laying on TOP of some papers that the Mom had thrown away that morning before the fishing trip! He looked for the papers that would’ve been wrapped around the butter sticks. They were not there. He questioned the children. They knew nothing. The Mom and Dad snuck around the house looking for abandoned butter stick papers in the kid’s rooms, behind couches, in office trash cans. NOTHING!! The Mom in her very smart way pointed out that whoever had taken the butter and thrown away the box had done so AFTER the family went fishing. The mystery gets even deeper here. No one else has keys to the family’s house, so the only logical explanation is that a GHOST had taken the butter and eaten it or used it to get back through the portal to the other realm because the butter was completely and totally absent and gone from the house.
SO, the Ghost Cat who obviously followed this poor family home, brought a friend and waited stealthily like cats are know to do, until the family sort of forgot about him and when they least expected it, he whipped out his friend, THE BUTTER GHOST to terrorize these innocent people.
Moral of the story? Next time someone tells you that you have to do a fancy and public dance to ward off a ghost, you’d better do it, because they bring friends. MWUHAHAHAHHhaaaaa……
I realize how terrorizing this tale is, and I would like to tell you that it is not true, unfortunately, it is 100% true. Ghost Cat dance and disappearing butter and all. I’m sorry if you now have to sleep with your lights on…
In early June, my family and I fulfilled a long-term dream. We went to Mackinac Island in Michigan and spent the night out on the Island. Before I go any further, I need to tell you a few things. First, it is pronounced MackinAW, not MackinAC. The locals will get on your case if you pronounce it wrong. I know, I know, it makes no sense, but that’s just the way it is.
Second, we stayed at a pretty nice place called Mission Point Resort. It was kinda hot when we got there, and when we got into our room and tried to turn on the air conditioning, we discovered that the air conditioning was a ceiling fan and an open window. Thankfully, my husband is an environmental controls specialist and he used his magical skills to reverse said ceiling fan so that instead of blowing the hot ceiling air DOWN on us, it sucked UP the slightly cooler floor air and thus sorta cooled the room. Also thankfully, within a few hours of our arrival, the weather became much more Michigan-like and our room got almost chilly.
Third, never, never, ever, ride your bike or walk through a puddle on Mackinac Island. There are no cars, only feet, bikes and horses. The horses are the reason for avoiding puddles. They may not be composed of water if you get my drift.
Fourth, the downtown part of the island smells worse on a warm day than the French Quarter in July. For the reason, see third above.
Fifth, the locals call tourists Fudgies. I don’t think I like that.
Sixth, the place is lousy with spirits and I don’t mean booze.
The first night we got there, we were riding our bikes out along the path that runs all the way around the Island. We were out in what we called the “country” although an argument could be made that the whole place is the country. All of a sudden, coming toward us was a guy on an old fashioned bike. It was one of the ones with the HUGE front wheel and the little tiny back wheel. He was dressed in old fashioned golf clothes and he had one of those little wool caps with the bill on it, pulled way down low over his eyes. He was hauling you know what and we were in awe, because our backsides were screaming from hours of bike riding and we could barely move. We looked right at him, and he completely ignored us. Didn’t look in our direction, just kept going on that cool old bike.
So the second and last night (only two nights, because as I read yesterday in a magazine, budget travelers should stay on the mainland) we were there, we took a ghost tour. That girl walked our bike injured butts all over the place, and finally, at the second to last stop at the bottom of a hill in one of the neighborhoods, she told us about a fatal bike crash from the early 1900’s in which a guy on a big wheeled bike died on that hill and has since been seen riding his big wheeled bike in his ghostly form on the trail that goes around the perimeter of the Island. Needless to say, the four of us literally almost fell over. The ghost guide proceeded to tell us that we were the first people to see him this summer.
The last stop of the night was at OUR RESORT. It told the story of a bunch of poor little waif kids who had been neglected and died in an old building that is now used to house summer employees. We were going to go down to the lovely lawn that is next to the lake and sit for a bit in the Adirondack chairs there, but alas, the sighting of the Big Wheeled Bike Ghost right up the path from the lawn, proved to be too much for a certain short member of our family to process and we went on back to the room.
Did we see a ghost? I can’t say for sure, but we had NOT heard the story of the ghost until after we saw it/him, and when we told the ghost guide about what we had seen, we asked if anyone on the Island had a collection of those bikes and she said no. Although it is comfortable to deny the existence of things that are not easily seen that doesn’t mean that those difficult to see things aren’t there. Just as there is no proof that ghosts exist, there is also no proof that they don’t. I WOULD recommend however that if you get the chance to go to Mackinac Island, you should take it. There is a lot to do, it is like stepping back in time, and you just might see a ghost 🙂