October 31, 2014

After 120 years, one would think Culver Academies would have a number of Halloween tales of terror to share. But, surprisingly, there aren’t that many. Here are a few we were able to find:

The one that has been around the longest is “The Phantom of Argonne.” The Culver Academies Museum Curator Jeff Kenney searched the Digital Vault archives and found two stories, almost 70 years apart, in The Vedette documenting the Phantom. While his presence was officially noted as far back as 1926, the reason for his appearances was never given.

According to a March 26, 1926 Vedette article, this dark figure patrols the third floor halls of Argonne. The article states that the question “confronting the terror-stricken cadets” is why does the Phantom stay strictly to the third floor.

One time the cadets heard “weird shudders and moans.” Another night there were footsteps and the cadets heard the water fountain running. Yet, when they checked the fountain it was dry.

The phantom reappears in a Feb. 1, 1994, Vedette article when girls living in Argonne said “a man dressed in a tuxedo appears in the mirror in their bathroom. This spooky gentleman is referred to as ‘Tuxedo Man.’”

That article added that Argonne residents reported hearing the showers mysteriously turning on and off. But witnesses added they didn’t know whether to chalk it up to a ghostly presence or just “bad plumbing.”

An interesting note is that a website called Ghosts of America has a very brief Culver reference to “a tall figure in a black suit that can be seen standing on the clock tower during the Sunday garrison parade.” The writer, who is anonymous, finishes his piece with “He stands on the tower and watches us.”

Another spooky tall tale that has stood the test of time around Culver Summer Schools & Camps campfires “explains” why there is no Division 2 in Woodcraft Camp.

It involves a Woodcraft Camp counselor named Zeke who slips in wet grass and runs over his foot with a lawn mower. The horrendous accident leaves his foot disfigured, which leaves him with a noticeable limp.

The accident evidently impacts him psychologically as well. When Zeke overhears the Division II campers making fun of his limp, he loses control and extracts his revenge against the entire unit.

Another CMA story involves a group of cadets who sneak out of the barracks late one night and go to Memorial Chapel. While inside, they hear young boys singing. As the song progresses the voices get deeper, as if the singers are growing older. The cadets didn’t stay for the song to end.

Possibly the most recent is visual arts instructor Bob Nowalk’s story that he shared with The Culver Citizen during last Halloween.

What are your favorite Culver ghost stories? Please share your comments below.

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