Book exhibits Dunkirk’s paranormal story

By Jesse Sherwood, Staff Writer


12/09/07 - Observer

When you open up the OBSERVER, most of the time you see the usual news of the day. Town board meetings, sports, local happenings and features. But if you were alive in 1910, you may have seen a much different kind of story.

It is this type of out-of-the-ordinary, offbeat story that appears in Chad Lewis’ new book, “Hidden Headlines of New York: Strange, Unusual and Bizarre Newspaper Stories 1860-1910.”

According to the article that appeared in the Sept. 23, 1910 issue of the Dunkirk Evening Observer, which Lewis found through extensive research, there was an unusual sighting.

“Several people report that an air ship passed over Dunkirk Thursday evening between six and seven o’clock, traveling in a westerly direction,” the 1910 article states. “Dennis Ready, chief engineer at the city water works plants, says that he saw the aircraft for at least an hour, observing it though a telescope. Mr. Ready says that the airship consisted of two large cigar shaped gas bags, one over the other, and from the lower one was suspended a basket.”

Lewis said that during his research, he found hundreds of stories like this one from Dunkirk, but had to make room for other bizarre New York stories.

“You could spend years looking for strange stories in your own town and paper and write a whole book,” he said.

Lewis, who is a paranormal investigator for Unexplained Research LLC, first became interested in the paranormal after he received his master’s degree in applied psychology.

“I was interested in why people believed in paranormal things, like UFOs and ghosts. But, as I did psychological research, I found people asking me to investigate occurrences for them. So that’s what I do now, although I am still interested in the psychology behind it,” he said.

Lewis started looking through newspaper archives for his first “Headlines” book, “Hidden Headlines of Wisconsin,” his home state. Then he went on to do a book about Texas. It was his research for these two books that led Lewis to investigate New York’s paranormal newspaper history.

“In both Wisconsin and Texas I found strange stories in the papers relating to New York. I thought, ‘If these are appearing in Wisconsin and Texas papers, then I wonder what stories New York papers have,’” he related.

And Lewis found plenty of stories. After doing research of around 20 different papers in more than 100 different cities through the Internet, historical societies and newspaper archives, Lewis had more than enough material to work from.

Lewis said it isn’t just the paranormal aspects of the book that are interesting. He said that the history is also fascinating.

“These older newspaper stories have more of these type of bizarre stories. But there are still some today. You have to remember that back then, there wasn’t television, Internet and the media we have today. Newspapers were where people got not just the news, but entertainment and local gossip,” he said.

Currently, Lewis is working on a similar book about California’s unusual stories. He says that, if he had enough time, he would like to do a book for all 50 states.

“These books are a time portal. Like the book about New York, you really get sucked back into that time period. You really feel like you just picked up the paper off your front step and read these articles for the first time. For a minute, you really feel like you’re back in that time,” he said.

To order Lewis’ book, go to www.unexplainedresearch.com.

Comments on this article may be sent to trzepka@observertoday.com.

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