Our theme for the month of October is “This Day in History.”
Uh oh! It’s October 19th today, also known as Halloween Part One, and that means you’re at a real risk of being haunted. Look behind you—is there a ghost? It’s always good to be sure.
October 19th is one of the many days in history that can’t decide if they want to be known for the deeply serious or the silly. Listicles about This Day In History will inform you that the trial of Saddam Hussein began on October 19th in the same somber breath that they inform you of the momentous release of Cher’s hit song, “Believe.”
So, if you find yourself sensing a confusing energy from the ghosts in your life and you can’t quite figure out who’s behind it, pay close attention. You just may be haunted by a ghost that passed away on October 19th. Take a look around, and let’s check out the clues.
1. You’re at The Vatican.
This is probably not a super common location for you. Are you just passing through? On vacation, maybe? That’s cool, that’s cool. The Vatican probably gets lots of visitors this time of year, but only one is the ghost of Pope Urban III, who died on October 19th. Do Catholics believe in ghosts? If not, then the former pope had probably better stop haunting the place.
2. You’re asleep on a train.
Don’t worry—this ghost won’t wake you up in the middle of the night just to rattle your doorknob. He invented the sleeper train, after all, and he wants you to get a cozy night’s sleep. That’s right, it’s George Pullman! When you hear the whistle blow directly outside your window, that’s not the train whistle—it’s Pullman’s ghost, whistling almost inhumanly loudly, wishing you sweet dreams.
3. You’re on strike.
What happened? We were just on a peaceful train ride, and now you’re picketing? Oh, would you look at that—who should come strolling down the lane but…George Pullman? He’s here to fire everyone for attempting to strike, you say? Yikes, George! Thankfully, Pullman is a ghost, so he can’t pull that move off this time around, but I’m sure he’ll shake his fist nefariously at the sky about it.
4. You’re caught in a rainstorm.
If you find yourself trapped in a Waffle House because it’s raining too hard to go home just yet, think of Fujiwara Seika. This Neo-Confucian philosopher probably didn’t have access to a Waffle House, but he did get his travel plans foiled by bad weather. His Wikipedia page could have been twice as long, if only the storm hadn’t stopped him. But don’t worry; the weather did eventually improve, and he was able to continue his studies past the ripe old age of 35.
5. You’re reading Pride and Prejudice.
Just kidding—if you’re reading a Jane Austen book, you are not at risk of being haunted because Jane Austen did not, in fact, die on October 19th, even if the internet did try to convince me of that fact. Why, this whole article was originally going to be about places one might haunt if one were Jane Austen’s ghost, but it had to be rewritten at the last minute. Can you tell?!
6. The Vatican, again?
Hey, the Vatican is cool and all, but maybe check out a different location. Francesco I de’ Medici also died on October 19th, but he’s much more likely to be found in Florence, so consider dragging yourself away from the Pope’s hometown for a while.
If you think these locations are overly specific, and you were going to just tell me that you were strolling through a corn maze or frollicking in a pumpkin patch, you’ll have to take your complaints to the Bureau of October 19th. But be warned: they’ll only be taking your complaints until sundown, and then they’ve got a sleeper train to catch.
Hannah McNulty graduated from Calvin in 2021 and stuck around Grand Rapids, against all odds. She has spent her last few years singing in choir, teaching herself to love reading again, and trying to learn every fiber art simultaneously. She currently works at Eerdmans Publishing, where you can find her burying her nose in old paperwork and forcing anyone within earshot to listen to her bad puns.