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Welcome to the official podcast of The Nashville Retrospect, the monthly newspaper devoted to stories from Nashville's past. Editor and host Allen Forkum interviews local historians and people who experienced the city’s history firsthand. He also investigates audio artifacts from area archives and relates fascinating articles from old Nashville newspapers.

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Oct 1, 2018

Ghost stories, TV horror hosts, and cemeteries are visited in this Halloween-themed episode. Host Allen Forkum (editor of The Nashville Retrospect newspaper) interviews historian Fletch Coke about the history of Nashville City Cemetery and about the stories of people interred there, including Confederate generals, a mysterious woman buried under a boulder, a U.S. president, the man who named Old Glory, and notable Nashville historical figures. The cemetery is the city's oldest public grave yard, established in 1822. (Segment begins at 04:50)

The Captain William Driver monument is pictured in 1959. Driver is known for originating the name “Old Glory” for the American flag. (Image: Nashville Public Library, Nashville Room)

This Nashville Banner photo shows the neglected state of City Cemetery in 1937. It accompanied an article headlined “Patriots Rest in Weeds” (see the July 2015 Nashville Retrospect). (Image: Nashville Public Library, Nashville Room, photo by John E. Hood)

In 1959, Mayor Ben West headed a major restoration of Nashville City Cemetery. (Image: Nashville Public Library, Nashville Room, photo by Bill Goodman)

The Steele boulder monument is pictured in 1984. (Image: Nashville Public Library, Nashville Room)

The 1908 survey map of Nashville City Cemetery has been crucial for locating graves at the site. Burial records up to 1846 were lost during the Civil War. (Image: Nashville City Cemetery Association, Metro Archives)

Also hear audio clips of Nashville’s legendary TV horror hosts, Dr. Lucifur and Sir Cecil Creape. Experts Jeff Thompson and Larry Underwood (Dr. Gangrene) relate the history of these local TV personalities who, from the ‘50s to the ‘80s, hosted late-night showings of monster movies. (Segment begins at 40:10)

Dr. Lucifur (Ken Bramming) as he appeared in the intro to his TV program “Shock Theater” of the 1950s and ’60s. Notice the “mystic circle” effect. (Image: Jeff Thompson)

Ken Bramming on the “Shock Theater” set called the Purple Grotto, which featured a door stained with bloody handprints. (Image: Jeff Thompson)

Original caption from the Nov. 1, 1976, Nashville Banner: “Resident Opryland spook Sir Cecil Creape greets 4-year-old twins Keith and Kevin Tidwell.” (Image: Nashville Public Library, Nashville Room, photo by Bob Ray)

This cut-out mask of Sir Cecil Creape’s face was used to promote the Channel 4 show “Creature Feature” in the early '70s. The show was hosted by the ghoulish Sir Cecil, played Russ McCown. (Image: Stanley Hime)

Dr. Gangrene (Larry Underwood) is an award-winning Nashville horror host who has been performing for almost 20 years, carrying on the tradition of Dr. Lucifur and Sir Cecil Creape. (Image: Larry Underwood)

Larry Underwood (right) and his brother, Jimmy, are pictured in Ben Cooper brand Halloween costumes in 1972. (Image: Larry Underwood)

And finally, Allen Forkum reviews some of the “creepier” stories in the October 2018 issue of The Nashville Retrospect newspaper, including: the auction of Jacob Schnell’s “haunted house” in 1974; the 1926 Nashville Banner editorial about Halloween vandalism; a 1976 Banner story about Morris Levine and his popular Halloween parties; and an 1868 article about the strange fate of a young woman buried with a valuable diamond ring. (Segment begins at 01:50)

 

SHOW NOTES

A list of articles relating to this episode contained in back issues of The Nashville Retrospect (back issue can be ordered by clicking here):

• "Beautify Historic Cemetery,” Nashville Banner, Oct. 8, 1959 (The Nashville Retrospect, October 22013)

• "Polk’s First Grave In City Cemetery,” Nashville Banner, Nov. 2, 1925 (The Nashville Retrospect, November 2012)

• “The Forgotten Brave,” Republican Banner, Dec. 11, 1867 (The Nashville Banner, December 2017)

• “Army Officer Here To Explore ‘Bob’s Hole’ For Bodies,” Nashville Tennessean and Nashville American, Dec. 4, 1911 (The Nashville Retrospect, December 2017)

• “Patriots Rest In Weeds,” Nashville Banner Magazine, July 18, 1937 (The Nashville Retrospect, July 2015)

• “Editor Shot By Rival Editor,” by Allen Forkum, The Nashville Retrospect, August 2009

• “The Monsters & Dr. Lucifur” by Tom Henderson III, The Nashville Retrospect, October 2011

• “Sir Cecil Creape: A Few Memories of Russ McCown” by Stanley E. Hime, The Nashville Retrospect, October 2013

• “Creapey Greeting” photo of Sir Cecil Creape, Nashville Banner, Nov. 1, 1976 (The Nashville Retrospect, October 2015)

• “Local TV ghoul haunts Opry House ‘catacombs’,” Nashville Banner, Oct. 30, 1985 (The Nashville Retrospect, October 2015)

 

Other related articles:

• “Neglected City Cemetery Found Rich In Nashville Lore,” Nashville Banner, Oct. 27, 1958

• “Clean Up The Cemetery!” Nashville Banner, July 19, 1937

• “City Cemetery in Bad Odor,” Republican Banner, Nov. 26, 1867

• “A Pretty Ghoul Is Like A Malady,” regarding Sir Cecil Creape, Nashville Tennessean Showcase, April 23, 1972

 

Links relating to this episode:

Nashville City Cemetery Association

1908 survey map of City Cemetery

Grundy Reburial Ceremony at City Cemetery

City Cemetery’s 19th Annual Living History Tour

Metropolitan Nashville Historical Commission

Metro Parks and Recreation

“William Driver” by Ophelia Paine

“William Carroll” by Jonathan M. Atkins

“James K. Polk” by Wayne Cutler

“Felix Grundy” by Jonathan M. Atkins

“Felix Kirk Zollicoffer” by Larry Whiteaker

“Dr. Lucifur: Nashville’s Tasteful Transylvanian” by Jeff Thompson, Filmfax magazine

The Television Horrors of Dan Curtis: Dark Shadows, The Night Stalker and Other Productions, 1966–2006 by Jeff Thompson

House of Dan Curtis: The Television Mysteries of the Dark Shadows Auteur by Jeff Thompson

Nights of Dan Curtis: The Television Epics of the Dark Shadows Auteur: Horror, Western, and War by Jeff Thompson

Dr. Gangrene’s Mad Mad Mad Blog

Horror Hootenanny 15 at The End

12 Hours of Terror at Belcourt Theatre

"Mr. Ken Bramming: A Remembrance"

“Creature Feature” Christmas Special excerpt (1971)

“Creature Feature” show excerpt

“Phantom of the Opry” launch (1983)

“NashEvil: From Sir Cecil Creape to Dr. Gangrene, a history of Nashville horror hosts” by Randy Fox, Nashville Scene

“Sir Cecil Creape: Nashville’s Hometown Ghoul” by Nashville Public Radio

“Chiller Cinema #29” Halloween Spooktacular (2000), Sir Cecil Creape tribute

“American Scary” Nashville Hosts (deleted sequence)

 

Audio excerpts from: “Frankenstein” (1931) trailer, “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) trailer, and “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954) trailer

Music: “Near You” by Francis Craig and His Orchestra (Bullet, 1947); “Quiet Outro” by ROZKOL (2018); “Covered Wagon Days” by Ted Weems and His Orchestra; and “The Buffalo Rag” by Vess L. Ossman