Friday, May 13, 2011

Encounter With Private Beauregard Pettigrew

Recently, I posted an entry about meeting two key staff members, Freaky Daddy and Jebediah Buzzard, who toured with The Skeptics during the 1980s. As mentioned, I wanted to include them in the documentary, but our schedules were out of synch, so I finally met up with them in the summer 2010. Ol' Hole Heels (OHH) was very instrumental in arranging our meeting, something I couldn't do without his assistance. While these interviews are most memorable, and discussions with them proved extremely interesting, I was unprepared for the next interview that OHH line up.

It all came about when OHH and I were discussing his knowledge of Maryland folklore. Having a long-time interest in the subject, I brought up the topic whenever possible. OHH was more than happy to discuss it with me. His knowledge of the subject is remarkable. Though he occasionally goes on speaking tours, he has yet to sit down and write a book. I'm still trying to convince him he needs to document and preserve  these stories for future generations, but as I prod him, his eyes glaze over. I'll keep trying.

Anyway, during one of our long chats around a camp fire (OHH loves campfires), OHH looked at me and asked if I wanted to meet someone truly special? I immediately said yes, not realizing who, or what, he was talking about. To my surprise, he said that this individual had something to do with The Skeptics. Asking him if it was another staff member, he said no. I looked up, waiting for him to continue. My marshmallow fell off my stick onto a hot rock. OHH watched it melt and sizzle.He chuckled to himself.

Finally, after a long pause, OHH said he could arrange a meeting with someone from the spirit world. I asked if he was talking about a ghost. Grinning, I was sure that when he looked up, I'd see that twinkle in his eye. But he was dead serious. Looking me in the eyes, he told me it wasn't his intention to ever set up such a meeting, but he was contacted to make the arrangements. OHH then launched into a story that I found very hard to believe. My skepticism was in high alert, but I couldn't rule it out, as OHH had never pulled a prank on me before. Knowing I was not quite buying his story, OHH said he could prove it to me. I asked how and he said that I would pick the time and location - anytime and anywhere I wanted - and we would go there together. To ensure no tricks were being played, OHH said that to ensure he was not playing a trick, I could arrive unannounced at his him when I was ready. He would then get in the car with me and I could drive us to my location without saying a word about where we were going. I was intrigued. I told him I'd take him up on his offer and with one condition. Before I could say anything, OHH assured me I could bring my camera.

After departing that day, I began formulating a plan. I felt sure that OHH had an accomplice who would follow us there and try to scare me as some big joke between them. Again, I knew that would be out of character for OHH, but nonetheless, I was taking precautions. There was always a first time for everything and OHH was preceded by his eccentricity.

It was Monday, August 23, 2010. I arrived at OHH's home around 6:30 A.M.  Knocking on the door, I looked around and saw no cars, only an old truck he used occasionally for supplies. He came to the door. It was apparent he had been awoken from a deep sleep. I told him to get dressed and that breakfast was on me. His eyes lit up. Looking at me, his spoke in a serious tone and said we were going to Cracker Barrel. I knew that was his favorite dining establishment and assured him that was no problem and I said that today we were meeting his ghost. Without pause, OHH got his hat and we were out the door.

We drove to a Cracker Barrel in Edgewood, Maryland and grabbed some chow. OHH was very pleased. Fueled by two pots of coffee and a good dozen flapjacks between us, we were back in the car and jumped on Interstate 95 to continue our journey. OHH never questioned me where we were going. I watched carefully in the rear view mirrors, even spontaneously stopping on back roads, to ensure we weren't being followed.

About an hour later we were at our destination. I had a friend who owned property in Delaware. He bought the property to build a house on at a later time. It was several acres of deep thick woods. No neighbors for miles. A stream ran through the property. We were in the middle of nowhere. I brought a couple chairs and we sat up on a bank near the stream. OHH pulled what looked like a dog whistle from his shirt pocket and blew into one end. I heard nothing. He said to relax and we'd not have long to wait.

My curiosity was piqued. I wondered what OHH had up his sleeve. The longer we sat there, I actually became more nervous. Then, about ten minutes later, I saw movement up ahead of us in the distance. I stood and strained to see through the trees. All I could see was the color blue, but couldn't quite tell what or who was approaching. I turned my camera on and waited. Seconds later, I heard a noise. It came from behind us. Quickly turning, I realized someone was standing nearby, very close to the stream. I glanced back to where I saw the color blue approaching, but saw nothing. Looking back around, I realized this person had on blue. It was a person. OHH broke the silence and said he'd like to introduce me to Private Beauregard. My camera was rolling. The following is what I filmed:

So, that was the last time I saw Private Beauregard Pettigrew. OHH and I departed. I was completely stumped, especially when I watch Private Beauregard walk away along the stream and basically disappear among the trees. Why didn't I touch him while I had a chance? I told OHH to hold my camera and raced after Private Beauregard. But he was gone. I could not understand how he outran me with all that gear he was carrying. I strained to listen for the clanging of his canteen, haversack, and all the other accoutrements, but heard nothing but running water. 

OHH and I packed up the car and departed the scene. I excitedly questioned OHH all the way home. He sat patiently listening to my spastic babble. How could anyone know where we were? OHH never left my side the whole morning. He didn't even have his cell phone on him because I asked him to leave it at home. I had mine.

Interestingly, a few months later, I learned that Private Beauregard Pettigrew was a real civil war soldier who allegedly died during the first battle of Bull Run in Manassas, Virginia. His grave has never been located. What is known about Pvt. Pettigrew death comes via a war diary now belonging to the family of a soldier who knew him. But there is something even more strange about this story. I met someone who looks like the person I saw near the stream that day. He a real guy named Bobby Madden, Jr., and he plays a character named Private Beauregard Pettigrew for the Monster Madhouse show that both Freaky Daddy and Jebediah Buzzard make appearances on. I was sure my puzzle was solved, but Bobby had a solid alibi. Yes, I checked up on him and learned where he worked. I won't go into those details, but my cover story allowed me to verify he was hours away during my encounter with the civil war soldier. You can see Bobby Madden, Jr. on Monster Madhouse .

OHH stands by his story. He completely understands my confusion, but tells me I'll eventually come around and realize what happened that morning was real. OHH gave me permission to use this footage for my blog, as he knew I had no way to prove anything. Despite my elaborate plan to set up the meeting, it appears I was either outsmarted by OHH and his cronies, or, well... all I know is something very weird occurred that day, and whatever or whomever I saw, was caught on film.

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