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Resurrection Mary


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Aimee Kroening
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« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2010, 04:01:38 am »

As it turned out, one of Frank's church buddies was a man named Jake Palus, who turned out to be the younger brother of the now-infamous Jerry Palus. Jerry is believed by many hard-core Mary researchers to have been the phantom's first encounter; till the day he died, Jerry claimed to have danced with her "all night" in 1936 at the old Liberty Grove and Hall ballroom on 47th street, in the storied Brighton Park neighborhood.

Claire and Mark Rudnicki -- friends, neighbors, and former St. Joseph parishioners -- told Andrejasich that Resurrection Mary could be traced to the 1940s, when a young Polish girl crashed near Resurrection Cemetery at around 1:20 a.m. after she took the family car to visit her boyfriend in Willow Springs. According to this version of the story, the girl was buried in a term grave at Resurrection. Appropriately, Andrejasich wonders why a couple that owned a car in the 1940s would need to bury their daughter in a term grave.

Adding to the explanations was another parishioner, Ray VanOrt, who tells how he and his bride-to-be were the first witnesses at the scene of an accident on Archer in 1936, when a black Model A sedan collided with a wide-bed farm truck at 1:30 in the morning, while both witnesses and victims were traveling home from the old Oh Henry Ballroom, now the Willowbrook. According to VanOrt, of the two couples in the car, only one person survived, a girl who was badly hurt. Both men and another girl perished. Today, VanOrt is convinced that this was the accident that killed our would-be Resurrection Mary.

Still another parishioner told Frank that the wayward wraith was, in life, Mary Miskowski of the South side Chicago neighborhood of Bridgeport. In this narrative, Miskowski was killed crossing the street in late October in the 1930s, on her way to a Halloween party.

After pondering the variety of accounts, combing early editions of the local papers, and checking with funeral directors and cemetery managers, Andrejasich came to believe that the ghost known as Resurrection Mary is the spiritual counterpart of the youngest of all the candidates: a 12-year-old girl named, surprisingly, Anna Norkus.

Born in Cicero, Illinois in 1914, Norkus was given the name of Ona, Lithuanian for Anna. In that era, it was not the custom to christen infants with two names. But after 1918, children were baptized with a Christian name and an historic name to further pride on their main country. As a young girl, Anna's devotion to the Blessed Mother led her to begin using the name Marija, Mary, as her middle name. By the time she neared her teenage years, Anna had grown into a vivacious girl. Blonde and slim, she loved to dance, and it was her relentless begging that convinced her father, August, Sr., to take her to a dancehall for her 13th birthday. On the evening of July 20, 1927, father and daughter set out from their Chicago home at 5421 S. Neva for the famous O Henry Ballroom, accompanied by August's friend, William Weisner, and Weisner's date. On their drive home, at approximately 1:30 a.m., the travelers passed Resurrection Cemetery via Archer Avenue, turning east on 71st Street and then north on Harlem to 67th Street. There, the car careened and dropped into an unseen, 25-foot-deep railroad cut. Anna was killed instantly.

After the accident, her father, August Norkus was subject to devastating verbal abuse, even being told that Anna's death had been God's punishment for allowing the girl to go dancing at such a young age. In reality, the blame rested with the Chicago Streets Department, who had failed to post warning signs at the site of the cut. In fact, another death, that of Adam Levinsky, occurred at the same site the night after Anna's demise.

Between July 28th and September 29th, an inquest was held at Sobiesk's mortuary in adjacent Argo. Heading up the five sessions was Deputy Coroner Dedrich, the case reviewed by six jurors. The DesPlaines Valley News carried the story of the inquest.

Mary Nagode described to cousin Frank Andrejasich the sad procession that left the Norkus home on a certain Friday morning: First in line was Anna's older sister Sophie, followed by her older brother August, Jr. The pastor, altar boys, and a four-piece brass band preceded the casket, borne on a flatbed wagon with pallbearers on each side. Relatives and friends followed the grim parade for three blocks to the doors of St. Joseph's in Summit, where Anna had made her first communion only a year before. Between the band and the priest walked Frank Andrejasich's cousin, a terrified Mary Nagode. Mary was a friend of Anna's who had been pressed into service as a wreath-bearer. On summer vacation, Nagode was weeding on an asparagus farm in Willow Springs when Anna's father paid a visit to Mrs. Nagode, requesting that Mary march in his daughter's funeral procession. At home that evening, her mother informed Mary that she had accepted the request on her behalf. The girl was deeply dismayed at the proposition. Mrs. Nagode reminded her daughter that refusal of such a request would be a sin against Roman Catholic moral living, which dictates that one must attend to the burial of the dead.
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