During the mid 1930's, bewildered and shaken drivers began to appear almost routinely at the Illinois police station, telling strange and frightening stories about a vanishing girl seen on the highway, who would go on to become known as Resurrection Mary.
Mary was a beautiful young Polish American girl with long blonde hair and blue eyes. She loved to go out in the evenings dancing. One cold winter night in 1934, she was with her boyfriend at the Henry Ballroom, now Willow brook Ballroom on Archer Avenue in Justice Illinois, a southern suburb of Chicago. The couple had an argument that night and Mary walked out of the ballroom determined that she would rather walk home alone than ride home with her date.
She did not walk very far up Archer Avenue when suddenly, a car skidded out of control and struck her. The driver fled the scene leaving Mary either dead or dying on the side of the cold dark road. She was already dead by the time she was found, and was buried shortly afterwards in Resurrection Cemetery, in her white dress and dancing shoes.
Several years later drivers along Archer Avenue started reporting strange encounters with a young woman in a white dress. She always appeared to be real person, until she would inexplicably vanish. Motorists passing by Resurrection Cemetery began claiming that a young woman was attempting to jump onto the running boards of their cars. When they stopped to go to her aid, she would be gone. Some even said that their car passed directly through the girl. At that point, she would turn and disappear through the cemetery gates.
The strange encounters began to move further away from the graveyard and closer to the Ballroom. She was now being reported on the nearby roadway and sometimes, inside of the ballroom itself. On many occasions, young men would meet a girl at the ballroom, dance with her and then offer her a ride home at the end of the evening. She would always accept and offer vague directions that would lead north on Archer Avenue. When the car would reach the gates of Resurrection Cemetery, the young woman would always vanish
Bewildered and shaken drivers began to appear almost routinely in nearby businesses and even at the nearby Justice, Illinois police station. They told strange and frightening stories and sometimes they were believed and sometimes they were not. Regardless, they created an even greater legend of the vanishing girl, who would go on to become Resurrection Mary.
Aside from harried motorists who encountered Mary along Archer Avenue, one of the first people to ever meet her face to face was a young man named Jerry Palus. His experience with Mary took place in 1939 but would leave such an impression that he would never forget it until his death in 1992. Palus remained an unshakable witness and appeared on a number of television shows to discuss his night with Resurrection Mary. Regardless, he had little to gain from his story and no reason to lie. He never doubted the fact that he spent an evening with a ghost.
Palus met the young girl at the Liberty Grove dance hall. He had apparently seen her there on several occasions and finally asked her to dance one night. She accepted and they spent several hours together. Strangely though, she seemed a little distant and Palus noticed that her skin was very cold, almost icy to the touch. When he later kissed her, he found her lips were also cold and clammy.
At the end of the evening, the young woman asked Palus for a ride home and when they got to his car, she directed him to drive down Archer Avenue. Palus admitted to being confused. Earlier in the evening, the woman had told him where she lived and he was puzzled why she wanted to be dropped out so far out of the way. When he asked her about it, she simply told him again that she wanted to go down Archer Avenue.
As they drove down Archers Avenue, they approached the gates to Resurrection Cemetery and she asked him to pull over. She had to get out here, she told him. Again, Jerry was confused, not being able to understand why she would want to get out at such a spot. He agreed that he would let her out, but only if she allowed him to walk her across the street. She refused to allow this though. The beautiful girl turned in her seat and faced Palus. "This is where I have to get out," she spoke softly, "but where I'm going, you can't follow."
Palus was bewildered by this statement, but before he could respond, the girl got out of the car and ran toward the cemetery gates. She vanished before she reached them - right before Jerry's eyes! That was the moment when he knew that he had danced with a ghost.
Determined to find out what was going on, Palus visited the address the girl had given him on the following day. The woman who answered the door told him that he couldn't have possibly been with her daughter the night before because she had been dead for several years. However, Palus was able to correctly identify the girl from a family portrait in the other room.
In 1973, Mary's ghost was said to have shown up at least twice at a nightclub called Harlow's on Cicero on the southwest side. She danced alone in a faded white dress and despite the fact that bouncers checked the I.D.'s of everyone who came through the door, no one ever saw the girl enter or leave. Later that same year, an annoyed cab driver entered Chet's Melody Lounge, located across Archer from the gates to Resurrection Cemetery, looking for a fare that had skipped off without paying. The young blond woman that he reportedly picked up was nowhere to be seen. The manager explained that no blond woman had entered the bar.
During the middle 1970's, the number of Mary sightings began to increase. People from many different walks of life, from cab drivers to ministers said they had picked her up and had given her rides. It was during this period that Resurrection Cemetery was undergoing some major renovations and perhaps this was what caused her restlessness.
On August 12, 1976, Cook County police officers investigated an emergency call about an apparent hit and run victim near the intersection of 76th Street and Roberts Road. The officers found a young female motorist in tears at the scene and they asked her where the body was that she had allegedly discovered beside the road? She pointed to a wet grass area and the policemen could plainly see a depression in the grass that matched the shape of a human body. The girl said that just as the police car approached the scene, the body on the side of the road vanished!
In May 1978, a young couple was driving down Archer when a girl suddenly darted out in the road in front of their car. The driver swerved to avoid her but knew when he hit the brakes that it was too late. As they braced for impact, the car passed right through the girl! She then turned and ran into Resurrection Cemetery, melting right past the bars in the gate.
Another man was on his way to work in the early morning hours and spotted the body of a young girl lying directly in front of the cemetery gates. He stopped his truck and got out, quickly discovering that the woman was apparently badly injured, but still alive. He jumped into his truck and sped to the nearby police station, where he summoned an ambulance and then hurried back to the cemetery. When he came back, he found that the body was gone! However the outline of her body was still visible on the dew-covered pavement.
On the 31st of January 1979 on the south side of Chicago. A taxicab travels along Archer Avenue as rain and sleet pelt the windshield. The driver reaches over to crank the heater up one more notch. It is a very cold night and Ralph the driver cant wait to finish his shift.
As the car rolls past the Willowbrook Ballroom, a pale figure, blurry though the wet and icy glass of the window, appears along the roadside. The driver cranes his neck and sees a young woman walking alone. She is strangely dressed for such a cold and wet night, wearing only a white cocktail dress and a thin shawl over her shoulders. He remembers that she was wearing dancing shoes.
She stumbles along the uneven shoulder of the road and the cabbie pulls over and stops the car. He rolls down the window and the young girl approaches the taxi. She is beautiful, he sees, despite her dishevelled appearance. Her blond hair is damp from the weather and plastered to her forehead. He notes that she is about the same age as his daughter at most 21 years of age.
He invited her into the cab and she opened the door and sat next to him in the passengers seat. Ralph asked the girl where she wants to go, he tells her not to worry about the fare, It's the least that he can do in this weather. The girl simply replies that he should keep driving down Archer Avenue.
He notices in his mirror that the girl is shivering so he turns up the heater again. He comments on the weather, making conversation, but she doesn't answer him at first. He wonders if she might be a little drunk because she is acting oddly, just staring out the window. Finally, she answers him, although her voice wavers and she sounds almost fearful.
The driver is unsure if her whispered words are directed to him or if she is speaking to herself. "The snow came early this year," she murmurs. Ralph agreed with her that it did and attempts to make more small talk with the young girl. He soon realizes that she is not interested in conversation. Finally, she does speak, but when she does, she shouts at him. She orders him to pull over to the side of the road, this is where she needs to get out!
The startled driver jerks the steering wheel to the right and stops in an open area in front of two large, metal gates. He looks up and realizes where they have stopped. "You can't get out here," he says "this is a cemetery!"
When he looks back towards the young girl, he realizes that he is in the cab alone... the girl is no longer in the passenger seat beside him. He never heard the door open or close, but the girl has simply disappeared. He then realised who he had taken for a ride in his cab. She is known all over the Chicago area as the region's most enigmatic and sought after ghost. Her name is "Resurrection Mary".
On the last weekend in August 1980, Mary's ghost was seen by dozens of people, including the Deacon of the Greek Church on Archer Avenue. Many of witnesses contacted the Justice police department about their sightings. Squad cars were dispatched and although the police could not explain the mass sightings of a young woman who was not present when they arrived, they did find the witnesses themselves. Many of them flagged down the officers to tell them what they had just seen.
On September 5 1980, a young man was leaving a softball game and driving down Archer Avenue. As he passed the Red Barrel Restaurant, he spotted a young woman standing on the side of the road in a white dress. He stopped the car and offered her a ride and she accepted, asking that he take her down Archer. He tried to draw her into conversation, even joking that she looked like "Resurrection Mary", but she was not interested in talking. He tried several times to get her to stop for a drink, but she never replied. He was driving past the cemetery, never having stopped or even slowed down, when he looked over and saw that the girl was gone. She had simply vanished!
In October 1989, two women were driving past Resurrection Cemetery when a girl in a white dress ran out in front of their car. The driver slammed on the brakes, sure that she was going to hit the woman, but there was no impact. Neither of the women could explain where the apparition had disappeared to.
During the 1990's, reports of Mary slacked off, but they have never really stopped altogether. Many of the roadside encounters happened near a place called Chet's Melody Lounge, which is located across the road and a little south of the cemetery gates. Because it is open into the early morning hours, it often becomes the first place where late night drivers look for the young girl who vanished before their eyes!