Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Turning a question into an opportunity to teach research skills to a teen

While working with my junior high mentee last winter, she asked about a local legend: the Ghost of Ocean Born Mary. "Who was Mary?" she wondered.

Our research on the internet, at the local library, and at the town's historical society turned up more than just information about the Widow Mary Wallace; we also learned about the huckster who moved to town in 1917 and proceeded to spin a number of yarns about the Ghost of Ocean Born Mary who allegedly haunted the home he shared with his mother.

As an internationally-recognized photographer, Louis Maurice Auguste "Gussie" Roy knew his way around the press. During the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, stories of the ghost who haunted his Henniker home were published across the country. At the height of his publicity campaign, as many as a hundred tourists could be seen queuing up to take the famous Ghost Tour.

Wanting to share the juicy details with others, we decided a stage play would be the best presentation. Thus was born "The Ghost & Gussie Roy." Coincidentally, we were also able to whip the play into shape by the 200th anniversary of Mary Wallace's death: Feb. 13. It will be featured as a staged reading on Wednesday, March 19, at 7 p.m. at the Congregational Church of Henniker.

What's next? We hope to see the play fully staged, of course. And we're considering co-writing a screenplay for a film about Gussie Roy and his Ghost, which would be filmed and released in time to celebrate Ocean Born Mary's 300th birthday in 2020.