(from the Magical Mysteries Collection – also previously published on Yahoo! Contributor Network, July 29, 2008, then posted on and removed from Persona Paper)
If you ever lived on or near the southwest side of Chicago, you probably heard about the phantom hitchhiker known as Resurrection Mary. The legendary blonde woman wears a long flowing white gown and walks the road near Resurrection Cemetery. Various websites list different addresses for the cemetery, but whitepages.com (as of July, 2008,) lists the location at 7200 Archer Rd. in Justice, Illinois.
Although numerous stories relate encounters with the woman, one story appears more often than others. Mary was supposedly born in the 1920s and loved to dance at the O'Henry Ballroom, later known as the Willowbrook. When she was in her teens, she left the ballroom after arguing with her boyfriend and walked home on a cold winter night. A driver passing her lost control of his or her vehicle, killed her, and left the scene of the accident.
Several years later, a man by the name of Jerry Palus, who frequented the ballroom, danced with a woman wearing a long flowing white gown. She barely spoke to him, but he offered to drive her home. After telling him her address, she entered his car and again became silent. On their way to her home, as they came upon Resurrection Cemetery, Mary asked to be let out. Before she waked away, she asked him not to follow her. As she approached the gates of the cemetery, Mary disappeared.
Other people, mostly men, have reported picking up a girl matching her description. Although she appears to be real, she is cold to the touch. One wonders how anyone, let alone hundreds of men, would want to dance with a living corpse. Does her beauty cause these dancing men an inability to tell the difference between a live woman and a dead one?
Jerry was apparently baffled by the experience, so he went to the address the next day only to discover that the girl he presumably picked up had died five years earlier.
Beyond the obvious ghostly inquiries, questions arise, not only because nobody has been able to ascertain exactly who the real Mary was, but why so many people claim to have seen her.
Over the years, other stories have been attributed to the apparition. In the 1970s area police received yet another call about a woman wearing a white dress who was locked inside the gates of the cemetery. Exploring the cemetery produced no woman, but evidence of something unusual appeared at the gate itself. Two of the bronze bars seemed to have been pried apart, and impressions of what looked like finger and palm prints appeared on the bars.
Whether or not she existed, nobody knows, but the mystery of Resurrection Mary prompts people to continue to search for her. She is one of Chicago's most famous ghosts. Devotees of the phantom lady wait in the early morning hours on days when the night's full moon lights the sky – awaiting the chance to give a ride to the lovely blonde lady wearing a long flowing gown.