The Waldheim Flapper

The Waldheim Flapper

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Chicago’s most famous Vanishing Hitchhiker is, without a doubt, the ghost of the young woman (or women) who has come to be called Resurrection Mary. But, Mary isn’t Chicago’s only hitchhiking spirit and her story is pre-dated by another ghost: The Waldheim Flapper.

In some ways, their stories parallel each other.

Mary haunts the stretch of Archer Avenue between the old Willowbrook Ballroom and Resurrection Cemetery, while the Waldheim Flapper was associated with Des Plaines Avenue between the Melody Mill Ballroom and Waldheim Jewish Cemetery.

Both girls are thought to have come from communities of Eastern European immigrants.

And, both represent important eras in Chicago history. The Flapper comes from the Roaring Twenties, an era known for prohibition, gangland violence and progressive social change. Mary comes from the 1930s, the decade not only of big bands and ballroom dancing, but also the Great Depression.

In other ways, the girls in the story seem opposites.

Where Resurrection Mary is a Catholic girl with long, blonde hair and a white gown, the Waldheim Flapper is Jewish, with short, dark curls and — as the name implies — a straight-waisted, knee-length, fringed flapper dress straight out of the 1920s.

Together, they were two of the most commonly reported ghosts in Chicago.

On this episode, we explore the story of Chicago’s other vanishing hitchhiker: The Waldheim Flapper.

Barbara Stanwyck as a Ziegfeld girl (c. 1924) by Alfred Cheney Johnson (Source: Wikipedia Commons | Library of Congress).

Barbara Stanwyck as a Ziegfeld girl (c. 1924) by Alfred Cheney Johnson (Source: Wikipedia Commons | Library of Congress)

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