The Girl in Blue; Unknown But Not Forgottenby M-Gillies
Whether it be Portugal, Norway, Brazil, Japan, Czech Republic or the Philippines, every country and every city has a local legend. Whether it be the Japanese Yurei, the medieval legend of the White Lady or a folktale as popular as Resurrection Mary, these legends have long survived their years as iconic legends and have grown to become part of a cities history, including the tale of the Girl in Blue.
It was in December 1933, two days before Christmas when a five foot, four inch auburn-haired, hazel-eyed young woman dressed in blue arrived to the town of Willoughby, Ohio. She had been travelling by the Greyhound bus alone, her motives for being in the city unknown. No one knew her name and no one would for the next sixty years.
Unfamiliar with the city, she exited the bus roughly a quarter mile beyond the downtown station. With the guidance of a fellow passenger, she sought lodgings in the boardinghouse of Mrs. Mary Judd on Second Street. Shortly after arriving, the young woman went to sleep. When she awoke, she ventured down the stairs, and inquired about local church services before wishing Judd a Merry Christmas and leaving.
Dressed entirely in blue, the woman walked the streets, greeting anyone she passed by with heartfelt warmth. As she approached the train station, an eastbound flyer was rushing nearby, bound for New York. Witnesses of the event say that the Girl in Blue dropped her suitcase and sprinted for the tracks. Suddenly, a glancing blow from the train sent her body hurtling through the air before she landed on the gravel siding.
When authorities arrived shortly after the tragedy, they were astonished to find no blood or visible wounds. However, after an examination, it was indicated that her death was caused by a fractured skull due to the injuries sustained by the train.
With no identification found in her purse, the only clue to the mystery of her life lay in a train ticket to Corry, Pennsylvania. Saddened by the circumstances surrounding her death, the residents of Willoughby were left mesmerized by the enigma surrounding the short life of the Girl in Blue. Questions of whether she had committed suicide or was racing to catch the train lingered.
McMahon Funeral Home adopted the young woman’s funeral arrangements, while local donations paid for a headstone and flowers. Though none of the locals knew anything about the girl, more than 3,000 local residents attended the funeral service to bid her a farewell.
Interred in the Willoughby Village Cemetery, her headstone reads:
Girl in Blue
Killed by Train
December 24, 1933
“Unknown but not Forgotten”
As the years passed, the mystery of the Girl in Blue lived on, until the week before Christmas Eve in 1993, when the News Herald ran an article commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of her death. It was with this publication that a real estate broker near Corry, Pennsylvania named Edward Sekerak remembered the sale of a family farm by the Klimczak family.
With the assistance of his wife, the Sekeraks’ made a startling discovery. The Girl in Blue had a name. The daughter of Jacob and Catherine Klimczak, Polish immigrants who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1901, the Girl in Blue was named Josephine Klimczak, but to her five sisters and three brothers, she was known as Sophie. Through the documents that finalized the sale of the one-hundred acre farm, a signed affidavit was filed by her brother Leo in 1985, stating Josephine had died in Willoughby, Ohio after a tragic accident on December 24, 1933, and was buried as “The Girl in Blue”.
Quickly word began to spread throughout Willoughby and nearby communities, after which a second gravestone was added to her burial plot, bearing her name Josephine “Sophie” Klimczak, followed by the date of her death. Even after nearly 80 years, the mystery of her death still haunts the city. Photographs of her gravesite have documented strange orbs hovering nearby; recordings of a mystifying female voice have been captured at her grave; and in some instances, it has been said a figure of a woman has been seen standing next to the headstone, dressed in blue and staring with a forlorn melancholy at the gravesite.
Regularly, since her death fresh flowers would appear on her grave with many visitors asking for directions to her location. Meanwhile, shortly after her death, a fund was established by city administrators to ensure certain geraniums were planted on her grave annually. To this day, the fund still continues to provide her grave with proper maintenance.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lagged2death/6292838225/