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Creepy curios spark some spooky stories at museum

Adults-only event features contest and tales behind ghastly gadgets


A heroic firefighter named Jake pulls off an amazing rescue, but it never makes the daily news headlines.

Why? Because Jake has to come back from the grave for his one last act of heroism.

“Jake’s Last Rescue” is a historical ghost story set in the Willamette Valley 100 years ago, and it will be part of professional storyteller Anne Rutherford’s turn as the “creepy curator” at the Washington County Museum Thursday, Oct. 10.

The Halloween-themed event, which runs from 5:13 to 8:13 p.m., was sparked by unusual items in the museum’s collection.

“I know the museum will put historically accurate labels on the exhibits,” Rutherford said. “But I’ll be around to give the guests the behind-the-scenes stories of what really happened to that skull, those pistols and axes, and a gas mask. Remember, I am an award-winning liar.”

“A Curator’s Closet of Curiosities” is a new, adults-only event at the museum, said Marcia Hale, the museum’s director of guest services. The program will also feature actors portraying historical characters from Washington County’s colorful past.

“They’ll be eager to talk to you about the era and life of the character they’re portraying,” Hale said. by: COURTESY PHOTO: WASHINGTON COUNTY MUSEUM - The ghosts of Cornelius firefighters past linger in this antique leather firemans helmet and bucket that turned up among Washington County Museum curios and will inspire Anne Rutherford to tell her original story about a heroic fireman who came back from the dead for one last rescue.

Strange items on display will include a large wicker basket used to transport dead bodies in the late 1800s, and a fiendish electrical device that reportedly cured arthritis.

In addition, the museum will use some strange and unusual items as part of a “History’s Mysteries” contest.

“If you can correctly figure what they are, and how they were used, we have some really nice prizes to give away,” Hale said.

But Rutherford will be the star of the show.

“An antique leather fireman’s helmet and bucket inspired me to tell my own original tale, ‘Jake’s Last Rescue,’” said Rutherford.

Other spooky stories she plans to spin that night include “The Deadly Dress,” inspired by period evening dresses that will be on display. “The Local Cure,” prompted by antique medical equipment, is a story that won first place for Rutherford at a Liar’s Contest. And “Room for One More” is a grim reaper story inspired by an old farmer’s scythe.

“I’ll also include a couple of stories in the form of songs,” said Rutherford, who accompanies herself on a mandolin.

One of those will be the musical version of the poem, “Little Orphant Annie.” The other, she said, will be “my own original song in the country-western/vampire genre called, ‘Your Blood-Sucking Heart.’”

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