Christ-like image questions linger
Monday, 1st September, 2014
By Michael Murphy
It's not every day that you open the BDT to find out that a mysterious 'Christ-like' image has suddenly appeared on your house during the night.
But that's what happened to Thora and Barry Carter, and in 1969 it made their Morgan Street home the "talk of the town".
"I was sitting at the kitchen table and I read about the strange image on our house," recalled Thora.
"It stated that a young girl was walking down the street on a dark and stormy night and she screamed when she looked up and saw it.
"I ran up to the bedroom to Barry to tell him.
"I could not believe it."
The story of the apparent apparition has gained some momentum over the last week after BDT gave it another run in its history briefs.
Back in 1969, every night for a few months, people would stream down Morgan Street at night for a glimpse of the ghostly image.
"They walked around the street, they drove down the street, they would nose around," said Thora.
"Everyone was trying to get the best position.
"People said by standing on the road up from us, sort of around the middle and looking down on it, they got a better picture."
People seemed to get the best view of the image - on the front of the house right above the front door - by approaching it from Gossan Street.
Hundreds of people came. Some were just curious, some got on their knees and prayed, other "yahoos" just yelled abuse from their cars.
"It got the way the old lady next door decided she needed a chair," Thora said, adding that she put it out front to watch the nightly activity.
"She said to me: 'That was very entertaining'".
The image got the attention of local identity Nat McPhee and Argent Street photographer Ralph O'Connor. Thora said the pair sized up the scene at different angles and decided three things contributed to the image: high-gloss paint, a wooden structure attached to the peak of the roof, and a pine tree beside the front step.
Thora said everyone had their own interpretation of it. Some thought it resembled Christ on the Cross, others thought it looked like "Our Lady".
She didn't know what caused it, but was curious to find out more about it, even 45 years after the event.
She looks back at it now with good humour, but it did cause a bit of commotion at the time.
There was speculation in the BDT that the image may have been linked to the death of a teenager who lived at the house years earlier.
"It was mentioned about this young lad dying," Thora said.
"I imagine the implication was that it had something to do with it."
The family that lived in the house before the Carters (they bought the house in 1966) were very strict Catholics.
Thora wanted to make it clear that she wasn't the source of the speculation, that she didn't contribute to the article at all.
"The old lady who lived next door wrote to (the mother of the family) to let her know it was not our doing," Thora said.
"She would have been upset, even though he wasn't named."
The commotion died down after a couple of months. The pine tree "got a bit untidy" so it was chopped down, and the house got another lick of paint.
But some of the mystery still remains.
Thora still has questions.
Who was the mystery woman on that "dark and stormy night" that made the first report to the BDT?
Thora knows a chap who she thinks may help, so she is going to finally ask him.
She wants to try and solve as much of the mystery as she can, and plans to hit the archives to ferret out the old stories, particularly the one that sparked it all.
"It was just surprising to look at the paper," Thora said.
"It was up there ... we didn't mind anybody looking at it."