October is just budding, which seems paradoxical for the preeminent autumn month in which the leaves are changing colors and falling to the ground, but it’s a more colorful way of stating the month has just begun. Thus, this October Haunted Blog has just begun as well. I’ve decided that I’m going to update it daily throughout the week, so Monday through Friday. The weekends I’ll reserve for doing weekend things like working on full investigation videos, going to events, and visiting Shana.
Today’s journey is going to take you down the path of some of my early influences, those things that set me on the road of becoming a paranormal investigator, ghostorian, and author of haunted tomes. Monday’s blog featured one specific item, the ghost story of The Golden Arm, a creepy little tale that we’d listen to during story time in first grade. The mystique of the legend invigorated my senses. Another story record that I used to listen to a lot as a young child was the old school version of Disney’s “The Haunted Mansion,” which included a very creepy cool sound effects track at the end of the record.
Of course, as a little kid I loved Halloween season. Who didn’t like dressing up as something spooky and running around the neighborhood to get free candy? Like clockwork, Stevie Jones was always the first at the door looking for treats before it even got dark — what great spirit he always had. My mother was wonderful, hand-making our costumes and hosting little Halloween parties with the neighborhood kids. I was terrible at bobbing for apples, but it was fun. I also loved going to the pumpkin patch with my sister and finding the perfect pumpkins for my father to later carve into jack-o-lanterns.
The sun was just toasty enough during the day to keep us warm, and that brisk scent of fresh-fallen leaves washed over us throughout the season as we rushed out the door. Shadows seemed to grow longer in the afternoons, and the cool nights were inviting, beckoning us to wonder what lurked in the darkness.
I was born in and currently live in Ohio (I’ve literally come full circle, working ten minutes down the road from the hospital in which I was born), but those ten autumns in Massachusetts as a child were absolutely magical. We had a large back yard with a plethora of trees, and while raking them was quite a chore, I loved jumping into the pile. After the leaves would billow up around me, I’d lie there for a moment as the heat off the leaves flushed my cheeks and light crackles echoed around me. Then… inhale deeply and coast to a surreal dreamland of oranges and reds on nature’s pillow. Later, in preparation for the coming winter, my father would ask me to help him split wood from a tree that he’d fell. What scent from a tree wasn’t attached to me?
I was always reluctant to let the season end, but at some point my mother would start taking down the Halloween decorations, including ceramics she had made, and the Thanksgiving decorations would find their way out of a box. There was one week after Halloween when I was about six years old that I drew an assortment of skeletons, asked my mother how to spell the word so I could add it to my drawings, then cut them out and hung them on walls around the house so I could create a haunted house. Of course, she made me take them down and explained that Halloween was over and we would shortly start getting ready for a big turkey dinner. Damn.
There would be other haunting opportunities later… more to come!