Monday, October 27, 2014

"Boo!"...by Jim Terry

It’s here…well almost. Another Halloween is just around the corner…Friday to be exact.  So what is it that you are going to be dressing up as or doing this year?

As a young child, I could hardly wait for this once a year holiday. Mom and Dad would always make it so special and fun. We would grow pumpkins each and every year in our garden and if luck would have it—most years anyhow if it didn’t freeze too early­­—we would have enough pumpkins for all of us kids to pick out our very favorite pumpkin so we could carve them.  Generally this family tradition and get together would take place the weekend before the holiday. 

Once all the pumpkins were completed, we would then start what we called the “SET UP.”  The set up involved about a week’s time and immense planning to set up and to do our annual spook alley we had at our house.  We had a long driveway and what better way to spook the heck out of our visitors by making them walk the entire length of the driveway? On Halloween, we would block the entrance to our home by roping it off.  We would also have very special guides there, THE GRIM REAPER or a MUMMY, waiting to take you to your destination where you could get your trick or treats. 

While walking down the path to the “Haunted Mansion”, you would be frightened by more goblins, ghosts, mummies and zombies jumping from the tree-lined corridor.  At the entrance of the mansion there was always our famous graveyard with the “RIP” headstones laced in blood and several bones of skeletons laying on the ground.  Spiders, spider webs, bats, the pumpkins we carved, a strobe light and of course a witch on the roof cackling and waving her broom down at you were all apart of the eerie atmosphere.


Once inside the mansion several different characters would greet you over the years but Dracula was always one of the best and the scariest.  The entrance to the mansion was also filled with scary sounds playing on the stereo, dry ice placed inside of cauldrons which were strategically placed to help create an indistinct atmosphere in the foyer, a two story entrance with a winding staircase laced in spider webs, a moving hand in the cauldron that you had to reach in to get your treats and the finishing touch was a black light…Looking back on it now, it really was a lot of work but it was always a lot of fun.

Going back to the scary sounds on the stereo...Mom had a record that had "scary sounds" on one side and a "scary story" on the other.  The "scary sound" side of the record is what we would play all night on Halloween to enhance the chilling environment of our spook alley.  I do remember several times sitting by the stereo as a young boy with my siblings while my Mom would light a candle, turn down the lights and play the "scary story" side of the record right before Halloween. As she placed the needle on the the spinning record and you heard the common crackle and pops that were created from the dust and the imperfections on the surfaces of the vinyl as the story began, there was always utter silence from the Terry kids in the room. I think we were all so terrified that we didn't know what to do but to freeze and to listen.  TO THIS DAY and because of childhood fears coming to the surface, the "scary story" side of the record still unnerves me just a bit.  It all begins when I hear the creaking doors, the wind, the echoes in the hallways and finally the apparition beckoning to the listener through the dimly lit hallways of the mansion, "My baby...have you seen my baby?" 

So as you listen to this clip from “Halloween Horrors 1977” that we used to listen to in the Terry household as kids—IF YOU DARE—remember to have a WONDERFUL, FUN and a SAFE HALLOWEEN...BOO!!!

♦ Hope you'll share YOUR stories and photos with us at: nutshellstories@gmail.com.