Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gothic sensibilities from my Father

Memories that haunt my heart

      Children are fascinated by strange and frightening stories, it is actually good for them, stretching their imaginations, allowing their hearts to attach to the characters. They root for them be they evil or good....
 I was introduced to Gothic Story telling at a very young age, my father being Irish and of a poor upbringing in the Deep South  was a true spinner of tales both frightening and terrible. He was raised by his grandparents in a dark heavily forested region of Arkansas near a swampy bog, with time on his hands to let his mind wander into creepy imaginings that he carried into his adulthood.
Growing up with my father was full of wonderful scary stories, tales he insisted were true, and I believed him. Our house was filled with antiques and dark wooden furniture. Chandeliers and hurricane lamps were lit by candlelight while the sounds of old lonesome country love songs were a constant in the background. When visiting his grandparents farm in Arkansas as a little girl I vividly remember the old front porch heavily covered in Wisteria. The nights were hot and muggy filling the air with fireflies and mosquitoes. My dad would sit in his chair, take a long drag off his hand rolled cigarette, lean forward and let the smoke seep slowly from his lips as he began his tales of the strange creatures dwelling in the woods. This was exciting for me and I hung my heart on every word as he warned me and my brother that the 'Will o the Wisp' would rise from the swamps at night and come looking for us if we should wander from our beds... I was terrified to go to the bathroom, waking my brother each night to stay with me.  I remember one night while I was laying in my bed when a knock came at my window..I sat up and looked over to see the most terrifying spirit standing there on fire, laughing the most ghoulish laugh. As my heart raced and I felt the blood drain from my face my father laughed proudly "oh its just me"...he had held the skull of a cow over a white sheet under lit by a flashlight.....
Other nights he would grab my shoulder from behind as I was heading for bed and say "be sure your hands and feet don't hang over the mattress while your sleeping cause ya never know what is hiding under your bed" then he would laugh that mischievous laugh I recognized and loved so well and tell me not to worry "all ya have to do is yell out and ill come save ya" he would say as if to ease his devilish little conscience.
Yes, I was frightened most of my childhood, but it was a wonderful scare. I still wont sleep with my hands or feet over the sides of my bed, and I sometimes squint my eyes before looking out dark windows at night. But what his story telling did for me was ignite a fire within my soul, and now I tell the same stories to my children, and to other children in the very same manner. When a Story is read out loud with the right tone of voice, it is quite powerful. The carefully articulated highs and lows, spoken very slowly will send chills down your spine.

The Orders of Gothic: Foucault, Lacan, and the Subject of Gothic Writing,1764–1820 - See more at:
The Orders of Gothic: Foucault, Lacan, and the Subject of Gothic Writing,1764–1820 - See more at:

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