In my late teens, always up for a heart thumping thrill, I loved going places that legend deemed haunted or scary. I went to old cemeteries and perused the century old head stones, visited an old deserted asylum once, and wandered through empty houses. We have legends of the Jersey Devil in the Wharton Track, also known as, the Pine Barons in Southern New Jersey. We used to go out to the Pine Barons and drive around at night. In some places, there weren’t even streetlights, just dense forest on both sides of the road. Sometimes, we would even park the car along side the road and watch intently out into the darkness, hoping to see something, but we never did venture out of the car to investigate. I was not that brave, let me tell you. A couple of years ago I wrote a short story inspired by the South Jersey legend titled, A Jersey Tale.
Other influences were shows like Gene London, Night Gallery, Twilight Zone, and as I mentioned above, Dark Shadows, all of which I watched faithfully.
I think the movie that affected me the most as a kid was The Exorcist. I remember being so frightened lying in my bed at night that the bed shook and all could think of was the scene when the bed was jumping up and down. I lay there eyes wide open, frightened, staring into the darkness, and prayed to God to protect me.
Any ties to Romania, gypsies, or fortune tellers?
Romania, no, though I have a very good friend who has spent some time in Romania and has proven to be a wealth of information and a valuable help on this project.
Gypsies…there’s another infatuation from my childhood. I was perhaps 11 years old and it was Halloween. My mom got the idea to dress me up as a Gypsy woman. She hand-made me a colorful ankle length skirt and dressed me in a white gauze peasant blouse with puffy full sleeves. The ensemble tied together with a long fabric sash. She colored my long blond hair with a temporary black dye, and let me wear huge silver hoop earrings and an arm full of bangling bracelets. She even made my face up. Oh, I was the cat’s meow that day, or should I say the wolf’s howl?