Meridian Star

Columns

October 19, 2012

She walks these hills in a long black veil ...

We are approaching the “creepy season.” Halloween --- costumed parties, trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, bonfires, haunted tours, apple bobbing, Fall Festivals, jack-o-lanterns, and scary stories top each Halloween agenda.

Not only is Halloween a time of busyness for children and adults, but also money-making projects for many worthwhile organizations.  These organizations, such as volunteer fire departments, school carnivals, nonprofit’s, and civic clubs create their own “creepiness” in order to collect admission fees, sell food, stage short plays and produce scary activities – the money is then distributed for the needs of our communities. It’s all good.

    In America, we just have Halloween fun, but how did it all start?  There are many stories concerning the origins of this immensely popular worldwide holiday.  History tells us the word Halloween was first coined in the 16th century.  An important Christian holy day, All Saints’ Day, was celebrated November 1. It was time to pray for the recent dead – that they might reach Heaven. All Hallows’ Eve, the night prior, was a last chance for the dead to claim vengeance on their enemies, bringing forth the present-day tradition of trick-or-treating, thus when the little goblins and witches ring your doorbell, always have candy on hand to drop in their plastic pumpkins.

     As a storyteller, this year I’ve incorporated Southern Gothic Tales into my fall telling agenda.  Even though I was skeptical, my good storytelling friend, Terrence Roberts, encouraged me to try it. He said my voice was perfect for the genre.  I was kind-of-glad and kind-of-hesitant, until I tried it out on my husband. It was when he said I made the hair stand up on the back of his neck that I knew I was ready.

    The stories I tell are ones I’ve written – each story has a kernel of truth that I have embellished through the craft of creativity.  As I teach my Meridian Community College’s creative writing classes, without the creative factor, the story will be humdrum, but with a storyline that is unique, the story will “pop” and grab the attention of readers, listeners, and sometimes, even editors and publishers.

     Below is a song that grabbed my attention and began the creative process for me to write a couple of scary stories, which I tell.  The Long Black Veil is a 1959 country ballad written by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin and originally recorded by Lefty Frizzell.  Since that time the song has been recorded by many artists including Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Dave Matthews Band, Mick Jagger, and others.

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