Waiting For All Hallow’s Eve V: “Cardboard Tombstones and The Greatest Horror Movie Ever Made”

Since it’s creeping, day by day and night by night, toward Halloween, it’s time to consider the movies.  I’m not talking “Mary Poppins” either (although dancing with penguins can be pretty scary).  No, I’m talking of the Great Horror Movies of the Century.  Some of the most blood-curdling scenes on film were written by gifted authors, directed by geniuses, acted by theater legends and perfect excuses to wrap your arms around your sweetheart and pretend you were brave and protective.  I did this, and all the while, missing key dialogue and scenes.  Try watching Lon Chaney through narrow slits of nearly closed eyes?  Try turning away from some demonic brain surgery scene…your girlfriend will think something is wrong with her left ear or a strange woman on your left will call the usher because you’re staring at her right ear.  It’s not easy.

I’m not a screenwriter.  I think we know that.  But I love the visual quality of films and the style of writing.  I think this comes from listening to the radio when I was a child.  Shows like “Inner Sanctum” and “The Shadow” forced me to imagine the faces and scenery.  With movies, you’re given everything.  Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Classic images constructed by Hollywood are like perfect novels…not a word could be changed…not an image could be different.  For example: Lon Chaney getting the mask ripped from his face in “Phantom of the Opera”, or Elsa Lanchester’s jerky head as the “Bride of Frankenstein”.  Or, perhaps one of my all-time favorites, when Bela Lugosi stands on the stairs of his castle and, after hearing the wolves, says: “Listen to them-the children of the night.  What music they make!”

Let’s get to the point.  You need great scenery, deep and meaningful dialogue, professional acting, and a strong plot.  For my money, only a handful of movies fulfill those stringent requirements.  I’m thinking of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (the original, of course), “Freaks”, “The Beast of Yucca Flats” and, of course, the All-Time Greatest Horror ever put on celluloid: “Plan 9 From Outer Space.”

Directed by the legendary genius, Ed Wood, it is a true masterpiece by any standards.  Ed Wood knew how to write and direct a film that will be a classic for all time.  “Plan 9″ was filmed in and around Hollywood.  It was released in 1959.  The running time is 79 minutes.  And it had a staggering budget of $60,000.  Wood also had a major movie star on his contract, Bela Lugosi.  Sadly, Lugosi was, at the time, a drug addict.  Legend has it that Wood would drive Lugosi around L.A. to find drug dealers willing to supply them with enough morphine to get Lugosi through the next few days shooting schedule.

Then a slight problem arose.  Bela Lugosi died only a few days into the filming.  To Ed Wood, that presented no big problem.  He simply found some out-of-work actor to ‘stand-in’ for Lugosi.  Recognition problems? No way.  The actor simply held up a cape (Dracula fashion) and hid his face.  Brilliant!

The scenery (and props) were also something to behold.  If you watch the tombstones as the main characters walk through the cemetery at night, some of them flap back and forth.  Who needs marble when cardboard will work just as well?

The ‘flying saucer’ at the beginning of the film resembles a garbage can lid.  It probably was.

But the writing was extraordinary.  And I mean that literally.

Consider the following speech given by Criswell at the very beginning:

Criswell: Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown… the mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you, the full story of what happened on that fateful day. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony, of the miserable souls, who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places. My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent. My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts of grave robbers from outer space?

Now that’s writing.

Other noteworthy dialogue includes:

Criswell: At the funeral of the old man, unknown to his mourners, his DEAD WIFE was watching!

~~

Lieutenant John Harper: It was a saucer.

Policeman: A flying saucer?

~~

Air Force Captain: Visits? That would indicate visitors.

As you can read, the dialogue left much to the imagination…like great film dialogue should attempt.  There’s nothing left for the imagination with a toss-off quote like, say, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  But that’s another movie…

Something else should be mentioned here.  One of the main characters, played by an ex-professional wrestler, Tor Johnson, makes a classic return from his grave.  That face, that image was to become the all-time best-selling Halloween mask in history.  [I can not confirm this fact...it was something I read years ago.  I would think that the more recent images like "Freddie", the "Halloween" monster and the "Scream" figure are probably more popular now.]

This is the make-up artists model:

$_57

 This is the actor, Tor Johnson:

uc04e4ny7wzo404o

So, get the film on Netflix.  Sit back and enjoy.

Finally, I want to add that I first saw the film in the mid-1980’s while living in Norwalk, CT.  It was being shown at a local movie theater as part of the “Golden Turkey” Awards.  The ‘worst films ever made’.  I have to say, I don’t agree.  The real horror movies are those that exploit women, children, gays and glorify violence and war.  Nothing is glorious in those things.  And, I can’t help but feel that the real ‘horror’ of this movie was all behind the camera.  Ed Wood was gay.  That must have been a nightmare in itself in Hollywood in the late 1950’s.  And, the sorrow I felt for Bela Lugosi, once a great actor, seeing him sinking so low in his personal addictions that he agreed to make this film to just get through another day.  Now that’s real terror.  That’s real scary.  I poked fun at this movie in this post, but I don’t laugh so loud now at the inane dialogue or fake tombstones.  I feel sorrow for the lives being played out…where I can’t see them.  Off camera, on dirty street corners and in lonely hotel rooms, when the actors go home to whatever sad lives they had.

Remember the saying: “For all the bright lights on Broadway, there are a thousand broken hearts.”?

These days, for every Brad Pitt, there’s ten thousand waitresses, waiters, barristers and really lonely people who are miles away from their farm in Ohio and their worried parents.

Waiting For All Hallow’s Eve IV: “Do Ghosts Dream in Black and White?”

I broke away from the other kayakers.  They were intent on finding a trail that was obscured and hidden in a small cove.  It was supposed to begin on a tiny stretch of sand and among the blueberry bushes.  It led to a small body of water called Loon Pond (some called it Lost Pond).  I told the group that I had a sore ankle that needed some attention…and rest.  I wanted, for some unknown reason to avoid the woods on this day.  I dreaded the shadows and the patches of darkness among the trees.  I didn’t feel things were right for me about the short hike.  In reality, my ankle was fine…it was the deep tight pain in my left chest area that concerned me.  I wanted the sunshine, the sky, the clouds and the shoreline of green firs, pines and tamarack.  I also wanted to be alone and think.

SunOnRainbow

And my chest hurt.

So, I turned my boat around and paddled for a few minutes.  I had not taken my usual small lightweight kayak (the electric blue one with the white trim).  No, I chose an older Old Town that was bright red.  It had a larger cockpit so I could put my knees up and stretch a little more.  I pushed forward and put my feet on the deck, resting on the PFD that I kept under the bungee cords in front of the cockpit.  I put my head back.  I watched the scattered cumulus clouds drift slowly beneath a deep blue sky.  A slight breeze blew at my back.  I took out my book but was unable to read two lines.  Back into the nylon bag it went.  I pulled my raspberry hat over my eyes and closed them.  The boat gently rocked in the small waves.  The breeze was causing me to drift in the general direction of our home.  No other boats were on this part of Rainbow Lake.

I began to drift to sleep.  My chest made a slight twitch.  A small muscle went tight beneath my sternum.

I began to have a strange dream.  I was alone.  The blue sky was bleeding white like a rain shower falling on a watercolor painting.  All the colors ran.

My body jerked me awake.  I kept my eyes closed for fear of the sun’s glare.  With the heels of my hands, I rubbed my itchy eyes.  I opened them.

My first thought was…I had no thoughts.  I looked around.  Nothing was the same as it was before.  There was no color.  My world was black and white.

I felt my pulse.  There was nothing.

It’s amazing that I didn’t panic…because panic was what I always felt one would feel when one realized they were dead.

I felt no panic.  I just felt dead.  Then I knew that without life, there is no “world as we know it.” There was no color.

So, now what?  I waited.  Something was supposed to happen to me now, but I didn’t know what or when it would happen.  My thoughts began small: Is this the way that all the departed experience what is left of the world? There were no hues, no tints, no reds of passion and love, no white of innocence and purity, no green of life and promise, no blue of depression and loneliness, no gray of nuance and subtlety, no scarlet of lust and sin, no amber of forgotten photographs or letters written when youthful fingers pushed the pens.

RainbowNoir

There was nothing but growing blackness and fading light.  Stark reality.  Basic emotions.  The lack of life’s spark that once I lived, loved and danced to.

I drifted and I pondered.  I became convinced that I was truly dead and that my vision of the world reflected the lost palette of life’s interests.  What was the purpose of color to me now?  Color only evokes emotions or emotions evoke colors…I guess it works both ways.  A musical chord can make you cry.  A particular painting can make you pray.  The sounds of certain words can bring you to your knees.

I had nearly given myself over to my inert fate when a spark of a thought began in my brain or my heart or my soul.

What about my grandson?  He surely loves me and cares about me.  What of my daughter and son?  They surely love me and worry about me?  My wife must love me…for all the mistakes I’ve made.  My brother must love and care about me.  What of my family and friends?  They must think of me with affection.  What of the lovers of years ago?  Perhaps one remembers my name, thinks about me, cares about me and even still loves me…in their own way.

These thoughts drifted into my conscience.  Then something happened.  Like a watercolor artist working in slow motion, the sky began to turn pale blue.  The lake water became a deeper blue.  The forest trees were green again.  The late summer wildflowers turned pink, lavender and yellow.

It was a bright sunny day again.  I looked at my watch.  Only a few minutes had passed.

But I knew I was alive.

And, then you’re alive, truly alive and fully alive…you see the world in a whole new spectrum of tints and hues.

It’s a circle.  Life is emotion.  Emotion is color…and color is life.

Waiting For All Hallow’s Eve: III: “The Hunchback of 420 Front Street”

“Helen, take the kids inside and lock the door.  He’s back.”

“Who is this guy, Stan, haven’t we seen him around the neighborhood before?”

“Helen, do as I say.  He may be dangerous.  After all, he goes to St. Pat’s School.”

“Remember, lock the door,” Stan shouted over his shoulder as his wife and daughter, Sissy and son, Stanley, Jr. were safely inside.

“Who are you and what do you want?” Stan said, as he cautiously approached the boy in the yard.

“I’m your neighbor, Mr. Harrington.  I…”

“But you’re dressed for Halloween, boy, and that’s six months away.”

“I know.  You see, I’m fascinated with the movie “Hunchback of Notre Dame.”  I’ve seen all the versions.  The Lon Chaney silent one was good, but I lost it over Charles Laughton’s Quasimodo.  When the mob storms the Cathedral after he saves Esmeralda and everyone thinks he’s kidnapped her, he pours molten lead on their heads from the bell tower.  The lead poured out of the mouths of the gargoyles.  Wasn’t that great?  And then when Esmeralda is taken away by the hero, he sits on the parapet, next to one of the gargoyles and says: “Why am I not made of stone like these statues?  I cry every time I see it.  I can feel his pain…his loneliness…his feelings of rejection because of the deformity he was born with…was no fault of his own.”

“Yeah, I guess I’ve seen one of the movies.  I think it was the Anthony Quinn one,” said Stan, his tension easing slightly.  “But what are you doing dressed like that?”

“Well, my brothers were playing Wiffle Ball in our backyard and I climbed out on the back porch roof and pretended I was Quasimodo.  I have an overactive imagination…sometimes.  But, instead of scaring anyone, they laughed at me.  Our neighbor, Mr. Sparks was getting into his car and he saw me on the roof.  He told my father later that he laughed so hard he wet his pants.  I mean the guy is about 52 years old.”

“So, then what happened?”

“My brothers talked me into coming down to the back yard.  My older brother, Denny, wanted to take a picture.  At first I refused but he said he would give me the picture.  He never did.  My other brother, Dan, got a copy of the picture.  He won’t give it back.  He keeps threatening me with it.  He says he’ll pass it around St. Pat’s school if I don’t give him all the Mars bars he wants for the next six months…and then he said he wanted half my Halloween candy, too.”

~~~

So, that’s the true story of how this picture was taken.  I have been terrified for decades about anyone seeing it.  My brother held it over my head.  I lived in a state of panic.  What would my girlfriend say?  She already thinks I’m weird enough.  Now she’ll think I really insane.

Well, all the Self-Help and Life Advice books will tell you to face your fears.  Confront them.  [If you want to get over a fear of flying, you have to take a flight].

So, after being hidden away for longer than I can say… this is the picture that I wanted no one to see.

I wonder.  Does that mean that my brother doesn’t really care about me anymore?  No one cares what I do with the picture.  If no one cares to humiliate me anymore…does that mean no one cares?

MeAsQuasimodo

So, go ahead.  Look at it.  Gaze on it.  Make fun of it.  Tease me. Mock me…maybe then I’ll know you really care.

Two Elderly Gentlemen Walk Into A Pub

  JimMerrill&Jiff

An older man walked into a pub in Burlington, Vermont on a recent Saturday afternoon.  It was minutes away from a heavy rain.  The guy went downstairs to the men’s room.  He was there at the pub to meet an old friend and he was about two minutes late.  As he climbed the stairs, he realized he had a problem…he hadn’t seen his friend in 50 years!  He had no idea what he would look like. The man and his wife had already scanned the pub but he saw no one who might remotely look like his old pal.

And he was an old pal.  They played together as children…lived close enough to see each other’s house.  They played “cowboys & indians” in the backyard.  They played “army” in a neighbor’s backyard.  On hot summer nights, they slept on a large back porch, listening for the tire skids and crash as the cars came around “broken-arm” curve in front of one of the boy’s houses.  One of the  backyards stretched to the Susquehanna River…it was a giant playground, war zone and hiding place.  The other boy had The Brick Pond in his backyard.  Skating in the winter…turtle watching in the summer.  It was a small town called Owego, in upstate New York.  It was the 1950’s.

One of the boys brought a new vinyl album over to his friend’s house.  It was the early ’60’s.  He put the record on and said: “Listen to this guy…he’s saying something.”

The friend listened.  He didn’t like what he heard.  It wasn’t Dion.  It wasn’t Fabian.  It wasn’t Frankie Avalon.

“This guy can’t sing…he sounds weird.  I don’t understand what he’s saying.”

The boy with the album knew what was happening.  He heard the words.

The uninformed boy took another year to grasp what was being played that night.  That nasal voice and those complex lyrics.

It wasn’t: “Why must I be a teenager in love?”  It was “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Later, during their last year of high school, they sat on the front porch of one of the boy’s houses and talked about the future.  Their paths were about to diverge forever, or nearly forever.  One of them was destined for college the other for Viet Nam.  Their lives grew apart and they lost touch…not to see each other for another 50 years.

The old man climbed the stairs from the restroom.  On the deck was a man talking to his wife.  He felt as though he had never seen this guy before.  He had a cane.  He looked a bit old, like so many men do when they get to their late sixties.

The stranger talking to his wife was the old friend.  They embraced after 50 years.  Both had been through highs and lows, good times and bad.  Divorces and deaths.

They weren’t two kids with stick swords in a weedy backyard anymore.  Time had carried them to the outside deck of the pub in Burlington.  Time had given them a stoop in the shoulders.  Time had taken away their dark hair.  Time had given them illnesses and joint pains and muscle aches.

They used to fish in the Susquehanna River with a stick and a string and a cheap hook.  They each had gone through a fly-fishing stage in the middle years.  They won’t be sharing this, most likely.

Calendar pages fall to the floor.  The man had a cane…it fell to the floor.  Someone picked it up.  Things are so different.

It took half a century before Jimmy Merrill and Pat Egan met again.

It started to rain heavily.

Jim&PatSept6'14

Waiting For All Hallow’s Eve: II “What Lies Beyond?”

DarkSpookyWoods

If you walked this path.  If you dared to enter this forest…who would you encounter?  What would you encounter?  Are there leaves on the branches, ever?  Do wildflowers grow along the trail, ever?  Was this photo taken at noon? at midnight?  Are you dreaming? Having a nightmare?  Or are you fully awake, your senses alert and your eyes wide open?  Are you even alive?

If you stop and listen…what do you hear?  Footsteps behind you?  Something beckoning to you from a tree in the middle distance?  If you met anyone (or anything) on this path, what would you say?  What would you be asked?

A word of advice: If you meet a figure with a hooded cloak, face hidden, ugly thin fingers clinging to a scythe…go the other way.  But, having said that, you can go in any direction…for awhile…but he will always be somewhere nearby…waiting for you…waiting for the moment that your name comes to the top of the page of the Book-That-Only-He-Can-See.

In the end, it won’t really matter what you do…

[Revised 9/9/14]

Waiting For All Hallows Eve: Part I “Ned’s Poor Wife”

Pull your chairs closer to the fireplace.  Come in from the shadows beyond the campfire.  I’m going to tell you a spooky story.

I will begin by stating that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  The time of year is ideal…the pumpkins sit on the vine, the corn is tied into six-foot shocks.  The nights are chilly.  The cider is hot.  The apples may still be on the branches, but some of them may have already fallen to the ground, starting to turn brown, starting to rot into the earth while giving off a sweet odor that attracts the Autumn bees.  The mornings may find a frost on the grass.  The moon is brighter now that the summer humidity is gone.  The smell of burning leaves (where they are allowed to be burned) fill the air with a scent that is unique to only a few weeks out of the year.  The smoke often drifts across the mowed fields and pastures, mixing with the fog of late summer.  The trees in the graveyards seem to drop their foliage first, leaving bare trees that look like skeletons.  Pumpkins are cut into funny faces and candles placed inside their hallow heads glow with an eerie orange light from the eyes, nose and mouth.  Some people, like me, prefer to carve the pumpkins into scary faces.  After all, isn’t that what this time of year is all about?  The intense green of mid summer has given way to a dull and dusty faded green of late summer.  Now, the trees burst into spectacular scarlets, yellows, oranges, reds and amber.  Life, for a time, is over.  Hints of death are in the air.  Stories are told about ghosts, strange lights, floating objects, disembodied voices, floating skulls and walking skeletons…or worse.

That’s why I’m here.  I intend to devote a series of posts that are macabre, spooky, scary, strange and full of the seasonal feelings of the Autumn.  Sometimes the posts will be simple pictures with no comments.  Perhaps a short story.  Maybe a poem.  But it will, hopefully, evoke a feeling (or need) of pulling the blanket up close to your chin and keeping an extra light on during the night-time. Yes, the night time…when nightmares come, dreams arrive, shadows lengthen and candles burn low.

[I invite comments!  If I post an illustration, please, please feel free to write something about it in the comment box.  Make it a story.  Make it a thought, a poem, a song, a memory, a rumor or simply a comment.  Please keep the thread alive and stay decent.]

Here’s my first offering:

“The Tale of Ned’s Poor Wife”

On the edge of a small body of water close to Blue Mountain Lake, NY, there lived a writer.  His legal name was E.C.Z. Judson but he wrote under the pen name of Ned Buntline.  Perhaps you have read some of his tales of the Wild West.  These were published as “dime novels” in the middle of the 19th century.  He became quite famous and sold millions of copies of his “pulp fiction” novels.  Often, these were peddled as authentic histories, but it has been said that Ned never traveled west of the Mississippi River.

Ned was something of a recluse.  Some would say he was nearly a hermit.  He liked to be alone to write his books.  He also was a very eccentric character.  I read an account of him dressing up like an Indian and standing on the shore of the lake where he lived hooting and yelling at the steamboats that chugged past his cabin carrying tourists to nearby hotels.

Probably, he was the kind of guy you would want to avoid.

Ned disliked a great many things but one thing he did not dislike was a young and pretty woman.  So he (as a middle-aged man) married a young and pretty woman.  They lived happily(?) on the shores of a lake near Blue Mountain Lake in a cabin that Ned had named Eagle’s Nest.

The girl, Eva, became pregnant.  She gave birth in a bedroom of Eagle’s Nest.  Nothing unusual for 1860.

Then she died.  Her infant child died also. Again, nothing unusual for 1860.

Ned buried her in his yard next to Eagle’s Nest.

Years later, Ned moved away. He died in 1886 in Stamford, NY.  Her grave remained in the weedy yard of the old cabin.

A decade or so after her death, as a Halloween prank, the local fire department decided to have a parade.  They needed a “grand marshal” of sorts.  So they did the only thing that would enter the minds of a gang of 1860 firemen who had plenty to drink.  They dug Eva out of her grave and paraded her around the village on Halloween!

This went on for a number of years until the local police and a few rich patrons of the hotels decided that it just may have crossed the line of decency to hold such a parade.  They removed her remains (and that of her infant child) and reinterred her in the present-day cemetery at Blue Mountain Lake.  They installed a chain fence around the gravesite.

The desecration of her grave stopped.  The parades were over.

Today, the chain fence is gone, but her tombstone remains.  There is a plaque explaining why she was moved.

Recently, I stood in a light rain and stared at poor Eva’s grave.  I thought of what a strange journey she had to make, and the people who had to help her (after death) to find the rest she so dearly deserved.

EvaGardinerBlueMtnLake

EvaGardinerBlueMtnLakeGrave

[I heard this story while sitting the second-floor deck of a restaurant on Upper Saranac Lake.  The storyteller was an older man with a great white beard.  When he was finished, he walked down the bank to the lake and took off in his float-plane.  The legendary restaurant where I heard this story was purchased by someone who had it torn down.  It was a great loss of a beautiful building.]

The Social History of a Man’s Tie Rack

 BagOfTies

Many of you, my faithful readers and fans, probably assume that I just write a blog and then go off and mow the lawn, fish, read, paint, take Pilates, go to a movie, make a big bowl of popcorn, cook a stack of buttermilk flapjacks, attend a men’s support group, catalogue my moth collection, peruse the internet for Icelandic porn, swiffer the kitchen or polish my Bolivian coin collection.   I’m sure that you think I don’t give a second thought to anything I’ve written and sent out on my WordPress blog platform.

“What does he care,” you say among yourselves.  “He’s said what he wanted to say.  His last few were a bit goofy, but he’s at least trying to please.”

I will have you know, right here and now, that I DO care what my readers think.  In fact, I lose hours of sleep, lying there wondering whether or not The Redheaded Riter liked my latest post, or what Skinnywench thought of it, or what Angie, Lenny, Diane, Madeline, Jim, Donna or Linda had to say about it. [I'm even FB friends with Heidi Fleiss, but she never once wrote anything to me].

But, I do know from reading the comments made in that little box at the end of the post that most of my fans are basically saying the same thing: “You know, he’s written some pretty strange stuff, a lot of it is sad and full of regret and melancholy, loss and rejection.  He writes a lot about his childhood girlfriend, Mary Alice.  She’s probably pretty sick of hearing about obscure stuff that happened 60 years ago.  Yes, he has shared his innermost feelings and worries.  I mean I don’t even know what my wife thinks about Purgatory, but I know what Pat worries about all the time.  But, with all this angst and nostalgia, he’s never, never written about the one thing that we most care about.  He’s never said one thing about his neckties.”

Now, normally, I would consider revealing information about my neckties as a no-no, something like telling someone what your jock strap size happens to be.  Neckties are to be worn only for short periods of time during certain hours of the day…like sock garters.  But, since I am now retired, I feel quite free to tell you a little about how I came about having such an extensive necktie collection…and how they helped me gain a particular sort of fame in the world I lived in…the private schools of the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

It began when I first walked into a classroom at the outset of my teaching career.  It was February, 1973.  I was lured out of grad school at S.U.N.Y. Binghamton by the offer of a full-time teaching job in Pennsylvania.  I had enough credits in education to qualify for a provisional certificate.  I had a young daughter and I needed the job.

My first day in the classroom, I was very self-conscious so I wore a thick sweater or vest and almost always a tie.  My first ties were borrowed from my father.  He purchased them from some store in Endicott, NY in the 1940’s.  Kids pointed and made muffled comments, but I didn’t care.

Then I made my first visit to Ireland.  It was “wool heaven” so I bought a few knitted ties and a few woolen numbers that sported strange Irish tartans.  I was pleased with the “professorial” look I worked at putting together.  Tweed jackets with patches on the elbows and woolen ties (with corduroys, of course…all earth tones).  The one item I never wore (and still won’t) were tasselled loafers.

I was cool and I was very “academic.”

Flash forward to the early 1990’s.  I had moved from public to private schools and I had landed a job at a Quaker school in New York City.  It was a very low-key kind of place.  Students called you by your first name.  When I first heard “Hey, Pat, what does this question mean?” I was in a state of shock.

But, something happened on the way to an assembly…something that was said by a student that changed my life (necktie wise).  He didn’t mean to be rude or to hurt my feelings.  He simply looked at my knit tie (that was square at the bottom) and said: “Who cut your tie off?”

SquareTie

That did it.  I put away my old wool and knit ties (remember, I was still self-conscious) and started buying silk ties on the street.  I would get three for $10.00.  I looked for interesting designs…I found them.  Then, it became like an obsession…like an addiction.  It started with cool designs, but that was just a gateway to strange colors and even more bizarre patterns.  I bought then on 23rd Street.  I purchased them on 34th Street.  On Amsterdam Avenue.  In booths near Central Park.  Street Fairs.  Guys with push-carts. Anywhere, anytime.  I would meet guys named Moose or Cal or Tat who had the latest “imports” from China, Korea, Brazil or even, yes, even Paraguay.  Yes, I bought ties made in Paraguay.

At the last school I taught in, I was the 6th grade home room teacher as well as the science guy for 5th and 6th grade.  I began to gain a reputation.

Once, at the end of home room period, one girl said: “I like your tie, Mr. Egan.”

“Thanks,” I said.

Another girl said: “Well, Mr. Egan has always been rather creative with his ties.”

I was the King of the Neckties among the male faculty.  One history teacher from the 7th and 8th grade wing, tried to find ties like mine, but his efforts came to naught.  He tried to usurp me and he failed.  Too bad, I liked the guy.  But there can be only one King in the small world of a small private school.

I had a Halloween tie I thought was spooky, until the school cancelled that holiday due to parents complaints.  I had a nice snowman tie, but Christmas became confused with other holidays and I gave up wearing it.  I had an Einstein tie that I always wore to the Science Fair Night that I directed.  I left it in the taxi on the way home.  I told my classes the next day and three days later, I had four new Einstein ties given to me.  The parents went online to get me a new one.  As you look at the photos of ties below, find the one of the Empire State Building.  My colleague told me the first time I wore it that it was too phallic.  I stopped wearing it.

 TiesOnRailing

 

I don’t wear my ties anymore, except for weddings and funerals.  I tried to pass them onto my son, who works mostly without ties.  He said thanks, but he had no room in his closet.  I caught him rolling his eyes at his girlfriend after he checked my collection.

I remember, when I was a teenager, my brother and I would find my father’s ties (that he bought in the 1930’s) and we would make fun of how weird they were.

So, now my son was doing the same thing.

Is this some kind of “Circle of Life” thing?

If you see anything that interests you, email me…we can work something out.