Since we Daves met up in Pennsylvania last March, and then again for his birthday in New England in May, there were no epic road trips planned for us together this year. I did have several potential ones in mind for 2017 before retooling one a bit to do with my kids instead. It involved us driving through South Dakota, going as far west as the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Since my eldest son, Alex, is stationed at a military base in North Dakota, we’d also make a point to go and visit him as well. Ever since my marriage crumbled about five years ago and we Daves decided to incorporate a few Ohio zoos in addition to a Horrorhound Weekend, road trips have become rather sacred to me. It’s an opportunity to escape the mundane acts of real life and remind ourselves that there’s a big, beautuful world out there. The kids had never gone on a big road trip before and certainly not one designed by me. So hop on in the passenger seat, folks, and let’s relive this WEIRD solo Dave adventure together…
It was a sunny Thursday morning when we entered the main entrance of the Freetown State Forest in Massachusetts. Aaron Cadieux, the director of The Bridgewater Triangle, was en route and shot me a text asking if I wanted coffee. It was a gracious gesture, especially considering he was already doing me a huge favor just by coming out to meet us. Fortunately, my pal Jason Schoolcraft had already supplied me with my daily caffeine requirement, thereby granting me the necessary endurance to combat the Massachusetts morning traffic and an alleged evil forest. As soon as I turned off the ignition, Jef Taylor was out of the car and checking out the map.
After a busy day of running around Erie, Pennsylvania us Terror Daves had one more stop to make before settling in at the Tinseltown Movie Theater to catch a screening of Skull Island. Obviously we don’t need any warm-ups when it comes to seeing giant monsters but, thanks to one of Erie’s creative locals, that’s exactly what we got! Dick Schaefer managed to turn trash into treasure by converting old broken vehicles into giant bugs and there was no way Dave wasn’t going to figure out a way to add that to my already busy pre-birthday weekend itinerary.
Smack dab in the middle of Erie, Pennsylvania are 75 acres dedicated to its dead. The 167 year old cemetery is treasured by its community for its beautiful setting and historical markers while others whisper of its darker side. I, myself, knew nothing of it until that cold Saturday morning in early March when the other Terror Dave, Dave Fuentes, drove me through its gates. That in itself wasn’t unusual, we Daves enjoy visiting old graveyards, but there was something rather unique about this one. And so, within minutes of our arrival, we’d begin our search for the crypt of a vampire.
Once upon a time, American communities boasted a plethora of privately owned “mom and pop” stores that carried unique items guaranteeing no two were the same. Often they were operated by local residents whom you knew by name and, more importantly, knew yours along with your interests. Eventually big name corporations would arrive and wipe most of them out by featuring standard merchandise (usually cheaper) via large retail stores that enticed busy consumers with the luxury of a “one stop shop.” The dawn of the Internet would present further challenges as online sales and auctions made tracking down even the most elusive item as simple as the press of a button. Though we may have an easier time heading to our nearest Walmart or ordering something from the comfort of our homes, there will always be something lost in doing so. Those of us who grew up in a world dominated by private businesses know full well that there was a sort of ambiance being inside their musty walls and surrounded by a cornucopia of like-items you could see with your own eyes and touch with your hands. Say what you will about convenience, it will never compare with the full immersive “experience” these places offered.
One of the things that amazes me is how certain stores continue to thrive whereas others selling the very same thing fail. A magic/novelty store is very specialized and if you don’t have the clientele, this type of business is doomed to go out of business. Thankfully, these stores that have succeeded have found that capitalizing on things like holidays helps keep the business going year round. Though they may have started out selling only magic and novelties, things like Halloween masks and costumes are now what helps make the business thrive.
This was very evident at Caufield’s Novelties. One room contained both the magic tricks and novelties (as well as lighting equipment). Three rooms were devoted to Halloween costumes, masks and props. Being a fan of Halloween this is not a bad thing at all. With stores like SPIRIT dominating the Halloween business in October, it is nice to see a mom and pop store like Caufield’s carrying so much more, and of better quality, than anything that SPIRIT ever carries.
While on our 2015 Terror Dave road trip, we visited many things and had many discussions. On April 3rd we headed to one of the world’s largest bats in Louisville, KY (and I am not talking about the 120 foot baseball bat that stands outside of the Louisville Slugger Museum). Those that know us are aware of the fact that sports rate very low on our list of priorities so that when the Daves go to see the world’s largest bat, you can bet it is either something zoological or something scary.