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.
On the morning of Thursday April 2nd we bid Chattanooga a fond goodbye before heading out towards Tennessee’s Smokey Mountains. The journey was highlighted by numerous forests, hills, and rivers which became even more scenic once the famed mountains appeared in the distance. It was a cloudy day with some fog which made them every bit as “smokey” looking as their name implies. Everything we saw that morning was picturesque until we entered the town of Pigeon Forge and it seemed as if we’d crash landed on another planet!