Halloween is upon us, aka All Hallows Eve, aka All Saints Day and a few others. October 31st is a day set aside in many countries dedicated to remember the dead. In the US Halloween has become anything but a day of remembrance. We have commercialized it, of course, and turned the day into a day to give sweet treats to cute little goblins and imagine the dead reanimated.
Lately the undead have become more popular than ever before. With the success of team Edward’s vampires and team Jacob’s shift shaping wolves in the “Twilight” series on the big screen and now our preoccupation with zombies on the TV show “The Walking Dead” or the ghouls on “Grimm” we love the possibility of monsters and reanimated souls.
Our fascination with the undead is hardly a new one. As far back as I can remember the cinema and television have given us plenty of opportunities to be frightened. The Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and Lon Chaney Jr.’s Wolf Man movies. TV too, Dark Shadows, Ghost Whisperer, Medium, Ghost Hunters and etc.
We are fascinated with the macabre, and Halloween is the day of the year when we celebrate this fascination with excess. Excessive sweet treats, excessive potent potables and we dress up to celebrate the occasion!
Locally there is scheduled trick or treating, there are zombie walks, Hustisford’s Thriller Night when they reenact the Michael Jackson Thriller dance in the streets. Haunted houses and pumpkin patches are everywhere and many groups will have parties to commemorate the day. We love Halloween.
There are entire groups devoted to researching haunted homes and sites. It is said that lost souls inhabit areas where newly dead people are more likely to be located. Like hospitals, churches, and of course cemeteries and mortuaries.
As many of you know I spend a large amount of my free time at the Beaver Dam Area Community Theater (BDACT) which is a converted Baptist church. As many of you also know the theater group recently purchased the St. Pats grade school and will be converting that space in to a much roomier theater. We will add 200 seats to the main stage theater, plus parking and a separate theater for children’s Tell A Tale productions and second stage productions including theater in the round.
We hate giving up the familiar for something new and unknown, and BDACT is no exception with its plans to relocate to Maple Street. One of the arguments is the intimacy of the small theater, some love the superb acoustics. The Spring Street location seems to take on a life of its own. Some even say there is a spirit in the balcony and attic who peruses the site. We call her Lucy.
I found this excerpt about the BDACT ghost on a web site simply called Hauntings. The Beaver Dam Area Community Theater is located at 219 N. Spring Street. It was acquired in 1983 after nearly 20 years of using borrowed and temporary spaces such as schools, malls, or restaurants.
Ghosts and the Paranormal at the Beaver Dam Community Theater in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin:
Disembodied footsteps have been reported in the loft at the Beaver Dam Community Theater. Some Beaver Dam locals report that lights go on and off on their own, without explanation at times. The ghostly presence of a girl named “Lucy” purportedly haunts the Beaver Dam Community Theater.
This author has a fascination with the spirit world, so this story is right up my alley. Lucy gets blamed for many things that go wrong during productions and bumps that go on in the night. Is she real? Heck if I know, but it is fun speculating and retelling the story to new participants in the theater. Many people will miss the acoustics of the current building, I know we can recreate that, it is the stories of the old building including Lucy that I will miss.
The subject of disembodied spirits has always fascinated me and recently during a small family get together with my parents and an aunt and uncle I discovered why. While enjoying an evening at one of our favorite diners my aunt Sharon turns to me and asks if I’ve ever heard any stories about my great grandmother LeGrande. I looked at my mom, then turned to Aunt Sharon and said; no. It seems great grandmother made her living by telling fortunes. She was so good at it that people would sign contracts with her and pay for sessions in advance.
One particular session was with a star football player at the nearby college. Great grandmother didn’t want to tell the star his future, but wrote it on a piece of paper and asked him read it only after returning to campus. On the way home that evening the brakes on his car failed and he plunged into a ravine.
He was uninjured, but had to walk the remaining 4 miles into town. Upon returning to his room he remembered the fortune written down in his pocket and opened it. Grandmother had correctly predicted the entire occurrence. Why she chose not to warn him, Aunt Sharon did not know, but that is a great story and we are sticking to it. Great grandmother was able to sense things around her that others could not.
My mother has a little of that too. When I was 18 my brother was killed in an auto accident while traveling to work 30 miles from our home. Mom and dad were at the Iowa State Fair 150 miles from our home. At the time of the accident she looked at my dad and told him they had to get home, something had happened to Randy.
Whether we believe or not most of us at least pretend to be a part of the great unknown this time of year. To tie ghostly presence and our beloved theater together, we are having a Halloween party on October 31st as a fund raiser for the new BDACT St. Pats renovation. Please dress up and attend. There will be cash prizes for the best costumes, door prizes and wonderful food from Mike at Bayside Supper Club. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Recheck’s Food Pride or at the door for an additional $5.
My costume? Hardly frightening. I’m deciding between Agent K from Men In Black or a Secret Service Agent. Pretty much the same costume, but one has an ear-bud communication device and the other a space aged weapon.
Hope to see you all there. IF YOU DARE!