I always get a kick out of whenever new friends come over my house for the first time. If I’m lucky, I can catch a glimpse of them staring at their GPS and then up at my house, convinced they’re in the wrong place. After all, where are all the gargoyles? There’s no broken wrought iron fence surrounding the property. No boarded-up windows. Heck, there’s not even a single raven flying overhead. That’s not to say there aren’t strange and spooky things lurking around my house. You just need to know where to look.
Sure, you could take a gander at my massive collection of paranormal books (currently sitting at over 800 volumes) or take a peek at the weird little gadgets that I have for my ghost investigations. But if you take a closer look, you will find all sorts of strange and spooky tchotchkes nestled away in the corners of my house: a coffee mug from the world’s largest cuckoo clock, a “haunted” brick, a framed letter from the Athens Lunatic Asylum, skee ball tickets from Chippewa Lake Park.
While I suspect my wife thinks I have a bit of pack rat in me, I refuse to admit that I might be turning into a hoarder (although I do have to having to continually fight the urge to purge whenever I stumble across an episode of Hoarders on A&E). It’s just that all my life I have been attracted to the strange and bizarre…and collecting mementos from my visits to these type of places. And I got more than my fill of that whenever my family went on a road trip. I can distinctly remember sitting in the back of my parents’ station wagon, peering out the window and waiting for the next billboard to appear. Most of them would be for gas or hotels, but every once in a while one would pop up that would promise unbelievable sights and sounds…but only if we would “exit now.” All it took was one of those signs and I would be constantly nagging and bugging my parents to take me.
Most of the time, my father would tell me to shut my pie hole and read my book. But every once in a while, my mother would force him to pull over and let me explore the latest Mystery Spot. It was on those side trips that I experienced such wonders as two-headed chickens, real-life mermaids, and my all-time favorite, Eggbert the Talking Egg. These adventures had a huge impact on my life and as I grew older, I began to venture out on my own, visiting long-neglected cemeteries, museums that were really just someone’s basement, and abandoned train stations, hospitals, and houses. If it was something weird, I wanted to see it, even more so if it had a gift shop!
Of course, the hundreds of photos I would take at each spot would help me relive the experience, but if I could walk away with something tangible to reflect on and share with others, that made all the difference in the world. Especially now since on an almost daily basis, we are losing more and more of these places…forever. You see, I firmly believe that roadside oddities, haunted locales and even places associated with legend tripping are an integral part of our collective childhood. And when these locations fall by the wayside or get crushed under the wheels of a bulldozer in the name of progress, we all lose a bit of our childhood. Perhaps that’s the reason why this grown man was brought to tears when, just a few short months after I had finally fond it (after years of searching), Midget Town was sold and quickly demolished.
That was also the deciding factor for me to take it upon myself to become the Strange and Spooky Historian and part-time Curator of my own personal Strange and Spooky Museum. Our weird childhood memories don’t need to die. Here at the Strange and Spooky Museum, they can live on forever, frightening and entertaining generations for years to come!
There is talk about bringing the Strange and Spooky Museum on the road. But for now, since the Museum is currently not open for business, I’ve decided to post some random Strange & Spooky pics here from time to time to share with everyone. If you’ve got something to share, feel free to post it here, too.
Oh yeah, and if you’ve got something you think would be a nice addition to the Museum, let me know and I’ll be more than happy to take it off your hands…just don’t tell my wife!