‘Tis the season when ghosts and goblins start to make appearances. Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of the year. You’d never know that to be around me on the holiday, though. I haven’t dressed up in years. I don’t go to parties. And due to the infamous Greenwich Village Halloween Parade that passes steps from my front door, I typically bunker down for the evening and don’t step foot outside until November comes. Yes, I’m a cynical New Yorker, I admit it!
But, still, Halloween is a fun time of year. It brings out creativity and imagination in people, which I appreciate.
Halloween was a big part of growing up, too. At East Armuchee Baptist Church, we used to hold fall festivals. The community would gather for an old-fashioned weenie roast decked out in our Halloween costumes. We even had a pumpkin carving contest one year. I remember one lady from the church–I can’t recall who–taught me how to carve the wickedest-looking eyes. Every year I carved a pumpkin at home after that, and I always did it the way she taught me. The photo below was taken in 1987 and was one of those later Halloweens. See those pumpkin eyes? That’s how I learned to carve them. I always thought it was the coolest way to make the eyes. Oh, and that’s me… dressed up as a dog. If you can’t tell which one is me, I’m on the left. The one on the right is Rounder, my best friend growing up!
Then here’s a photo of the weenie that same year. I love this photo because it was taken before the church was expanded. That whole area where everybody is gathered became the fellowship hall not too many years later. I can make out some of the people in this photo. Starting on the left, Joan Pope Kimball, Pastor David Pruett, Karen Pruett, David Kimball, Martha Dell Grigsby Richardson, and my mother, Rhonda Jordan Scoggins, are gathered around the fire. I think the girl seated on the bench may be Christy Ferguson. The woman dressed like a bumble bee is my sister, Julie.
But the best memories have to be the old-fashioned country hay rides! They were so much fun, and I looked forward to it every year.
Here’s a photo from the hayride in 1987. The sun had set, and it was already a bit spooky, and the ride hadn’t even begun! It’s hard to make me out, but I am near the back of the trailer. Do I look excited or what?
One year, there was a particularly good hayride. My friends Celeste and Cauprice Broome and I loaded onto the hay ride. The driver took us out the road behind East Armuchee, down Richardson Road, and up Dicks Creek Road. If Armuchee Valley isn’t a spooky setting on a cool autumn night, I don’t know what is. The ghosts of my ancestors must have been all around. The hay ride turned onto Ben Childs Road–a small road that connects Dicks Creek and Concord Road. As we rode past Concord Cemetery–where my 2nd great-grandparents in the Pope line are buried–we saw movement out among the tombstones. The truck stopped, and the curious kids we were, Celeste, Cauprice, and I leaped to the ground and ran into the cemetery. I guess we were too sharp for our own good. We hadn’t been scared. We went right up to the ghosts, yanked their sheets away, and knew it was our fathers.
“You didn’t scare us,” we exclaimed. “You’re not scary!”
I suppose we ruined their fun that Halloween.
Years later, I went back to Concord Cemetery one night. My friend Tammy and I were hanging out during one of my trips down south. We sat by the car and looked at the stars, listening to the nighttime sounds of the countryside. I told her about my (what seems like a lifetime ago) Halloween memory at the cemetery.
Memories like this fill my mind. Whether in Villanow or Subligna, my mind is dotted with the old places scattered about the valley. These memories haunt me like a Halloween ghost, lurking in the shadows, appearing in my path randomly, startling me when I least expect it. I pull the sheet back and look into the faces of the ghosts of my ancestors. These faces hold stories. These places hold memories. As a genealogist it is my role to explore the unknown and take a trip into the past…
Today, I am off to The Genealogy Event here in New York. This will be my first genealogy conference, and I am very excited to see what it is like. Hopefully, I’ll return recharged and ready to bring you some new things here on Jordan’s Journey.
And, to all you ghouls out there, have a happy Halloween!