“For Retrocentrics, The Spirits
Of The Past Haunt Year Round.”

Eric Renderking Fisk - Halloween 2009 Bookmark and Share

The Fedora Chronicles - Ren's Rant's October 2009One of the Halloween traditions in this New Hampshire town where we live involves the college students who hand out candy from their dorms and student apartments. This past Tuesday while I was bringing my two boys around for Trick-Or-Treating I was reminded of when I did the same more then 30 years ago. The dorms and the student apartments are very similar to the places where my family lived in 1974/1975, simultaneously I was in the moment and flashing back to my own childhood.

I remember one Halloween when I was either 5 or 6 and I made a Frankenstein mask out of a brown paper bag and some other stuff. After wearing the mask for few minutes later I threw up because the smell of the glue made me sick. My mother wanted to call it quits but I insisted that we keep going. The Fedora Chronicles - FrankensteinAfter quickly cleaning up and getting another costume we started again. For the sake of The Fedora Chronicles theme I want to say that one of the other residents of Westgate (our neighborhood where we lived at the time,) Mr. Audet, let me borrow an old fedora and other items of his because of the now unusable paper bag mask.

I remember later that night,, when my brother and I  were with some of the other kids from the neighborhood and together we cut through a patch of woods to get to another part of the development. Imagine the bunch of us running through the small forest illuminated by the almost full moon.  The colors of our costumes were faded and muted, the shapes transformed into sharply contrasted silhouettes, changing everyday things and people into haunting and mystical images. In my mind, this moment created my own idyllic thoughts on what this season should look like.

That night I not only learned that Halloween was supposed to be about being afraid and spooked, but also about over-coming fear and being brave. A lesson that I learned as a young child served me to this day when there's a sudden chill that rouses goose bumps or when there's a sound from outside that's unexplainable and startling.

I wonder what iconic images from this season will be created in my children's memory this season. What will happen that will teach them to not be afraid of the bumps in the night in the years to come.

The Fedora Chronicles Halloween AvatarThat's only a small part about of what it is that I wanted to talk about in this rant. During the past few days I've been thinking about the concept of ghosts, both figuratively and literally And how "ghosts" might have a different connotation for fellow retro's then the rest of the world.

In the literal ghosts; I remember for the first time as a child thinking of the concept of ghosts, a spirit that either chooses to stay in this realm and not go to the great beyond or can't for some reason. Why would a spirit that had to leave it's body want to remain behind? What could be the reason why someone would want to remain tethered to this world? I think about the people who lost their lives during what we now call The Golden Era and why they would want to haunt us? I think of all the unfinished business they left behind and left undone because of lives cut short. Do some spirits stay behind out of the sense that they didn't do enough when they were among the living, out of a sense of lack of accomplishment?

Or is it out of fear of either what waits for them; heaven, hell... purgatory or oblivion.

I can imagine if there is a life after death I would be consumed with my own concern of what will remain behind such as the safety and security of my children or the heartbreak my wife will feel, the grief of my friends. Do I have the type of personality that would cause me to haunt the people I love and the home that has become as much a part of my personality like my temper and preoccupation of all things in the past?

Or do ghosts even exist? Are they figments of our own imagination or a manifestation of a phenomenon we have observed for eons and still don't understand?

In the figurative sense of ghosts, the best example I can think of is that magical moment of sentimentality when we watch a classic movie, listen to Jazz or Swing recorded during those decades or look at pictures and items from those decades.

I remember a time recently when my wife and I were driving down Route 202, a particularly curvy and winding section and passing buildings and homes that could have been around during The Roaring Twenties, Bootlegging and Prohibition, The Depression and World War II. I found a local radio station that rebroadcasted shows that were aired back when, and the thought dawned on me that there must have been radios receiving them when they first aired, either in other people's homes or, later on, cars.

What were those people doing when they heard this musical show when it aired the first time. What concerns and worries did they have about the years that have by now already passed? What where their hopes and aspirations of their near future, what has become our distant past. Could they have imagined what the 21st Century could have looked like, that there would be some of us who would choose to emulate them in some way with our "futuristic" technology?

In a sense, that's what being retrocentric is all about. We choose to be a little haunted by the past when we look at those old photos, watch those old movies or listen to that music. We invite those specters from the past to visit us. We want them to speak to us and tell us what was it like to be them. What made your generation "The Greatest." We want to learn their lessons and not make the same mistakes they made.

Late autumn is the perfect season for this as well. As the foliage falls and the trees begin to hibernate, other vegetation dies as their seed goes dormant on the ground ready to start the process over again, people like ourselves think about that cycle on a grander scale. We think about the older generations in their twilight years and leave their knowledge behind either in books or in the spoken narrative. As autumn changes hands into winter we think about mortality and the generations that have passed before us. We think about those people who used to occupy the space we claim as our own as we ask our selves quietly about those who were here before us.

I personally think about the people who worked this land before my wife and I built this house on it. Who built the stone wall that I maintain, with the trail running along side it. Who were the first people to touch these rocks and what were their lives like when they weren't working? Who were we... as a society back then. So, in that sense - this place is haunted.

We are the haunted, by choice.

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