“…after the second sexton’s disappearance, in 1908, the burial ground fell into disuse, and was slowly smothered by undergrowth.”















The first shot is from the Beddoe-Rose Cemetery, which in real life, is a bit battered by the years, and probably falling tree limbs, but isn’t spooky in the slightest.  It was a burial plot for two families, that began farming along Keuka Lake after the Revolution, and dates back to 1815.  The last burial was over a hundred years ago, and about seventy years ago, the state purchased the land for a park.  The farmhouse was torn down, and the little hillock is now surrounded by woods.

The scratches on the sign board, from a state forest near Naples, NY, are just rust or something.

And not blood-stained claw marks.

Pretty sure.

Looking for these shots, however, I did find some genuinely scary stuff:



Portapotties, chemical toilets, whatever you call them, these things make your blood run cold.  Some time this century, we need to gather all the villagers, with pitchforks and torches, and chase these horrors from our public places and gatherings. They’re like little plastic museums of the Dark Ages. We’re a couple centuries overdue for well-ventilated, self-cleansing versions.  Public parks should have public restrooms, why do we allow ourselves to be inconvenienced, wait, discommoded in this way?



Moby Grape meets Black Sabbath


Two old-time horrors in this shot.

On the top left, a wreath made of hair. Indescribably creepy.

And in front, in all its splendiferous horribleness, is an 1862 “half-mourning” dress.

The Civil War was bad enough, without this kind of assault.

Imagine some poor vet, having survived Antietam and Gettysburg, limping home from Appomattox, his brain teeming with battlefield horrors, running into this thing.  Hadn’t he suffered enough?

Maybe this dress is a widow’s  expression of pent-up rage, over Victorian strictures – some book of etiquette specified a schedule, when it was deemed seemly to only be half-sad about someone’s death.  And this widow took her revenge, with this lilac & black attack.



Who the heck would give creepy coin banks like this, to a kid??





When your name is Dillman, I guess it’s natural to take an interest in pickling. Back in my hometown, in 1902, the Dillman brothers founded this company, which perfumed the area for many years. Seriously, Kraut Juice??   I just know, that if this health drink was still around when I was a kid, my parents would’ve made me drink it.

A Seneca headdress, as you probably know, did not remotely resemble this “Plains Warbonnet” on the label.


Bonus Ghost Story

Well, here’s a short ghost story, of sorts.  It’s been told to me by my dad, many times.  Many times.  Many times.

On the wall of my bedroom, in my parents’ home, hang four old swords.  One is a Civil War non-com’s, and was given to my father when he was a boy.

A little while after it was given to him, he walked up to the hardware store, bought some fancy brass hooks, and hung the sword on his bedroom wall.  Even though my grandmother had told to not do that, because it might fall off somehow, during the night, and stab him.  Once it was hung, he then went downstairs, to feed the dog, a large, very sweet Newfoundland.

The dog, as soon as he was in the house, ignored his dinner, and ran upstairs, which was very unusual, since he was always hungry, and knew he wasn’t allowed in the bedrooms.  He then stood in the doorway of my dad’s bedroom, and began to bark and growl.

Now, my dad says, that dog only growled four times in his entire life.  The other three times, he’d taken a dislike to the UPS van.  Otherwise, and this dog lived nearly twice the typical lifespan for that breed, he simply never growled.  He was a big dog, 150 pounds, and when he growled, it was impressive.  My dad would put the dog in the garage when the UPS van arrived, but he growled through the door.

It scared the living crap out of the UPS man, who asked my dad what the hell they were keeping in the garage.  He stopped driving up to the house, and just hung the parcels on the mailbox by the street.

But that afternoon, the dog stood in the doorway, looking into the bedroom and growled and growled.

My father reacted quickly and decisively, the way he always does in these situations.

He ran outside.

The dog followed, and together, they sat on the front lawn, until it started to get dark, and the folks came home to make dinner. At the time, neither of them said anything about the growling to my grandparents.

Now, it’s possible there was a bat in the room.  It wouldn’t be the first time – my father often left the screens open, so he could throw things out the window, fiddle with the wire antenna to his radio, which he’d strung out to a fencepost, or shoot his BB gun at tin cans on the driveway, even though he’d promised never to load the gun inside the house.  But he says, the screen was closed, and he didn’t see any bats.  He believes it was something to do with hanging up that sword.

Now it’s been on my bedroom wall for quite a while, and nothing’s happened, so far.



Halloween in the Woods


30 thoughts on “Halloween in the Woods

  1. I love the old trees whose trunks have faces. They are the real Ents from Lord of the Rings! And in my humble opinion the sword is the cause of the growling. Absolutely. Is the dog still alive and has he seen the sword? More to the point the ghost who belongs to that sword , for some reason, is not interested in you…….yet! 👀

  2. Sauerkraut is known for its healthy ingredients. They sell sauerkraut in jars. I have not seen its juice for sale, but I am almost certain it may provide the same health benefits to those daring enough to drink it. Thank you for your entertaining Halloween post, Robert!

    • Thank you, Peter, I’m sure you’re right about the health benefits, I like sauerkraut, and pickled red cabbage, but haven’t ever just had the juice by itself. I know some football teams drink pickle juice.

  3. Those trees are pretty scary.
    As to kraut juice: I know it’s supposed to be healthy, but as a “Kraut” myself I prefer my own “kraut juice” aka a good German beer. 😀

  4. The opening quote and first five photos are a great statement y themselves, wow. I love those small, old cemeteries. Kraut juice, wow. Love that label, don’t want to think about the taste. Your bonus ghost story made up for the idea. 🙂

    • thank you, Lynn, The ghost story is true, or at least that is how my father tells it, but the opening quote, I actually had to make up, I remember reading something like that, but I couldn’t find it so I just made one up. The woods and farms around here are full of little old cemeteries like that.
      They built a casino a couple of years ago, on the Thruway near my hometown, on land that used to be a farm, and left the little family cemetery in place, with a couple of trees and a metal fence around it, so it’s now in the middle of a huge parking lot.

      • 🙂 You made it up, funny. 🙂 That’s bizarre about the cemetery in the parking lot. Sometimes when I travel I look for old cemeteries. I found a nice one in Florida, a little inland from Fort Myers, and an interesting one in rural Oregon. I think you said somewhere that you lived adjacent to one. We did, too, when we lived in western NY. I liked playing around the headstones. 🙂

  5. Darts and Letters says:

    That third picture down reminds me of a mutant camel snout, like something you’d find in Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe along with the two headed pig. That’s a pretty cool ghost story. And that’s downright awesome you have your very own real sword! the closest I can come is a rusty crosscut saw and you’ve got the definite advantage in case of an intruder.

    Btw……that coin bank is creepy. Really creepy. As creepy as a ventriloquist doll.

    • That tree in the 3rd shot did look like it had stuck its snout out into the trail, to trip people.
      The coin bank is from a place in WI, about an hour west of Madison, the House on the Rock, if you’re ever out that way, maybe on your way to MI, your boys would love it, an incredible pile of weird old stuff. The coin bank was creepy but some of the dolls and mannequins were even spookier.

  6. When just a little bit younger years were mine, my Dad had a delicatessen. Maybe not as bad as Kraut Juice but we sold Celery Tonic. I can tell you it was as bad as it sounds. I made up for it by draining all the Orange Crush bottles.
    That second image would be scary in daylight and the fourth expresses something I am feeling on this particular morning in time.

    • Thanks Steve. I actually enjoy Dr Brown’s Cel-Ray Tonic, there’s a good deli in the nursing home complex where my grandmother lives, and I drink one whenever I go there. as for the news this morning, still biding my time.

  7. You might have heard me laugh when I came to Moby Grape vs. Black Sabbath. That brought the proverbial coffee-on-keyboard sort of snort.

    As for the growling the dog did, I’d not be surprised if it didn’t sense ‘something.’ It might have been simple unfamiliarity, but it might have been something more. The biggest threat, of course, is the one your grandmother warned about. A friend’s husband was hanging up a tool on a pegboard when a machete hanging above it just fell, slicing through his arm and sending blood everywhere. It missed tendons and bones, but things have been rearranged on the pegboard.

    A new feature on our construction sites is the presence of pink and blue porta-potties. I think I know why, but I’ve not inquired. Some things are better left alone.

    • Well, sounds like a colorful job site, anyway!
      Wow, that machete incident sounds pretty scary. The old swords in my bedroom in my parents’ house are pretty secure, and not hanging over my bed or anything. It would take a pretty active poltergeist to get them down to the other end of the room!

  8. J.D. Riso says:

    Just fabulous. I love the blue-tinted photos…and the creepy clown bank! I wish someone had given that to me as a kid. Really. That lilac and black monstrosity,however. I’m gonna have nightmares about that.

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