Wednesday, July 23, 2014


How It All Began
72 Years Ago, It All Started with 26 Men on a Roof

   Some say it was an accident, some say it was fate. Either way (or perhaps both) the movement we now enjoy as the Barbershop Harmony Society (aka. Society for The Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA) can be credited to a meeting in Tulsa organized by Owen Clifton Cash on April 11, 1938.
   Cash was really only interested in getting a few guys together to sing. There was no grand plan, no grand scheme. He and acquaintance Rupert Hall had a chance meeting in Kansas City several weeks before and discussed forming a Song Fest. On his return to Tulsa, Cash drafted an invitation and mailed it to the 14 singers he knew might show up and encouraged them to bring guests.

   The Tulsa Club was a high class place and popular destination for special dinners, weddings and meetings. Special accommodations were made for the exclusive members, mostly rich Tulsa Oil men. Rupe was a member and arranged for the location. The management decided to place the “singers” on the roof (in open air - under the stars) so as to not disturb the clientele.
   Although closed for years and under threat of demolition, the 11-story Tulsa Club building still exists in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma and is located on the northwest corner of 5th and Cincinnati. Built in 1923, it’s across the street (due north) from the Stanolind Oil Building where Cash worked.
   It was a fine, warm spring day. OC Cash, Rupert Hall, Donnie O’Donovan, Elmer Lawyer and “Puny” Blevens were the first to arrive. Rupe went off to arrange for the food leaving the other four to ask, “What Are We Waiting For?” They decided to try to woodshed the song “Down Mobile”.

   Cash states that he had invited 14 men and 26 “crashed the party”. They sang and harmonized to some old songs for several hours with several breaking off into quartets as well.
   Apparently some Tulsa club members on the floors below complained of the “noise” so the next week, April 18, they met at the Hotel Tulsa (3rd and Cincinnati). 70 men showed up at this second meeting showing there was interest in this idea and maybe an early indication of the future growth.
   By the end of May, the newly formed group began meeting at the Alvin Plaza Hotel (7th and Main) and hosting 75 to 150 men each week. What would later be known as the Tulsa # 1 Chapter, would continue to meet at the Alvin for 37 years.

1938 Was a Very Good Year
How it All Began

   The family unit was still very musical in the late 1930s with pianos in most homes and singing (harmonizing), still a popular pastime. Many could still remember, first hand, enjoying the old vaudeville quartets and the professionals such as the Peerless Quartet from the turn of the century. The love of close harmony existed even though it was no longer the most popular music of the day.
   In 1938 men harmonizing together had not completely died out but it was becoming rarer and certainly much less popular than 30 years before.
   There were actually several different groups throughout the country who gathered and sang close harmony for pleasure. The Tulsans, a large city-wide classical and glee club chorus, was a popular outlet of the day. Many new Tulsa barbershoppers would come from this group.

   The movement we now enjoy as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A. Inc.) can be credited to a meeting in Tulsa organized by Owen Clifton Cash.
   Cash was really only interested in getting a few guys together to sing. There was no grand plan, no grand scheme.
   He and acquaintance Rupert Hall had met in Kansas City by chance and discussed forming a group. On his return, Cash drafted an invitation and mailed it to the 14 singers they knew might show up and encouraged them to bring guests.

The Song Fest

   The date was set for Monday, April 11 at 6:30 PM. Hall, a member of the opulent, rich oil men’s Tulsa Club, had arranged for the meeting to be held on the Roof Garden (up on the roof - in open air - under the stars). The Tulsa Club still exists and is located on the northwest corner of 5th and Cincinnati. Built in 1923, it stands 11 stories tall. It’s across the street (due north) from the Stanolind Oil Building where Cash worked. 

   Closed for many years, it has escaped demolition many times. Its future is still in doubt.
   Twenty six men attended and harmonized. Apparently some Tulsa club members below complained of the “noise” so the next week, April 18, they met at the Hotel Tulsa (3rd and Cincinnati). Perhaps an early indication of future growth, 70 men showed up at the second meeting. By the end of May, the newly formed group began meeting at the Alvin Plaza Hotel (7th and Main) and hosting 75 to 150 men. What would later be known as the Tulsa # 1 Chapter, would continue to meet at the Alvin for 37 years.

   The popular joke is ... “There were 26 men who attended the FIRST meeting April 11, 1938 ... I’ve met 150 of them.”

Well Timed PR

   O.C. Cash was a master craftsman with the press. He would call his reporter friends at the Tulsa Tribune and the Tulsa World and give them such creative material about the new group, they couldn’t help but use it. The clever use of the initials SPEBSQSA (a humorous slap at President Roosevelt’s alphabetical agencies) was only the beginning.
   One such event was escalated into a “legal battle” via the press. A “reactionary group” had apparently sprung up and began calling itself S.P.C.D.A.D.P.O.F.L.T. (The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dumb Animals, Dumb People, and Other Folk of Low Taste). It was reportedly backed, promoted, financed, and advised by the Chamber of Commerce. Their purpose was to consider legal action to “suppress, squelch, obliterate, eliminate, dehabilitate and otherwise bring about the non-existence of the harmless group of tenors, basses, and leads who enjoy their own singing once a month.”
   The group, claiming to be fair, agreed to hold off any legal action until after hearing the quartets sing at the Chambers’ May 13th meeting. The performance was predicted to be “just provocation for either mayhem or murder”.
   Cash also “publicly” invited Bing Crosby to attend a meeting. Bing wired his regrets and promised to dedicate a song on his next Kraft Music Hall radio show. Crosby and other VIPs were later named to the Society’s Board of Directors. There was also interest in forming a chapter in Hollywood.
   Early on it was discovered the group needed some reference for the songs they liked to sing. The biggest problem was ... remembering the words. An official songbook of lyrics was produced, and distributed to all members. It contained 161 songs, many of which have not survived the five decades. The book was quickly withdrawn from circulation when A.S.C.A.P. threatened legal action against the Society.

Call The Cops!

   The gathering of May 31st was possibly the most important single event in the history of the society. Sixty three singers met on the Mezzanine level of the Alvin. In the heat of the early summer night the windows were opened to the street.
   To understand this event one must also be aware of the concern of the police department with spontaneous groups on the streets even years after the panic of the race riots in downtown Tulsa in (1921).
   Reportedly, there was such a sound coming from the Alvin, passersby on the way home stopped to listen, and cars began to pull over. Such a commotion was caused, a rare traffic jam resulted. Apparently someone (some have rumored it was O.C.) called the cops. Ralph Martin, a reporter for the Daily World, followed a policeman upstairs to the singers’ songfest to discover the source of the “riot”. Even before the traffic jam was dispersed, Cash took Martin aside and began writing his story. The next morning, Martin’s “song-by-song” account of the disturbance appeared under the headline of... “No, No Folks - You’re Wrong! That Was Musical History In The Making!”. Cash had taken the liberty to embellish the truth just a bit. He had told Martin that the Chicago Tribune, the Associated Press, as well as Time Magazine had shown interest in the new group formed to preserve barbershop quartet singing.

   He told of friends in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, St. Louis and other towns forming similar groups. The story was so “unique” it was picked up by the Associated Press wire and ran in newspapers around the country the very next Sunday.
   Those Cash mentioned in the article were surprised to read the report and began to get calls from interested singers. Groups began to spring up all over the country.
. . The Society was born.
   The Society’s second chapter was formed in Kansas City. Cash and friends traveled by rail to install that group on June 18. On July 23rd Tulsa barbershoppers took the “Frisco” to Oklahoma City to install the officers of the newly chartered (July 6th) chapter. They attended The Texas League All-Star baseball game that night.


   Charters and memberships continued to be presented. There were no dues, rules, no officers, no headquarters but by the end of the year, eight chapters now including St. Louis, were meeting on a regular basis. Cash decided, if for no other reason than to get more PR, a major event was needed. A national quartet contest to pick “The World’s Champion Barber Shop Quartet” was to be held. Tulsa would be the site with contests being held on the stage at Central High School’s south auditorium.

   The dates were set for June 2 (Friday) and 3 (Saturday). The Hotel Tulsa would be the headquarters with a registration of $3 and an invitation to “MEN ONLY”.
   By Friday 150 delegates and nearly 50 quartets showed up representing ten states and seventeen cities. Competitors included the Flat Foot Four (Oklahoma City), The Maple City Four (Springfield, IL), Shell Quartet (Arkansas, KS), Topeka State Journal (Topeka, KS), The Industrial City Four (San Springs, OK), The Four Blue Notes (Tulsa), Jayhawkers from Topeka, and The Okie Four with Cash on Bari. The Bartlesville, Oklahoma Barflies won the contest, a trophy, and a $50 check (that’s $12.50 per man).
   Rapid and widespread growth had caught the Tulsa group by surprise. During the 1939 Convention a board meeting was held and our first slate of official officers were elected.
   It’s rumored that Rupert Hall returned from the men’s room to discover he had been elected the Society’s first President.
   O.C. Cash refused any position beyond his self appointed “Permanent Third Assistant Temporary Vice Chairman”.

   Against all odds, barbershopping is back. In 809 chapters in the U.S. and Canada, their organization, The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America, is almost 35,000 members strong. That's right, an army of sing-songy men with close-cropped beards, wearing styrofoam hats and candy-striped jackets. While this annual 4th of July event takes place in Kansas City this year, coming years will be held in Nashville, TN and Portland, OR.
   What to expect if you go? Well, a whole hell of a lot of singing, of course, impromptu harmonies in line for the urinal, on street corners in town and on stage, where 50 quartets and 25 choruses compete every year. There are also plenty of other shows, plus workshops, seminars and clinics. If you're lucky, honorary member Dick Van Dyke will show up with his quartet to do several numbers. But event organizer Reed Sampson says, "The most wonderful thing you will witness is the diversity of our members, men or all ages from 9 - 90, occupations and ethnic origins, the common thread being the love of four-part, a cappella singing." Just mention of songs like "Coney Island Baby," "Sweet Adeline" and "Heart of my Heart" to a barbershopper and he'll weep tears of joy. Admission price is $85 for adults and $42.50 for children under twelve.


   There is no shortage of haunted houses in America, but perhaps America's most famous house, the one that resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House.  The White House was built near the end of the 18th Century, and today it's composed of 6 stories of 132 rooms and 412 doors.  With so many rooms, is it any wonder that some of them are haunted by past presidents and first ladies alike?  The more doors in a house, the more of a chance some of them might open and close on their own.  But who is haunting the executive mansion and playing havoc on our senses of reality?  Most obvious of all, past presidents and their wives are the most frequent haunters of the White House and for some of them their haunting are more memorable than their tenures in office.

William Henry Harrison

    William Henry Harrison's presidency lasted less than 32 days back in 1841, yet his ghost can still be heard, rummaging through the White House attic, 168 years later.  Harrison was the first President  to die while in office, of pneumonia on April 4, 1841.  Had he known his presidency would've been so short, William Henry Harrison probably wouldn't have spent two precious hours of it reading his 8,000 word inaugural address.  But then again, maybe that's what he's been spending the last 168 years rummaging through the White House attic looking for.

Andrew Jackson
   Andrew Jackson was an abrasive fellow, and he was elected the 7th President of the United States in 1828.  His toughness earned him the nickname "Old Hickory", so it should come as no surprise to most that death alone couldn't drive him from the White House.  In the Rose Bedroom where he used to sleep, White House staff have heard a hearty laughter like Jackson was said to have.  Mary Todd Lincoln used to hear cursing from Old Hickory's ghost, and an aid to Lyndon Johnson heard the same sort of yelling in the Rose Bedroom in 1964.  Others have heard Jackson stomping around the White House floors in his heavy boots down the halls.  Clearly Mr. Jackson was never a quiet fellow, not even in death. 

Abraham Lincoln

   Abraham Lincoln served the people during the country's most threatening time to the Union-The Civil War.  But America's turmoils were not the only thing haunting Mr. Lincoln in his life.  In 1862, Lincoln lost his 11 year old son, Willie, to typhoid fever.  Abe and his wife Mary often held se'ances in the Green Room to contact Willie's spirit, successfully.  Willie Lincoln is also said to have communicated directly with the Ulysses Grant administration.  But Willie's father has been a much more active spirit within the walls of the White House.
   Abe Lincoln is said to have dreamed of his own death.  He told Mary Todd that he saw his own assassination three days before he was shot by John Wilkes Booth in 1865.  Since that fateful day, the ghost of Lincoln has been seen at the White House more frequently than some of our more recent vacation loving presidents. 
   Calvin Coolidge's wife, Grace, was the first person to spot Lincoln's ghost standing in a window in the Oval Office, and he reappeared to her repeatedly.  FDR's valet was so spooked by the ghost of Abe that he ran from the White House screaming.  President Harrison's bodyguard once took matters into his own hands when he attended a se'ance to plead with Lincoln to quiet down and let him sleep at night.  Ladybird Johnson, wife of Lyndon, saw Abe while she was watching television.  Ronald Reagan's daughter and son-in-law both witnessed Lincoln standing next to the fireplace in the Lincoln bedroom.  Lincoln's ghost has been blamed for cold and icy spots in various rooms, as well as turning back on chandelier light after they'd been shut off.  Lincoln's ghost has appeared to both Winston Churchill and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.  In Churchill's case, Lincoln was leaning against the mantle of the fireplace as the nude prime minister exited the bathroom.  Lincoln slowly faded away, but Churchill's embarrassment did not.  He refused to sleep there again.  Queen Wilhemina, fortunately, was clothed when she spotted Lincoln's ghost.  One night as she stayed in the Lincoln bedroom, she was awoken with a knock at the door.  She opened the door to Lincoln's ghost and promptly fainted.  With his many sightings, Lincoln's ghost, like Lincoln himself, seems an introspective and trouble soul.

Dolley Madison
   Dolley Madison, wife of  4th President James Madison, frequently showed herself during the administration of Woodrow Wilson, 100 years after she lived there.  Dolley was first lady from 1809-1817.  Dolley's favorite place to haunt is the Rose Garden, which she planted a century earlier.  Perhaps she felt as if she were protecting the garden after Woodrow's wife ordered for the garden to be dug up.  Workmen kept seeing Dolley, and orders to dig up the garden were buried.  The Rose Garden exists unharmed to this day. 

Abigail Adams

   Abigail Adams, wife of 2nd President (and 1st President to live in the White House) John Adams.  Because the White House wasn't fully complete when the Adams family moved in, the inadequate heating created a problem for drying laundry in an age before washers and driers.  Perhaps this is why the ghost of Abigail Adams can sometimes be seen in the East Room on the first floor, which was the warmest and driest room in the White House.  There were numerous sightings of her during the Taft administration.  Often she was seen with her arms outstretched, just as if she were carrying a load of laundry.

Frances Cleveland

   Her cries can be heard coming from a second floor bedroom.  In 1891 Frances became the first First Lady to give birth in the White House, to a daughter named Ruth.
   Whether or not these ex-presidents and first ladies still really roam the halls and haunt the rooms of the White House, it's clear that something about them remains.  Perhaps they're just memories materializing into celestial visions of great leaders forever trapped in our subconscious.  Or perhaps they really never leave office, one we elect them and trust them with the most important job on earth.  Either way, the White House doesn't seem destined to ever rest in peace.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


   Everyone gets the chills when they walk through a cemetery, especially at night but mostly it is all in our heads.  How could walking through hundreds of deceased people that are buried six feet under, get you thinking that there's ghost in that thar graveyard?  Come and take a walk through some of America's most haunted cemeteries and read about the ghosts that choose to hand around them.

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

One of the Bachelor's Grove ghosts

   This secluded cemetery located in Chicago is said to be the most haunted graveyard in America.  Bachelor's Grove has had numerous paranormal investigators that have investigated this cemetery and it has been reported that it has had over 160 cases of documented paranormal occurrences, which include everything from floating "orbs" to light and full body apparitions.

Lafayette Cemetery

Collage of graves at Lafayette Cemetery
   Located in New Orleans, La.  Is said to be one of the most haunted.  Hundreds of sightings are reported in this historic cemetery.  Witnesses have experienced a woman dressed in white who flags down taxi cabs and always disappears before the ride is over.  Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau is said to haunt the cemetery and the surrounding area.  Her powers are known to be so strong when she was alive, and now that death has taken her, she holds even greater sway over her devoted, who decorate her grave with symbols, candles and flowers, in the hope she'll bless them.

Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery

Grave markers at Camp Chase

   Camp Chase is a Confederate cemetery located in Ohio nestled in a Columbus Hilltop neighborhood.  This cemetery marks the place where a POW camp stood over 140 years ago.  It is said here a woman roams the cemetery in search of her soldier, lost in a POW camp during the American Civil War.  On a grave of a confederate soldier, flowers will appear on it for no explainable reason.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever grave sites
   Hollywood Forever Cemetery located in Hollywood, Ca.  was founded in 1899 and was originally named Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery.  The original site occupied 100 area but 40 acres were sold off to Paramount and RKO Studios in 1920.  The Hollywood Memorial Park cemetery is the final resting place for such starts as, Fatty Arbuckle, Valentino, Victor Fleming and Clifton Webb,  whose ghost is said to haunt the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum where it is reported that guests hear voices, whispering, see strange lights, feel cold drafts and smell cologne.

El Campo Santo Cemetery

El Campo early grave sites

El Campo grave

    This cemetery located in San Diego, Ca.  This cemetery is believed to be actively haunted with such sightings as what looks like a Hispanic or a Native American walking through  out the grounds and a woman  in a white Victorian dress will appear and disappear into the south wall of the cemetery.


   Superstitions abound around the Halloween holiday.  And why wouldn't they?  It's that time of the year again, where the dead rise and the spirits abound.  Or at least that's what alot of people believe.  Many people have very strong beliefs involving this holiday and the days around it.

 Every one knows that black cats are supposed to be bad luck, especially if they cross your path.  Years ago it was thought that black cats are supposed to be bad luck, especially if they cross your path.  Years ago it was thought that black cats were actually the devil, or at least filled with evil spirits.
   For unmarried girls, there were many ways to find out about your future husband.  On Halloween night, if you keep a rosemary herb and a silver sixpence under your pillow, supposedly you will dream about your future husband.  For a better glimpse of your future, a girl must carry a broken egg in a glass, take it to a spring of water, and mix some of that water into the egg.  She will then see her future husband and her future children.  Or she can just bring a lamp on Halloween night to a spring of water and see a reflection in it of her future husband.

 Want to frighten the ghosts and spirits away?  All you need to do is ring a bell.  Or you can bury animal bones all over your front yard.  Easier yet, just set a picture of an animal as close as possible to your doorway to keep the evil spirits away.  To get rid of all evil, it was said all you needed to do was to walk around your house three times backward, before the sun sets on Halloween night.
   A "dumb supper" is an old term meaning that nobody talks while having supper.  For those that WANT the spirits around, try this old folklore, as it is said it encourages the undead to come to the table.  Bats are very much associated with Halloween now for these reasons.  If a bat flies into your house on Halloween, there's a good chance a ghost or spirit let it in, and that they are near.  Some people believed that if bats come out early on Halloween night, then the weather is going to be good.  But if a bat flies about your home on Halloween three times, then death is coming.

 Owls are another flying creature sometimes thought to be spooky.  Supposedly they swoop down on Halloween to eat at the souls of the dying.  To prevent this from happening, all you need to do is turn your pocket inside out and leave it hanging.
   Don't turn around if you hear footsteps behind you on Halloween night, as it may be the dead following you.  If you do happen to look back, you may join them very quickly.
   Want to see a witch in the sky on Halloween night?  Just throw your clothes on inside out and backwards, and you might.  Common misconceptions of witches is that they are evil and associated with the devil.
   If you catch yourself watching a spider on Halloween, you may just be peering at the spirit of a deceased loved one who is watching over YOU!!


   Japan like any other country is steeped in ghostly lore.  Here are a few of the more common Japanese spirits for you to read about and be amazed by.


 Translated as "haunted lantern", in Japanese folklore a Bakechochin is a lantern inhabited by ghosts.  According to folklore the lantern has a long tongue and wild eyes and is home for the ghosts of people who died with hate in their hearts; for this reason, they are doomed to hauntthe earth for all time.  If someone should light one of the haunted lanterns it is thought that a hateful ghost may leap out of it and attack.


   Buruburu, meaning the sound of shivering, is a terrible ghost from Japanese folklore that for reasons unknown is said to lurk in forests and graveyards in the form of an old person, who is sometimes one eyed.  According to legend it attaches itself to its victim's spine and causes a chill to run down them, or in the worse case causes them to die of fright.


 A Gashadokuro according to Japanese folklore is a giant skeleton many  times taller than a human.  It is thought to be made of the bones of people who have starved to death.  After midnight the ghost roams the streets making a ringing noise that sounds in the ears.  If people do not run away when the Gashadokuro approaches it will bite off their heads with its giant teeth.


 The Ikiryoh is the name used to describe an entity that is thought to be created by the evil thoughts and feelings of a person.  When it is energized by hatred the Ikiryoh becomes so powerful it can leave the person harboring hateful thoughts and enter and possess the person who is the object of the hatred.  Once it is inside the person at can kill the victim slowly by draining away the person's energy.  The Ikiryoh is thought to be extremely difficult to exorcise and there are numerous rites to drive it away, including some Buddhist scriptures.


 A Konakijii is the spirit of a baby who has been left to die in the woods.  The Konakijii lures people out to the woods with the sound of its crying, but when people get close they see that the baby has the face of an old man.  If  they pick the baby up it is impossible to put down and suddenly becomes so heavy that it crushes unsuspecting victims to death.


   The Kubikajiiri is a head-eating ghost, who has a distinctive smell that of fresh blood, and is said to lurk around graveyards at night searching for its head.  If it can't find its own head it will try to eat the heads of anything, living or dead that crosses its path.


   The Mononoke is a ghost that resides in inanimate objects.  It is found in temples, shrines and graveyards and likes to scare or even kill people.  Priests are thought to be able to drive it away be reciting Buddhist sutras.  According to Shinto belief, all things, including inanimate objects, have their own unique spirits (kami), which gives them life.


   According to Japanese folklore on the Island of Kyushu, the Nurikabe is said to be a wall ghost.  It appears as a large, white wall, with pairs of arms and legs, to people out walking late of night.  Now, if a person attempts to pas the ghostly wall, it may fall and crush them or if the person attempt to run around or run away the wall reappears in front of them.  According to the legend the only way to escape is to hit the bottom of the wall with a stick and it will vanish.  The origin of the

Sunday, July 20, 2014


   Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right! Here I  am stuck in the middle of them! (a little verse from a Gerry Rafferty song).  Clowns could be a nightmare to someone suffering from Coulrophobia.  It is estimated that as many as 1 out of 7 people suffers from a fear of clowns.
   For those suffering from Courophobia, Bozo and his red-nosed brethren are anything but funny or amusing.  Surprisingly, the fear of clowns is one of the top ten most common phobias.  While it may seem funny that grown men and women alike may shirk in fear from seemingly harmless, albeit doofy characters with over-sized shoes and rainbow suspenders, for them it is no laughing matter. While the cause of Courophobia isn't necessarily known and is different for everyone, one common theory holds that the root cause most likely stems fro a traumatic childhood experience.  Maybe you were squirted by one too many trick flowers while a white faced clown laughed in your face; or perhaps you had a coat rack in your room growing up that resembled an evil menacing bozo-like character when the lights were off.

 The image of the evil clown has become a cliche' in today's society.  From Bart Simpson's "Can't sleep clowns will eat me" to The Joker of Batman fame, clowns are not always the picture of fun.  Whatever the case, I'm sure the release of "It", The Steven King novel and movie that had a clown named Pennywise in it.  He had razor sharp teeth and drug children into the sewer.

  John Wayne Gacy, an American serial killer, convicted and executed for the rape and murder of 33 boys and men, between 1972 and the time of his arrest in 1978, was known as the "Killer Clown" because he attended many block parties dressed in a clown suit and makeup under the name of Pogo the Clown.  Koko the Killer Clown appears in a sideshow at Coney Island.  Homey D. Clown from the comedy show "In Living Color", was an ex-con drug addict with a penchant for violence.  Not to mention the 1988 movie "Killer Clowns from Outer Space", and the nasty clown doll in the movie "Poltergeist".


 As phobias are no laughing matter, the same with all mental health problems, it is worth noting that there are steps for overcoming such aversions if you are one of the poor people facing such a crippling and debilitating fear that it impedes your life.  There are sufferers who are so petrified of clowns that they are sent into panic attacks at the mere sight of an outfitted clown.  There are treatment methods that include hypnotherapy, medications, and immersion therapy; where the patient is forced to face the very crux of their phobia.  Luckily, as it isn't everyday that the circus comes to town and you're forced to be faced with those bizarre polka-dot painted clowns everyday, most people re likely to simply avoid them when they can and get on with their perfectly productive lives!

 Still, it leads one to question what a particularly evil posse of clowns could be capable of and what sort of havoc they could incur.  Hollywood has given us a few possible ideas, and if you aren't a Courophobic yet, you may be after viewing one of these clown horror movies!

  • Fear of Clowns
  • IT
  • The Clown Murders
  • Secrets of the Clown
  • Dead Clowns
  • We All Scream for Ice Cream
  • Final Draft
  • Killer Clowns From Outer Space

   You don't have to be a kid to be sent crawling under your bedsheets for safety.  If the creepy little clown mobile hanging in your room sends you crying to mama, you may want to switch that nightlight on for safety!!!


     I know that Halloween is closer than Christmas is but I think it's time for a little change up (It's my favorite, right next to Halloween).  Let us not forget about Thanksgiving, the holiday that gets hardly any praise at all by most people.  Here's a list of some Christmas trivia and folklore for all of us to enjoy!
   Let's take a look back at the origins of Christmas and some of the lesser known facts involving one of my favorite holiday's.

  • While the Pilgrims may have been responsible for beginning the tradition of Thanksgiving, they did not celebrate Christmas--it was against their Puritan belief and in fact, it was illegal.

  • It was once believed that whoever (husband or wife) first brings holly into the house will rule the home all year. (wishful thinking on the mans part these days.)

  • Young men of the 1700's believe that if they saw a redheaded girl at Christmastime, he would be pursued by flame-haired vixens throughout the coming year. (MORE wishful thinking on the mans part again!!)

  • A meowing cat on Christmas Day used to portend bad luck.  Consequently, their owners would leave a full saucer of milk out that night to pacify the feline. (or throw a size ten shoe at it!)

  • Women stayed indoors on Christmas Day because they believed their neighbors would experience bad luck if the first person they saw was a woman. Or else their first visitor afterward would be a harlot.

  • Abraham Lincoln one received the city of Savannah, Georgia as a Christmas gift from General Sherman.

  • Dolly Madison introduced eggnog at a Christmas party at the White House in 1811.(at least it wasn't fruit cake!!)

  • It was not until 1836 that Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas.  Oklahoma was the last, in 1890.

  • Neiman Marcus started their "Gift of the Year" promotion in 1960 featuring his and hers airplanes.  In 1967 the most coveted gift was his and hears camels flown from California to anywhere in the U.S.

  • On Christmas morning, 1876, millionaire publisher James Gordon Bennett gave his waiter at Delmonico's a tip of $6,000.(and a W-2 form to claim it on his taxes.)

  • The first Christmas stocking referenced in print was by Washington Irving in 1809.  When A New Year's Verse was published in 1821, it referenced the hanging of stocking the tradition began for children everywhere in earnest.

  • St. Nicholas is also the patron saint of pawnbrokers.

  • Our current vision of Santa Claus came from an illustration by Thomas Nast in 1863 made for Dr. Clement Moore's tale A Visit from St. Nicholas.

  • In medieval times, evergreen trees were hung with red apples on December 24th, celebrated as Adam and Eve Day, and may be the first instance of tree decorating for the holidays.

  • Icicles for the Christmas tree were first made and sold in Nuremberg, Germany in 1878; actually thin strips of silver foil that tarnished quickly were used.

  • New York was the first city to claim an electrically lighted Christmas tree, at the home of Edward Johnson, colleague to Thomas Edison at the Edison Electric Company.  The year was 1882.(until he got the first electrical bill and then he never lit them again!)

  • In medieval times it was customary to light a candle on Christmas Day that would be carefully tended and last until the Twelfth Night.

  • Mistletoe as a symbol of peace between enemies and love between friends, dates back to a Norse legend involving Freyja, goddess of love.

  • The poem Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer was put in song form by Johnny Marks in 1946 and first recorded by Gene Autry.  It became the greatest hit Gene Autry ever made and Columbia Records' biggest seller ever, although Marks had to form his own recording company to get it on the air.


    In recent years, modern witches have become more and more accepted. Some of them play on many of the old concepts of a traditional 'witch', but by and large the stereotypical image of a broom riding crone with a point hat does not match at all with the reality. So where is it that this image came from? Many of the common 'wicked witch' images are derived from periods of time when a witch was considered to be a catch-all term for a person who had a pact with demons or the devil himself. These are just a few of the origins for the iconic 'witch'.

   Conical Hats - Medieval woodcuttings showed any number of variations on what witches wore, so where did the conical black hat with the wide rim originate? The witches hat became known as it is now somewhere between Victorian times and the turn of the century. They became common in the illustration of evil witches in children's stories. Why did it become thus? That is less clear. There are a number of theories about the origin. One theory says it was a modified dunce's cap. Yet another equates it to the headgear worn by the goddess Diana who is associated with witches. Some say it is tied to the common medieval viewpoint that had Jews wearing conical hats due to rumors that they held blasphemous Sabbaths that were parallel to the Witches' Sabbaths. The Church frowned on pointed hats, because they associated them with devil's horns, so there again is another potential origin. We may never be fully certain of how the image itself was come to, possibly a combination of several of these theories is the truth.

    Black Cats -Two things have caused this associate most likely. First is that a witch was supposedly granted an impish familiar by their pact with the devil. This imp would often take a more common form such as that of a cat.  Since cats were so common on farms for controlling rodent populations, it wasn't hard to find one or more when you went after someone who was supposedly a witch. Showing too much affection towards the mouser in the barn might be an indication that it was more than a working animal. Another idea of cats was that a witch could convert herself into a black cat and go skulking about. In fact, the fear of a black cat crossing your path comes from the fear that it is a witch in disguisewho is bringing evil into your life. Bad luck indeed.

   Warts - In keeping with the idea that one had a familiar that was a gift of some da
rk entity, the common belief was that the owner of a familiar had a small growth known as a 'witches' teat' or 'witches' mark'. Any wart, mole or fleshy growth could be used as 'proof' that you were indeed practicing dark arts. This is highlighted in stories of the witch trials. In medieval times, the mark was supposed to be found on hidden areas of the body, but over time when one wanted to draw a clear picture that someone was indeed a witch, putting a visible wart on their face was meant as a symbol of their connection to the dark arts being openly displayed. Even older versions of this mark were supposed the branding of the witch by having the devil rake his claws or an iron on their skin to leave a blue or red mark. Of course, there are a number of theories about the witches' mark that range from tattoos to Lyme disease, but the wart is what has become synonymous with our perceptions of the classic witch.

   Flying Brooms - Here is where it gets odd. The flying broom concept is very sketchy and the leading theory right now is that it tied to hallucinogens that made someone feel like they were flying. Early accounts stated that a stick or similar object would be greased with a special 'flying ointment'. Witches would 'fly' in order to divine the future. This flight was actually one of the spirit, brought on through the use of specialized folk medicines that were put into the body. It was known that the body would absorb these drugs more potently if applied inside the anus or vagina, so of course the smooth rounded top of a broomstick or similar tool was the logical item in ancient times for applying the ointments. Once applied, hallucinations began and the witch would 'fly' away from his or her body. There are also notations that a 'wand' could be at times disguised as the stick of a broom, adding to the association of witches to the broom.

   These things we associate with the iconic image of the witch all have their origins in commonly held beliefs or logical extensions of the way things were in times past. Other aspects that had very real ties to the world that came before us include the use of a cauldron, the large buckled boots, black clothing and long crooked noses. I encourage you to seek out more if you find yourself interested in how these seemingly random jumbles of traits all had a starting point that makes good sense when you understand the history behind them.