HALLOWEEN AND BROTHER HANK (or my weirdest association with October 31st)
Okay, some of you will relate to this. You will know where I am coming from immediately because you will have a similar back story. Some of you won't and this will be just a strange glimpse at life in the South in the early eighties.
Here's some things you need to know going in:
I grew up attending a Pentecostal church. No, we didn't handle snakes but folks did speak in tongues and fall out during service whenever things really got to humming. Other than that we were pretty much just excited Baptists.
This was before everyone had a magic, instant communicator device with the power of Google in their hand. We weren't ignorant, but information was harder to come by and if someone stood on a stage and spoke to you authoritatively on any subject, their words had more weight than today.
And lastly, this is about the time period and what happened to me, not a knock against religion.
With that set up here is what would happen around Halloween every year from the age of 12 (1982) to about 15 (1985) for me.
The weather turns in Georgia every October. It may be 80+ during the day, but as the sun drops so does the temperature. It's as if the whole state loses its ability to hold heat. Some nights it will drop to below 40 degrees, requiring a jacket. Also during October in the Eighties the Marietta Church Of God would bring in the (at the time) honorable Brother Hank Davis to hold forth a revival designed to save the immortal souls of the young people in their pews.
Now Brother Hank Davis was a fucking rock star to us wide-eyed church youth. He was young, meaning he was under 40, and had a full head of thick hair that swept up and back like some feathery helmet of awe. Many of the girls and some of the boys fancied him, finding him handsome. Most of this was the simple fact that he was ON STAGE which puts a sort of Gaussian blur filter on anyone, lifting their attractiveness level several notches.
The other thing that made him a rock star wasn't his cool, casually hip way of talking, it was the lurid subjects he spoke on, subjects that when strung together should have blared out from a grindhouse poster in a psychedelic carmine red.
ROCK N ROLL
and since it was October when he visited
HALLOWEEN: THE DEVIL'S HOLIDAY.
Can you see the movie tear sheet in your mind?
He would stand on the stage in rolled up shirt sleeves, his jacket tossed to the floor, discarded like a shed skin. The subject of All Hallow's Eve was far too serious for staid dress clothes. He began with the shocking "history" of trick or treating.
You know this old story: Druids would wander from castle to castle demanding a young woman that they would then sacrifice to the Devil. If a castle refused, because, you know, it was their children and all, then the Druids would place a carved turnip outside the castle door that held a candle made from rendered human fat. This jack o' lantern would call down a demon who would enter the castle and kill the youngest person there before the sunrise. (those damn dirty druids!)
Brother Hank would tell us these stories, explaining that if we went to our neighbors and asked them for a Kit Kat Bar while dressed in our rubber masked finest then we would be carrying on the satanic tradition of Halloween and we would be guilty of trafficking with the Devil's own bastard children. Why we would be performing satanism!
Strangely enough, even the year that Brother Hank preached the night before Halloween, we all were out in the streets, begging candy by virtue of our costumes bought and homemade and our tightly clutched pillowcases.
I never bought Brother Hank's alternative history of All Hallow's Eve, I know some folks at my church did, but I knew better. I read widely and even without the internet I knew who the druids were. I did find it all very fascinating. His sermons of warning were like super condensed, audio stage versions of a Hammer Horror film.
In the end, you could never have that perfect combination of misinformation, showmanship, and religious fevor in this day and age. Brother Hank survived in a world without wikipedia. But even today, the 31st of October doesn't roll around without my mind turning back to those revivals. They did form some kernel of what I write about today, just like Elvira's Saturday afternoon show, the Munsters, and Hammer's psychadelic, lesbian, vampire flicks.
It's all in there if you look hard enough.
Thank you so much for tuning in. Things have been very hectic for me lately, lots going on. I've written a LOT, remodeled my tattoo shop, and taken up photography. I know your life is just as busy as mine. That's why I appreciate you taking the time to read this and, hopefully, review the e-arcs I've sent. I'm very proud of these two books. These are completely mine. I wrote them and laid them out and published them all myself. It's a weird turn as an artist when you craft something that is so completely in your control. The artwork you see on the covers is mine. I drew the image for THAT WAY LIES MADNESS and I took the photograph I used for HIRED GUN. The layouts are mine. The font choices are mine.
These are the most personal books I've put out so far.
But you know how I feel. You do the same thing with your blog. YOU choose the things you cover. YOU choose the images and the look of your blog. YOU put yourself in it. I appreciate that. I really do. I did the same thing for these two books.
I certainly hope you enjoy them, they are a bit different than my Deacon Chalk stories, but you can still tell they are born of me.
If there is anything I can do for you just ask. If I can I will. If you would like a guest blog or an interview just drop me a line at James@jamesrtuck.com
You completely rock.
James R. Tuck