The Baldknobbers.

When I was a kid, Branson, Missouri, was just another small town slumbering in the hills. Only a handful of “opry'” families were singin’ and dancin’ for a living, pulling in a few people passing through on the highway. There were no national acts, no big music stars, just home-grown Ozark folks mixing corn pone humor with country music and dance acts. I didn’t care about that stuff. I visited Silver Dollar City theme park on a school trip and discovered the ride, “Fire in the Hole.”  This in-the-dark roller coaster ride introduced me to the Baldknobbers. I was fourteen, and the ride lit me up. What a concept!

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Scene from the Fire in the Hole ride. By Fire72 at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20605516

Masked, night-riding vigilantes torching and murdering across the Missouri countryside was easy to believe while on the ride. These nasty bastards were the afterbirth of the civil war reconstruction policies and formed to counter disgruntled rebel veterans who turned outlaw against the Union carpetbaggers.

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Fire in the Hole Baldknobber about to raise hell. By ME Vince Titled: Bald Knobber with cannon. – I (FIRE 72) (Vince) created this work entirely by myself., CC BY 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24279304

And then, under the corrupting influence of power, the Baldknobbers went bad, murdering and lynching citizens for political and financial gain.

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Baldknobbers portrayed in a 1919 silent movie.  Photo from wikipedia.org/wiki/Bald_Knobbers

It is the distinctive horned mask that separates them from other vigilante groups. It is this mask that excites me as a Halloween/creature prop maker. It is a pity that so few photos of them exist.

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A typical Baldknobber mask. The horns were standard to the model. Photo courtesy of LegendsofAmercia.com

They remind me of fat-headed demons, with the oval of the mask face emphasized by the white paint, and this circular design carried into the horns with the white rings. Still, it is the blank, emotionless expression that makes the mask truly frightening. This demon has no humanity and no remorse. That’s scary.

For more information on these rascals, visit the Legends of America blog. You will find good writing and research there.

If you’re ever in Branson, MO, drop  by Silver Dollar City and check out the Fire in the hole ride. They have tamed the ride a bit since the ’70’s to accommodate the tender minds of small children and sensitive souls, but it is still a fun. You just won’t see lynched, hanging bodies and sucking chest wounds anymore. Okay, I’m joking about that last, but you get the idea.

Happy haunts.

 

 

Vintage Halloween, 1965.

First Halloween Party. No girls allowed. This was 1965, after all.

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From the top: Pirate, Skeleton, Micky, Skull Face, and Felix, all prepped for mayhem. 

Dig those crew-cuts!

This was a time when kids ran the neighborhoods barefoot and unencumbered by parental supervision beyond, “Be home by 9:00.” Trick or Treating was the maximum freedom. The 9:00 pm curfew extended until 11 or even midnight. This was plenty of time for mischief and learning how not to tip over a Porta Potty.

Halloween was also the night all the “Old man Johnson’s” got their comeuppance. The culmination of a years worth of threats against the neighborhood kids came due this night.  Three or more “Stay out of my yard!” warnings rated soaped windows or toilet paper in the trees. The more grievous crimes rated eggs on the walls, letting air let out of their car tires, or worse–dog poo in the mailbox.  What great fun!

For more retro fun, check out www.monsterbashnews.com

End.

 

Jack o’ Lantern

I often have left over spray or hard foam from a large project.

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01/2017 It is never too early to start Halloween!

I dislike wasting materials or time.

The “leftover” extra raw foam I put to use getting a start on smaller projects like this Jack o’ Lantern. Jack will become the head of a scarecrow by September. Also, it is almost impossible to create a Halloween type project without becoming excited for the witching season all over again. Benefits all around!

End.

Winter Kill.

Lonely places remove the blindfold from our eyes. For some, this is terrifying.

I went for a walk.

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Forgotten part of the Old Wiley Farm near Dark Oak, Missouri. This section has been forgotten so long it is turning into woods.

You never know what you’ll find.

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Face to face with Mortality. 

The coyotes, or something, has stripped this poor pilgrim clean. Mother Nature is red of tooth and claw.

We all have a tiger on our back trail.

End.

Friday Escape

The weekend beckons.  I’ve disabled the guard (don’t ask, it’s better you don’t know) and have his keys.  Want to come with me?

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Come on. As long as we don’t have to pull a Shawshank and crawl through 500 yards of sewer pipe, I think we can make it. If, however, that is the case,you go on without me. Send me a postcard from the beach.

Happy Friday.

End.