Memories of old haunts

Published 9:41 am Thursday, October 15, 2009

I did something last weekend I haven’t done in a long, long time—I went to a haunted house.

A co-worker invited me along with her and some friends to Gates Volunteer Fire Department. There we braved the ghouls, the goblins and the chainsaws.

I believe I did quite well, minus a few deafening shrieks here and there. I managed to partially laugh my way through most of it thanks to my co-worker who never screamed at all, but instead chortled through the mazes of dark rooms filled with fiends.

However, 20 years ago the scenario would have been different.

My Aunt Dolly has always had a fascination with Halloween. Like many of us, the holiday has always captured her imagination and she has always participated in every festivity in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

While autumn is my favorite season and Halloween one of my favorite holidays, when I was young I often looked forward to the month of October with a bit of apprehension.

The beginning of October not only ushered cooler weather, apple season in New York and colorful leaves, but the season of haunted houses and hayrides.

From the first weekend of October, our trips near and far would begin to dark apple orchards with specters hidden by branches and leaves and barns dressed up in black plastic and fake cobwebs.

My aunt is to haunted houses as a groupie is to rock bands.

Each weekend she would line them up; one or two of them a night. And I was often her reluctant tag-a-long, who cringed at the sound of chainsaws and couldn’t stand the thought of someone leaping out of a darkened corner.

But each weekend if there was a haunted house or hayride to be found we were there, lined up in the cold with the other crazy people paying others to scare the living daylights out them.

At some point I put my foot down with Aunt Dolly, refusing to go into any haunted house. I agreed only to hayrides and nothing else, because I figured at least with a hayride there was continuous movement.

In time I realized they’re both the same.

When I look back on that time I got to go with Aunt Dolly, I think of all the fun we had.

And if she lived a little closer to North Carolina, she would have loved the haunted house at Gates Volunteer Fire Department.

The group obviously puts a lot of effort into the haunted house as evident by all the details and frights offered. With nothing to do on a Saturday night and $8 in your pocket, a trip to Gates for this event is worth it.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.