Thanks for all your comments on the post yesterday about weird, weird houses! I'm going to feel a little bit like the pot calling the kettle black, because today, guess what I have to show you? Weird things, in my weird house. This weekend, I was out at an estate sale in Waverly Belmont, when the unexpected struck! I finally bought a skull of my very own.
|A girl and her skull.|
The estate sale was highly touted by the sellers on estatesales.net as being midcentury and "you won't believe these prices"...both were true, but not in the way I would have wanted it to be. When my dad and I arrived at a 1940's duplex off Wedgewood, ummm...things were midcentury, but they were also so astronomically expensive that I didn't even look too hard at anything. One, everything was stuffed in a tiny front room and the yard of the duplex. Two, a pair of floor lamps on the concrete porch were marked EIGHT. HUNDRED. DOLLARS. Eight hundred what?! Kids, this is NOT my kind of estate sale. I guess there are those among us who would coo remorsefully, "Oh, wow, Milo Baumann side chairs for $1,000 instead of $2,000? What a steal! I wish I could afford that!" but this little ragamuffin was rebuked and rebuffed by sticker shock, and slunk away towards the car with Pappy in tow feeling snookered by the advertisement. "'You won't believe the prices' my eye!" I grumbled.
As we returned to our street parking space, I noticed another sale going on in the ground floor/basement level of the house. "Well, we could just look," I said, and we saw nothing with any price tag on it, but lots of smalls. A seventies' psychiatrist's couch in blue vinyl. Two enormous ceramic sixties' lamps. On a folding tv tray sat this cow skull. I asked the man under the car port how much it was. "That's yours for twenty dollars!" Holding it by its eye sockets, I said, "'D'you take fifteen?" And the skull was mine!
|Did it move? Did that just move or did I just move?|
Dad was nonplussed. "What'd you want a thing like that for? I'm not carrying that, you carry that." Me ((carrying it)): "It is totally going to look spooktacular in my living room." Dad: "I could have got you one of those up at Grandma Wheeler's farm, attached to the skeleton!" Me: "And that would have saved me fifteen dollars. But let's let bygones be bygones, Pappy. (beat) THIS THING IS SO SCARY!!" Do you ever see skulls in knick-knack boutique shops here in town or at the flea market? One this size I saw not a month ago was sixty five dollars firm at one booth at the fairgrounds. And here, my very own, for less than twenty bucks. The little Museum of Natural History, turn of the century scientist part of my heart is oogin' out.
I feel actual human remorse about not getting a pair of ram's horns that were at the same sale, but at the risk of pressing my luck and or turning my house into something Jame Gumb would feel at home in, I resisted. Farmlife is funny because, as a city slicker, I don't think much about how enormous a cow or a horse is until you see it in person (or in skull form). This skull easily measures the length of my elbow to my fingertips, and comes complete with thumb sized flat teeth. Aren't the jagged little cracks in it interesting!! Aren't its ocular cavities huge? While it would actually kill me to see something like this in the process of becoming a skull (I am as chicken hearted as they come in some ways), having it as this weird little pre-fossil in my living room is thrilling to the nth degree.
What is the skull sitting on? That would be my big acquisition of a week or two ago, this half-set of Man, Myth, and Magic from the Goodwill Outlet. I dug, and I dug, and I dug, and I dug through the book bins, but finally, I had to give up that nine of the twenty-four volumes might be the best I could do on a busy Friday afternoon in a competitive shopping environment. Subtitled "An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural", this series originated as a serial magazine published in England, overseen by occult writer Richard Cavendish. All 112 issues were eventually collated into this encyclopedia format, and is it ever a doozy of a bound volume set. Mind, I didn't have any prior knowledge of this when I picked the books up-- I just knew the covers were insane and the inside articles not much less bizarre!
Volume seventeen might have been the best selling point...Native American spirit man, take me away!
Inside, articles range from secret societies to tribal taboos to "things that go bump in the night". Take this article on "Belial, the demon of lies". I can't remember which of the recent horror movies uses him as a plot device (Paranormal Activity? Insidious? Sinsiter? The Conjuring? I swear to goodness one of these mentioned him by name but my pre-coffee brain is coming up goose eggs and Google is not helping), but one of them does. Look at the walking demons in the top-of-page illustration ("Court of Satan, how may I help you?"), and whatever the hell-o is happening in the lower illustration ("What? Why? Huh?").
Look at the hands swooping down to steal the guy on the left's guitar, the other guy's coat, and tie them up to boot! This illustration refers to the Davenport Brothers, which, according to Wikipedia, "were American magicians in the late 19th century, sons of a Buffalo, New York policeman. The brothers presented illusions that they and others claimed to be supernatural." HECK YES THEY DID. This broadside is practically framable...if only I didn't fear breaking up the text:
The war between heaven and hell...see the angels, butterflies, pigs, people...
And tribesmen in ceremonial garb (not sure location) that you would hate to bump into on the way back to the campsite in the middle of the night. THESE BOOKS HAVE EVERYTHING. I got all of them for about nine bucks, so I'm wary to spend that amount on a single volume on Amazon, but I might have to buckle and try and slowly complete the set. IT'S TOO GOOD NOT TO.
Last but not least in this parade of creepy weekend finds, I was at Great Escape in Madison the other day, checking out the comic book section. I don't know Marvel from DC from whatever else, which I know is physically stinging the flesh of people who used to hold me in high regard prior to this declaration...but I spend a lot of time in the comic section of Great Escape looking for old school scary horror titles. I've talked about my allegiance to scaring the skin off my own body with these ghoulish tales before in this post, so imagine the thrill of me finding this complete set of Tales from the Crypt covers that were reprinted in 1979 from the original fifties', pre-code titles. Sadly, they were more than the original $15 cover price-- happily, I had had a margarita or two at Las Maracas prior to our arriving at said comic book store, so I pulled the trigger on these amazing lithographs sans hésitation:
The color on the prints alone is worth the price of admission. SO! GORGEOUS! SO! OOGY! Frequent horror contributor cartoonist Jack Davis (who later co-founded Mad magazine) did these three deliciously disgusting covers. First one? Features not ONLY a mouldering mummy, but also some two-headed Homunculus creeping out of its jar. Sign. Me. UP!
Don't step there! No! There's some ancient zombie prospector! And a tiny frog! You will find no gold here, tenderfoot, best be on your way!
This werewolf is all "Look, I am not afraid of vividly murdering whosoever of you m'f'r's keep MESSIN' WITH ME, SWEARTAGAAAD...." And I kind of agree with him and or feel like this at the end of a long day at the biblioteca. The color and detail of these, again, just take my breath away.
And there's TWENTY SEVEN more where that came from! Amazing. I'm thinking of replacing the Woody Allen Annie Hall wall in the kitchen with these creepsters for a time.
So! There you have it. My house is ghost-central right now, and ain't I proud of it! How about you? Found anything feeeearsome and friiiiightful at the estate sales or out at the thrift lately? If you like this kind of stuff, what is it that appeal to you about being spooked out of your wits? Do you collect anything a little off the beaten path? Let's talk!
That's all I got for today, but I'll be back tomorrow with more (probably non-terrifying, but I'm not making any promises) rants and raves. Have a great Tuesday! I'll see you tomorrow. :D