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Root Cellars,Spiderwebs and Darkness

Updated on August 30, 2016
Fiddleman profile image

I am Robert Elias Ballard, married to Pearlie Jane (PJ) for 45 years on November 24, 2017. We live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Root cellars are common amenities to most rural mountain homes here in WNC.
Root cellars are common amenities to most rural mountain homes here in WNC.
Spiders and webs have found their way into Halloween hoopla.
Spiders and webs have found their way into Halloween hoopla.

The Root Cellar

Halloween is only two days away and children will be out and about trick or treating or as is the case in our community, many of children will be going to Trunk or Treats which have been area churches. Trunk or Treat allows kids to have their normal fun in a centralized location which in todays society is much safer.

As I think about the fun times the children and adults will have this Halloween; my thoughts ran to those days in the cotton mill village where I grew up and my memories of Halloween. Our costumes were original. They did not in any way resemble the Target or Wal-Mart costumes kids seem to wear today. I don't have a gripe about the new costumes although I do not approve of those scary ones with a Satanic or demonic influence.

A big part of the fun on Halloween was using our own imagination to create a unique costume. Borrowing our mother's make-up or getting soot from the chimney and applying to our faces was about as wild as we were allowed. An old pair of nylon stockings over our head or one of daddy's old hats completed our costume. The end result was the same, we had a lot of fun knocking on doors in the mill village and having our brown grocery store bags filled with all kinds of fruits and candies. The clean-up and getting all the make-up we had meticulously painted on our face bordered on torture and required plenty of that good old Ivory soap and hot water.

I don't know where the idea of scary subject themes (spiders, webs, witches) came to be for Halloween but I can't help but be reminded of those wonderful root cellars that served many a family in my community. The root cellar was often dug out in the ground and had a nice covered roof to keep out snow or rain or it could have been a nice out building that had been built free of spiders and cob webs. Some of the ones which I was most familiar were more like the proverbial Frankenstein dungeon and quite scary for us kids.

As a boy and often spending weekends and summers at my grandparents farm, the root cellar was actually underneath the house. Occasionally I would be asked to go down to the cellar to get a "can" of soup,peaches for a cobbler or green beans all of which had been preserved in Mason jars over the summer months. Since there wasn't any electric lights in the cellar, it was very usually dark as pitch and a flashlight was necessary to see the canned goods stored on the shelving. Only the natural light from the cellar door opening permeated the cellar.

During those adventures I would be confronted with enormous spider webs and the darkness of the cellar. Just being in the cellar was eerie enough without the added fanfare! I don't think the spiders were so dangerous but as a kid brushing spider webs was more than a little creepy for my imagination which could be active at times. Seems I could feel those spiders crawling all over me. Needless to say when ask to go to the root cellar I made the trips very fast but still managed to get spider webs in my hair.

I hope everyone has a safe Halloween especially those who are currently in harms way on the coast. The high winds and rain will only add to the normal hazards children celebrating Halloween by trick or treating. Stay safe and enjoy this Halloween!

Cosmotology manikein

Basement Scare

In addition to those root cellars sometimes a basment can lend itself to scaring one out of their wits. We have a full basement in our home and like most I suspect is more thn amply full of all kinds of things from funiture, exercise equipment and clutter.

My younest son is a barber and when he attended barber school was required to purchase a manikein head. Little did I know the head had been place on a shelf in our basement. We do have lights in our basement but one day I opened the outside door to reach inside and turn on the lights and I was eyeball to eyeball with my son's practice manekein head. I almost had a heart attack before my eyes adjusted to the light!! Kinda of funny now but at the time, I didn't know if a booger was about to get me or not.


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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ooooooh, I remember the root cellars of my youth, and they were indeed scary! There were always spider webs to brush into, and dark corners, and most likely mice making their mice sounds....not a fun place for a little kid.

      Great memories; good job!

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 4 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thanks for being the first to come by and yessir those mice always hiding somewhere in the dark shadows.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      You are so right Half of the fun was getting the costume we would wear together and ready for the exciting evening. Way back in the fifties we had a little get together at our school's all purpose room including a spooky room with spaghetti for brains...that we stuck our hand in as we were led through it in a blindfold, and, oh, apple dunking too. What fun.

      This past Sat night our little town here in Florida had a Halloween Festival for the kids of all ages, fun activities, and trick or was great fun. This was a lovely reminder of yesterday....

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 4 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thank you pstraubie48 for visiting my hub and for your nice comments.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I remember one we had when I was a child. It was just outside our farmhouse built into the side of a small hill. The door was grown up with earth and you could not tell it was even there! It was very big too, would serve well for tornado shelter.

      Happy Halloween. ^

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 4 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thank you Jackie Lynnley for stopping by to read and for your comment. Without a doubt those old root cellars were ideal in case of a tornado.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant read and thank you so very much for sharing.


    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 4 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thanks Eddy.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      Halloween is my favorite holiday. I enjoyed your hub.. I will never forget that smell when you walk down into a cellar.... I think they must all have that smell. Luckily, I never ran into any spiders but I'm sure they were there lurking. Thank you for sharing :)

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 4 years ago from Central United States of America

      Ah, memories of that cellar! I didn't find spiders - at least none that I remember, but the cellar was always cool in the summer and warmish in wintertime. Mom used to have three crocks like the one in your picture ...made sauerkraut in them. Also started your video but couldn't watch it all....have to cringingly save it for next Halloween!

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