Tag-Archive for » inspiration «
There are folks in Keene, New Hampshire who remember September 1963 as the coldest September in history, with temperatures barely topping 20 degrees on the thermometer.
There are others, however, who might recall another event – one that had old-timers’ tongues wagging nonstop in barbershops, bars, and bingo parlors for years on end.
For that was the month that James Riley, 8, mysteriously disappeared while walking home from school. In this tight-knit community of 18,000 souls, this opened old wounds from 15 years previous – almost to the exact day – that another 8 year old boy, one Bob McArdle, had also disappeared under the same circumstances. Bob’s mother, nurse Mary McArdle, never recovered. Found pacing back and forth in the cold and the rain off of Route 12 three days after the loss of her son, she was duly institutionalized.
“Poor Mary,” the townsfolk sadly noted. Her sister had vanished when Mary was only three years of age. Eight years after, her mother Anne also disappeared.
For three years, Mary spent her time in the sanitarium receiving weekly electro-shock therapies. But the only words that ever passed her lips, spoken as if like a mantra, were “The necklace. It was the necklace, it was the necklace …”
Bob McArdle was never seen again.
And so it was the memory of the tragedy of Mary McArdle that was in people’s minds when young James Riley never made it home from his school three blocks away that freezing September afternoon. James’ mother, Sarah Riley, issued a single heartfelt plea to a gathering of citizenry, reporters, and police officers: “Please, find my son.”
Two days passed without any luck. And then something very strange happened.
Mary McArdle’s older brother reported that she had not shown up at church, and was not answering her phone. An avid churchgoer, Mary had never missed a service; her brother called and asked if the police could check on her at her house and make sure she was alright.
When the police knocked on her front door, no one answered. Investigating the perimeter of the house, they found that the back door was slightly ajar. No one seemed to be home. They let themselves in and began to search the two-room cottage. And when an officer opened the door to Mary’s bathroom, it was then that the general strangeness of the situation suddenly turned tragic.
For there, in her claw-footed bathtub, they found the body of young James Riley. He had been drowned, and was still clad in the clothes he was wearing when he disappeared. Mary was nowhere to be seen. There was only one clue in the claustrophobic room, and it was five words, scrawled haphazardly on the mirror with a tube of bright red lipstick: “IT IS NOT MY SON.”
Mary McArdle, like her son Bob fifteen years previously, was never seen again.
… to be followed, again, shortly …
During a delightful (and mysteriously sunny) Sunday afternoon on the outdoor deck of the Oarhouse in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I sat down with Chase Bailey, writer and director of Crooked Lane, over a light lunch and asked him about the inspiration behind the movie.
He leaned forward with a slight smile and breathed sharply through his teeth. “Ah, that,” he said at last. “A few years ago, I remember running across this remote graveyard in Brookfield, New Hampshire. I was with my wife and brother-in-law at the time, and they told me [that] this was one of the ‘unmarked’ cemeteries. I asked them why they weren’t marked, and they told me it was because there were no bodies buried there.” A slight wind picked up off the glassy surface of the Piscataqua, momentarily chilling the exposed skin of my forearms. I shivered briefly. No bodies?
No bodies. “I have now seen four of these cemeteries in various remote locations, and I began to hear this phrase – what was it again? – oh, yes … Les Cimetieres des Abbatus. Cemeteries of the Culled, is what it roughly translates to. I naturally began investigating.”
I asked him if the Internet was any help. “Funnily enough,” he said, “I couldn’t find much information on the web, but by talking to old-time residents whose roots stretch back generations, I found that these gravestones were put there for missing people. Missing people, all from the same families – and they all turned out to be women and children! Something was taking place in these families, [something] was just decimating [them].”
He sat back in his chair and took a sip of his wine. “Especially,” he said, “the women and the children. And that’s what piqued my curiosity and helped me start the process of writing Crooked Lane.”
… to be followed, again, shortly …
During a recent chat with writer/director Chase Bailey, it has come to light that Crooked Lane is actually inspired by a myriad of mysterious happenstances that have been playing out in the Northeast for hundreds of years, spanning several generations of New Englanders and French Canadians.
Although many details tend to be a bit foggy and sources range from the vague to the mysteriously effusive, the bottom line is that a disproportionately large number of people have been simply disappearing off the face of the Earth under dubious circumstances for quite some time. While this in itself doesn’t necessarily warrant the ringing of any sirens of alarm, this fact — and this fact alone — should give one pause and maybe reconsider what forces may — unseen and malevolent — surround us:
The vast majority of the missing have been women and children and — here’s the kicker — from the same families, to boot. This in itself makes it quite an odd series of events, indeed.
Where legend and fact intersect may never actually be known by anybody, ever, but this much is known: Stories were told, and rumors spread easily, especially amongst the earlier inhabitants of New England. In the areas surrounding Quebec, these events were (and still are, in some circles) known as “Les Temps des Abattus.”
Or, in English, “The Times of the Culled.”
The clear majority of these instances occurred before the advent of television, radio, and the Internet — so stories were often told in the safety of taverns, inns, and especially on the docks near Portsmouth on the banks of the Piscataqua River, ever since the year 1623 when “Piscataqua” was first spelled the way you and I spell it now, comfortably here in modern times.
… to be followed, shortly …
In a previous blog post, we asked for your questions. We’ve decided to tackle them one at a time. In this post, Chase Bailey answers the question posed by Matt Searles regarding what makes the film interesting.