E is for Edgar Allen Poe and the weeping willow tree. Fifth of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.
Scaring the pants off yourself is a time honored teen tradition. Today it’s done by watching terrifying movies, but in my early teens in the 1960s I had my own method — and it involved Edgar Allen Poe and our soaring weeping willow tree. So let me set the stage.
Start with a towering weeping willow
My dad started our weeping willow tree from a branch stuck into a bottle of water shortly after we moved to Endwell in 1957. Willows are notoriously fast growers — so by the time I was a teenager our willow tree towered high above the roof.
Most days the diaphanous tree looked stately and beautiful, its green, sun-dappled leaves cascading down the branches. But at night the willow was huge and imposing — and when whipped about in a storm, atmospheric and scary.
Enter Edgar Allen Poe
My parents encouraged reading — and my mom regularly took us children to the George F. Johnson Memorial Library in Endicott so we could tote home stacks of books. I was a voracious reader and loved those library trips.
But just to be sure there were always some quality books around the house, my folks also purchased a set of Modern Library Classic Literature — and one of those classic volumes was the scary Works of Edgar Allen Poe.
Wait for a thunderstorm
We had an enclosed back porch off our garage with a sturdy roof, screened walls, a pop-up wall mounted table and wall-hung lamp. When the sun was up, it was a shady place for us kids to hang out — and our family sometimes ate dinner there in the summer.
But in the dark, or when it was windy, or especially during a thunderstorm, it was the perfect place to curl up with the terrifying Works of Edgar Allen Poe.
Surrounded by the roaring darkness outside, with the willow tree thrashing about amid flashes of lightening, I would crack open the Poe volume under the little cone of lamplight — and before you know it, I was being buried alive in “Premature Burial” or walled up in a deep, moldy wine cellar with the “The Cask of Amontillado.” Yikes!
Up next: F is for Farm visits and Family Fun. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!
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