Movies were such a huge part of my life, probably beginning here in Bailey as much as anywhere. We bought a second Beta VCR while we were here for the sheer purpose of recording the movies that we rented. We had to drive a couple of towns over to Aspen Park to rent movies, but when we did, we made it worth our while. Movies cost about a dollar on Tuesdays and we rented about six movies at a time. We went home, connected one Beta to the other with the audio-video cables and recorded two to three movies on each blank Beta tape. This also began our movie collection process that was formalized into notebooks years later. Similar to Dad’s record collection, the movie collection grew as we recorded movie after movie, though always much smaller than his record collection.
Horror movies were my favorite as a kid beginning from when I was about seven years old. I don’t remember where we lived at the time, but I remember sneaking into the living room underneath where my parents lay on the sleeper couch watching The Shining with Jack Nicholson. I was so scared, but I was hooked. I watched Halloween II in similar fashion also about the same age. I was enamored with horror movies during this phase of our lives. We rented them and watched them together as a family quite often. While slasher movies like Friday the 13th and Halloween were fan favorites during this time of the 80s, the movie that most gripped me with fear was when we brought Nightmare on Elm Street home. I remember vividly how Freddy Krueger could come from anywhere at any time. He wasn’t even limited to our dreams. There was no escaping Freddy!
My infatuation with horror initiated the beginning of my writing career, as well. Just before school started the following Fall, we moved again about ten miles from Bailey to a trailer in Grant, Colorado. We remained in the same school, but my mom added ten more minutes each way to her daily commute. At the beginning of seventh grade, I was able to add a Creative Writing class where I wrote short stories. My first story was a horror narrative entitled, The Missing House. In my story our house went missing from one day to the next. It just disappeared. I imagine that may have come from the many houses in our lifetime that went missing from one day to the next as we moved throughout the country.
My second story was titled, Slumber Party and depicted a familiar teen romp where these girls decided to have a slumber party and were visited by a vicious killer. Not long after that, we found the movie Slumber Party Massacre at that local video store and added it to our collection. I had just missed my chance at stardom by a few years! The majority of my stories were horror themed, but one story that garnered me some attention was not.
Our middle school was named after Jesse B. Fitzsimmons who grew up in the area as a rancher and farmer in the early 1900s. During our time there, Halley’s Comet was going to be visible in the night sky. Halley’s comet was only visible once every seventy-five years. I wrote a tall tale about how Jesse B. Fitzsimmons lassoed Halley’s Comet for our first annual creative writing contest. Amazingly, I won the contest and received a major award for it. This was the beginning of truly believing I could be an author some day.