Childhood Fears

Childhood fears in appalachia

With Halloween just around the corner, this is the time of the year most folks start thinking about ghosts, witches, and black cats.

A recent eerie incident got me to thinking about how scared I used to get as a kid. Since I was the only girl-I got a room by myself while Paul and Steve had to share. Most of the time I was glad-but at night I often wished I shared my bedroom with someone too.

Sometimes at night I’d get so paralyzed with fear that I couldn’t move-I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I’d pull the covers up tight over my head and peek out every once in a while to see what was coming to get me. I’d beg Pap and Granny to leave the hallway light on so I wouldn’t be so terrified.

What was I so scared of? Even now, all these years later, I’m still not sure. I don’t think I was scared of ghosts or anything like that. I guess I was scared of someone breaking in and getting us all.

Summer nights were the worst. With no air conditioning all the windows were open-especially at night to catch the somewhat cooler air. On those nights my imagination really ran away with me-all those open windows with only a screen to stop some intruder from breaking in.

I never did myself any favors either-every scary movie that came on-I wanted to watch-which only made my fears worse. The Exorcist came on tv-Pap tried to tell me I’d be sorry if I watched it. Of course I didn’t listen. I was so brave during that movie I didn’t get scared a bit-until it was over.

No one would sleep with me-they all said it was my fault for watching it-which it was. I finally pitched a fit and said I was going to sleep in the hallway. I got my pillow and a blanket and settled down outside Granny and Pap’s bedroom. Pap finally realized he wasn’t going to get any sleep unless he slept with me-so he did.

Chitter and Chatter are totally different when it comes to be scared. The only thing I can remember Chitter ever being scared of-was when she was about 8 or 9 years old. For what ever reason she became terrified of being buried alive-it was like she was obsessed with it. You don’t think being buried alive would come up much in daily life-but during that time it seemed it was all around us. Chitter finally came to grips with her fear and got over it.

Chatter is more like me. When she was about 3 years old she’d tell me “momma I’m scared of my house I’m scared of my house.” At night she didn’t want to go to the bathroom by herself, in one of the back bedrooms by herself, or especially down in the basement by herself.

My Papaw Wade (Pap’s Father) was a big coon hunter. It seemed there was always a joke going around about one of the boys getting scared-somebody that was too scared to go back to the truck for something they needed or too scared to help round up the dogs. I remember one time some such incident had happened on their latest coon hunt-and Papaw was trying to tease one of the local boys about being scared of the dark. The boy said “no I’m not scared of the dark.” Papaw said “well you must be you won’t get 2 foot away from the fire”-the boy said “no I’m not scared of the dark I’m scared of whats in it.” Papaw always got the last word-he told the boy-“what ever is in the dark is in the daylight too-so are you scared of the daylight too?”

Chatter saying “I’m scared of my house” is so funny and cute-but actually I think she had mine and her fear figured out at 3 years old. During the day a house is so full of noise and life-at night it seems so subdued and empty-maybe that’s where our fear came from-simply the change atmosphere.

So what was your childhood fear?





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  • Reply
    October 29, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    My biggest fear as a child was associated with the dark also. Our house was old and had the old fashioned string hanging down from the ceiling light (no wall switch), so I wasn’t able to reach up to turn on the light. If I had to go into a dark room for a minute, or outside on the porch to get something, I started out my mission well enough, but those last few feet on the journey back to the safty of a lighted area seemed to stretch out forever. No matter how I tried to walk back without rushing, my feet always picked up the pace on their own accord and the last few feet to “freedom” were done in a hurry! I still remember the feeling of relief (and sheepishness) when I crossed over into “safety” again. Don’t know what I was scared of, rats? snakes? boogers? and my feet still aren’t telling!

  • Reply
    October 26, 2010 at 7:31 am

    I don’t like scary movies! My kids love them, but I won’t watch them. They seem to linger in my mind and I think of them when I go to bed. I remember watching one of the x-files tv shows once, and it still haunts me sometimes. I’ll be making sure the front door is locked at night and my eyes will look out the front window and I can just see that guy walking across our yard toward our door!

  • Reply
    October 22, 2010 at 7:24 am

    What was hiding under my bed! I would not set my foot down beside the bed in the dark. I would stand up on the bed and jump over and away from the bed to get out of bed.
    We have four haunted trails in our area right now. And Scarowinds. We went to Scarowinds for the first time this year. We loved it!! I love haunted houses and such. It’s really hard to scare me though, cause I’m laughing so hard. They are just fun!

  • Reply
    barbara gantt
    October 20, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I had a GreatAunt Mart that would come from Waynesville to visit us in Lenoir. I think that she hated kids. She wore her hair up using these big hair pins. She would lay them on the floor in the doorway of her bedroom at my Moms house. She would tell us if we stepped over them, they would turn into a big rat and eat us. Of course, we believed her. I never did like her becaue of that. She is the only thing that I can remember being scared of. I wasnt just afraid of the rats but of her.

  • Reply
    October 20, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I just gotta say “Atta Girl” to
    Miss Cindy’s comment. I like the
    part “get my gun and go looking for it.” I guess thats why the
    Deer Hunter likes hunting so much.

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    October 20, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Can so relate, Tipper! Those fears are so real, no one can convince one otherwise! And you’re so right, the fears eventually go away. I remember my brothers would tease me if I’d express any fear about a movie I just saw, and to this day, I’m not into horror films, and you know my love of film, Tipper!
    A fear I have to this day is fear of flying. If I have to, I do, but it’s the most unpleasant experience for me!
    Have a wonderful day, Tipper! :))

  • Reply
    October 20, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Hey Tipper, good post! I wasn’t afraid at night in the house, it was outside after dark. . .and the outhouse. When we used to visit my grandmother when I was 8 or 9 she still had an outhouse. There were no yard lights or such and you had to take a flashlight out there to the outhouse by yourself! I was always terrified something might be hiding in there. I was glad when granddaddy finally built an indoor bathroom.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 20, 2010 at 8:41 am

    The dark, I was afraid of the dark. Why does hiding under the cover make you feel safe….it’s dark there too. lol But that is exactly what I did..made sure everything was covered from head to foot.
    I’m a big girl now. When I hear a noise in the night I get up, get the gun, and go looking for it!

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    October 20, 2010 at 1:10 am

    I was terrified of snakes and had nightmares about them till a neighbor boy dared me to pick up a garter snake he’d caught. Not wanting to be thought a scairdy-cat, I did — and never had another snake nightmare.

  • Reply
    Shane Moad
    October 20, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Yup, the dark, that can do it to you. When I was growing up the house we had had three bedrooms off a long hall way. So when I went to bed I would say good night to everyone in the lounge room and walk through a door to the hall way where the bedrooms were. Now when I got through that door I closed it because my grandparents (they raised me) did not want the tv to keep me awake. Once I was in that hallway it look a whole lot longer at night time and my room was the one at the very front of the house!!! It was way to scary just thinking about walking up that hall, the two bedroom doors I had to walk past before I got to mine were sure to have some other being ready to jump out and grab me! I can remember that vividly even now and Im 51 years old.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    October 19, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Tipper: Fear certainly is a strange thing. I’m so glad you made it through to share the stories with all of us. Dark can be a source of many fears.

  • Reply
    Greta Koehl
    October 19, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I did that covers thing, too, and I also watched every scary movie I could. The thing that scared me the most was The Beast With Five Fingers – a movie of a disembodied hand that crawled around and choked people.

  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    October 19, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    I was always afraid of balloons. I think because they popped. I have never been fond of popping noises. My brothers would sneak up behind me and yell “bang” and watch me take a little hop when I was learing to walk. When my husband and I celebrated out 1 year anniversary I sent a huge bunch of balloons. When he picked me up from work in his little Chevy Luv Truck the cab was full of balloons. I climbed in and started sweating and getting all nervous. We had to stop at my Mama’s house and leave those balloons with her as we had a 45 minute drive to Danbury and I would have jumped out of the truck before we made it home. So it was either leave her the balloons or ride in the bed of the truck.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    October 19, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I am and have always been afraid of high places. To go on my roof terrifies me. Haven’t been up there in years.
    We moved from one house to another in the same neighborhood. I found a trove of over a hundred comic books in the attic of the new house. They were all horror comics. I read many of them and had the most horrible nightmares. I have refused to read horror stories or see horror movies since.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    October 19, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    tipper i am not one who likes to be alone.. during the day i can manage.. but once nighttime comes, i get the feeling of panic… and have to check windows, doors.. etc.. nothing really ever happened to turn me that way.. i think having four older brothers.. who used to enjoy making growling noises , and teasing me… by knocking on walls.. etc.. didnt help my imagination of things in the night..
    i hope you all have a safe and peaceful night 🙂
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    October 19, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    When I was a little boy I would get so scared at night sometimes I would almost smother to death because I was afraid to breathe because I was afraid the bad guys in the house could hear me breathing. It was a long time until daylight if you were a little boy and too scared to breathe very deeply. Now, after all these years, I still ain’t no John Wayne.
    Happy Halloween,

  • Reply
    October 19, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Hi, Tipper. I love your pictures! Chitter and Chatter are so gorgeous and look just as sweet as they can be.
    I love ghost stories. As a kid, I loved to hear them and get scared. Actually, I still love to hear them. Like you, I love scary movies, too. But I’m mostly scared of driving to get to the city. Back roads are great, but the highways terrify me. So, I only drive on them when I have to.
    Thanks for a fun post!

  • Reply
    October 19, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Even today I can remember those ole scary vampire movies, but I
    recon I saw about all of ’em. And
    in raising my girls till they left
    home, we kept a light on for them.
    Maybe I needed it too. And about
    the time I became a teenager, me and a bunch of boys would hitch-
    hike to town and slip in to a drive-in theater. We’d have to wait till we had the cover of
    darkness, then we’d jump off the
    side of a bridge into the edge of
    a river, wade down and slip into
    the the drive-in. It was a bit
    errie cause every time a limb hit
    my leg, I just knew a snake had me. As usual, you brought back a
    few memories of childhood…Ken

  • Reply
    October 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Some folks would tell scary stories then try to make us believe that if we didn’t mind ,something bad was going to get us.The boogyman, the old witch woman, old redeye and bloody bones and worst of all was that old thang. Never knew what any of them were but when it got dark we were sure looking for them to appear to drag us off and kill us. I was grown before I started to get over so much fear.It was wrong for them to do that, but guess they didn’t know how it was really affecting us.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    October 19, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I would see shadows on my bedroom wall and that would scare me sometimes. Scary movies do it too, and with a husband that works 2nd shift, I still have to be careful what I watch OR read. Silly me!

  • Reply
    Tammy N
    October 19, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I had a great fear of Barnabas the Vampire on the daily show “Dark Shadows” that my Aunt insisted on watching every afternoon when we got home from school. I always had to have a night light and kept the covers so tight around my neck it is a wonder I did not choke myself.
    About the scaring on purpose, I now realize after all these years that my Papaw used the “boogyman” is in there to keep me out of places….

  • Reply
    October 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    This was fun! I was a horror movie junkie as a child too, my ‘Pop’ and I watched ’em all! Of course I was always afraid at night too, just vague, nameless fears, I think a lot of children feel that way. The only movie that ever disturbed me was an old black and white about a man who kidnapped young girls then drained their blood into his body. He would taunt them as they faded away; this was my first experience with psychological horror and boy was I impressed!
    I’m with you Tipper, when everything is quiet, and looks unfamiliar in the dark, and you know your parents are sleeping and not ‘on guard’, a house feels pretty lonely and scary. I dreaded someone coming through the screens too, or just looking in – we lived in a ranch house!
    I still love spook movies!

  • Reply
    October 19, 2010 at 11:41 am

    My childhood fear was the same as yours. You described perfectly how I used to have the covers over my head and roating in the summer….but that dark, quiet house still got to me. I’d hear every little sound!!!
    Now I must admit…I still do not like to be by myself in the house at night!!!!
    We’ve had some very eerie experience (not in our regular house) but in our W.Va cabin and surrounding area. It’s always a little unsettling!!!!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 19, 2010 at 11:21 am

    I can remember being afraid at night. I used to be so afraid that someone was in my room I would be paralyzed and couldn’t move. I also had night terrors and I would try to scream and run, but nothing would come out. It seems I was always having dreams about drowning and trying to save my two much younger sisters. Why don’t parents allow a night light?
    It would solve a lot of these horrible things.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I it was actually ghosts. I’m still sure that they are real.

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