Some readers, probably, react with embarrassment when I go on about Dark Shadows. The fact is, however, that our childhoods somehow define us and mine included frequent doses of Dark Shadows after school. This was complemented by the series of potboiler novels by William Edward Daniel Ross, writing as Marilyn Ross. We didn’t have much money when I was a child (some things never change) and the only means I had of procuring the books in our small town was Goodwill. The novel series ran from 1966 to 1972, roughly concurrent with the television show. Since I was buying them second-hand I could never tell which, if any, I would find in the book bins. If I did find any, I’d buy them. I got rid of them when I “grew up.”
Dark Shadows, however, has come back to me at various points in my life and about a decade-and-a-half ago I began, somewhat shamefacedly, trying to rebuild that earlier collection. The individual volumes are considerably more than the nickels and dimes I’d originally paid for them. In fact, the rate of change has been somewhat astronomical. Some of the volumes are rare. Given the prices, I suspect I’m not the only nostalgia-poisoned child of the sixties and seventies who’s buying them. There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes with having finally completed a task years in the making. When the box containing the last volume arrived, it was a moment of private ecstasy.
All of this has me thinking about other influences Dark Shadows has had on me personally. It is probably responsible for my lifelong love of Maine. The television show was filmed mostly in Terrytown, New York, better known by the name given in Washington Irving’s tale, Sleepy Hollow. I wasn’t aware of this on my visit to Terrytown—which was before the more recent television series based on, but not filmed in that location, aired. My first publication regarding religion and horror was based on Sleepy Hollow. There’s a sense of connectedness here. To get the final volume, which is rare, I had to buy a collection of several of the books. Like a man who found a pearl of great price went and sold all that he had so that he could buy the field in which the pearl was. We’re never told what he did with the rest of the field. If I had to venture a guess I’d say he used it to house his Dark Shadows collection.