Wickedly Witchy Women
In 2011, at a post-50th-year reunion gathering of
the Southern High School Class of 1961 planning committee and others, the usual meeting place was haunted
with tiny, long-nosed females dressed in basic black: ornamental witches
were everywhere! The family room, in particular, at the Brooks residence had
become a cauldron of activity for a coven of craggy-faced women with wicked
Barbara Ann Fultz and I
took photos and asked Richard and Marcella Brooks for a
full accounting of the eerie environment, where evil seemed to be lurking
gleefully behind every corner and in each nook and cranny .
In Marcella's words:
Richard and I have always
loved Halloween. When we lived in a
subdivision, we would dress up in costume on Halloween just to give out the
candy to the kids. We were excited to see all the different costumes and the
neighborhood kids. And some of their parents dressed in costume, too.
Friends used to have Halloween parties, and that gave us a chance to dress
in costume. I have dressed as a witch, Elvira, cowgirl, flapper, and an
apple, to name a few. The parties were always so much fun.
After we built our new house in 1990, we
a Halloween party in our new pole barn. That
was before it was filled with whatever is in there now. We decorated it with
bales of hay covered with orange and black scarves, spider webs, rats, bats,
snakes, and even made a graveyard with gravestones and other objects. About
70 people attended — all in full costume. It was fun!
In the middle ’90s, our daughter got into
doing crafts. She made a witch, and I just loved it. I said, "I think that I
will make one, too, and I did just that." That witch, along with another one
that I made, is always on our mantel each Halloween season. I guess that is
what started me collecting witches.
Shortly after that, I was visiting Madison,
Indiana, and happened upon a small, quaint shop. There was an elderly man
sitting where you could see him through the window. He was carving
something, but I didn’t know what it was. Being curious, I ventured into the
shop, which was at 409 W. Main Street. He was carving a Santa Claus. The
shop was filled with Santas of various shapes and heights, posed with sacks,
candles, bells, sleds, etc.
The proprietor’s name was Bruce May, and he
called his business Folk Art By May. We struck up a conversation
immediately. He was so easy to talk with, and loved talking about his
Santas. Since I had collected Santas for several years, too, I had to have
one. Well, that got me started buying his Santas. I think that I have at
least 40 of his Santas now. I visited his shop about twice a year.
After a few years, I asked him if he ever
carved anything else. He asked what I had in mind. And I said witches. Of
course, he started carving witches then. I think my first witch of his is
dated 2000. He made it to hang, and it is riding on a broom. He never carved
many witches each year — maybe four or five at the most. They always sold
quickly, and I always purchased at least one of them.
After a few years, I had the pleasure of
meeting his wife, Dianne. I learned that while he did all the carving, she
did the painting. She is a lovely lady, and I think of both of them as
friends. She would call me when he had his witches carved and painted so
that I could have first pick. I always tried to get one that was just a
little different from the others. Of course, they are all unique because
they are hand-carved.
Mr. May — who always replied "Call me Bruce"
— was 82 when he died on September 19 of this year. He finished only my
witch this year. Dianne called me on the Wednesday before he died to tell me
it was ready for me to see. When I called Tuesday morning the 20th to tell
her that I was coming to Madison, she told me he passed away the day before.
That witch is the most beautiful witch I own. I will never forget Bruce May
and our conversations together. Richard also enjoyed talking with him, as
well, and did on many occasions.
Since the late 1990s, whenever and wherever
we traveled, I have searched for witches. They have been purchased at craft
shows, in gift shops, welcome centers, etc. And our daughter, Amanda, made
the large wooden one that stands by our loveseat. Of course, I also always
have my eye out for Santas.
Halloween and Christmas are my two favorite