By Patty L. Augustine 1999.
“An Inner Icon”
By Patty L. Augustine 1999.
The “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. A famed cult classic film that aired in August of 1973. I was only six years old at the time. However, I was already deeply drawn to this one movie, probably more so than any other. Since the original movie actor who played the main character, a young “Gunner Hanson” performed “Leatherface”, he became my horror actor idol, with the added inclusion of the fictitious gruesome figure he brilliantly portrayed.
I have collected all the memorabilia I possibly could. Movies from the master negative. Reproductions of a mask of latex skin. Dolls. Even action figures. I loved everything about the character, the house, and the movie. I had always been drawn to the dark, massacre, and the repressed inferior side of our unconscious intellect - or the sinister side. Only using it to my daily advantage, hence aiding me to live a more balanced life. Even if only inwardly.
Later came Part II and Part III of the move, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Leatherface”. A stunning actor by the name of “R. A. Mihailoff”, played the leading part. A tall man containing a powerful physique. Like “Gunnes”, I could sense he was a very sensitive person behind this mask of skin stitched and coated in human blood. He brought the figure to a new light but never overshadowing the part done by the original. In my opinion, “R. A. Mihailoff” was also worthy of being an icon of horror in this continuing epic.
I dreamed of meeting both these men for years in secret (I now know “R. A. Mihailoff”). They truly captured the very spirit of the hellish fiend called, “Leatherface”. They truly captured the very spirit of the hellish fiend called “Leatherface”. They have represented so much more to me than simply hardcore horror, heinous slaughtering of people, and bloody gore. They signified something much deeper, particularly in reference to the location of the setting, namely, Texas. A time when the land was still free to roam; when technology did not contain such a fierce death grip that invaded every little thing, including piece of mind. Both people and values were simple and fiercely in tact. A transitional time of our great prospering country, the farmer was still well significant of America.
Simplicity was still the dominant norm of daily living, despite dispersed poverty. Poverty was, of course, well evident in America particularly in the most isolated areas. The homes were mostly the farmhouse. Forever echoing patterns and routines further suppressed in the burgeoning civility. Appliances were modern, but were slow to change. Although the desire to build a bigger and better country was there. It so far, had not veraciously invaded every bend in the road.
The interstate highway system was well on its way to connect all major cities, meeting places and such. It was still nowhere to be seen in the spreading, wooded and farmed lands of changing America. Things were indeed rapidly changing the face of our culture during the time of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. However, folks were still able to sit back, to be close and to
simply enjoy the land and the presence of human company. Although the music, dress, and public relations were equally transferring, respect for each other was still in tact. At least that is what appeared to me.
Everyone appeared to know their place. Women and girls were liberating themselves from the fierce stifling grip of routine and oppression. America was at war. Turmoil was abundantly evident. And the youthful, changing nation was now widely askew.
But as I said, this great movie that became an icon of young American culture signified to me a most beloved time in my own personal life. Including that of my own inborn free and nonconformist spirit. The very same that dwelled within my dear mother. I was lovingly thrust into a transitional time. I recall when the woods, fields, farms, ECT. were in plenty. The droning of heavy equipment forever changing the contours of the land, was not so frequently invading all scenes. Family ties were more meaningful. There were more moments of quiet. Innocence was not considered shameful. When a child could stay with her “mama”, when the home was still a safe, warm haven to retreat as a shield from now an unfamiliar world.
The pleasures of youth were so simple, and at times were wild. When we would all pile up in a broken down old van. Long trips were the norm. Being so loud was not necessarily the norm or main element to promote cheers and happiness. It was mostly just talking, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. What a precious commodity. When camp outs were not geared so much as a high tech exploration. Rather as a time to reflect on the inner reels of the soul, to reflect on the God that guides us to that soul. And created that soul, etc., etc.
School was not based so intently on getting way ahead of your peers. Senseless, heartless competing. It was not dominated so much by the threat of gangs, colors, guns, etc. Innocence of sexuality still floated down the crowded hallways, making itself discreetly known to those who chose. Like a delicate sunflower in a farm’s rambling, overgrown field.
Technology was still rapidly encroaching in the old traditional ways of life, especially, the computer. However, its encroaching presence did not appear to consume our every heartbeat. People, young and old, still cared. School chums and lost loves, meant so much more in my day. Calls on the old rotary phones, letters were handwritten and sent back and forth, etc. The ever-evolving photograph was still an important symbol in our intimate family culture.
Although the computer was always there loitering behind, it only stayed put where it was suppose to be. The mechanized, electronic brain was not banging on our back doors demanding away in. The humble chainsaw was still a vital member of the traditional American family. A silent, patient slave of the common man. On the farm. In the shed out back.
As said, the farmer was still vital to America’s way of life. Even its very identity. The back woods where “I” came from. The small town that I sometimes lived in or had visited. Back then, all epitomized America, simple, hardworking people. People that contained a profound love of the land. The simple country life. Although sometimes impoverished. The close tie to family and friends. With an added inclusion of the precious freedom to be one’s self. Go wild if you want to, as long as one’s “wildness” does not harm themselves or their community. “Live and let live!” It is what I’ve always said. People seemed to pretty much care about all things back then. Everything appeared to have its proper place. Most improvements did not overlap too much or get so wildly out of hand.
I truly miss those times. I recall them so well. Most celebrations were more family oriented and quiet. It was not all Party! Party! Sex! Sex! Above all – Goddamn technology! Computers.com, e-mail, ETC. The letter, the telephone is appearing to float off into non-existence. The glorious record still plays in the confines of my humble, tiny home. The white bell-bottoms. The frayed bottomed jeans. The funky jewelry. The sets of real love beads from back in 1973. Ma had given me hers back then – I still have these precious items of long ago. The songs. The clothes, the movies of that epic film of the horror icon I so love.
The simpler state of mind that will forever live within me, does pulsate through all those things. My beautiful, sweet Mama for one. She too epitomized this great era of ours. Growing up with older girls outside the home equally served as an opportunity to forge adult memories as well. In the confines of the families, the land, and in our songs. Equally reflecting the tearing at the fabric of this developing nation from war.
I still sit outside that old white farmhouse encased in humble, but stark poverty in Southern Texas. The symbols of my life. My era, but my very inner self always comes back there for a visit. Just as a child, and as an adult. I wait for a new movie that wonderful continuation of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.
As I said, the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, forever leaves a chaotic but harmonious fabric within the hidden confines of “me”. It symbolizes so many important, but deeply personal emotions. It takes me back to a time I personally once knew of. Although it was equally a horrible time in my own life’s events. It was just as wonderful and gloriously rewarding. Especially, being at my mother’s “bell-bottomed” side.
The “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” will play in “me” forever more. I say this statement with a taste of bittersweet sadness on my tongue. This is a poignant but brief description of my own “inner icon”.
Patty L. Augustine 1999
The Undying 70’s – The “TCM” Times
By Patty L. Augustine 2000
As so numerously stated, the 70’s were a time that impacted every aspect of my life on a profound personal level. Although these were times that entwined a festering fabric of various physical torture and mental cruelty, I equally found an inner “specialness” about all that surrounded me. Mostly from the natural landscapes, farm life, and the gentle swaying of “anti-establishment”.
Not so in a manner that would cause harm to one’s self, family, or community. But would rather develop one’s own spiritual qualities, including all one’s strangeness and shortcomings. To truly be what one would want to be. To live as one desires. Yet, to remain profoundly in touch with the still unclaimed wilderness, or farmlands that was the normal sway of life, in both that glorious and turbulent era.
A time I remember those selected adults I knew. Going astray on retreats, the “Peace Corps”. Helping others in remote, and in sometimes overly mundane routines. Never once totally becoming submissive to the forever-piercing onslaught of computer technology. Never wishing to become depersonalized to each other. Above all, never wanting to become totally isolated from society, to remain forever and fiercely intact, our truest forms of identity. To remain as they say – “backward”.
We of the 70’s recall much. It means something different to all of us. The early part of this transitional decade is the time I loved the best. As said, a time of family, a time of dispute as in all times, but in a totally different way. Drugs, wars, gangs, guns. They were always there for the taking. Only they were running rampant in selected areas of both the world and in general society. Heroes abounded – in the movies, in outer space, the famed astronauts who took frail humanity to a new limit. And, of course, my most absolute favorite: the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre – 1973” - my personal “inner icon” in which I previously spoke of.
Discretions were still fiercely sustained. Hence why I believed the younger generation was still behaved. Although fiercely inwardly struggling to change with the times. Mostly, just to simply speak their mind to be heard. The subject of sex was not slathered all over the tongues of every person’s mouth. It was done in private – speaking about it was also done in the confines of silence.
Although the U.S. Nation was literally being torn apart from all directions. It was still harboring its greatness. Reflecting the frontier in the rear view mirrors of its vehicles. The farms. The sparsely settled neighbors. Simple pleasures. Like my favorite while growing up – porch sittin’. Swimmin’ in a wooded lake. Running through a freshly raked pile of leaves. Taking the old row boat out, and spend the day fishing with Dad. Piling up in the van, or in the back of a pickup truck and going down the old road to get an ice cream at night. Going froggin’ with your younger brothers. Or, just take a slow meaningful walk down the dirt country road.
The status of money did not really mean much in those days. To most of us it simply meant to get by and possibly live a little better than your parents did. A big open home was not the norm back then. The famed bungalow was earning its place. The nation tried to become more modern, but it did not appear to break the speed limit while doing it. It seemed to stay in touch with the people who loved the country. The people who worked hard and humbly to maintain their family, farms, jobs. Even fun times found their way into weekly routines. Although the great interstate highway was being built to join all the great states as one, (I remember much of it) it did not at first serve as a signal to push the simple man out of existence. Rather, it simply gave access to all to both feel and to literally be less isolated. Hence we
learned to understand our fellow man from a better perspective. Not to tear down its old homes, and to buy out the traditions we have so long held near and dear. Especially, the family farm and the corner store.
Most people of the 70’s were not labeled as “movers and shakers” – a saying I find totally boorish, and one I despise. We were simple people with simple thoughts and values. Values that run as deep as the land we love. We were people well use to a slower and more meaningful routine of daily life. Every little thing. Every little move did not rely on one to have to drive a car. People could meet in all kinds of places.
People were closer. Most songs moved parts of you and meant something. The human soul was still a valuable commodity. It was still gentle, and endlessly flowing with a differed transition. In America, human life “seemed” to appear that it meant something. We were and still are, the “police station” of the ever-developing nations of the world. Laws were always strict, while others were simply silly or unappeasable. But it was the “joy of youth” that abundantly adhered to my inner senses and will live forevermore.
Youth, back then, reflected the times as in any other era. However it was vibrant, as well as infinitely in tune with the continuing changes around us. Rebellion was needed to a mild degree. It paved the way for a newer nation’s flourishment. The freedom to explore. To be both who we are as individuals and as a country. A country still vibrantly and diversely pulsating with its turbulent and even “ungodly” history. But a history that refuses to die. Thus reflecting its very name as a nation - “the good ol’ US of A”.
“Anti-establishment”. It is a thing I’ve somehow always believed in. It happens all over the world, but here it is allowed. As long as it causes no harm to anyone. If people wish to be left alone then they are left alone. If one wishes to live off the land then so be it. To me, it was still relatively a safe place back then in the 70’s. Again, despite the undeniable fact of my being a victim of heinousness cruelty. Even before all that began, the 70’s had already been under way. Experimentation with nearly everything set the backdrop for a vibrant, diverse mixture of events to follow the decade’s ending. However, the 70’s were still slower to me.
They were still totally beneficent of what our great nation truly was – a blessing given by God. The very same to me in reference to the “undying 70’s”, and the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.
By Patty L. Augustine 2000
For my mother©U
Marguerite A. Augustine