It’s the last day of September and that means it’s Kindertrauma’s birthday. We usually allow the date to pass without any horn tooting but this year is different because it’s our big fifth anniversary! Yep, it was precisely half a decade ago that the very first Kindertrauma post appeared! Fittingly our inaugural subject matter concerned a birthday, the birthday of one Elizabeth Walton as depicted in an episode of THE WALTONS entitled “The Changeling”. Looking back, the “article” itself is nothing more than an annoyingly flippant, poorly illustrated, sketchy synopsis but hey, ya gotta start somewhere! We may have been wet (soaked) behind the ears but nobody can accuse us of ever being confused about what we wanted to focus on. Let everybody else feign coolness and pretend that their attraction to the genre is due their being so brave, dark and counterculture. We knew the unspoken truth; that inside every insatiable horror fan there was a kid with his hands covering his eyes begging for the light to be left on.
Or maybe that’s just me. I was 11 when “The Changeling” first aired on October 26, 1978. I had been dabbling with horror movies for some time and had no reason to think that the pre-Halloween episode would be anything I couldn’t handle. Right I was…for the most part. Floating rocking chairs and inexplicable walking dolls were relatively benign occurrences and it was not as if anybody was physically harmed or that things didn’t go back to normal when the episode closed. Yet still…the creeps. There was something WRONG with Elizabeth Walton. For so long she was the cute, youngest, adored child and then suddenly she wasn’t. It was if growing older made all her inadequacies rise to the surface. She became a magnet for cruddy things and as a kid getting older, I related. My older brothers were developing new interests that left me in the dust and my parents began looking at me like I broke a vase with every step I took. Like Elizabeth, I didn’t want to grow up. From what I could tell, it sucked. It wasn’t the piano playing by itself that freaked me out, it was the fact that I identified with the alienation poor Elizabeth couldn’t scrape off her shoe. If she was cursed then I was cursed too. I was a little over twice as old as this website and I wasn’t worried ghosts would harm me so much as I dreaded they might expose me as deficient and rotten to the core. Good times.
Anyway, It wasn’t long before we started getting some baffling heavy-traffic connected to our very first post! Yay! People must like what we’re doing! Sadly and yet somewhat hilariously, trailing the links back to their source exposed the opposite appraisal. Fans of THE WALTONS were outraged! The WALTONS board was NOT having Kindertrauma. “It is unbelievable the disgusting garbage and filth that is on the internet. This vulgar and obscene website should be eliminated!” Huh? What now? “It is by far the worst thing I have ever read.” Really? “Oh my God! How rude could this person get!” Rude? I reread the article a billion times trying to decipher what spurred the umbrage but to no avail. Geez, maybe I really was just a bad apple and like Elizabeth’s poltergeists, only true WALTONS fans could sniff me out!
But wait, there’s another story connected to our first post that I think tells a larger truth about Kindertrauma and serves eleven-year-old me some redemption as well. I had a very difficult time finding an image to accompany that first piece. There was nothing on YouTube, at the time, to capture and Google came up all kinds of empty-handed…
I had about given up when I came across something strange. It was an artist’s installation based on the episode. It involved a person lying in bed next to a TV that showed Elizabeth’s rag doll walking about in a loop. Wow “The Changeling” inspired somebody else as much as me and I was able to grab a shot of the doll via the tiny video! Fast forward three plus years and Kindertrauma begins receiving encouraging emails from one STACY PERSHALL (Buy her book!). We became quick friends as she was obviously a kindred spirit and eventually she even came to visit. While talking about the shows that left a mark on our youth the subject of “The Changeling” reared its head. As it turned out, my new pal STACY was the very person who made that installation I encountered years before and inadvertently had a hand in our original post. Point being, enraged WALTONS fans or no, Kindertrauma’s existence had permanently altered the way I viewed “The Changeling.” Maybe there was something strange and weird and off about Elizabeth but I was dead wrong in thinking she (or I) was alone.
So here is where I thank everybody who ever contributed to and has supported Kindertrauma over the years. I started a list of names but it truly would be impossibly long and I can’t stand the idea of leaving anybody out. You all know who you are and we acknowledge and are proud of the fact that we’d be nothing without you.
I’d also like to thank our readers and commenters for being so remarkably consistent in respecting each others opinions and personal experiences and keeping this joint a drama-free zone, It’s really an anomaly on the internet and quite impressive for such a “vulgar and obscene” website! Happy Birthday to us and Happy Birthday to ALL of you. Stay tuned. And check back often. Tomorrow is October first and we’ve only just begun.