You will undoubtedly notice the absence of one “Lance A. Marcom” in the list of family members surviving one Ralph A. Marcom. But I was after all, the “Black Sheep.” I have, since the publishing of this obit,
spoken to Bill Palmer, (Its author and actually a very good friend of mine now.) regarding this and he told me that it—ME—must have slipped his mind, as I was always thousands of miles away in some desert or similar out-of-touch, unreachable “shit hole.”
When my father met my mother at ETSU (East Texas State University) he was studying French and Drama. That really couldn’t pay the bills, so he later (forced by his father) became a physician, but not before working as a Disc Jockey in almost every small-town hick radio station in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. He also did a stint on a late night TV show in Kansas City in the early Sixties, dressing up as Dracula or Satan, running horror movies and doing all the commercials (Think Elvira in reverse drag).
I lived with him and my first step-mother there in Kansas City for a brief spell (before my mother hired a private detective, tracked me down, and kidnapped me back—another story how/why all that had to happen) and don’t remember much of it, except hating my ‘evil’ stepmother (she forced liver down me, which I found disgusting then, but love now.). Years later I discovered she wasn’t all that ‘evil’ and that the only reason she forced me to eat liver was that it was ‘good for me.’ Okay, maybe she was evil.
Many years later, after doing that nickel (prison ‘vernacular’) in Fremont and a short stint with my maternal grandparents in East Texas, I moved in with my father in Honey Grove and second stepmother (most decidedly more ‘evil’ than the first, and in more subtle and damaging ways, especially for a boy who was ‘coming of age’ and with all the teenage angst that that manifests.)
My father had purchased a three and a half story Victorian house (circa ‘Texas Victorian’ 1880) in HG and remodeled it beautifully.
The place resembled the mansion inhabited by The Addams Family. Literally. Daddy (Texans always call their fathers “Daddy” even when they are in their fifties–don’t ask me why because I don’t know) was by then a proper doctor, but his passion was magic (anything to keep performing, it would seem) and he was very good at it. His specialty was ‘close up’ and he did become a semi-famous person, at least in the Magic Community. He also performed at Scarborough Faire, a semi-famous annual Renaissance Festival held in Waxahachie (Texas of course).
He converted the basement into a ‘dungeon’ and rigged up all manner of dungeon devices for his and his guests’ amusement. There was a coffin standing upright in one corner with a mummified statue inside. He told everyone that the mummy was his first wife. As far as I knew, my “mum” was his first wife and still remained very much Un-mummified, but it would have been poor form to point this out to the credulous.
My new step-mother had her own magic act performing as Vampira http://marcomthemountebank.com/gloria.htm and family legend has it that she, Gloria, was offered the role of “Morticia” in the Sixties’ TV show Addams Family—which I seriously doubted then and now. The fatal attraction between my father and Gloria was a foregone conclusion, and since the two of them married on Halloween, naturally Halloween became The Holiday for us (remember Madelyn? She was there too—one year my senior).
Every Halloween, she and I would go out to the ‘farm,’ a forty-acre tract of land outside Ladonia that my father had inherited from his father, and chop down the ugliest, scraggliest, dead tree we could find and bring it back to Marcom Manor. This became our ‘Halloween Tree.” Little witches, ghosts, goblins, spiders, snakes and whatever else seemed appropriate were hung on this tree.
Gifts were placed underneath. It was great fun and I did love our special holiday. In celebration of this anniversary my father and step-mother would throw a huge, and I do mean huge, party every year on the Saturday closest to Halloween. Magicians and ‘civilians’ would come from all over Texas and also many from states as far removed from Texas as New York and California for the party, which actually would begin on Thursday night and not end until Monday morning. Many of the guests arrived in motor homes or stayed at the house if they arrived early enough, and the other out-of-towners stayed at whatever motel they could find in Paris, Texas twenty miles away.
The house was perfect for such a soiree too. Madelyn and I had the entire third floor to ourselves and would invite all our friends upstairs for our own party. Black light posters (and others) all of Dylan, Zeppelin, Moody Blues, and Beatles were in abundance as music, a different kind of magic, was our dominate theme.
The second floor was where my father had his study with a large round table (antique oak) where he would hold court and mystify all comers with his close-up magic. The ground floor had a dining room with another antique oak table (which would seat fourteen) and also contained one of the five fireplaces that were in the house. The kitchen itself was probably larger than a small apartment. On every floor there was at least one coffin and everywhere there was ‘Adams-Family-esque’ décor to the point of making the entire place almost a caricature of itself.
In my father’s study directly behind his chair was a complete skeleton he had ‘liberated’ from med school. He kept the top half of a human skull (which he told me once belonged to Hitler–Hell! I was credulous) in front of him which he used as an ashtray for his King Edward cigars. A small balsa-wood box contained a genuine shrunken head from Bora-Bora, or Ecuador, or some such place. One wall displayed no less than 30 hand guns, all loaded. I once asked “Daddy, why do you keep all the guns loaded?” He replied, “Son, if I need a gun, I will most likely need one in a hurry, and there is nothing on Earth more useless than an unloaded gun.”
Over the gun display hung an airplane propeller, half of one anyway, splinters and jagged edges where once had been the rest of it—all that remained of my Father’s first two-seater plane. Apparently he was a self-taught pilot in his youth. And far too many other things like that to describe here…
To complete the ambiance, the outside of the house was patrolled by black cats—usually no less than thirteen (I swear, I am not making this up) and a goodly number of those did double duty as house cats as well. For a while we kept a “token” white cat, but, never really standing a chance, he disappeared a few months after we introduced it to The Family. There was an old black Lincoln in the carport, right out of The Godfather—hell it was probably used in the movie.
My father and I never did see eye-to-eye however (and I do, maybe somewhat unjustly, blame a lot of this on my step-mother), and as soon as I graduated high school at seventeen, I moved out and rarely returned at all for visits. After the Houston and Lake Charles period (almost a year, as I recall), I came home just long enough to announce (with some satisfaction) that I was leaving for the job in the Sinai Desert and would not be back for at least ten years. I did have a love for the overly dramatic back then. I had just turned twenty.
My father and I were dangerously alike and I have spent a lot of energy over the years trying to overcome some of the character flaws I inherited from him. I must admit I have also lost some of the good characteristics he possessed. When I think of an example of one of those, I will be sure to let you know…
My Father used this quote on me and more than once:
How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
To have a thankless child! Away! Away!