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The Skeleton in the Bedroom Closet

Skull and Crossbones


For most families the skeleton in the closet is a metaphor. Somebody in the past did something wrong. No one talks about it. But in the author’s family the skeleton in the closet was real, and inspired both a love of history and some very bad dreams.



Every now and then the local newspapers like to throw their readers a bone, and that happened in a big way a few years back. It all started in the fall of 1999 when seven-year-old Lucas Raymond and his buddy Ryan Frysalis were doing what boys do best, playing in a pile of dirt in a lovely little colonial town here called Newfields. That's where they found the "coconut" which turned out to be a piece of a human skull.

Within hours the dirt pile in the Raymond family yard had turned into a full-blown crime scene with yellow tape, police, forensic detectives and the whole nine yards. According to Fosters Daily Democrat, Officials of the New Hampshire Major Crime Unit sifted through 18 yards of fill and came up with 100 pieces of human bone from what appeared to be three separate bodies.

Bones mean dead people and dead people are news, so the media clung to the story all week. By Tuesday the two boys were beaming proudly from the front page of the Portsmouth Herald, and were even allowed to offer their own theories. By Wednesday Richard Boisvert, a state archeologist had presented a pretty likely theory: the skeletons had been delivered in the soil Lucas' dad had ordered to fill around a new chimney. Although never confirmed, the bodies appeared to be from an unmarked pauper's cemetery yard from the 19th century "poor farm" in Brentwood.

Corpses-to-go - shiver -- sounds like a ready-made Stephan King scenario. Shades of the film Poltergeist where the family swimming pool turns out to be an old burial ground. Shades of Edgar Alan Poe. Shades of Shakespeare's Hamlet and the actor who recently donated his own skull to be used as a the Yorick prop in his favorite play.

Shades of my own childhood, if I'm forced to pry open long-repressed nightmares. You see, every family has skeletons in the closet, but ours was real. In my bedroom closet, resting in a wooden box with a metal hinge was a smooth, white skull of a young woman. The upper cranium had been neatly cut and the top could be lifted off like the top of a teapot. Two little metal eye-hooks held the cover in place and the jaw moved smoothly on a silvery hinge.

CONTINUE "Skeleton in the Closet"

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018 
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