"You better run, Corey." Those were the words my father said as I began to run for my life, absolutely terrified of what may be behind me. It was wrong of us to come back to this place. Fun Farm wasn't exactly what the name implied.
Sometimes the transition from childhood to
adulthood can be blurry and ambiguous. But my father could name the time and
place where it happened to him. He told me the story as if it was ancient
history, but in his eyes, I could see he was reliving it as if it were
Fun Farm, Goochland, Virginia, July 20th,
1969. "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." My father was 15
years old, huddled with his family around their maroon colored, box-looking TV
set, witnessing the United States' historic moon landing. My grandfather
commented on how amazing the whole thing was before he went to the barn to
check a lighting fixture that had gone out, as angry clouds rapidly assembled
overhead. Moments later, my father and his mother were lying on the barn's
floor, trying to resuscitate my grandfather. My uncle Ed sped up Fun Farm's
long dirt road, on his bike, looking for help. Despite the valiant efforts of
rescue personnel, my grandfather died instantly and a young family's future
remained uncertain. My father was now the man of the house.
My parent's house, Williamsburg, Virginia, December 2010. While visiting my family over the holidays, I had decided that we should revisit my father's old home. "Why don't we go back to Goochland and make a documentary film out of it? See what happens?" We had talked about making a film together for a long time. My father, semi-retired and looking for direction in his life, saw the opportunity to live out his fantasy of being a filmmaker. I saw the opportunity to explore some of our family history, including the circumstances of grandfather's death, and give my father some closure. My father, Goochland's lost son, was returning home. He told me he had not visited in over 40 years.
We were very excited on the car ride to Goochland, bonding as father and son. However, things began to get difficult once we started to search for Fun Farm. Goochland was a small town, but it turned out to be difficult to navigate with its thick forests. Fortunately, my father remembered the name of the real estate agent who was involved in renting the place to the family. She was 90 years old, Goochland County's first real estate agent. She was very kind and was able to point us in the right direction. She also gave us a warning that getting on the property would not be easy because the new owner was very reclusive and very mysterious. It was an ominous beginning to our journey.
As we approached Fun Farm, I began to feel tense. The car bounced up and down as we drove down the dirt road. We finally stopped at an old, rusty gate that lay in front of a long, winding path. My father pointed out that the Fun Farm sign that he fondly remembered from his childhood wasn't there anymore. He peered down the path. I could see in his squinting eyes that he wasn't comfortable. He was staring down the same path that would lead to nothing but pain and misery. It became obvious that it was up to me to head down the path myself, deep into the woods of confusion and loss. He turned the car around in the other direction just in case I had to run from whatever lay beyond the gate. We decided to stay in contact using our cell phones.
I walked down the long
path, alone, clutching my camera against my side. I thought about how ironic it
was that I was going down the same path my father walked many times before, the
same path that would transport me into his past. My steps were swift, but
cautious. I began to get an eerie feeling, like I was being watched.
What happened next would prove to be the most terrifying experience of my life. I heard dogs barking in the background, the wind picking up behind me, and loud shouts from the forest. My father could hear the fear in my voice and told me to run. I did not look back.
Here is the proposal. We request $1,500 to revisit "Fun Farm", the barn in Goochland, and tell the story of a father and son revisiting the past. The requested funds will help pay for my flight from LA to Richmond, VA; our stay in Goochland; entry fees for 10 - 15 film festivals; and the distribution of DVDs to the contributors.
We thank you for your contribution and putting your faith in this father-son collaboration.