Fred Snyder

The term “zombie” comes from Haitian folklore and refers to a deceased person who has been re-animated by the use of voodoo or magic. We do have a zombie among us in Adams County. I’m proud to say I’ve had him as my friend for more than 20 years. He loves gardening and fishing like many other Adams County residents, is married, and has three beautiful granddaughters. Will he appear some night banging on your door to attack you? Highly unlikely.

My friend Jim Krut is a living movie star and a zombie cult icon in name only. Born and raised in Huntington County, he found newspaper writing and acting flowing in his blood at a young age. In college he met Tom Sevini, who eventually ended up doing all the makeup and special effects for Jim’s first movie. Uncle Sam interrupted both Jim’s and Tom’s plans for several years and both served in Vietnam. Jim was a medic and Tom a combat photographer. After the war both returned to the Pittsburgh area and civilian life until Tom call Jim one day and told him he had a great role for him in a new movie. Tom was working for independent filmmaker George Romero who had made the horror film “Night of the Living Dead” in 1968 and was now in the process of making the 1978 classic “Dawn of the Dead.” Not knowing what the role would be, Jim agreed, later found out he would be cast as a living dead character, and lose the top of his head as he walked underneath a whirling helicopter blade. The rest is history. This second movie like the first was shot outside Pittsburgh, much of it in Monroeville and at the Monroeville Mall, and had a budget of $1.5 million. It ended up making more than $55 million. The movie rating group Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie a 93 percent rating calling it “one of the most compelling and entertaining zombie films ever made.” Following his movie debut, Jim went on to become a magazine editor in Harrisburg and then headed to Adams County. He worked for Adams Electric Cooperative until 2009 when he retired. It was when he worked for Adams Electric I first met him as a spokesman for the company and the voice on their commercials.

At the time the movie came out, zombies were not that popular, and he told me its only been in recent years they became popular after several TV series. Over the past several years, Jim has appeared in about 20 other independent movies. He says while working for Adams Electric he would do movie shoots on weekends or while on vacation, and it never interfered with his job. He says some films have been released, and some have not. He tells me a film he shot two years ago “Host of Sparrows” is now showing on Amazon Prime. In this movie he plays a live flesh and blood hitman. He says he’s currently reading a couple of scripts for possible future movies.

Little did he know when he walked under that helicopter blade during that movie shoot at the Monroeville Airport 41 years ago, it would propel him to the horror icon status he enjoys today. If there is one thing fans remember about that film is the scene where Jim loses the top of his head. He makes 8 to 10 horror nostalgia shows a year worldwide: greeting fans and having pictures taken with them, signing his helicopter picture and posters for Dawn of the Dead. He related a short story about a young 8-year-old boy who came up to his table to get a picture signed with his parents. Jim smiled as the boy said he loved him in the picture. His parent then piped up and said they watched it with him. Jim smiled, signed the picture and thanked them. He then told me he didn’t allow his daughter to see the movie until she was 16. Jim will be among a large gathering of enthusiasts this coming weekend at the Monroeville Mall for a big show. For this “Living Dead Weekend” event, Jim will appear in full makeup as the Helicopter Zombie for fan photo opportunities and autograph sessions. He says the shows are often reunions for him with other horror show stars and film makers he has worked with, and fans who follow them to the various shows.

I know Jim loves what he does and has found the perfect balance of fame and family and handles it like a true professional. It’s always a pleasure chatting with my favorite zombie and I need only to look across my office and see his signed picture on my wall to bring a smile to my face. Thanks Jim.

Gettysburg Borough Manager Charles Gable says last week’s D-Day Commemoration was by all accounts a huge success. He told me it was an honor for him to be part of the planning and coordination for our local heroes. He says it was very sobering to see all those WWII vets sitting side by side under the tent, front and center of the speaker’s podium. He mentioned they were moved to be invited and asked to participate and be recognized. Charles added “Like the soldiers who fought in Gettysburg in 1863, these soldiers, too, fighting in a different war 81 years later in 1944, changed the trajectory of world history. Our gratitude for their service and sacrifice cannot be understated.” He says we will have the opportunity again next year to honor these patriots when we commemorate VE- Day. He says the borough has already begun preparations for that event.

Let’s head “Around Town:”

This Friday, the Gettysburg Rec Park is the place to be for the Adams County Library Fun Fest from 4 until 7 p.m. The Fun Fest is a free event featuring activities for the entire family. There will also be face painting, balloon artists, food and vendors. The theme is “A Universe of Stories” with the goal to have activities centered around five literacies: basic information, civic and social, health, and financial. Bring the family for a fun and educational afternoon.

The Historic Gettysburg Adams County Architectural Salvage Warehouse, located at 986 Hanover Road, will be open for business this Saturday June 15 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. In addition to the usual assortment of architectural salvage items they have just received a working antique wood/coal stove that is in need of a little TLC. They have also received some vintage red barn board siding which would be perfect for picture frames and other small projects. To see a partial listing of inventory go to www.hgaconline.org and click on Architectural Salvage Warehouse. The warehouse is also open by appointment by calling Barry at 717-677-6400.

Remember if your non-profit club, group, or organization has an upcoming event; be sure to let me know about it. My contact information can be found at the end of the column. Please allow at least 2 weeks prior notice of the event, and limit your announcement to 6 to 8 sentences.

Finally:

Sometimes stupidity has no limitations. Last week, Betty ordered a plastic floor mat to go under the rolling desk chair in my office from a name brand office supply store online. The next day it was delivered. After bringing it in from the porch I noticed the adhesive shipping label had been slapped on the smooth side of the mat rather than attached by a staple or some other method. I spent almost an hour trying to remove it as it shredded in my fingers. I even used Betty’s hair dryer and I couldn’t free the adhesive. I finally gave up and called customer service. Once again my adventure continued as I spoke with someone who could barely speak English and thanked me at least a dozen times for calling. I explained the problem with the label and asked for a replacement mat. I told the CSR to please make a note to not affix the mailing label with adhesive to the mat. After thanking me another two or three times and calling me “Mr. Fred” another half dozen times, he assured me he would make sure the message about the label would be passed on. Before hanging up he sent me a return UPS label which I attached with scotch tape to the first mat. The next day, a new mat was delivered, and like the first one had the identical adhesive label attached to the smooth side. I called the customer service line again and asked for another return label just mentioning I didn’t want the item. Again, I was thanked a half dozen times for calling. Later in the day the UPS guy came to pick up the first mat and he took the second one as well. Betty will get the $30 credited back to her account, but given the size of the mats, could the price of two returned mats cost more than the original mat? I thought maybe this might be just another reason they recently closed their store in Gettysburg.

That does it for this week. Stay safe and I’ll be back next Tuesday.

Fred Snyder is a Gettysburg Times columnist. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. Contact Fred at fsnyder@gburgtimes.com or 717-334-1131, ext. 2850. “Around Town” is published in the Gettysburg Times every Tuesday.

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