Mar 26 2011
If you are like most people whose web searches have brought them to this site, then you are a member of Generation X who has been plagued most of your life with a very strange memory. You probably remember something about a witch, you might remember something about a little boy, but you most definitely remember something about pancakes that make people happy. And, somehow, polka dots have something to do with it.
You have mentioned this to others, and received mostly blank stares in return. On occasion you find someone else with the same haunting memory. But no one seems to be able to remember just what it was.
Well, I have good news for you. You were not imagining things, and you were not crazy. Sometime in the early to mid 1970s — perhaps in your library, perhaps in a classroom — you saw a 23-minute short film called Winter of the Witch. It is based on a children’s book called Old Black Witch by Harry and Wende Devlin. The film was made in 1969 and stars Hermione Gingold as the Witch, Roger Morgan (in his only known role) as Nicky, Anna Strasberg as the unnamed single mother, and narration by Burgess Meredith.
Here is the film in its entirety, from YouTube:
Why we saw this is a bit of a mystery. It begins with a “Learning Corporation of America” logo, though the film seems to have no educational value. And the the primary message of the film seems to be that lacing the food supply with LSD is the solution to the world’s problems.
But the greater mystery is why this film had such a strong subconscious impact on our generation. Why are so many haunted by the memory of it, but with a memory so vague that we can’t remember exactly where this memory came from?
A few years ago I wrote an entry on my personal blog about my years-long quest to identify this film. I was surprised when this became the most-linked, most-read, and most-commented post on my blog. My blog is mainly about bars and about walking, but this post has blown all others away:
The comments on the Internet Movie Database entry for this movie tell a very similar story of people searching their whole lives for the source of their strange memory about a witch making pancakes:
Have you had a similar experience with your memories of this film? If so, tell us about it in the comments here or at my original blog post!