By Francie Train (Partially excerpted from her book “In Those Days”)

What is all this new infatuation with Vampires about? Bram Stoker wrote the original “Dracula “in 1897, and the iconic film starring Bela Lugosi came out in 1931. When I was about 10, I was a precocious and voracious reader and, urged on by my devilish older brother, George, I devoured, if that is the appropriate word, the entire book. Now, more than 70 years later, many scary details like these are still vivid in my memory.

Dracula’s devoted women/slaves bearing pillowcases full of squirming babies up the winding stone steps to the Masters quarters, to what dreadful purpose? Dracula himself, spied by his guest as he made his reptilian zigzagging way headfirst down the precipitous castle wall, his black cloak mysteriously still floating out behind him; how the hair grew on the inside of his palms; the way he could summon a pack of ravenous wolves, even in England; the fact that a mirror would not show his reflection, and how the sight of a crucifix made him recoil in aversion and terror.

My older brother George told me that the horrid Count lay buried in our dark coal cellar during the day, and that he would emerge at night, disguised as my devoted nurse/nanny in her white uniform. He warned me not to let my governess Margaret kiss me good night, for then “she” would bite me on my neck and suck my blood, thus turning me into another of his un-dead slave girls.

The next night poor Margaret was distressed and puzzled by the odd behavior of her formerly loving little charge, and the discovery by my mother and father, of a strange assortment of mulberry leaves, cloves of garlic, a mirror and a crucifix piled outside my bedroom door. I had learned from the book that these were the only talismans that would protect me from the dreadful Count.

George, of course, had sworn me to secrecy, and it was many a terrified night before they all discovered the reason behind my peculiar phobia.

I have not yet seen the “new” vampire movies, but judging by teenage female reactions the darkly handsome hero appears to be much more overtly sexual than the original Dracula, although he had no trouble insinuating himself into the beautiful Lucy’s bedchamber–semi-paralyzing and mesmerizing her. Was this Seduction? I guess I was too young to get it. I will have to read the book again, first collecting some talismans in case “John Train” tries any funny business.