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(Written October 31, 1989)
Today is Halloween, October 31, 1989, a time to remember some of the past years of All Saints Day. Especially when my grandkids get all excited about what and who they are going to dress up like. I'm sure this year there will be a number of "Batmans" and also "Mutant Ninja Turtles", as these are popular with the younger set. When I was going out "trick or treating", I perhaps dressed up more times as a tramp or hobo, as old tattered and tom clothes were more readily available. Sometimes I would blacken my face using soot from the chimney. One or two of my brothers would go with me. We had to walk about a mile to the town of Central City, S.D., where we all attended school, to do our "trick or treating". We carried a bar of soap in one pocket, and in the other pocket we had a homemade noisemaker. You take a wooden spool, notch the edges, wrap a string around it, and put a pencil through the hole. When we would get to a house, we would go up to the window, hold the spool against the pane, and with a quick pull of the string, it would create a rattling noise. We didn't soap very many windows as the people were generous. We knew everyone in this small town. They were prepared for us. We carried flour sacks as they were of sturdy material. When the evening was winding down, and at one of our last few stops, the family said they had run out of treats. "If you follow us, we may find something for you." We went through the living room into the kitchen, and out to the back porch. The man bent down on his hands and knees, and pulled a board up from the floor, and then another board. I was wondering what was going on. Soon he pulled a gunnysack out of the hole. It was bumpy on the surface. "Reach in the bag and get you something," he said. I cautiously put my hand in and was delighted when I came out with a nice rosy red apple. We thanked them and went on our way. The night air was chilling, so I pulled my coat tighter around me, and pulled my hat over my ears. I had no gloves on and a faint musty odor from the gunnysack lingered in my nostrils. I am saddened today of the tricks played on children, with the razor blades or foreign material that is put into the treats. No longer are the nice homemade cookies eaten. Candy has to be wrapped. We were fortunate to live out oftown far enough that we did not worry about our comfort station being turned over. .My brothers and their friends, including Rufus, upset their share of outhouses in their time. They would come home and share their mischief with us. One particular time the man of the house was in wait for them. He had a shotgun. Just about the time there was some commotion behind, and the outhouse was moving, he came out a cursing and shooting the gun in the air. The boys scattered every which way. I think the next year that place was off limits. Another instance, some of the boys didn't fare as well. My brother Chatts fell in. They all helped him out. He took his shoes off and threw them away. A couple of boys gave up their socks so he could wear them. Another instance, this not so bright young man fell into the toilet. He didn't take his shoes off, in fact, he wore them to school the next day. The teacher sent him home to clean up. As I have written before about family sayings,
the boys falling into the toilet would be an "Uff-Da", but coming to school in the same shoes would certainly be called an "Ish-Da". When our four oldest were "trick or treating", they would carry pillowcases. They would be heavy laden by the time they finished for the night. On arriving home, they each would spread out their loot, and Dad and I would choose some special treats from each one. Our grandson Adam, who is almost six now, was over one day helping peel apples for applesauce. We were telling him about our past Halloweens and when we told him about getting the treats from the kids, he asked, "Were you so poor then that you had to take their candy?" Funny the impressions little ones get. Our kids and grandkids come around and ask, "Grandma, what do you have for a costume that we can wear?" We go upstairs and look through the assortment of clothes that should have been thrown out a long time ago, and usually we can find something to fit the theme. Even our daughter, Etta, who works for Hewlett Packard, knows she can find an article of clothing to depict the forties or sixties. This year our granddaughter, Andrea, who is eleven, is wearing one of the clown suits that her Aunt Adah and Aunt Etta wore when they were about that same age. I'll keep them because there is another granddaughter, Jessica, who is two years old now, and soon will grow into it in another several years. The clown suit is colorful, bright pink and yellow. It looks more of the court jester type from England. The front has a row of brass colored bells and also bells on the sides where the triangle points hang out to the side. The full ruffles around the neck, wrists and ankles really set the costume off. Somewhere along the way the hats were lost but any bright colored stocking cap should do. One year Rufus dressed up to greet the "trick or treaters". He wore my bright colored, green sleeveless dress. It had a ruffle around the bottom and a ruffle around the pocket. He wore a dark colored wig, big shoes, floppy sox, and was smoking a pipe. The youngsters took a second look at him. Another time we won a prize as the "Coneheads". Maureen, our daughter-in-law, made them out of papier-mache. This year I will no doubt dress up in my California Raisin T-shirt, with glasses, cap, etc. Saturday, October zs", was my neighbor Fern's birthday, so we went to the Eagles club to play bingo. Then we came home and dressed up for the costume party and returned. We were dressed up like "Mac the Knife". Maureen had also made these costumes. They were the shape of the moon such as in the nursery rhyme of "Hey Diddle, Diddle, the Cat and the Fiddle". She shaped them from foam rubber, cutting out the ears, nose, and lips, and gluing them in place. The lady one had earrings, and black and crystal beads. Fern was Mac, and I called myself Maxine. She had on black pants, a blazer, white blouse, and white gloves. I wore the skirt, top, and jacket that I had worn for our daughter Adah's wedding twenty-five years ago. It was a dark blue color with a silver thread throughout. It gives a shimmering effect. My stockings were sheer black with a textured seam and back shoes. The best part of all was that no one knew who we were.
We had to sit opposite each other at the table because the tips of our moon would touch each other. We couldn't carry on too much of a conversation and the hoods were quite warm. To drink our coke, we used a long straw and had to drink it from under the hood. We danced to the tune of "The Good Old Rock and Roll", as well as a couple of other tunes where we wouldn't have to be too close. The McDonald commercial, with Ray Charles acting the part and singing, "It's a Mac Tonight" is what we were depicting. Oh, yes, we had big dark colored glasses on also. It was very nice when we were awarded the second prize of two steak diners. One last episode which I repeat each Halloween to the little kids around is the poem of "Little Orphan Annie". I learned it when I was a second grader by listening to a third grader recite it over and over again, which was the way the teacher had us all memorize our parts for plays. I will share it with you so perhaps someday you also can recite it to your children.
LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE
Little Orphan Annie comes to our house to stay, To wash the cups and saucers and brush the crumbs away. To shoo the chickens offthe porch, and dust the hearth and sweep, And make the fire, and bake the bread, to earn her board and keep. And all us other children, when the supper things are done, We sit around the kitchen fire and have the "mostas" fun, A listening to the witch tales that Annie tells about And the Goblins will get you, if you don't watch out. Once there was a little girl, who always mocked and grinned, She made fun of everyone with all her blood and kin, And once when there was company, and old folks were there, She mocked them and shocked them, and said, "I don't care." But soon as she kicked her heels to turn to run and hide, There were two big black things a' standing by her side. They snatched her through the ceiling, and she knew what it was about And the Goblins will get you, if you don't watch out. Then there was the little boy that never said his prayers, And when he went to bed at night a way up stairs, His Mammy heard him holler, and his Daddy heard him bawl, But when they turned the covers down, he wasn't there at all. They seeked him in the rafter-room, and cubby hole, and press They seeked him in the chimney flue and everywhere, I guess, But all they ever found of him was just his pants and round about And the Goblins will get you, if you don't watch out. Little Orphan Annie says, "When the moon is gray, And the lightning above dew is all sqwenched away. You better mind your parents and your teachers fond and dear, And cherish them that love you and dry your orphan tear, Or the Goblins will get you, if you don't watch out!"