My memories of Halloween growing up in a small town are some of my fondest. My brothers and I and our friends ran in packs all over our hometown with our used, brown paper grocery bags trick-or-treating with very little adult supervision. Except that all the adults in our little burg were our supervisors if you know what I mean. My parents believed that Halloween was for kids so we didn’t have adult parties only kid parties at our house. As my brothers’ got older, my dad did not like them going out on Halloween because he knew they would get into trouble plus he needed them home to protect his property.
My dad was the high school principal and our home a favorite target for Halloween tricking or in my dad’s opinion juvenile vandalism. Our front door was egged and splattered with tomatoes and rotten pumpkins, our driveway painted with “1972”, his beloved trailer kicked over in the backyard, and more. My brothers were suppose to be on guard on All Hollows Eve. Instead, they starting designing ways to terrorize children when they came to our door. One year, I hosted a Halloween party. I think it was fourth grade. I guess this was the start of me hosting stuff at my house.
The party was large, over 15 girls, and held in the basement of our home on Main Street. The basement had cement floors and walls that we covered with decorations including creepy spider webs hanging down the stairs that we had to cross under to get to the party. My mom helped design games for us to play including the traditional bobbing for apples and scary stories in the dark. The final act was to load us up in the family wagon, stuffing us in without seat belts, and drive us out to the town cemetery.
My father led us all through the cemetery trails telling us a scary story about a missing, bloody, finger in his booming male teacher voice. My mother herded us from behind making sure we all stayed together, like a pack of jumpy heifers. Always the protector. My brothers were staged in advance in the cemetery behind grave stones and around dark corners dressed in white sheets with the relish role to jump out at us at strategic moments in the story and scare the sh– out of us. Have you ever heard 15 or more silly, little girls scream in unison. That collective sound can break an adult’s ear drum or shatter glass. The hike and the anxiety seemed to go on for hours. Finally, my dad mentioned that we probably should go home because it wasn’t legal to be traipsing around in a cemetery at night and it was getting late. Speaking with the authority of a high school principal. Just after he mentioned this fact, the old, local police car drive slowly into the cemetery with blue lights and screaming sirens going off and headed directly toward our gaggle of girls.
This was a bit much of a fright for some of us as we envisioned black and white striped prison suits, hand cuffs and cold porridge for breakfast. The town cop slowly got out of his car with a big smile on his face and shouted Happy Halloween Girls! All my brothers came out of shadows and out of costume and Mom and Dad soothed the most scared of us. The police officer was laughing so hard that he had tears running down his wrinkled face. I remember a couple of girls had tears too on their sweet cheeks but not from laughter but from terror of the night and I expect my parents had some “splaining to do” to their wary parents.
Whenever, I remember this story, I wonder who was watching the all important homestead when we were all at the cemetery leaving dad’s front door unprotected and our door bell unanswered to expectant and opportunistic pupils disguised as innocent trick-or-treaters?
Halloween in my small town was a experience that I know I will never forget. Are you searching to find your own small town to enjoy Halloween this year? Check out Travel and Leisure’s article featuring 20 towns in America filled with pumpkin heads, skeletons and scary graveyards to celebrate the season. http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/americas-best-towns-for-halloween
This year, I will be visiting Fort Worth Sister City, Toluca, Mexico, learning about Day of the Dead or Dia de Muertos; celebrating the national Mexican holiday and paying respect to family and friends. The tradition is explained as:
|On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos(the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.||”|
— Frances Ann Day, Latina and Latino Voices in Literature