Firing from the Lip

A collection of thoughts, stories, tall tales, half truths and opinions from the Heartland of America.

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Location: Missouri, United States

An irreverent but loving grandfather of five and father of three, I enjoy writing of family, love, life, and the never ending fascination of it all.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Ghoulish, ghastly, horrifying, breathtakingly ugly, and that’s just the people handing out the candy.

I love Halloween, but it certainly makes one wonder. It’s the holiday of contradiction. You spend the rest of the year warning your children not to talk to strangers then wreck it all in one night by saying, “I’ll bet they’ve got good candy! Let’s try that house!” “But, daddy, I don’t know those people!” “What are you? Some kind of weirdo? Get up there and beg like every other red-blooded American kid!”

A friend of mine down the street goes all out on Halloween. He lies in a casket on his porch, sitting slowly up as the little kids come up the walk. “You should try it.” Yeah, right. If I lay down I don’t care what’s happening around me, I’m gone. Keep it down, children. Dracula’s taking a nap. Not very scary.

My wife, sweet, loving, considerate woman that she is, always wants to give healthy snacks to the kids on Halloween. “Lets hand out granola bars or something!” No, dear. Bad idea. “Why?” Because, honey. I don’t want to spend three days scraping shoe polish off my windshield. The little angels occasionally react poorly if they disapprove of your choice of goodies.

Kids don’t want healthy snacks in their bags! They want a lump of sugar smothered in chocolate. If you want, it can be wrapped in chewy nougat, but it better be sweet.

The worst thing I ever got was a can of Budweiser from old Mr. Hill. I can still see him cackling as he dropped it in. “Give that to your old daddy, son. He looks dry.” Mom got a little mad but Dad just chuckled. “Hell, Mary. That old man wouldn’t hurt a kid. He knew Donnie would run straight to me with it. Besides, he was right. I was getting dry.”

The highlight of my youthful Halloweens was going to the haunted house the Lions and Kiwanis clubs put on in Flat River, on Schramm’s corner. Those men could do wonders by throwing a few old mattresses down for us to walk over in the dark and firing up a chainsaw while we were at it. Not the high tech, scare the living hell out of you stuff of today. Just frightening enough to be an adventure.

There were always a few grand-fatherly looking old gentlemen without costumes along the way. Just in case some little one got too scared and needed reassurance. One of the old fellows would take them by the hand and walk with them the rest of the way as they explained it was all make believe.

A gentle, happy, time and place to be a child. Even on Halloween.

One of our Halloween family traditions was popping a big kettle of corn and gathering in front of the televison for ‘fright fest.’ Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Lon Chaney as the Wolfman, anything with Vincent Price starring. Good stuff. Scary but not gory. I do this with my grandson now, he’s four years old and gets quite a kick out of it. I hope it’s something he’ll remember about me when he’s older.

I’m saddened that kids have to take their candy to be X-rayed before they can enjoy it these days. I’m not sure if that sort of thing happens more now, or if it’s just better publicized. Now, as then, parents need to be closely involved in their child’s celebration of Halloween. The bogeyman has always been with us.

I hope you’ll leave a light on for the little ones this year. They’re making memories that will last a lifetime. Let’s do our part to make them happy ones.

May the small ghouls, goblins, and witches in your lives have a safe and happy Halloween.

Boo! Scared you, didn’t I?


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