If you wait until dusk you can see bats flying around our old unpainted barn board ceilings and entrance. If you look on the way home from school you will see owls hooting on the now barren tree branches. Halloween is near. Mystic sounds and sights are all around.
Some of us, are bold enough to catch a bat and bring it to school for show and tell. It is fun to watch girls and sometimes boys (I must admit – very rarely) shriek with fear and cover their hair with books. By this time I am very resentful I am a girl. It seems girls only have problems, while boys can just continue being boys. I think when I grow up I will be a boy. (Not such a far-fetched idea now as it was then). I really didn’t want to be a boy. I just wanted to do things like the boys could without those things I considered female draw-backs.
Needless to say – I had no trouble catching a bat, sticking it into a shoe-box and bringing it to school.
I also never experienced that door-to-door asking strangers for candy. Our nearest neighbor was one quarter of a mile away, followed by the next a mile away. You see the problem?
Now I wonder how confusing this might be for children. ‘Don’t take candies from strangers’ for 364 days a year. Then Halloween comes – ‘Go take candy from strangers’. I wish I could get into a small child’s mind – because they can’t describe it to me.
Our party, taking off the afternoon from schoolwork, with the teacher supervising, consisted of a ‘haunted house’ and endless amounts of goodies – baked goods and candy. It was a much anticipated event and another break from school activities. Our imaginations reigned unchecked. Depending on who are the older children, depended on who would create the best haunted house.
The basement at school was a huge concrete walled empty room. By using blankets thrown over string, we created winding, narrow halls and tiny rooms of terror – things that might rival a house of terror now. Each young child was led by an older kid through the path. No one went in groups. You and your guide were all alone. It started in darkness. Each child’s experience was sudden and unexpected. Loud, shrieking music could create a monster like Frankenstein or Dracula – lit up by a hidden flashlight – to touching cold spaghetti – knowing it was a bowl full of worms, again making especially the girls scream in horror, were all parts of our haunted house. And there always might be an eerie jack-o-lantern when you turned a corner with a flickering candle inside.
Although the school had electricity, our haunted houses were always pitch black. A fan could create wind as a ghost or witch flew overhead, touching your hair to walking into a puddle of slime, made with glue and water. Imagination and creativity reigned supreme. We made and imagined everything. We never bought ready made products.
Then in the bright light from the classroom, we gathered to laugh,, eat and plan what we could do better next year.