Halloween, School Days, Trick or Treat


Halloween has always marked the beginning of cooler weather for me. We’d often start our door-to-door candy sweep in balmy temperatures, but we knew the dark line of clouds on the horizon meant a cold wind would probably whip up before we made it home.

I liked it best when the cold arrived while we dashed from house to house. There was enough adrenaline flowing to keep me warm. At three and five years older, Judy and Jim Batson were considered mature enough to oversee Will and me in those days. We felt lucky that they let us tag along.

If the front blew through early and you were cold natured like I was, you had to cover your costume with a coat, which was a bummer. What kind of gypsy wore a coat? That was my costume of choice, except for when I was in kindergarten. That year, I insisted on wearing the devil costume Will had outgrown. That’s me at the front of the table.

People were generous with their treats, and it was safe to eat what they handed out. I remember the first popcorn ball I ever saw or tasted. Wow! Kits, jaw breakers, gum and my favorite—chocolate! We’d come home and empty our bags out and gobble up the best first.
When we were in elementary and grammar school, the PTA sponsored a contest in which each class chose a boy and a girl to represent them. Then the couples were paraded around to all the classrooms so the student body could vote for the King and Queen of Halloween.  
Afterwards, the lucky couple and their court rode on a float in the Halloween parade. Everyone else followed on foot in their costumes. The town turned out to see the company of playful characters. I don’t remember any weird getups. It was lots of fun for everyone.
When I was in the fourth grade and Will was in the sixth, we were both chosen to represent our rooms. Will was elected king. I was thrilled, but I think he felt it to be a dubious honor. He hadn’t gotten his growth spurt, so Phyllis Lemke, the queen, towered over him, which I’m sure made for a lot of teasing. (Boys can be so mean to each other.)  
Dale Ely, Will, Phyllis and Phyllis Cooper around 1956
Over the years, I’ve helped put together lots of costumes for children and grandchildren. My son used to make me crazy with awful KISS makeup. I’m sure two of my college-age grandsons will be excited to see themselves here in a couple of my favorites.

Josh as Mr. Pumpkin & Brady as Sonic Hedgehog
There was a time I could talk Terry into dressing up for a costume party. When I worked in the Health Resource Center at Baptist Health-Little Rock, we’d sometimes wear a Hearty Apple costume at the Arkansas State Fair and other events to engage children in conversation about healthy eating. I borrowed them one Halloween. Here’s Terry as Hearty.
I had ditched my apple so we didn’t
fill up the entire space, plus it was
impossible to eat or drink in it.

Our neighbors, the Halters, have a great Halloween party each year. They decorate their house and yard in an elaborate fashion according a chosen theme.  Sometime during Halloween week, they entertain  kids from the private school at their church with games and treats. But the real event is an adult costume party. A costume is mandatory to attend. This year it’s Alice in Wonderland. I had a great idea for costumes, but Terry rebelled. He refuses to dress up, so….
My favorite outfits were ones we made the year of the jungle theme. We love the comic strip, “Pearls Before Swine,” so Terry went as Larry the Croc who was always trying to trap the Zeeba. Of course, I was the Zeeba. Don’t you think Terry outdid himself on the Croc hat?

Here I am as Zeeba with writer friends, Pat, Talya & Tom,
on Halloween last year at Dairy Hollow. We didn’t
Trick or Treat, but we dressed for the occasion.

When the cold front came through early this year, it just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t Halloween yet. Thursday when another generation knocks on doors in search of treats, I hope the rain will have passed and that the temperature allows them to leave off their coats so I can see their cute costumes. I plan to have plenty of good candy.

What about you? Did you like Halloween? What was your favorite costume or Halloween memory?

 …and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. I Pet. 5:4

Halloween, Phobias, Spiders, Tarantulas


Eureka Springs 2012

You won’t find any fake spider webs and hairy-legged creatures among my fall decorations. I don’t like spiders. I tolerate them outside because they get rid of bugs, but I don’t want to share my dwelling with them. Unfortunately, this is the time of year when they move indoors. At my house, that’s hazardous to their health. I will step on spiders that trespass.

 My mother thought a spider might have visited me in my crib when I was a toddler. She said they found me hysterical one night and that it took a long time to settle me down. Afterwards I was terrified of spiders. I’m glad I can’t remember it.

I took this picture through a store window.
That was as close as I wanted to be to even a fake spider.

Do you remember the story that circulated back when teased hair was in vogue, and sophisticated women wore beehive hairdos? It involved someonewho kept her hair teased for so long that a black widow spider built a nest in it. You know the rest. I’m certain there was a funeral involved.

Before Terry and I were married, I was reading in bed one night and looked over to find a big, ugly wood spider sitting on the pillow next to me. I didn’t think. I reacted. I flung that pillow and spider across the room, found a shoe and beat him to death. My throat still gets tight when I think about it. Maybe he was harmless, but I wasn’t interested in reading to him.


Several years ago, when a tarantula ventured into our kitchen from the garage, Terry swept him out with the broom. He felt bad about hurting Mr. T in the process. I DID NOT. If you had seen that hairy thing scurry and jump across my kitchen floor, you’d understand. I’ve read that their bites won’t kill you, but they HURT.

Outside, I can practice Live and Let Live with spiders. I appreciate their beautiful webs and the colors of some garden arachnids. But if I walk into a spider web, I go into a frenzy to be sure the critter didn’t drop into my hair.

These magnificent photos were taken by
the Ruckers who live next door to me.
As a mother and grandmother, I learned to manage my fear. I can dispatch an indoor arachnid unemotionally when necessary – for the sake of the children. I want them to appreciate our natural bug zappers.
What about you? Do you have any creepy-crawlie stories?
 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Gen. 1:25