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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Halloween When I Was A Kid
Chuck Hinman: Halloween When I Was A Kid. Chuck recounts two scary-spooky evenings of fun.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - Winter Is Coming
By Chuck Hinman
Halloween When I Was A Kid
Growing up on a farm in the depression days of the 1930's, we were fortunate to live in a neighborhood where families did a lot of things together. Our farm was between Wymore and Liberty (Gage County) in southeast, Nebraska.
We had frequent 'gang parties' -- probably the forerunner of pot-luck suppers. Every Halloween, one of the families invited the 'gang' to their place for a scary-spooky evening of fun.
A culvert entry to a spooky party
One such evening was when the George and Myrtle Fulton family invited us to their place for 'spooks and goblins' followed by fresh pressed apple cider and a huge assortment of home-made cookies.
On this occasion, the Fultons some way got access to a culvert that must have been twenty-five feet long. It was probably appropriated from a nearby road repair project.
They leaned it diagonally against an upstairs window. Farm friends (the gang) in Halloween attire gathered after dark at the Fultons. The trick was to enter the culvert at ground level (don't ask me how) and crawl at great difficulty through the culvert until you reached an open upstairs window. It was possible but not easy. There the spooky fun began. All lights were doused and there was a seemingly endless procession of things to scare the daylights out of you! It make the little girls pee in their pants as they sucked a thumb and screamed bloody murder while enjoying every minute! MOMMY, HOLD MY HAND!!!!!!!!
It was definitely not for the faint of heart, although everyone, young and old, did their best to master the scary obstacle course. And of course the younger boys had to traverse the course endless times. After having the pee-waddin' scared out of everyone, refreshments were served as everyone sat on bales of hay. It was noisy. The yard was decorated with kerosene lanterns and bundles of stalks of corn. Pumpkins from the pumpkin patch were converted into clever candle-lighted jack-o-lanterns. It was festive for the day!
A spooky-scary evening in a three-story barn
A year or so later, Guy and Grace Kinney invited us to their place for a 'spooky-scary evening.' They had a three-story barn, the lower level opening out at a lower ground level. The first floor was also at another ground level and access to the hayloft was by a stairway (not the usual ladder) that made several twists and turns. The Kinneys stored their horse-drawn sleigh in the haymow.
In a recent conversation with Bus Norris, now 95 years old but in the 30's a young hired man for the Kinneys, he remembered the Halloween party as if it was yesterday. The reason -- he helped prepare it.
The obstacle course, the spooky trail, was through tunnels in the prairie hay. There was just enough farm-lantern light to make it eerie. Sheet-covered goblins and screeching figures were everywhere! And of course, there was food and drink to spare.
Of course, the usual collection of barn cats, some even black, made the setting realistically complete. And I am sure there were plenty of real bats if you could have seen them. They haunt most barns!
In the old days people did know how to party
Even though many times I think we didn't have any fun in those days, that just flat is not true! Our parents and grandparents knew how to party!
As in everything else, 'we made do' with what we had and in retrospect it was wonderful! I wouldn't trade those childhood times for the world!
Written by Chuck Hinman. Emailed Thursday, 16 October 2008. Edited by RHS with additions from a revised version emailed Thursday, 29 October 2009.
This story was posted on 2013-10-27 00:37:56
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