Growing up in Tucson, Arizona, during the 1960’s I went all out for Halloween. At the state school for the deaf and blind, where I endured the first five and a half years of my education due to my visual impairment, we dressed up and went from classroom to classroom trick-or-treating. We sometimes had a party.
At home, my mother dressed me up and took me around the neighborhood and to the homes of friends, where I collected candy, which I never ate. My favorite Halloween activity, though, was handing out treats to others who came to our door.
When I was twelve in 1973, we moved here to Sheridan, Wyoming. Often, by Halloween, snow was on the ground, and, at night, it was too cold to wear more than masks when going out trick-or-treating. None of the schools here had any festivities that I can recall.
I outgrew trick-or-treating. My parents were no longer interested in accompanying me, and my night vision wasn’t that good. So, I preferred to stay home and hand out treats.
When I was in the eighth grade, our church’s youth group hosted a Halloween party for the younger kids. I decided to dress up as a witch, and my paternal grandmother loaned me one of her dark wigs, which I wore with a mask and long dress.
My attire scared some of the little ones, who weren’t used to people wearing masks. Otherwise, the party was fun. I played music on a chord organ to accompany a cake walk, which the kids seemed to enjoy.
When I was a student at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, during the 1980’’s, my choir put on a haunted house one year to raise money. This time, I was Grandma Kimball, not necessarily a witch but apparently not a nice old lady, either. I wore a gray wig with a black skirt and sweater and sat in a rocker. When people came into the room, I gave an evil cackle. Again, I scared a few little ones, but I suppose that was all in a night’s work.
During the fifteen years I was a registered music therapist in a nursing home, the facility had a Halloween party every year. Children from the community were invited to trick-or-treat and play games. I wore a variety of costumes and performed various functions such as directing traffic and providing music for a cake walk.
One year, we had a haunted house, and I volunteered to conceal myself inside a box and stick my hand out the top from time to time in an attempt to scare anyone walking by. I don’t remember what costume I wore, and I’m normally not claustrophobic, but after about twenty minutes in that box with little air, I was sweating and having difficulty breathing. I stuck it out as long as I could until finally, in desperation, I leapt free of the box with a mighty cry, which, I think, scared everyone more than just my hand popping out every once in a while.
After I got married, my late husband Bill enjoyed watching me hand out treats to the neighborhood kids. After he suffered two strokes that paralyzed his left side, he couldn’t do that himself.
We didn’t have many kids, but that didn’t matter to him. Every year, during the six years I cared for him at home, he insisted that I buy a huge bag of Halloween candy and hand things out to the few kids who came to our door. Then, he ate the rest.
Now that Bill’s gone, I don’t celebrate Halloween. Since I don’t eat candy, I don’t see the sense in buying it, only to have maybe one or two trick-or-treaters. I lock my doors, make sure my outside lights aren’t on, and do what I normally do in the evenings: read a book or magazine, listen to podcasts, or watch a movie. That’s what I’ll do this year.
I was recently inspired to write a young adult novel by a quote from Erma Bombeck. “Your grandmother pretends not to know you on Halloween.” Having worked with nursing home residents suffering from dementia, I’ve come to this conclusion. Your grandmother may not be pretending not to know you any time of the year. The working title is Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, and I’m hoping to publish it next year. So, stay tuned.
What about you? How did you celebrate Halloween when you were growing up? What will you do this year during this time of uncertainty imposed by the coronavirus?
Thanks to this week’s Open Book Blog Hop prompt from Stevie Turner for inspiring the above. You can learn how to participate by clicking here.
By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.
New! The Red Dress
Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books
When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.
Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.