Friday, October 30, 2015

Spooks, Goblins, and Fun

Cleaning Away Soap
   Th's the season of cats and bats, witches & cauldrons, spiders, snakes, and haints. It's Halloween and Trick or Treat is the theme.
   Going back to my generation that grew up during WWII much of the fun of the season was digging around in the rag bag to create a costume. Ghosts were, of course, a worn out sheet that could be thrown over one's head to cover leggings and sweaters. The fairy queens and princesses were little more exposed to the winds, but they left their coats at a font gate to exhibit their splendor and hold out an old pillowcase for a treat.
   You were allowed to work both sides of the street in your neighborhood. Your mode of transportation were your own two feet because gasoline was limited for emergencies and no parent would have even considered taking their children around to other sites in the car.
   Treats were the home variety: popcorn balls, apples from the back orchard, a slice of molasses cake, or a piece of peanut butter fudge wrapped in wax paper. Sugar was a rationed item and used sparingly on only special occasions for candy. So if one was careful to hide it away where no one could find it, and took a little nibble each day you could make it last for an entire week after Beggar's Night.
   Moving forward a generation in my life was a period when I taught sixth grade. It was a widely observed secret that if a student (mostly boys) were bad actors for strange reason they all ended up in my room. The principal once observed that we had the same mental level.
   I owned a small house with high windows so each season I'd get some of the boys to help me change from screens to storm windows. A couple of the boys stopped by my room after school one day and asked if I minded if they soaped my windows. I reminded then who has cleaned them in the first place. No, I didn't mind the soap, but they had to clean them again for free.
   Before the rounds started they showed up at my house and asked if they could help me pass out treats. Every kid that came to the door was frisked for soap before they were presented with a treat. The boys consumed a couple of quarts of hot chocolate and cookies as they worked the crowd. My windows stayed bright and clean.
   The next day the guidance councilor from the junior high stopped me in the hall to tell me "my boys" had spent the night in jail for harassing the little kids and stealing their candy, except for two who were no where to be found. I laughed and told him about their previous evening of passing out candy.
   Halloween brings special memories and I always think of "Black's Bad Boys." I know not what happen to some of them, three died from drugs or auto accidents before they reached adulthood. Five were killed serving their country in Vietnam and Desert Storm. Others grew up to become professionals, parents, and grand-parents facing the same problems their own parents faced and doing a fine job.
   Tody, "Trunk or Treating" is highly organized and run by adults that leaves little space for life's lessons learned without being institutionalized. It is for the children's safety, but is it in the child's best interest to have everything provided for them?

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