Happy Halloween, everybody! Today we’ve got a collection of tricks and treats from the lives of our older buds. Just a heads up that Ann's story features a teacher being a creep to his eighth grade female students. If that bothers you, you can hit Ctrl+F and skip to José's story "Supporting Traditions":
Carolyn Boston10.31.2019Dressing the SPHYNX’SToday is Halloween. Memories flood my mind about experiences I had during the Ghoulish holiday celebration. A friend of mine had two Sphynx cats Icky and Boogshie. She made Halloween costumes for the cats. She dressed one like a Hawaiian dancer complete with hollowed out coconut shells for a bra, grass skirt, lei and pikake flower for the cat’s head. (The flower was on a headband on the fur kids head). The second cat was dressed as a pirate—patch over the one eye, boots, pirate’s hat and an accompanying sword! I’m telling this story because I saw the snapshot of the cats in their outfits. I wish I had them to attach them to this page. The expression on the faces of the cats was hilarious. If they were able to talk I could hear how much they hated being dressed up and how thoroughly disgusted they were. Both cats were scowling—their faces were locked in a frown very few humans could mimic. Tears of laughter started rolling down my face, because I knew if those disgruntled cats could have beaten her up, they would have. It was a sight I’ll never forget (remember, Sphynx’s don’t have hair). She was serious about the costumes the cats were in.
Elliot Doomes10.24.19Childhood Days I RememberI could never fool anybody at Halloween. It never mattered what I put on. Everybody always said, "Come on, Elliot. We know its you." I guess I had a distinctive walk or something. One time, I dressed up as a cowboy with a mask, but I didn't fool anybody. I had a devil costume with a hood to it, and I still didn't fool nobody. Sometimes, I would just put on some old clothes I had out grown and cut some holes in them, put on a floppy hat and old shoes with iron on the heels and tips and put soot on my face and dress up as a hobo. And, I'd have an empty wine bottle with tea in it and stable and stagger down the street like I was a drunken bomb. That's what people called you back in the day when you were a consistent drinking. It didn't matter if you were a working many with a steady job. If you got drunk on the weekends, they'd say, "There he goes again, that drunken bum." People didn't use as much profanity back in the day as they do now. Nowadays, they'd call you much worse. The biggest par about Halloween was pretending to be someone else. That was a big kick for me.
Did we get a lot of candy on Halloween? Yes, we did! We got everything. We got packets of candy corn. We got miniature Hershey's; we got potato chips, we got those sour jawbreakers. Sometimes, we even got apples. I never liked the jawbreakers because they were hard. I used to trade them off for chocolate kisses. Once in a while, one of my friends mom would have a little party where they'd put apples in a tub and we'd try to bite them.
We had pretty safe holidays back then. We never had candy with razor blades in them or pills that looked like candy. And we had an area we went to and we never went past there. And by 8-8:30, we were exhausted and ready to go home and go to ed. It was easy back then. We didn't need to be chaperoned by an adult to make sure we were safe. And we used to brag about. "Oh we got this," or "I got so many of that" and it was fun. But Halloween is not fun today for most kids in certain sections of the city. It's not safe or fun. I mean you have to tell your kids to inspect the candies they receive and make sure they're in a sealed package, and make sure they never go alone and only in large groups.
Children today don't remain children for very long. Childhood ends before their time and I think children have to grow up real fast in this society in which we live today. They grow up real fast. I wonder one day if we'll have no children, if the circumstances and conditions forced upon the at an earlier age now a days. I mean, we expect children today to be little adults. We don't want them playing, we don't want them to get their hands dirty. I mean we played baseball in the dirt, we wrestled each other and played football without helmets and all that stuff. We caught the ball and they would tackle us and our shirts would get torn in the dirt and it would be all in good fun. But kids nowadays are not allowed to remain kids anymore. I'm glad that I had the experiences of being a child to explore my curiosities, to try and attempt to do things that I was told not to. I still agree that we learn through our experiences. I remember reading with a question asked of a man how would you describe the sum total of your life. And he answered, the sum total of my life is my experiences.
Ann von Dehsen10.31.2019Scary TeacherIn the spirit of Halloween, I’ve decided to write about the creepiest teacher I’ve ever had. His name was William Maier and he taught 8th grade science and math. He was about 40 years old, tall and skinny, and, in true psycho fashion, still lived with his mommy. He wore the same tweed jacket and skinny knit tie every day, along with thick horn rimmed glasses. His yellow teeth matched his yellow stained fingers, the result of frequent trips to the teacher’s lounge for a smoke. To disguise this habit, he constantly sucked on a Sen-Sen breath mint which only clashed with the scent of smoke.
Every morning, my friend Carolyn and I walked to school in fear chanting, “Please don’t let his car be there” as we approached the teacher’s parking lot. But that little gray Volkswagen bug was there every day because Mr. Maier was famous for never-ever missing a day of school. Mr. Maier’s teaching philosophy was to instill terror in his students. His method was to walk up and down the aisles speaking in a monotone about 8th grade science subjects like engines, pulleys, levers, climate, and suddenly stop in mid sentence as he put his icy yellow fingers on the back of some lucky students’ neck who was supposed to complete his sentence without missing a beat. He often grabbed my neck after saying “and the 4 cycles of the combustive engine are” and when I or anyone else got the question wrong we’d be sent out to the hall to find the answer in the dreaded “display case.” I think the display case was meant for school trophies and awards, but somehow Mr. Maier had taken control and filled it with graphs and charts and encyclopedias. Carolyn and I spent a lot of time out in that hall with a few other regulars which was actually a nice break from the anxiety of the classroom. About once a month, Mr. Maier would pull out an ugly gray flannel bag filled with questions about things we had learned in the month before. If we answered correctly he would robotically say “go back to your seat,” if you got it wrong would say, “see me for extra homework.”
The man never ever smiled, but once in a while he would say very strange and inappropriate things to us girls, like, “You look good in that dress” or “I like your hair that way.” Somehow we made it through his class without developing permanent stomach issues. I do however freeze up if anyone touches the back of my neck. Even as I write this, my anxiety level has increased but I can also tell you that the 4 cycles of the combustible engine are intake, compression, power and exhaust. A fact I have never needed but also have never forgotten.
José Dominiguez11.07.2019Supporting TraditionsHalloween is out of my repertoire nevertheless I usher myself in the understanding and experiencing the joy of an extra holiday in my long list of holidays.
The first thing I learned is that is proper to say Happy Halloween day! It’s related with something, I heard, about the crop day, something about witches flying but nothing serious and precise. The only precise thing was that my granddaughter Sofia was dressed as Sleeping Beauty and her face radiated joy as it was a real princess. Poncho my son was in a big hurry taking her out of the house to be in a candy path gathering with a huge orange plastic pumpkin in his arm. Before leaving he approached me asking: “Are you going to be around.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because we have a pumpkin full of candies but if the people that go by the street does not see the candies they will not knock the door.”
“In that case, I replied, “I prepare to be outside and to give away personally the candies!”
“OK” he said and to accommodate myself in the front stairs holding the pumpkin on my legs. Our street is not so domesticated so I had to be patient, productive and cheerful, I guess. In Mexico I used to be a street sales person so I did not feel shy or limited. My first customer was my neighbor across the street, Paul, a very conservative and affluent person of a few words and limited gestures, but he was going to give me 2 small chocolate candy bars and conspicuously said: “These are for Sofia, if you please” (I thought to myself: Thanks that he mentioned Sofia otherwise I had devoured those candies)
Well I took very seriously my task and decided to trace each pedestrian trying to do eye contact, later wave my hand saying Happy Halloween and if the response was positive I will stand up and walk towards the group offering with a big smile my pumpkin and once their hand was on the stuff, I will say “You can take as much as you want.” Well 2 French families cross by the empty street and each one took a single candy in a very polite and joyful matter, I thought well at this pace I will need 500 families to end my candy load. Some families turned to me saying “No thank we do not eat sweets because they cause dental cavities.” My pumpkin was full and some kind of anxiety was building in me.
But some family groups of other neighbors arrived with wild outfits as Batman, robots, spiders, and generously took half of my load. At the end I finished with half of my pumpkin empty and with the satisfaction that I offer to each of the trick or treaters a chance to enjoy not only my candies but my wishes of a very Happy Halloween.
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And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.