20191021: Halloween Revisited

Our cat Jojo appeared one Halloween night, walked right in the front door, and adopted us.

We bought our enormous Bed and Breakfast in the month of March. No one lived here for 23yrs so the house was gutted and redone. For months, workmen arrived and left. Our home was a flurry of activity as we sought to polish the diamond once again. We also live next door to the town’s school, thus all the schoolchildren kept track of our progress….. as well as every parent who lined up to pick up their children. I had LOTS of free advice.

Finally, we opened for business in mid-September and Halloween was my first “Holiday”. Those of you who know me, know how I do love every holiday. I also tend to “overload my wagon”, or attempt to do the impossible….. and thus it was with our first Halloween.

I had a grand image in my head…… As a kid, we lived in a little valley, suburbs of Chicago, and there was ONE HOUSE who always gave out full-size candy bars. Every kid in the neighborhood loved the elderly couple who lived there. Older boys fought to mow their lawn, cuz they tipped so well. I wanted to be THAT house, and THAT sweet older lady (although I was only 31 yrs old at the time). I decided I would give away the super-size candy bars. I bought 250 King-Size Snickers and Reese’s with verbal confirmation from the store manager I could return them if not open.

You see, for a generation of school kids, our house was known as the “haunted house”. At Grandma’s house, the neighbor kids thought I would “die” if I lived there. The great white lady was abandoned, never any lights, barren yard, and their imaginations ran wild with speculation. Now that I lived here, the lights were on, the cobwebs were gone, dust was cleared, and it was a happy house. I wanted the kids to feel safe and change our image. Makes sense, right?

Because I live in the south, I also knew of the competition among women to be the FIRST to get my decorations out. Okay, fine. I can do that. I went to the local Wal-Mart, bought my pumpkin, three mums, and even stopped at the garden center for a bale of hay….. just as Mom had done all my life. I brought it home and artfully fixed the mums. Even a wreath for the front door….. I was ready, or so I thought……

  • Husband came home from work.
  • Me to husband: Hey!!!!! How do you like our Halloween Decorations?
  • Husband: What Halloween decorations?
  • Me, deflated. I passed it off, however, cuz he was a “guy” and guys don’t usually notice things like Halloween decorations.

Next morning, my girlfriends wheeled in after dropping their kids at school.

  • Me to girlfriend: Hey!!!!! What do you think of my Halloween decorations?
  • Girlfriend #1: What decorations?
  • Girlfriend #2: What decorations?
  • Girlfriend #3: What decorations?
  • Girlfriend #4: What decorations?

Obviously, I had a problem…..

We all went outside to look and see. We walked down the driveway and turned back toward the house……… and the house was so big….. the decorations were dwarfed. I was confused. It worked for Mom, why not for me? It was something I had to get used to. The scale of the house demanded more. MUCH more.

Within a few days, I returned to WalMart, and bought 10 pumpkins and more Mums, placed them, drove around the block to take a look………… still not enough. What was I going to do? This was getting expensive.

I frowned. Never deterred. Time to up my game. I needed something bigger. I needed an idea.

The following weekend, we had a huge Trade Fair scheduled a few miles north of us. I was too busy to go with the other girls but finally got clear late on a Sunday afternoon. I was convinced all the “treasures” I dreamt of were already gone, but I went anyway. About 20 minutes after arriving, it began to rain, the weather Gods working against me, and vendors scrambled to pack up their wares. BUT out of the corner of my eye, I saw an elderly man with a farm truck overflowing with bigger pumpkins. I made a deal for the entire truckload and he followed me home.

Husband was out back, mowing the lawn, and I scurried to unload all the pumpkins before he could say, “NO”, and figure out I just spent $200 on pumpkins. I moved so fast it was like running a marathon. The sweet elderly man also gave me orange crates full of gourds and smaller pumpkins to play with. I cleaned him out. He was happy. I was “rich” with pumpkins.

Well, with 130+ pumpkins, flowing down our brick pathway, the house was dubbed “The Pumpkin Patch”. EVERYONE in town noticed my pumpkins. The kids were wild with anticipation and would often stop me in the garden to tell me about their costume this year….. so I would know it was really THEM when they came to Trick-or-Treat at my house. They were all so darling.

My husband grumbled about the inevitable clean-up of all the pumpkin guts. I assured him I would remove all the pumpkins so he would no longer complain. He still grumbled.

By the second week of October, a friend came by with 10 big bales of hay. He thought with all the pumpkins, surely I needed more hay bales. The girls and I fussed and placed them, and rearranged the pumpkins all morning. We used three by the front door in a triangle, 2 more triangles of three each at the base of the front steps….. but that only left us with two hale bales. We didn’t have enough. We called and got 20 more hale bales.

Eventually, we lined the walks, wrought iron railings, and driveway with white Christmas lights to people could see where they were going. The house was gorgeous, put the cover of Town and Country to shame.

Pretty soon I noticed people in my front yard, parents taking picture of their kids in costumes. Good. Warmed my heart. A happy house.

We were surveying the yard one morning and the girls shook their heads…… we needed more Mums and color. We struck out to the garden center in search of a deal on Mums. We returned with a wholesale account at the garden center and 120 mums. I planted some so husband would not know how many mums I purchased.

With every addition, the buzz around town grew and grew. My neighbors were forced to decorate as well. They told me they usually turned out the lights on Halloween……. they were THOSE kind of neighbors…… but this year, our street would be Trick or Treat heaven. The kids were happy.

Finally, the day of Halloween came. I sat on the front porch with my stockpile of candy bars wearing a big witch’s hat. I was more excited than the kids. They started coming before it was dark. By 5:00, I only had a few candy bars left. One of my girlfriends stayed at the front while I went back to the store. I bought another 250. Gone by 6:30. Another trip back to the store, and another.

834 candy bars given out that night, our first Halloween.

The kids were elated. Mission completed. Our once dark and scary house was now, Halloween Central, warm, open, and welcoming. Best advertising dollars I’ve ever spent.

Over the years, Halloween has changed just slightly at our house. We still give out full-size candy bars….. and now, I am that elderly lady.

We often have guests on Halloween night, mostly corporate clients, who are AMAZED kids still Trick-or-Treat in our neighborhood. I’ve learned to sit back and watch guests grin and giggle as they pass out candy to little ones.

One year, we had a drought and regular sized pumpkins soared to $5/piece. I went on strike and refused to buy a pumpkin that year but had to do something. I ordered 30 bales of hay and set them up in triangles. I ordered wooden forms from the lumber yard and figured I could dress scare-crows in scenes, high school football players, farmers, old ladies, etc. Sounds good, right?

For days, I scrounged the house, Grandma’s house, MIL’s house for old clothing….. It was going to be great. I could see it all in my mind.

Well, it was about 4:00pm that afternoon one day when the wooden forms were delivered and we were losing daylight. My girlfriends and I moved quickly to pound the stakes in the ground…. we could dress up our scare-crows the following morning after breakfast and the guests checked out.

That evening, I received almost 40 phone calls. Apprehensive townspeople…… the conversations went like this….

  • Banker #1: Um, Daughn, I drove by your house this evening….. and what are you doing????
  • Mayor: Daughn, I can see you’re getting ready for Halloween, but I have a little concern…
  • Lumber company owner: Daughn, I would have never sold you that lumber if I knew that was what you were going to do….
  • My accountant: Daughn, you can’t do that…..

After dinner, I walked outside to see what they were talking about. Instantly, I saw what they were seeing.

Husband had installed a light, 500watt Halogen, to light up our sign in the evening, and it cast bright light on the whole front of the house. My wooden forms for the scarecrows were CROSSES, sitting in front of hay bales, and the large shadow of a cross next to our B&B sign was super-imposed onto the house. Whoops…..

The house looked like a movie set for “Mississippi Burning”…..

Not cool. Folks around here are a little sensitive to the idea….. Of course, not my intention at all.

I assured the rest of the callers…. if they just gave me until noon the following day, the scarecrows would be dressed and the crisis averted.

Another year, we had saved up and had my step-son’s room and dressing area redone. The house is all plaster, so we needed the Italian plasterers to come back. While they were here, I asked them if they could make me some gravestones for Halloween……… They went crazy and made dozens of them…. Husband was furious with me for keeping the plasterers for so long. I have an entire cemetery now, but we can’t really do “scary” at this house because the house is so imposing. Don’t want to scare the little kids.

Now, we set up garden tables on the front lawn for parents to rest as their kids run our street. We make hot chocolate and the parents enjoy it as well. Most of the time, I make a huge pot of chili and the dad’s congregate on the side porch for a beer or two. Make it fun. Halloween should be fun for adults as well.

One year, we had a new Police Chief who decided he wanted to clamp down on kids toilet papering houses. I was a little miffed at the idea – since I was cheated out of the luxury of toilet-papering someone’s home when I was a kid —- so I came up with an idea to help the kids.

I let them toilet paper our house…..two cases of toilet paper every year, because every self-respecting southern child should know how to properly “roll a house” for Halloween. That way the kids don’t get in trouble. And you can’t believe how much fun the parents have when they get into the act.

Halloween is supposed to be fun.

Every year our number of Trick-or-Treaters dwindles just a little bit more. Today we have children of those who USED to Trick-or-Treat at our house. Pretty cool to become “a tradition”. I like that idea.

No telling what will happen this year because of the CCP Virus. Will Halloween be cancelled altogether? I mean……….. I have my pumpkins, candy bars, and I’m ready!!!!!!!

end

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jamcooker

We were always one of “those” houses, even though we had our lights on! Everyone was afraid of the dogs, even though they were fenced, and put up. We had one neighbor that I got to bring her kids, and I had made cookies, and gave them each a stuffed lunch bag of cookies and other things. Now we are in a more rural area, LONG driveway, and very few children in the area, fewer than 5. That’s one thing I have missed, and I still hope that some would come and trick or treat. I’m always prepared anyway!
It’s too bad that only bought items are encouraged, because I remember when some people made things to pass out. DH remembers a house that always gave out home pressed cider when he was a child, but that’s more than 70 years ago.

cthulhu

Here’s hoping that this year will be a very Happy Halloween at Daughnland.

cthulhu

I feel like we’re in one of those Star Trek Episodes where Kirk keeps flickering in-and-out of reality.

wolfmoon1776

That was fun – especially the TP – but OMG the crosses story – C R I N G E !!! LOL!!!

churchmouse

Thanks, Daughn! What a treat to read one of your marvellous stories once again.

Plain Jane

So happy to see you again this week DNW. Love your stories.
In the earlier days, when our subdivision was new, I learned the best way to meet the neighbors was to put out all my small liquor glasses on the DR table and several bottles of brandy. 🙂
Back then we gave out regular size candy bars, still do. We used to get about 125 kids including those who were “bussed in.” from the countryside and didn’t live in a subdivision. Now we are way lower in number. However in the past year 4 young families moved into our “established” subdivision. We now have kids running around again, having a great life. ( and even chickens)
I bought a bunch of boxes of flashlight on lanyards from Costco to give to those young families of kids this week. When our kids were young they and their friends used to play in the yards in the evening with flashlights or the laser “guns” running through the yards, hooting and howling. So much fun.
Now I get to see that energy again.

GA/FL

To be ‘safe’ and ‘social distance’ – some homes are using a tube to deliver the candy to kids:comment imagecomment image
2 story versioncomment image
One guy even made a pulley cord system with a basket that delivered the candy from the door to the sidewalk.

ddanna16

Lol — what ingenuity!

Rodney Short

Have fun Daughn with whatever you do for Halloween, Newsome has ruined everything for us, now he’s talking no New Year’s Eve 🤬🤬🤬 he feels really cocky now that he has beat 3 recall efforts…

ddanna16

Great story Daughn — hope you get a lot of trick-or-treaters this year!🎃🎃

rayzorbak

Daughn……. Thanks again for gracing us with yet another Great story!
You have been sorely MISSED!

SteveInCO

Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, but why do both of these Daughn articles have 2019 as the date?

jamcooker

Did you notice the “revisited” part of the title? She added a bit to the end of the article about what is going to happen with Halloween this year.
As for the second one, she’s been bringing copies of her articles over to her own site, and this may have been what she was trying to do, but I think it was a fortuitous goof, because it’s a good run down and reminder of all those interconnecting people, entities and banks.

kea

This made me smile daughn. 🙂

singingsoul1

Thank you Daughn,
Your story reminded me on two Halloween days many years ago. On one day I sow a group of kids coming to my home and I heard one of the bigger kids say “this is the house where the Wizard lives.” 🙂
My husband used to put on his black robe and a wizard hat and had lots of fun giving out candy and quizzing the kids concerning riddles.
Another Halloween it was drizzling and cold the kids knocked on our door and they had a black male cat about 6 months old in their hand. They said “the cat had been dumped a while ago a and if we could take it just for the night so nothing happens to it.” We had Cicero for almost 18 years and he had no desire ever to go out. The kids used to com buy to see how the cat was doing and to keep us honest that we still had him.
We really did not needed another cat because we had accumulated over years about 7 stray cats and
Cicero mad it 8.
Many of them were in there old age of 16-20 so taking another was not such problem living in a large home. We also had build a outdoor cage where the cats could come and go through the basement window. My front porch was closed in and still has a large cat tree and bird feeders outside for their entertainment.
At 75 my biggest wish is to outlive my animals so they never have to be homeless again.

Valerie Curren

So nice to get a Daughn tale again! We’ve missed you big time. Hope all is well on your Front Porch 😉

gudthots

Hey Daughn,
Saw this and thought of you. 🙂comment image

Gail Combs

Glad to see you here Daughn.
I too remember the great Halloween trick-or-treating as a kid and feel sorry that kids now miss all that fun.
The churches here have Trunk or Treat but I do not know if the D-Rat Cooper is going to kill that too.
We usually have tons of gigs thru October and the 31st we have to draft the neighbors to help. One year hubby went one way, I another, or blacksmith took our spare truck and trailer and or neighbor used his truck and trailer. Then we got a last minute call from a local church. 😱
But we were saved. He was a cowboy, vouched for by a friend of ours, another horseman, so he got to come & do a self pick-up. FIVE RIGS out that Halloween.
Completely cleaned out our farm.
This year if Halloween is ‘canceled’ by the D-Rat FRAUDULENTLY in office, I have plans for the local flea market.