Thursday, November 6, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Grandpa Loved Hallowe'en

Sharing these memories of Grandpa... and adding Alice's poem at the end...
Grandpa Davis
W.C. 'Red' Davis (1903-1978)

The first pumpkin I buy in the Fall is designated as Grandpa's Pumpkin in remembrance of my Grandpa on the maternal side who loved Hallowe'en and the Fall. I place it by the hearth and pin his photo to it. At the end of the season when the pumpkin is past its prime - it goes out under the bird feeder where the squirrels and other critters make a feast of it.

Grandpa was quiet spoken and good-natured. Every memory I have of him brings a smile.

Grandpa Davis told great "yarns" and spooky stories. Late one Fall, as we walked from his friend's house in the twilight of the evening, he showed me the official haunted ghost house of the small Texas town where he lived. The old abandoned house, complete with creaky porch and dilapidated shutters was a couple of blocks from Grandpa's house. We peered through cloudy windows at what I know now was a couple of saw horses and a carpenter's tool box, but at the time looked every bit like the coffin of the old, mean guy Grandpa told me it was. Being the oldest and a bit of a yarn-spinner myself, I couldn't wait to share the story with younger cousins and my little brother. I couldn't wait to lead them past the big old bare pecan tree with its limbs scratching the sky like claws, and up the creaky steps to show them the coffin of the meanest man who had ever lived. I imagine Grandpa got a big kick out of all of us (I believe the number was five or six)... who came screeching around the corner a short while later, full of wild ideas and big stories. Of course, the coffin lid had moved and of course a spooky face was seen in the window as we high-tailed it out of there... We were certain the mean man's ghost was chasing us... why would he chase good kids we wondered. (wink! wink!) I bet Grandpa is grinning still.

Another time near Hallowe'en Grandpa told us (myself, the brother and the cousins again, five or six of us) about the mean old boogey-man who had a bad leg. I don't quite remember how the man's leg went bad in the story, but it seems like he got it caught in the cellar door where his mean old step-mother locked him when he was bad. (That part of the story might have originated with Grandpa or I might have added that part in the re-telling.) According to Grandpa, this old man came to town on Hallowe'en night to carry off all the bad children. Grandpa himself swore he had seen the old cripple crabbing his way up the road beside the house at sundown.

My Grandma bedded us down all on one big bed beside the window one Fall evening. I remember curtains swaying to and fro in the slight breeze. Outside was the road the boogey-man traveled every year according to Grandpa. I and another cousin saw that old man out the window that night. First he was there, limping and dragging his bad leg through the dirt, scrabbling noisily through the gravel near the bar ditch, then, next glance… he was not there! After a few minutes, a face appeared at the window and booed us. Loudly. Kids and covers scattered everywhere. Our screams and cries gave Grandma quite a fright. Later, I overheard from the kitchen, Grandma giving Grandpa "what for" about riling us up at bedtime... mumbling it was gonna take forever to bed us down again. Soon, we were settled in again and whispering amongst ourselves under the covers about the boogey man. It was many years before the man in the road and the face at the window became one in the same with my Grandpa’s visage.

Mom tells a story about Grandpa seeing a ghost when she was a girl. They lived on a farm at the time. Grandma wore a long white nightgown. One night she visited the "out house". Grandpa happened to look out the window about the time the gown and her black hair billowed out in the wind... which gave him quite a start. He said that's about as scared as he'd ever been.

I guess it is no big surprise that I love the season well... the sights, the sounds, the spooky stories, and it is no big surprise that Hallowe'en is my favorite holiday. I learned to appreciate Hallowe'en and the things associated with it early in life. These days the stories would not resonate with children of the same age as we were when Grandpa told spooky stories and played make-believe at the window. Kids of this day and time are smarter, more grounded in reality and more worldly-wise. I cannot find fault with that I guess, but it also escapes me how much they might be missing of the wonder and the thrill of innocence lost, of times shared with old people and Grandparents, of Fall afternoons screeching through the dusty streets of little town Texas and of spooky stories fabricated and embellished under the covers.

Oh well! I have my stories and I still like to spin them. When a youngster in my neighborhood asked what the creatures on the shelf were (see photo – it’s a dam doll Hallowe’en collection) - I told him "oh those are last year's trick-or-treaters". I had him for a minute... He took a step back and gave first the dam doll collection a hard look and then gave me a hard look before he realized I was pulling his leg

I reckon Grandpa could have put quite a spin on that little bit of mischief... I know, if he were telling the tale, I would have bought it hook, line and sinker. And then, I would have borrowed it, embellished it and passed it on. That’s what story-tellers do. Ha!

A poem by and for Grandpa's youngest daughter Alice (written in collaboration with Octoberwych)...

My Daddy, he loved Hallowe’en…
This I and my sisters remember well.
How he delighted in the squeals of wide-eyed children
as they shivered through his spooky tales,
told rightly, just before bedtime,
much to our Mother’s dismay…
he said, such stories are better told in the dark of night
than by the cheerful, bright light of day.
In a voice as dry as the whisper
of dead leaves skittering down the road,
with somber eye and leering grin
he would thrill us with the folk tales of old.
With covers pulled up to our eyeballs we heard
of raven-haired, broom-riding witches,
of bats fluttering hungrily at dusk
and Trolls lurking under bridges.
From the far shadows of the bedroom he warned
of Pumpkin-head monsters prowling
through cornfields haunted by shimmering ghosts
and unlucky black cats howling.
He said he knew of haunted houses to visit
and where skeletons crawled out of the grave…
He promised we could go trick-or treating,
but we would have to be very, very brave.

My Daddy, he loved Hallowe’en…
This I and my sisters remember well.
If we could have but one Jack-O-Lantern wish
It would be to hear Daddy tell one more tale…

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Biker Witch

Yep - it's corny and I love it - what a great Birthday 2009 gift from the guy who gets it - gets me...