October is supposed to bring cooler weather, right? So why are we still waiting for it? Temperatures in the mid-80s to lower-90s just aren’t what we expect – or, for the most part, want – once we officially hit the fall season.
I know many people have a favorite season or month, perhaps tied to a holiday; my daughter has always favored fall and in particular Halloween. She is getting excited this year about what her almost nine-month-old daughter will be for Halloween. There have been quite a few options discussed; we’ll just wait and see what eventually wins.
My mom was phenomenal at creating costumes. My sister one year was made up in a shimmery silver costume, with matching silver scepter while my brother chose to be Spiderman and my mom turned an old zip up, hooded sweatshirt into a unique ‘Spidey’ costume for him. There were some years when we got store bought costumes or at least some accessories, but it also was comforting to know we could depend on mom to come up with just the right touches for a one-of-a-kind costume.
The town we grew up in wasn’t very big and we lived up a hill a little way off the beaten path. But we always got to head ‘downstreet’ (we didn’t call it downtown, not enough buildings to qualify it as a true downtown district) to walk around and trick or treat. By the end of October, most of the leaves were off the trees so you got to crunch your way through them as you walked along the sidewalk, a true sound of autumn. Some years, I remember the school having a little carnival with games, prizes and candy. But definitely the most fun was when I had the chance to participate in the haunted house events that so often go along with Halloween. For a few years, the youth group I was in at church created a haunted house in the unfinished part of the church basement. It was dirt floors, musty smells, brick walls and scary even without any added haunting elements. We managed to make it scarier, with sound effects from chains rattling and wolves howling, to blood curdling screams and eerie music. We also relied a lot on the fear of the unexpected, the suspense of not knowing what was around the next corner. We had a very good core youth group that enjoyed nothing better than scaring people for a few hours on Halloween night. I don’t even remember if we charged for it; if we made a profit, it just went back to the youth group to help finance any outings we had.
From the youth group I graduated to ‘haunting’ on a much larger scale. We have a very famous landmark in upstate New York called Howe Caverns; an underground cave that is a huge tourist attraction. When I lived and worked upstate, I was also a member of the local American Cancer Society board and a volunteer with the organization. The owners of Howe Caverns for many years allowed us the use of their amazing cave for a Halloween night fundraiser. We literally had hundreds of people come through for the special event, Halloween in Howe Caverns, and we had several staged scenes all along the walking route through the cave. Some of the lights stayed on for safety reasons but many of them were turned off and there were so many cracks and crevices in the cave walls to hide in and jump out of at exactly the right time, I don’t think anybody got out without having screamed a time or two.
Probably won’t be taking my granddaughter through a haunted house this year, she’s not ready quite yet, but I can’t wait to see what cute little costume she will be modeling for us.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.