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The ‘Good Old Days’
Marg-Ins 11-4-20

Yup, it’s November. Just two more months of 2020. Think we will all be glad to turn the calendar to 2021; this year has had more than its share of forgettable moments, incidents and enough crises to last many lifetimes.

But there has also been some good and that’s what I choose to focus on; for me, it’s better than the alternative.

This is about the time of year I get nostalgic, for many reasons. Not the least of which is Halloween, which was my late husband’s favorite holiday, as he loved to walk with the kids to go trick-or-treating and always got in on the ‘I’ll trade you this chocolate bar for that candy necklace’ discussion once everyone had returned home.

A longtime friend who now lives in North Carolina called me out of the blue on Saturday morning, leaving a voicemail that said ‘Shouldn’t we be heading to the church to set up the haunted house right about now?!’

For years, during high school, we were part of the youth group at our church and we were always involved in staging the haunted house. Part of the church basement was literally dungeon-like, perfect for setting up all sorts of scare sites. And it had this long, winding staircase that led up to the belfry that was creepy on a normal day.

One year, I think it was my cousin who had the bright idea to lift up the heating grate in the floor of the church sanctuary and, at the exact right moment, ‘drop in’ to the dungeon below to get a huge scream out of the group walking through.

Later on, when I volunteered with the American Cancer Society back in upstate New York, the popular Howe Caverns tourist spot would give us the cave for Halloween night and we had more than a mile of territory to work with, creating several spooky scenes. It was a blast; I always borrowed a black choir robe from the church, powdered my hair and made myself up as a ghoul. I loved to just pop out at people with a blood curdling scream when they least expected it.

Along with Halloween, co-worker and friend Kim Van Meter and I recently had a reminiscing session about what Election Night was like years ago. She started out at a small newspaper, I started at a small radio station and though we were in different states and starting our careers in different decades, the small town coverage was much the same. Rural, waiting for results to be phoned in – where I started, they would actually write down the number of votes from each town on a chalkboard and add them up at the end. Yes, I started my journalism career in the dark ages. There were less than a half dozen of us reporters there at the time, representing different newspapers, a couple of weeklies, a couple of dailies from the nearby larger metropolitan areas, and the radio station. We sat and visited with the county officials while waiting for results; we would take bets on which precinct would be the last to call in. It was usually Blenheim; one of the smallest communities in the county but the results weren’t official until the handful of people there voted.

It was also a time when you pretty much got the election results that night and you would literally ‘hold the presses’ until you finished the story for the next day’s paper. Or, in my case, make a stop at a couple of victory parties after the votes were counted to get comment from the newly elected so they could be on the air the next morning.

Strange the things that stand out in your mind from years gone by.

Haunted houses and election nights; they just don’t make them like they used to.


Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.