Friday, October 19, 2007

When I grow Up

When I grow up I want to be... (who hasn't heard that before?) We fill in the blank with whatever fits and cross our fingers and move on. Still, some of us never do quite get grown up! We carry on with our bills, our mortgages, our cars, our children and our grandchildren! We live our lives as adults and spend our spare time being grown up children! Perhaps its this part of my life that I have learned to cherish! I can enjoy laughing at things that are just plain silly and I don't always have to hold my tongue if something upsets me. I can let that part go. I yell loudly at rodeos and football games (much to my husbands consternation) and I love to debate about things I know about (or believe I do.) When I grow up I want to be... Perhaps the trick is not what you want to be but what will be of you! When I grow up I want to have been known as a person who was noticed for their kindness, fortitude, passion and laughter. I want to have left the world a better place for my having been here and if that means leaving it a better place in the small little part of the world I lived then that is OK with me. It is better and it does count. If my life is summed up with only that then I guess for me that is enough. When I grow up...

When I grow up...hmmm. When is that? Is there a day or a time or an age when you are grown up? Young people think they have the answer... 21 or sometimes 30. When you have children or start to have responsibilities... I think that there are circumstances in our lives when we do grow up... we have to. We lose our way, or our hopes and the burdens we carry are heavy. I also think that when those burdens go away we become young again... not grown up but childish and the world is viewed with childish delight... Some of us are lucky. We are always in touch with that part of ourselves. So I am a child again and well Halloween is coming and well, Halloween meant much different things when I was growing up.

So it has been a nice time for the age old traditions that come with Halloween. I have to admit that Halloween is not one of my favorite times of year. As a matter of a fact I rather hate it but I do have a story about my favorite Halloween and I figured I would go ahead and share it with you. When I want to let that child in me out at Halloween this is what I remember.

I grew up in a little town in Eastern Washington. The town of Spangle, with a population of 210 people back then. My father was a science teacher at Liberty high school. He also taught the yearbook and photography. Any way, he was a very strict teacher and expected that no matter what, the kids who took his class would learn science or they would not pass his class. This was not a popular expectation especially since sports was such a huge part of life in Spangle. Most of the families believed that if their kids were going to college it would be through sports scholarships or the kids would simply farm like their fathers and their fathers before them. Most of the basketball players skated through their classes with B's and C's but dad would not allow skating! Needless to say he at times was not a very popular man! On the other hand he was very respected by most of the other teachers and many of the kids who had older siblings that had graduated and gone on to college respected him as well because of the things they were told by their siblings about the difficulties of college and the prep that they received from my father's classes. So, when I got into high school I inherited a rather mixed bag of behaviors from other school mates.

Anyway, during my 8th grade year, our high school FHA decided to do a fundraiser and came up with the brilliant idea of selling trickster insurance. If someone came to your home during Halloween and soaped your windows or tp'd your home and you had purchased the insurance then a small group of kids from the FHA/FFA would be dispatched the next day to clean up the mess. If you did not purchase the insurance then the cleanup was on you.... For weeks my father was pestered by kids to buy insurance from them. He always refused saying that our dogs would protect the house and he would shoot any intruders. In the meantime he secretly went to the director of the FHA (another teacher of course) and purchased insurance knowing that we would be visited by a group of kids come Halloween night.

Halloween night came and so did the visitors. My dad was expecting them and had taken the insurance and on the back of it had written a note inviting the tricksters to come in for hot apple cider and doughnuts. He then hung it on our front door. The tricksters would not see the insurance until they went to leave the house and we would see them the next day. The first group that came to the house tp'd the large pine trees that surrounded the house, soaped all our windows on the house and the cars and generally made a real mess. They were boys and when they were done they came in for doughnuts and cider. They laughed and laughed at dad who made all the appropriate noises of dismay. Then they went to leave. It was a new experience watching those boys faces! They were completely white and the smiles on their faces were totally frozen. Then it was Dad's turn to laugh as he said good by and asked them when he could expect them tomorrow.

About an hour after the boys left I went out to feed the dogs. I could hear some girls trying to sneak onto the back yard through a wheat field. They had one small flash light and as they got closer to the house they kept falling. They were giggling and carrying on and they could not have sneaked up on anyone the noise they were making. I ran in and told my dad and dad jumped up out of the sofa and ran for his guns. He had a blank (starting pistol) pistol and when he got out into the back yard he started firing it and making noises like "Who's out there? Who's there? I 'm turning the dogs loose... go get em Hattie... get em thistle..." The girls could not see that the dogs were not outside nor could they see where dad was firing his gun. They just assumed he was firing it at them. They had parked their car about 500 feet away from the field and the field was about 500 feet from the home. They had made it about half way to our house when dad started shooting. That's when they lost their flashlight.

There is nothing quite as noisy as 4 girls trying to run through a stubble field in the dark with no light and someone shooting at them and with dogs that are supposedly chasing them. Three girls made it to the car by the time my dad hopped into our pickup. The fourth one was left standing in the road while dad went after the car. The fourth girl was told to go to our house and her friends would be back to get her when my dad caught up with them. Dad chased the car for about 4 miles when the teens decided to pull into a driveway and lay on their horn. They just knew dad was going to shoot them! Dad was laughing so hard when he caught up with them that I thought for sure he was going to drive off the road! The girls had the windows up and all the doors locked on the car and it took dad about 5 minutes of yelling to get them to understand that he was inviting them back to our house for doughnuts and cider. The joke was on them and when they finally realized it they sheepishly came back to our house. They did not have an opportunity to do anything to our house so when they saw the insurance policy on the window they quickly made the boys the butt of yet another joke. The boys came by the next day and cleaned everything up and dad added yet another prank to his list of pranks that he became famous for.

It was a fun Halloween and one I remember with smiles each year.

I am not one who enjoys Halloween now though. When I had my first child I discovered another way to celebrate Halloween. He and I sat wrapped in a warm blanket and the dark and listened to "War of the Worlds" on the radio. There was something magical about that and each year I tend to gravitate toward that as a way of celebrating Halloween.

Halloween is coming to Whidbey Island

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