True Halloween Story: circa 1935 or ’36

Image

This was in my past Halloween posts.

One from what I consider the “classic

collection” of stories. When I used just

words to describe and illustrate my

posts. The man you will hear sharing an

old memory is gone now. He has since

passed away. . .

Let’s go back to the year my Mom would

turn 85 and I was visiting her at her

Senior Living apartment. We had

ordered our meals to take up 

to her apartment. . .

“An elderly gentleman was waiting to

pick up his and his wife’s dinners

last night, usually we sit for about 

25-30 minutes chatting with other

people.  Mom sits and sips her wine,

looking and studying faces. Some

are familiar and some are not so. 

We talked to this nice man, named

Felton, a few nights in a row, 

so she was less wary and 

more comfortable with him.

My Mom asked him if he liked

computers and if he had ever 

read any blogs?

Great “kidder” my Mom! 

You know how when you are young, 

you may”use” your kids as excuses 

or possibly as the way to open a

conversation? 

My Mom is the best for being my

“story hunter,” lately.

She asked him the best question!

“Do you have any special, scary

childhood memories of Halloween?”

Here is Felton’s story, with mostly

memories from his fourth grade

“trick or treating” experience.

He thinks it would have been 1935

or maybe 1936 when they occurred!

Felt and his two good friends,

one a boy who had grown up with

him and also his “best friend” and

a girl he had been considering

being his “girl friend,” were heading

out on a long ago Halloween night.

The candles in the pumpkins on his

porch were lit, his parents, he

recalled, were sitting and waiting

to hand out homemade cookies

wrapped in waxed paper and tied

with orange ribbons.

Felt’s friend, Buddy, was wearing his

“bum” outfit and his “future girlfriend,”

Sally, was wearing what she was

calling a “Snow White costume.”

Felton says he thought her big sister

may have lent her a headband and

pasted some costume jewelry on it,

like a crown, and she had a blue skirt,

white shirt and red vest on.

Her sister had given her rosy cheeks

and bright red lipstick-stained lips.

In Felton’s opinion,

“Sally looked beautiful!”

and added,

“I was wearing a plaid flannel shirt

and worn out jeans, with a big

hobo pack on a stick.

We boys often went as hobos.”

A side funny comment was made

when Felt reflected some more,

“I suppose Sally didn’t want to 

get any apples,” 

(as Snow White.)

We all smiled and Mom

chuckled saying,

“That’s a good one!”

Felt informed us that his memories of

actual treats were apples, cookies,

carrots and even cold pancakes.

(We said, “Really?!”)

and if lucky, 

homemade popcorn balls

and rarely,

Cracker Jacks!

Felt set the “mood” then, by saying,

“Did you ever think a witch lived

down the street from you?”

Mom said,

“Yeah, but she was just Mrs. Donahue!”

(We all laughed a bit about her reply!)

There was a house at a dead end of his

long and winding street. He said

it was very dark and gloomy due to

no street lamps so he and his friends

had never gone to beg for treats there.

It was rumored to have “spirits” that

flew around and haunted it with a large,

old witch living there. As the story

went, every kid that attempted to stop

and sell anything or stop and ask

for treats, would be killed with 

their eyes would be pulled out 

of their dead

eye sockets!

Mom gasped, appropriately!

I was enthralled, secretly memorizing

the phrasings that he used, too.

Felt added, “The eyeballs were the

witch’s souvenirs!”

Felt bragged that he never believed

the stories but had never gone up

those rickety steps nor had asked for

donations to his pillow case, full

by the time he reached that

end of the road.

While getting towards that end of the

street along came his

big brother,

Freddy.

“How did I recognize him in his

costume?

Well, let me tell you this, he had

no business trick or treating!

He was far too old to be doing it!

But he had my cowboy bedsheet over

his head, with his eyes cut out,

being on both sides

of a horse!”

He continued farther saying that his

brother had “broken the brother

covenant”

by daring him to go and ring the

doorbell or knock on that

big gray door!

We both asked,

“Did you really have a

‘brother covenant’?”

And Felton said, “Well, these things

are understood between brothers!

He should not have made me have

to do that and I was embarrassed

if I didn’t, due to Sally being there!”

Felton then added,

“Nobody wants to look like a chicken

when your future reputation is riding

on the dare! I was trying my hardest

to make a good impression on Sally!”

This is the precious line I memorized

and closed my eyes to keep for you all:

“After all, death is instant, but being

called a ‘chicken’ lasts a lifetime!”

This part continued to be very good,

I am so glad we had the time to listen

to Felton. We encouraged him with nods

of our head and “go on’s” along

the way, too.

So, Felt says, he went up the broken

down stairs to the dark, looming house

and trying not to make any noises. He

stepped carefully so that the wooden

porch beams would not creak. He felt

the palms of his hands get sweaty.

He “crept” towards the door.

As he was reaching for the doorbell

next to the huge gray door with paint

peeling off it, the door flew open!

He heard from deep inside of the

“witch’s house,”

a continuous shrieking sound!

Felt said, “It sounded like a ‘screaming

banshee!’ It gave me goosebumps!”

Felt told us he turned sideways, he is

never sure WHY he went that way,

but he headed down the length of the

porch till he ran into

a large, wooden

big tub or vat.

He toppled over ~ INTO the vat!

He felt squishy, slimy shapes in his

fingers

(“Oh no! the children’s eyeballs!”

Felton told us.)

Then the light on the porch

suddenly came on!

He was in a wooden vat of grapes!

The sticky, purplish liquid wasn’t blood!

The round, mushy shapes

weren’t eyeballs!

The large, “witch” came towards him,

yanked on his arms and dragged

him into her house.

The woman said,

“Wait here!”

Felt said, “I did not dare move! The door

of her house had been slammed shut

and that woman seemed angry!”

She went into what he assumed was

the kitchen because she came out

into her sitting room, where she set

two tea cups down and the still

hissing tea kettle on a

crocheted hot pad.

She again used a demanding tone,

“Don’t you dare sit down!”

And she stomped up the stairs in

these big, untied leather boots.

When she came back she had a nice

warm set of wet wash cloths

and handed one at a time to Felton.

He wiped off reddish purple “goo.”

She inquired his name, he told her.

She finished wiping him up with a

dry towel. She laid the towel on

her couch for him to sit down.

She then told him

her name was “Miss Miller.”

She asked him to sit down.

She handed him a wax paper

wrapped caramel apple.

She poured him a hot cup of tea.

Felton paused to say,

“I noticed that my big brother and my

friends did not knock on the door

nor come to save me!

I sat back on her rose tapestry sofa

and enjoyed my caramel apple

and listened while she talked to me.”

“She told me that she didn’t have

any children nor did she have any

friends. She told me this while

I waited for my tea to cool off.”

Felton said in a soft voice,

“I sensed she was lonely and

I felt sorry for her, too.”

She told me she was making wine

and that vat was filled with the

beginnings of a good wine, needed

days more to ferment.

She looked at me and I looked at her.

Really studied her.

She looked about fifty but at my age,

who knows how old she was?”

With a bottle of her homemade wine

in his one hand and a second

caramel apple wrapped up and

thrown into his pillow case of less

exciting treats,

Felton was sent on home after

about thirty minutes

of conversation.

Felt turned as he was leaving and said

he would come back, 

if his mother let him, 

another day to visit.

Felton said,

“Miss Miller smiled one of the nicest,

warmest smiles I have ever been given.”

“I always thought of Miss Miller from

that time on, as a nice neighborly lady.

Oh, and I had the best of times riding

on that wave of popularity

when you “beat the bad guy”

or “are a super hero” because I

lived to tell the story of going into

the witch’s house and making

it back home in one piece.

Best of all, my older brother,

Freddy, got in big trouble

for leaving me there!”

Happy Halloween!

🍁  πŸƒ πŸ‘» πŸ‚ 🌚

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69 responses »

    • This man, Felton, was a great story teller and makes me put to shame! I tried so hard to memorize his phrasing but also, tried to put the pauses in, too. Thanks so much for this lovely comment!

      • I love this story, and storytelling is incredibly important. I have a childhood Halloween story, much the same as Felton’s, that I tell to my classroom. Perhaps I should share it, much like to shared Felton’s. You wrote it beautifully!

      • Thank you do much for this kind comment. I apologize for missing it. This was a special and fun dtory. Felton is no longer living so it is bittersweet. The man was quiet do happy my Mom who likes my blog and talking brought his story “to light!” I will enjoy getting to knowb u ou soon! πŸ™‚

  1. This is such a great story, Robin. I had a similar experience with a neighbor when I was pre-school age. Mrs. Vestel lived across the street from our house. Her property was two or three times larger than everyone else’s on our street, and it was completely fenced. Her land was planted with gardens – trees, camellias, roses, hydrangeas and more. Since I was only four or five years old, it must have been something because I can still remember the colors when things were blooming. But her house looked like a shack compared to the other houses on our block. The cedar siding was never painted, so it looked dark and worn. My sister and I used to run away from her fence if she came out.

    One day she surprised us because we did not see her near her gate, and she invited us in. Since she spoke to us, it would have looked stupid to run away, so we followed her into her house, which today would look like a museum room with antique furniture, English china, old photos and one of those old phones with the earpiece on the side and two bells on the front. She gave us tea and cookies – she must have known we were nervous. When it was time to leave she cut some of her beautiful flowers for us to take home to our mother, who thought at first we had stolen them. After that day she was a friend whom we always waved at and said Hi to, and my father did repairs on her fence or house whenever they needed fixing. We moved away a year or so later, but I never forgot her. Nice memory, especially now that I am about as old now as Mrs. Vestel was back then. – Mike

  2. This was a wonderful and beautiful story, too! Especially love her garden, her sitting room that appeared like a museum and then, how this woman became part of your family’s life for awhile. Helping her was such a nice thing to do, your father was very kind to offer his services! I loved this, Mike, since it has the pictures of the house, the paintless, dark and worn looming house that probably looked kind of scary at night! Great addition, hope there are a few other neighbor stories out there to add to Felton’s like Mrs. Vestel and Miss Miller.
    Thank you!

  3. This is a delightful treat of a story, one that grips the imagination as it pans out but also your style of writing captures the interest on the outset, and anyone that didn’t bother reading the whole story missed out on something rather special.

    Often we hear these kinds of things when at a tender age, and with each mention a little bit is added on fuelling the story even further, even to the point of giving the shivers to some as they listen, but this has a lovely edge to it.

    The woman, seen only as the wicked witch turns out to be a gentle heart with a caring nature. Sometimes as children we tend to believe these stories, so much so that the frightening element takes over, but here Felton paints a whole new picture with his recollections,

    Quite innocently all was revealed because of a simple dare, and what a wondrously enlightening evening that was for him, he not only braved the dare but also learnt that not everything that is told in a story is a truism. It is a story that has remained with him all of his life and so it is something unique. I enjoyed this story Robin and thank you for telling it so well πŸ™‚

    Andro xxxx

    • I appreciated reading this and am in awe of the time that you spent to write this! Your comments are very wonderful indeed, since you recommend finishing the story! I agree, it is always nice to find out a gentle person is living with a story or rumor that doesn’t match the person. It was so great of Felton to tell this to my Mom and myself, while he was waiting to take his and his wife’s dinners. Mom and I were very entranced with this tall, gangly but handsome elderly man’s storytelling gift! I told him he should write a blog! Take care and I apologize for this belated comment back to you, my dear friend!

      • There is never a need to apologise to me my sweet and great friend for I know only too well how difficult it is in our WordPress, so many blogs, comments, replies, it all takes a huge amount of time and sometimes we never catch up.

        The main thing is that we read, write and enjoy each others and everyone’s postings. Friendships are forged in our blogosphere and I am happy to call you my friend. Have a lovely Wednesday Robin πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

        Andro xxxx

      • Thanks for the reassurance, Andro! I will someday purchase my own laptop but sometimes I am relieved to spill my thoughts, read some posts and turn off the computer, so to speak, by leaving the library! This allows some restful moments and quiet thoughts. I did get to read a few of your 150 word stories, great and awesome posts!

    • Thank you, Cindy, for taking the time to read this long story Mom pried out of an older gentleman a year ago. I wish I had posted it on a separate day, so more people would have found out about the vat of “body parts” on the large veranda of this older home. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
      Thanks for thinking grandson looks adorable!

    • It is like a “gift” so it makes sense to think of Christmas, Inese. I just re-posted this and found my lovely, classy friends here who have been around for quite some time.
      A belated response to someone who I know is a true friend across the miles. . .
      You posted with the precious European robin photograph for me! That was like an early Christmas gift! πŸ™‚ Thank you.

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed that story Robin, the ending was great and shows that not all lonely people are ogres.
    I like the name in the story, Felton as that is my surname also, my Grand kids might think of me as lovable old ogre.

    • Ian, I didn’t know “Felton” was your surname! This past post was re-blogged, and “Voila!” There were my treasures, friends who have stayed with my blog from the old days with no photographs! Thank you for being here, dear friend! πŸ™‚

    • Great idea but they would be all in separate posts! Still trying to not wear out my repaired eye and yet, tempted to do this! Hugs for responding to this long, true “retold” story by a man Mom and I met and knew his wife three years ago at her senior living apartment building.
      Happy Halloween, Jill! ❀

    • Oh, great! Thank you for reading this, Sarah! It was such a really nice memory that truly a gentle, quiet man told us.
      Sadly, Felton’s wife went to memory care and later died in 2014. He had been married to her for 60 years. He passed away early in 2015. They are together once again.
      Happy Halloween, Sarah.

      • I do love to think that my grandparents are together again. My grandma regularly talked about how much she missed my grandfather after he passed, so I know that she is so happy to be with him again. I am sure Felton and his wife are the same way!

    • I hope your grandparents are together, too. ❀
      I picture my grandma and grandpa on my Dad's side being together.
      My maternal grandfather remarried, after my grandma died at age 69. He spent ten lovely years circling the world with his second wife, who had been a lifelong "spinster." I like to imagine the three of them being friends, knowing my grandpa wasn't lonely may have given my grandma comfort, Sarah.
      Heaven is as our imagination and love flow together into the after life, I hope. ❀

    • Thank you, April for reading this! πŸ™‚
      My Mom was sitting next to Felton, so I closed my eyes knowing his quiet, calm spirit was sharing a lovely tale from his memories. By picturing it, it was like those stories told around a campfire, April. It came alive.
      The sound he heard was a very cool detail (screaming banshee became a tea kettle), so as the grapes (not eyeballs) in a vat. I liked how “Miss Miller” sounds like a tomboy all grown up, with her big boots on. I imagine it would make her less likely to attract friendly reception in the neighborhood. I felt his sympathy for her in his soft spoken voice. Felton and Freddy appear in my mind once in awhile, wishing I could write a whole book about them. The cowboy sheets sound like Roy Rogers sheets, but he didn’t add this detail. . . He was a brave young man, this is for sure!

    • Kev, the details were so amazing! Thank you for reading this! πŸ™‚
      I like how a boy would feel and remember all the details for the rest of his life. Felton was a nice man who we talked to for two years, his wife went to memory care unit, then died (2014) and he died the next year (2015). I like to hope they are together still in the after life.

      • Oh, good! Sometimes my spontaneous comments don’t go along with everyone’s belief systems. I do apologize if I say out of line replies. Thanks, Kev. πŸ™‚
        My Mom holds onto my Dad’s ashes thinking hers and his can be merged.

    • It is Felton’s story, not mine. I loved how he told it, slowly and full of interesting details, Jonathan. I have a great ear and imagination so it was written basically as he told it.
      Mom and I frequently visited with his wife and Felton. They were ones who he would fetch their dinners on a tray in to go boxes, and we would wait for the dining room to bring ours out. His wife slowly stopped talking and became inward and moody. His family persuaded him to put her in the memory care unit. He would visit her there but got very tin and bent after she passed away, a shell of the man we knew. They put details about ones who pass away on a In Memoriam board. This is when I found out they had been married for sixty years.
      Thank you for re-blogging Felton’s story. πŸ™‚

    • The way I told it was due to how slowly he paced this one himself. It really helps when someone elderly recites their memories! Beth, I remember the hairdresser who shared their dreams with you. πŸ™‚ We like listening to stories, would make great detectives.

  5. Robin, that’s amazing. How could you remember all that? What details. Felton is gone but his story lives on. I’m kind of peeved that his brother cut holes in his cowboy bedsheet just for a one night costume. And carrots? Yuck. Put that in a roast, not in my pillow case candy bag! I guess some things DO get better. The kids who came by tonight got Butterfingers and Kit-Kats, not cold pancakes LOL.

    • Kerbey, I enjoyed the details which left a vivid picture in my mind. I memorize a lot, always have remembered details! Great for school but not in relationships, believe me! : D

      • Oh, I believe you! I spent the better part of the afternoon reading my 14-yr-old self’s diary and then shredding most of it LOL. Now I wish I could delete those details!

    • You were young and should not worry or feel responsible for that period of time, Kerbey!
      By the way, Butterfingers and Kit Kat bars are really yummy candy to hand out! Any leftovers? πŸ˜‰

  6. Happy Belated Halloween! A great story. I love the imagination and the message. You told it well with some great characters and description. I think lots of us have childhood memories of the old ogre that was actually a sweet person πŸ™‚

    • I am glad you liked this man, Felton’s, story, D! I have heard some doubters to whether or not it happened but I did feel it was told in earnest. I liked the movie “The Sandlot” where neighborhood kids were afraid of the scary voice that came from this guy’s house! Turns out to be James Earle Jones. I love the timbre of his fine voice! πŸ™‚

    • I mainly listened to an elderly man, who at the time seemed to be retelling his own personal story. Thanks, Kath for thinking it captured “a time of innocence” and it did have some spooky elements! πŸ™‚

  7. Several memories and thoughts were inspired by this charming post:

    1-pillowcases as treat bags;
    2-elderly ladies who were shunned & lonely simply because their houses weren’t kept up on the outside, and how, once somebody broke the ice, more people came forward to help them out and give them a bit of company;
    3- an uneasy feeling that someday *I* will be somebody’s “witch.”

    Better learn how to make caramel apples, huh?
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    • Madelyn, somehow I cannot imagine you as somebody’s “witch!” No way! You’re silly. πŸ™‚

      Thank you for seeing the nice memories of an old-fashioned Halloween period in time. Can you imagine people accepting homemade items these days? Unless they were from a close neighbor, they would sadly be tossed.
      I loved the element of cloth pillowcases, too.
      hugs xo Robin

      • Even back in my day we were not allowed to keep anything that was not, essentially, shrink wrapped. Back then, however, I think her fear was germs, not the horrors that terrify parents today.

        Sorry, Mom, we knew the rule – so we gobbled up all the good stuff along the way (the cookies and fudge and caramel apples).

        How else do you think we were able to be so patient as you picked through our stashes of the store-bought stuff, tossing the few remaining “unwrapped” items?
        xx,
        mgh

    • pH how I loved your conversation to your Mom about the homemade goodies you would goggle up, before you got home. I sure like fudge and cookies! I buy those tubs of caramel to dip apple slices into, Madelyn. My grandies tend to prefer carrots dipped into ranch dressing over the apples. πŸ™‚
      xox Robin

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