Category Archives: Cracker Jacks

True Halloween Story: circa 1935 or ’36

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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!

🍁  🍃 👻 🍂 🌚

Spring Ball Fever

Standard

Baseball field walls have been adorned with catchy slogans and

advertising posters, practically since they started building them.

With the bigger stadiums, local news and television stations, major

automobile and other products have been featured and promoting,

along with paying money for the advertising. It is nice to be reminded

of Indianapolis’ being one of the first stadiums to display naturally

growing ivy at Perry Field. It sure would ‘cushion’ someone jumping

into the wall, to catch a long distance ball!

The Perry Field ivy is what inspired William Wrigley to decide to

decorate his new Wrigley Field, reaching its 100th anniversary this

year. A great book, written by George F. Will, better known for his

essays on politics was published in March, 2014. Its title is:

“A Nice Little Place on the North Side.” (Crown Archetype, a division

of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.)

The background story about Wrigley Field was they invested an extra

$200,000 to help make the bleachers reflect nature, along with the

idea of having the ivy walls. At the onset of building, they inserted

big cement tree boxes at the ends of the rows, where plans were made

to plant trees in each of these. Once they completed the stadium,

thy tried this, which sounded like a gorgeous natural setting,

with possible shade for some spectators, too. Unfortunately, the

trees were not able to survive. Gusts of wind off Lake Michigan,

repeatedly stripped the bark and leaves off the trees.

In the book, this simple description also shows Cubs’ owner,

William Wrigley’s frustration at the devastation:

“A week after we were finished, the bleachers looked like the

Russian Steppes during a hard, cold winter. Nothing but cement

and bark.”

George F. Will’s explanation:

“The forestation of the Wrigley Field bleachers was abandoned.”

The Boston Ivy was supposed to be planted and growing, when a call

was made to the ones in charge of this duty. They were only given

one day, so once agriculturalists were consulted, they chose to

plant a fast growing plant named, “Bittersweet.” It grew quickly

with lights strung along the wall. The ‘effect’ of green was able

to satisfy visiting guests to view the sight. Later, they inserted

into the bittersweet the Boston Ivy, since the original ‘quick fix’

for the presentation, still needed a more solid and denser growing

plant for the long haul. It took longer but is a magnificent wall

of flourishing ivy.

I have fond memories of going to the old cement stadium in Cleveland

to see both the Indians and Browns play. When they tore it down, to

build what was first named, “Jacob’s Field” I thought I would miss

the old one. It is a beautiful structure and ‘there isn’t a bad seat

in the house.’ I have never personally been to the Indianapolis Perry

Field or Chicago, Illinois Wrigley Field, but enjoyed seeing the

photos and reading about the history of the latter’s field.

Happy 100th Anniversary, Wrigley Field!

Congratulations for making it to one hundred years!

Since I know that Columbus Clippers is having a whole weekend of

playing against Toledo Mud Hens, I will say I am ‘rooting’ for my

home team of the Clippers!

I can hear the old song, “Take me out to the ball game,” and imagine

the old Cracker Jacks and peanut shells falling onto the ground…

Have a wonderful weekend and I am now off to Mom’s…

(We only worked a half day today, due to a lot of overtime this

week… Also, my eyes are doing much better, less pressure than

in the Fall and Winter months! Hip hip hurray!)