Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween in The Woods

There have been quite a few "scary" programs on TV this week. I've watched a few of them. A couple I even found of interest, such as those on the History Channel's Seven Nights of Fear. None of those programs frightened me.

Perhaps becuse it was all audio with no video to impose itself on the images my mind created, I found certain programs of the National Public Radio (NPR) series Halloween Tricks And Audio Treats a bit more blood curdling. (You may follow the link in the last sentence to listen to the programs and judge for yourself).

On this eve of All Hallows Even, I have been think of the most frightening Halloween that I ever experienced. It was 55 years ago, when I was eight years old.

The first ten years of my life were spent in a small cottage in the West End of Louisville, behind which was as area known to us either as "The Commons" or "The Woods." I have no idea to whom the tract of forest belonged. It was about one block long and a half block or so deep. For us kids, it was a grand play ground; I knew every path through it, even glade in it, and was on speaking terms with most of the trees.

For all of my familiarity with The Woods, I only entered it in daylight. There was something intimidating about The Woods when night fell. My bedroom window overlooked our back yard and beyond that, The Woods. At night I seldom looked out my window into The Woods. Strange and often scary sounds came from The Woods that, in summer with the window open to cool air, had me pulling the covers up over my head.

As an adult I now realize that most of those sounds were made by the night creatures, such as owls and a fox or two, whose homes were in The Woods. When I was eight years old, buried in my bed beneath my covers, my mind imagined more gruesome creatures beyond my bedroom window.

By the age of eight I was allowed to go Trick 'r Treating on my own at the two houses north of us and the six houses south of us, all on the same side of the street. For two of those visits I was saddled with-- accompanied by--my four-year-old sister. Being four, she quickly tired of all the walking. At least I convinced her that she was tired and that she wanted to go home and explore the treats in her bag. So I returned her to our house and headed back out to join with some of my peers in visiting the houses south of my house.

Of course, even with the neighbors complimenting each of us on our costume, Trick 'r Treating at a half dozen houses didn't take much time. When we finished, I still had at least half an hour before I was to be home. What could three costumed eight-year-olds do on Halloween night?

I believe it was JImmy, who was, at nine, the oldest of us Three Musketeers, who suggested that we explore The Woods. Since The Woods chiledl to the bone even when I was in bed with the covers pulled up over my head, I didn't think that exploring The Woods in the darkness of Halloween night was a very good idea. However, Jimmy had a flashlight and Roy Rogers pocket knife and I didn't want to be seen as a cowardly little kid, I accompanied Jimmy and our comrad into The Woods.

Since I knew every path in The Woods by heart, I found that our expedition wasn't as eerie as I had expected. Until--isn't there always an until?--we walked over a little knoll and the beam of Jimmy flashlight disclosed something (someone) white and waving in the branches of a tree in front of us. Jimmy screamed, turned and knocked me down was he retreated at full-speed back down the path.

Knocked on my back, I found myself alone in the darkness of The Woods, the white whatever fluttering in a tree a few yards from me. I don't remember getting to my feet; I do remember navigating the paths in The Woods as fast as I could run, until I came to the gate that led to my backyard.

I did not stop running until I was inside the house and in the brightly lighted living room where my mother, father, and sister were exploring the treats she had collected. It was then that I realized that I no longer had my Trick 'r Treat bag. And, that I really didn't care.

It was another two or three days before I again entered The Woods. It was daylight, of course, and my dog, Boo-Boo accompanied me. Secure that my dog could protect me from anything, I again climbed that little knoll. I looked up into the branches of that tree. Yes, I knew which tree it was because I was friends with all of the trees in The Woods. Nothing was there. No white, fluttering anything.

As Boo-Boo and I turned to go back down the path, I spotted my Trick 'r Treat bag on the ground. Not one piece of candy had fallen from it. So Boo-Boo and I made our way to my "secret place" in THe Woods, a very small glen that couldn't be seen from the path. There I ate enough candy to make me not interested in dinner.

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  1. Happy Halloween Nick! What a story you've shared. I enjoyed reading it.

    And, yes...there have been a 'gazillion' Halloween specials and movies this past month.

    Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the Halloween wishes. Have a safe weekend.

  2. What a great little story to read this morning, I enjoyed it very much! I'm glad you found your bag of treats though! Happy Halloween, Nick!!!

  3. I am glad you were able to find your candy later on :~)

    Happy Halloween!

  4. Ooooh! I LOVE happy endings! I can't believe all of your candy was still there.

    Thanks for the fun story. Everyone who has ever been a little kid ;-) can relate to it in some way.

  5. Great story! Everyone should have one truly scary Halloween moment!

  6. I loved the story! I didn't have a scary Halloween, but I certainly had a few similar scares at other times! It wasn't fun at the time, but isn't the recounting of it great?

  7. thank you for sharing your brilliant Hallowe'en story Nick ... sweet too that it had a happy ending!
    Foxes can make some really eerie and surreal sounds!
    Wishing you a day full of great surprises!
    oxo ~*~ Patty
    meow to Alex too!

  8. Hootin' Anni: Thanks! I hope you had a fun Halloween. Alex and I had a safe Halloween, although Alex was
    not happy that I wouldn't let him out to cat around.

  9. Deb: Thank you. It was fun writing that story, esepcially bringing the woods and the paths through it back into my conscious mind.

  10. Liberality : Thank you. I was able to bring to my mind my little secret glen and sitting on a fallen tree with Boo-Boo by my side. It was alsmot as if I was still there.

  11. Carol: Thank you! It was a happy ending, if one consider a if stuffing himself with candy happy. Yep, it was a very happy ending!

  12. Starrlight: Thank you. And thanks for visiting! I suppose that that was my only really scary Halloween moment.

  13. Lynilu: Thank you. Yes, I hd a lot of fun remembering that incident so long ago. The process also let me to remembering other adventures that I had in The Woods that I want to share in the future.

  14. ~*~Magpie's Nest: You are most welcome. Thanks for pointing out the eerie and surreal sounds that foxes can make. When I explored The Woods, they usually avoided me and especially Boo-Boo. However, even during the day I would occasionally spot a lone fox. I suppose that they came out of their den more at night than in daylight?

  15. Dat is een heel eng verhaal

  16. Imagination can really terrify us cant it ? It was probably a paper bag or an owl...By the way its always a good idea to eat enough candy not to be interested in dinner. Lifes too short to worry..

  17. i love the woods, always have- i find them enveloping and beautiful and miss them here in Fl.

    Some months back I teased you because Louisville is huge on WVa schedule. Little did I know that at that game Wva's own Pat Reeeves my sister will recieve a big honor at halftime.i want EVU to win for her !!!

  18. What a deliciously spooky story, especialy from an 8-year-old's perspective. I can imagine how you would have fairly flown out of that place, Nick. Lovely memory to chuckle at now, but I bet you can still remember how scared you where back then.

  19. Those woods sound like they were fun. I wish I had had woods like that to explore when I was a kid.