Sunday, October 05, 2008

Autumn in Wenonah

So high school wasn't that much fun.  So I was alienated from my long time friends.  So I rode around on my bike feeling sorry for myself and read comics and books and in general acted like a moping teenage boy.  But it was fall in Wenonah.  A wonderful time of year.  And this year, just to spice things up, we began daily touch football games in the yard behind Jane Shiflet's house.  Co-ed touch football.  With some piling on and inappropriate laying on of hands.  Things were stirring in my body.  The hormonal soup was on the stove and coming up to boiling.
After an afternoon of boys and girls ostensibly playing sports I'd head home for dinner and then sit down with my family to watch tv.  On a black and white tv.  This was the year of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Bewitched.  Gilligan's Island, Shindig, and Hullabaloo.  The next day in school we'd all talk about the shows and the bands.  Music.  We were discovering music.  Paul Revere and the Raiders.  the Dave Clark Five.  Motown!  I'd read under my covers with a flashlight for awhile then off to sleep.  Then back to Gatorland and my trials.  
But it being fall there was also Halloween.  Mischief Night.  Mick and I would guard our house from eggers and keep kids from soaping our dad's car's windows.  We'd lay in the bushes with a garden hose and soak anyone who came near.  One year Dave Porter threw an egg at a house and blinded an old lady in one eye.  My father was on the Juvenile Committee and at night he told us what had happened and how terrible it was and why we should never throw eggs on Mischief Night.  We were suitably impressed and worried.
But the next night we'd don our costumes and set out with our trusty bags for goodies.  Terry, Mick, Gary Condell, and I would walk from house to house, covering the entire half of town up to West St.  
Back then the adults would take the time to guess your name and we took great pleasure in fooling them.  What a strange thing that was, it seems almost like a Booth Tarkington tale.  The whole town walking out at night.  A town of wandering children with bags of candy.  We should probably have been scared.  But we weren't.  The only thing that brought us in was our parents calling our names, time for bed, come home, come home. And home we went to sleep and dreams.  Dreams of towns filled with wandering children dressed as monsters and ghouls, wandering in search of candy.

4 comments:

Jim Maddox said...

In Woodbury Heights I did the hiding with the hose thing as well. Mischief Night was out for me; my parents would not allow it.
Fall was the smell of burning leaves,crisp evening air and hide and seek on Sunday evenings. The Munsters and The Addams Family and The Outer Limits on TV, and raging hormones wreaking havoc with my mind and body, and I could see Gateway High from my bedroom window.

Bob said...

Didn't seem like there was anything to be afraid of in those days - weren't the children the reason for the existence of the town? At times - that's what it seemed like.

But then you think back to the old old books in the school library and the lack of grass on the school playground and you can begin to wonder.

How many towns were the right size that most parents would know a lot of the children? Mothers being able to stay at home and see all the children walking to and from school helped a lot.

The walking to school and home for lunch and back helped with a lot of things. All those hours out of your house in full view of the town. All Wenonah was a stage and we were the players.

msscalz said...

Wenonah was indeed the small town where everybody knew your name...and your mother's name and her mother's name!!! Ironically, on Halloween, my mom Loretta, would make homemade Toll House cookies. So when we were through trapsing through town, we'd be certain to come home to a house smelling of REAL chocolate and warm with love. The TV would be showing the Wizzard of Oz. Of course we had a black and white tube, so the magic of tranporting from the farm to Oz was lost on us Wards. Trick Or Treat!

Anonymous said...

house to house, run home, dump the bag and go out for more. The scariest house to visit had to be Synnott's- if you had the guts as a youngster to enter the iron gates and trek down his driveway, had to reach up to grab the "hand" door knocker. Mr.Synnott didn't give out candy he handed me 5 pennies from his gloved hand. I thanked him and ran like hell!