Thursday, October 6, 2011
Elaine remembered the fall of her second grade. Late on Halloween a knock sounded on her parents’ side door. After nightfall only her Father answered the phone or the door. Men did that for protection and defense. This was many generations ago, when men stayed home at night and most wives stayed home during the day. Let’s say 1955.
An older neighbor dressed like a witch, a pointed black hat atop her head, with warts painted on her face and green lipstick on her lips, cackled.
“Look kids, it’s witchy Miss Thomas from next door,” her Dad said as he opened the door wide.
Miss Thomas thrust a liquor jigger toward her lean Army dad saying, “Tricks or Booze, you choose. I have jars of all sorts to drain it into.”
Elaine and her brothers were sorting the bags of their candy treats into a massive pile in the living room to start bartering with one another. Elaine could always get rid of a Clark bar for a Milky Way or trade the moldy apple from next door for licorice twists. Brother Matt was especially naive in distinguishing good chocolate-y tastes from bright packaging.
“You’re joking, right Miss T?” her Dad muttered under his breath.
“Heck, no, check it out, Harry,” as she opened her bag to reveal glass mason jars labeled with words like GIN and RUM taped on their sides.
“I’ll get a nice supply going tonight. Everyone gives me something. What do you have on hand, I’m not particular,” she giggled. The children turned back to their candy negotiations.
There was much parental muttering that night, but other than ” I told you she drinks!” coming from her Mother, and ”She’s harmless!” coming from her Dad, none of it made much sense to Elaine, who was utterly bored and on her own pre-bed sugar high.
Many decades later, as two older ladies now,Elaine’s mother spoke kindly about the December that she had to call an ambulance for Miss Thomas.
“She had called late, real late at night, 11:30 maybe or midnight. Way past polite calling hours. We had had a snow storm and our street hadn’t been plowed in days. So poor Miss T hadn’t made a run to the liquor store for a while. She was climbing the walls. DT’s, we called them then. She was seeing monkeys on the ceiling and they were scaring her to death. Chewing her toes and fingers, she kept telling your Dad.”
“I guess that Halloween treat bag was long gone,” was all Elaine thought to add.
Carole for the Poplar Grove Muse