I'm almost four years old in the picture. My parents, grandad, Uncle Charlie, and I all lived in the same house — grandad's house. We had probably lived with grandad and Uncle Charlie for several years at this point and would live with them for several more before moving to our own little place. The extended family seemed natural, just as it seemed natural when we moved out on our own. Humans are very adaptable.
Frisky appeared at the door one day. Some kids were selling him cheaply or giving him away; I'm not sure which. Grandpa accepted Frisky into the house, and we named him Frisky because that's what he was: a young dog full of energy.
The fateful day arrived: I didn't know it was Halloween Day at the time; in fact, I don't think that I knew diddly about Halloween at that tender age. I recall Grampa saying that he was going to the store and that he was going to take Frisky with. For some reason, I was to be included in the trip. When we were about to leave the house, Grampa decided that Frisky didn't require a leash. I remembering getting quite upset and predicting that he would be killed by a car. But Grampa was sure that Frisky would be fine, even though we had to cross a busy street.
How is that a three-year-old kid can see better than a seventy-year-old man? He wasn't dumb, and I wasn't a child-genius, but I could predict the consequences better than he. Sure enough, Frisky ran into traffic and was run over by a car. Grampa carried the broken and bloody body home and buried him in the back yard.
Although I don't clearly remember, I must have been more than a little distraught, so much so that my mother, in order to distract me, sent me out for Halloween that night. She threw an old coat on me, and I don't know what else, and said that I was to identify myself as a tramp, and out we went.
That was my first Halloween. As far as I recall, I hadn't known that Halloween existed up until that point in my life. I can't recall my emotions and barely recall going out, but I suppose that I thought it was pretty darn wonderful to receive all that booty. It probably did serve to take my mind off the day's trauma too, but it's not the Halloween part that's vivid in my memory fifty-five years later. What's vivid is my angst when I as a little boy somehow realized that Frisky probably would be killed. I can still, even now, relive the dawning apprehension that I felt when Grampa said that he was going to take the dog out without a leash, and I can still see Frisky being run over. I can play that track at will, and it sometimes plays unbidden as my brain does its random shuffle thing. It's probable that I can only relate the Halloween part of the story because I have been told it many times, but the Frisky incident is indelibly archived.
My Most Recent Halloween
Last night Cuppa and I sat in our little porch waiting for the kiddies to come by. We were dressed up in whatever we could find. We left our porch lights out, rendering some of the more timid kids reluctant to enter. We spoke kindly and cheerily to those children. But for the older and bolder among them, I lurked in the corner, the hat brim covering my eyes.
Unobtrusively, as Cuppa dished the treats, I would turn on the speaker and blast some eerie Halloween sounds: screams, groans, creaking doors, witches' cackles and so on. Then, I might let my brooding eyes catch theirs from just under the brim of my hat. I startled some. Others said, "Cool!" And some little guys got down and looked all over, much more curious about the sound and its source than anything. It takes all kinds to make a world, from the quiet and timid souls to the bold and curious spirits.
I'm glad that Cuppa and I did a little something beyond the ordinary. We'll remember the night for a quite a while, even if it's soon lost in the haze of a busy night for the little trick-or-treaters. They'll mostly forget, but I'll remember, just as my mother remembered more about my first Halloween than I do. She passed on the story though, and I pass these accounts on to you and to those who inherit my genes.