October 31 again

Since I was a kid some 60 years ago Hallowe’en has become a really big deal. People decorate the outside of their houses elaborately, while we just carved a couple of pumpkins and called it good. During the interval, a transition period, if you will, before Hallowe’en became a big business, I decorated the outside of my house with stuff I made. My neighbor across the street played a tape of scary music on a boombox in his open garage and I hung sheets and stuff from my palm tree. I was living in City Heights, a “ghetto” part of San Diego, known for being the part of the city where many immigrants made their first American home.

Hallowe’en is a multi-cultural holiday and it was so much fun to see all the kids and their parents, still dressed in their various “old countries” clothes as costumes, coming to say “Trick or Treat.” It was sweet, inspiring.

My dad sometimes reflected on his childhood Halloweens. They would have been different anyway — fewer cars on the roads, no giant bags of candy. His stories involved more tricks than treats; much pushing over of out-houses, that kind of thing.

My dad is the little kid with his eyes closed blowing on a noisemaker. The witch is his big sister, the other kid is his cousin, probably 1932 in Loveland, CO.

My brother and I learned a trick from my dad and we pulled it a few times. It involved one kid standing on one side of the street, the other kid across from him on the other side and both pretending they were pulling hard on a rope. Then, when a car stopped, the kids “dropped” the rope and walked away.

I think that was the last year they let us go out. 😀

When I was teaching, having learned how scared kids are of English class, I didn’t feel a costume was necessary. I just painted a little vampire blood in the corners of my mouth if Halloween fell on a school day. It was plenty. Students would see me on campus, come up to talk to me, and when I came out of the shadows, and they saw the “blood,” they screamed.

Featured photo: My brother Kirk dressed as a rodeo clown, me dressed as I have NO idea, Debbie Mahotca, our neighbor, dressed as a gypsy, 1961. Hallowe’en was always cold in Bellevue, Nebraska, and often snowy.


Lamont and Dude Long for Old Times

“What are you going to dress up as, Lamont?”

“For what?”


“Oh Dude, I’m so over that.”

“Seriously? I think it’s the most fun human holiday.”

“It has its points. I’ll grant you that. But…”

“But what?”

“The whole holiday season used to be a lot quieter, you know? It was some mead in the great hall, a big log. Sometimes it was a human sacrifice or two, always exciting. Nowadays? Candy?”

“You pine after the goodle days don’t you, Lamont.”

“I try not to. Nostalgia is a death trap.”


“We can’t go back. I can’t go back ever to that glorious time in the great forest of Europe when I was an oak tree, worshipped by the Druids who put their great stone altar in front of me where they sacrificed their war captives and the murderers and thieves of their tribe. And now? We get editorial comments from the likes of National Geographic describing these highly exalted moments of human spiritual seeking as ‘gruesome’ and ‘grizzly’ and ‘eerie’.”


“Yeah. I was reading an article in that piece of editorialized slop about someone they found in a bog, they call him ‘Lindow Man’. Awful. Absolutely irresponsible journalism. To whit:”

“You’ve got a rope tightened round his neck, and at the moment where the neck was constricted, the throat was cut, which would cause an enormous fountain of blood to rise up,” said archaeologist Miranda Aldhouse-Green, an archaeologist at Cardiff University in Wales and an expert on the Druids.

Another clue lay inside the body’s well-preserved gut: pollen grains from mistletoe, a plant that was sacred to the Druids. (Romans wrote that Druids cut mistletoe from trees with golden sickles.)

“You can’t expect modern people to know what really happened or why. You have to cut them a little slack.”

“I’ll cut them some slack when they show a shred of humility and refrain from making judgments. The Romans were on the warpath, killing the people left and right. They didn’t ask any questions like, ‘Who are you? Where do you live? What do you believe? Why is that giant oak tree so important to you?’ They just pushed their way into a world that did NOT belong to them.”

“Who’s editorializing now?”

“I was THERE, Dude. That’s the difference. I am giving a first hand account. Oh well.”

“So, Halloween, what are you going to be?”


Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a couple of years ago. They remember many — if not most — of their various incarnations which gives them a unique and sometimes helpful perspective on life, the universe and everything.