Saturday, October 25, 2014

Who was the rump?

"So who was the rump?" I asked my sister June.

"Carol, of course," she replied. "I made it." Hard to argue that fact.

I was a little girl when my sister pulled out some empty burlap bags and went to work creating an elephant costume. Two people were required for the two-piece costume. June had created the large head with a trunk that would swing side to side. Carol Stager must have drawn the short straw to get the rump of the pachyderm. June often came up with some interesting ideas. This was indeed her grand champion. The costume was worn only once a party at Welbaum's house just on the other side of the bridge.

Halloween was not a big event back the lane. My sisters did not trick or treat as Mom thought it was begging, and she would have none of that. I was fortunate enough to experience a change in attitude when I came along. Dad drove me to the homes I visited every year. We stopped at Grandpa Force's house. "Why that's got to be Willard's girl," he would say each year. Yes, the clef in my chin that matched my Dad's always gave me away. We went to Jimmy Hartle's house. I had a crush on him in fourth grade. The relatives got a knock on the door as did all the neighbors. Dad seemed to know which homes would welcome a night visitor and those who would not. Just Dad and I and a growing bag of candy.

Mrs. Delaplaine and Miss Ditmer's first graders lined up around their home rooms. On signal, we followed the teachers out of the rooms and passed through all of the other classes. We paraded our costumes, those elaborate and those designed from the clothes in the dress-up bin. Back to our room to watch all other classes do the same and for the snack that followed. Children who could not trick or treat were given a chance to wear a costume and be seen. For those who had no costume, my teachers gave a hat or mask so they could participate. Some children came from families who did not believe in Halloween festivities. They stayed in the room waiting to see the parade pass by. No child was forgotten.

A Halloween party was held at Deo Moore's house back that lane down from Franklin School. I believe it was a church party. We bobbed for apples, passed a potato, carried a marshmallow on a spoon, playing Halloween games. Food, friends and harvest time in Franklin Township. All ages joined together as often was the norm on those farm days of the 1950's.

Halloween brings along with it memories that many of us share. We might not have lived in the same neighborhood, but still we lived in a time when life was simple and traditions strong. Until the farm sale, the old burlap elephant hung in the barn....decades after that elephant had made it way down the lane.  Why Dad kept it those many years is a mystery. Perhaps it was because his daughter designed and created it. Maybe it had to do with the silliness and joy it brought to our neighborhood for a few day. I think it was the memory of the two girls who went from cooperative elephant walking to becoming teachers one day. The pride of a father. A fond recall for the rest of us.

Happy Halloween, my friends. From a girl with a clef in her chin. Sister of the front half of an elephant.

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