I remember when it started getting cooler. I knew Halloween was coming!! WHOOPIE!!I still get that intense excitement now. If I could get dressed up and go trick or treating as an adult I would!! I would start bugging my mother about what I wanted to be for Halloween. I always wanted to be a Witch. Instead I got something flimsy n paper but we all got our own Halloween pumpkins for our candy. Which disappeared and was reused for many years to come. Then came the Halloween Bag MORE CANDY!!! DUHHH!!! I used to explain to my mom that is we just used those big Halloween plastic bags we could get more candy and didn’t have to go home to dump it and come back out. Because my mom really was the Chocolate Beastie for real!! She compromised and bought us bags and used the pumpkins for decorations. My sisters and I used to get out and go trick or treating. We never had anything happen to us. I do remember when the 1st time in Herrin Illinois that my mom took our candy to be X-rayed. I thought it was so she could stash her own supply. I grew up here in the Midwest. I moved to Southern Illinois in 1974 to a small town called Energy. So actually the Midwest is all I have truly known of being “at home” and of course the mountain top in Western Pennsylvania. It was Ebensburg Pennsylvania to be exact. My dad always found the small towns to live in a better way to know your neighbors and keep track of your kids. Some of my memories are fading a bit I admit. I remember the fun of seeing everyone dressed up in school we would make pumpkins, ghosts, vampires, witches and we even had a parade. We used to have contests of who could decorate their classrooms the best. We had real baked good ALL homemade. It felt like a real community and you literally had to watch what you did. Someone knew your mother and father.
We would go to the local Methodist Church in Energy IL. That is where I was a member of the church choir at a very young age. I loved to sing and actually sang duets with my mom. My mom had and still has an amazing voice. I used to cry sometimes when she would sing. My favorite song she sang was “The Old Rugged Cross’ her favorite song she heard as a child growing up in Tennessee with Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Presnell her adopted grandparents. I know I am off a bit. That takes me back to the church at Halloween. They used to have a haunted house and all kinds of fun things for us kids back then. My mother was the gypsy fortune teller. The parents were involved and we had a blast. See I didn’t mind sitting and listening to a good preacher if they can actually have a sermon around and include that holiday. I actually went to the church and hung out with the church pianist Mrs Snyder. She would play and I would just stand there and sing up a storm. Even tho I am a witch, those old songs still touch my heart because they were part of a time when everything was new and a beginning in so many ways.
The ghost stories were my most fun thing to do and listen to. Whether it be old camp stories or the older kids out to scare the shit out of the younger kids. I loved it. Every home we have ever lived in had a Spirit or ghosts whichever you prefer. I never really believed it came so much from the house. But I believe the spirits that had lived there before. I guess my surroundings had a lot to do with it. I lived in the heart of the Midwest corn fields which were transformed into mazes. I loved Illinois. I had my issues growing up but you know you get past that and move on. You wanna talk bullying!! BUT people change the grow up and get out in the big bad world and you find out. Different ethnicities are all around you. You learn about them and the old prejudice that you might have felt at one time falls away. I also remember kids that their parents didn’t believe the way all other parents did. They didn’t celebrate the holidays as we did. But I understood that is their belief and you should never try to sway someone from what is in their heart. So that is why I have always been open and felt it was necessary for me to read and learn about all beliefs. NOW I will get back to my story..
I remember our town carnivals with pie contests, jam & jelly contests, bread contests, quilt and sewing contests. I remember Mrs. Zeba my Home Economics teacher in Carterville High School teaching us about baking breads and cakes for fall. It was so much fun. I don’t even know if they have HomeEc anymore. WE always had some type of bizarre, fundraiser, selling baked goods, books you name it. I miss the sense of community. Laughing and joking. You do not see benches with the elderly telling stories. I remember in Energy Illinois I was off school on Christmas Break. We used to have an old candy store before the Polar Whip in town. You could go up there anytime of the day when the cold weather set in and that wood stove would be going and a bunch of old guys telling stories about the early days in Energy “before all of got built up”. I know it was like 1975 so for them it was all built up almost city like. We heard all kinds of stories. Halloween was the most fun. They would tell some crazy stories about ghosts and monsters that lived there way back when they were young. Dressing up in whatever they could to make a costume. They said sometimes they got sweets. Sometimes apples and homemade cookies. I know I used to love the homemade treats. You always knew who the best cooks and bakers were. I remember them talking about how at one time it was all fields they worked and played in. But those where my memories of Halloween..
You know when you grow up sometimes we go back to our childhood as a reminder of what the past was to be able to make our future better. Even if you don’t have family here you can still have a family in your community.
Jackie Eyster ❤