Not deferential enough: Frankenstorm?

Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2012 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: Frankenstorm?

An image of Sandy, the monster storm approaching the east coast (courtesy NWS)

by Gina Hamilton

As I write this, Frankenstorm is bearing down on the east coast.  It's likely to cause power outages, so I am doing what I can before that happens.

We battened down all the possible hatches over the weekend, and now we're just riding it out. Maine goes through these things with some regularity; we know the drill.  Oil in the oil lamps, candles in the candle holders, boats tied down, pellets ready for the wood stove if necessary, batteries and telephones and electronics charged up, laundry done and dried, a few meals that don't need heating up prepared to go.

But although we doubt that it will have any lasting effect here in Maine, other places in the country are more likely to have major problems, and we have nothing but sympathy for them.  And we hope that the underlying reasons why monster storms are happening with such alarming regularity will finally be addressed by someone ... anyone?

This will probably severely screw up Halloween.  Halloween was never a big favorite of mine, even as a kid.  Two weeks before Halloween, we had a school fete, which was fun.  There was a cupcake walk, where you could win a cupcake, some games where the younger kids could win little prizes (the upper school kids would man the booths - I won a live goldfish at one of those booths when I was in the lower school and my parents were less than thrilled because I suddenly needed a goldfish bowl and food) and we had a "haunted house" where the upper school would try to scare the bejesus out of the lower school kids.  I was always chosen to be the Mad Scientist (I know, go figure), and I would get some dry ice and make beakers full of colored water foam, and the obligatory dead body I was about to bring back to life would lie on a table behind me (usually it was my friend Ellan, who was a very good sport about these things), and she would rise at the exact right time while I shrieked, "It's alive! It's alive!" and the lower school kids would scream and rush into the next room, where the chicken heart stood, pulsating.

In contrast, Halloween itself was fairly mild. There was always a major choral event the next day (with very long rehearsals on Halloween itself), so they kept it pretty quiet. We had a jack o'lantern contest and a costume contest, for which the prizes were pretty lame ... a set of markers, it was, the year a friend and I won the 'Best Twosome' contest for making a pair of dice from cardboard boxes and butcher paper begged from the local meat market upon which we painted shiny black dots with model paint.  That's the only prize I can remember, but they were all similarly dull.

We had a little party at school with the obligatory apple dunking and some kind of donut-catching game on a string, and then went trick or treating afterward, just like kids everywhere.  We made our own costumes with used clothes and makeup that we bought with our allowance, or painted boxes or bags. We knew there were such things as store bought costumes with plastic masks, but no one I knew ever had one. It was usually so cold that we had to wear heavy jackets over our costumes, such as they were, or layers under our costumes, which made them almost too bulky to wear.

There were only about 30 families within walking distance, so our trick or treat haul was always pretty small. 

Later, when I was a teacher, I tried to make Halloween better somehow.  I scheduled an 'ancient history' night on Halloween, and we had a party, outside, with candy and caramel apples and all that, while my classes came up with plays based on ancient history ... the discovery of King Tut, in which my students played King Tut, Carter, Lord Carnarvaron, and other ancient Egyptian figures.  They wrote the play, and made their own costumes and sets too, and it was different and magical. 

We did it the entire time I taught there, and later, I was told they kept the tradition going after I left for another job.

I know a lot of kids like Halloween ... the candy thing, I assume, because a lot of the rest of it is just plain tedious.  Even my son and heir admitted ... this after I made costumes with my own fair hands for him every blessed year until he was in middle school  and took him trick or treating to homes where movie stars made popcorn balls themselves for the kids ... that Halloween was pretty lame.  Maybe it's because candy wasn't the special treat it used to be in ages past.  Even in my day, we could buy candy with our allowance every weekend if we wanted to.  So the forbidden fruit aspect of Halloween was pretty much gone even when I was a kid.  And nobody did 'tricks' anymore.  I think those were pretty much on the way out when my mother was a kid.

But Frankenstorm may even take the whole trick or treat thing away this year. Regardless of how much you like candy, it is just not worth it to trick or treat in a hurricane.  I just want to say that if the kids can't get out on the 31st, they're welcome to come anytime to pick up candy at Turning Tide Cottage.  I'll keep the bowl by the door. 

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