Column: Dressing as Neil Diamond put a Halloween scare into others

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Trick or treat! Halloween happens. Trick-or-treating was something not often done by farm kids when I was a lad. I would have needed to be driven to one farm place after another to bag the treats. That was out. I could have walked to a neighbor or two &045; that would have been the extent of my conquests if I were walking. So I rode my bicycle.

I had a big old bike with a steering wheel in place of the handlebars. I could hit a few more places with the two-tired vehicle than I could with my too-tired feet.

Motivation is so important for success and I was properly motivated. I wanted goodies. Even so, I had bad experiences with trick-or-treating. I once dressed up like a neighbor who had a unique fashion style. I thought it was a great costume until I knocked on his door. Instead of being honored by my imitation of his signature dress, he was angry. I got no treasures from his house. Previously, I had dressed up as the school bully. That went very well until I ran into the school bully. He was dressed as the Pope and gave me a bloody nose.

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Some of the goodies I was given by homeowners were not always the greatest. A soggy bag filled with candied yams is hardly a trick-or-treater’s dream. Neither is a caramel apple covered with cat hair. One year, I got an apple with a razor in it. It was a Norelco with the twin floating heads and a pop-up trimmer. Mostly, I received circus peanuts, big orange things that tasted like Styrofoam, and candy corn that was not nearly as good as real corn.

I received a can of lima beans from a neighbor who was not impressed with the job that I had done walking his bean rows. Some friends and I decided he deserved tricking. We moved his outhouse back a few feet, hoping he would step into the open pit. I don’t believe that he ever did.

I saw some frightening things on Halloween. I watched a neighbor put out the garbage in his underwear. I guess he was too cheap to buy any garbage bags.

I always thought that Halloween was probably the one time of the year that real ghosts, goblins and ghouls would walk the earth. And why not? Everyone would think that they were just kids dressed up to look scary and would give them candy. I bet that ghosts, goblins and ghouls have a tough time getting many Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into their diets.

One year, I dressed up as Neil Diamond. I wore a sparkly, white spandex thing that frightened our Holsteins so much that several of them quit giving milk for a week. I went from house to house and would hold a flashlight under my chin when someone answered the door. They either came across with fine treats or I would sing, &uot;I am, I said…&uot; I made a real haul that year. I was hauling my stuff home when I ran over some nails that someone had placed on the road as a prank. My poor old bicycle ended up with two flat tires. I was near the Bath Cemetery and decided to stash my bike there and take a shortcut through the cemetery. I was in a hurry to get home.

Cemeteries can be frightening places, especially in the dark of a Halloween night. I hustled across the dark cemetery, lugging my bags of treats as shadows danced in front of me.

In my haste, I fell right into an open grave that had been dug in preparation for a funeral the next day. I tried to scramble out, but it had rained earlier and the sides of the deep grave had become muddy and slippery. I tried and tried until I became resolved that I would be unable to escape on my own. Whimpering and scared stiff, I settled into a corner, a muddy and teary-eyed Neil Diamond. I chewed on a Bit-O-Honey to keep up my strength. Then it happened, the school bully came walking towards me. I heard him before I saw him, as he was whistling as loudly as possible. Whistling gives courage to a small boy. He soon fell, joining me in the open grave. He began to wail and cry as he attempted to free himself. He had no luck. I could keep quiet no longer. &uot;It’s no use,&uot; I said. &uot;You will never get out.&uot;

I was wrong. He took one look at a ghostly Neil Diamond and shot out of the grave. He was properly motivated.

Hartland resident Al Batt writes columns for the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the Tribune.