Halloween Memory from John Gilbert

Halloween

We’re going Trick or Treating in our Sunday suits

by John Gilbert,  contributing essayist Columbus Georgia Online

COLUMBUS, GA — “I sure miss Trick or Treating!” I said to my buddies at lunch. It was Halloween and at 16 I felt I was too old to participate in the annual glucose tolerance test. “Yeah,” said Steve Sheley.  I miss it too.”  

Here’s how my favorite Halloween unfolded

Culprits, John Gilbert, Ed Graham, Rob Garrett…

In my freshman year at Hardaway High School, my friends Ed Graham, Rob Garrett and I had formed what we called, The Science Club of Columbus. We all liked science and it seemed only natural to form a club.  Lunch was our meeting time and it’s where we cooked up many of our ideas.  Today was no different.  The thought of trick or treating had already started the wheels turning in my brain.
After a bit more discussion of Halloween’s past, the idea suddenly matured in my mind.

“Hey, you guys want to go Trick or Treating?” I blurted.  There was some apprehension in their ‘yes’ answers but they were willing to listen.  “Be at my house at 5:30 and wear your best Sunday suit,” I instructed.

“We’re going Trick or Treating in our Sunday suits?” someone asked.  “You’ve got it!  I’ll explain everything when you get to my house.  There needs to be six of us.”  Just then the bell rang and it was back to class.

After school, I rushed home to make our Trick or Treat preparations.  My dad managed the Edgewood Drive-in Theater and one of his promotional items was a coffin.  It was a Doe-skin coffin, a cheap wooden box covered in a soft finish that was used to bury a homeless person if necessary.

Daddy had borrowed it from one of the local funeral homes to promote a dusk till dawn horror-fest. The funeral home never got it back because I absconded with it (and still have it till this day).  I was the only kid on the block with his own coffin.  I dragged it out of the basement and dusted it off.  It would work just fine.

At 5:30 my friends arrived one by one until there were six of us.
They all laughed as I gave them the plan and the six of us started through the neighborhood carrying the coffin.

“Now, be sure to act sad.  I want to hear plenty of sniveling and sobbing,” I said as we approached the first house.  Several kids had just left the first house as we started up the front steps and rang the doorbell.

“What’s this?” said the startled home owner opening the door.

“Trick-or-Treat,” we all said, heads bowed and in a melancholy voice.

“It’s our friend ‘George’.  He wanted to go trick or treating one last time!”  We all broke out in sobs.

“Hey honey!” shouted the home owner. “You’ve got to come see this!”

The wife appeared.  “Oh, my word!”  Her husband picked up the candy bowl.  “How many of you are there of you”

“There are always six pall bearers at a funeral,” I answered in the same drawn-out voice.

“Where do I put the candy?” the man asked.

“Put it in with…with…George!” we all broke out in sobs.

I lifted the lid just enough for the man to insert the candy.  When then turned and started back down the steps singing, “Shall we gather at the River.”  The door closed and we dropped the coffin laughing!

“That was great!  Did you see the look on their faces?”  We howled with laughter!  “Let’s go to the next house.”

We picked up the coffin and visited the next house.  It was the same reaction at the next several houses.  Then everyone wanted to see ‘George’.  I hadn’t thought of that.  I could have used a stuffed shirt and pants with a mask but I hadn’t thought that far ahead.  We had to have a ‘George.’  The choice was obvious.  Dennis was the smallest so he’d have to play the part.  We stuffed him in the coffin and started up the steps of the next house. The coffin was now much heavier and there were only five of us now.  The steps were steep and Dennis started yelling.

“Hey, you’ve got me upside down!  I’m on my head!” came his muffled voice from the coffin.  Back down the steps we went and turned the box around.

“Can we see George?” the neighbor asked.  I opened the lid but the only problem was that ‘George’ was grinning.  “He died with a smile on his face,” I said.  This only started Dennis snickering.  “I can almost hear him as if he was back with us.”  I had to close the lid because Dennis was rolling with laughter.

At the next house, the owner called his daughter to the door.  She had been practicing her violin.  “Play something for George,” he instructed.  The girl played a mournful tune while we pretended to cry.

It was a lot of fun but Dennis was getting heavy and we decided to call it a night.  We got back to my house where we divided up the candy and laughed over the events of the evening.  It had been a great deal of fun and we talked about it for days afterward.

I’ve always loved the cool days of fall and those cool days always remind me that Halloween is on the way.  They somehow bring back the kid in me.  I remember those youthful days when my biggest problem was what costume was I going to wear this year.  But this trick or treating’ was the best ever. I will always remember the Halloween when I wore my Sunday suit and carried a coffin.


by John Gilbert,  contributing essayist Columbus Georgia Online

About John Gilbert 46 Articles

John Gilbert is a terrific story teller and “Save The Bradley” is historic, funny and entertaining! John’s special talent is to awaken the child in us all, this is why the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckle Berry Finn were so popular. John’s easy style, descriptive details, humor and just plain nice guy attitude makes John, without question, our modern day Mark Twain. Read one of John’s stories and see if you agree?

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