The Orange Pumpkin

Billy B. woke up in his nice warm bed with the two quilts that his Grandma Askew had made for him…and remembered the glories and scares of Halloween…the night before. He looked over at his plastic orange pumpkin that contained all of his candy and popcorn ball treasures from the revelries of All Saints Day.

Why three houses had even given him a dollar…and the house at the end of Illinois Avenue had given him a five-dollar bill… Billy B. had only carried a five-dollar bill on a few occasions and he remembered the last one…when he and his mom had accompanied his cousin, Brenda, to see her fiance, Danny, at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Brenda and Danny were sweethearts and Billy B. thought that the Sun rose and set in Brenda’s smile. She had been his babysitter on Friday nights when his mom had gone out with a boyfriend to the Honky Tonk..and drank Slo-Gin Fizzes. They had enjoyed the Science Fiction Theatre on television. So, Billy B. went to the Ben Franklin Dime Store at Fort Leonard Wood and purchased a Blackbeard Model. He loved Monster Models and he thought that Edward Teach would be a welcome addition to his growing collection.

Monday morning…felt like Sunday to Billy B… The telephone rang and it was Chet on the line. ‘Are you ready for the big night,’ Chet asked? ‘Well…did you forget that we already had it,’ Billy inquired? Chet replied, ‘Not yet…this is Sunday, October the 31st…and it is time to party!’ Billy B. shook himself to wake up from a bizarre dream…but he was still talking to Chet. ‘Chet…do you recall that we canvased all of Illinois Avenue and that the house at the end of the street gave you and I and Jane and Sally and Daryl…a five-dollar bill…each?’ ‘Yes I do say Chet…and then the old woman asked us to come in and sit a spell…and warm ourselves from the cold…and we did.’ ‘I remember her bringing out a large hourglass and placing it on the coffee table in front of us,’ said Billy B. ‘Do you recall that we all became very sleepy…and the old woman said that little devils like us should be able to enjoy Halloween…always,’ asked Chet?

Crisp…and cold would best describe Sunday, October 31, 1963. The Vietnam War was preparing to become a war of devastation for Vietnam…and the United States. President Kennedy would be cut down by an assassin’s bullet in less than a month. Billy B. and his fellow grade-school classmates were accustomed to practicing, ‘Duck And Cover…as the possibility of a nuclear strike on Eldorado, Illinois could happen at any time. A sad Thanksgiving came in November 1963… Uncertainty and unimaginable loss and a future that looked dark and foreboding…was what was happening in ‘Real-Time.’

Billy B. and Chet and Jane and Sally and Daryl…set about planning their Halloween…1963…it was much less frightening…than what was to come…

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