October 10…A Magical Day

Billy B. began Monday the 10th of October much as any other. He appreciated the rich and varied life that he enjoyed. He wondered how so much had happened to him in just…almost…65 years. He reflected on his friend, Dale, and what a nice conversation they recently had.

October 10, 1962, was a school day in Eldorado, Illinois…Billy B.’s new home. His family, mom, and dad and Billy B., had moved from Chicago to Eldorado and all that Billy B. had known had changed. Billy B. quickly became friends with Chet as he and Chet had the same last name and in fact, were born on the same day. Neva J., Billy B.s mom, loved President Kennedy. She thought if JFK said something…you could rely on it being correct. Many of the Halloween costumes in 1962 were of JFK and his lovely wife Jackie. Billy B. already had his JFK Halloween costume that he had purchased at the Ben Franklin Dime Store…and Chet was going as Daniel Boone. The house that Billy B. lived in looked as if it was tailor-made for Halloween. It was a large Victorian gothic-type structure that sat just across from the Eldorado High School. When they first moved from Chicago they had to share the house with Billy B.’s aunt Wanda and her family of Billy G. and Brenda and uncle Bill. Billy B. was relegated to the utility room to sleep and the room was so narrow that when he opened the door he had to climb onto his half bed and turn out the light. The old house creaked and groaned throughout the night and Billy B. knew that he had seen a ghost.

‘We will have our Halloween party at my house, Billy B. said to Chet and Jane, and Darryl. ‘We already have the ghosts that are necessary and Neva J. found a dead rat in our bathtub,’ Billy B. continued. ‘It is not still there…is it,’ Jane asked with a notable grimace. ‘No…dad put out several rat traps,’ Billy B. assured Jane. ‘You know they say that the High School is haunted,’ Chet mentioned. ‘Yes…custodian Watson worked his entire career at EHS and many have seen him roaming the halls both night and day…the students loved him and he was a friend and counselor to many of them through the years,’ Darryl added. ‘I wonder if we could slip in one of the High School doors that never fully lock and see if we can find Watson’s ghost,’ Neva J. asked. Yes…Neva J. was a kid at heart! She had a spirit of adventure that rivaled any youth…and she enjoyed a nice glass of red wine.

It was a frosty night for October the 10th…and a good night to go exploring for ghosts. The side door to EHS opened with just a little jerk. The hallway lights were on as well as several of the classrooms. ‘Come in and grab a mop and a dust cloth,’ said Custodian Watson. ‘Well for goodness sake…you are real,’ Neva J. exclaimed! ‘Why yes Neva J. I am,’ Custodian Watson answered. ‘Do you work here every night,’ Chet asked. ‘I do indeed…someone has to take care of the place,’ CW answered. ‘What is it like to be a ghost,’ Darryl asked. ‘Just like being alive like you are…it is as if I changed my TV channel and now I am on channel 6 instead of channel 3…the only difference is the channel that I am on now…appears fuzzy to you guys…most of the time,’ CW said with a knowing grin. ‘You mean that death is nothing to fear,’ Jane asked. ‘That is correct…Jane…it is simply the changing of a channel,’ CW replied.

A few days after October 10, 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis began. Everyone was sorely afraid of nuclear war and dying and oblivion… Neva J. and Billy B. and Chet and Jane and Darryl…were concerned…but they were not afraid…

Billy B. remembered how he was hired at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…44 years ago today…and hoped that he had helped some people along the way…

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