I saw Halloween decorations and costumes displayed in one of the big box stores tonight. Later, I was moving a bunch of old slides out of Kodak slide trays and putting them into plastic sleeves to save space when I ran across this copy slide of a print. The two events brought a story to mind.
What’s that hanging in the tree?
I was blasting through the rural Southeastern back roads on my way back home right after dusk when, rounding a curve, my headlights picked up something odd on the side of the road. When I got to where the beams lit it up a little better, I slammed on my brakes. It was a body hanging in a tree out in the middle of nowhere.
Murder wasn’t unheard of in that part of the country, but I hadn’t read about any lynchings in our area in decades, so my first thought was a suicide. (All of the murders I had worked were pretty straight-forward; they just got the job done without getting creative.)
I positioned my car to where it lit up the area, then cautiously approached the scene. When I got close enough to get a flashlight on it, it became clear that I had been taken in by a dummy hanging in the tree. I looked around to see if there were any teenagers laughing at the sucker, but there was nobody around.
Only a journalist would have mixed emotions about this: happy because it wasn’t a body; feeling foolish about being suckered in; being disappointed because he didn’t break a story.
The next morning I mentioned my find to some of the guys in the office. “Oh, yeah,” one said. “They’ve got a quaint custom in that area of hanging dummies at Halloween time. If you go back, I bet you find more.”
Indeed, when I went back in the daylight, I found this guy hanging in the middle of downtown Shawnee.
“It’s too grim”
So, to lighten the mood, here are some examples of Halloween costumes she inflicted upon the kids over the years.
I’d be lion if I said Matt made a pretty woman
Son Adam, left, went for the full-face mask effect the year Wife Lila did this makeover on Son Matt.
I shouldn’t mock Son Matt too much. Mother managed to make me into such a convincing girl that I won a prize in Mrs. Kelpe’s first grade class because nobody could guess who I was. I was still in costume when we went down to visit my grandmother in Advance. She had a bunch of club women over that afternoon and they were properly impressed with my transformation. Just to set the record straight, I scrawled “I BOY” on a piece of paper and kept showing it to them.
Going to the dogs
Matt as firefighter
This might have been the only costume I contributed. Matt swiped my bunker coat, fire helmet and Red Wing boots for this Halloween.