By Polly Mazariegos
As I began to think about Halloween, my mind went over so many different types of Halloweens. The Halloween that comes to mind was the first Halloween that I had when I lived in Seven Stars, PA. That was back in the early 1950s. I lived in a rural area and we only had about six houses we would visit on Halloween. They were our neighbors. I knew them and they knew me and my older sister. The two of us would go back the road that was beside our neighbor’s house. We would get apples, candy and, sometimes, pennies. We did this with great satisfaction, even after our other brothers and sisters came along almost every two years, while we were at Seven Stars, PA.
First, I had a little sister. When she was old enough to go Trick or Treating, we took her back the road. There were still the same people living in those homes so we felt safe. You see, our father owned a general store so we really did not need any candy. If we wanted any, we would just ask for some. However, Halloween was different! He would give candy to any small children who came in the store. Some of Dad’s patrons came with their little kids and they all got candy. I really cannot remember what we dressed like in those days for Halloween. We probably just got a mask, as some masks were on the back of certain cereal boxes. It was fun and not scary at all. I was only about 6 and my sister was 7 years old.
Another Halloween, two years after that, here comes a little brother. When he was of age to go Trick or Treating, he also went back the road. They were the same patrons and the same neighbors. We did have one neighbor who lived off the main highway. She was the Post Mistress. She was the only one we went Trick or Treating that was not on the back the road. She was a nice lady and always had something extra like rice crispy treats and the rest was the usual. Again, I cannot remember what costumes we wore, but I do remember wearing masks.
The same scenario continued for five more times as my family of brothers and sisters grew. Over the years, the older folks passed on and no new young families moved in, so we did what others were beginning to do. We drove in to main Gettysburg and the kids were dropped off and away mother went to park so she could watch us. I remember that one Halloween we were running from door bell to door bell, and an old lady with long white hair answered the door. One look at her, and I ran screaming down the street to a lighted place and told the rest of the kids a witch lived in that house, do not go there!
Another time, I remember taking my baby sister, who was only about 6 years old, into town. We tried to hit the more affluent places for more candy and better stuff than just apples. Anyway, I was standing on the side walk as I was too old to Trick or Treat myself. I watched as my little sister went up to the door very bravely. A lady opened the door and turned around to say to someone else (or so I thought to be someone), come here and see what is at the door. What should appear at the door but a gorilla.
This gorilla startled my little sister so bad, she fell backwards over a type of swing on the porch and started screaming. I bravely went up to the gorilla and said, Take off your mask so she can see you are a person and not a real gorilla. He moved like a real gorilla and she had a large chain around his neck that she moved him towards us with. Guess what? He never did. To this day I do not know if it was a person or not. It never said anything and we didn’t get any candy either. To this day I am afraid of gorillas.
At Halloween the local Moose Lodge would hold a Halloween party for kids. My dad belonged to the Moose so we would go, but this time we had to be in costume. What is a natural costume for me? That of a witch! We were not allowed to tell anyone who we were. My older sister went, but I cannot remember what she wore. But one year she went as a witch and she won the prize for the ugliest costume. Here I will digress as I must tell you a story, a real story, what my older sister did to me when I was maybe 7 years old. Number one, I scare very easily. This one night, when I went upstairs to my bedroom, as I approached the door, it was slightly closed. As I entered into the room, up jumped the most awful looking witch I had ever seen.
Yup, I screamed and Mom and Dad came running to see what I was screaming about. I said, There’s a witch in my room! Mom said, No there’s not. That is what she thought. I made her go in the room and look around, and she didn’t see anyone or anything. Now, I am not crazy, someone was in the room dressed like a witch. Months later, I found the old witch plastic mask in the hall closet where we stored extra clothes. I was so scared as it looked so natural, that I took a pair of scissors and cut that mask into many pieces. No more scaring me out of my wits!
My brothers loved to scare me, as I would jump real high when scared. At the bottom of our stairs, there was a long dark hall where you would hang up your coats. When you got to the bottom of the stairs, there was a door to the outside which Dad had covered with a green roll up window blind. He later put up an antique vale. You had to turn right around the corner and go down the hall to either the kitchen or there was a sliding door to the living room.
Brothers being brothers, they would wait for me to nonchalantly come down the steps. When I rounded the corner they would jump out at me and yell and scare me to death. No matter how many times I told them not to do that, you will scare me to death, they did it a lot. If I would come down quietly and try not to let them know I was coming, maybe I will not be scared. Never happened. No matter how quiet I was, they would be lurking in the darkened hall somewhere to pop out and scare me. I was a teenager by now and they were, maybe, 8 and 10 years old. They continued to scare me even after I moved away and was an adult and they were young men.
Another interesting fact is that our house was a Civil War house. Since the soldiers came down Route 30 from Cashtown, they probably either used the house as a hospital or some form of rest stop. I had always maintained that the house was haunted, as I would hear noises and loud booms that no one else would hear. One night while taking a bath, I heard what sounded like a big box fall from our attic. At first I did not think anything of it as my dad was putting the groceries on the shelf for the next day. But when he yelled up the stairs, What were you girls doing making all that racket? I cried out and said, It wasn’t us, it came from the attic. Here comes Mom to check and see what is going on. Brave Mom opened the attic door, and against all my protests, she went up the darkened stairs. She could find nothing out of place. I told her again that it wasn’t us, but she did not believe me. I was taking a bath, I told her. There was nothing to drop. That was the end of my bath and I went over to my bedroom, which was across from the bathroom, covered my head and tried to go to sleep.
While we are talking about strange happenings in the house, I have another one to tell. Another scary thing that happened to me was when late at night, I had to get up to go to the bathroom. First I heard my dad go, then I heard my mom go, so I figured it was time for me to go. I opened my door, took a step into the hallway and showing out of the bathroom was fingers with a lot of hair and long fingernails on it. OK. Time for me to scream again. Mom came running. Where was Dad. Hiding under the bed, maybe? Anyway, Mom said it was Dad’s hand I probably saw. No! No! No way! I heard you both go over to your bedroom. Needless to say, I went back to bed, even after Mom opened the door and saw nothing unusual there. One thing my dad would not let us do was put a light on at night. Wasting too much electricity, he said. We were not even allowed a night light. When he went to the bathroom he never put on the light. Well, one night, yes, here I go again, I opened the door and all is dark. So, I go to sit on the toilet, and he grunts, Huh? I jumped up and ran to my room and watched who came out of the door. He is lucky that I did not go on him. If it was him! These are all true things that happened to me while at the house in Seven Stars, PA.
One night while lying in bed, I felt a skeleton hand reach up from under the bed and touch my leg. I was frozen with fear. I did not move. I was so scared. I waited for outside light to come and then I got out of bed and looked under it. There was nothing there. Don’t tell me there are no boggy men under the bed. I will not believe you.
One other incident happened after I was engaged to be married. I had a girlfriend from work come and spend the weekend with me in Gettysburg. My fiance was also there. She had gotten me into playing with the Ouija board. Never! Never! Never play with an Ouija board! What I am about to tell you are two true stories. First, Mom did not believe in the Ouija board. She kept telling us we were moving the board, which, of course, we did not. It has to do with the heat from your fingers making the board move so we will leave it at that for the moment. We were asking questions like, Are there any spirits in the room? This is usually the standard question you ask the board. You ask questions like, Will I get married? Who will I marry? How many kids will I have? Got the picture? Fairly easy questions. Every time Mom would walk into the room, the board would not move. So we tried a few questions and asked Mom to come in the room. Nothing. When Mom went out of the room, the board moved.
Then my fiance said to us that we better stop asking questions or we were really going to see a ghost. He asked me to stop and come into the living room where he was standing. Remember, I said we had a sliding glass door from the hallway that enters the living room beside the kitchen door way. I sat down on a chair right there and he said, Polly, look to your right and tell me what you see. I looked to the right and did not see anything so I told him, I do not see anything. He asked the ghost to come in farther because I could not see him. He again asked me to look to the right. And sure enough, I saw a half person, all dark with only the outline of a man. My fiance asked me what did he looked like and I said it had on an old padre hat or a conquistador type person. Next, he asked me to look to my left.
What did I see? I said. I saw my brother Charlie lying on the couch covered up with covers. He asked me to put out my hand and touch it. As I put my hand out, the covers went flat. At that time, Charlie, whom I thought was on the sofa, stood up in the dining room as he was sleeping there in a sleeping bag and said, No, it isn’t me. I’m here. You take it from there.
I had one other incident with the Ouija board that made me want to burn the board. I was by myself on Sunday and was in my apartment in Virginia. I took out the board and asked it the usual questions. You see, I could get it to move with just one finger on the small board that had a nail in the center and this is what would go over the letters and give you a message. Anyway, this one day, the board would not stay where the numbers were. It kept going down my leg and across the carpeted floor with me hanging on, trying to keep up with it. Well, I had a balcony from the fifth floor in this apartment. This crazy thing went over to the sliding glass door and wanted to go out on the balcony. I was game. I went to the balcony and it almost went over the edge. I went back to the board and asked it what did it want. It spelled out go to hell. That was the last time I ever touched an Ouija board.
Now, back to Halloween, as a grown up. I am now married and I have two lovely children. One boy and one girl. After all my scares, I dress them in mild outfits. My son went as a pirate the first Halloween he went Trick or Treating. They had Trick or Treating at his school, and then after 6:00 pm, when he came home, we had the local Trick or Treating. During this time I went along. Later, as they got older and more kids went with them, I did not go along. I never worried about them getting bad candy or razors in their apples.
They would come home with pillow cases full of all types of candy. Of course, I got all the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Thank God they did not like them. I have a picture of my daughter dressed as a princess, pouring all her candy on the carpet for me to see what all she got. They were told to do not eat anything until they brought it home for me to go through. When my son got older, he went as a ninja as they were popular at that time. Several years he went as Count Dracula and we used my old witches skirt as a cape. All I had to do was take out some stitching and it became a cape. I got him fanged plastic teeth which looked like real teeth with blood dripping down.
I remember my daughter going as a dog, which I know I have a picture of somewhere, and as a unicorn where she is Trick or Treating at our local mall.
I hope she takes my grandson Trick or Treating. It was a lot of fun for me, and for them.
U S Legacies Magazine October 2005