Trick-r-Treat


It was Halloween. The greatest holiday of them all (until Christmas comes along) and I was going Trick or Treating with two neighborhood kids and my older sister. Ann, my sister, was dressed up as a prom queen. I had a homemade mask made from curled strips of construction paper and tag board. Daniel (don’t call me Dan or Danny) Lindsey was wearing the same zombie outfit his mom had made for him three years earlier, it was pretty small on him now; and Billy Ambrose had wrapped up his face with an ace bandage and was peeking out from under his dad’s fedora.

I’m guessing I was in the third grade because JFK was president, and still alive; but the family down the street was busy digging a bomb shelter in their back yard. That would mean that Billy was also in the third grade while my sister and Daniel would have been in fifth.

It was early, and we were just getting started, but it was dark. In those days Trick or Treat didn’t start until dark. We made our way to the edge of the neighborhood and started working our way North on the first street. My pillow case bag was filling with homemade caramels, popcorn balls, apples, Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Roll Pops. I think I even had a couple of Abba Zaba’s in there so the evening was starting off strong. We got down to the last house on the west side of the street and no one was home. The desert stretched away to the north so we crossed the street and headed up the walk of the first house. The lawn was dying and weedy, Billy pointed out that this house was dark too, and that there was probably no one at home there either, but my sister spotted the flicker of a TV behind the curtains so we boldly marched to the front door and knocked.

The door swung open slowly and there stood the first ‘almost naked lady’ I had ever seen. In reality she wasn’t even close to naked but her blouse was unbuttoned and we could see her bra. Her teased hair was the color of straw, flipped up at the ends, and a bit disheveled, a cigarette hung from the corner of her mouth and she held a glass filled with ice cubes and brown liquor.

Wide eyed in wonder, at such a sight, we all yelled, “Trick-r-Treat” and held our open bags up to receive her offering.

She leaned down and peered at us through the screen. “Trick or Treat?” she questioned. “What, is this Halloween?”

We all nodded in unison.

Glancing back into the gloom of the house she shouted, “Shit, honey; it’s Halloween. I’ve got a passel ‘o kids at the front door Trick or Treatin’. We got anything to give ‘em?”

A large man walked up behind her wearing jeans, a wife beater, and a black cowboy hat, “like what?” he asked.

“Like candy.”

“We ain’t got no candy. If ya gotta give ‘em sumthin – give ‘em beer.”

The ‘almost naked lady’ held up her hand, “wait here kids,” she told us and hurried back into the house. I could see a light come on through a door down the hall.

The cowboy stood at the door and stared at us. “What are y’all s’posed to be? All dressed up weird.”

Ann began explaining about her prom queen costume. I was amazed when I realized that her speech was obviously well rehearsed. The cowboy was listening and nodding his head when the ‘almost naked lady’ pushed him aside and opened the screen door to step out. My bag was closest and I raised it slightly.

Cradled against her body by her left arm the ‘almost naked lady’ had four long neck Lone Star beers. She set the first one gently in my bag and then repeated the operation with my friends and my sister. She stood up straight, leaned back and crossed her arms below her breasts. She smiled, “Ya’ll are just the cutest!”

We all just looked up and stared. Billy finally broke the spell, “Thank you ma’am.” He said politely and immediately the rest of us joined in with a chorus of Thanks. Then we turned to leave.

“Hey kids,” the cowboy said, “don’t y’all be tellin’ yer folks what house you got them beers from now. Fact, it’ll prolly be simpler if you just drink ‘em ‘fore ya get home and don’t say nuthin’.” He held up a church key and tossed it to Daniel who caught it smartly.

“Thank you sir,” I said as the door swung shut.

We discussed his advice and decided he was right. We opened our beers and drank them as we continued up towards the corner. We didn’t knock on any more doors on that street. At the corner we stuffed our empty bottles into a hedge so we could collect them in the morning and turn them in for the deposit.

We commenced to Trick-r-Treating again on the very next street.


185

Found in my Inbox


Greetings from ACME

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Filé Gumbo – Padre Island Style


 

This is going to be an experiment. I am just going to type and tell a story or more accurately relate a memory. I am using the 1st paragraph of this Moonshine 173 page as inspiration because as I read it, it reminded me of something we used to do when I was a kid. Well, at least the sentence about the grilling did so I’m going to run with it. I don’t want to write about lemons. Not now anyway, maybe next week.

I was born on the gulf coast. That would be the Texas coast on the Gulf of Mexico, and when I was a lad; my parents, my older sister and I would take the short drive and go on day trips to Padre Island on the weekend. We always took a grill with us, about 14” x 30” made of expanded metal with an angle iron frame and a large stock pot. A produce box with onions, rice (or potatoes), okra, tomatoes, and celery would finish our list of provisions. Not really – we would also bring beach towels, bowls, a couple of shovels, spoons and a knife. I don’t think sunscreen had been invented in those days. If it had been we treated it with great disdain and scorned it. It never went to the beach with us.

My dad would park the Studebaker on the sand behind the dunes and we would romp through the sparse grasses and the white sand to the water’s edge. On the way we would collect driftwood that we found. When we had enough wood a hole was dug in the sand. The wood was laid for a fire and the grill was set over the top. We used sea water for stock and my mom and dad would cut up the vegetables and put them in the stock pot on the grill. Meanwhile my sister and I would go crabbing. I would walk along the shore about knee deep in the water my sister would shadow from the sand (occasionally these positions were reversed). When we spotted a lump in the sea bed the shovel was employed to scoop it up and quickly toss it to the shore where it was immediately obvious if said lump had been a rock or a crab. If it was a rock – we left it where it had landed. If it was a crab – the shadower scrambled to catch it before it got back down to the water and disappeared. Caught crabs were taken back to the fire and handed over to my dad who would unceremoniously toss them into the pot of vegetable fortified, boiling sea water to cook.

Clean the cooked crab. Spice it all up with pepper and filé, no additional salt was necessary as we were cooking in sea water, and eat. The filé and okra combine as a thickening agent and the gumbo just doesn’t get any better or any fresher than this.

Healthy? Probably healthier than hotdogs but harder to put mustard on and I don’t believe it would be very healthy to eat something cooked in water drawn straight from the Gulf of Mexico these days. Too much has transpired in the interim.

 


 

 

The Dating Game – Episode 822-A


 

The show had an air date of December 4th 1974 but it was taped in early September of that same year. It was done in front of a live audience so it was pretty much a one take deal. As far as rehearsals went: they showed us where to sit, where to stand and they went over a list of things we were not allowed to say. I won’t repeat that here – just think of George Carlin.

Before the show began the three bachelors drew straws to see who would be Bachelor # 1. I got the short straw, it was me. The other two guys flipped a coin for their positions. We took our seats and immediately, Bachelor # 2 asked if he had time to go to the men’s room. His request was denied and I just know that he spent the rest of the show wishing for it to be over. At that point, I don’t think he cared who won.

The lights came up, the audience was cued to clap and cheer, Johnny introduced Jim Lange and the part of the stage where we were seated on our high stools, spun around and Jim got right to it. “Bachelor # 1 is an artist and a revolutionary with a keen interest in underwater travel. A citizen of Planet Earth, lets welcome TNKerr.” The lights on me were raised and there was a smattering of applause from the studio audience. Although I waved and smiled, hippies like me were still not mainstream in those days and I looked a lot like Dennis Hopper had in Easy Rider.

Jim continued, “From Chicago, Bachelor #2 is a CPA specializing in tax preparation. He has two cats and likes to watch badminton. Ken Darling.” More applause and the lights came up on poor Ken with his receding hairline and comb over. He was thumping his knees together at a rate of about 73 BPM. He stood for a second before remembering that he was not supposed to do that and sat back down promptly.

“Let’s welcome Bachelor #3, Ozzie Savage is a lumberjack from Beaver Junction, Maine. He has a cabin in the woods and is an avid snow collector.” The lights came up on Ozzie; he pushed his thick glasses up higher on his nose and brushed his bangs back off his forehead. Then he sat still, staring stoically, straight ahead. He got even less applause than I had. Clearly Ken was going to be the crowd favorite, if he didn’t wet his pants.

Undeterred and always the professional; Jim went right on; “Our special guest has been kept offstage in a soundproof booth. I would like you to meet her, right now. Rachel LaRue is a former pageant winner and now a stewardess from Overland Park, Kansas. She is an amateur actress who enjoys nude sunbathing and “scratch and sniff” stickers.” Rachel came onstage and took her mark on the other side of the wall.

My descriptions of Rachel before I could see her have been gleaned from watching the show later, after the fact. Obviously, I could not see her, nor could she see me, at this point. I learned of her actions and reactions later.

She waved and shook Jim’s hand. She had big hair and big tits. Wearing a high-waisted empire dress she shook her shoulders a lot, presumably to draw your eyes to her breasts by inducing a pendulous sway that was really quite hypnotic, breathtaking.

Jim asked her about being a pageant winner and she explained that she had been Miss Junior Wheat when she was only eight years old. She must have oscillated her shoulders at that point because, all the men in the studio audience erupted into a loud ovation. Production assistants held up cue cards and soon the women in the audience reluctantly joined in the applause as well.

Rachel went straight to the questions, “Bachelor #3 – If you were asked to give yourself a nickname, what would it be?”

“Ahyuh, prolly be Ozzy.” He said.

“OK,” said Rachel. What about you #2?”

Ken whipped his head around. The slapping sound of his thighs beating together slowed ever so slightly. “I’d be ‘Mr. Bitchin’,” he said with a hundred watt smile. “’Cause I’m so bitchin’. And chicks dig me ‘cause I have high income potential.”

Rachel did that thing with the shoulders again, restarted the pendulum. The crowd went wild and they were still swinging when she said, “Bachelor #1, if you were asked to give me a nickname, what would it be?”

I sat up straight, “I really don’t know you well enough to answer that but, based on audience reaction… maybe… ‘Sweetheart’?” I put my face in my hands and shook my head. Did I really just say that? I’m doomed; I’ll never hear the end of this.

The rest of the show was a blur. She asked more deep and meaningful questions like: What is your best pick-up line?  If you were a superhero, who would you be? What is something you did as a teenager that you parents never learned about? I never said a word about me and Spike and that night at the levee.  In fact, I’ve tried to block all that out. But, to make a long story short, she didn’t choose me or the lumberjack from Maine. She chose Ken and, when she did; he lost his water. When he came around the wall the camera could only show him from the waist up and when Rachel leaned in from the waist to peck him on the cheek, for the obligatory peck on the cheek, she was not smiling. I don’t think she wanted to send her dress out for cleaning yet. She kept moving away from him while Johnny announced the details of the dream date they had won.

Me? I went back to Planet Earth, got a haircut, and spent too many years boring holes in the ocean. I still play with the arts and tell people that, when the revolution comes it will be conspicuous consumers like them that’ll be the first to go.

I haven’t thought about The Dating Game in years. Last night, I watched my younger self in a rerun on one of those cable channels that no one ever watches. It was about 2 o’clock in the morning. Rachel LaRue was a hoot. She was the star of that Episode. I woke her up and told her so.

 


 

I read a couple of the other pieces on the grid and the quality of the writers here is mind boggling.  I said to myself, “Self, I think I can roll with this  but I gotta give ’em something that even I’m not expecting.”

Click on the badge and read some things that you’re not expecting! You’re looking for challenge 169.