Thrills and Chills

A story from A Logger’s Daughter: Growing Up in Washington’s Woods

    With four younger siblings, I sometimes had to postpone normal childish milestones because the others were too little…like trick-or-treating at Halloween.

    But sometimes friend and neighbor Marcella took me with her on big-kid adventures, such as my first trick-or-treat expedition the October I turned six. Robe Valley neighbors Norman Blythe and his brother Bob went also, along with Betty and Margaret Otto, all of them twelve to fourteen years old. The five older kids  stopped at my house at dusk. I walked with them to where the road intersected with the old gravel lane that had been the first route into the valley. We followed the overgrown lane until we came to the collapsed ruins of an old cabin with a rusted-out car body in front of it. The boys told scary ghost stories about the place, but Marcella squeezed my hand to let me know they were making it up. They tied string at knee level between trees on opposite sides of the lane to snag anybody else that might come that way.

   By the time we got back to the main road, the stars were out. I trotted along with the big kids as they sang “Red Sails in the Sunset” and other popular songs of the day. I didn’t know those songs, but I did know “The Bear Went over the Mountain.” As soon as they stopped to catch their breaths, I belted out my song at the top of my lungs. They laughed at me, but Marcella joined in and then the rest did, too.

    We asked for treats at the neighbors’ homes, and they gave us home-made cookies or apples. I especially remember visiting Green Gables, a new store then, whose proprietor sold gas and a few groceries. He opened the door to our knock and, thrill of thrills, gave us each a candy bar from his glass-fronted case. Sadly, Green Gables closed this summer after seventy-five years in operation.

    We also stopped at the shack where a man we called Eaglebeak McQuarry lived. I clung tightly to Marcella’s hand because I was afraid of the lanky-haired man with sallow skin and grimy clothes. He looked dark and dull all over except for the scary glint in his black eyes. To my relief the shack seemed deserted. We found later that he and his silent Indian wife had moved away without telling anybody. The boys soaped the windows but stopped when we heard the whine of a dog coming from inside. We backed away and ran down the dark highway until we neared my home. The older ones dropped me off with my loot.

    I couldn’t keep a secret. I told my parents what had happened at the shack. The next morning my father released the abandoned dog.

    For me, the chills of that Halloween almost equalled the thrills. It was certainly my most memorable!

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