Thursday, October 15, 2009

The School Halloween Party

I remember growing up, we always had a Halloween Party at school every year. It was always held on the Friday before Halloween. The school was Kindergarten through 12th grade, all in one building. The party started around noon and parents and the community were welcome and it always drew a big crowd. Prizes were given for the best costume, the scariest, the funniest, the prettiest, etc. It was quite the honor for students to win a prize at the annual Halloween Party, and us kids usually went out of our way to come up with a good costume so we could win. There was also lots of food to eat (cakes, cookies. etc.) and lots of candy. The community really came together to celebrate the occassion.

The Burns kids usually won for our costumes, primarily because Mom would help us make them. She told us we won because we had homemade costumes. I'm sure this was just her way of re-assuring us that our costumes were as good as everyone else's, who usually had store-bought costumes. Mom would let us decide what we wanted to dress up as for Halloween, and then she'd give us idea's on how to make that costume the best it could be.

I especially remember one year, I was probably in 2nd grade, and I couldn't make up my mind what to be for Halloween. I wanted to go scary, but the year before I was a vampire, and I didn't want to repeat that one two years in a row (although I made a fairly decent vampire).

Me as a vampire, a few year after this story took place.

My aunts told me to dress up like some movie star, primarily because they were all in love with Don Johnson and whatever the flavor of the month happened to be at that time. My Uncle Tom wanted me to be a motorcycle driver, because he was going through that phase and for some reason constantly watched "Any Which Way You Can" on our old disc player. Everyone I asked for help with coming up with an idea seemed to give me idea's that I just didn't care for.

When the annual Halloween Party was growing close (only a week away), there had been some commotion at school. My Aunt Aim had gotten into a fight with another girl and Mom and my granddad had to go into school to meet with the principal about it. Well, we Burns' have always been clannish and when one of us were in trouble, all of us were in trouble. When the time of the appointment came around, and we knew Mom and my Granddad were at the principal's office, all of us kids just walked out of class and right into the school office where the secretary was located. We were all going to attest that the fight was not my Aunt Aim's fault. Of course, all of our teachers were right behind us. Me, always being the mouthy one, and because I was the pet pig, said to my teacher when she kept telling me to return to my classroom or face the consequences, "Why don't you go somewhere where somebody wants to see you." Well that just threw the fat in the fire. That teacher started yelling at me, but my Aunt Tam quickly came to my rescue. She told my teacher, "He ain't a damn dog and you aint gonna talk to him like one." Well that just further infuriated the teacher, to the point where she was so mad that she was shaking. The school secretary knew us and how we were really good kids at heart, and knew that we were all there simply to take up for our Aunt Aim, told the teacher, "Why don't you go on back to your classroom and I'll have the principal take care of this." Well that got the teachers off our backs, and the secretary told us to have a seat until the meeting was over. Well, we didn't wait, we all barged into the meeting in the principals office and all started telling how that other girl was always picking on my Aunt Aim and how the other girl threw the first punch, and it wasn't my Aunt Aim's fault that she had "cleaned up on the girl who's mouth overloaded her ass". (Those were my Aunt Tam's exact words...we found out long before that you couldn't get in trouble for cussing in the principals office). Well, Aunt Aim was exonerated but the rest of us got sent home for the day so the teachers could cool off a bit, which was fine with us because we had all planned on returning home with Mom and my granddad anyway. What we didn't figure on though was the teachers that we had ticked off were also the costume judges at the Halloween Party!

Me, my brother and Dad, about the time this story took place. As you can see by our dirty shirts, "We played hard."

But it wasn't long before one of us did think of this, and we all figured we wouldn't win anything at the Party. Especially considering word got around that the teachers had made their brags that none of us would win anything at the Halloween Party. When we went home and told everyone, we were all in a huff. Then, my granddad struck on a great idea. Mind you he wasn't much of a provider, but he did know how to get things accomplished when times called for it. He came up with a plan to scare them into letting us win. His plan involved scaring, but not necessarily threatening, the principal who lived just down the mountain from us. The principal loved to ride his horses out on the road every evening around 6 O'clock, and we all knew that. Furthermore, my granddad remembered how the principal's horses were scared of his loud truck (it really was a rattletrap), so much so, that the principal had asked my Granddad a few weeks before if he would turn off the motor of his truck when he passed them along the road, so that the horses wouldn't get so frightened by the truck. But, now that all of us kids were facing some culpability for our wayward actions, all bets were off. That evening around 6 O'clock, my granddad took a drive down the road, and sure enough, there was the principal riding along on his ol' skittish mare. Seizing the opportunity, my granddad raced alongside of him, revved the engine of the old truck and that mare took off like a bullet. Granddad said she took to bucking and kicking and that the principal eventually ended up laying in the side ditch. Granddad stopped and helped him up, and said to the principal, "It'd be a real shame if my kids and grandkids don't get a fair shake at that Halloween Party next week." The principal agreed that it would be, but nothing else was said between them.

As the party neared, I had fianlly decided on a french clown costume, Mom sewed me up one out of spare cloth, and she came to school and painted my face before the judging. Oh, but the teachers gave us all some drop-dead, dirty looks, but it was obvious to everyone with a set of eyes that the Burns kids really did have the best costumes of anyone there. We overheard the teachers (judges) talking amongst themselves and several of them were still not going to allow us to win anything over what we had done the week prior to the party. Then the principal walked over to the judges, and whispered something to them. My teacher got so mad that she stormed off and refused to take part in the judging, but when the winners were announced, every last one of us Burns kids won some sort of prize!

As I recall, the prize for winning was a goodie bag and bragging rights. We all looked like cats who swallowed the proverbial canary when we lined up for photographs. Soon after being announced winners, Mom said it'd probably be best if we all "got out of Dodge" so we loaded up into the back of granddad's old pickup truck and made our way back up the mountain. I can still remember my granddad saying to me as we walked by the group of judges as we were leaving, "I reckon we showed them, didn't we Hackey?"

Whew! It's no wonder I was meaner than a striped-eyed snake!


Janet said...

I always loved the Halloween parties at my kid's grade school. I made their costumes, too. My son Andrew loved being Dracula. One year my oldest son dressed up as Frankenstein. We had a new principal one year and he announced that the kids were to come to school in their costumes and be in it all day long. We went and talked to him and said we didn't think that would work out very good, because some of the kids costumes were usually very elaborate and they wouldn't even be able to sit in their chairs with them on. Well, after talking with us he changed his mind. I think that was the year my kids were dinosaurs with long stuffed tails and another girl in their class was decked out as a Christmas tree. Those were the days. I think now they can't even have junk food at their parties.

Vera said...

Matthew, I just wait for your stories and I always wonder if it is all true or do you make part of it up.
I love them either way.

Matthew Burns said...

Thanks for sharing your story with us. It's a shame that kids can't have any fun any more.

Vera--As hard as it may be to believe, all of my stories are just as I remember them happening. Looking back, I sure ad a unique childhood and I realize now that the only thing we didn't have was money. But you know, that shaped me into the person I am today so that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

Shirley Stewart Burns, Ph.D. said...

I always loved the fall festivals (which included our Halloween festivities). Some of my best memories occurred during grade school fall festivals....spooky haunted houses with grape "eyeballs" and fake blood. Ahhh...good times...Oh, and cakewalks. Yep, our fall festival had old fashioned cake walks.

tipper said...

I'm glad you had a unique childhood-and I'm glad you share it with us! I was at the girls party last night-and we had an amazing cake walk.