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BUSSY DONAHUE liked devils, so Halloween was his time to howl.  Or, to do whatever devils do this time of year.  He would put on his fire red costume, complete with horns and tail, and prepare for the first round of “collecting.”  Bussy knew how to work an opportunity.  He also knew a few things about management, though he probably didn’t understand that. 

First, he would organize the neighborhood.  Kids Alert!  He usually gathered a good ten or twelve to go with him on his rounds. That really didn’t take too much work, though, since his own family contributed six kids right up front. Then, he would be sure he had a big enough bag to hold all his soon to be received goodies. This was a once-a-year special, and he was determined to get as much as possible right from the start.

                                                Halloween Strategy

Now, you have to understand the “Bussy” strategy. It was based on two things:  The neighborhood, and how much you might get there.  One year, Bussy brilliantly decided to target a very wealthy neighborhood about a mile outside of our own community.  Of course, that was strictly verboten.  An unwritten law said you only go “trick-or-treating” in your own backyard, and this was quite a bit beyond that, economically as well as geographically.  But that didn’t faze Bussy.  Rules and regulations were frequently outside his domain, what with his cute red hair and freckled face – and now that bright red devil getup — he got away with anything.

Everybody in the group had his or her own little “trick” to offer householders who demanded it.  Betty Lou did a ballet dance; fitting, since she was dressed up as a ballerina. Scott showed he knew something about judo, and didn’t miss the chance to tell everyone that his uncle taught it in the Marine Corps.  Bussy didn’t do much of anything except direct.  “This house, not that one,” sort of thing. 




                                               Trick or Treat

PEOPLE WERE JUDGED by what they gave.  Mrs. Harrison always handed out big bars of candy.  The Deloskies gave out small cans of baked beans, though nobody ever knew exactly what for.  We gave apples, pennies, and candy, which sounds like a lot, but it really wasn’t, since nobody wanted the apples in the first place.

But nobody quite equaled the giveaways at that rich community Bussy discovered.  House after house seemed to have set up a banquet.  Candy bars galore.  Little gifts.  One family gave every kid a pack of playing cards!  It was amazing!

One big white house was occupied by two old ladies, and they gave every kid a small cup of hot chocolate.  Who ever heard of such a thing?  We stood in wonder!  But then, one of the ladies asked Bussy where he came from.  “I don’t recall ever seeing you around here,” she said.  “Oh, sure,” he stuttered. “Where?  She asked.  “The grey house,” he said.  “What grey house?” she asked.  And on and on it went.  Oh, it was devastating!  Everybody was just about ready to run away when she came out with a carefully wrapped package for each kid, smiled, and said “goodnight.”  Whew!

But Bussy wasn’t to be deterred.  Once he saw what was in the package – which had some of the best candies ever – he came up with a plan to go back there, again.  “We’ll wait 20 minutes,” he said.  “They won’t recognize us. We’re in costume.”

That’s what we did.  And when we went back – whammo!  That little old lady turned into a dragon.  “You were here already!” she exclaimed.  “Now, go away!”  And she slammed the door.  Wow!  Bussy just stood there amazed.  The rest of us stood scared to death, wondering what he would do next.  But…all he did was turn around and start home.  What a letdown!

                                           The Morale

Which brings me to the purpose of this story, which is to remind you that Halloween really is a very dangerous time?  There are goblins and strange-bodied and out-of-body creatures around just waiting to pounce on you and change you forever.  Believe me, we learned that with Bussy. 

That night, things were happening that we paid no attention to.  But we should have. He didn’t try to trip Betty Lou when she did her ballet dance. He stopped teasing Shortstuff about being short.  He shared some of his candy with a couple of the little kids.

And if that wasn’t enough, there were major changes that took place in the days and months following Halloween. That red devil’s suit was folded away, not to be taken out again. He began growing a stubble on his chin. And he more or less resigned as captain of our gang in order to pay more attention to his studies.  Oh!  This was a time of tragic happenings. Somebody said “Age is a terrible thing.” 

But we knew better. The culprit was Halloween! 



Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, October 14th, 2010

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