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Halloween hijinx: Keeping away from the ‘Big Olds’

by on October 31, 2019 1:32 PM

You’ve no doubt heard of the Terrible Two’s — that stage where the adorable little darlins grow fangs.

It’s doubtful you’ve ever heard of the Terrible Two. That would have been Bob and I when we terrorized Port Matilda during Halloween in the late 1950s. That was our favorite holiday. We loved it more than Christmas, more than Easter, more than the last day of school.

And it wasn’t because of the candy. For a few short years we put the trick in trick-or-treat. We did some things we shouldn’t’ have done and didn’t do some things we were accused of doing just because of our reputation. Either way, I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has expired.

Examples: Some older guys in town were hijacking younger trick or treaters and taking their bounty. We didn’t do that. Someone upset the spinster school teacher’s tool shed. Guilty. I can still hear those rakes and shovels clanging and banging.

There were two policemen in Port Matilda at that time. We occupied their time during Halloween as they tried to catch us doing something that wasn’t necessarily against the law, just annoying to the adults in the community.

One of the cops was a man called Ruffy Steele. A big, gruff, craggy man, there was a heart of gold beneath the rough exterior.

He was a patient man for the most part. He finished his career in Milesburg, but we had him first.

One night he ran out of tolerance for Bob and for me. He caught us just walking up the street, probably after we had either soaped a car’s windshield or thrown shelled corn against the windows of a house. R

ightfully, he figured we had either pulled some prank or were about to and sent us home. Bob lived in the middle of town so he walked home.

I lived on Heathen Hill so Ruffy told me to get into his huge 1958 Oldsmobile and he took me home with the admonition that he didn’t want to see me again that night. I went in the front door of my house and straight out the back door and linked up with Bob at Steele’s store.

It wasn’t too long before that big Oldsmobile caught us in the headlights.

“I thought I told you guys to stay home,’’ he growled. “Bob, go home. Ron, get in the car.”

So he took me home. Same story, in the front door, out the back and over to Steele’s store.

That might have been when the tool shed was upset.

We hadn’t gone far from the scene of the crime when the big Olds rounded the corner. We took off running down the street, which had a small embankment on either side.

Bob always wore his coat unzipped so that when he ran he looked like Bat Man. We each picked a side of the street and snuggled up tight against the embankment.

Ruffy came slowly down the street, shining his spotlight over the lawns on either side..

“Hey, Ruffy, over here,’’ Bob yelled. The spotlight immediately swung to that side of the street. “Over here, Ruffy,’’ I yelled. And the spotlight swung back to my side. That went on for a couple of minutes before he tired of the game.

After that, Bob and I decided we’d cool it for a while so we went to the Clover Farm store that sat on the corner, climbed up the outside stairs and went out on the roof where we could see the whole town. From there we watched that big Olds patrolling the streets, spotlight playing across yards and down alleys, no doubt looking for us. We enjoyed that.

After a while we figured we’d had enough fun for the night and decided to go home, choosing the route where we would be least likely to end up caught in his spotlight.

The next day we learned that someone had let the air out of the tires on one of the school buses that night, causing a whole bus load of kids to be late for class.

It wasn’t us. Honest. Now for the flaming paper bag that contained dog poop and was thrown on someone’s porch? I’m pleading the 5th.


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