A Small Town Halloween

by on October 20th, 2013
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As small towns go, Harrison Springs was quiet and charming. Filled with slightly worn Southern mansions and faded antique stores, the town held tight to its 200 year history. It was a town filled with the glory of what was. Ignoring the changes of the world around it, Harrison Springs thrived on history and tradition. It’s citizens were content living in the glorious memories of times gone by.

Walking into the town square was like walking back in time. The local pharmacy still had a working soda fountain, the post office was a hodgepodge of wooden cubbies and brass plaques, and the flag flew proudly over the solid brick courthouse. Azaleas, magnolias, and lilacs scented the tree lined streets. People walked to the library on brick lined sidewalks, strolled leisurely through the cemetary lined with headstones over a hundred years old, and sat on vinyl lined booths of the local diner.

Of course the town was also alive with personalities. Old stodgy men who lived off the reputation of their family names. Sweet southern women who still baked pies and hung laundry in their backyards, and teen- agers dreaming of leaving the town behind on their quest for fame and fortune. All normal, all oblivious to each other. The people, as the town, remained the same.

Tradition was followed religiously. Whether it was painting City Hall the same shade of bronze year after year or the Memorial Day parade down main street, everything was run as it always had. The town loved a celebration. The Fourth of July brought parades, pageantry , and a local dance held, as always, in the huge pavilion of the beautiful park. Christmas was just as stunning, with colorful lights strung throughout the town, gaily wrapped packages under the gracefully decorated town tree, and carols sung lustily by the Church choirs throughout the month.

Even Halloween was a highly anticipated and celebrated holiday. Carved pumpkin contests vied with smartly decorated haunted houses for the front page of the weekly paper. Elaborately sewn costumes were proudly displayed. White and gray cotton sheets were draped across tree branches to form hovering ghosts, delighting the little children into shrieks of excited laughter. This Halloween started as all Halloweens had before in Harrison Springs, with the children running from home to home, shouting, “Trick or treat!! Smell my feet! Trick or treat!” Parents smiled indulgently and carried the smallest of the costumed tre. The two man police force patrolled the streets, keeping an eagle eye out for strangers and teen aged pranksters. Neighbors joked with each other while passing out old fashioned popcorn balls and large bags of candy.

Slowly, however, the citizens of Harrison Springs became aware of odd changes occurring around the town. Cranky old Mrs. Hennessy was smiling out on her front porch, offering cups of Styrofoam coffee to tired parents and large chocolate chip cookies to the children. Mrs. Hennessy hadn’t smiled in over forty years since her only son was killed in Chicago. Across the town, Pete Darling, who wasn’t a darling at all, was handing out dollar bills to all the children he saw.

There was more. The diseased magnolia tree in Amanda Killigan’s front yard was suddenly blooming with green leaves and good health. Tyler Richards, the meanest teen- age boy within city limits, was holding his baby sister with care and wonder. No child, tired or over sugared , cried that evening. Laughter and giggles riddled the air. Some parents recognized that something was different, but were too busy having fun to worry much. Some of the town elders also noticed something amiss but were smiling too much to care.

The beauty of the town had reached a peak that evening and it’s citizens had also reached extraordinary heights of charm and good will. Not one person questioned these changes that Halloween evening. The town truly came alive with pure joy. It was not discussed and not recorded but for those who enjoyed that lovely night, it would be remembered forever. And the next morning would bring even more change and positive energy. The town hall would later be painted a lovely shade of gray with blue trim. The citizens were kinder and change came easier. Teen- age students decided to attend the local college and remain in the town they were raised in. Harrison Springs blossomed as that old diseased magnolia tree had on Halloween eve.

And those in the shaded cemetery on the outskirts of town rested once again.


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