Hi neighbors. As Halloween approaches I reminisce about scary stories of my own past. Now these stories may not conjure up images from Hollywood movies, but they seemed pretty intimidating while living through them.
As a child I was always afraid of the dark. The reason for my fear I attribute to my older brother. There was not a dark corner in our home, our yard, our garage or anywhere in the neighborhood that he did not hide in at one time or another. He would wait until I would venture close enough for him to jump out of the shadows and scare me.
I must have been a pretty easy target because I never wised up. Even knowing it was my brother (who never hurt me in reality) my imagination didn't need much coaxing to turn him into whatever monster we had last seen at the theater the Saturday before.
My best friend Kay and I was both naive enough to fall for any story my brother and his best friend Larry would cook up.
Once they convinced us that Bigfoot was loose in the neighborhood. Did we doubt their story? There were footprints in the dirt driveway to prove it! Of course we reasoned that my brother and Larry had simply drawn the oversized footprints in the dirt, but maybe not.
Maybe, just maybe -- and we admitted even as children that it was a long shot -- there WAS a Bigfoot somewhere in the world. If there was one somewhere in the world, why couldn't that somewhere be suburban Wichita, Kan.?
They did provide us protection by offering the back room of the garage as a hide out. We thought it curious that they didn't suggest simply going into the house. Kay and I huddled in the garage terrified by strange loud noises, growls and unknown things hitting the garage walls from outside.
After half an hour of this -- and coincidentally after hearing my mother call out that supper was ready -- the noises suddenly stopped and my father came to find us. He just shook his head and sighed deeply when we explained that Bigfoot was after us.
There was another scare later that summer when a lion was reported to have escaped from the zoo. I was hoping it would come by the house because I was really into Animal Kingdom and Tarzan. However, my mother and I walked Kay home and then locked ourselves in the house until my brother and father returned.
She had the TV on in one room and the radio on in another to keep up with the latest news of the fierce predator. We sat on the couch all afternoon with my brother's baseball bat firmly in my hands and my father's hunting rifle in my mother's lap. (It wasn't until my father got home that we realized it was not loaded.)
The evening news revealed that the escaped King of Beasts had gotten out of its cage, walked almost 10 feet and found its trainer who coaxed it back into its cage with a slab of bacon. The city had been terrorized for a total of five minutes. We had been on red alert for three hours! A whole summer afternoon wasted. In hindsight, the story was worth the time lost. And seeing my mother become the cub-protecting momma bear was a memory worth earning.
The little zoo that was home to this tale of terror seemed to have more than its share of woe with its animals. The "zoo" was actually a park with a lake (Lake Park) and dozens of ducks, geese and a couple of flamingoes. There was a monkey house shared with the lions (no wonder the lions wanted out!) and a pit with alligators and crocodiles.
Apparently the alligators and crocodiles were kept under the lion/monkey house during the winter. They were put on sliding boards and slid into the crawl space where they slept through the cold weather. One winter the hot water pipe broke, heated up the crawl space and activated the sleeping reptiles! That story kept us away from the park till way past May the following spring. My mother was big on not taking any chances.
Until the next time, friends, remember to share your own "scary" stories with your children and grandchildren. Zombies, ghosts and alien monsters might be the scariest things around now -- but Bigfoot and a lion on the loose make a darned good yarn.