Remember How Great October Really Was? It was the beginning of the cooler weather, when everything around us began to change. Though the school year was well under way, it was still a great month. Octoberwas a time when Autumn truly began to announce itself. It was a time when parents (and kids) actually went out to rake the leaves. Of course, it the leaf pile was big enough, I could never resist running, then jumping on it.
Autumn was comprised of the most magnificent of offerings; it was always special for me when growing up. The apples were finally at their best, and the air was so crisp it felt sharp and brittle. October was the beginning of the great holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were just around the corner. I can recall those bright chilly Saturdays playing outside; it was a relief to not be so hot and sweaty, and when the sun hit early morning dew, there was beautiful glistening that made everything feel so new and fresh. Autumn provided for me a beatific joy coupled with a certain melancholy.
When the chillier weather drove us inside, the new fall lineup of great television was really something to be looked forward to. I still recall with clarity, sitting around front yards of neighboring homes, discussing with anticipation the coming week's episode of "Lost in Space", or "The Outer Limits", or "The Virginian."
Rain soaked streets and nature's spread of multi-colored leaves made a precious mantle that blanketed entire neighborhoods. Life was indeed something to be cherished. There was a cripsness in the air like ghostly skeleton fingers creeping down the back of my neck. Fireplaces and distant woodsmoke scented the air. On occasion when outdoor leaf burnings were in order, it was great to stand near the blaze warming my fingers. Outdoor games were always a constant, and riding our bikes never grew tiresome. October promised the coming of winter and perhaps the gift of snow, which, in Portland, Oregon, was not always a frequent occurance.
October was a change so pronounced that a jacket and rubber boots were often required by mom before leaving the house for school. Stomping on frosted puddles was the thing to do while walking to school with your friends. Hearing that "spluck" sound once your boot crashes through the ice, and knowing how dry and warm your feet were whilst being submerged in potentially frigid waters made it all the more intriguing. The walks to school seemed longer in the chilly mornings. Everybody walked, there were no schoolbuses for elementary kids. Of course, school was the last thing I ever looked forward to; it was more like a regular job, where the best part was just seeing your friends, but mostly suffering through the day. However, one of the best parts of all was watching "Leave it to Beaver" just before leaving the house.
Stopping by the corner store to load up on candy was another thing to look forward to. None of us were rich enough to do this on a daily basis, but on the days when we had a few extra pennies and could pool our financial resources, it was the best thing ever. Red licorice was good but could be confiscated, therefore you had to be able to eat it all before entering the school building. Luden's Wild Cherry cough drops were a hands-down favorite among everybody in the entire world. First off, they were medicinal, therefore they were good for you. Second, they were small, noiseless, and easy to munch in the classroom. Dodging the teacher's suspicious glances was easy enough. There was no bulge in the cheeks like there would be with the big grape gumballs. Mexican Hats or Red Hots were likewise perfect school candy. You had to be careful though; not only was the teacher ever-vigilant, but the girls in class were gifted and prolific tattletales; very little got past them.
The autumn light was special too, especially in the late afternoons near suppertime. There was a slight hint of saffron and cream that melded together in a delicate mist so divine that I could never put acccurately into words, but instead revel in its wonder. It was a different kind of light; in it was a sense of finality, primarily due to the earlier sunsets.
When dusk came earlier, it provided an odd and humbling sense of awe that only the robust change of season could provide. I always felt that in a sense, the light was sad to see the summer days go away, but upon reflection, I think we all loved the change and welcomed a new sense of adventure that the coming year promised. To this day October remains my favorite month.
The day of Halloween was always the best day in school. The teacher usually offered some sort of history to commemorate the day no doubt in hope that it would stick with us forever. Activities were usually plentiful, and the day's lessons were set aside so that we could have fun for the rest of the day. Great discussions of what costume each of us would wear, or what we were going to be usually began about a week before the grand day arrived. Halloween was like the ultimate game played in the dark. The afternoon movie on TV was always a monster movie. One particular year "House on Haunted Hill" was on. We all jumped out of our seats when the old gray witch came gliding out a closet. Nothing could have been more perfect for a Halloween movie. Dinner was usually something very festive, or at least color coordinated to the evening. The yellow of macaroni and cheese topped with red tomatoes, the orange of jello, and the syncopation of all made dinner something to actually look forward to.
the preparation of getting into a costume and generally getting ready for the evening was so exciting. There was no way to tell what sort of sugar coated wonders lay out there in vast frontier of adult homes and friendly neighbors. Our neighbors were always good for a popcorn ball and a caramel apple. A few even doled out party favors like noismakers and streamers. The corner store was likewise generous, and kept their giant candy bowls on the counter for easy access. It was so great to be a kid V.I.P. that didn't have to wait in line like the others. The man would just reach into the bowl and deposit something into our bags while waiting on customers.