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October 07, 2004 - Thursday, 12:36 p.m.

October Memories

October, what a great month!! This was one of my favorite months of the year growing up in Minnesota. I lived in a little town north of the Twin Cities. It was situated on the mouth of the Rum River as it emptied into the Mississippi River. It was a cute little town called Anoka. We lived on a street that ran along the Mississippi. Most of the houses across the street from us were river front property. October was the month that all of the trees put on their autumn coats. Red, orange, brown, purple leaves covered the trees and ground. There was such a crisp feel to the air. Crisp is the right word. I can remember the piles of leaves along the curb in the gutters, there wasn’t anything better then walking through the leaves, the crunching and swishing and the smell of decaying leaves. Wonderful!

Everyday I walked about 5 blocks to Franklin Elementary School. Summer a memory, and winter a promise. Like every elementary kid we collected fall leaves and discussed all the different trees in our world, elms, oaks, and maples… and all the variations of each. Trees were a big part of life in Minnesota. Knowing the differences important. We collected acorns, each imagining how amazing it would be to plant this little nut and have it grow into a towering oak tree one day.

In the day when I was growing up, you still spent the summers swimming in the Mississippi, but by October we didn’t even go down by the river. At some point, in our young lives, we must have been told not to go down there in the winter. Because, though the river was very close to us, I never went and looked at it in the winter. Only from the bridges in town, one that crossed the Mississippi and then the one we crossed the most, the one across the Rum River that connected us to downtown. We walked everywhere in those days. Unlike the kids of today, our parents never ferried us around. If we wanted to go spend our money at the drug store, or go swimming at the pool or go to the movies, we had to walk there. My father drove into the Cities every day, but as kids our entire world was Anoka. My mother shopped there, we went to school there and it was where we did everything.

By the time I was in Junior High, I could ride the bus to Fred Moore Junior High, though I often walked the couple of miles from our house to the school, my violin case in one hand and my books in the other. (It would have been nice if they could have invented backpacks for school then!). The senior high school had only recently been moved from Fred Moore to a new building, but still outside of Fred Moore was the football stadium, that the high school continued to use while I was going there. It had the school mascot written on it, ‘The Tornados” and in that stadium they played the “Pumpkin Bowl” in October.

You see, Anoka was (and still is) the Halloween Capital of the World. So Halloween was a BIG deal in that town. We had the big football game, and then the week of Halloween was a big party at the school. One whole day was set-aside for the Halloween Parade that went right down the main street in downtown. Every kid went to school in full costume even the teachers participated. We had a big Halloween party at the school on the Friday of Halloween week. We’d spent all of October making cotton ball ghosts and cutting out construction paper jack-o-lanterns. Everywhere in the school was decorated for Halloween. What a wonderful innocent time of fun! I think about all the ‘freaking out’ of parents in my generation over Halloween and its occult and demented ties. What a bunch of poppycock!! It’s just this wonderful Harvest time celebration!! It’s a time to use the imagination and pretend to be something that you aren’t. The ‘scary’ part of Halloween is just an added fun bonus. You could trick-or-treat and get enough candy to make a kid sick. It was GREAT!! What a sweet time it was growing up in the 1960’s.

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