31 Lists of Horror: Chuck Bowie’s Halloween Memories

How­ev­er you want to say and/or spell it—Halloween, Hallowe’en, All Hal­lows Eve, All Hal­low Even, Can­dy from Strangers Night—October 31 is indis­putably the cor­po­rate-man­dat­ed spook­i­est time of year. With that in mind, I present 31 Days of Devil’s Night lists, of my own and of my lit­er­ary brethren both near and far.

Tonight’s special guest lister: Chuck Bowie.

Chuck Bowie grad­u­at­ed from the Uni­ver­si­ty of New Brunswick in Cana­da with a Bach­e­lor Degree in Sci­ence. Orig­i­nal­ly from Miramichi, he con­tin­ues to live in New Brunswick. Chuck loves food, wine, music and trav­el and all play a role in his work. His writ­ing often draws upon ele­ments of these expe­ri­ences to round out his char­ac­ters and plot­lines. Because he enjoys vent­ing as much as the next fel­low, Chuck will at times share his thoughts with a brief essay, some of which may be found on his web­site. He is work­ing with his pub­lish­er to edit the fourth nov­el, enti­tled The Body On The Under­wa­ter Road, in the sus­pense-thriller series Dono­van: Thief For Hire. His newest pub­lished work is enti­tled Steal It All, and fol­lows Three Wrongs and AMACAT.

October 6, 2017

Chuck Bowie’s Favourite Halloween Memories


Ah, lists. Our ines­timable writer—and yes, I could make a list of his attributes—Corey Redekop has placed a few judi­cious invi­ta­tions to blog a Hallowe’en list, and I thought I’d accept.

The child’s Hallowe’en Melody: Muahahaaa!

Black and gold, black and gold

Noth­ing in between,

When the sky is black and gold

Then it’s Hallowe’en.’

I was in Grade 4 when I was oblig­ed by my teacher to learn this minor-chord dit­ty. I was, how shall I put it? not too sweet but plen­ty loud. Mrs. Mas­son, bless her, chose to not sidle up to me and ask me to lip synch the melody. I sing bet­ter now, hard­ly any­one runs away from my singing with that Edvard Munch look…

Hallowe’en Book: Scary Not Scary

At the ten­der age of ten—hey! Same ban­ner year as List Item #1!—I found my sister’s Trix­ie Bel­don book. Hav­ing just dust­ed off the entire L. Frank Baum Oz series, I was des­per­ate to read some­thing, and it was just lying there…anyway, the plot, vague after all these years, con­cerned the Mex­i­can Day of the Dead, and I asso­ci­at­ed it with Hallowe’en. It was the first instance I expe­ri­enced, of a book ‘promis­ing’ death, dan­ger and destruc­tion, and yield­ing at the end…nothing but a mis­un­der­stand­ing. As a ten-year-old, I didn’t know whether to tip my hat to the author, or feel cheat­ed. I moved on.

I’m an Air Force Brat…

This means a) that home was a neb­u­lous con­cept for my first 19 years, and b) that I could nev­er guess how Hallowe’en would unfold. At age 13, for exam­ple, my father brought home sev­en Ger­man sailors that night. After Trick or Treat and sup­per, I got to stay up at the top of the stairs and watch 7 unilin­gual Ger­mans, and two unilin­gual Par­ents employ beer to suss out a lin­gua fran­ca. It tran­spired that play­ing and singing music became the com­mon bond: My dad was a fine musi­cian and could find the music for some of the Ger­man folk songs. There were the beer songs—Eins, Zwei, gSuf­fa, the Ger­man trans­la­tions to what we thought of as Eng­lish pop songs: Lily Mar­lene, and lat­er, when they’d run out of ideas, I sup­pose: Oh, Tan­nen­baum, because: Why not? Most of the Germans…kids, real­ly, were cry­ing at this point, being home­sick and in their cups.

Although…they’d cease being maudlin when teens rang the door for Trick or Treat; they could laugh at how poor­ly the efforts of the teens were, in com­par­i­son to the ‘Tweens a few hours ear­li­er.

Traditional Hallowe’en Food

When my boys were kids, they were signed up for every­thing: gym­nas­tics, square dancing—they’ll deny that one—soccer, base­ball, hock­ey, music, you get the pic­ture. They were try­ing to find them­selves, and I was try­ing to be every­where at all times. Some­thing usu­al­ly has to give; often it is a nutri­tious, deli­cious meal. One Hallowe’en, I was up against it, time-wise, and pre­pared and almost lit­er­al­ly threw food at them, to get them out Trick-or-Treat­ing on time. Some­how, food hap­pened that night and I sank into a chair by the door, suck­ing on those molasses can­dies that refuse to go away.

Fast-for­ward one year, less 6 hours:

Dad, are you going to make the tra­di­tion­al Hallowe’en din­ner?”

Umm, what might that be?”

You know; the one you make every year.”

Can you give me a hint?”

Come on, Dad, you know: deep-fried pota­to medal­lions, choco­late milk and creamed tuna on toast. And can you make it like last year? That was the best one.”

Well, to my mem­o­ry, it was the only one, but okay. Tra­di­tion­al Hallowe’en din­ner it is. Even if it nev­er was.

I lived in Northern Quebec as a ‘Tween…

In my first year there I dressed up as a cow­boy, grabbed a pil­low case (mak­ing sure there were no holes in the cor­ner to spill my loot, took my 7-year-old broth­er in tow—he was dressed as a bed sheet ghost—and off we went, off the Air Base, to Trick or Treat the town of Bagotville, in Que­bec.

The first door we knocked at, the father called his entire fam­i­ly out to view my broth­er and I. My broth­er was quite proud of his cos­tume, rais­ing him­self up on his toes to look big­ger and scari­er. After three ‘Trick or Treats’, they said some­thing polite to me and closed the door.

A mis­un­der­stand­ing, I con­clud­ed.

By the third Trick or Treat, some­what mut­ed by now, I con­fess, I was begin­ning to under­stand that, cul­tur­al­ly, we weren’t on the same page. And it wasn’t a lin­guis­tic issue. That third par­tic­u­lar house belonged to a just-retired Mon­tre­al Cana­di­en, a play­er of note. What I not­ed, how­ev­er, was that he wasn’t hap­py to have a cou­ple of Eng­lish-speak­ing kids ring­ing his door­bell for no good rea­son.

Deject­ed, we trod home, emp­ty pil­low cas­es drag­ging, and our mom filled our sacks with the can­dies none of the oth­er towns­peo­ple came beg­ging for. All’s well that ends well.

After my teen years, I took Hallowe’en as a chance to social­ize with my peers, have a bev­er­age, and at times check out the weird peo­ple I usu­al­ly sur­round myself with. In oth­er words, the typ­i­cal week­end. But when the sky turns black and gold, I do seem to glance over my shoul­der, just a bit more often.

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