Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


And now it's over...

First: I added some healthy raisins to the big pot of Halloween candy. I followed Miriam's suggestion that raisins are both tasty and healthy. At least one girl said "Oh, I love raisins!" We gave the whole bowlful to the kids at the door. I think about 100 kids were here.

Here is my favorite costume of the evening. The girl said she watched movies a lot so that's how she knew about Groucho Marx, one of my favorite movie actors from a long time ago. Her friend said "Can the kitty be in the picture too?"

Then, here is Andrew this year: much bigger than he was last year! His sister Miriam went trick or treating with her older friends.

Finally, here are Miriam and Alice in Virginia, ready to go:

And Theo in costume:

Monday, October 30, 2006


The witch flies at our window...

AND the little pumpkins are smiling:

Sunday, October 29, 2006


This Year's Costumes

Miriam and Alice have already been to a special Ghost Train celebration at a park near their house, to a Halloween parade with Miriam's friend Kelly, and to a Fall Festival at school where there was a haunted house. Miriam told me that the ugly gorilla in the haunted house took off his mask and turned out to be a friend of Miss Barbara! Miriam went to the Pumpkin Patch with her school and saw baby goats and lots of other things too. So there are many ways to celebrate Halloween and the fall season besides trick-or-treating.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Ready for the Trick or Treaters...

unless I get very hungry...

Thursday, October 26, 2006


A Halloween Prescription

Yesterday I went to the doctor for a flu shot. Maybe Miriam, Alice, and Theo will get flu shots too. It's a very important thing to do if your doctor says you should get one.

In the waiting room, I saw a big display about Halloween. The doctors do not agree with me that some candy is good for a special occasion like Halloween. They say I should give children healthy treats. There was a basket of treats to show which ones they liked: raisins, cheese crackers, and things like that. What do you think I should do?

Miriam says raisins and cheese crackers are good AND healthy, so that would be a good choice.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


A Halloween Story about Aunt Bernadine

Myrtle wrote me a real Halloween story about her mother (our Aunt Bernadine): "One year, Merilyn's kids -- Andy, Don, and Leslie -- had the chicken pox and were unable to go trick or treating. My Mother called Marcia up and asked her to drive. Mother dressed up in one of Dad's suits, and had Marcia take her to all of the relatives' houses, and she trick or treated for Merilyn's kids."

Like my mother, Aunt Bernadine never learned to drive a car herself, so she would have to get a ride when she needed one. Marcia and Aunt Sadie often drove her places like in this story.

Myrtle also corrected me: what was once a 5¢ size Hershey bar is now 75¢ !

To read more about people in the family see "Aunts and Uncles" and "Cousins".

Monday, October 23, 2006


Candy and other treats

When we were kids, the most exciting treat to get on Halloween night was a nickel Hershey bar. (That size costs a lot more today: around 50¢.) I liked the ones with almonds best, but I also liked semi-sweet and milk chocolate Hershey bars. Most of the candy we got was a lot smaller than a nickel candy bar.

We liked all the little versions of candy bars like Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Snickers, Nestle Crunch, Kit Kat, Milky Way, Mars, Mounds, Almond Joy, 3 Musketeers, Mr.Goodbar, or small M&Ms packs. Next best were single wrapped candies like a caramel, a sour ball, or Hershey kisses. I have never liked Necco or Jolly Ranchers, but some people always give those out too. When I was little, some neighbors made popcorn balls to give the trick-or-treaters. We also got a few plain apples, carmel apples, or pennies. If something wasn't wrapped, and we didn't know who made it, we threw it away.

A special candy just for Halloween has always been candy corn. Sometimes it's made in other shapes, but still in orange, yelllow, white, and sometimes black colors. I find it sort of tasteless.

Photo by Jennifer Scott on

Around our house, hundreds of kids come from all over to trick or treat if we have good weather on Halloween night. The houses on our block are close together, and the streets are well-lit. Since lots of kids are outside, mostly in groups, everyone is laughing and having a lot of fun; most neighbors give candy to all the kids. I plan to buy a lot of candy for Halloween next week. I still love all of it -- so I can't buy it too early or I'll eat too much myself!

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Decorated Houses

Here is our pumpkin streamer that we have put up on our porch for the last couple of years. Many of our neighbors do much more to make Halloween a very decorative occasion. Some have their entire yards filled with pretend ghosts and tombstones to capture the spirit of the holiday.

At night, houses light up with witches, orange light garlands, and other decorations.


Oatmeal Pancakes

We had friends over for a late-morning brunch. I promised them pancakes and bacon. We also had fruit salad and some chicken-maple sausages. Of course maple syrup on the pancakes. These pancakes were like the ones I made for Miriam and Alice, who love to make and eat pancakes. I also promised to write down the recipe --

Oatmeal Pancakes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats or other whole grain like buckwheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1 to 2 tsp. vegetable oil or melted butter
1 cup skim or regular milk (or milk + yogurt)
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
1/3 c. fruit -- choose grated apple, raisins, dried apricots, dried cherries, and/or dried cranberries

Mix dry ingredients together. Add eggs, milk, and fruit. Allow batter to rest for about an hour (if possible). Ladle batter onto a hot, buttered griddle. Cook until bubbles rise on the raw side. Watch griddle temperature so that the first side does not burn. When bubbly on raw side and brown on cooked side, flip pancakes and cook second side till brown. If you are making a large quantity, keep them in the oven at 170 degrees until ready to serve.

The quantity above serves 2 to 3 people. For 6 people, I made a triple batch. You can vary the amount and type of fruit to your taste, you can add sugar, and you can vary the whole-grain component to change the texture.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Tricks? Or Treats?

Why do kids say "trick or treat!" when they go from house to house on Halloween?

My mother remembered a very different kind of Halloween, when some kids played mean tricks. When she was a little girl, some kids took soap and wrote or drew on the windows of stores or cars or houses. Or they rang people's doorbells and then ran away. Some older kids even did really terrible things like breaking people's windows. They were very very bad.

My mother and her friends stayed home on Halloween. It was for bad kids. Later, people started to give candy to kids, and encourage them to wear fun costumes. That way, they wouldn't get into mischief. And they would say "trick or treat" to show that the treats were helping them act right.

When I was a little girl, kids didn't do much bad stuff any more. Of course there are always some bad kids, but most kids were in costume and doing the right thing. However, some grownups decided to make kids do a nice trick before they would give them any candy. Arny sometimes stood on his head. Some kids recited a poem or even told a joke. Our neighbors would invite a whole lot of kids to come into their house, and then go around and have each one do this kind of trick. Then they gave us all candy.

Now, kids just say "trick or treat" and their neighbors give them some candy.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Trick or Treaters

Halloween is very soon. Many schools have parades or class parties so that everyone can share the fun of wearing costumes. Miriam and Alice had really great costumes last year. They went trick or treating and had parties in school. Now they are planning their costumes for this Halloween. Mario is going to be a Power Ranger. Other children have lots of ideas for their costumes too.
On Halloween night, hundreds of children dressed in costumes come to our door for treats. I took photos of some last year. Some are only babies. Some are so grown up that they are much taller than I am. When all the candy is gone, I turn off the light, bring the pumpkins inside, and stop inviting them to ring the bell. From six to eight in the evening the street is full of yells and laughing as groups of children go from door to door.

Andrew was just a little baby, but he was dressed up as a lobster.

And here's a little tiny kid that was a pumpkin.
I really liked the kids dressed as catsup and mustard.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Parades and Costumes

Burns Park School has always had a Halloween parade where all the children march out of the school and then go around the block. Evelyn was in the parade every year from kindergarten to sixth grade. The school orchestra played music for the parade. The music teacher beat the big drum. One year, Evelyn played her clarinet, and she also wore a clarinet costume. Another time, she was a mummy wrapped in toilet paper.

When she was three, Evelyn was Raggedy Ann.

Here's the Burns Park Halloween Parade. Evelyn is a witch with a magic wand:

Evelyn as Ozma:

Evelyn designed and made her own mummy costume. Unfortunately, she recalls, it rained that year. The toilet paper got wet and came unwrapped. She had to come home and redo her wrappings. Her friend Megan was a princess.

Another year, Megan was Dracula:

Evelyn the clarinet:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006



In October, we see pumpkins everywhere. Farmers who planted seeds in the spring have fields full of orange and white pumpkins. Some farmers bring the pumpkins to the farmers' market. Some farmers invite children and parents to visit the "pumpkin patch" to buy pumpkins, gourds, dried flowers, or multi-color corn to decorate houses. Maybe they also have tractor rides.

After buying pumpkins you can put them in a display on your table or on your porch. When I put pumpkins on the porch, the squirrels always chew into them because they want to eat the seeds.

The best thing to do with pumpkins is to make jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. These pictures show the Jack-o-Lantern that Mae made and the ones Miriam and Alice made last year. With a big candle-lit grin, a jack-o-lantern reminds us of lots of old stories.

In a book called "The Marvelous Land of Oz" we learn more about the land of Oz where Dorothy Gale from Kansas had once traveled on the Yellow Brick Road with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, and Wizard. In the new book, we meet Jack Pumpkinhead. A boy named Tip had carved a Jack-o-Lantern and then made a body from sticks to make a pumpkin man.
An old witch sprinkled this pumpkin man with the Marvelous Powder of Life, and Jack Pumpkinhead became alive. Jack and Tip then shared many adventures in Oz.

Another very old story called "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" about a schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane ends up being about a pumpkin. Let's see...

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Ichabod Crane himself looked like a scarecrow. His sleeves were too short for his long thin arms. His clothes flapped when he walked. "His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock perched upon his spindle neck to tell which way the wind blew." Ichabod Crane loved to read ghost stories, and he often told them to the people in Sleepy Hollow. At night, Ichabod Crane had to go home through dark lanes and country roads. He often imagined that he saw one special ghost from the stories he told. This ghost was called "The Headless Horseman."

Ichabod Crane especially liked a girl named Katrina van Tassel. Her father was a very rich farmer who lived near Sleepy Hollow. Another young man named Brom Bones also loved her. Brom Bones and his friends often played tricks on Ichabod Crane and tried to make him look silly. Ichabod didn't understand what was happening.

One autumn night, Ichabod Crane rode his horse to a party at Katrina's house. His horse also was silly looking: "He was gaunt and shagged, with a ...head like a hammer; his rusty mane and tail were tangled and knotted with burs; one eye had lost its pupil, and was glaring and spectral, but the other had the gleam of a genuine devil in it." When Ichabod rode, his elbows and knees stuck out, so he and the horse looked very funny.

At the party were many good things to eat. Doughnuts, "crisp and crumbling crullers, sweet cakes and short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family of cakes. And then there were apple pies, and peach pies, and pumpkin pies; besides slices of ham and smoked beef; and moreover delectable dishes of preserved plums, and peaches, and pears, and quinces; not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens; together with bowls of milk and cream." Everyone danced, sang, and told ghost stories.

Some people talked about the Headless Horseman and how, if he got near to a creek or a river, he fell in the water and turned into a skeleton. Brom Bones said that he had once had a race with the Headless Horseman, and had ridden his horse faster.

On his way home, Ichabod Crane began to think he would see the ghosts in the stories. Everything looked scary. Suddenly he saw a very large, strange figure on horseback. It looked as if it had no head on its shoulders, but instead was holding its head underneath its arm. Ichabod rode faster and faster. Finally he arrived at the bridge, where he thought he could leave the ghost behind. But it threw the head at him.

In the morning, the ghost's head turned out to be a pumpkin. And silly Ichabod turned out to have run away to New York. Brom Bones then married Katrina. Whenever anyone mentioned Ichabod, Brom Bones "always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin; which led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell."

(The illustration is from the 1867 edition. For the long version by Washington Irving, see Project Gutenberg:

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Burning Leaves, Burning Trash

Sometimes my father would say "It's time to burn the trash." I liked to help him. We took bags full of old papers out to a wire trash burner that stood behind the garage. We crumpled up some of the paper, and stacked it up so that it could catch fire easily, set a match to it, and then watched until we were sure that all the fire was out. We were careful to do this on a day without too much wind, or burning papers and ashes would blow around in a dangerous way. Sometimes the flames went very high as the papers burned.

As we drove around in the countryside yesterday, we saw piles of burning autumn leaves. After raking their yards, country people still pile up leaves and set them on fire. In the city, we also pile up the leaves, but then big trucks and street sweepers come by and pick them up. In the city no one wants all the smoke and ash that come from burning leaves or burning trash.

A long time ago, people didn't use as much paper as we do now. Paper and other trash seemed to be less of a problem, so we could just burn it all up. Our small garbage can was big enough for old apple peels, old cans, and other garbage. Most bottles were used again. Our milk man came to our house every few days to deliver milk and butter. He took the empty glass bottles from our milk, brought them back to the dairy, and they were cleaned and filled up with milk again. Coke bottles went back to the store where the coke delivery man picked them to be refilled at the bottling plant. Even the egg man who brought eggs to our house also picked up egg cartons to reuse them, I think.

Now we collect the paper in a bag and put it in the recycle bin, and collect the bottles and cans and plastic. We hope that most of this trash will be taken to a recycling plant and made into other things. For example, old computer paper can be made into new paper. Old magazines can be made into roofing material. Other paper can be shredded and used as packaging material. Old plastic can make a nice surface for park walkways. We try to do the right thing with our trash.


October's Bright Blue Weather

Today we were taking a walk in the park. The sky was very bright blue. Some trees have turned red, orange, yellow, and brown. The evergreen trees looked almost black compared to the bright colors of the other trees.

Days like this make me think of a poem I had to memorize in elementary school. Here is the first verse:
"O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather."
A poet named Helen Hunt Jackson wrote this poem over 100 years ago, so it was already an old poem when I memorized it. It ends:
"O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather."

NOTE: I didn't remember the poem that I quoted. I looked it up when I wanted to write about it!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Evelyn's Stories

When Evelyn was in pre-school, she liked to write stories. Some of the teachers at her school wrote down some of her stories and made them into little books. One of her favorites was called "Nose Fertilizer," but we can't find that one. She wrote other stories called "The Artist" and "Plants."

Her biggest collection was called "Characters," and she made up lots of characters like Squeaky, Kitty, and Horsy.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Alice and Zion at the Farmers' Market

Alice and Zion went to the Farmers' Market. They tasted the apples and the cheese. We bought cheese for Alice to take to school and two pumpkins for the front porch. We saw pumpkins, white and purple eggplants, yellow and red tomatoes, beans, mushrooms, and lots of flowers.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Welcome, Delia


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