Home > Stories From Small Town > Memories of a Bad Luck Halloween

Memories of a Bad Luck Halloween

As we draw closer to one of my favorite days of celebration, I can’t help but think back to my childhood in Columbus, Georgia and the town’s most popular destination for Halloween.

The couple called it “Trick for a Treat” and the fee could be as simple as a summersault or as melodious as a tune.

Even knowing the mouthwatering treats came at a price, costumed children lined up in front of this house to earn a small bag of the best candy in the neighborhood.

In 1971, I was ten years old. My mother was divorced, raising three children and taking electronics courses at Columbus Tech. We lived in the heart of southern Bible belt country. She supported de-segregation of our local schools, and obviously, never won a popularity contest in our community. Her music was my inspiration. I was raised to be strong, think for myself and to NEVER go with the flow.

At the time, I fancied myself the next Cher, with the dramatic flare of a future Mariah Carey who was a baby at the time. I sometimes wonder if Mariah somehow obtained a video of me in my glittering princess costume and copied the way I artistically lifted my hand on the high notes. My elevated hand gesture was, unfortunately, the only similarity between Mariah and me.

In my early teens, I recorded myself singing and was crushed to realize I could rival nothing better than a blood hound.

But on that cold frightful Halloween night when I was ten, I was blissfully unaware of my vocal deficiencies. My brother, sister and I went to the “Trick for a Treat” house. Though I was nervous and my palms were sweaty, I eagerly waited in line for my opportunity to shine. When my turn finally came, I stepped forward, with a thumping heart and my princess crown slightly askew. I raised my small voice and belted out…

I am woman, hear me roar 
In numbers too big to ignore 
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
’ cause I’ve heard it all before
 And I’ve been down there on the floor 
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Oh yes I am wise
 But it’s wisdom born of pain 
Yes, I’ve paid the price
 But look how much I gained 
If I have to, I can do anything
 I am strong (strong) 
I am invincible (invincible)
 I am woman

You can bend but never break me
, cause it only serves to make me 
More determined to achieve my final goal 
And I come back even stronger
 Not a novice any longer
’cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

I am woman watch me grow 
See me standing toe to toe
 As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
 But I’m still an embryo
 With a long long way to go 
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes I am wise
 But it’s wisdom born of pain
 Yes, I’ve paid the price
 But look how much I gained 
If I have to I can face anything
 I am strong (strong) 
I am invincible (invincible)
 I am woman 
Oh, I am woman 
I am invincible 
I am strong

No applause came at the end of my song.

The shocked looks are now comical in my far reaching memory, but, to a then ten year old, the reaction was devastating. I was handed my bag of goodies and ushered out with a “Run along now.”

I held my tears back until I reached the street where I had to wait while my sister did a cartwheel and my brother barked like a dog.

Though my young ego was destroyed, I ate every bite of candy. And, in a few short weeks, I began planning for the following year’s trick. The lyrics were perfect and the chorus a sign of my upbringing.

How much does it cost, I’ll buy it 
The time is all we’ve lost, I’ll try it
 But he can’t even run his own life 
I’ll be DAMNED if he’ll run mine, Sunshine

Thank you Mom for everything. And thank you Helen Reddy for I Am Woman and Jonathan Edwards for Sunshine.

May everyone have a safe and memorable Halloween!

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  1. October 16, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Awww, this made me sad, but glad it had a happy ending! And you sound like you had/have such wonderful confidence! I have to admit Halloween is never my favorite holiday, but my kids were huge fans and seemed to love the one house they knew would require them to sing or perform for candy. (I’d have avoided it all together so good for you!!)

    • October 16, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Now it takes alcohol to get me singing.

  2. October 16, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Wow, this brought back the memories. My mom had that Helen Reddy album (my fave on it was “Peaceful”) and played it non-stop. Great story.

    • October 16, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      I loved “Peaceful” and I remember singing to so many great songs back then. My mom and us kids would gather around the TV and watch the Sonny and Cher show every week. None of my friends were allowed to watch because of Cher’s lack of clothing.

  3. October 16, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    October, 1971: I was almost 11, I had a brother and a sister. My mother was divorced. Although you and I lived a few thousand miles from each other, we have a lot in common. My sister, her friend and I were starting a “singing group,” determined to be the next Jackson 5 or Osmond Brothers. I can’t remember all the songs we practiced but Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” was a definite favorite. I wish I could have been there standing in line with you that night. I would have clapped! You rock.

    • October 17, 2011 at 6:09 am

      The memories…I was in the south so the Osmond’s were huge but they didn’t play the Jackson Five on the radio. I had a life-size picture of David Cassidy on my wall and would have been a screaming groupie for Davy Jones if given the chance.

  4. October 16, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    We need a few Mike’s Hard and a karaoke machine!

    • October 17, 2011 at 6:14 am

      Vegas must have that combo but it will take hard liquor for me to sing. Bring your ear plugs.

  5. October 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    See, you were a plucky little thing, even back then! And you know, most great artists are misunderstood, unappreciated geniuses in their day. 😉

    • October 18, 2011 at 7:11 am

      Wait until I post my granddaughter pooping on the potty story. My genius shines.

      • October 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm

        I was talking about your singing (I’m still hanging hope on your writing being appreciated in your day). But I have potty trained two girls, and you shouldn’t discount the wonder of it. I got cheered every time I peed, for goodness’ sake! 😉

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