Niagara Gazette

October 26, 2013

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Halloween hauntings on the Island

By Doug and Polly Smith
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Fright Fans — So help us, Hallowe’en started over here shortly after Labor Day. There’s a family nearby, on Red Jacket Road, who started working on their decorations while September was still in single digits, carefully supervised through their front window by their curious and ethnically-diverse dog.

It took a long time. Little by little, up it went, the gravestones, the skeletons, the protective fence, then the arched entranceway reading “Mydnyte Cemetery” like something out of Steven King, along with the promise of a haunted house on the witching hour of the witching day.

Finally came the piece de resistance, a battered and beautiful replica of a turn-of-the-last-century funeral carriage, stocked with skulls. We may have but a single undertaker over here, but around Halloween, nobody can call this a one-hearse town.

Season-rushing drives us, like most, crazy, but only in the commercial sense. This is just a family having fun, making “hey!” while the sun shines.

Something’s always going on at the house with the dog in the window. They’re playing football on the lawn or basketball in the driveway or hockey in the street. Doug can recall neighbors calling the police when he played in the street in Youngstown, Ohio. Not us. We just make sure to drive slowly.

We haven’t taken it upon ourselves to learn their names and probably could cough up the address only under hypnosis. These are strange times and there’s a lot of safety in anonymity. Nonetheless, it is a sight to see, the kind of communal creepiness that makes us feel good all over.

As for us, we put life-sized replicas of ourselves in the doorway, two wobbly souvenirs of previous employment. Scares the dickens out of the little nippers, sometimes they spill their goodies, all the more for us. Scariest thing we ever did, though, was hide in the bush and let loose a discordant blast on son Joe’s French horn. They were, indeed, the days, and to gleefully ghoulish neighbors, thanks for picking up our slack.

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PHOTO DETAIL: Lewiston photographer Michael Stuart tells us now that the night-time South Bridges shot which serves as Miss September in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ calendar was exposed on a Tuesday in February from a perspective just southwest of the bridge, and that it was another fellow named Doug Smith who urged him to enter the contest, for which there was a nice cash prize, too. We’ve had a few shots on calendars and never gotten even a discount.

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SCARIER YET: Yet another Doug Smith, that is, our grandson, will attend an engineers’ costume party as a structurally deficient bridge. No tolls.

Come visit. All treats, no tricks.

Email Polly and Doug at pollyndoug@hotmail.com.