Bruce Haase ( senior library member ) has submitted the following memoir:
“Halloween Haunted House”
Ned was trying to convince No Jocks and I that he came from a long line of entrepreneurs, and we could make some cash this Halloween. He had a plan but needed the two of us to help him with the details and to back him up with the plan.
I had never been totally trusting of Ned, and asked him, “What the hell is an entrepreneur?
Naturally No Jocks answered with, “That’s a French guy that wears girl’s clothes!” I punched him on the shoulder, and Ned slapped him on the top of the head.
I made a mental note to stop at the library to find out what an entrepreneur was. Then I could figure out if Ned was one.
Ned told us his plan, I fine tuned it, and No Jocks nervously said, he’d go along with it if we would.
The plan was to brag that the three of us would go to the door of the old Haunted Mansion on Nottingham and get in, if someone answered, we said we weren’t afraid of ghosts, or whoever answered. We would bet all comers.
The rest of the plan was our secret. We would meet at one pm on the Saturday before Halloween in front of our school if we got enough kids to bet against us.
We ended up with a bunch of fifty cent bets. If we won we’d split $9.50 three ways and if we lost, well, it would be a $3 hit for each of us and Ned had to pay the extra fifty cents. It was his idea, right…
All three of us were there early on Saturday and we pedaled our bikes up Nottingham and crossed over to the overgrown drive way. We knew someone still lived there, we’d all seen the light or two in the windows at night. No one that we knew had ever been down that driveway before, at least, not in our lifetimes. It was big and old and falling apart, overgrown everything. A few outbuildings that had collapsed or were threatening to. A tall rusty flagpole leaned further than Pisa. Ned and I mumbled it was time to see if it was truly haunted. No Jocks said he could get the $3 from his uncle if we decided to back out. We both punched him…
After a breathless 200 foot ride we’re at the door, as Ned raises his hand to knock the door opens…
I swear it creaked. Now, realize that the three of us are in the seventh grade, two of us are tall, No Jocks is only about 4-11 though. The real old lady that answered is shorter then him and has a sweet smile. It turned out that there were two of them living there, both in their 80’s. They had been born in the house in the 1870’s, not in a hospital, but born in the house! There was a room especially for birthing and dying and those kinds of things. They told us you wouldn’t want to mess up a nice room with dis-tasteful goings’ on. The family had made their money selling sharpening stones to the Union Army in the Civil War and all the later wars, they added bayonets and such, all the way into WWII when they sold the company. At one time their property was 640 acres, now sold down to around 8 acres.
We explained our bet with the other kids to them and they loved it. They told us they hadn’t seen a trick-or-treater for at least ten years. They would be awake and ready for us on Halloween, only before 8pm. That was bedtime, you see.
At around 6:30 pm on Halloween eight of us showed up, five of the kids we had bet with, were the witnesses and waited at the sidewalk. None would go down the driveway with us. The old lady’s opened the door and had Witches hats on and tried to screech, we had to screech for them. We went in and closed the door and the five of us had a good laugh. We hung out for maybe ten minutes and after promising to visit them again, they gave us carrots and apples and each a brand new Two Dollar bill. There were only three kids waiting for us, two had run away.
We had won our bets, every kid had paid off without a hassle. We were famous at Saint John’s School, all the grades and even the teachers were impressed. We never told a soul about the early visit, on that Saturday afternoon.
A few days later, when I stopped a Sonny’s Garage they told me that, “The little No Jocks kid had been in there saying that we had gone to the Nottingham Haunted House on Halloween and there were two old ladies that gave us each a two dollar bill.” He didn’t have his bill for proof because he had spent it, so they didn’t believe him.
I pulled out my wallet and withdrew the new two dollar bill, with a whistle I kissed it, smiled and casual as you please, strolled out. I looked back and said, “the No Jocks never lies!”
When I delivered the afternoon paper to Moe’s Tavern they asked me about No Jock’s story, I showed the bill and smiled. I vowed to carry that bill with me from then on.
For a couple of years No Jocks and I visited the old lady’s, Ned never did. After all, he was an entrepreneur and they don’t always honor their commitments.
Write Your Story @ the Union City Library
Join our senior library member Bruce Haase
and write your memoir. Bruce is lifelong reader, he now writes memoire-based, creative non-fiction.
These are informal meetings ,
for writing. Sharing is optional.
Meetings take place
The Third Tuesday of the month
November 18, December 16, January 20
1 p.m. — 3 p.m.
Please bring pen & paper
For more information: Bruce Haase Email:firstname.lastname@example.org