Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Haunting!

Giving Treats Instead of Tricks on Halloween
personal photo

I hope that you are preparing for a fun and safe Halloween. Dressing up, getting together, and swapping stories is so much fun.

We used to have a lot of fun on Halloween at school, when I was teaching. Almost everyone would dress up. In my art classes, we would pull out the acrylic paint and brushes, and do a little face painting with a pumpkin, ghost, bat, or something simple on the cheek for anyone who wanted a decoration. For some, we would paint it on their hand. Some kids really went all out. Everyone was excited about the costume contests.
Several years, we did what I called "reverse trick or treating". We painted little plaster knick knacks and took those over to the local nursing home and hospital. I took a group of kids after school and we passed out the knick knacks and had a short visit with many of the patients. Most were so pleased, just for the company. But, I backed out of the gifts when one resident hoped for a cookie and tried to eat the little object we handed him! (The kids stopped him before the plaster went into his mouth.) We still went to see them, but we took a picture or greeting card that didn't look like something good to eat!
I don't remember that we did anything for Halloween at school when I was a student. It was just another day of school work. But there was excitement in the air as we plotted and planned parties and trick or treating for the night. We had some pretty good times, prowling around all the spooky houses, the cemetery, and the park, and even the big, looming school. Often, we went as a group, without adults. But, if things got to be a little more than what I thought they should be, I left and went home. Like the time when everyone wanted to take the window screens off an old lady's house, and soap them, and put toilet paper around houses. As the boys started taking screens off the dark, scarey house, I left the group and walked home. I told Daddy that I didn't want to get into trouble, as usual.
Sometimes, Walter and his friends would giggle, for days in advance, as they warned me at school that they were going to hang my cats from the flagpole. Daddy didn't like for the cats to be in the house and I wanted to make sure that they were all indoors and locked safely away. That made for a lot of stress for me. All I could think of was how I could protect my pets. The boys found better things to do than to try to round up my cats, I guess, because it never happened.

Here is something that is sort of funny that happened last night in regard to Halloween and ghosts.

My daughter is really interested in ghost hunting and stories, and tv programs about ghosts. Several days ago, I read a little blurb in a news release from the George Bush Library, saying that Robert Schlesinger was going to be here for a talk and book signing for his book, "White House Ghosts". Just in time for Halloween! I sent the information to my daughter and she was exicted about it.
She had refused to take us to see the astronauts, and other interesting people who have come here. But she got excited about a book on ghosts in the White House! She made reservations for the event, and, last night, we had supper early, dressed up, and went to the presentation in the Museum. Friends Crystal, Ronnie, and Becky met us there.
So there we were, stretched out across the third row, Crystal, Joni, Ashton, Becky, Ronnie, and I, and everyone else came in and sat behind us. A computer blip flashed on the movie screen and we thought we would see some projected images. But, I guess they were just turning off the picture they were showing of the horses and section of the Berlin Wall that decorate a part of the courtyard between buildings at the complex.
I remembered hearing about a Schlesinger at the White House, years ago. Arthur L. Schlesinger. So I was surprised when a young man took his place at the podium. This was Arthur L.'s son, Robert, the author.
As he opened his talk, Schlesinger said, "If any of you are expecting to hear any stories of hauntings or of things that go bump in the night, you might want to leave now."
We laughed, along with everyone else. I expected the others in our group to get up and leave, but, to their credit, they sat through the talk and were attentive. Ashton only got squirmey for a few seconds, when he started pulling on a rubber band bracelet they had been given at school for Red Ribbon Week. I felt squirmey, myself. With my Restless Leg Syndrome, I felt like I just had to get up and walk, despite the fact that I was interested in the stories the author was sharing. I just wiggled my toes in my shoes, and managed to sit and listen.
A couple of interesting things were his stories about FDR and his cocktail mixing before he would work on his speeches. And the story about Harry Truman. His speech writers couldn't figure out how to let the real man show through at first. It turned out that he had poor vision and he couldn't read the speeches, unless he got really close to the podium. Then he would look up and try to look out at the audience, and lose his place. Finally, they just wrote him an outline or talking points, and let him just talk and be himself. He did so much better when they quit writing speeches for him.
Schlesinger also talked about the current presidential candidates and their speechwriters. Obama has a staff of speech writers, all extremely young. McCain has one speechwriter who has been friends with McCain for a long while. Schlesinger said that he is surprised that they haven't found a good way to let the real McCain shine through, as they did with Truman in the past. It makes all the difference.
It was interesting to hear that some speechwriters are the ones who really set policy with their speeches, and not the candidate or person for whom they are writing. Some presidents have been very involved in the speech writng process, while others just read what someone else has written. Some have just written their own speeches or made so many changes in editing that the speech is nothing like what was originally written.
He talked of how JFK, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush had edited their speeches, with each having their own style of editing. There was the case of Clinton editing while riding to a place where he was to speak, and having the writer to hold his hot coffee for him. The writer didn't spill the coffee, as he feared, but, on another occasion, Clinton was holding his own coffee cup in his teeth, while editing, and the coffee spilled on his shirt. They had to radio up and down the caravan of cars to find a Secret Service man, the same size as Clinton, so they could exchange shirts. The Secret Service didn't want to let Clinton go into a store to buy a new shirt.
He told of JFK and the famous speech in Berlin, and of FDR's famous speech following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and how they both edited until they arrived at the words that have become so well known. George H.W. Bush would add little notes that indicated things like "Too Ego". He didn't want to sound like he was bragging about himself.
Following the talk, the author signed books at one table, and refreshments were served from another table in the marble rotunda. A crystal punch bowl and cups were at one end of the serving table, while coffee was served from a large silver coffee urn at the opposite end. Cookies were in the center of the table, along with paper napkins stamped with the TAM letters.
We took our refreshments to small tables in front of a display of a map, photos, a signed guitar, and momentos from Iraq, and a huge portrait of former president Bush, along with some of his cabinet members.
One of the workers invited Ashton to come to the Halloween Party at the Library tonight, Halloween. She said they have a lot of candy and treats for the kids, and there will be lots to do. I hope that his mother will take him. It should be a great place for a Halloween party. Things at the Library are always really nice!
After the talk, I answered the question, "What did that have to do with ghosts?" and explained that they meant "Ghost Writers" and memories of the White House of the past-not spooky ghosts and hauntings. I guess that, if we had been smart, we would have done a google search and found out more about the book ahead of time.
Ashton commented that he was afraid that the author would read that whole thick book. I told him that he couldn't read too much of it or people would not need to buy the book. We agreed that some pictures would have brought the stories more to life.
My daughter had wanted to buy a book, until she learned that it wasn't about actual ghosts. However, I think that it might be an interesting book to read. I would like to read more of his stories, especially now that I have read more about his background and the fact that he was present when some of the speechwriters got together. His inside views would make this a really unique perspective. I liked the idea that he realized that those stories should be preserved. And his insider information, as well as his reasearch at many of the presidential libraries, would make this a very important historical book.
I have to laugh when thinking about the "trick" that turned into an educational "treat".
The others in the party said that they would like to go to more things like that. They do have interesting events and impressive speakers at the Library.
I felt like we should have at least made an effort to meet the author. And felt bad that we didn't. But I knew that we weren't going to buy a book. I'm still trying to finish the Robert E. Lee biography, a very thick book, that I started over 10 years ago! It's interesting, but I cannot stay awake to read much of it at a time. Instead, I have opted for shorter books and art magazines. (One of these days, I am going to finish that book!)
I firmly believe in exposing youngsters to all these many opportunites to meet famous people, and see all the presentations that are possible today. I remember those opportunities so much more than all the ordinary classroom things that we did as students. We didn't have very many of those opportunities. I'm still amazed at the history that we heard of through the radio, movies, newsreels, and a few visits from people like Jinx Falkenburg and Tex McCrary, and LBJ.

Here are some links. I will put those in my sidebar so you can find them any time.
Robert Schlesinger, "White House Ghosts"
George Bush Library

For anyone interested in ghosts, ghost hunting, etc., there is going to be an event at the Wooden Spoon on Main Street in Calvert November 1. Lots of ghost stories and experiences there.

This year, we are hearing warnings about some candy possibly being contaminated with Melamine. We are told to read our labels and beware of candy with ingrediants from or that are manufactured in China. I read my labels, but you cannot tell where things are manufactured. Just where they are distributed from. I haven't heard anything this year, as we have in the past, about taking your treats to a hospital to be x-rayed, to make sure there are no razor blades, glass, or needles in them. Maybe it is best to make your own treats, with your own ingrediants.
I want to see clear USA labels on everything!

Happy "Spooking" or "Haunting" tonight!
Be Safe!
I aplogize for not getting a post on sooner. I've made a slide show of some of the things that we have done, art wise, lately, but I haven't been able to get them to add to my blog. I've written back and forth to their tech support, and, hopefully, their latest suggestion will work. They changed their site, after I figured out how to do this their old way! So, I'm having to figure it out all over again. Sometimes that takes me a while.
Hopefully, unless the computer starts acting up again, I will get some of those pictures on, tomorrow. I just had to share a bit of Halloween with you today!

Learning Face Painting



Cotswoldgent said...

Hi Cecelia, Thank you so much for writing such nice things about my blog. Halloween here in the UK is a relatively new experience for us, since it never really took off until about 20 yrs ago where I guess it came from the states. But nowadays we have the kids coming round doing their “trick or treats”. I remember as a child very little about Halloween except that ghosts and witches were meant to come out on that particular evening. Your daughter should find out about a TV programme we have here in the UK called “Most Haunted”. It is pretty scary and is all about ghost hunters going to very old properties around the UK and doing televised all night vigils sometimes with very chilling outcomes! This week they had a five day vigil in an old welsh estate that used to be a mental hospital back in the eighteenth century, you could hear banging’s, people whispering and footsteps, all very scary.
Catch you again soon, best regards……..CG.

Patty said...

Hi Cecelia
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I have enjoyed reading yours. It sounds like you had a nice Halloween. I love it and it is my favorite holiday. I remember always having fun trick or treating when I was a kid. It sounds like you enjoyed going and visiting the old folks. That was anice thing to do. I would have been disappointed if I thought the lecture had been about ghost and porbably would have left, but the it did sound interesting. Did your daughter enjoy the ghost hunters marathon? I haven't wathced it yet (I was working so I taped it). You mentioned she likes ghost so you might want to share my other blog url with her I have lots of ghost stories on there along with real experiences. Here is the link
I will stop in to your blog again soon
Enjoy your day