October has always been a good month to me. As much as I like the heat of summer, I also enjoy the cooling temperatures of fall. Plenty of good memories come with the first full month of fall.
In the 1960’s we kids had been back in school about a month. Our lives had shifted gears from playing outside all day, staying up late, and sleeping in. Now, mothers called us in the morning, and we stumbled to the breakfast table to eat something as unappealing as oatmeal or as lumpy as cream of wheat. Then we put on our school clothes which were still stiff with newness. That stiffness made jeans especially uncomfortable.
When we arrived home at the end of the day, our first order of business was to change into our old clothes and to hang up our school apparel. Some kids had to finish homework before they could do anything else. Others might watch cartoon such as “Popeye,” “Yogi Bear,” or they might tune in the “Early Show” hosted by Rex Rainey. We boys always headed for some kind of sports competition and played whatever was in season. By October, most of the baseballs, gloves, and bats had been stowed away and the football was brought out. Our games were rough ones. No one wore a set of pads or a mouth piece, but we played tackle football anyway. Lips and noses quite often dripped with blood, and most every game ended with a fight between two boys. The time to quit playing came when the sun set, the ground became damp, and the temperatures dramatically cooled. Lots of time the call of “Supper” from our mothers served as the final whistle to the game.
October brings with it the scents of a new season. The perfumes from flowers are replaced with the pungent aroma of dying leaves. Pine needles and sap leave their signatures in the wind as well. Our gang spent time playing in the woods. Lean-to’s made from the limbs of pine trees were erected to serve as the centerpiece of our play area, and from that spot many ventures began as wars between cowboys and Indians or G.I.’s and Germans broke out. Crawling along the ground brought the smells of the vegetation to our cold, runny noses. Times were so good then.
Halloween was a much bigger celebration than it is today. Of course, then folks didn’t worry about whether their children would be poisoned by the treats they were given. Neither was the traffic so heavy that just walking down the street was a danger. Halloween meant bags filled with things that we didn’t have stockpiled at the house. Occasionally, someone would dump apples in our bags, but we said “thank you” and chucked them in an open field as we continued our journey. The best treats were homemade popcorn balls and those pieces of peanut butter candy enveloped in black and orange wrappers. We walked three of four miles to claim a modest amount of candy on Halloween. Subdivisions where parents dumped van-loads of kids until treat bags split open from the treats were anywhere to be found.
The cooler evening meant fogged up car windows for teens during the weekend. Yep, couples that parked and sparked steamed up every piece of glass in the vehicle. Roads where new housing developments were being constructed were crowded with parked cars as teens spent just a few minutes “talking things over.”
During my senior year in college October became an especially memorable time. My wife Amy and I had known each other for a year before we ever dated. By the time October arrived, we’d been out a couple of times. The temperatures that year were cool in Cookeville. I can’t give the exact date, but sometime in that month, Amy and I walk along the intramural fields and ROTC marching fields. It was during that walk that I knew for sure that this was the woman I’d waited for. Only after dating about a month, we both realized that our lives were meant to be spent together.
October holidays include Columbus Day, which offers a day off to only a few, and Halloween. The rest of the month is left for us to make what we will of it. I have over the span of my life. October has become a favorite of mine because it has given me so many positive memories. This year is brought news of the coming in May of our first grandchild. I look forward to what else the month’s thirty-one days offer.