Happy Hallowe ‘en Week!

I was just chatting with my brother and ask him if he was as fond of Hallowe’en as I am.  It holds some of my most vivid memories from my childhood.  I remember one in particular when I was in second grade and I am not sure it was so much the fact that I was so excited about the fun and decorating and dressing up and candy as much as I remember a particular lesson I learned one day at school.  It was party day.   Mom was always room mother for my class. Always.  And she never did anything half way so the parties were amazing.  We lived on the same block as the elementary school, on the opposite corner.  So I walked to and from school.  This was back in 1966 and I so wish I had all the decorations my mom had from back then.  Anyway, that afternoon was our Hallowe’en party and Mom came to the classroom and asked for me to be allowed to pick someone to walk back down to our house and bring back the drink pail.  My mom had a big black garbage can that she had iced down orange sodas for all the kids and it would take two second graders will all their strength to grab each handle and carry it back up the block.  I stood up,  walked to the front of my classroom, took my place between my teacher, Mrs. Farquhar and my mom and looked out over a sea of children out of their seats with their hands flailing about and the voices all at a fevered pitch “Me! ME! Pick ME!”.  I stood there for what seemed like forever when I noticed a little boy named Lesley sitting very still and looking out the window not saying a word.  He knew in his heart he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being picked so he didn’t even bother to raise his hand.  Lesley was the saddest little boy I had ever known.  Granted I was 7 but he made an impression on me the first time I  saw him.  My impression was not a good one.  He almost never went a day without being in some sort of trouble.  He was failing second grade which was something I found hard to accept since I got questioned about an A minus.  So there he sat.  Finally he turned his head and looked at me.  I can see this as if it were this morning.  I finally said in a very quiet voice “I pick Lesley.”  I wish you all could have seen his face.  Surprise.  Fear.  And sheer joy.  He sprang up out of his desk and come stood beside me, his chest out, the biggest grin on his face and grabbed my hand and my mom’s hand and off we went.  I remember thinking as I looked down at our hands and at him holding my mom’s hand, that is the dirtiest hands I have ever seen!  And if you only knew what a clean freak my mom was and how particular she was with me and my brothers you would know what a special moment this was.  But neither Mom nor I pulled away, we just looked at each other and she winked and smiled at me letting me know she very much approved of my choice.  We left a room full of kids talking amongst themselves, each of them just as surprised or more so than Lesley.  And me for that matter. Surprised that I had the guts to pick him.  Surprised that I had the guts to NOT pick my best friend Beth who I knew was going to be irate!  We walked all the way back to my house without a word from either of us though my mom asked Lesley questions and tried to make him less nervous.  We grabbed up the pail, one on each side and it was heavy!  The first time he really spoke was to say “I can carry it by myself.” My mom insisted we carry it together and we took off back towards the school her right behind with more goodies.  Lesley strode into that classroom, chest out, his dirty little face covered in the biggest smile.  We sat the pail down and he strutted back to his seat and plopped down so proud.

I have no idea why I did that.  I don’t know where it came from or what possessed me to do it.  I just knew it is something that was right.  And my mom and dad would be pleased with my boldness among my peers who were not kind to this poor little boy.  Ever.  He had a hellish life at home, you could tell and then a hellish life at school.  For the rest of the school year he was my shadow.  And I just had to grin and bear him handing me my fork in the lunch line.  Each time I looked at his hand, his dirty hand, and not today’s dirt but who knew when that child had been bathed, washed his hands or brushed his teeth, wrapped around my fork, I just had to swallow hard, hold my head high, accept his help and accept the comments I was going to get from my friends.  Most of whom thought I was completely crazy for having anything to do with him.  But I have always been strong willed and never allowed anyone to bully me.  And frankly, I think it might have made his life a little easier at school.  It seemed he was not in as many fights or maybe that he was trying a little harder to be likable.

Our paths crossed very little after that year.  I would see him on the playground in the lunch lines but we didn’t talk and finally went our separate ways.  I have always wondered what happened to him.  I know he was injured at school once in Jr. High when he made a volcano for a science exhibit and brought gasoline to make it explode.  Thankfully he didn’t blow up anyone else in the process.  After that I moved away and I have no idea how his life turned out.  But unless some major things changed for him, I doubt it has been very good.

Wow, where was I going with all this??? OH yeah!  Happy Hallowe’en Week and my mom could throw one heck of a school party!

Since it is Tree-Hugging Tuesday, here’s  a few  green Hallowe’en tips: if you’re the non-traditional type, try stocking up on healthy treats: organic dried fruit, granola bars, and popcorn packets all work (and come individually packaged, so even the most discerning parents won’t trash them for safety reasons). also offers a list of non-food ideas, like hair barrettes (which you could make yourself), seed packets, small toys made from recycled plastic, stickers, and soy crayons.

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WOW! That made me cry. Sounds like something my daughter would, and has, done. Its nice to hear that people still do what is right and refreshing to see it in a young child. I am going to choose to believe that Leslie’s life was changed somewhere down the road by your act of kindness. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to plant a seed.


Thanks for sharing that special memory. Brought tears to my ears too. Like you, I can not stand to see someone mistreated. Always root for the underdog!


Love, love this story!!! But I really want to know what happened to Lesley. Have you tried googling his name? Facebook? 🙂

I’m in tears too. I hope you had an impression on him and his life turned out better because of you!!

What a beautiful story… and a life lesson….about treating others…with dignity…respect and kindness.

My hat is off to you Susan

Hugs…Victoria in Houston