When my brother David and I were children, we spent time with our grandmother Frankie quite often…we would usually go to her house on Saturday morning, spend the day and night and then my dad would pick us up on Sunday morning to go to Sunday School.
One especially memorable time found David and me at Frankie`s house with our Shepherd first cousins…Angie and Billy Wade…we were all spending time together…life was wonderful!!….our second cousin Jim lived several houses down the street…he was coming to spend the day with us and then after supper we were going to “walk” him back home…the rest of us were spending the night with Frankie…we were “stair steps” in age…David was the youngest and Jim and Angie were the oldest, but we were all very young….under 10 or 11.
We had a grand time that day…Frankie made taffy…she greased up all our hands with butter and we pulled and pulled on it until she said it was done…of course it had a bit of grass and dirt in it, but we did not mind….we ate it anyway.
We played Old Maid and other card games…when we tired of that, we chased each other up and down the shed in the back yard….that is until my leg got hung between the pole we climbed up and the side of the shed…Jim was determined to get my leg out before Frankie discovered we were on the roof of the shed…we were NOT supposed to be up there….he pulled and pulled on my leg…when that did not work, he sneaked in the house and got a chunk of butter and greased my leg and the pole…he finally got my leg free…I DID limp around for awhile, but Jim threatened me “within an inch of my life” not to “let on” that my leg was hurt.
When it got dark Frankie asked us to go in the woods behind her house and gather some limbs and twigs…she built us a bonfire…she gave us coat hangers to untwist to make rods for our wieners…we had a “weeny roast”…then we roasted marshmallows and made Smores…as the fire burned down and the embers turned that beautiful orange-red color, we began to beg Frankie to tell us some ghost stories….now my grandmother could tell the most blood-curdling, hair-raising, gosh-awful tales you can imagine…she refused saying that she knew what was going to happen if she did….we were going to get scared and not want to sleep by ourselves and she was NOT going to sleep with all four of us…finally our begging “payed off” and she told us the tale of the “Boogie Man”….she made us promise that we would sleep in the extra bedroom where there were 2 double beds and plenty of room for us….we even sealed the promise with spit!…now that was a promise!
Well, first of all, EVERYONE knows where the Boogie Man lives….under the bed…no kid in his right mind would DARE sleep with a leg or arm dangling off the bed…that was definitely “bait” for the “old man”….a whole kid could get dragged down to his lair, never to be heard from again.
Sure enough, when it was time for bed, we were scared out of our wits…we could NOT let Frankie know ….after all, we had promised and spat on it!…Jim wanted us to “walk” him home…we got two houses away and David (who was about 6) began to cry…he was so afraid of something snatching him…so we decided to go back to Frankie`s and ask her if Jim could spend the night too….we dried David`s tears and Jim picked him up and toted him back to the house.
Frankie called Jim`s mom to let her know he was staying….so we all went to bed…well, for about TWO minutes….when we were sure Frankie was settled down for the night, Jim got up and found a flashlight….when he turned it on all of us were sitting upright in the middle of the beds….too scared to get close to the “DREADED EDGE”….after a VERY serious discussion, we decided the only thing we could do was to push one of the beds to the corner of the room thus shutting off two entrances for the Boogie Man…we could then all sleep in one bed….safety in numbers, you know…it was decided that we would get in the bed on our sides and hold on to each other around the waist…..we must have looked like 5 sardines in a can….Jim told us to crunch up our legs, just in case the Boogie Man had really, really long arms…that conjured up all kinds of horrible images…then came the BIG decision…who was going to sleep on the OUTER EDGE???…Jim wanted to draw straws, but we did not have a broom….the rest of us did NOT agree with that plan…he got out-voted 4 to 1….Jim was the strongest, so he GOT elected for the “number one” spot….he was not too happy about being “railroaded”, but he agreed…David wanted in the middle…Billy Wade wanted by his sister….so that left me between David and Jim….well, we climbed in the bed and tried to go to sleep…it did not take Angie very long to realize SHE was in the CRACK and she began to complain…Jim got up and stuffed an extra blanket in the crack…so everybody was satisfied…the last thing Jim said to me before we drifted off to sleep was, ” You better hold on to me Laura….if that long hairy arm grabs me and you let go, I SWEAR I`m sending the Boogie Man back to get you!”…you better believe I DID NOT let go of him!
The next morning Frankie came in the room to get us up for breakfast…she found us all huddled up in one bed with Jim still holding the flashlight….I can still hear her laughing …the first thing WE did was to check to see if all of us still had our arms and legs….to this day, I do NOT sleep with any part of me hanging off the bed!