The Coming of Fall
When I was growing up, I especially loved the fall season when we could "sleep cold" with the windows open, and the sound of a gentle autumn rain lulled one to sleep. Using long cane fishing poles, we used to "thresh" the pecan trees along the street in front of the two houses at 3 and 5. I would pull my stool close to the rocking chair where Amin sat shelling pecans and eat them as fast as she could shell. "You little snipe," she'd say, "if you eat all my pecans, we won't have any pecan pie for Thanksgiving."
We raked leaves into huge piles, jumped in them, re-raked them and jumped again. It got darker earlier, but we still played outside after school until forced to come in. I remember having two corduroy playsuits with front zippers that I wore to play outside. We called the fall "sweater weather", because we didn't need a coat until up in the winter.
Though my grandparents had television from about 1951, we didn't get ours until several years later, so we listened to the radio in the evenings: Eddy Arnold, My Little Margie, Amos and Andy, The Shadow, and many others. We had a "blonde" Magnavox radio/record player console, although I remember an old-fashioned brown radio taller than I was. Later, I had a little radio that sat by my bed, and on Saturday mornings, I tuned in "Big Jon and Sparky". On Saturday afternoons we could listen to Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, and Hopalong Cassidy.
Fall had a cozy feeling about it. The evaporative coolers went into storage, and the grated space heaters came out. My mother had a light brown dish that looked as if it were made from leaves, and I still get that out every year.
The big event of the season was Halloween, which I've written about. We did go trick-or-treating all over the neighborhood. Even if we went a few blocks out of our way, we were still perfecty safe. And we even went after dark! Our candy didn't have to be taken to the ER to be x-rayed, and homemade goodies were perfectly acceptable offerings. We dressed up as ghosts and witches, and no one told us we were going to Hell in a handbasket--and we didn't! We'd never even heard of "the occult" for Heaven's sake! Ballerinas, policement, firemen, pumpkins--maybe a few cartoon characters. We didn't have to worry about being politically correct--"taking offense" was as far from anyone's mind as the occult! And, of course, we had mothers who made sure we didn't dress in any way that seemed to slight or make fun of anyone.
As soon as Halloween was over, we got ready for Thanksgiving. In school, we learned about the Pilgrims and drew cornucopias and wrote lists of what we were thankful for. (I think it's politically incorrect to be thankful these days, and I hear the Pilgrims are highly suspect!)
Fall was "nesting" time. Summer's freedom was over. Bedtime came earlier because of school. Routines, loosed by the long summer days, now tightened. Cooler weather seemed to re-energize everyone. In fall, we had the summer to look back on and the winter to look forward to. Soon it would be time for flannel pajamas and down comforts, but for now, we opened the windows and smelled the rain and settled in.