Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow (left click on the title)
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow (left click on the title)
Blue Christmas (left click on the song title)
It was late afternoon by the time we left the house, the Rambler station wagon packed with suitcases, bedding, gifts, and boxes of food. My Dad could not close his business until the last customer left his store at five, so he’d packed as much as he could the night before.
Mom finished wrapping gifts and baking during the day so as to be ready when Dad pulled into the driveway at five-thirty. With the sun sinking fast, we were ready and helped carry everything out to the rear of the station wagon. Dad would fill what few spaces were left and off we’d go.
With Dad driving and mom in the front seat, we three kids, in full winter gear, including mittens, were squeezed into the back seat, tight. There were no complaints. As a matter of fact, it was exceptionally quiet. We’d done this before and were about to do it again.
We were on our way to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas!
Their house was on a farm near a little town that only had one bright streetlight at night. The town was about three and a half hours away from our house in the city. As long as it was still daylight, there would be constant scenery change going past the Rambler side window. A few miles and dad would turn on to a highway. We could go faster on the highway so what we saw would change faster. Soon there would be miles and miles of snow covered farmland. As the sky turned black, little lights would pop up here and there, and then go past.
As it started to snow, the pop up lights out of the side window were getting harder to see and had the illusion they had little halos around them. I heard Dad tell Mom that it was about thirty degrees out, and the road was turning white. He could still see tracks from a car that was somewhere ahead of them so, we were still all right. Driving in the snow was a skill you just developed in this part of the country.
When we met a car coming from the opposite direction, its headlights made the snow look as if it was going sideways. The sideways snow would try to hypnotize you and then suddenly disappear as the car passed. The dark, the sideways snow, the hum of the engine and the warmth of all those clothes made us very sleepy. Soon, it made the three and a half hour trip seem like one hour. We only woke up when Dad turned right on to the little towns “one light” main street.
Through the town and just a little bit more, we would turn right again. It was the driveway to Grandma and Grandpa’s. It wasn’t very far and just over a little hill.
There it was. A place of special magic; where snow covered tree limbs overhung the driveway and blinking multi-colored lights surround the frost outlined windowpanes. I could see into the house because the shades were up. There were two faces, one high, one low, watching for us.
The car stopped. I don’t know why but everyone just sat for a moment. It was very quiet outside except for a little hiss caused by snowflakes hitting the roof of our car. The flashing Christmas lights, gentle snow falling, lack of motion, and silence was Christmas card like, peaceful and very relaxing.
Out from the back porch door poured a grinning Grandpa and Grandma. They were running a Grandma and Grandpa kind of run, trying not to fall on the fresh snow. They didn’t even have coats on and were breathing out steam!
Grandpa opened the back door on my brother’s side and pulled him right out of the car. As I watched with mouth open, my door opened and my cinnamon smelling Grandma had me. She squeezed me so hard, I couldn’t breathe. Our littlest brother in the middle was heading over the top to the front seat. Grandpa quickly caught him by the britches in mid-flight, and out the door he went. The problem was, he is so light, when he let go of the seat, it threw Grandpa off balance and down into the snow they went.
This brought Mom and Dad out of the car quickly. My other brother and I thought it was a game and piled on top. My mom screamed for us to get off. Her loud order scared us so much, we quickly got off Grandpa, who then rolled to a sitting position laughing!
Ok, so now we’re all out of the car! That was pretty much the end of peaceful relaxing.
Dad walked to the back of our station wagon and had just opened the fold down door, when another set of headlights turned in to the driveway. The bright lights blinded all of us for a moment. It pulled up right behind our Rambler, the doors flew open, and our cousins, from another city farther away than us, piled into the drive way.
There were four girls, and their Mom and Dad. I remembered them from last year. Even though they were girls, they knew how to run, sled, and throw snowballs. The sisters were all a little older than me. My Mom said they won all kinds of awards for poem writing and stuff like that. I didn’t know you were allowed to be good at both at the same time!
Everything got unpacked and brought into the house. This farm house had raised five kids in its time. Grandma and Grandpa had worked hard to provide for their family, and the land had been good to them. The house had plenty of room for everyone to be comfortable and we all spread out to our assigned places.
My brothers and I were in one of the “upstairs bedrooms”. The only way to get to those bedrooms was up a wide, worn, oak stairway. There were what they called “registers” in the floor of each second story room, which allowed a little heat to float up from the first floor rooms. My Dad told me that sometimes, it got so cold in his bedroom that the drinking water on his light stand would freeze during the night. He remembers pulling his clothes into bed with him to warm them before he would put them on to go to school. He also told me, with a wink, he did not waste much time in the bathroom.
I only mentioned the stairway so I could tell you about coming down it. After unpacking, I came down that stairway that emptied into the family living room. One of my favorite memories occupied that room.
There stood GRANDMA’S UPRIGHT GRAND. It was one of her prized possessions. It was here, flashing lights, trees, presents, and troubles were all forgotten, and magic would begin. The family and their families would gather around on Christmas Eve, and Grandma would make music come out of that piano. Her fingers would bend, and her arms would move back and forth. She would read the dots in that music book and everyone would read the words and sing Christmas songs. I couldn’t read, but I’d hum until it came to a part I knew. Nobody cared. That was good enough for them.
At some point, Grandpa opened a beat up black case and pulled out his fiddle. The music seemed to liven up when his fiddle started to sing. Although Grandpa’s fingers didn’t move real fast anymore, the expression on his face made it feel like the tempo picked up.
Christmas Eve was a day of snowballs, sledding, sliding, feeding the animals still left on the farm, and eating. The music was the Grande Finale of a long day. The traditional last song of the Grand Finale in this house was Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. My favorite part was about the Star. It was something about “how still we see thee light!”
I was pretty young when I was told about “The Star”. I can’t remember when it was, but a little boys imagination is a wonderful thing.
That night, after the singing was over and everyone went to bed, I thought I heard something outside. I went to my “upstairs” bedroom window to see if I could catch Santa Clause delivering presents. Catching Santa flying is a little boy priority and for a moment, I thought I had him. To my surprise, it was not the sleigh and reindeer I saw.
Through the floating snow, I saw a single bright light with a halo around it. I knew I was looking at “Thee Star”.
“Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee light!”
Yes, I had it wrong. It should have been “how still we see thee lie!” I really thought they were singing “how still we see thee light!”
It’s been many years since the trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s. I, of course, learned to read music and became a musician, a writer and many other things yet still, hang on to pieces of my warmest childhood memories as most people do.
I still sing that line the way I originally thought it was, and I still walk out on the porch on Christmas Eve, wherever I am, to see if I can see “thee light” and capture a small piece of the magic around “Grandma’s Upright Grand“!
© Copyright 2011 gottagosee (UN: gottagosee at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
gottagosee has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.
It was a dark and dreary ride home from our duck hunt up near Waubay. We’d left the slough at ‘the pass’ as the sun set. By the time we’d closed the farmer’s gate behind us and turned on to the county road, it was full tilt black out, and the windshield wipers were flippin’ off the evening dew, not in time with the music, but close enough to hypnotize. Over the years, the floorboard on his pickup had rusted thin from the road salt, and the insulation on the cab side had long since worn down to the steel. The sound from the exhaust came up through the floorboard in an assuring hum. It was the perfect hunting truck.
Almost halfway home, the dusty smell coming from the noisy heater that was getting its first run of the year as a defogger, the heat, the yellow glow from the AM radio cracklin’ Farron Young, made us both extremely relaxed.
Suddenly, our dream world moment was shattered by a startling ‘bang’ at the front of the truck.
We jumped so high, our heads hit the roof. We knew what it was. We’d changed a million of them between us. This one didn’t go down slow, so Amos had to do some fancy steering wheel work to keep us from going into the ditch. With his driving skills, and a little luck, we came to a stop at the low spot on Highway 12 even with Punished Woman’s Gulch.
We sat for a moment catching our breath. We both went from 60 heartbeats to 160 beats in a quarter of a second.
Amos turned off the engine. The windshield quickly steamed over from the heat we were producing from our rush.
We opened our doors and got out to look at the right front wheel rim that was now sitting on the ground. Staring in silence, we could hear the wind blowing across the top of the trees. The dew, now turned to drizzle, collected and ran down our faces. We both contemplated what we had to do in this moment of silence.
Suddenly, there was a deep moan trailing to a banshee scream mixed with the wind sounds above us! We both looked up and around, squinting into the wind driven drizzle, straining to see. It was then that Amos smiled and said something about ‘our luck’ getting caught at the bottom of Punished Woman’s Gulch after dark on the night before Halloween! We both laughed dramatically loud at our dreamy imaginations, and to assure ourselves that any nasty entity in the area surely knew it was up against two fearless homeward bound hunters.
He was right! It was the night before Halloween! It hadn’t occurred to me. A shiver ran up my spine which caused the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. Was it fear or the the chill of drizzle running down my back after being in that warm pickup with all of my hunting clothes on? Certainly, that was it! I put my hood up to keep that chill from migrating down my back and up again.
It is common knowledge that the inhabitants in the village of Marvin, and the farmers that live near “the Gulch” do not leave the inside of their homes after the sun sets, three nights a year, the night before Halloween, Halloween, and the night after Halloween.
Too many strange sights, sounds, and unexplained things have happened near Punished Woman’s Gulch during these three nights.
The legend of the Marvin Gulch, as told, is of a farmer who never allowed his wife, Aaona Hogg to go to town. He kept her isolated on the farm for fear she might get fancy idea’s and spend money or cavort. It said in his ‘good book’, and he’d been taught by his preacher dad, that women are tempted constantly, and need to be kept from those temptations!
For years she endured and kept to the layman teachings of her husband, until one day when a traveling ‘notions’ salesman stopped at the farm while Oolaf was in town. The story goes on to say that the salesman returned to the farm several times after that, …… when Oolaf was in town.
Oolaf returned home one day to find Aaona had run away. The rumor had it that it was that traveling salesman! Go figure! Everyone knew Oolaf’s personality, and that his wife was a very handsome woman after all! It all seemed possible!
Anyway, she left him with a daughter of grade school age named Oona, but he called her ‘troubles’ in public. She would go with him in to town at first. She would be seen here and there once in a while, but by the time she was ready to go to high school, she began to look like her mother. She was so fair; her fearful father would not let her go back to school once he thought the boys would begin to come around. Of course, she rebelled and would sneak out at night to meet boys in what was then called ‘Marvin Gulch’.
Her dad first got wind of what was going on from a conversation he overheard at the local café. One father was telling another father about a local girl nicknamed ‘Ooftha’ that was initiating the local high school boys in the privacy of ‘the gulch’. Apparently her blossoming nocturnal reputation had caused her name to morph from Oona into the more exclamatory ‘Ooftha!’!
The night before Halloween fifty-four years ago, after trying, isolation, corporal punishment, preaching from the book, and even locking her up when he had to leave, Oolaf had had enough. Oolaf Hogg’s anxiety over his daughter’s summer trysts, ate at him which caused his fragile mind to slip the rest of the way into insanity.
Planning ahead, Oolaf lay awake one night late in October. He lay awake brewing and anger, waiting until he heard his daughter’s bedroom window open and then close. With a pitchfork in one hand and his old double barrel in the other, he followed his daughter down into the dampened gulch floor covered with silent, damp fall leaves that lay underneath those tall Elm trees. He followed her to the rendezvous. Once the young couple was melded, ablaze in this nights full moon’s light, he quietly leaned the pitchfork against a tree, pulled back both hammers on his twelve gauge, and fired.
Both barrels fired at once knocking him off-balance and backwards. He lost his footing in the wet leaves, his leg kicked up, and his foot snagged the leaning pitchfork. The flying pitchfork spun full circle up in the air, and then fell perfectly to impale him as he rolled on to his back. He lay motionless, a small trickle of blood seeping from the two tines that had pierced his neck, one in each carotid artery.
In his anger, he had fired both barrels, intending to pull only one trigger, but pulling both. The shots and flash lit up the trees, and shattered the damp leafy silence within the hillsides, finishing with a scream!
The terrified boy ran right out of a shoe getting up the hillside at the far end of the gulch, and into the town. He flew down its two street lamp main street, into the only place still open, a bar, to hysterically tell his story. A group of alcohol fortified men followed him back down into the gulch to find the old farmer impaled by his pitchfork, still defensively holding the double barrel up into the sky in his two-handed death grip, the pitchfork handle parallel with the double barrel, his eyes and mouth wide open in surprise, pitchfork!
The boy took the laughing and beverage reinforced posse to the spot where he had stood with ‘Ooftha’. There was blood on the ground. The leaves had been spun, arranged in a swirl like pattern as if a small devil wind had neatly spun them. There was no sign of ‘Ooftha’.
Through the now dead still air, a disturbed high-pitched scream traveled toward and above the men. All looked up to see an opaque silhouette fly across a sickly, now blood stained, yellow moon. The figure stopped in the full circle moon light and looked down at the men, wailed and sped on.
Following behind that spectre , fleeting clouds suddenly closed in behind as if pulled, and a wind-driven drizzle made those once fortified men instinctively hunker down, fear in their eyes, sweat mixed with the drizzle dripping from their contorted faces. They managed to help each other scramble to the side of the now completely blackened gulch. Then up into the town they scrambled, to the bar where the phone was.
It was going to be a long night for the merrymakers of Marvin. The sheriff and the coroner were called. The body of Oolaf was still there, now blue white in the flashlight light, impaled, ancient double barrel, pitchfork, and eyes pointing to the sky. The entire gulch was searched front to back, side to side. There was no sign of ‘officially’ Oona Hogg, the blood sign now washed away in the drizzle.
This all happened long before Amos and I were old enough to venture into ‘the gulch’, now unofficially called Punished Woman’s Gulch to fortify the adventure as recited by those unlucky enough to have been there.
Although exhilarating in the heat of the summer nights, when we’d take our girlfriends through to terrorize, none of us were so brave as to venture in during those three fall haunting days, the day before, the day of, and the day after Halloween.
All knew on those days, the spirit of Ooftha Hogg would try to abduct any prized, juicy, young men entering ‘Her Gulch’! There were local boys that had vanished, but no one knows where to, and for the official record, just gone!
I didn’t think I was in any danger as I walked down into the roadside ditch to take a whiz while Amos finished with the tire.
Nervously looking around, I had taken two steps down the road side grade to get off the road and to loosen some clothing, when suddenly my untied boots lost traction on the wet, dead prairie grass. I went down that hill ass over teakettle. I only stopped because I’d reached the bottom of the gulch, ‘Punished Woman’s Gulch’!
Disoriented, I only had enough time to look back up toward where I had dropped from, when there came a scream from high and deep within the blackness of the trees. I rolled to gain footing, and my feet slipped on the wet grass. There was now no hope of going up the side hill. I spun back again, gained my feet, and ran into the gulch. We are talking about pure survival mode which dictates ‘move fast in any direction!’ Unfortunately, the only direction I could move was the wrong one, deeper into ‘her gulch’.
A pale colored, ghostly mass came down out of the tree tops, a tail of red plasma mist tracing the path. The scream was as a banshee scream, tearing through to the center of my chest.
She was as he described, salivating, bulging eyes, large, reaching, and coming straight at me. I continued to run the wrong way, at first under her, zig zagging between trees, sliding, leaving a boot somewhere behind.
The attack scream never let up behind me, and was getting closer. I could feel the electricity as her aura came closer. A lightning like strike ripped part of the shirt off my back giving me the inertia to launch myself up the hill in several four legged leaps, over the crest, and past someone’s boarded up building! Onto the slippery hardness of Marvin’s dimly lit one bar street eerily called ‘Church Street’, and more terror.
The street was absent of live humans, but full of screaming and moaning vapors, with their moving shadows from the single street lamp, vapor and shadow, doubling the chaos my frightened brain received through my senses. In the presence of evil power as great as Ooftha’s, I later learned, you will usually find an army of these mean little vapors waiting to suck the left over flesh and blood still hanging from your bones after the entity has had it’s share.
On the promise of this reward, they were all excited, by the screams radiating from the gulch. Now they hovered, stopping to stare at the lone, bloodied, but whole creature that had suddenly appeared at the end of their table. Behind me, within the depression of the gulch, I heard the angry shriek of ‘Ooftha Hogg’ who’d thought she had had just lost a banquet of fear oozing, bloody, gasping me.
I didn’t have the advantage of an open bar full of fortified living people to rescue me. That corner storefront was now dark.
It was me, Ooftha behind me, and them.
As the vapors prematurely closed in for their share, and squeezed me back toward the edge of the gulch with Ooftha’s awaiting tendrils, I caught the sound and headlights of Arlen’s old pick-up speeding toward me from the other end of the town’s three block main street.
He had finished changing the tire, and had found his way onto Marvin’s main street to rescue me! Racing towards me, horn blasting, I could see he was hanging on to the steering wheel with his left hand, left footing the accelerator, and reaching across to open the passenger door so I could dive in.
I didn’t use the door! I jumped, lay out flat, and flopped into the pick-up box. I landed amongst the burlap bags full of duck and goose decoys. Then Amos executed a perfect television style one-eighty!, That flat head six roared out of Marvin in second gear, me hanging on, never looking back.
Amos didn’t take time to shift into third. His foot never let up on the gas until we hit the Hwy 12 pavement. The only reason he let up then was because we were sliding side-ways on the gravel and wet asphalt.
Amos saved my life that night so long ago! I fear that it cost him. I’m not sure he ever fully comprehended what happened. We both had shifted into survival mode, and never quite came out of it. There was good reason!
One of those wet, smelly vapors went through the open driver’s side window, through Amos and right out through the closed window on the passenger side. Another spook hit the windshield right in front of Amos. He put his arm and elbow up to protect himself only to have the apparition fly through the un-shattered windshield, through him, and out the back window, screeching all the way.
There was nary a word said all the way to my house. He pulled up to the curb, I unloaded my stuff, and he sped away.
I tried to tell this story to some of my friends at a bar several months later. I should have known they would all laugh, and think it was another one of my incredible fiction stories. I will admit that I did have a history of story tellin’.
There are only three that truly know what happened that night. Me, ‘Ooftha’ and Amos, and Amos isn’t talkin’. I don’t think he remembers it ever happened. Long ago, his mind sealed that adventure far away and deep. So, if you ask him today, he’ll deny it ever happened. I don’t blame him.
If you have to know, go into the gulch, Punished Woman’s Gulch, on one of those three nights.
Go ahead, check it out!
Ooftha and her friends will be more than happy to dispose of you! Mooahhhh Ahhhhh ha ha ha ha. Ahhhhhhhh ha ha ha ha ………….
Have a goodnight! I don’t anymore.
“Twas a full moon that knifed through the leafless Elms. As I walked down the
sidewalk, the shadows quietly moved, practicing looking spooky for the next
evening. The sky was crystal clear even though you could feel the blanket of
Most residents, in this Midwest country town of fifty-six hundred, had gone to
bed, after a day that started with early church, and then munching through the
noon, afternoon, and evening football games. I had napped through the afternoon
game so I could see the Vikings play in the evening game, played on the west coast.
They lost, but it was a good game. We know we’ll beat that coast team when they
have to play in the freezing snow in the Twin Cities. West coast teams just
aren’t built for the cold.
I needed to take a walk to settle my nerves and digest before I went to bed so,
I put on a wool cap, wool jacket, and gloves to fight off the shivers, unlocked
the screen door and stepped out. The moon was so bright, it didn’t feel like
10:30. A fine coating of frost was just beginning to form on everything and it
reflected moon beams into a million billion little sparkles, quietly.
This was good because tomorrow not only brought Monday night football, but was
Halloween. The kids would be able to see as they fanned out across the whole
town to collect their treasure.
I thought a walk to the ice skating rink, that wasn’t frozen yet, and back
seemed about right.
Halfway to the rink, the silence was shattered by the sound of breaking tree
limbs, a screech and a thump. It wasn’t a sidewalk thump; it was an almost
frozen ground thump. I figured an old limb that had become brittle from the
cold and weakened from the weight of the frost, had crashed through other limbs
on its way down.
I was partially right. As I approached a dark pile of something lying next to a
good size, shattered tree limb, the dark pile moaned and moved. I quickly
stopped my approach. I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into. A
chalky white face turned toward me out of the dark bundle.
“Hildi,” I exclaimed! “Did you get hit by that limb? Are you O.K.?” I then
approached quickly to help, and she offered up an arm.
“Do you need to go to the hospital? I’ll get my truck and be right back.”
“No, you can’t. I can’t. I’m all right, a little crooked but I’m all right.”
She said as she dusted herself off and put on her pointy hat. Then she picked
up a broom that was broken in two pieces. “I knew this was going to happen some
day! I’m gonna loose my license. I should have practiced out in the country a
little longer, before I came into town. I got started late.”
“What are you talking about Hildi? I can’t make one bit of sense out of
anything your saying. I better take you in!”
“John. Just stop for a second. If you don’t, I’ll have to stop you until you
realize what happened. What do you see?”
I was a little befuddled and confused but managed to spit out, “I see my
neighbor, Hildi the librarian, dressed in black, with a black cape, and a
pointy hat on her head, holding a broken broom.”
She didn’t say a word. She looked at the broom, then to the broken tree limb,
and then up into the tree about twenty feet up where the limb had come from.
Then she looked at me and waited.
I am a good ol’ country Christian widower. I live alone and don’t have to
converse or think fast if I don’t want to. I’d resigned myself to a life of
same ol’, same ol’. This was kind of a shock to my system. My thinker took a
second to get rolling but when it did, and I realized what she was trying to
tell me, my mouth went dry. My eyes must have told her it was time to speak.
She said, “Yes John, tomorrow is Halloween and I was practicing. I only ride
this thing once a year anymore. It’s my sworn duty. Somebody put a new
telephone wire across the street there and I swerved to miss it, misjudged my
speed, and ended up hitting that tree. The branch broke and I ended up here.
Then you came along. Promise me you won’t tell anyone what happened? Sorry
John, I’ve put you in a terrible position.”
I profoundly remarked, “I guess!” scratching the back of my neck and still
trying to digest everything.
She said, “I’ll make it up to you, I promise. What are you doing Tuesday
evening? I’ll be a little busy tomorrow.”
I am telling you, and you can believe it or not, she spun, snapped her fingers
and was gone. I was left standing next to a fallen limb at 10:45 on a Sunday
night, all by myself, and had been talking to …..no one. I did not finish my
walk and went straight home. My solid, predictable world was getting a little
When Tuesday evening rolled around, I bathed, shaved and put on my best flannel
shirt for no particular reason. I guess I just wanted to. I guess!
Then the doorbell rang and I opened the door. It was our local librarian,
Hildi, with dangly earrings hanging and her hair up. She offered her arm and
told me she was ready to go to the Lantern Inn for “Ribs Night”.
The way I see it, I only had one choice. I could only say, “I’ll get the