Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


It was a dark and stormy night (of course)

The Bright Side: Joe Bushue


I had to go in and check it out — a whole super store dedicated to Halloween! Memories of candy corn, bobbing for apples and the adventure of trick-or-treating quickly came flooding back. When deciding to go as a cowboy, football player, or for the girls, a princess or ballerina, was a socially and seemingly life-changing decision.

As I walked through the front door, I felt like I had entered a museum of the gross and macabre. Inside was a collection of ghoulish costumes, simulated bloody, dismembered body parts, an assortment of animated monsters and zombies.

Somehow the innocent festivities of kids looking forward to a pillow case full of candy, the fun of dressing up in costumes, when about the scariest thing was a witch or a skeleton, had become more of a scary and grotesque time for adults. In fact, a billion-dollar one.

As I walked through the store, I saw some pretty cool stuff. But also I have to admit I was kind of grossed out, if not even spooked. It made my two adult costumes for parties look pale. One was as the cowardly lion from “The Wizard of OZ.” The other was as a convincing older woman, pretty scary and macabre, but for a whole different reason.

Then I saw the scene that made me realize I had to keep Halloween as innocent for the kids as I could.

It was a graveyard scene to put in your front yard, complete with headstones and an animated grim reaper. I didn’t look at the cost because that scared me even more. Then I realized you could be truly spooked for free using only your imagination. It brought back a vivid memory.

It was a dark and blustery night (I think that’s a law when telling a spooky story), and my brother and I were about 11 and 13. My parents were out for the evening for a meeting, and knew that we were old enough to stay by ourselves for a few hours. We were feeling pretty cocky and grown up.

After eating dinner and fighting about cleaning up, we settled down to watch TV. The rain was pounding against the large plate glass windows that were bowing inward as the seemingly gale force winds howled. Through all this, we were feeling that we were old enough that it wasn’t bothering us.

Since we were home alone, we felt old enough to do what we wanted, even stay up late. As the house creaked and settled in the blowing winds, we decided to watch “The Twilight Zone.” No problem.

As the show played the mysterious theme music, we sat there, smug, ready to watch. The first scene was set in a small Southern town funeral home. There was a funeral going on with a closeup of the coffin, and the sad sounds of organ music. At about the time a particularly strong wind gust came up, on the TV screen a grizzled hand started to slowly open the coffin from the inside!

We never did see who it was because in what must have been the speed of light, the TV was turned off and we were in bed with our heads under the covers. We weren’t scared, mind you. Just tired. After all, it was almost 9:30.

Joe Bushue is a travel agent and lifelong Gresham resident who has been tolerating multiple sclerosis for 30-plus years. His column recounts some of the humorous sides of his disability and his slants on life in general. Reach him by email at joebushue@live.com.