I don’t think I realized it until I actually am writing this and telling the story of 1981 for me how significant this year was in my young life. That one year has been my topic of interest for my last several writings now and I’m sure that future years I will talk about will be nowhere near as long. It was a sensory overload for a 7/8 year old and a very formidable time.
I started school in the fall in 3rd grade at Burnside School. One of five or six different elementary schools in East Hartford. The school used to talk about the autumn and the New England foliage and heritage a lot. When fall comes around I still get that feeling I had back then – excited for the leaves to change, excited for Halloween. There’s a smell in the air around October and my kids have always recognized it as well. We say it smells like Halloween.
There was a Friendly’s right across from the school and the woods that we played in were right behind the Friendly’s. We used to go into Friendly’s right after school and suck down the sugar packets that were on the counters for coffee. Nothing like a pack of 7 and 8 year olds full of sugar running all over Burnside. We did this almost daily and no one that worked there ever said anything. We would then go in the woods and take the path home – usually with a few adventures along the way. There was also a Laundromat down the street. They had one or two video games, usually had Kung Fu or Sinistar and we’d always stop in there and blow all of our money and stand there for hours.
My horror movie fascination then took hold in school. I used to go to the library and constantly check out the Lon Chaney books which were basically just picture books of his early horror movies like Frankenstein or The Wolfman. At book fairs I would always buy costume books or horror books. Either that or Dukes of Hazzard stuff.