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A wicked witch loses her head — and puts it back on. Little skeletons sing their own rendition of “I’ve Got You, Babe,” and big, friendly versions of Frankenstein’s Monster, gargoyles, spiders and other assorted examples of creepy stand ready to greet trick-or-treaters.
Ruby and Stanley East of Lorton Lick Road near Montcalm live in one of the area’s oldest homes, and when Halloween approaches, it’s one of the most decorated. It has also become a traditional stop for local trick-or-treaters. Some adults who came knocking when they were children are now bringing their own children to see the fun, creepy sights, Ruby East said.
She wondered if she was going to see two nights of trick-or-treaters knocking on her door. Some communities will have Halloween on Oct. 30 while others recognize the tradition on Oct. 31.
“I have like a hundred or so kids, and honestly, if McDowell County doesn’t have Halloween on the night it’s supposed to, probably I’ll have trick-or-treaters on both nights,” Ruby predicted. “I hope not, because I have a hundred kids every time.”
The East home has been a social venue ever since it was built in the late 1890s. Ruby researched the house’s past and learned that it has seen a lot of activity.
“We’ve lived here for 45 years. We heard that this one of the first three houses on this road,” she said. “That was in 1897 or 98. There’s been over 100 people that’s lived in this house because I’ve checked it out in the courthouse. The first man who lived here, his name was Israel Myers. He lived here from 1897 to 1918, and when his wife died in 1919, he moved away. They say all the millionaires in Bramwell used to come here.” She looked out from her porch. “They would have their buggies out here. There were people who held their horses all night while they played and gambled and stuff.”
A new tradition started when the Easts’ daughter, Sherry started finding inflatable Halloween decorations and putting them up.
Spooks riding motorcycles and a little ghost on a tractor are among the new sights this year. Flea markets have provided smaller items such as singing skeletons and a talking Frankenstein that’s about as tall as Ruby’s preschool students. A full-sized witch — dubbed Witchee Poo — takes her head off, greets guests, and puts it back on.
“My daughter, Sherry, she loves Halloween so much. She started coming from Rock Hill, S.C. She’ll come up and in one weekend in October, she’ll decorate for us. She buys inflatables every year and tries to put up a few new ones. I think we’ve got some guys on motorcycles. Those are the new ones like the little ghosts with the John Deere tractor. I work at the school, and all the kids love everything.”
Children from the preschool class and other students from Montcalm Elementary School like to come out to trick-or-treat at the Lorton Lick Road home. The Easts welcome them and even take pictures to preserve the memories.
“Every Halloween I take pictures. I’ve done this forever,” Ruby said. I get one of those disposable cameras and I take a picture of every one of them, no matter what they’re dressed in. I try to take a picture of each individual.”
“I can’t see who they are, so I take them (photos) to school to let them pick out who they’re dressed up as. Sometimes I don’t remember who it was. They wait until the next Halloween, and they pick out who they were then.”
One treat offered at the Halloween house crosses into another popular holiday.
“I always give Valentines out,” Ruby said. “My daughter started me on this a long time ago. She waited until February, and all the Valentines would be like a nickel apiece, and so all those little girls, they have the fairy valentines and the guys they have the cars, the NASCAR thing. They love it. It’s something different.”
Daughters Sherry, Kristy, son, Stan Jr. and grandson Stanley III, now 14, help set up the Halloween scenes and stay on the lookout for new additions to the collection.
“If they see spooky stuff, they’ll buy it and bring it here. Then on a weekend in October they all come over and pitch in, and everybody decorates,” Ruby said.
Grandson Stanley is especially good at setting up the decorations and getting all the extension cords to the illuminated displays in order.
“He is the best. He can fix these things up fast. Since I’m getting older they do it, and he really enjoys it,” Ruby said. “They will start about 10 o’clock in the morning and it goes to about nine o’clock at night.”
The climax of the decorating operation is like the moment when holiday-obsessed Clark Griswold of the comedy movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” prepares to light up his over-the-top Christmas light extravaganza.
“We’re like Chevy Chase. We just all of a sudden put all of the cords together and wish that everything comes on OK,” she said.