I love Halloween but this year my feelings are a little bittersweet. On Saturday I’ll be helping my youngest daughter get ready for a homecoming dance rather than trick-or-treating. It’s the first year we haven’t spent the weeks leading up to Oct. 31 in a costume-creating frenzy.
One Halloween, she decided to be a corpse bride. We snagged a wedding dress and veil from my resale clothing store. We smeared dirt and gray-green paint on the dress. We stitched plastic spiders and gummy worms into the veil.
Her make-up would have done Wes Craven proud but when she returned from trick-or-treating, she was a little upset. She pouted, "Every house I went to, they’d say, ‘What a sweet bride.’ No one even noticed I was dead!" I guess by porch light, a bride’s a bride.
Another aspect of Halloween that I’ve always enjoyed are the local ghost stories. There’s Brenau’s Agnes and the Hall County Library ghost. I’m not sure if a ghost is attached to Gen. Longstreet’s Piedmont Hotel but if not there ought to be.
We Glazers have a contribution to local ghost lore. In 2003, my husband had a business underneath a Cajun restaurant and an art gallery in the old Fred Jones building on Dahlonega’s public square.
One night he was working late, doing paperwork. He heard someone walk past his door and up the stairs to the restaurant. He stepped out, expecting to tell a tipsy tourist that the restaurant was closed. There was no one there.
He went back to his desk and resumed his work. A tap-tap-tapping began outside his window. Again, no one was in sight.
The next day he told the restaurant owner what had happened. Charles just chuckled and said, "Oh yeah. That was the General." The building, which dates back to Civil War times, apparently has it’s own ghost who strides the halls, taps on walls and turns on lights in the middle of the night.
Arthur insisted he wasn’t frightened but I noticed he did most of his late-night bookkeeping at home after that.
This year our family won’t be dressing up or trick-or-treating. That doesn’t mean we won’t be collecting candy. Here’s the back story:
Latessa Bortner is a Hall County girl to the core. The daughter of Clermont’s Tom and Brenda Bortner, she graduated from North Hall High School where she performed in the marching band and earned the Gold Award, Girl Scouting’s highest honor.
She attended the University of Georgia, marched in UGA’s band and received a degree in math education. After teaching for a year, she enrolled in Georgia Tech where she earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering.
To help finance her studies, she joined the Air Force Reserves. Shortly after graduation, her unit shipped out to Saudi Arabia. She and her coworkers spend 13 hour days, 6 days a week performing aircraft maintenance. She will be there until February.
My business, Next to New Resale Boutique, and the Gainesville Evening Optimist Club have committed to sending a weekly package to Latessa while she’s in Saudi Arabia. The first one went out last week and arrived in record time. It contained hard candies, chips, nuts, soaps, flavorings for bottled water and herbal teas.
I thought about sending books but what sort of book do you buy for a rocket scientist? I finally settled on a hand-held Sudoku game. The biggest hit, however, came from Betty Burden who sent a package that included a Ninja Turtle Pez dispenser.
Would you like to help out? Have your kids sort through their stash of Halloween goodies. Keep the chocolate pieces (they’d melt on the Saudi Arabian tarmac) and set aside some of the rest to send to Latessa. If you’d like to pick up a few things to contribute, she’s mentioned that they particularly miss marshmallows, gingersnaps, chicken and beef noodle cups and power bars. They could probably use some Pez refills, too.
It would also be a good opportunity to have your kids write a letter or draw pictures thanking Latessa and her friends for their service. The work they do is essential and they are a long, long way from home.
So please, stop in at Next to New on Cleveland Highway or come by the weekly Optimist meeting at Ryan’s (6:30 p.m. Tuesdays) and drop off treats for Staff Sgt. Bortner and her colleagues. You can e-mail me and I’ll send a more complete list of suggested items. If you’d like to contribute cash, we plan to use it to purchase U.S. phone cards.
Saturday night, while our kids roam the neighborhood in search of scares and sweets or dance the night away in a high school gym, Brenda Bortner’s baby girl will be elbow-deep in the hydraulics and electronics of machines that help ensure our safety and liberty. Let’s make sure she knows she’s remembered and appreciated.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears regularly on Fridays and on gainesvilletimes.com.