When we were young’uns growing up we were all scared to death of our shadow, especially boogers or haints (Ghosts). I guess everyone can recall an experience or two with that kind of fear. The older generation used it in some ways to get us to do what they asked when all else failed.
We always loved to play outside after dark, especially in the summertime. We’d run around the house playing hoopy hide (hide and go seek) or some other game we‘d invented till we wore ourselves smack ka-dab out.
We played by the light of the moon till we got electricity and had a porch light to see by. But when mama wanted us to come inside and get cleaned up for bed she’d holler, “ye better get in this house now or them boogers will get ye.” We never did tell her but she ran that one in the ground quite fast. But we’d go on in just to suit her fancy bad as we hated to cause we hadn’t come across any boogers lately till we were outside by ourselves or walking in home after dark. Those boogers sure had a way of getting under our skin and scaring the bejebbers out of us then.
We always loved going to church and went every chance we could get, day or night. Back then people walked everywhere they went and sometimes if we got lucky we’d get a ride on the back of someone’s pick up truck.
There was this older couple in the neighborhood that hauled a lot of young’uns to church on the back of their ole truck when their parents couldn’t take em and bring em back home afterwards. Since daddy was away from home working a lot and mama couldn’t drive and didn’t have much of a way of going she’d let us go with em. We sure did like riding on the back of that ole truck, especially with a whole gang.
The older gentleman was a preacher and they went to a lot of meetins (revivals and such) anywhere and everywhere and when school let out every summer they’d haul a whole truck load to Bible schools. Of course we loved going to our home church but we loved going to Bible schools no matter where they were being held at.
Now when it came to the ole timey night meetins and we couldn’t catch a ride with the older couple or someone else, we’d walk there and back. That was mostly our home church cause it was more close. Sometimes a bunch of the neighborhood young’uns would join in and we were really brave till one got spooked and heard a noise in the bushes or some booger walking behind us.
To get to our home church we had to walk through this long stretch of a dirt road that was always called the Ole Lane. There’d been a lot of tales told about boogers and haints in that Ole Lane, such as hearing a baby cry, an invisible horse running through with chains clinking, etc. We’d always hurry to get through that place cause it was always more pitch dark and that made it even more scary. We couldn’t even get a glimpse of the moon cause of so many trees.
I’ll never forget one summer I was about eleven or twelve and they were just starting a meetin at our home church. I wanted to go so bad and for some reason none of my siblings wanted to go, not even the neighborhood young’uns. So I decided to go by myself against mama’s wishes. She said, “ye don’t need to be out by yourself after dark.” She tried to get some of my brothers to go with me but Oh no, they couldn’t take themselves away from playing hoopy hide or whatever else they could get in to. After a lot of persuasion, she finally came around and told me she’d send my oldest brother out to the main road to meet me at a certain time after the meetin was over. We always had to cross the footlog and creek to walk out to the main, road to go anywhere back then.
After the meetin was over I was feeling my oats and kinda proud of myself for being so brave till I got to that Ole Lane. The farther I walked, the faster I got till I started in a good, little run. Every time my feet hit the ground I could hear a booger’s feet hitting the ground, running behind me and I was horrified. I hadn’t given much thought about walking through there when I begged mama to let me go and when I was on my way to church it was still daylight. But it’s funny how fast that can all change when darkness appears. I made it on through and practically run the rest of the way. When I got to the creek there was no one there to meet me and walk out that darkened road on in home. And it was even more dark through there than the Ole Lane. Tree branches hung over the road and the sun never did peep through, let alone the moon. I hollered for my brother and there wasn’t any answer. I said to myself, “I’ve made it this far Lord without them boogers catching me and I can make it on in.” I took off a trotting across that footlog and out that road but every time my feet hit the ground I heard someone behind me and the faster I walked the faster they walked. I got about half way through there and all of a sudden someone jumped off the bank of the road and went WOOOOO. I took off in the fastest run of my life in spite of the water running down my legs and they were right behind me the whole time. When I came in sight of the house I ran even more fast up those steps and jerked open the front door and scared all of em to death. Mama said, “What in this world has happened?”
About that time my oldest brother walked through the door panting for breath and laughing his hind end off. Needless to say, it all came together and unfolded in a hurry. I told mama what he did and she walked in the kitchen and picked up her switch and came back in the living room. She grabbed him by the shirt collar and took him out on the porch and switched his legs good. As she walked back in the house I heard her saying, “I better never hear tell of that happening anymore or I’ll give ye even more to cry about.” She told me I wasn’t going by myself after dark anymore and that she wasn’t stopping me from going to church but if she couldn’t go she’d make sure someone tagged along.
Those boogers sure were scary back then and they’re even more scary today, especially the two legged kind and I ain’t taking no chances, No Sireee.
© Susie Swanson, 2016