Tales of Terror: Times Past

Irene Waters’ “Times Past” prompt challenge topic for February is: Tales of Terror

Can you remember any tales of fear that your parents used to stop you going out of bounds. Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and your generation. 



jungle gym
on top of the world circa 1962


As a baby boomer growing up in the USA suburbs, I basically roamed the tree lined streets of my working class neighborhood. On foot. On my bike. On my skateboard. On roller skates. I specifically remember the house I lived in from the age of 4 to 11. There were woods to explore at one end of the street before it curved uphill to circle around to the next block. Houses lined up close together and near to the street.


My mother issued two clear directives to keep me safe:

 Don’t take candy from strangers.

This was in the context of a stranger driving around the block, who might stop, open the door and try to lure me into his car with a Nestle’s Crunch. I would then never be seen again. And terrible things would happen…which were never spelled out in any detail, but an implied tale of terror just the same.

I will admit I considered possibly grabbing the candy and making a run for it. However the opportunity never presented itself.

Being the immortal child that I was, I was unafraid to ride my bike for hours at a time…for long distances that perhaps would have been prohibited if I had advertised my adventures. Which I didn’t.

A favorite trip: to “the little store” on the other side of town…saved my allowance and bought my own candy. Smarties, Mary Janes, Mounds, tiny wax bottles (remember those? argh), button candy, Bazooka Bubble Gum. No strangers needed. Sometimes I let my younger sister tag along, swearing her to secrecy.

Interesting side note: when we first moved there, my sister was 3 years old. One day she packed a lunchbox with napkins, hopped on her tricycle and took off…without telling anyone. Her destination: where we used to live…a long car ride away. A dozen houses later – almost a quarter mile – she arrived at the far end of our road, about to pedal down the cross street. A dangerous intersection at the crest of a hill. The neighbor on the corner stopped her in time and called the police.

So my sister got a ride in a police car…which is where she was eventually spotted by my frantic mother. Who had grabbed me and my infant brother and probably went looking for strangers with candy. An actual tale of terror thankfully averted.

Don’t go near Tony M.

Tony was a mentally challenged teenager who lived a couple of blocks away. At least I think he was a teenager…to my young eyes he could have been in his twenties. He lived with his parents and sometimes wandered around looking somewhat disheveled.  It was never explained to me what he might do. Or say. But the look in my mother’s eyes spoke fear. My questions about why went unanswered. I rarely saw him, but when I did he mostly looked lonely and sad.  I wonder what happened to him.


554 calvin 1958030
Family gathered safely on the front porch – 1958


11 thoughts on “Tales of Terror: Times Past

  1. Thanks for joining in. I love your humour and your recollections. Don’t take candy from a stranger must have been common amongst many parents – in my case it was don’t take lollies from strangers. Interesting how many of us have said what we did, without telling the parents, as we obviously knew we would be told not to do it ever again. We survived and I doubt the tales of terror had much to do with it.
    You finished on a sad note with Tony. We grew up in days when disability and mental afflictions held a stigma. Perhaps your Mum did know something you didn’t or perhaps it was the fear of what wasn’t understood. I too am now wondering what happened to him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for your comment! And, yes, I really do wonder what became of Tony. I never knew what the whole story was. But I suspect my mother’s warning was based on the fact that he was “different” and therefore to be avoided.


  3. Love this. Brought back memories. We forgot my youngest sister on the church steps one Sunday. That was a near disaster. Same about the not taking candy from strangers. And there was a man everyone always told to avoid. Years later, one of my sisters (after meeting a relative of this guy) called an old neighbor and asked what the guy had done. Our neighbor said he had never done anything but acted strange due to a brain injury or something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Isn’t it interesting the things we remember from our childhood? Even if it were a ‘safer’ time, our parents still worried about our safety, which is comforting. I do think back fondly to the freedom of being able to be riding all over the place, all day long, before we were to be back home. Thanks for sharing your stories – and the photos are so precious!

    Liked by 1 person

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