Growing Up Juju (part 19 in a series)


“Remember Juju, don’t take any apples! The man on channel 8 said they are putting razor blades in them to kill kids!!” Juju knew her mother hadn’t seen that on the news, but she responded that she would be careful and off she went. Having already checked herself out in the mirror, Juju was quite proud of the “look” she had accomplished without spending very much money at all. The hat was perfect, the leather vest with the fringes absolutely worked…the only problem was the fake mustache…it was going to be a problem keeping it in place. Charlie, a kid in the neighborhood pointed at Juju and laughed….”you are not supposed to dress up as a man!! You are a girl and should be Bat Girl or a princess Juju!! There were always going to be critics, Juju thought to herself. Her spurs jingled and jangled as she walked up Oak Street to fill her grocery sack. Juju was determined to be the best “Frito Bandito” anyone had ever seen!

Juju had joined the Frito Bandito Fan Club because she loved Fritos corn chips, but she also loved the character. In her desk at school was the official club badge and a blue Bandito eraser that was highly regarded by her peers. Juju had also won the Harrison Lane Elementary poster contest for third grade that year with an excellent Frito Bandito “WANTED” poster. Her sister Junene had supervised as she took care to burn the corners and give the poster that “old west” look that surely had put her over the top!

Juju pulled out her six-shooter and pretended to shoot a couple of neighbor kids as she mozied up to the first door of the night. Mrs. Poteet was well-known in the neighborhood as the “mustachioed woman.” She looked like she was Eastern European and walked everywhere she went. Mrs. Poteet wore heavy hose for her legs, long gloves and a jacket, even in the dead of the Texas summers. The other kids were hesitant to approach the Poteet’s front door, but to Juju…candy was candy, sometimes you had to lay it all on the line….besides, she was armed and sporting a mustache of her own on this night. Juju hit the buzzard and heard footsteps approaching the other side of the door. The door creaked open just enough for a long, slender arm to appear…wearing the black glove. Juju heard a thud hit the bottom of her empty sack and yelled thanks as she ran quickly back to the other side of the street and her friends. “What’d she give ya!? What is it??” they all yelled. Juju reached into the bag and pulled out one small box of raisins!! Good grief, Juju thought…not a good start for a Halloween…they moved onward….she would give the raisins to her father, he would eat anything.

Juju and her gang of friends went up and down at least 12 streets in the surrounding neighborhoods. Her grocery bag was getting full as she approached Mr. Purcell’s house on the corner of Oak Street and Brown Trail. Mr. Purcell was the high school driver’s education teacher. He and his wife really went “all out” for the kids in Juju’s neighborhood, creating a complete and scary haunted house in their backyard. Juju especially enjoyed the table where Mr. Purcell made you stick your hands into gooey monster brains (spaghetti) and guts (Jello). It was a great ending to every Halloween escapade….Juju decided to head home to categorize her loot.

The procedure was the same every year. The grocery bag was dumped in the middle of the living room floor. The candy was sorted into three different categories: 1. absolute favorites 2. trash can 3. crap my parents will eat. Juju’s father had convinced her that Milky Way bars were category 3 as it was an “adult” candy bar. She bought that theory until the age of 12 when she figured out it was just his favorite candy. The peanut butter chewy candy in the black and orange paper were always category 2. Tootsie rolls and Smarties were sectioned off and always saved soley for the enjoyment of the collector.

Juju’s mother always bought double the amount of candy that she needed to pass out….never admitting that she did it on purpose. And coincidently, the candy left over was always Mars bars….her personal favorite. Food was an important part of any holiday in Juju’s household, there was no getting around it.

Juju’s sister had just turned 13 on October 15th of that year and had a party at the house with a Halloween theme. Juju’s mother made a huge batch of orange and black sugar cookies for the event, along with smoldering punch and other treats. Juju had done her best that night to pester the group of older girls that were having a slumber party in the den. The prissy older girls ate the pile of orange cookies, but were too squeamish to eat the dark black ones. That was no problem for Juju…..she sneaked into the den on her hands and knees and grabbed the tray of uneaten sugar cookies. Having secured them safely back in her bedroom, she devoured the entire plate with a large glass of milk.

The next morning Juju let out a scream and came running out of the bathroom. It seems that there was a problem involving the color black! Juju’s mother, after personal inspection, quickly called Dr. Bullock and in no time she was speeding with her down to his office! The doctor’s first question was what had Juju had to eat the previous night? Juju’s mother stated, “I fed the girls pizza for Junene’s party…and I later saw Juju eating some vanilla ice cream.” Dr. Bullock looked through his glasses, down his nose at Juju and said, “is that all Juju??” Only then did the truth come spilling out that Juju had eaten 12 sugar cookies, made with a generous portion of black food coloring. Juju’s mother thanked the doctor for his time and led Juju out of the office.

Halloween of 1969 was indeed one to remember. That night after all the candy had been sorted and/or trashed. Juju sat on the green sculptured carpet of her living room and heard Murphy Martin on the TV say, “it’s 10 o’clock, do you know where your children are?” Juju’s mother yelled from the kitchen..”my seven kids are easy to keep track of….the cookies in this house, not so much!”

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3 responses to “Growing Up Juju (part 19 in a series)

  1. Virginia Conner

    Another great chapter!

  2. Oh, how your childhood stories remind me of mine. Thanks for bringing back good memories ! HAPPY HALLOWEEN…

  3. This one put a big smile on my face! All these years my dad has been gone there are a few memories that take me back, the smell of old spice aftershave and the sound of WBAP radio blaring from the kitchen. I can still hear him singing “ay ya ya ya, I am the frito bandito”. I would always giggle and until now thought it was a song he had made up. Thanks Aunt Juju for all the great memories.

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