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We are fast approaching the night where we give candy out to strangers, compliment the littles on their choice of costume selection, remain uncritical, and order pizza for supper.

Imagine having a night where you can be exactly who you want to be and not be ashamed of it. I wish everyday was All Souls’ Day. Honestly!

What I love the most is that the older generation get to enjoy seeing the kids and the kids get to see the older generation. Many people purchase treats because it’s a night where their homes get visitors, a night of company they otherwise wouldn’t have.

I know a lot of people will buy boxes of chips and candies for the upcoming night to see the faces of kids, teenagers and adults light up even though they might be struggling financially. I go trick or treating with my boy too!

Why? Because it makes us feel good.

I loved Halloween as a kid, and still love it as an adult. When I was younger and living in Potlotek, my cousins and I would gather at my grandparents’ place to get ready for a night of trick or treating. We would get to go through the tickle trunk that was upstairs. It contained generations of costumes, most belonging to my uncles and aunts when they were getting ready for Halloween.

We never had to worry about finding a costume, my grandmother always provided us with one and my grandfather helped us find the accessories to go with, usually from his garage. I know for a fact that if I went to my grandmother on the eve of Halloween, she would hook me up, probably from the same trunk we scavenged through as kids.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that my grandparents celebrated their wedding anniversary on Halloween. We never knew, because for them Halloween was about the kids. Happy 68th Wedding Anniversary Mom and Dad, Kesalul.

Mi’kmaq Ghost Stories

Some of the best ghost stories have come from sitting at the kitchen table with my grandparents. Some of those stories still keep me up at night. I’ve only shared pieces of them with my son. There are many stories told in the Mi’kmaw community that will give you the chills. Years after hearing them, we drive through particular places and can still get those same chills.

In our L’nu community I have heard the best of the best ghost stories. The three-knock door story where no one could be found while answering the door. I’ve heard about the Wuklatmu’jk (the little people “tricksters”) who help children lost in the woods by weaving them knitted hats for warmth. And the story of a hitch hiker who was passed multiple times up along a stretch of road.

My grandfather tells one story that I still can’t listen to; it freaks me out. But in the spirit of All Souls’ Day, I’ll tell you about it.

I can’t remember when I first heard this story, but I think I was 12 or 13. As usual, I was sitting at the table listening to the adults talking. I should have been elsewhere, but hey, it’s what we kids did. People had come to visit my grandparents and they were asking him to tell them about the time he and his friends picked up a hitchhiker.

As usual he was reluctant to tell people about what happened but after a little prodding, he told it, like it happened yesterday. Even at 89 his memory is crisp and clear. Personal experience and having the poo scared out of you will do that.

I don’t think he will ever forget about it; I know I won’t. I might get some of the details wrong, but you’ll get the gist of it. (I have him telling the story in Mi’kmaq back home on a video recorder. They are machines us Gen Xers used to record things back in the day, but I’m not home and can’t reference it or call because it’s too late.)

I’m writing this column in Cuba, and it is quickly approaching midnight. Frankly, I’m thinking of finishing it tomorrow when there’s light because I have to walk back to my room alone. (I’ll let you know at the end if I was able to do it or not.)

So here goes, enjoy sleeping after you read it.

My grandfather tells me that he and his friends were heading out from Potlotek to another Mi’kmaw community. I can’t remember if they were going to watch a ball game or to a dance. (I think they were going to a dance because my grandmother says they were out to look for “women.” Lol. (See previous columns to learn more about my dad. My jesting will make more sense once you do.)

As they were driving, they encountered a hitchhiker. This man was dressed in a long black jacket and black hat. They didn’t pick him up; they passed him and continued on their way. They drove a little bit further and soon found the same man along the road hitch hiking, again, they passed him.

As they traveled, they encountered the same man a third time. This time, someone in the car suggested that they should pick up the man to ask how he gets ahead of them on the road.

So, what did they do? They picked up the man.

As they drove along, someone in the back seat dropped a bottle and it fell to the floor. As he bent down to grab the bottle, he happened to look at the man’s feet. As he rose with the bottle in his hand, in Mi’kmaq he said, “I think we picked up the devil, this man doesn’t have normal feet, he has hooves.

The hitchhiker soon told them wanted to get out of the car. Needless to say, the vehicle was stopped and the creepy guy in the black trench coat and hat was let out. As the boys drove away from the hooved hitchhiker, they realized that the road they were travelling on was not the one they started out on.

My apologies, my mind still can’t process this part, so If I get it wrong, I’m sorry. I just know they ended up on a completely different road, in a completely different area like they had been teleported. Something about a graveyard comes to mind but I could be wrong.

Anyway, it scared the bejesus out of them, and I don’t think they ever got to the dance. The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t pick up hitchhikers, especially hitchhikers that you have seen three times in a row and are sporting black trench coats and black hats.

I don’t pick hitchhikers up because of this story, and when I encounter the odd one, I will often wonder if they will appear later as I drive along and always hope they won’t.

I hope this story reminds you of a similar story you have heard from your grandparents or elder in your life. If it has, share it with someone else this All Souls’ eve, maybe a youngster so that they will have something to pass down too.

Happy All Souls’ Day!

Postscript: I finished writing this column at 12:37 a.m. But not without a few odd things happening. First, my laptop went nuts and tried to print, yet I’m barely able to connect to the wi-fi and I am not near or connected to a printer. Then the song American Pie came on. As I sat listening to the words, a young man – who looked very much like a vampire – asked if he could borrow my lighter. “Light my fire,” he said.

I gave him my damn lighter so I wouldn’t see him along my path two or three more times, like my grandfather encountered the creepy hooved man. Then I sat and continued to listen to a verse of American Pie:

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage.

My hands were clenched in fists of rage.

No angel born in Hell.

Could break Satan’s spell.

And as the flames climbed high into the night.

To light the sacrificial rite.

I saw Satan laughing with delight.

The day the music died.

Full credits to my grandfather Valerian “Smokey” Marshall for sharing his experience and story with me, wela’lin dad aqq kesalul, I promise to pass it down for generations.

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