Halloween Passages for Friends and Grins

Halloween is an evening in which some people choose to wear a mask… while others finally feel safe to take theirs off.

“There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.” –Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

“Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.”
– Edgar Allan Poe

“Double, double toil and trouble;
fire burn and cauldron bubble.” –William Shakespeare, Macbeth

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”
– Stephen King, The Shining

“Where there is no imagination there is no horror.”
– Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
– L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch.”
– Robert Brault

“On Halloween, witches come true; Wild ghosts escape from dreams. Each monster dances in the park.”
– Nick Gordon

“I’ll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.”
– Charles S. Swartz

“I can think of nothing on Earth so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night…”
– Steve Almond, Candyfreak

“A mask tells us more than a face.”
– Oscar Wilde, Irish Poet

“I don’t know that there are real ghosts and goblins, but there are always more trick-or-treaters than neighborhood kids”
– Robert Brault

“Sticky fingers, tired feet; one last house, trick or treat!”
– Rusty Fischer

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The Night Jimmy Left a ‘Surprise’ For the Donkey Lady

Horror in San Antonio, Texas

The bone chilling legend of the Donkey Lady offers that a half-woman-half-donkey-like creature continues to haunt the concentrated woods amid the Medina and San Antonio Rivers just south of the Alamo City.

Faithfully, an October and Halloween tradition of searching for the terrifying Donkey Lady, or by now, perhaps her ghost, has been a teenage ritual going as far back as the late 1940s.

Some years back, Harlandale High School classmates and residents of the 1940s and 1950s sat at their local favorite lunch hangout on the south side, Bud Jones Restaurant at Military Drive and Commercial discussing their youth. The conversation turned to the Donkey Lady.

“To this day I swear it wasn’t just a made up deal,” claimed Archie Mabry, a retired electrician, who recalled “going out there as far back as about 1952 or 53. We decided we were going to ride our bicycles out there and actually camp because we wanted to find her.”

“The story we were told by, our older brothers, sisters and classmates, was that there was a man and woman, who lived with their small children near Elm Creek about where Jett Road and Applewhite Road was,” Mabry said. “It was right after World War II and he had come back home messed up in the head after being in the battles in Europe.”

“Well, the man was abusive and drinking all the time. One night she became scared when he came home drunk so she pulled a kitchen knife on him to protect herself and the kids. It ticked him off so he went and set the damn house on fire.”

“I guess fate, or what you call karma, took care of him because the husband and the two children died in the fire,” his friend and my father, Walter “Corky” Dennis, a retired San Antonio police detective added. “Supposedly, they found her barely alive and just severely burned all over. Someone finally took her to what was either called Brooke General Hospital, or Brooke Army Medical Center(BAMC) back then, on base at Ft. Sam (Houston). Now it’s a major trauma center.”

“She was so scarred up and disfigured that she looked somewhat like a horse or donkey,” Dennis emphasized. “But I don’t think we started calling her ‘Donkey Lady’ until after the drowning at the bridge.”

The old classmates nodded their heads agreeing to this version of the story.

“That’s right,” affirmed Mabry. “When she healed, her face kind of drooped, baggy-like and her fingers fused together like hooves.”

Others around the table explained that when the woman was released from the hospital and went back with no home, she “really had no choice but to settle camp style, wild-like, and isolated.”

“We grew up wondering if she would ever make her way into town where we lived,” Dennis smiled. “On summer nights, around campfires, we talked about how she needed to come look for food. We just knew she was out there in the dark waiting for the last one of us to go to sleep, or if one of us needed to walk away for a minute to go to the restroom.”

Stories spread over the generations of students throughout Harlandale, Burbank, McCollum, South San and Southside High Schools. Mutilated by the fire, and absolutely insane from the death of her children, her appearance, the beatings from her husband, and then the isolation in the woods, people reported she would wear a bonnet, scarf or hood during the day to hide her eerie form.

Shop keepers nearby said if she came into their stores, it would be with her beloved donkey. She’d remain unnervingly silent placing purchases on the counter, pay, and simply walk out.

However, at night, the sightings were treacherously different—even sinister in the descriptions. Those who dared to venture over the Applewhite Road Bridge crossing Elm Creek in the dark were terrorized by the sound of animals, especially the unnatural wailing of a donkey.

The old friends around the table turned serious as they told about the bicycle trip Mabry, and three other young Harlandale Indians freshmen took to find the Donkey Lady.

“We thought we were on a safari or witch hunt,” one gentleman began. “We loaded our bikes up with everything we thought we needed to camp out and find the Donkey Lady: lanterns, bedding, slingshots, food, a hatchet, matches, cowboy canteens, just everything you could imagine.”

“We were something out of the ‘Little Rascals,’ now that I think about it,” laughed Mabry. “But we peddled ourselves way out there.”

“I bet we hadn’t settled down more than 30 minutes before we started talking about how she would come out like a wild lion and pounce on one of us, chewing and ripping one of us apart–and then we heard the sounds.”

“It was a donkey,” Mabry swore. “It was a wailing, crying, howling donkey. We could hear it back there in the trees and it was coming closer; right at us.”

The boys all started yelling and ran to their bikes, leaving their gear behind.

“It was sheer terror,” Mabry looked serious. Rubbing his hands together, he continued. “That’s the fastest I ever peddled in my life, both before and since.”

“One of the boys, Jimmy, the one in back of all of us, started screaming and I could hear his bicycle crashing on the ground. I figured that Donkey Lady was gnawing on him like a buzzard or lion would with their prey. Hell no, I didn’t look back to check on him. It was each one for themselves at this point.”

“Remember now, it was pure dark,” he emphasized. “We couldn’t see but maybe eight or ten feet in front of us. We had no idea if he was dead or not. All of our senses was devoted to survival. It was probably a good 30 minutes before we slowed down and stopped.”

“Jimmy wasn’t with us and we weren’t about to call out for him. Our hearts were pounding so loud and we were breathing so hard, we could barely whisper. We figured we were pretty much out of the ‘Donkey Lady Zone’ and decided to lay back–more like collapse–and catch our breath for a quick spell.”

“It wasn’t even five minutes and here comes something, we could hear it, behind us. We jumped up to grab our bikes and Harold said, ‘Look it James (Jimmy)!’”

“Now here comes Jimmy huffin’ and puffin’ towards us. He was mad as hell we left him behind and it wasn’t until he was right on us, that I noticed he didn’t have his pants on.”

“‘Where’s your pants Jimmy?,” one of us asked. ‘Did she get your pants?’”

“Then we saw he was buck naked from the waist down!”

“Hell no, you sons of a bitches,” he yelled. “You just deserted me and I swear I could hear her–she was snortin’ and her hoofs were coming for me. I sh_t my pants right then and there. Pulled them off–underwear and pants. Didn’t even wipe my arse and you guys just left me. You dirty bastards.”

“Speaking of dirty bastards you smell like crap Jimmy,” Mabry noticed.

“What the hell do you expect me to smell like,” Jimmy retorted. “My bicycle seat will never be the same. I tried to keep my ass up peddling because I kept sliding.”

“We didn’t really know what to do for Jimmy, but we had all night, so someone volunteered their socks over so he could try to wipe himself and his bike, but it still stunk all the way to Six Mile Creek. It was there we made him go down stream from us to wash himself better while we soaked and quenched our thirst.”

“I can’t remember, but I guess it was at least four or five days later, maybe a week, ’til we went back–in the daytime–to get our stuff we left back there.”

“It’s strange how different things look in the day than it did in the middle of the night knowing that Donkey Lady is sneaking around. It was still creepy.”

“Our food was all gone, but our blankets, my hatchet, lanterns and other stuff was still there. We think we saw hoof marks there too, but we didn’t stay around to analyze it,” Mabry grinned. “We quickly grabbed our things and rode back. But poor Jimmy. His mama made him bring those pants back home so HE could wash them proper. The underwear stayed. They were a lost cause.”

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Autumn in Sedona: Try Ales on Rails at Verde Canyon Railroad

We traveled through enchanting Sedona a few weeks ago, although we couldn’t stay long. It’s only been a few years since I was there, but mercy has it grown…almost to the point that Sedona’s popularity could be a possible burden.

Traffic congestion was considerable and all shops, restaurants and parking areas were full. We will be back, but probably not in the peak of summer. Most likely we will try again in the fall.

The first sign of autumn isn’t always the changing of the leaves; sometimes it’s the changing of the kegs. When the air turns crisp and pint glasses are raised in celebration, it can only mean that Oktoberfest has arrived. 

Ales on Rails is Verde Canyon Railroad’s way of toasting this German tradition, providing a rollicking farewell to summer beginning Tuesday, September 14 and running through Sunday, October 31, 2021.

Sample a wide range of local Arizona breweries, proudly showcased on the depot patio, these are richly crafted local beers ranging from the lightest pilsners to the hoppiest IPAs and deepest stouts the Copper State has to offer.

Now in its 19th year, the very popular Ales on Rails season always sells out in advance and may be reserved to include a Verde Canyon Railroad logo beer glass with four beer-tasting tickets, a made-to-order lunch from the Copper Spike Cafe and a large selection of fine Arizona-brewed craft beers for only $125 per person.

The party begins on the depot patio from 10:30am -12:45 p.m., with beer tasting on tap prior to the train’s 1:00 p.m.  departure.

The fun continues as favorite beers of the day will also be available canned for purchase aboard the train, to enjoy while marveling at the vibrant Verde Canyon scenery.

Echoing the celebration of amber brews are the brilliant bronze and gold colors vividly on display throughout Mother Nature’s masterpiece during the Fall Colors Tour, with autumn foliage ranging from chartreuse to ginger, and vermillion to violet for a wide range strikingly seasonal hues.

If you mixed all four seasons together and skimmed off the very best, you would create autumn.

Radiant colors and mild temperatures with a hint of briskness in the air charges Verde Canyon with a fresh energy. Residents of the Verde Canyon, as well as visitors, feel the seasonal change.

Wildlife sightings increase as deer, Javelina, coyote and other species grow more active. Amidst the fall finery, a chorus of wings adds a touch of music, as migratory birds return to the sanctuary between the canyon walls.

The Verde Canyon’s resident Bald Eagles are joined by these migrating visitors, adding to the population, and the train’s connection with these noble birds.  

The train is a proud sponsor of Arizona-based rescue Liberty Wildlife, who share scheduled Raptors at the Rails programs with depot guests, featuring hawks, owls, falcons and vultures from their education program at the depot, and a bald eagle riding the train each month.

As October draws to a finale, the Verde Canyon’s low whistling winds are perhaps ghostly whispers of ancient Sinaguan cliff-dwellers or of miners’ spirits restlessly roaming from nearby famed “Ghost City” Jerome’s abandoned copper mine shafts.

It’s not the destination, it has always been the journey

No matter what your plans might be for the spookiest night of the year, spend part of your day aboard the Haunted Halloween Express on Sunday, October 31st.

In addition to the blazing colors of fall and the smooth, cool flow of artisanal beer, train staff will be in Halloween disguises ranging from mild to wild, and there will be a costume contest for passengers, with fun prizes and plenty of candy making for ghoulish good fun for the whole family.

Leave the confines of city life in favor of high-spirited fun and an unforgettable journey around every bend and over every bridge as the train winds through its beautiful and historic red-rock riparian canyon home this autumn. Surrounded by the colors of the season, the flavors of Arizona, the curves of the Verde River, a trip aboard the train inspires wonder and fills cameras. 

The Verde Canyon Railroad depot is in Clarkdale, Arizona, 25 minutes southwest of Sedona and two hours north of Phoenix. For reservations book online at VerdeCanyonRR.com or call 800-293-7245.

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These Creepy Photos Will Give You Halloween Chills

Caution: The following chilling pictures could cause goosebumps. You’ve been warned.

When I originally saw this first photo, it seemed just like so many others. I wondered if the women were sorority sisters or if this was a some type of reunion. They looked so prim and proper. Then…

…as I scanned it close, it creeped me out!

What was that?

Look at the girl on the front row of those sitting in chairs. She’s on your far right.

What’s that on her shoulder?

Is that a hand?

Now look at these guys.

Did you see it? Between the legs of the guy in the center?

One of our favorite Halloween thrills is to go to a Haunted House. But here’s a different perspective:

This is what the Spooks see.

True love.
Choo-Choo Boo!

The morning after Halloween.

One more from the Spooks angle.
If you think this is creepy, what’s that behind you right NOW?
What is that behind her?
What’s Mom sitting on?

A few vintage images.

Warning: Nightmare coming up.

.

.

The next one is not much creepy as the others.

It’s more of a “wait till you see it” picture.

Uh Oh!

Have a safe and Happy Halloween.

The Night Jimmy Left a ‘Surprise’ For the Donkey Lady

The bone chilling legend of the Donkey Lady offers that a half-woman-half-donkey-like creature continues to haunt the concentrated woods amid the Medina and San Antonio Rivers just south of the Alamo City.

Faithfully, an October and Halloween tradition of searching for the terrifying Donkey Lady, or by now, perhaps her ghost, has been a teenage ritual going as far back as the late 1940s.

Some years back, Harlandale High School classmates and residents of the 1940s and 1950s sat at their local favorite lunch hangout on the south side, Bud Jones Restaurant at Military Drive and Commercial discussing their youth. The conversation turned to the Donkey Lady.

“To this day I swear it wasn’t just a made up deal,” claimed Archie Mabry, a retired electrician, who recalled “going out there as far back as about 1952 or 53. We decided we were going to ride our bicycles out there and actually camp because we wanted to find her.”

“The story we were told by, our older brothers, sisters and classmates, was that there was a man and woman, who lived with their small children near Elm Creek about where Jett Road and Applewhite Road was,” Mabry said. “It was right after World War II and he had come back home messed up in the head after being in the battles in Europe.”

“Well, the man was abusive and drinking all the time. One night she became scared when he came home drunk so she pulled a kitchen knife on him to protect herself and the kids. It ticked him off so he went and set the damn house on fire.”

“I guess fate, or what you call karma, took care of him because the husband and the two children died in the fire,” his friend and my father, Walter “Corky” Dennis, a retired San Antonio police detective added. “Supposedly, they found her barely alive and just severely burned all over. Someone finally took her to what was either called Brooke General Hospital, or Brooke Army Medical Center(BAMC) back then, on base at Ft. Sam (Houston). Now it’s a major trauma center.”

“She was so scarred up and disfigured that she looked somewhat like a horse or donkey,” Dennis emphasized. “But I don’t think we started calling her ‘Donkey Lady’ until after the drowning at the bridge.”

The old classmates nodded their heads agreeing to this version of the story.

“That’s right,” affirmed Mabry. “When she healed, her face kind of drooped, baggy-like and her fingers fused together like hooves.”

Others around the table explained that when the woman was released from the hospital and went back with no home, she “really had no choice but to settle camp style, wild-like, and isolated.”

“We grew up wondering if she would ever make her way into town where we lived,” Dennis smiled. “On summer nights, around campfires, we talked about how she needed to come look for food. We just knew she was out there in the dark waiting for the last one of us to go to sleep, or if one of us needed to walk away for a minute to go to the restroom.”

Stories spread over the generations of students throughout Harlandale, Burbank, McCollum, South San and Southside High Schools. Mutilated by the fire, and absolutely insane from the death of her children, her appearance, the beatings from her husband, and then the isolation in the woods, people reported she would wear a bonnet, scarf or hood during the day to hide her eerie form.

Shop keepers nearby said if she came into their stores, it would be with her beloved donkey. She’d remain unnervingly silent placing purchases on the counter, pay, and simply walk out.

However, at night, the sightings were treacherously different—even sinister in the descriptions. Those who dared to venture over the Applewhite Road Bridge crossing Elm Creek in the dark were terrorized by the sound of animals, especially the unnatural wailing of a donkey.

The old friends around the table turned serious as they told about the bicycle trip Mabry, and three other young Harlandale Indians freshmen took to find the Donkey Lady.

“We thought we were on a safari or witch hunt,” one gentleman began. “We loaded our bikes up with everything we thought we needed to camp out and find the Donkey Lady: lanterns, bedding, slingshots, food, a hatchet, matches, cowboy canteens, just everything you could imagine.”

“We were something out of the ‘Little Rascals,’ now that I think about it,” laughed Mabry. “But we peddled ourselves way out there.”

“I bet we hadn’t settled down more than 30 minutes before we started talking about how she would come out like a wild lion and pounce on one of us, chewing and ripping one of us apart–and then we heard the sounds.”

“It was a donkey,” Mabry swore. “It was a wailing, crying, howling donkey. We could hear it back there in the trees and it was coming closer; right at us.”

The boys all started yelling and ran to their bikes, leaving their gear behind.

“It was sheer terror,” Mabry looked serious. Rubbing his hands together, he continued. “That’s the fastest I ever peddled in my life, both before and since.”

“One of the boys, Jimmy, the one in back of all of us, started screaming and I could hear his bicycle crashing on the ground. I figured that Donkey Lady was gnawing on him like a buzzard or lion would with their prey. Hell no, I didn’t look back to check on him. It was each one for themselves at this point.”

“Remember now, it was pure dark,” he emphasized. “We couldn’t see but maybe eight or ten feet in front of us. We had no idea if he was dead or not. All of our senses was devoted to survival. It was probably a good 30 minutes before we slowed down and stopped.”

“Jimmy wasn’t with us and we weren’t about to call out for him. Our hearts were pounding so loud and we were breathing so hard, we could barely whisper. We figured we were pretty much out of the ‘Donkey Lady Zone’ and decided to lay back–more like collapse–and catch our breath for a quick spell.”

“It wasn’t even five minutes and here comes something, we could hear it, behind us. We jumped up to grab our bikes and Harold said, ‘Look it James (Jimmy)!'”

“Now here comes Jimmy huffin’ and puffin’ towards us. He was mad as hell we left him behind and it wasn’t until he was right on us, that I noticed he didn’t have his pants on.”

“‘Where’s your pants Jimmy?,” one of us asked. ‘Did she get your pants?'”

“Then we saw he was buck naked from the waist down!”

“Hell no, you sons of a bitches,” he yelled. “You just deserted me and I swear I could hear her–she was snortin’ and her hoofs were coming for me. I sh_t my pants right then and there. Pulled them off–underwear and pants. Didn’t even wipe my arse and you guys just left me. You dirty bastards.”

“Speaking of dirty bastards you smell like crap Jimmy,” Mabry noticed.

“What the hell do you expect me to smell like,” Jimmy retorted. “My bicycle seat will never be the same. I tried to keep my ass up peddling because I kept sliding.”

“We didn’t really know what to do for Jimmy, but we had all night, so someone volunteered their socks over so he could try to wipe himself and his bike, but it still stunk all the way to Six Mile Creek. It was there we made him go down stream from us to wash himself better while we soaked and quenched our thirst.”

“I can’t remember, but I guess it was at least four or five days later, maybe a week, ’til we went back–in the daytime–to get our stuff we left back there.”

“It’s strange how different things look in the day than it did in the middle of the night knowing that Donkey Lady is sneaking around. It was still creepy.”

“Our food was all gone, but our blankets, my hatchet, lanterns and other stuff was still there. We think we saw hoof marks there too, but we didn’t stay around to analyse it,” Mabry grinned. “We quickly grabbed our things and rode back. But poor Jimmy. His mama made him bring those pants back home so HE could wash them proper. The underwear stayed. They were a lost cause.”