Little Orphant Annie: a Halloween tradition

Published 2:00 am Saturday, October 31, 2015

Back before it was decided that Halloween was a satanic thing and back when little kids dressed up in sheets and little pillows to make them fat, Halloween was a fun time. We dressed up like witches, tramps, gypsies, ghosts and goblins – all kinds of fun things. We went house to house asking for treats and then went home and roasted marshmallows over an open fire and played hide-and-ghost-seek and the Boogers gonna get you to night. (We were creative; we adapted those games for Halloween.) But the mostest fun I had on Halloween was crossing the road to Amos and Eunice’s house. Amos would be leaning against the porch wall in an old straight-back chair. When all of us chil’un gathered at his feet, he would move his chew of tobacco to the other side of his mouth, cock his head to that side and begin, “Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay …..”

I don’t guess many people recite James Whitcomb Riley’s poem much anymore but “when the when the blaze is blue and the lamp-wick sputters, and the wind goes woo-oo and the crickets quit, and the moon is gray and the lightnin’ bugs and dew is all squenched away,” I sit on the porch steps, lean back against wall and, if only to myself and Cat, I begin,

“Little Orpant Annie’s come to our house to stay …

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To wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,

To shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the floor, an’ sweep,

And make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;

And all us other children, when the supper things was done,

We’d set around the kitchen fire an’ have the mostest fun

Listenin’ to the witch-tales that Annie tells about,

Cause the Goblins’ll get you if you don’t watch out!

Onc’t there was a little boy wouldn’t say his prayers, —

So when he went to bed at night, away up stairs,

His Mama heard him holler, an’ his Daddy heard him bawl,

But when they turned the covers back he was nowhere at all!

An’ looked for him in attic and on the roof no

An’ up the chimney flue and everywhere I guess;

But all they ever found was his pants around about

Cause the Goblins’ll get you if you don’t watch out!

An’ one time a little girl would always laugh an’ grin,

An’ make fun of everyone, an’ all her blood an’ kin;

An’ once when there was “company,” an’ old folks were there,

She mocked them an’ shocked ‘em, an’ said she didn’t care!

An’ just as she kicked her heels, to turn and run an’ hide,

There was two great big spooky things standin’ by her side,

An’ they snatched her through the ceiling ‘fore she knew what she was about!

Cause the Goblins’ll get you if you don’t watch out!

An’ Little Orphant Annie says when the blaze is blue,

An’ the lamp-wick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo!

An’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray,

An’ the lightnin’-bugs and dew is all squenched away, —

You’d better mind your parents, an’ your teachers fond an’ dear,

An’ cherish those that love you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear,

An’ help the poor and needy, cause they’re all about,

Cause the Goblins’ll get you if you don’t watch out.


Happy Halloween!