Shortly after my little brother was born in 1990, my family and I moved from Norristown, Pennsylvania to Eagan, Minnesota. We wouldn’t live there for very long (and this post will explain why), but during that time, I attended Pilot Knob Elementary School for both my second grade school year and about two thirds of my third grade year. Decades never really seem to die until about the third or fourth year into the next one, so while it was technically the 1990s, it was really like the 1980s were still happening. And while I generally love the 1980s, everything that had previously been great about them had been driven to the ground already by this point. This was that craptastic era when everybody was wearing colors that obnoxiously clashed, watching Captain Planet and bopping their heads to Vanilla Ice. It would be another couple of years before Nirvana charged forth from the muddy banks of the Wishkah to save us all.
I have two very vivid memories from when Samhain 1991 came around. First and foremost, they used to hold a Halloween carnival in the school gym at Pilot Knob. There were all kinds of games, rides and prizes to be won at this thing, and it was also a chance for us kids to show off our costumes. (I had finally broken with my tradition of being either a skeleton or a jack-o’lantern at this point, and I had decided to be a ghost.) There was also a haunted house exhibit, and I thought it would be fun to walk through it all by myself. (Keep in mind, I was only 9 or so when this happened.) Next thing I knew, Freddy motherfuckin’ Krueger was chasing me, slashing at me with his glove knives and cackling like some homicidal witch. This made me promptly piss my pants. I also started crying, and for some reason, the asshole dressed up like Freddy thought it was funny; he just wouldn’t stop chasing me. Then a woman and her two children came in. Freddy turned his attention on them, but they didn’t seem to think he was very scary; in fact, they laughed at him. Humiliated, I huddled close to the children (pretending to belong to their mother) and followed them back out to safety. (I’ve consistently hated Freddy Krueger ever since.)
Screw you, Krueger!
Now the other memory actually happened on All Hallows’ Eve itself. (The school party happened the weekend immediately before.) It fell on a Thursday that year, which meant I was at school. I was having a pretty good day there too, but then it started snowing outside. At first it wasn’t very much, but then it escalated into a full-blown blizzard. Classes were canceled, schools were closed, and the bus drivers all tried to ship our little asses home as quickly as possible. By the time I arrived back at my family’s apartment, it had already snowed 38 inches. Needless to say, there was no trick-or-treating to be had outside that year. But I wasn’t very disappointed. For one thing, my little sister and I were able to trick-or-treat inside our apartment building for a little while, so I was pretty grateful for that. But for another, just seeing 38 inches of snow outside on Halloween night was a blast in and of itself. I had never heard of such a thing before, and in retrospect, it would have been the perfect evening to watch 1980’s The Shining (1980) and/or 1982’s The Thing (though I was still much too young for such things at that point).
As it turned out, the infamous Halloween Blizzard of 1991 was actually part of the exact same hurricane storm system known as the 1991 Perfect Storm. (This is the same storm that provided the title for 2000’s The Perfect Storm, with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.) The closest thing I’ve ever seen to a Samhain like that one was Samhain 2013 here in Michigan, but that was about a week after Samhain, and it wasn’t really snow that fell, just flurries. But Samhain 1991 will live on in my imagination as one of the most insane Halloweens I’ve ever experienced! In fact, I keep wanting to write a horror story that takes place during the Halloween Blizzard of 1991, but I haven’t been able to come up with a plot that I think is good enough just yet. (What I mean is, I have trouble coming up with plotlines that aren’t just rehashes of things I’ve already seen.) Oh well, I’m sure I’ll cook up something interesting sooner or later, and then I’ll write it down.
Oh, and I almost forgot. As soon as the winter of 1991-1992 ended, my Dad found himself a job back in Philadelphia and we moved right on back to the Quaker state, where we stayed for a good eight years. I guess my Dad just didn’t want to deal with that sort of weather anymore. I actually enjoyed my time in Minnesota, but good Gods damn, those winters are really hard!