The fear before Halloween

The children of before did not need anyone, neither our parents nor the City Council, to organize fear for us as is the case now with the halloween fashion. Organized fear is an impostor fearan official fear with economic and political pretensions, a programmed fear that is not scary, a silly and boring fear, a bar fear and late night drinks among drunken vampires and grotesque witches who play at imitating the hollow and ridiculous fear of American traditions.

Formerly, we carried fear with us and it was part of our sentimental inventory. Every time we went out into the street we faced the objective fear that came to us from outside and our own fears, those that we already brought from the factory and accompanied us every moment, wherever we were.

The street was full of fears and sometimes fears that we ourselves sought. We were afraid of the drunks who were measuring the street, but we were also attracted and we faced them looking for that emotion of imminent risk, which left your mouth dry.

There was a common fear of dark alleys, which were almost all of them, since Almería, at the beginning of the 1970s, had significant deficiencies in public lighting. In the winter, at nine o’clock at night, when the shops closed, the city took on a ghostly aspect. When the last store or the last bar closed its shutters, the night fell with all its specters and not a soul was seen in the street. In those moments, the children’s imagination warmed up and we took the old stories that they had told us in our houses for a walk, those legends that told us about the mantequeros and of boogeyman.

There was no more common story in Almeria than that of the mantequeros. We had heard it from our mothers, who had no other formula to keep us from the street than to fill it with fear. The history of the mantequero was based on a real event, the famous crime of Gádor, and it was, without a doubt, the one that most impressed us. They told us that the mantequero was a son of the shadows, that he prowled through the dark alleys in search of some lagging child, at those hours when night began to fall.

The butter was ours bedside ghost during childhood, the one who was always present in our fears. Sometimes, when we returned in the late afternoon through solitary places, crossing the solitude of the Rambla wave Almadrabillas beach in winterthe voice of a child was heard screaming in panic: “The mantequeros are coming”and at that moment we began to run with our hearts beating in our throats, truly believing that that sinister character was coming after us with a knife in his hand ready to take out our entrails.

We were also afraid of deathnot to the abstract death that when you were a child you thought only happened to others, but to near death, the one that appeared to us like a fatal shadow when a neighbor on our street died. When there was a dead person nearby, a dead person that we had seen from the corner of the box, a dead person who kept watch in the house, that night more than one of us had a hard time getting to sleep and we ended up asking for asylum in the bed of some older brother .

There were places in Almería that were surrounded by a halo of mystery that aroused the fear of children. One of those places was Cortijo Grande areawhere in the early 1970s the old building that had been the spiritual residence of the Jesuit Fathers. It was a dark scene where everything seemed unreal, as if taken from another time. The house of the religious was empty and its walls were falling down from old age in the middle of the fertile plain that was also in retreat. There were few who dared to cross that path when night came.. She was impressive passing in the dark in the middle of an overwhelming silence, which was only broken when the wind moved a window or stirred up the tops of the trees. It was said then that at night the cries of some friars whose souls wandered like wandering spirits through those wastelands in the middle of the fertile plain were heard.

Fear also inhabited our houses. We all had a dark room that we never went to aloneespecially if that night we had seen an episode of that series called ‘Stories to keep you awake’, which marked that generation of children so much that we discovered a new form of fear, the one that reached us on television.

The fear before Halloween