Sandman And Other Fears
It has taken me so long to finally settle down and write on this subject that I'm not sure I can get it right. The desire to forget the unpleasant memories have delayed this moment for years. Two memories come to mind, and at this point I'm fairly sure these were the only two that carried enough validity to have become reoccurring nightmares to my young mind.
The first problem came from the inappropriate placement of either a stuffed, (can't really say 'plush' when referring to toys of those days) black and white panda bear, or a brown teddy bear. Both were favorites of mine. Somehow the offending toy was shelved in the corner closet of the boys' (south) bedroom. After being tucked in for the night, I sensed that the bear had grown ferocious in the darkened room and was indeed waiting until I fell asleep before it would make its move to devour my helpless body. My answer was to yell to have Mom turn the hall light back on, where upon I would make the brave move to get up and close the closet door securely. I soon learned to double check that closet door before climbing into bed. By the way, I believe it was probably the teddy bear as I doubt the lovable panda bear would be up to such deviltry.
The second fear was much more sinister and involved my adventures throughout the neighborhood. We were allowed the freedom to roam about the neighborhood during the day, playing with the other kids. Our cowboys and Indians; cops and robbers; and general roaming set our minds to many great adventures. I carried a portion of this over into my dream world. As sleep would begin to settle in, I would find myself transported back outside into the neighborhood. The Sandman's rule was that everyone was to be off the streets at dusk and he meant what he said. Careening around the corner a black gangster like sedan would appear, filled with typical Capone style hoodlums, each brandishing a sub-machine gun. The Sandman was driving, but I never had a clear view of his face. Anyone out and about would be mowed down, (permanently put to sleep) . In each nightmare I would be spotted and fired upon. Of course, the best defense was to hide and hope they wouldn't notice me. There was a lilac bush near the front of Terry's house which offered some protection, but the Sandman seemed to know I was around somewhere, so he would drive the car around and around, all the time firing away at anything that moved. I would panic and run for home with him in hot pursuit. Once into the solid brick house I felt I was safe but soon found out that he was headed in after me. My last hope was to run into the bathroom and hide. I chose to stand behind my Mother's towel which hung, straight in, on the far wall, on her towel rack. This seemed to do the trick as the Sandman couldn't see me there.
Of course with reoccurring nightmares such as these, I had to devise a better defense. I was loosing entirely too much sleep, to say nothing of my mental condition. I discovered that the answer to my dilemma was there in the room all the time. The boys' bedroom being on the second floor had a window opening towards the river. All I had to do was open my eyes and look out that window. The lights of the dam and powerhouse, plus the search lights of passing tow boats, not to mention the many lights along the bluff in Keokuk, were enough to dispel any sort of monsters my mind could make up. After a few minutes of this light treatment, I was calmed enough to turn to a good night's rest.
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