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The Boogeyman

by Eva Pasco 

BoogeymanEvery culture has one—an amorphous embodiment of terror with no specific appearance, who emerges from its hiding place under the bed or closet to “get us” during the night. The Boogeyman in its many forms terrorized us during the Sixties. He was the horrible monster cloaked in a white robe and concealing his identity under a conical hat while banding with other Ku Klux Klan clones to conduct a reign of terror against African Americans for the purpose of restoring white supremacy. The Boogeyman manifested himself as Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the  Soviet Union during part of the Cold War, who boasted about nuclear missiles for leverage. His famous words, “We will bury you,” were taken as a literal threat. The Boogeyman morphed into Senator Joseph McCarthy whose paranoia fueled fears of widespread Communist subversion in this country, resulting in numerous reckless and unsubstantiated accusations against our fellow countrymen who merely exercised the political freedoms this nation was founded on.   

I’ll wager the Boogeyman was our school principal back in the day when authority figures still had clout with youngsters. Fear rustled in the air whenever Miss Britain, the grande dame of Lincoln Community School, made one of her impromptu visits to the classroom. The swish of her pleated skirt, heels thwacking linoleum, and the gold charms jingling on her bracelet whenever she made notes on a clipboard, rendered an eerie silence amongst sacrificial lambs. Each of us cringed in fear as the principal sashayed down the aisles between rows of desks and peered over our shoulders to monitor work in progress. Miss Britain once directed a sharp criticism at someone she told in no uncertain terms could do better.  She scooped up the lined yellow composition paper, crumpled it, and ceremoniously tossed it in the wastebasket on her way out the door. I can attest that anyone sent to her office for discipline never came back quite the same wise guy, visibly shaken and shamed from one of her lectures. 

Echoes of “Just wait until your father gets home” reminded most of us that our dad was one Boogeyman you didn’t want to reckon with. Since my mother brandished a fly swatter during the day to quell arguments of sibling rivalry, we knew we’d gone too far if she resorted to such a threat. It was usually enough for us to knock it off.  Though today’s society has many a Boogeyman to contend with, we seem to have cowered principals and parents under a bed or inside a closet, preventing them from steering youngsters in the right direction.

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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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