Halloween Horror RetroFlash – The Croup by
(149 Stories)

Prompted By Trick or Treat?

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Hate to bring you down.

Much prefer to clown.

But like the “County Fair” theme,

My Halloween’s a bad dream.

No smiles; just a frown.


Let me keep this brief.

The reason for my grief?

I was croup-y as a kid.

Hate it?  Yes I did!

With steam my sole relief.


Finally a fix.

“No croup when you turn six,”

My doctor/dad assured me.

So I am filled with glee

When off for treats and tricks.


But on that fateful night

I just don’t feel quite right,

And cause an awful scene.

Blaming it on Halloween

For this re-croupy plight.




Profile photo of John Shutkin John Shutkin

Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Oh, poor little Johnny. Not fun to be sick on Halloween. Did your older brother share his treats with you, or was he a selfish goblin?

    • John Shutkin says:

      Well, at least, having read your story and hearing about Jeffrey and the chicken pox, I don’t feel alone.

      And I doubt my brother shared. But, to be fair to him, as I recall, all I could consume when I had croup was ginger ale and Jell-o — usually orange, which I hate to this day.

  2. Wow John, Retro has released the uber poet in you beneath the stuffed shirt Ivy League-lawyer demeanor!

    Keep ‘em coming. Sorry about your croupy youth, but at least you got a good poem out of it!

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    Poor you, John. Did you ever get over it? Maybe you can go out this year!

  4. Suzy says:

    John, this story makes me so sad! Didn’t you ever have a Halloween you enjoyed? I hope you did, because otherwise I agree with Laurie, you should go out this year!

    • John Shutkin says:

      Not to worry, Suzy. I had plenty of happy ones, just none particularly memorable. Maybe my best one was when I won a prize at our school Halloween party for “handsomest costume” in a Scottish outfit. My grandmother had made me a kilt out of a scarf she had gotten in Scotland and somewhere I was even able to borrow a bagpipe.

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    How hard to be left out of a classic childhood ritual! Glad your health has held up so you are still here to share your wry poems and stories. I am impressed that later on you came up with a Scottish costume with BAGPIPES! If you played them, that was probably really scary.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Thanks, Khati. Croup is not a risk once you grow out of it — at age six (or so). I don’t think the bagpipes work and would not have had a clue how to play them. But they sure looked cool. As, of course, did my great legs.

  6. Marian says:

    Wonderful poem, sorry about the disease, John. Glad croup can be outgrown and that you got to enjoy Halloween. I hadn’t thought about it, but starting in my adolescence and continuing many years into adulthood, I would come down with a bad cold (not necessarily croup) right around Halloween. I’ve attributed this to the change in weather, even in our relatively mild California climate.

  7. Risa Nye says:

    Ah, yes…the croup. Barking like a seal, standing in a steamy bathroom, trying to stop coughing and breathe. I’ve been there too. The one terrible Halloween memory I have is when my mother told me I was too old to go out (7th grade), and I ended up handing out candy to kids in my class! Terrible.

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