Ding Dong the Witch is Dead…

When I was still a younger boy, my best friend and I went camping. This was the early 70s and kids were still allowed to do things by themselves back then, like camping. The difference with this camping trip and others was that it was the dead of winter. My best friend’s parents owned a forested lot near the Kettle Moraine Forest in Southeastern Wisconsin and even though there were some homes nearby, they went camping there often.

We begged to go by ourselves and after my best friend’s dad was convinced we could take care of ourselves, he allowed us to go for a weekend. We were dropped off on a Friday night and set up our campsite. We started a good fire (my best friend called them “Council Fires”) and sat around it to get warm. We also brought his dog who was a German Shepherd and Lab mix and she was plenty at home in the forest.

Our night began well. We planned our snow fort for the next day and then joked around as young boys do. We even sang a song or two together. It was going to be a good weekend, we knew it. Then came the singing from a distance away…

Ding dong the witch is dead, the witch is dead…”

This was followed by the sound of a chainsaw and a woman’s scream.

ME: Um…

FRIEND: Was that…

ME: I think someone’s been murdered.

FRIEND: What do we do?

ME: I don’t know.

We sat around a little while longer by the fire before deciding we better put it out before the murderer saw us. The dog added to our paranoia by staring into the distance while lightly growling and whimpering at times. It was like even she was scared.

We had a fitful night of sleep but managed anyway. The next morning we woke up with the paranoia slightly faded away. We ate breakfast and began our snow fort. We were halfway done when the voice returned…

Ding dong the witch is dead, the witch is dead…”

This time it was followed by chopping sounds like an ax and the woman screamed again.

FRIEND: What do we do?

ME: I don’t know. I wish there was a phone nearby.

FRIEND: We could go to one of the homes and ask to use the phone…

ME: What if we accidentally knock on the killer’s door?

FRIEND: Oh man…

ME: Wait…isn’t there a ranger station down the road?

FRIEND: About five miles away!

We stared at each other before another blood-curdling scream broke our silence. The dog didn’t growl this time…just whimpered. Five minutes later, we were walking down the road.

We made good time and reached the ranger station. We told them our story and it was obvious they didn’t believe a word we said.

RANGER: Who can I call to get you little guys home?

We walked back to the campsite and waited. My best friend’s dad rolled up in his station wagon and was surprised to find we had already broke down the campsite and our bags were packed and ready. We told him our story and he just laughed at us. I guess grown-ups never believe little boys when they tell them something like this.

DAD: I knew you guys would chicken out.

Just then, a neighbor in one of the homes a little way down the road walked up.

NEIGHBOR: Were you guys camping here last night?

DAD: The boys were but then got scared of noises.

NEIGHBOR: I am so sorry! When we didn’t see your car, we assumed they were vagrants.

DAD: Wait…

NEIGHBOR: We tried to scare them away. Sorry, boys.

Even though we felt slightly vindicated, we were disappointed that our weekend was cut short. My best friend’s dad wouldn’t let us stay out another night because he had already made the trip to get us.

For years afterward, whenever we were together or in a group and heard strange noises, we would look at each other, smile, and then begin to sing…

Ding dong the witch is dead, the witch is dead…”

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